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TBR News July 20, 2020

Jul 20 2020

The Voice of the White House
Comments, July 20, 2020: It is pretty well known inside the White House, to even the lowliest clerk, that Trump claims he will never leave the White House, even if he is flattened in the November election. And he wants the semi-military agencies in the US to use “any force necessary” to stop what he sees are left-wing attempts to discredit him before the election.

He is as nutty as a fruitcake and the trouble in Portland is not, repeat not, the result of “antifa” actions.

No one here woud be surprised if the bullies were counter-attacked.

One police station in Portland was torched and there is a rumor that stinger missiles, smuggled into the US from Canada, and Teflon .223 ammunition, also from Canada, are in the hands of activitists in Portland.

If the goon-squads get too nasty and repressive, there could well be very serious problems, problems that might be replicated in other areas.

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has unified America – against him
  • Trump Holds Up a Chart on Fox News That Shows He’s Lying, Then Lies About What It Says
  • Trump, Portland mayor clash over causes of escalating unrest
  • Oregon protesters set fire to police precinct, tear gas used
  • US attorney calls for probe into federal crackdown on Portland riots; DHS chief promises ‘we will never surrender’
  • On accepting US election result, Donald Trump says ‘I have to see’
  • Donald Trump hints that he may refuse to accept defeat should he lose to Joe Biden
  • How Trump Could Lose the Election and Remain President
  • Department of Defense-Domestic Counterinsurgency Part 2
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

Donald Trump has unified America – against him
The president’s assault on decency has created an emerging coalition, across boundaries of race, class and partisan politics
July 19, 202
by Robert Reich
The Guardian

Donald Trump is on the verge of accomplishing what no American president has ever achieved – a truly multi-racial, multi-class, bipartisan political coalition so encompassing it could realign US politics for years to come.

Unfortunately for Trump, that coalition has come into existence to prevent him from having another term in office.

Start with race. Rather than fuel his base, Trump’s hostility toward people protesting the police killing of George Floyd and systemic racism has pulled millions of white Americans closer to black Americans. More than half of whites now say they agree with the ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement, and more white people support than oppose protests against police brutality. To a remarkable degree, the protests themselves have been biracial.

As John Lewis, the great civil rights hero who died on Friday, said last month near where Trump and William Barr, the attorney general, had set federal police in riot gear and wielding tear gas on peaceful protesters, “Mr President, the American people … have a right to protest. You cannot stop the people with all of the forces that you may have at your command.”

Even many former Trump voters are appalled by Trump’s racism, as well as his overall moral squalor. According to a recent New York Times/Sienna College poll, more than 80% of people who voted for Trump in 2016 but won’t back him again in 2020 think he “doesn’t behave the way a president ought to act” – a view shared by 75% of registered voters across battleground states which will make all the difference in November.

A second big unifier has been Trump’s attacks on our system of government. Americans don’t particularly like or trust government but almost all feel some loyalty toward the constitution and the principle that no person is above the law.

Trump’s politicization of the justice department, attacks on the rule of law, requests to other nations to help dig up dirt on his political opponents, and evident love of dictators – especially Vladimir Putin – have played badly even among diehard conservatives.

Refugees from the pre-Trump GOP along with “Never Trumper” Republicans who rejected him from the start are teaming up with groups such as Republican Voters Against Trump, Republicans for the Rule of Law, the Lincoln Project and 43 Alumni for Biden, which comprises former officials of George W Bush’s (the 43rd president) administration. The Lincoln Project has produced dozens of hard-hitting anti-Trump ads, many running on Fox News.

The third big unifier has been Trump’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic. Many who might have forgiven his personality defects and authoritarian impulses can’t abide his bungling of a public health crisis that threatens their lives and loved ones.

In a poll released last week, 62% said Trump was “hurting rather than helping” efforts to combat Covid-19. Fully 78% of those who supported him in 2016 but won’t vote for him again disapprove of his handling of the pandemic. Voters in swing states like Texas, Florida and Arizona – now feeling the brunt of the virus – are telling pollsters they won’t vote for Trump.

Although the reasons for joining the anti-Trump coalition have little to do with Joe Biden, Trump’s presumed challenger, the Democrat may still become a transformational president. That’s less because of his inherent skills than because Trump has readied America for transformation.

The tempting analogy is to the election of 1932, in the midst of another set of crises. The public barely knew Franklin D Roosevelt, whom critics called an aristocrat without a coherent theory of how to end the Great Depression. But after four years of Herbert Hoover, America was so desperate for coherent leadership it was eager to support FDR and follow wherever he led.

There are still more than 100 days until election day, and many things could derail the emerging anti-Trump coalition: impediments to voting during the pandemic, foreign hacking into election machines, Republican efforts to suppress votes, quirks of the electoral college, Trumpian dirty tricks and his likely challenge to any electoral loss.

Yet even now, the breadth of the anti-Trump coalition is a remarkable testament to Donald Trump’s capacity to inspire disgust.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now. He is a columnist for Guardian US


Trump Holds Up a Chart on Fox News That Shows He’s Lying, Then Lies About What It Says
July 19, 2020
by Robert Mackey
The Intercept

The whole pathology  of Donald Trump’s presidency — his inability to accept facts that are not flattering to him, his resort to lying to cover up his mismanagement of the federal government, his staff’s desperate efforts to manufacture evidence to help him mislead the country and the conservative media’s role in enabling all of this — was on full display in just one 63-second exchange with the Fox News anchor Chris Wallace broadcast on Sunday.

Less than two minutes into the interview, Wallace confronted Trump with a damning statistic about his failure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, relative to other nations. “We have the seventh-highest mortality rate in the world,” Wallace noted, accurately. “Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it’s higher than Russia and the European Union has us on a travel ban.”

As I explained last week, Trump has spent the past three months trying to disguise his failure to keep Americans from dying of Covid-19 by telling the same lie: that the per capita death toll in the United States, known as the mortality rate, is among the lowest in the world. As of Friday, the day Wallace sat down with Trump, there were indeed just six countries in the world with more than 100,000 citizens that had more per capita deaths than the U.S. according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. (Over the weekend, Chile moved up the rankings, so the U.S. currently has the eighth-highest mortality rate in the world, excluding the tiny states of San Marino and Andorra.)

