Justin Amash just announced an exploratory committee for a bid for the White House

Jane Coaston writing in Vox:

‘Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), a libertarian House representative and frequent critic of Donald Trump’s presidency, announced his intention on Tuesday to launch an exploratory committee to examine a run for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination.

…Conservatives (and libertarians) are divided on the potential of Amash’s run, with some arguing that Amash could take valuable votes away from Democratic nominee Joe Biden and help Donald Trump. The actual research on third-party voters is a little complicated. Because so few Americans vote third party, it’s often hard to say if they have a real impact on the outcome of the race. But it’s certainly a get for the Libertarian Party. Candidate Jacob Hornberger told Reason Magazine that an outside candidacy could help the Libertarian Party. “When these people come in from outside the party, it provides a prestige factor.”…’

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Some totally non-sarcastic praise of Trump’s comic genius

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Dana Milbank writing in The Washington Post:

‘In conventional usage, sarcasm, from the Greek “sarkasmos,” or sneer, means to use irony in a cutting way — often enthusiastically stating the opposite of what one means. But like all pioneers in the field of comedy, Trump has shifted the boundaries so that “sarcastic” means, roughly, “a term applied retroactively to something I wish I hadn’t said.”
For example…’

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Combination of Foods We Eat May Affect Dementia Risk

Janice Wood writing in PsychCentral:

‘Researchers found that while there were few differences in the amount of individual foods that people ate, overall food groups or networks differed substantially between people who had dementia and those who did not have dementia.

“Processed meats were a ‘hub’ in the food networks of people with dementia,” said Samieri. “People who developed dementia were more likely to combine highly processed meats such as sausages, cured meats, and patés with starchy foods like potatoes, alcohol, and snacks like cookies and cakes.

“This may suggest that the frequency with which processed meat is combined with other unhealthy foods, rather than average quantity, may be important for dementia risk. For example, people with dementia were more likely, when they ate processed meat, to accompany it with potatoes and people without dementia were more likely to accompany meat with more diverse foods, including fruit and vegetables and seafood.”…’

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Republican Groups’Scathing Anti-Trump Ads

Lee Moran writing in HuffPost:

‘Two conservative groups that are working to defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election released online ads Friday attacking the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lincoln Project, of which conservative attorney George Conway (the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway) is a prominent member, released this video asking which kind of American its viewers would like to be ― one, like Trump, who demands, or one who makes sacrifices.

Republicans for the Rule of Law, meanwhile, shared a minute-long video of Trump musing during Thursday’s task force briefing about injecting disinfectant to combat the virus. Trump claimed Friday he was being sarcastic.

“50,000 people have died. This is our president,” read the text at the start of the clip. It ended with the words: “Unfit. Unwell. Unacceptable.”…’

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Trump goes into hiding

Oliver Darcy writing in CNN:

‘It looks like President Trump is going into hiding — from the press, that is. Facing an avalanche of controversy over his bizarre comments on sunlight and dangerous comments regarding disinfectants, the President held a record short briefing Friday evening (sans Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx), abruptly ending it after 22 minutes of statements without taking any questions from the press.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer called Trump “chicken” and said he was “probably afraid” of the grilling he was all but certain to face over the “flat lie” he told the day before regarding disinfectants. Later in the night, Anderson Cooper, who argued Trump was guilty of “Soviet”-like spin for pretending his comments were sarcastic during a bill signing, said he “cut and ran” because he knew he’d face hard questions.

CNN and other news organizations, including Axios which broke the news, reported Friday eveningthat there has been an effort among White House aides to stop holding daily coronavirus briefings. And the schedule released for Saturday shows no briefings scheduled…

The move comes after Trump even started receiving criticism from Fox. When he tried to claim that he was merely being sarcastic with his disinfectant remarks, anchors like Neil Cavuto and Bret Baier pushed back. “Wow, that is a little unsettling,” said Cavuto. “Got to clarify this. The president was not joking in his remarks yesterday.” And Baier said Trump “clearly stepped in it” and did not appear to be joking…’

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Donald Trump, American Idiot

Umair Haque writing in Medium:

‘Immortalized in a song by a SoCal punk band, the American idiot is a figure everyone knows — and Americans, too often, don’t want to admit exists. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Everyone in my dog park, everyone in the world.

