Jul 10 2020

The Breakfast Club (Humble and Kind)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Start of World War II’s Battle of Britain; Telstar satellite launched; Millard Fillmore becomes President; Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev killed; Singer Arlo Guthrie born; Cartoon voice Mel Blanc dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.

Arlo Guthrie

Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 09 2020

An Appointment In Samarra

An old Arabian Fable adapted from a translation by W. Somerset Maugham in 1933.

There was a merchant in Bagdad who went to the Market to buy provisions and he was jostled. When he turned he saw it was Death and Death made a threatening gesture, Shaken he took his fastest horse and fled to Samarra confident Death would not find him.

Well of course he did. He’s Death, duh

His last question was this- “Why did you threaten me in the Market in Bagdad?”

“Threaten you? I was surprised to see you. I knew we had an appointment tonight in Samarra.”

I haven’t made it painfully obvious but I have come to North Lake which has the additional virtue of one of the Top Three non-Corona States in the Country. I’m not quite sure why, they play fast and loose with PPE and think Social Distancing is optional. I practice it religiously if only to piss off the MAGAs.

Since I have no pressing engagements and am able to write using my Laptop setup I was considering extending my stay. It’s pleasant and very, very quiet.

Well, until now.

New Hampshire locals concerned about ‘loud and boisterous’ Trump supporters bringing COVID-19 to town
By Travis Gettys, Raw Story
July 9, 2020

Trump supporters are descending on New Hampshire, one of only three states where coronavirus cases are currently waning, and locals are worried about another outbreak.

The mayor of Portsmouth is refusing to back down on the city’s mask mandate ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally Saturday at an airport, and the campaign will strongly encourage supporters to wear masks, but some area business owners are worried about sick people coming in from out of state, reported WMUR-TV.

“We made a decision for the safety of our employees and our customers to go ahead and shut down for a week, due to all the out-of-state people who would likely be coming into our restaurant,” said Sandra Makmann, owner of the Country View restaurant.

The city will help provide security with police and fire personnel, but Portland’s police commissioner Stefany Shaheen expressed concern about the costs after pandemic-related budget cuts.

“To be incurring unexpected expenses right now, not to mention what could likely happen relative to public health, it’s not tenable, it’s not fair, and these expenses should be reimbursed,” said Shaheen, the daughter of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

The city manager’s office was told by the campaign that invoices would be forwarded to the Secret Service, which is solely responsible for the president’s security.

Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh could not promise that the city’s costs would be reimbursed, but he insisted the event would not lead to the spread of coronavirus, as Trump’s last rally inside a Tulsa arena appears to have done.

“It’s going to be in an open-air airplane hangar,” Murtaugh said. “Most of the crowd will be in bleachers outside the airplane hangar. It’s going to be a very, very safe, outdoor event.”

Supporters will have their temperatures taken before the event, and they’ll be given masks and encouraged to wear them — which few did at the indoor rally in Oklahoma.

“We expect a loud, boisterous crowd at the rally,” Murtaugh said. “I don’t want to make any predictions about it, but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The RSVP page for the Portsmouth rally includes a waiver acknowledging the “inherent risk” from COVID-19 at a public event, just as Tulsa attendees were required to sign, and shields the campaign from pandemic-related lawsuits.

“In attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release, and discharge Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; Portsmouth International Airport at Pease; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers from any and all liability under any theory, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any illness or injury,” the waiver reads.

New Hampshire Republicans baffled by Trump rallying in state he probably can’t win
By Travis Gettys, Raw Story
July 9, 2020

Trump will appear at a rally Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a state that started a series of surprising primary that propelled him to the GOP nomination.

“Why is he physically coming here?” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. “I’m thinking that it is a little bit more about nostalgia. They have to feed his ego. He’s had this fixation about New Hampshire. He can’t accept that maybe he just plain lost.”

“He won the New Hampshire primary and that was his first political win,” Cullen added. “A man never forgets his first time.”