Trump, however, refused to let Wallace’s completely accurate statement go unchallenged by alternative facts. “When you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite,” he said. “I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”

When Wallace replied, “That’s not true, sir,” Trump demanded that his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, produce the misleading chart she has been using to try to prove, through sleight-of-hand, that the seventh-worst mortality rate in the world is really something to be proud of.

“Can you please get me the mortality rate?” Trump asked. “Kayleigh’s right here,” he explained to Wallace. “I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world,” he added. “Do you have the numbers, please?” he asked McEnany. “Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.”

The president’s reference to an important metric, the percentage of his population that has been lost to the pandemic so far, as something he vaguely “heard” somewhere was not exactly reassuring.

At that point, McEnany stepped into frame and handed the president a chart. She was not wearing a microphone, but appeared to say: “This is the case fate– deaths in all these different eight countries, as Dr. Birx points out.”

The reference to Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, suggested that the chart McEnany handed to Trump had come from his closest medical advisor on the pandemic. It was Birx who had first focused attention on the Covid-19 mortality rate in mid-April, when she stood next to Trump in the White House briefing room and presented a bar chart that showed that six European nations had higher per capita death rates from the disease than the U.S. at that point.

Trump glanced at the chart quickly, realized that it was upside down, and then displayed it for a fraction of a second before pronouncing, falsely, that it was proof that the U.S. had the “number one low mortality rate.” The chart, however, proved nothing of the kind.

That’s because it was not a measure of global mortality rates at all. It was, as the title visible in a freeze-frame showed, a chart looking at an entirely different metric: the “Case Fatality Rate of Covid-19.”

While the mortality rate is a straight-forward measure of how many citizens per capita have died from a disease, the case-fatality rate is something entirely different: the ratio between deaths from a disease and the total number of confirmed cases.

As the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. has skyrocketed, the nation’s case-fatality rate has indeed gone down, to just 3.8 percent, but that number is still higher than in dozens of other countries. It is also essentially meaningless, since nations are testing at different rates and researchers warn that the case-fatality rate is unknowable until after a pandemic ends, when the full death toll is known. In the meantime, it is a misleading way of measuring the lethality of a disease unless an entire population has been tested for it.

In recent weeks, at least two Trump aides, McEnany and Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, have claimed incorrectly that a chart showing the U.S. case-fatality rate declining means that “our mortality rate is going down.”

According to a version of the chart Trump held up that was displayed on-screen by Fox News later, the White House had created it using a tool on the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data website to compare the U.S. case-fatality rate to that of the global average and six other nations: Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, South Korea and Iceland. A note on the chart from the Oxford researchers warns against assigning too much importance to the metric. “During an outbreak of a pandemic,” the warning reads, “the CFR is a poor measure of the mortality risk of the disease.”

What the chart showed was that the U.S. ratio of deaths to cases on Friday was squarely in the middle of those selected countries: lower than Italy, Spain and Germany, but higher than Brazil, South Korea and Iceland. In other words, the chart Trump held up as proof that the U.S. had the lowest mortality rate in the world included no information about per capita mortality at all, and merely showed that the U.S. had a lower case-fatality rate than three randomly selected countries, and so was not “number one” in that category either.

The comparison of the U.S. case-fatality rate to that of Germany helps explain how irrelevant the statistic is, since there is no doubt which country is handling the pandemic better. While the U.S. has a case-fatality rate of 3.8 percent, compared to Germany’s 4.5 percent, America’s mortality rate of 428 deaths per million citizens is nearly four times higher than Germany’s of 110 per million.

As the U.S. exceeded 140,000 dead on Sunday, Germany, which has about one quarter the population of the U.S. has suffered 9,091 deaths. What this means is that more than 100,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19 this year would still be alive today had the federal government in Washington had been as successful as the one in Berlin.

While Trump misleads Americans about the U.S. mortality rate, just 359 new cases of Covid-19 are being diagnosed each day in Germany, and deaths there are down to an average of five a day. The U.S. by contrast is currently discovering an average of 63,281 new cases each day, and losing 756 lives.

When Wallace replied that Fox would “put our stats on,” Trump erupted. “You said we had the worst mortality rate in the world and we have the best!” he complained.

When the interview was broadcast, Fox briefly cut away from the exchange at that point to fact-check the issue. Unfortunately, Wallace and his producers made a complete mess of that, by also confusing the Covid-19 mortality rate with the case-fatality rate. So, as the Fox anchor presented what he said was, “the mortality rate for 20 countries hit by the virus,” the image on-screen was a chart from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus website showing case-fatality rates instead.

That data showed, Wallace said, that “the U.S. ranked seventh — better than the United Kingdom, but worse than Brazil and Russia.” This statement, echoing what he had said at the start of his interview with Trump, suggests that the anchor, like the president, had gone into the taping with no idea that the per capita mortality rate and the case-fatality rate are completely different things.

Trump, Portland mayor clash over causes of escalating unrest
July 19, 2020
by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu
Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump condemned protests in Portland, Oregon, and violence in “Democrat-run” cities on Sunday as his Republican administration moves to intervene in urban centers he says have lost control of anti-racism demonstrations.

Federal law enforcement officers, armed with a new executive order aimed at protecting U.S. monuments, last week started cracking down on crowds gathering in Portland to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

After a chaotic night in Portland that saw a police association building set on fire and officers shooting tear gas at a group of mothers protesting police brutality, Trump and Portland’s mayor traded barbs over who was to blame for the escalating unrest.

“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post.

Facing declining polling numbers before his Nov. 3 election against Democrat Joe Biden, Trump is making “law and order” a central campaign issue to appeal to critical suburban voters.

The crackdown in the liberal bastion of Portland drew widespread criticism and legal challenges as videos surfaced of camouflage-clad officers without clear identification badges using force and unmarked vehicles to arrest protesters without explanation.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Sunday that it was federal authorities who were sharply escalating the situation.

“Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism,” Wheeler said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “And it’s not helping the situation at all. They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”

Wheeler and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, both Democrats, called the move an abuse of power by the federal government and the state filed a lawsuit against the U.S. agencies involved.

On Sunday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives demanded internal investigations into whether the Justice and Homeland Security departments “abused emergency authorities” in handling the Portland protests.

NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf are working on measures the administration can take to counter the unrest.

“You’ll see something rolled out this week as we start to go in and make sure that the communities, whether it’s Chicago or Portland, or Milwaukee, or someplace across the heartland of the country, we need to make sure our communities are safe,” Meadows said on “Sunday Morning Futures.”