Consider, for a moment, the actions of the American President since the beginning of the pandemic.

— Denying there was one

— Passing an inadequate stimulus bill

— Obstructing any kind of national strategy

— Encouraging “lockdown liberation” protesters

— Cutting funding for the WHO

— And finally, telling people to…drink Lysol

That, my friends, will be remembered as one of the textbook examples of what it means to be an American idiot.

So what does it mean, really? This morning at the dog park, I got ribbed by Massimo and Ben for the above. Yesterday, when I was at the dog park, I got asked, puzzled, by Wolfgang, the funny and gentle German, if it was really true: did Americans carry guns to Starbucks? I looked at him like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching freight train. Then I nodded and shrugged. “But why?!” he asked, astonished.

He had a point. The point is made to me every single day now, in baffled conservations, in bewildered questions, in shocked and stunned observations: what the hell is wrong with Americans? Are they really this crazy? They can’t be. But they keep on…so are they? What the?

The world, you see, looks at America, and sees something very different than Americans do. It doesn’t just see a lunatic demagogue telling people to drink Lysol after cutting funding for the WHO. It sees a nation of people quicker to carry a gun than read a book, who’ll happily deny their neighbor’s kids healthcare but go to church every Sunday, who predictably, consistently vote against any improvement to their standards of living…which by now have reached standards that people in most of the rest of the world literally don’t believe, and neither do Americans.

If I tell you, for example, the simple fact that a 15 year old boy in Bangladesh now has a higher chance of making it to old age than an America, would you believe me? And yet…it’s true.

American life is made up of a series of abuses and exploitations and degradations that shock the rest of the world — all of it, not just some of it. You’re a kid, and you go to school, where armed, masked men burst in, and fire fake bullets at you — “active shooter drills.” Maybe you go into “lunch debt.” When it’s time to go off to college — good luck, it’s going to cost as much as a home. Therefore, you can forget about every really owning much, because you’re trying to pay off a series of mounting debts your whole life long. By middle age, like most Americans, you’re simply unable to make ends meet — who can, when going to the hospital can cost more than a mansion? Therefore, forget retirement — it’s something that vanished long ago. Maybe you’re working at Walmart in your old age, maybe you’re driving an Uber — but you’re still where you always were, being exploited and abused for pennies, to make the ultra rich richer.

Nobody — and I mean nobody — in the rest of the world thinks this is sane, normal, or desirable. Nobody. It’s so far right that even the hardest of European right eschews such a social model. The left, of course, points out how badly capitalism has failed — and it’s right. America is off the charts — a society so far into collapse that it can’t see normality at all anymore. It doesn’t even appear to vaguely remember that it’s not OK for everyone, more or less, to be exploited their whole lives long.

That brings me back to the American idiot. I don’t say the above to write a jeremiad, but to explain the American idiot to Americans, which is a job that I think sorely needs doing. Not for any lack of trying, perhaps — but certainly for a lack of success.

“The American idiot” isn’t an insult. It’s a term with a precise and specific meaning. The Greeks called those only interested in private life “idiots” — that is what the term really means. So it is for Americans.

What unites those “lockdown liberation” protesters, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, McKinsey and Co running concentration camps, and Faux News?They are all in it for private gain. There is no sense of a common wealth or of a public interest or a shared good whatsoever. In fact, even that’s an understatement.

This way of thinking stems from Ayn Rand, who was an acolyte of Nietzsche’s harder, later more embittered thinking, and to it, the idea of any kind of common good is itself a lie. To even imagine a common good or public interest is to do damage. To what? To the Uberman. To the Zarathustra. To the “master morality”, which must dominate the “slave morality”, is the world is to be fair…’