Trump lost New Hampshire by less than half a percentage point in the general election, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has likely wiped out his chances to gain a pickup there.

“Having lived 2016 up close, people wanted a disruptor, and I don’t blame them,” said a top GOP strategist. “But when it comes down to the economy tanking as well as corona, that kind of tips the balance. People are exhausted. There is a sense of ‘enough.’”

Fortunately we are promised a drenching Rain with Thunderstorms.

Jul 09 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: Call a Thing a Thing

White supremacy is the biggest racial problem this country faces, and has faced.

Now that we are deep into protests over racism, inequality and police brutality — protests that I’ve come to see as a revisiting of Freedom Summer — it is clear that Donald Trump sees the activation of white nationalism and anti-otherness as his path to re-election. We are engaged in yet another national conversation about race and racism, privilege and oppression.

But, as is usually the case, the language we used to describe the moment is lacking. We — the public and the media, including this newspaper, including, in the past, this very column — often use, consciously or not, language that shields anti-Black white supremacy, rather than to expose it and hold it accountable.

We use all manner of euphemisms and terms of art to keep from directly addressing the racial reality in America. This may be some holdover from a bygone time, but it is now time for it to come to an end.

Michael Fuchs: Russia is killing US soldiers. Trump’s response is a shameful dereliction of duty

He has probably known for months, yet he continues to praise Putin. The American president is not looking out for the American people

Donald Trump’s response to Russia’s attempts to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan is a dereliction of duty, and yet another sad reminder that the actions of the US president cost American lives. [..]

Despite the fact that this information was known to the Trump administration for at least months, there is no indication that the president has done anything to punish Russia. The White House has not even attempted to convince the public otherwise. To the contrary, Trump has continued his obsequious behavior towards Vladimir Putin. Since the intelligence on bounties was reportedly provided to Trump in February 2020, Trump has spoken with Putin numerous times, praised Putin publicly, invited Russia to rejoin the G7 group of democracies, and announced the withdrawal of thousands of troops from Germany without consulting US allies – a giant gift to the Russian president.

Robert Reich: Donald Trump rushed to reopen America – now Covid is closing in on him

The president trumpets jobs figures built on thin ice but does nothing to protect those about to lose their health and homes

Donald Trump said Thursday’s jobs report, which showed an uptick in June, proves the US economy is “roaring back”.

Rubbish. The labor department gathered the data during the week of 12 June, when America was reporting 25,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day. By the time the report was issued, that figure was 55,000.

The US economy isn’t roaring back. Just over half of Americans have jobs now, the lowest figure in more than 70 years. What’s roaring back is Covid-19. Until it’s tamed, the American economy doesn’t stand a chance.

The surge in cases isn’t because America is doing more tests for the virus, as Trump contends. Cases are rising even where testing is declining. In Wisconsin, cases soared 28% over the past two weeks, as the number of tests decreased by 14%. Hospitals in Texas, Florida and Arizona are filling up with Covid-19 patients. Deaths are expected to resume their gruesome ascent.

The surge is occurring because America reopened before Covid-19 was contained.

Amanda Marcotte: Donald Trump doesn’t care about any Americans — not even Republicans

Trump doesn’t just hate Americans who didn’t vote for him, he’s spent months harming his most loyal backers

Donald Trump thinks his voters are morons. This universal truth was once again demonstrated this week by a Facebook ad working Trump’s new statue-oriented campaign strategy. The ad declared, “WE WILL PROTECT THIS” and featured a photo of … no, not some racist-loser Confederate general astride a horse but “Cristo Redentor,” the famous statue of Jesus Christ that sits atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, which, for those keeping track, is not in the United States but in Brazil, a sovereign nation in a different continent.