The announcement is expected to expand a new Justice Department initiative that sends federal law enforcement into cities facing protests.

MOMS TEAR-GASSED

In Portland on Saturday night, Melanie Damm said she saw unidentified federal officers in military-style gear fired tear gas canisters into a group of mothers, clad mostly in white, who were protesting against police brutality.

“The level of violence escalated by these GI soldiers was such an overreaction. You’re seeing moms getting tear-gassed,” said Damm, herself a 39-year-old mom. “We aren’t young and Antifa-looking,” she said, referring to more militant anti-fascism protesters.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump attributed the increase in violence in cities such as Chicago and New York by saying “they’re Democrat-run cities, they are liberally run. They are stupidly run.”

The Republican president last month threatened to send U.S. military troops to quell protests that erupted over police brutality and racism after the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis police officer.

Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Marshals Service, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), saying they had violated peoples’ civil rights by seizing and detaining them without probable cause.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Heather Timmons, Sonya Hepinstall and Diane Craft


Oregon protesters set fire to police precinct, tear gas used

June 26, 2020
by Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press

PORTLAND — The mayor and newly appointed police chief of Portland, Oregon, on Friday sharply criticized protesters who set fire to a police precinct and vandalized businesses the night before, saying continued violence at protests is preventing the city from moving forward with meaningful reform.

Early Friday, a group of several hundred demonstrators set fire to the North Precinct building while people were inside and barricaded the doors after they were unable to break in through a garage, according to a Portland Police Bureau account of the incident. Police in riot gear used CS gas, a type of tear gas, around 2:15 a.m. to disperse the crowd.

“What happened here is not helping bring about any meaningful change or reform,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a news conference held in front of a boarded-up building that had burn marks on the wood. “Last night was plainly and simply about arson. It was about destruction.”

Newly appointed Police Chief Chuck Lovell, who is Black, also criticized protesters’ tactics in a tweet Friday. He said earlier this week that demonstrations have cost the city $6.2 million so far and that cost does not include straight-time pay for officers pulled from other jobs to work at protests.

“Last night’s violence — barricading doors of a building with people inside and then lighting it on fire — is reprehensible & immoral,” Lovell tweeted. “The destruction in & around North Precinct and the Justice Center are senseless criminal acts & costing money that could go to restorative programs.”

Thousands of people have turned out every night for a nearly a month in this liberal Pacific Northwest city since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Most protesters are peaceful, but smaller numbers of people break away most nights and set small fires, tear down fences and statues and clash with police, Lovell said.

The demonstrators involved in the incident Friday morning “were more aggressive and violent than those seen in past weeks,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement. At least four people were arrested and one police officer went to the hospital.

The violence overshadowed a smaller rally held Thursday afternoon outside City Hall. The family of Patrick Kimmons, a 26-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Portland police officers in 2018, gathered along with supporters to demand justice.

A Multnomah County grand jury declined to charge the two officers who killed Kimmons.

Letha Winston, Kimmons’ mother, urged protesters to apply pressure on Wheeler and other elected officials to launch a second review of her son’s killing.

“I’m going to get justice, and I’m going to get it now,” Winston told a crowd of about 60 people, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Earlier this month, Wheeler called for a ban on the use of tear gas after it was repeatedly used on demonstrators. The nonprofit Don’t Shoot Portland and two protesters sued the city, seeking to ban the use of tear gas to disperse large crowds.

A federal judge on June 9 issued a 14-day court order barring the launching of the riot-control agent except when a life is at risk. The judge extended the temporary order through July 24.

 

US attorney calls for probe into federal crackdown on Portland riots; DHS chief promises ‘we will never surrender’
July 20, 2020
by Adam Shaw
Fox News

The U.S. Attorney for Oregon on Friday called for an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s conduct in cracking down on the riots that have plagued the city of Portland for weeks — just as DHS chief Chad Wolf said his agency would ‘never surrender” to extremists.

Attorney Billy Williams requested the investigation by the DHS Inspector General after a video emerged of federal law enforcement detaining protesters and putting them into unmarked vehicles. Civil rights groups accused the agency of “kidnapping” and the state’s congressional lawmakers and attorney general also demanded an investigation over fears that civil rights had been violated and that it was exacerbating tensions.

But DHS said that the video of one protester being bundled into an unmarked car came after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents had information that the individual was suspected of assaulting agents or destroying property, and as a mob approached.

“Once CBP agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location. For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioning,” the statement said. “The CBP agents identified themselves and were wearing CBP insignia during the encounter. The names of the agents were not displayed due to recent doxing incidents against law enforcement personnel who serve and protect our country.”

Portland has been plagued by violence and rioting since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. City authorities have said that local businesses sustained $23 million in losses due to looting and rioting. An Oregonian report, however, questioned whether some of that was attributable to coronavirus closures.

Law enforcement, both federal and local, have been attacked with hammers and other weapons, while protesters have released the personal information of officers online, DHS said.

The Trump administration deployed “rapid deployment teams” to Portland at the beginning of the month to stop violence in the city, as it continued to rage long after protests in other cities had stopped.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday released a lengthy list of the violence that had been committed by “violent anarchists” and visited Portland to survey the chaos that had ensued.

Our men and women in uniform are patriots,” Wolf said on Twitter after meeting with officers on the ground on Friday. “We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”

The timeline released by DHS describes how anarchists tried to “ambush” a Portland Police Department officer during a shift change, only for it to be foiled by a DHS team. It also noted the continued attacks on federal buildings such as the Hatfield Courthouse — one of a number of buildings damaged by rioters.

But, despite violence that has engulfed the city for 48 days, Oregon’s lawmakers have sounded the alarm instead at the actions by federal law enforcement, saying they are illegal and excessive, and are only escalating the situation — even though federal forces were only deployed to the liberal city only after it had already suffered weeks of violence.

“The words and action from President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security shows that this is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has called for law enforcement to leave the city, said. “In the past week, President Trump has used our city as a staging ground to further his political agenda, igniting his base to cause further divisiveness and in doing so endangering Portlanders.”

Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic congressional lawmakers — Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici — asked both DHS and Justice Dept. offices of Inspector General to investigate the “unrequested presence and violent actions of federal forces in Portland.”

