Donald J. Trump sold out the U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan for … what? We can’t be sure. Why would the top people in his cabinet go along with that? You know, Mike Pompeo, graduate of West Point, served five years in the U.S. Army before getting a law degree from Harvard and then making millions in the private sector. You’d think a person with Pompeo’s resume would ask himself, “I’m okay with babies in cages, see no problem trading foreign aid for political favors, but selling out combat troops that are in the field? We can’t let that stand.”
But that’s not what happened. Nor does it appear Vice President Mike Pence gives a fuck about it either. He, in fact, makes the same claim as Donald J. Trump, that nobody told him about it. Well, Trump is claiming nobody told Pence about it.
According to the New York Times, an arm of Russia’s GRU paid the Taliban bounties for killing U.S. and other coalition forces. Apparently the practice continues.
Trump was informed of this Russian deal with the Taliban back in March. Special Operations and intelligence officers became aware of the Russian plot as early as January when they found a large amount of American cash in a Taliban outpost captured in a raid. That, along with information gleaned from interrogations of captured Taliban members and criminals made the intelligence community confident the plot was real.
Russia’s support for the Taliban has been going on for years and considers any damage done to the U.S. standing in the world well worth any blowback they might experience as a result.
As a response Trump wanted to invite Vladimir Putin to the G7 meeting, which has since been cancelled and Trump has decided to pull U.S. troops out of Germany. That must tickle Putin’s fancy.
As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said since the beginning of the Trump Administration, “With [Trump] all roads lead to Putin. I don’t know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally or financially.”
The speaker re-iterated that sentiment when she gave a briefing on June 28. As it turns out many of her Republican colleagues are concerned about this report and want answers. There will likely by intelligence hearings at least in the House of Representatives. Don’t expect them to be open to the public.
As this goes on the coronavirus pandemic is raging throughout the country once again — or maybe this is still the first wave of COVID-19 and the rest of the U.S. is just catching up.
A friend of mine posted this link from the SFGate, a respected online news source based in San Francisco. What we don’t know about “surviving” COVID-19 is a litany of horrors that should fill any reasonable person with dread … but it doesn’t, not everyone. Or maybe the ones not impressed by this information are not reasonable. Maybe they’re just stupid.
Willful ignorance is on display throughout social media, especially the largest platform, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and his top employee, Mark Thiel, a Trump supporter, had dinner at the White House with the president, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and Thiel’s husband, Matt Danzeisen.
As reported by Ben Smith for the New York Times, no one knows exactly what was discussed, but from what Zuckerberg has said concerning truthful political commentary on Facebook, especially from and about the president, Zuckerberg is not going to let his baby, his multi-billion-dollar cash cow, be constricted by the same regulations as other media companies. Because, as Zuckerberg claims, Facebook isn’t a media company, although it wants to be treated as a media company by getting a spot at the two political conventions this summer.
Zuckerberg wants the advertising dollars, unfettered by the same rules that apply to companies like the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC and other news organizations. And Facebook, he says, will not be a political fact checker — or a fact-checker of any kind. The user beware.
This is an incredibly dangerous attitude during the coronavirus pandemic when people can post any manner of disinformation on Facebook with virtually, literally, no guardrails or even notices letting people know what they are about to read is not true or at least misleading. Which is why people can post ignorant anti-mask nonsense like this discredited bit claiming to show how disposable ear loop masks are ineffective against COVID-19. Despite it being discredited, people are still posting it on Facebook, without any indication from the platform that the post is misleading.
As I replied to one post on Facebook (I know I shouldn’t) after it was reported former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar was willing to have people die from the disease so he could go on tour (some of the F-bombs have been removed to keep the publishers sane):
Here’s the bitter reality of the coronavirus: We are only six months (at best estimate) into this pandemic that is predicted to last into 2022 (or longer). We may or may not have a vaccine or cure. No one really knows because it is so different.
It not only attacks and destroys the lungs, it attacks all the organs of the body so if someone is “lucky” enough to recover they may be an invalid for the rest of their lives and maybe need an organ transplant (or two) to really survive.