It’s small story in the grand scheme of things, but one that illustrates yet again that Trump doesn’t really see Republican voters or politicians as fellow travelers, allies or even really as a “base” to whom he owes fealty. Trump sees Republicans primarily as marks, to be fleeced for all they’re worth and then abandoned the second he sees no value in them. Trump’s burning hatred for any American who didn’t vote for him is well documented, but just as true and just as disturbing is his utter disregard for the lives or well-being of people who did support him, and continue to do so.

Leanna S. Wen: If Trump wants to reopen schools, here’s what his administration needs to do

Vice President Pence says it is “absolutely essential that we get our kids in the classroom for in-person learning.” His remarks Wednesday followed President Trump’s announcement that “we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools” — and a follow-up tweet threatening to cut off funding if schools remain closed.

Pence and Trump are right about the importance of in-person instruction. But the Trump administration can’t just set a timeline without committing to the necessary work to ensure the health and safety of students, teachers and their families.

The single most important requirement for resuming in-person instruction is suppressing the level of covid-19 infections in the community. Imagine if schools tried to open now in areas undergoing massive surges, including Houston, Miami and Phoenix. Groups of children gathering indoors would add fuel to the flame and worsen the crisis. This is why the White House’s own guidelines prohibit schools from reopening until the community has reached Phase 2 — defined, at minimum, as recording a consistent decline in new infections.

Jul 09 2020

A Win, Win?

I peg you as a “Glass is Half Empty” kinda guy.

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing you did mattered?

“Pretty much sums it up for me.”

So far, MSNBC has been “Glass is Half Empty” based on it not being unanimous (Alito and Thomas) and the Judgement sends the case back to Lower Courts for further litigation (or in the case of the Congressional Subpoena a narrowing of the request). There will be no pre-election release in all likihood.

On the other hand, as Neil Katyal (told you there were exceptions) puts it-

He lost.

Supreme Court says Manhattan prosecutor may see Trump’s financial records, denies Congress access for now
By Robert Barnes, Washington Post
July 9, 2020

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Trump’s assertion that he enjoys absolute immunity while in office, allowing a New York prosecutor to pursue a subpoena of the president’s private and business financial records.

In a separate case, the court sent a fight over congressional subpoenas for the material back to lower courts because of “significant separation of powers concerns.”

“In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence,’” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the New York case, citing an ancient maxim. “Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.”

In both cases, the justices ruled 7 to 2, with Trump nominees Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh joining the majorities. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.”

Trump reacted angrily, and inaccurately, on Twitter: “Courts in the past have given ‘broad deference’. BUT NOT ME!”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement: “This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one — not even a president — is above the law. Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury’s solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead.”

While the court said Vance had the authority to subpoena the records from Trump’s private accounting firm, it also sent the case back to a district court for more work.

The information is part of a grand jury investigation, so the joint decisions probably dash the hopes of Trump opponents that the information will be available to the public before November’s election.

Vance is investigating whether the Trump Organization falsified business records to conceal hush payments to two women, including pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleged they had affairs with Trump years ago. Trump has denied those claims.

Vance is seeking Trump’s tax returns, among other records. The president has refused to make them public, unlike previous modern presidents. Because the records are for a grand jury investigation, they would not likely be disclosed before the election.

Separately, three House committees have sought bypass the president to obtain his financial records from his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, and financial institutions. The committees, all controlled by Democrats, say they are needed to check Trump’s financial disclosures and inform whether conflict-of-interest laws are tough enough.

Lawmakers’ line of investigation is more expansive than the district attorney’s. They have demanded information “about seven business entities, as well as the personal accounts of President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump,” according to the brief filed by the president’s private lawyers.

The congressional subpoenas followed testimony from Trump’s former fixer, attorney Michael Cohen, who told lawmakers that Trump had exaggerated his wealth to seek loans. Two committees subpoenaed Capital One and Deutsche Bank as part of their investigation into Russian money laundering and potential foreign influence involving Trump.