“DHS and DOJ are engaged in acts that are horrific and outrageous in our constitutional democratic republic,” Merkley said in a statement. “First, they are deploying paramilitary forces with no identification indicating who they are or who they work for. Second, these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification. Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans. We demand not only that these acts end, but also that they remove their forces immediately from our state. Given the egregious nature of the violations against Oregonians, we are demanding full investigations by them.”

Wolf, meanwhile, showed no signs of backing down on Friday as he posted pictures of him speaking with law enforcement

.“These valiant men and women have defended our institutions of justice against violent anarchists for 48 straight days,” Wolf said. “We will prevail.”

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 


On accepting US election result, Donald Trump says ‘I have to see’
US President Donald Trump said he thought postal voting would “rig the election” and that he would “have to see” about accepting the outcome of this year’s vote. He slammed polls showing him behind Joe Biden as “fake.”
July 19, 2020
DW

When asked if he would accept the results of the 2020 election, US President Donald Trump said he was “not going to just say yes” or no.

“I have to see,” he told Fox News moderator Chris Wallace in an interview that aired on Sunday.

“I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either,” the president added, referring to a similar statement he made before winning the 2016 race.

Trump also said he was not “a good loser.”

“I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election, I really do,” he told Fox.

Trump calls unfavorable polls ‘fake’

Polls show Trump trailing behind Democratic rival Joe Biden, including a survey by ABC News and The Washington Post that on Sunday put Trump 10% behind Biden among likely voters.

When pressed on the issue of voter popularity, Trump said he was “not losing, because those are fake polls.”

“They were fake in 2016 and now they’re even more fake,” he added.

The Biden campaign responded to Trump by saying that the election would be decided by the American people. Trump lost the popular vote in the 2016 election by nearly 3 million votes but won more states and electoral votes.

“And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House,” the Biden campaign added.

During the pre-recorded interview, Trump also accused Biden of wanting to defund the police, and — when this claim was challenged as false by the interviewer — ordered an aide to bring him the document supporting the accusation. After receiving the document, the president was unable to locate the wording he believed would prove him right.

COVID-19: ‘They have the sniffles’

When asked about the coronavirus pandemic, Trump said the increased testing in the United States was the only reason for the growth in cases. When this was disputed by the host, who pointed out that more and more people were now testing positive on average, Trump said many of them were “young people that would heal in a day.”

“They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test…many of those cases shouldn’t even be cases,” Trump said.

The president also described the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, as “a little bit of an alarmist.”

Coronavirus will ‘disappear’

During the hour-long interview, which marked the president’s first news interview in over a year, Trump was also pressed on his repeated statements expressing hope that coronavirus would simply disappear.

“I will be right eventually,” Trump said. “I’ll say it again, it’s going to disappear,” adding that he has “been right probably more than anyone else.”

The US leads the globe on both the number of the coronavirus patients and the COVID-19 fatalities, with over 3,744,000 reported cases and over 140,000 lives lost to the pandemic.

 

Donald Trump hints that he may refuse to accept defeat should he lose to Joe Biden
July 20, 2020
by Eva Wall
extra.  ie

US President Donald Trump has hinted that he may refuse to accept defeat in November’s presidential election.

Over the coming months, Trump will go head-to-head with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as the septuagenarians seek election to the Oval Office.

As the US grapples with the ever-increasing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the divisions and tensions resulting from agitation against systemic racism and police brutality, Biden has pulled ahead of Trump in national opinion polls.

However, speaking in a recorded interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of November’s vote, echoing a similar stance taken by the 74-year-old ahead of the 2016 presidential election when asked if he would accept defeat at the hands of Hillary Clinton.

Dismissing the significance of recent opinion polls, Trump hinted ominously at his reaction to a potential Biden victory, informing interviewer Chris Wallace: ‘I have to see. Look, I have to see’.

The US President added: ‘No, I’m not just going to say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.’

Over the coming months, Trump will go head-to-head with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as the pair of septuagenarians seek election to the Oval Office.

During an election debate in October 2016, Trump declined to commit to accepting a Clinton victory, stating that he would ‘keep you in suspense’ when asked whether he would honour the will of the US electorate if his rival was voted into the White House.

Trump also queried the validity of recent opinion polls, insisting that Republican voters have not been adequately represented in such surveys.

Trump stated: ‘First of all, I’m not losing, because those are fake polls.

Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of November’s vote, echoing a similar stance taken by the 74-year-old ahead of the 2016 presidential election when asked if he would accept defeat at the hands of Hillary Clinton. Pic: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

‘They were fake in 2016 and now they’re even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016.’

How Trump Could Lose the Election and Remain President
A step-by-step guide to what might happen if he refuses to concede.
June 2020
by Daniel Block
Washington Monthly

At the end of his congressional testimony in February, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer, floated a nightmarish possibility.

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump,” Cohen said, “I fear that if he loses in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Cohen’s comments may seem hyperbolic, but they are worth taking seriously. In the aftermath of 2018, Trump told reporters, “Republicans don’t win, and that’s because of potentially illegal votes.” In a 2016 presidential debate, Trump refused to say whether he would accept defeat. “I’ll keep you in suspense,” he declared. Since that election, Trump has routinely said that his popular vote defeat was the product of “millions and millions” of illegal ballots. Now, facing potential legal jeopardy from ongoing investigations into hush-money payments and any number of apparent financial crimes, he might reasonably conclude that staying in office is the only way to avoid being indicted.

So what would it look like if Trump refused to concede? Is there really a way he could stay in office? It’s unlikely. For starters, successful autocrats rarely lose elections. “They take steps to rig it well in advance,” said Steven Levitsky, a comparative political scientist at Harvard University and the coauthor of How Democracies Die. They pack electoral authorities, jail opponents, and silence unfriendly media outlets. America’s extremely decentralized electoral system and powerful, well-funded opposition makes this very difficult to pull off.

The U.S. also lacks the kind of politicized military that lets some discredited autocrats, like Venezuela’s Nicholás Maduro, hang on. “I can’t imagine the military accepting an effort to turn them into a partisan arm of the executive,” said Robert Mickey, a political scientist at the University of Michigan who researches the history of authoritarianism in the American South.

But while nationwide cheating may be impossible, the Republican Party has proven more than willing to violate democratic norms where it has local control, and not every powerful institution is as neutral as the military. There is a sequence of events, each individually plausible, that would allow Trump to remain president despite losing the election—breaking American democracy in the process.