So of Sammy “fuck all the rest of you” Hagar is saying he’s willing to sacrifice people for the economy, he not only has no clue about this disease, he really doesn’t care about anyone that is unlucky enough to have contracted it, including those that need hospitalization.
I’m all for opening the economy. I’m all for going to the beach a few times a week without having to wear a mask or worry about how much distance is between us. I’m all for having my usual Friday dinner with friends at a local restaurant, but I’m not willing to sacrifice any of you for these pleasures.
I wish everyone could get back to work and the bands could play live again [in front of audiences]. Call me old fashioned, but I want to see Dead & Co again on a stage in front of me, not just YouTube videos. I would like to see [a friend’s] band the next time I travel to MKE (among others), but not at the risk of you or me.
Sammy Hagar: at one point some years ago we thought he was the smart one in Van Halen. He has, or had, that bar in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Cabo Wabo, where every sort of cool, or just wannabe cool American would go to drink like a rock star. Hagar now has a brand of tequila with the same name.
Hagar ought to take some time away from the spotlight in one of his many homes and count the dollars from his tequila sales and royalties. He’s 72, in the prime age to be most affected by COVID-19 so maybe a little humility and coronavirus awareness are in order.
Also seen on Facebook, math is hard for some Trump supporters.
A question I read on Facebook: “Republicans will accept 125k deaths from a white, racist president, but not health care from a Black president?”
It’s a rhetorical question of course. We know the GOP is so corrupt, Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch especially, the only GOP Senator with even an ounce of integrity, the clean man from Utah Mitt Romney, voted to remove Donald J. Trump from office during the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
Moscow Mitch got exactly what he wanted: a meaningless impeachment trial with no documents or witnesses brought into evidence. Mike Lee, the other senator from Utah, voted with the rest of the GOP sheeple.
Obviously the vast majority of the GOP in Congress is willing to put up with, support and fly cover for a president who so botched the pandemic response over 126k people have died and twice that is expected to be dead by November 3, the next general election.
That’s why their efforts to block people from voting has gone into overdrive, now claiming voting by mail is rife with voter fraud. People have been voting by mail since the Civil War, with no widespread fraud of any kind. Millions of voters, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, have been voting by mail in this coronavirus times and now the president and his sycophants want all of us to believe it will somehow be fraudulent this year?
The truth is Trump is resigned to the fact that he is most likely going to lose in November. During a Fox News townhall with Sean Hannity, Trump answered a question from a supporter this way, when asked about his chances against Joe Biden: “This is a guy who doesn’t talk. He can’t put two sentences together. I don’t want to be nice or un-nice. Okay? But, I mean, the man can’t speak, and he’s gonna be your president because some people don’t love me, maybe. And, all I’m doing is doing my job.”
What is his job? I mean, we know what the job of a president is, but what the hell is Trump doing? He sure isn’t being a president
All this while the Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue. Last year a young man in Aurora, Colorado was killed by police and now that the video footage has been released the official police reports look ridiculously dishonest.
How can anyone watch the video of Elijah McClain begging for his life, crying and not be moved to tears themselves? Elijah McClain who played violin for kittens in the animal shelters
We can’t just be satisfied with removing a few officers from the police forces around the nation. There has to be a systemic change to the methods of law enforcement, a change in the training, a change in how police are recruited and hired.
How could anyone continue to abuse this young man when they could hear him crying like that? It wasn’t just the three officers at the scene, it is the whole system that put them in uniform and allowed them to prowl the streets like predators. Everyone in the chain of command of those three officers must be held accountable, as well as the paramedics that administered the drugs meant to calm the young man down.
Right now I have no sympathy or empathy for police departments. None.
Just how bad have things gotten in the U.S. since Donald Effin’ Trump has been president? It’s so bad we’re starting to look at John Bolton as one of the good guys. John Fucking Bolton who helped start the Iraq War! That sound you hear is my head exploding.
You know we’re fucked if we start fondly reminiscing about the good old days of the Bush 43 administration when there were people with principles and loyalty to the U.S. in the government. We may not have agreed with their principles … My head is spinning as it grapples with the reality that I agree with John Bolton about something.