Federal judges in New York and Washington, D.C. — at the district court and appeals court levels — had moved swiftly by court standards and repeatedly ruled against Trump and to uphold Congress’s broad investigative powers.

Jul 09 2020

Cartnoon

A bit less challenging than Costa Rica (where practically everything is poisonous and wants to kill you), still not Les’ chosen environment (Canada, eh?).

Georgia (the State not the Country) Swamp

Jul 09 2020

Please don’t make me stay home from school again.

Oh, yeah.

>

NEA Prez: ‘I Double Dog Dare Donald Trump To Sit In A Class Of 39 Sixth Graders And Breathe’
By Susie Madrak, Crooks and Liars
7/08/20

So now Trump is going to bully state governors into reopening the schools — without paying for adequate preparation. New Day’s Alysin Camerota asked Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, if public schools are really ready to reopen in September.

“Did you hear the word he didn’t use? ‘Safely.’ Safely. There’s no one that wants their kids back with us more than teachers,” Garcia said.

“Maybe their parent. Maybe their parents beat us out there, but we want to open it safely. We see what happens when they let bars open prematurely and you saw those young adults in there in that nice little bar and they went home and they infected everybody around them. This isn’t a bar. We’re talking about second graders. I had 39 sixth graders one year in my class.

“I double dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely.”

“What you’re saying is that the NEA is insisting on these benchmarks before you can open schools. You would have to equip schools with PPE. Meaning, the protective gear for teachers, et cetera. Deep clean schools using CDC-approved disinfectants. Classrooms should accommodate six feet of physical separation between students. A class of 39, I’m not sure how you do that. Install hand washing stations, hand sanitizer stations, and have more trained staff in trauma and emotional health for when the kids go back after all of this,” Camerota said. She asked who would pay for all of this.

“One of the things that we know is that when Shake Shack needed some money, the Congress joined hands, sang kumbaya and threw money at businesses so they wouldn’t have to lay people off,” Garcia replied.

“There is a bill sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk right now called the HEROES Act, passed by the House, that has billions of dollars dedicated to schools right now, so we could do this right. Donald Trump said ‘dead on arrival.’ He didn’t have a plan and by the way, all of the funding sources for public schools, the tax base has fallen off a cliff. so we’re not even talking about having what we had last year.”

“What do you say to parents who say, ‘I would be willing to take the risk of not having my kids be 6 feet apart so they could get back into school and I could go back to work and save our family’s finances?’ ” Camerota said.

“So let’s not have false choices here. We have an unsafe school. Do we keep it closed? Do we open an unsafe school? No, you make it safe! And then you say, well, what if Mitch MccConnell doesn’t want to give you the money? What if Donald Trump isn’t going to sign a bill? Then parents right now should be sending e-mails, phone calls. They should be closing down the White House operators, just saying, ‘Come on! You’re saying that you could do this safely, but you don’t want to? Why wouldn’t you want to open a school safely?”

“Mr. Rooney? Have you ever smelled a real School Bus before?”

Jul 09 2020

The Breakfast Club (Abstraction)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

William Jennings Bryan gives his ‘Cross of Gold’ speech; Britain’s Princess Elizabeth engaged; Boxer Mike Tyson punished for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear; Actor Tom Hanks born; Actor Rod Steiger dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Ennio Morricone 10 November 1928 – 6 July 2020

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Washington isn’t a city, it’s an abstraction.

Dylan Thomas

Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 08 2020

Racism Is Over!

And other lies your Government tells you.

Cody Johnston

Jul 08 2020

Back To School

Sending children to rot for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in a cesspool of pus is an incredibly stupid idea that I would not allow any child of mine to participate in (no matter how much they wanted to hang with their friends) and would sue to prevent should the District get insistent. See you in Court Assholes.

Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio likes it because he’s a moron and probably figures you can just hire a ringer like he did Joe Shapiro (I need… A… Jew!) for his SATs. UPenn has a new Lori Loughlin rule by the way and can yank your degree for cheating.