“I think we know that Trump will certainly, no matter what the result is, be likely to declare that there was fraud and that he was the rightful victor,” said Joseph Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas who studies elections

Let’s assume that Fishkin is right. Here’s what could keep Trump in power.

  1. The election is close.

If Trump lost in a blowout, alleging fraud would accomplish little. Even entrenched autocrats are often forced from office when they are heftily defeated.

But that doesn’t mean the race would need to be a redux of 2000, when George W. Bush won the presidency with an official margin of 537 votes, to spark a crisis. Given increasing polarization and the Republican Party’s growing impatience with democratic norms, experts told me the party might challenge even a clear defeat. “I am worried now, given the reaction to 2018, that you could get a dispute over a five-digit number,” said Edward Foley, a law professor and elections expert at Ohio State University.

Others suggested the margin could be even wider. When I asked Mark Tushnet, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, just how close the election would have to be for Republicans to support Trump in disputing the results, he said, “ ‘Close’—as Trump supporters define it.”

However you construe the word, a close election is well within the realm of possibility. In 2016, Trump won his three pivotal states—Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—by five-digit numbers. Indeed, most of the country’s twenty-first-century elections have hinged on a few states with narrow margins.

“[2020] will probably be a nail-biter election where the polls are mixed or indeterminate, where it’s really not clear who is going to win,” said Levitsky. “If it’s close, just as Trump kind of did in 2018, Trump could basically claim fraud. And we don’t really have mechanisms to deal with that.”

  1. Trump claims fraud, and Republicans back him up.

It is Wednesday morning, November 4, 2020. At 7:15 a.m., after a stressful night of watching the returns trickle in, the Associated Press projects that the Democratic presidential candidate will win Pennsylvania, and, with it, the presidency. Sure enough, it’s a narrow victory—279 electoral votes to 258. When all is said and done, the Democrat wins Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania by only about 77,000 votes combined, the same amount Trump won those states by in 2016.

Donald Trump, who spent the past five months warning about fraud, has been eerily silent for most of the night. But as soon as the Democrat takes the stage to give her victory speech, he unleashes a barrage of tweets claiming that over 100,000 illegal immigrants voted in Michigan and that Philadelphia kept its polls open for hours later than allowed. “Without PHONY voters, I really won!” he tweets. “This is FRAUD!” Needless to say, the president does not call to congratulate his opponent. At an afternoon press conference, Trump’s press secretary announces he will not concede.

What happens next?

“In the best-case scenario, key Republicans would either talk him down or defect from Trump and say, ‘He’s wrong,’ ” Levitsky said. Most of the academics I spoke with also thought that this was likely. “I’m just having trouble wrapping my head around even this polarized and often radicalized Republican Party going along with that,” said Mickey. “This is kind of the limit condition of scenarios and surprise.”

But they acknowledged that defections were far from guaranteed. “Trump is still far and away the most popular Republican,” Levitsky said. “If Sean Hannity is claiming fraud on television and Rush Limbaugh is claiming fraud and Mitch McConnell is not willing to stand up and say, ‘No, there was no fraud,’ then we could have a real crisis.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what takes place. After forty-eight hours of silence, the Senate majority leader issues a terse press release in which he says he “recognizes the president’s serious concerns” about the election’s integrity. Some GOP representatives do break ranks and call for Trump to concede (I’m looking at you, Mitt Romney), but most stay silent or back the president’s claims. In a monumental act of gaslighting, Lindsey Graham tells reporters that Democrats are the ones undermining democracy. “They are afraid of a thorough investigation into the fairness of this election,” he declares. “They’ll stop at nothing to get this president out of office.”

  1. Polarized courts side with the GOP.

Almost everyone I spoke with told me that, at this point, the election results would be challenged in court. The Trump campaign might sue Democratic-leaning counties for alleged “irregularities” and ask that judges toss out their results. “I can imagine the litigation in Pennsylvania taking the form of saying voting booths in Philadelphia were held open an excessively long time, an unlawfully long time, or the vote counters in some Democratic-leaning county unlawfully refused to count late-filed absentee ballots,” Tushnet said. Victory for Trump would “mean throwing out the ballots and saying that when those are thrown out, Trump gets the state’s electoral votes.” That, in turn, would allow him to remain president.

This argument, and the many others that the Trump campaign could employ, would almost certainly be specious. But Tushnet cautioned against underestimating the power of creative attorneys and motivated reasoning. The legal justification for challenging the returns would develop, he said, “in some ways that we can’t really anticipate now but that lawyers will come up with when it matters.”

The academics I spoke with cited Bush v. Gore as evidence. When the U.S. Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed majority shut down the Florida recount, giving the 2000 election to George W. Bush, it did so by reading the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause in an expansive manner totally at odds with typical conservative jurisprudence. The Court even told other judges that their decision could not be used as precedent.

The academics I spoke with cited Bush v. Gore as evidence. When the U.S. Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed majority shut down the Florida recount, giving the 2000 election to George W. Bush, it did so by reading the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause in an expansive manner totally at odds with typical conservative jurisprudence. The Court even told other judges that their decision could not be used as precedent.

“The justices, along with everybody else, seemed to view disputed facts through the lens of the place where they have been ideologically,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine School of Law.

Still, it’s one thing for the courts to interfere in an election with a three-digit margin. It’s something else to invalidate a five-digit win. That would be truly extraordinary.

But it is not unthinkable. Autocrats abroad often rely on packed courts to cling to power, and while the U.S. judiciary is far more independent than that of Honduras or Venezuela, there’s no doubt that Trump has made a substantial imprint. He has appointed a historically high number of federal appeals court judges. He has added two justices to the Supreme Court. One of them, Brett Kavanaugh, has been outwardly partisan, raving during his confirmation hearings that he was the victim of an “orchestrated political hit” designed to function as “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” fueled by “millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.” He obliquely warned, “What goes around comes around.”

  1. Alternatively, Republicans play extreme constitutional hardball.

The courts aren’t the only mechanism Republicans might use to keep Trump in power. The Constitution gives state legislators free rein to decide how to select electors. Currently, most states legally require electors to vote the same way as the people. But in a state with complete Republican control over the government, the legislature and governor could, in theory, pass a bill that strips this power away from citizens between the election and the actual casting of electoral votes. (Indeed, in some instances, the state legislature alone might be able to usurp its constituents.) If this sounds far-fetched, recall that GOP governments in North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin have all recently pulled lame-duck attempts to limit the power of incoming Democratic governors, with varying degrees of success.