One of my intentions for this one was to talk about the pro sports gearing up to play. Our sports reporter Claudia Gestro asked a question of Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers about their line up(s) going into this shortened season. The new format that lets the team start with 30 men on the active roster seems to have put a wrinkle in the planning. Click here and then for Claudia’s Instagram and Twitter accounts if you’d like to follow her.
Then there is the MLS and NBA putting on playoff tournaments at Walt Disney World in Orlando. They can have a certain amount of control over their leagues in a place that requires entry through gates, that offers choke points where mandatory temperature checks can be administered.
A place where medical staff can be onsite so tests can be administered and acted upon if there is a positive result. A place where those testing positive, or showing symptoms, can be quarantined.
Walt Disney World with the ESPN Wide World of Sports is a great location for enclosed and restricted events like the MLS is Back Tournament and the NBA Playoffs. But how much protection from the rest of the state can the resort offer? Florida is now one of the major COVID-19 hotspots. Just last week they recorded 4,000 new COVID cases in one day.
It’s safe to say millions have been spent by the leagues — including the WNBA which will play a short season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton — so the shows will go on. But how safe will it be for the teams, leagues and all their support people? It takes just one or two security lapses for all that preparation to be wiped away.
That doesn’t even take into account the NBA players who are questioning whether it is appropriate to play a game during this time of social unrest. Guys like LeBron James of the Lakers believe this is a big platform to advocate for social justice and reform. The league agrees and is allowing players to change the names on their jerseys to their messages from the social movements taking place. Expect to see “Black Lives Matter,” “I Can’t Breathe” and “More Than a Vote.” As well as the names of young men and women killed by the police.
Major League Baseball is still figuring out all the details of their return. There will be baseball at Dodger Stadium, but there won’t be many Dodger Dogs sold. Same at Angel Stadium in Anaheim — no fans in the stands.
The National Hockey League is considering six cities for their two hubs in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Las Vegas was a leading contender and Los Angeles wasn’t far behind. But with the United States quickly becoming a coronavirus pariah, the NHL is looking at having both of its hub cities in Canada, where the government has done a much better job of controlling the spread of the disease. The league would be much safer in the Great White North. The question is, can U.S. players get past Canadian customs? Like all the other leagues there will be rigorous testing.
The European Union may have put tough restrictions on travelers coming from the U.S., but Canada can accommodate a major sports league.
Didn’t even mention California going back into a lockdown … well not completely, but Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the bars be closed in seven counties, including Los Angeles, after major spikes in new cases. Los Angeles County just surpassed 100k cases today (June 29) with 2,903 new cases. The county also recorded 22 COVID-19 deaths.
Gyms just opened and the 4th of July weekend is a few days away … this could be a long, disease-filled summer.
With five major league baseball teams and three NFL football teams in the Golden State looking to play some games in their home facilities, it will be interesting to see how MLB and the NFL partner with the state and local officials to pull it off.
Yeah, three NFL teams: San Francisco 49ers plus the L.A. Rams and Chargers. The Raiders are now doing their thing in Las Vegas.
Congress needs to push through another stimulus bill — this time primarily for the hoi polloi — so the little folks and small business can pay their bills and put food on their tables every month through the end of the year — at least. And while they’re at it, give big bonuses to the essential workers of the nation. Everyone that works in a grocery store or fast food joint, janitors, hotel housekeeping, food processing plant workers; the people that make PPE, it’s a long list. Give them — us — $750 billion in aid. We aren’t doing any stock buy-backs or CEO bonuses. We’re going to spend it and therefore keep the economy going. Fuck the Donald Trumps and Jeff Bezoses of the world. They don’t need any bailouts.
As of Monday morning, June 29, 2020 there are about 2.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. — some epidemiologists think the number is ten times higher — and 128,250 deaths.
Stay safe, stay at home and wear a mask when you do go out.
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UPDATE: Beaches in Los Angeles County will be closed as of July 3 due to the spike in coronavirus cases. Of course people can still go north or south to find open beaches. Good luck to all.
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Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of U.S. Marines in a firefight in Afghanistan
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.