Because he is so dumb he seems to also think that by taking the Rug Rats out of the house people will go back to their 2 or 3 Minimum Wage jobs for exploitation by his Oligarch buddies, the Economy will come roaring back (or at least the Market), and everyone will forget the 200,000 Deaths (easily exceeded by November) and 100,000 New Cases a Day.

He might be right. U.S. Citizens are exceptionally unintelligent (“gullible” is not in the Dictionary, look it up). Think of someone you consider to have “Average” intelligence. You’re probably underestimating them, but at least half of the people are more brainless than that.

Scares the crap out of me.

Trump World on Reopening Schools During COVID: Astronauts Take Risks, Too
Erin Banco and Asawin Suebsaeng, Daily Beast
Jul. 07, 2020

On a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos chastised local officials for doing “next to nothing” to provide academic services to students and demanded they reopen schools in the fall regardless of the state of the COVID pandemic.

The issue, DeVos stressed at one point, was merely a matter of calculated risk, nothing all that different from those taken by an astronaut heading into space.

“Education leaders really do need to examine real data and weigh risk,” DeVos said. “They already deal with risk on a daily basis. We know that risk is embedded in everything we do. Learning to ride a bike, to the risk of getting in a space capsule and getting shot off in a rocket into space.”

The remarks by DeVos were part of a larger push on Tuesday by top Trump officials to make the case for school reopenings amid growing health concerns by doctors, scientists and state and local officials. But they also resembled something larger about the president’s approach to a virus that has crippled the country and, in turn, his presidency. Months into the pandemic, the administration has settled into a phase of acceptance even as the coronavirus continues to infect thousands of people each day and overwhelm hospitals in the south and southwestern parts of the country.

It’s been six months since the pandemic first began, with more than 3 million people contracting the virus and an estimated 133,000 people having died from it. In that time, officials and advisers working with President Trump’s coronavirus teams say the administration’s response approach has changed drastically, especially in the last several months.

Trump has privately griped that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, is “very good at scaring people,” according to a source with direct knowledge. And on Tuesday, he made it clear that he harbored no internal debate about the virtue of getting school’s reopened in the midst of a pandemic.

“Now it’s time to be open. Now it’s time to stay open,” the president declared at a separate event on Tuesday geared around schools. “We’re not closing. We’ll never close.”

President Trump has consistently pushed the message that testing is bad for optics—that simply stopping it would result in fewer actual cases. And on Tuesday’s governors call, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told governors that when it came to reopening schools, testing was “not necessary” and said it was a “tool” that states could use to keep students safe if they do choose to allow them back into the classroom this fall.

The emphasis on learning to live with COVID—and downplaying testing concerns along the way there—is a messaging push that, three administration officials told The Daily Beast, had been in the works for weeks. One of those officials insisted it was not fueled by a sense of despair or “defeatism,” but rather by a belief in “American resilience” in the face of great death and tragedy.

But for public health experts, the push has an obvious flaw, one already exhibited during the past half year: opening too quickly is part of what led to new outbreaks.

“We very clearly predicted that if you were cautious and slow you were going to do better. In hindsight, our prediction was true,” said Dr. David Rubin, the director of PolicyLab, a group of doctors and scientists from Pennsylvania that brief the White House’s coronavirus task force on data modeling.

“We’re in limbo right now,” Rubin said. “Everything was predicated on getting our counts down. And there is a sense of like, ‘ok, what do we do now?’ We haven’t really thought about what if there is an epidemic that happens in August. That hasn’t been part of the conversations.”

Through it all, Trump has largely lost patience, regularly complaining that public-health professionals who contradict or complicate his declarations of victories and alleged economic rebirth are causing undue panic. In an interview with Axios last month, he said the country had to “get back to business.” And on the Fourth of July, he falsely stated during a speech that 99 percent of all coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” Pence, too, has focused some of his latest remarks emphasizing economic considerations over public health ones. In the call with the governor’s Tuesday, the vice president noted that he’d recently read a report by the Council of Economic Advisors—a group of economists who advise the president—that said if every school closed it would cost the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, the Trump-Pence re-election campaign seems to think the rush to reopen schools during an ongoing pandemic will make for some good electoral politics.