To imagine how this would play out, consider Florida, where the GOP controls the governorship and both houses of the state legislature. If the Democratic presidential nominee narrowly won the state in 2020, Trump might cry fraud and demand an investigation—as he did in the aftermath of the state’s 2018 Senate race, when it wasn’t yet clear that Republican Rick Scott had won. The legislature could establish an investigatory commission stacked with partisans and designed to sow doubt about the outcome. Perhaps Kris Kobach, vice chair of Trump’s erstwhile Commission on Election Integrity (and the patron saint of franchise restrictions), would lead it.

The courts might still refuse to intervene. But Trump allies in the Florida legislature could pass a bill giving themselves direct power to appoint the state’s electors. Governor Ron DeSantis, an outspoken Trump ally, could sign it, claiming that the fraud allegations and “controversy” over the tallies make the popular vote untrustworthy, and that he’s merely implementing the voters’ “real” will.

This might sound too cynical, but in 2000, the GOP-controlled Florida legislature considered something similar. “They were effectively saying, ‘Hey, if it turns out Gore wins in court, we’re not going to accept that, and we’re going to assert an authority to appoint the electors directly,’ ” said Edward Foley, at Ohio State. Such a move would also invite a Fourteenth Amendment challenge, this time on behalf of Democrats. But it’s unclear if the conservative Supreme Court would intervene.

Foley, for his part, is more concerned about this kind of scenario than he is about judicial manipulation. “Judges are fact based and evidence based,” he said. “We know that Justice Clarence Thomas is a very different person than Justice Sonia Sotomayor, but I do think that with most election results they would agree as to what the answer was.” But he worries that politicians might refuse to accept the Court’s decision. “The judicial process is going to be slower than the Twitter process,” Foley told me. “If the Twitter process forces or causes politicians to dig in, then can a unanimous judiciary unstick the politicians?”

The Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution gives Congress final say over who becomes president. In some instances, the procedures for how Congress handles election disputes are clear. If there are three or more candidates and nobody wins a majority of electors, for example, the House decides who wins. But if it’s a two-way race where both candidates claim an Electoral College majority, Foley said, it’s unclear which chamber has the last word.

What would happen next is anyone’s guess. But it wouldn’t be pretty. “I think you could have a long, drawn-out crisis in which our institutions lose credibility,” Levitsky said. Even if Trump were eventually forced out, “we’ll be left with a situation where maybe 30, 35 percent of our population believes the election was rigged.”

It’s in this kind of crisis that Michael Cohen’s fears are most likely to be realized. “I could imagine some rioting, some civil violence,” said John Carey, a political scientist at Dartmouth who studies comparative democracy and who cofounded Bright Line Watch, which monitors the health of American democracy. “We just can’t imagine all the possibilities.”

Hopefully, we won’t have to. Trump may lose decisively, rendering his claims of foul play empty. He may win. Or he may lose a tight race and cry foul, but still ultimately accept defeat. In the aftermath of the midterms, for example, Trump groused about fraud without seriously contesting the outcome.

Trump, of course, wasn’t on the ballot in 2018. Losing in 2020 would be far more personal. But even if Trump refused to concede, it doesn’t mean he’d manage to remain in office. John Roberts has worried publicly about the credibility of the Supreme Court. It seems unlikely that he would “save” Trump from a less-than-ambiguous electoral defeat. Democratic governors in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin form a formidable roadblock against local Republican power grabs. Faced with incontrovertible evidence that Trump lost—and no plausible pathway to mess with the outcome—Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and Mike Pence would probably tell Trump to pack his bags.

And if Trump still refused to go?

“I’m not sure which branch it would be, but it must be the case that somebody would be responsible for taking one elbow and somebody would be responsible for taking the other elbow,” Carey said. “I can imagine the feet going kind of crazy. But I like to think that it would be without too much damage to anyone.”


Department of Defense-Domestic Counterinsurgency
NUMBER 3005.20
July 10, 2020 USD(I)
SUBJECT: DoD Domestic Military Order-Counterinsurgency Overview : See Enclosure 1
Domestic Military Order – Counterinsurgency Overview

Part 2

ELEMENTS OF THE INSURGENCY

CADRE

The cadre is the political activists and local political leaders of the insurgency. They are referred to as militants since they are actively engaged in struggling to accomplish insurgent goals. The insurgent movement provides guidance and procedures to the cadre, and the cadre use these to assess the grievances in local areas and carry out activities that satisfy those grievances. They then attribute the solutions they have provided to the insurgent movement itself. Deeds are the key to making insurgent slogans meaningful to the population.Larger societal issues facilitate such action, because these larger issues may be blamed for life’s smaller problems. Insurgents, however, may have no regard for popular dissent or local grievances. The insurgents play by no rules, and they will use fear as a means to intimidate the populace and thereby prevent cooperation with the military or local law enforcement..

MASS BASE

The mass base consists of the followers of the insurgent movement that are the population of the counterstate. Mass base members are recruited and indoctrinated by the cadre, who implement instructions and procedures provided by the insurgent leadership. Though they do not actively fight for the insurgency, mass base members provide intelligence and supplies. Mass base members may continue in their normal positions in society, but many will either lead second, clandestine lives for the insurgent movement, or even pursue new, full-time positions within the insurgency. Combatants normally begin as members of the mass base before becoming armed manpower.

The insurgent leadership thus provides organizational and managerial skills to transform regions into an effective base for armed political action, while the cadre accomplishes this same transformation at the community and mobilized individual level. What results, as in any armed conflict, is a contest of resource mobilization and force deployment. A state is challenged by a counterstate. No objective force level guarantees victory for either side. It is frequently stated that a 10 to 1 or 20 to 1 ratio of counterinsurgents to insurgents is necessary for counterinsurgency victory. In reality, research has demonstrated time and again there are no valid ratios that, when met, guarantee victory. As in conventional war, correlation of forces in an insurgency depends upon the situation. Though objective and valid force-correlation ratios do not exist, counterinsurgency has been historically manpower intensive. Time, which often works on the side of the insurgent, just as often places serious constraints upon counterinsurgent courses of action.

