This is a group of nuts and kooks and he ought to disavow them,” — former Bush administration senior advisor Karl Rove on Trump’s embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theory.


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Former President Barack Obama speaks from Philadelphia on night three of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Democratic National Convention/Youtube


Joe Biden will accept the Democratic nomination tonight, wrapping up the party’s four-day virtual convention. Barack Obama torched Donald Trump last night, saying he’s a danger to democracy, while Kamala Harris introduced herself with a biography-heavy acceptance speech. Here’s some advice for Biden about what he should say.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was charged in an alleged border-wall fundraising scam. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused Bannon and three associates of siphoning off $1 million from “We Build the Wall,” which raised more than $25 million to build a piece of Trump’s border wall.

Russia’s most prominent opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was hospitalized in a suspected poisoning. The journalist/activist fell agonizingly ill on a flight to Moscow, and his plane made an emergency landing. His spokesperson says something may have been slipped in his tea at the airport. He’s the latest Putin opponent to fall victim to a suspicious attack or ailment.

California wildfires doubled in size in a day. The Northern California fires are burning nearly 200 square miles, and fouling the air in San Francisco and other cities. Firefighting crews are stretched thin, in part because prison firefighters are locked down because of COVID outbreaks in state penitentiaries.

QAnon supporters are celebrating after Trump praised the dangerous conspiracy. They believe there’s a ring of pedophile Democrats threatening Trump, whom they regard as a god. Trump says “they are people that love our country.”


Marjorie Taylor Greene
Marjorie Taylor Greene Screenshot via Marjorie Taylor Greene/YouTube


The GOP is the QAnon Party now

It’s terrible, but not at all shocking, that Trump has embraced the unhinged QAnon conspiracy theory and its adherents. Same for his endorsement of Islamophobic fringe GOP congressional candidates Marjorie Greene and Laura Loomer.

What is shocking, and permanently disqualifying, is the GOP’s congressional caucus staying silent on QAnon, and embracing the bigots.

In my new column, I ask how House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy can justify stripping the racist Rep. Steve King of his committee assignments in 2019, but promising that Greene (who is likely to win her general election and become a Republican member of Congress) will have a seat on committees? Spoiler: he can’t.

Prominent conservative commentators like Rich Lowry and Ben Shapiro expressed their disgust at Trump’s embrace of QAnon. Former Bush advisor Karl Rove even called for Trump to disavow such “nuts and kooks.”

Republicans once prided themselves on being the “Party of Lincoln” or the “Party of Business,” or the “Party of Limited Government.” Failure to condemn racist paranoid internet trolls bearing their party’s imprimatur — even if it means defying the president — is to forever surrender any of the principles for which the party once stood.

When former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour — who has been credibly accused of anti-Semitism — appeared as a guest of Muslim delegates on a video call during the DNC this week, former Vice President Joe Biden swiftly condemned Sarsour’s views and reiterated that she has nothing to do with the Biden campaign. There’s no reason GOP leaders can’t clean up their own backyards, as well.

It’s not a terribly high bar Republicans need to clear to ensure their party isn’t known for being wholly indecent idiots. They can and should reject these people and ideas.

Each Republican lawmaker in Congress needs to decide whether losing their seat is too high a price to pay for having any principles at all. — Anthony Fisher

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Steve Bannon. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo


Yet another Trump adviser is arrested. Notice a trend, America?

“We Build the Wall” was not an elegant grift. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are charging its founders, including former Trump campaign CEO and White House adviser Steve Bannon, with fraud. In brief, they raised about $25 million promising that all the funds would go to building a wall on the border with Mexico. In reality much of that money allegedly went to enrich Bannon and his cohorts, Brian Kolfage, Timothy Shea, and Andrew Badolato.

From the beginning this alleged scam had issues. For one thing, the crowdfunding website these gentlemen used seemed to know something was not on the up and up. And Kolfage, a veteran and the poster boy for this scheme, spent most of his time on social media promising that all of the money they raised would go toward the cause. It was a clear case of “methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

The men barely tried to hide the grift. According to the indictment, they communicated by text message about how payments would be sent, put themselves on the board, and installed Kolfage’s wife as a fake media consultant. By around February 2019 they had raised $25 million.

It wasn’t until October of 2019 that they started using an encrypted messaging app to discuss moving money around, and only then because someone at a bank they were working with allegedly warned them they might be under investigation. At that point they also altered their website to remove anything that said they would not enrich themselves from the project.