“President Trump understands education is the single greatest equalizer in our society and that we need to get children back into the classroom so they do not fall behind and parents can return to work,” Trump 2020 spokeswoman Samantha Zager said in a statement to The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Joe Biden puts his loyalty to the teachers union ahead of the well-being of students and families in America.”

Space flight is not “safe”. Ask the crew of Apollo 1, STS 51L, or STS 107. Oh wait. They’re dead.

Jul 08 2020

Cartnoon

Circus folk. My Aunty Mame has been wearing Harlequin Whiteface for 50 years.

Walking a tightrope: circuses warn they will go bust ‘within two weeks’
by Dalya Alberge, The Guardian
Wed 8 Jul 2020

The government is facing urgent calls to save Britain’s 250-year-old circus tradition with companies warning that they will go bust within just two weeks without help.

The Association of Circus Proprietors has said that performers have been reduced to using food banks to survive since circuses were shut down temporarily by Covid-19.

On Tuesday, there were clowns in Downing Street, but this time they were professional ones, joined by acrobats, jugglers, fire-eaters and stilt-walkers to deliver a plea for assistance to Boris Johnson.

In a letter to the prime minister, the association said circuses must be allowed to open this month to have any chance of staying alive. They wrote that, without swift action, “a great British institution will be lost for ever”. “Please save the circus … We have two weeks before the end of the road,” they said.

Circuses exist primarily on their Easter and summer seasons, when there are around 50 shows on the road in Britain.

Martin Burton, the association’s chairman, told the Guardian that the situation was “completely desperate”. “We’ve missed Easter. If we miss the summer, most circuses will go bust,” he said.

“My association has had countless emails from members saying: ‘if you can’t get us open in the middle of July, we can’t see a way to carry on’… [Circuses are] not just going to be dark. They’re going to be gone … about two weeks from now.”

Burton said companies were perplexed because they are classified as outdoor events, yet were not on the list of businesses allowed to reopen last week.

Unlike theatre buildings, they can rearrange seating into any socially-distant pattern and their Big Top tents have airy designs with plenty of ventilation, multiple entrances and outside box-offices, catering and toilets.

The association represents shows such as Circus Extreme, Zippos Circus and Gerry Cottle, which draw an estimated 2.5 million people each year.

In their letter to Johnson, they wrote: “Sadly, circuses seem to have fallen through the cracks of all the rescue package schemes … [Monday’s] announcement that a £1.57bn culture lifeline was to be given to the arts made no reference to circus.”

Referring to an interview given by the culture secretary in announcing the emergency arts funding, Burton said: “When Oliver Dowden read out who was on [the list of recipients], he didn’t say the word ‘circus’… [The presenter] said: ‘And circus?’ He didn’t answer.”

He added: “The first circus was invented by Philip Astley. His circus building was on the other side of Westminster Bridge … Parliamentarians would cross the bridge and go to Astley’s amphitheatre and watch the circus.

“It’s only in Britain – I’m sorry to tell you, considering that we invented [the circus] – that it’s looked down upon so much [today] … There’s a national circus in Hungary. The man who runs [it] is a cabinet minister. The national circus in Switzerland, Knie, are like royalty. The Pope in Italy goes to see circuses all the time. We don’t get that recognition here.”

Burton is the founder and director of Zippos Circus, having run away to the circus “much to my mother’s disgust”. He worked as a clown for years.

Joking about clowns and politicians, he said: “We have to be very careful about the abuse of the word ‘circus’ and the abuse of the word ‘clown’. Let’s not make it too derogatory because it upsets the real ones.”

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