ORIGINS AND CAUSES

Rising up against constituted authority has been present throughout history. The causes for such uprisings have been as numerous as human conditions. Uprisings against indigenous regimes have normally been termed “rebellions.” Uprisings against an external occupying power have normally been termed “resistance movements.” Historical particulars can at times combine the two.

Rebellions and resistance movements are transformed into an insurgency by their in-corporation into an armed political campaign. A popular desire to resist is used by an insurgent movement to accomplish the insurgents’ political goal. The insurgency thus mounts a political challenge to the state through the formation of, or desire to, create a counterstate.

The desire to form a counterstate grows from the same causes that galvanize any political campaign. These causes can range from the desire for greater equity in the distribution of resources (poverty alone is rarely, if ever, sufficient to sustain an insurgency) to a demand that foreign occupation end. Increasingly, religious ideology has become a catalyst for insurgent movements. The support of the people, then, is the center of gravity. It must be gained in whatever proportion is necessary to sustain the insurgent movement (or, contrariwise, to defeat it). As in any political campaign, all levels of support are relative.

Violence is the most potent weapon available to insurgents. Nonetheless, violence can alienate when not linked to a vision of a better life. Violence is often accompanied by a variety of nonviolent means that act as a potent weapon in an external propaganda war and assist recruiting. Historically, astute movements have recognized the efficacy of both means to the extent they have fielded discrete units charged with nonviolent action (for example, strikes in the transportation sector) to supplement violent action. The insurgents in Algeria rarely defeated French forces in the field; they employed indiscriminate violence, success fully initiated nonviolent strikes, developed associated propaganda for external use, and thereby handily won their war. “People’s war” in its Chinese and Vietnamese variants did this also.

Insurgency Development

Insurgent movements begin as “fire in the minds of men.” Insurgent leaders commit themselves to building a new world. They construct the organization to carry through this desire. Generally, popular grievances become insurgent causes when interpreted and shaped by the insurgent leadership. The insurgency grows if the cadre that is local insurgent leaders and representatives can establish a link between the insurgent movement and the desire for solutions to grievances sought by the local population.

Insurgent leaders will exploit opportunities created by government security force actions. The behavior of security forces is critical. Lack of security force discipline leads to alienation, and security force abuse of the populace is a very effective insurgent recruiting tool. Consequently, specific insurgent tactical actions are often planned to frequently elicit overreaction from security force individuals and units.

LEADERSHIP

Leadership figures engage in command and control of the insurgent movement. They are the idea people and planners. They see solutions to the grievances of society in structural terms. They believe that only altering the way the institutions and practices of society fit together will result in real change. Reforms and changes in personalities are deemed insufficient to “liberate” or “redeem” society. Historically, insurgencies have coalesced around a unifying leader, ideology, and organization. However, this precedent can no longer be assumed. It is possible that many leaders at the head of several organizations with different ideologies but united by a single goal of overthrowing the government or ridding the country of a foreign presence will emerge.

Leadership is critical to any insurgency. Insurgency is not simply random political violence. It is directed and focused political violence. It requires leadership to provide vision, direction to establish and set the long-term way ahead, short-term guidance, coordination, and organizational coherence. Insurgent leaders must make their cause known to the people and gain popular support. Although, theoretically, the insurgent leader desires to gain popular support for the cause, that desire is often accompanied by a terror campaign against those who do not support the insurgents’ goals. Their key tasks are to break and supplant the ties between the people and the government, and to establish legitimacy for their movement. Their education, family, social and religious connections, and positions may contribute to their ability to think clearly, communicate, organize, and lead  an insurgency; or their lack of education and connections may delay or impair their access to positions where they are able to exercise leadership.

Insurgencies are dynamic political movements, resulting from real or perceived grievance or neglect that leads to alienation from an established government. Alienated elite members advance alternatives to existing conditions. (Culture defines elites. For example, in most of the world educators and teachers are members of the elite; in Islamic and many Catholic nations, religious leaders are elite members.) As their movement grows, leaders decide which body of “doctrine” to adopt. In the mass mobilization approach, leaders recruit, indoctrinate, and deploy the cadre necessary to carry out the actions of the movement. In the armed action approach, there is often a much more decentralized mode of operations, but this is usually guided by a central organization. Extreme decentralization results in a movement that rarely functions as a coherent body but is nevertheless capable of inflicting substantial casualties and damage.

COMBATANTS

The combatants do the actual fighting and are often mistaken for the movement itself. This they are not. They exist only to carry out the same functions as the police and armed forces of the state. They only constitute part of the movement, along with the planners and idea people. In many insurgencies the combatants maintain local control, as well as protect and expand the counterstate. Combatants who secure local areas are the local forces. The local forces use terror initially to intimidate and establish local control and later to enforce the will of the leadership. They conduct limited ambushes of government forces and police, also. Combatants who link local areas and provide regional security are the regional forces. Both of these elements normally are tied to specific AO. Main forces, in contrast, are the “heavy” units of the insurgent movement and may be deployed in any AO. Rather than employing terror (local forces) and guerrilla warfare (the main activity of regional forces), they engage in mobile warfare and positional warfare, both subsumed under the “conventional warfare” rubric but different in emphasis when used by insurgents.          Due to the growing possibility of separate leaders in different regions with various goals, this force-role linkage may not be present. Instead, independent insurgent leaders may carry on military operations, to include terror, independent of other insurgent forces.Conventional warfare may be minimized. Ultimately, time is on the side of the insurgent. Fear, intimidation and violence—coupled with the television and internet—may achieve the social upheaval the insurgent seeks and force foreign powers to abandon the sitting government because of pressures from their own people at home.

Continued….


Encyclopedia of American Loons

Charles Klotsche

Color therapy was, by 1993, apparently “a new dimension in holistic healing,” which “provides a powerful technique for treating specific imbalances and strengthening the immune system.” Most people who are not medically illiterate will of course know that “strengthening the immune system” is code for “nonsense” (for obvious reasons), but color medicine was probably never intended for the medically literate (medicine it isn’t) – or, in general, the minimally literate. So, for instance, in Charles Klotsche’s 1993 book Color Medicine: The Secrets of Color Vibrational Healing, by “combining aura-attuned chromatherapy with harmonious sounds, tissue salts, and hydrochromatherapy, the 49th vibrational technique was developed. It is safe, simple, economical, and highly effective.” Yeah, as a description it might just be too inane to even count as technobabble; “word salad” seems more apt. An interesting detail about Klotsche’s description is his desire to describe the technique as simultaneously new and revolutionary, and ancient as rocks (too tempting a fallacy for most altmed promoters). So, color therapy is “[a] breakthrough, yet as old as recorded medicine.”