I cannot for the life of me imagine how alterations like that would help, but I certainly can imagine their desperation at the prospect of being caught. Bannon was arrested this morning, and now the defendants must forfeit all the funds in about a dozen bank accounts, a Range Rover, and a sportfishing boat named “Warfighter” (because of course).

Bannon, once an adviser in the most powerful political office in the world, the White House, did this all for a mere $1 million — an amount that couldn’t even get half a Jared Kushner into Harvard. You hate to see it. This also makes Kellyanne Conway the only one of the four people to lead Trump’s 2016 campaign who has not been charged with a crime.

The advisory board of “We Build the Wall” is also a star-studded cast of ultra-right-wing grifters, shadesters, and scammers. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — the man who cried voter fraud — is the general counsel. Former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling (who has had his own issues with the SEC) is on the board.

So is Erik Prince, the private mercenary brother of Education Secretary Betsy Devos. Last summer the Senate Intelligence committee sent the DOJ a criminal referral for Prince on suspicions that he lied to Congress in order to open a back channel to communicate with Russia. Bannon was involved with that too.

All in all, a group of really swell guys. — Linette Lopez

Obama didn’t come to play at the DNC

No former president in modern history has endured more slander and abuse from his successor than Barack Obama.

Whatever the flaws of Obama’s presidency — and there were many — Obama has maintained the tradition of former presidents not sticking their noses in the current president’s business. Trump has shown his appreciation by pushing conspiratorial lies (as recently as last night) and blaming many of his own administration’s failures on the man who’s been out of office since January 2017.

On Night Three of the virtual Democratic National Convention (DNC), Obama addressed the nation and gave the ex-president’s equivalent of the “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed” Dad speech:

“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously — that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did … For close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in finding common ground, no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends.”

At the very least since the time Trump began spreading the racist birther theory that Obama was not born in the US and was thus ineligible to president, Trump has given Obama every reason in the world to punch him in the face.

Obama’s DNC speech was that uppercut of righteous anger. Yet he somehow was able to couch it in the spirit of “for the sake of our country.”

And really, who can argue with a thing Obama said?

Even if one prefers Trump policy-wise to Obama, it doesn’t pass the laugh test to say that Trump has ever demonstrated an interest in putting the country’s interests ahead his own. — AF

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Fox News host Sean Hannity is seen in the White House briefing room in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2017. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images


That soft sweet sound is me, playing the tiniest, saddest violin in creation

Vanity Fair previews CNN host Brian Stelter’s upcoming book on one of the most subservient of Trump’s many subservient relationships — the one between Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

According to Stelter, at the beginning of the Trump presidency, Hannity was so worried about the president’s incompetence that he incessantly vaped and gained a bunch of weight, having to double up workouts at his $10.5 million Long Island mansion. Secretly, Stelter reports, he told associates that Trump is “crazy.”

Fox News staffers are also so, so, concerned about being under Trump’s thrall. They know what the network did in downplaying the coronavirus was wrong and they feel so, so bad about it. Really.

In the future there will be many books dedicated to the cowards who were unable to stand up to Trump — even more still who used his poison for their own personal gain. Sure, they will be satirized and vilified, but there will also be attempts to humanize them. For those instances, I suggest we all learn to play the violin. — LL


New weekly jobless claims spiked back up to 1.1 million. They’d dropped below one million last week for the first time in four months, and economists expected them to stay below one million, but the slow recovery and relentless pandemic continue to take a toll.

Airbnb confidentially files for an IPO. Slammed early by the pandemic-fueled collapse of travel, Airbnb has bounced back. Last valued at $18 billion, it’s expected to be valued at much more than that in an IPO. The paperwork strongly indicates, but does not guarantee, that Airbnb would go public this year.


The nine most promising treatments for COVID, and where they stand in the approval process. Remdesivir is the only one that’s gotten FDA approval, but other therapies are deep in clinical trials, including several drugs that consist of cloned antibodies.

Passengers on an American Airlines flights brawled over masks. One passenger on the Las Vegas to Charlotte flight refused to wear a mask and a fight broke out.


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“Twilight.” Summit Entertainment


The eight best cloth facemasks we’ve tested during the pandemic. Some have filters, some don’t.

18 moments from the original “Twilight” movie that makes sense after reading “Midnight Sun.” Stephanie Meyer’s new companion book, which tells the Twilight story from the vampire POV, helps explain some of the weirder moments in the first movie.

Germany is launching a 3-year trial of universal basic income. More than 100 Germans will receive $1,400 monthly payments, no-strings-attached, and researchers will track how they do compared to another, unpaid group.

As reported by Business Insider