How does it work (apart from not)? “Color Medicine utilizes the subtle energy vibrations similar to those found in the visible spectrum – the 49th octave. Light energy is processed through color filters and irradiated into the aura. By matching corresponding wavelengths to the organs and systems of the body, it strengthens or sedates energy in the distressed areas, creating a support system for the healing process.” Critics may point out that there are some crucial details missing here (“matching corresponding wavelengths” [my emphasis]; the difference between “strengthen[ing]” and “sedat[ing]” energy that by the author’s own descriptions cannot be measured, and so on). Nevertheless, Klotsche’s book is a “textbook and how-to handbook, it encompasses an encyclopedia of vital, fascinating information, charts, diagrams, and tables, as well as methods of treatment and technical advice.” Wanna bet on whether Klotsche’s “information, charts, diagrams, and tables” address the worries just raised anywhere?

In more detail, the information in the book covers the following topics:

– Explore the electromagnetic effects on physical/etheric bodies.

– Recognizing the aura: color meanings and tonal equivalents.

– Adjusting the body’s oscillations by sound [how does your body oscillate? Ever thought about that?]

– Effects of monochord/color and rhythm on the body.

–  Interplay between music and the chakra system. [Ah, yes: There we are.]

– Biochemical system’s [sic] dependency on light.

– Materials and practical techniques.

– 123 major illnesses and their treatments.

Oh, well. We struggle to locate much more information about Klotsche, apart from the title of a later book, Journeys: Self-Discovery Through Travel – assuming it’s the same guy.

Diagnosis: It’s always hard to determine the extent to which promoters of this kind of bullshit actually believe the drivel they’re spewing. Assuming he does, Klotsche is an extreme religious fanatic and should probably be avoided unless you think you can help.

 Curtis Knapp

Curtis Knapp is the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, and he thinks the government should kill homosexuals. Quoting Scripture, Knapp said in 2012 that homosexuals “should be put to death. That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversations. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet.” Being a sensible man, however, Knapp didn’t think you should just start going around killing gays: “‘So, you’re saying we should go out and start killing them?’ No. I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.” When confronted with his claims, Knapp pointed out that “We punish pedophilia. We punish incest, we punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption.” Ah, distinctions. How the f*** do they work?

Diagnosis: No, Fred Phelps isn’t alone. Curtis Knapp has all of Phelps’s charisma and reasoning skills – and probably not much less impact.

Melba Ketchum

A legend in crank circles, Melba Ketchum, a veterinarian by trade, is probably today’s leading, uh, expert on Bigfoot. Ketchum claims to have sequenced Bigfoot DNA and found it to be a new species of hominid that is a hybrid of Homo sapiens and some other species. Yes: Bigfoot arose some 15,000 years ago when some cryptids had sex with modern human females, resulting in hairy hominin hybrids. According to a 2012 press release, which described their five-year long DNA study “currently under peer-review”, Ketchum and her team obtained three “whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species.” Of course, the obvious conclusion to draw (further reasons here) from sequencing showing that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, is that her samples were human DNA, but “obvious” is just a repressive tactic of the establishment.

It is also unclear how they determined that the samples were really from a Bigfoot: If they took a blood or saliva sample from a living Bigfoot one may wonder why they didn’t capture or photograph it; if the samples were just found, it is a bit unclear how do they determined that they weren’t left by another animal or hiker. At least Ketchum has (on a different occasion) claimed to have obtained her DNA samples from a blueberry bagel left in the backyard of a Michigan woman who claims that 10 Sasquatch creatures visit her property on a regular basis. Here’s a video recording they made of the beast. Isn’t it unfortunate that it just happens to be so out-of-focus?

It is, however, telling that Ketchum refused to let anyone else see her evidence. She did, however, release a statement requesting that the U.S. government immediately recognize Bigfoot as “an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights.”

When the paper predictably failed to clear peer review, Ketchum responded by buying an existing journal, renaming it (De Novo) and releasing a special edition containing one paper: her own. According to Ketchum, the standard venues used peer-reviewers that were too close-minded (“I am calling it the ‘Galileo Effect’,” said Ketchum), and “Denovo, the new journal is aimed at offering not only more choices and better service to scientists wanting to submit a manuscript, but also reviewers and editors that will be fair, unlike the treatment we have received.” At least she can now claim to have the results published in a peer-reviewed journal, and that’s what matters. The paper is discussed here; some comments from geneticists are here.

Ketchum is at present still running the Sasquatch genome project, which at the very least sports an awfully formatted webpage. It should probably be a cause of some concern that Ketchum, in her bio, states that she “provides professional forensic consultation and testimony in legal cases.” It would be a pity not to use the skills and techniques acquired from sequencing a Sasquatch genome for public good, such as sending people to jail.

Her team, listed here for future reference, consists of:

–       Patrick Wojkiewicz, “Director of the Shreveport Laboratory of the North Louisiana Crime Lab System and the Technical Leader of the DNA section.”

–       Aliece Watts, “Quality Director for Integrated Forensic Laboratories, Inc.”

–       David W. Spence, “trace evidence supervisor with the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, Criminal Investigations Laboratory, at Dallas County.”

–       Andreas Holzenburg, Director of the Microscopy & Imaging Center at Texas A&M University.

–       Douglas Toler, “clinical pathologist at Huguley Memorial Hospital in Fort Worth.”

–       Tom Prychitko, “laboratory director at Helix Biological Laboratory, a biological testing firm he established in 2009,” and who apparently has a long backstory of Sasquatch hunting and DNA testing.

–       Fan Zhang, “Bioinformatician at the Department of Academic and Institutional Resources and Technology, University of North Texas Health Science Center.”

–       Ray Shoulders and Ryan Smith (no biographical information given).

Diagnosis: A prime example of how cargo cult science operates, complete with vanity labs and vanity journals. Of course, Ketchum and her gang are mostly pretty harmless and fun, but other pseudoscientists in other fields using the same sorts of approaches and techniques are not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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