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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

It’s Time to Sum Up the Dumpster Fire We Know as the Trump Presidency

   I have done exactly what Donald Trump has asked of every American since he came down that gold escalator in June 2015 — to think only about him day and night.

The books I read before going to bed each night? They are all about Trump. The email newsletters I read between my real estate newsletters? All about Trump. The news programs and specials I watch every evening and on Sunday? Mostly about Trump.

This is how he likes it, and it has been exhausting for me and I suspect also for you. I look forward to ignoring him starting in 2021.  It will drive him nuts.

As I sit down to write this 28th and final “Talking Turkey,” it’s a challenge to do more than breathe a hopeful sigh of relief that our long national nightmare is coming to an end — and peacefully so. Here are my closing thoughts.

First, it’s apparent to me that Donald Trump’s two “winning arguments” are that he is against abortion and that Joe Biden is a Trojan horse for a radical left “Democrat party” that will destroy America through socialism and communism/Marxism. A third argument, that he inherited a bad economy from Obama and made it great, is hardly worth discussing. His shameful tax cuts for the wealthy, which gave crumbs to the middle class, merely supercharged the already healthy economy he inherited and massively ballooned our national debt, benefiting only Wall Street.

The argument about socialism also deserves dismissal. The programs that are identified as “radical left” and “socialistic” — Medicare for All and the Green New Deal — are essentially ones that have been in place for years or even decades in Canada, the United Kingdom and most European countries. We are laggards in adopting them.

Regarding abortion, I have pointed out that being pro-life is something Trump only adopted to court evangelicals and is not a core belief.  He was a pro-choice Democrat in New York.

I have gotten the impression that people cite opposition to abortion as their reason for supporting Trump, using it as a cover for their unspoken support of white supremacy and anti-black and brown immigration. This is particularly true for the evangelicals, because there are so many non-Christian aspects of the man they are required to overlook.

After all, why would someone opposed to abortion support a President who separated babies from their mothers as a method of discouraging refugees and immigrants, encouraged rally-goers to beat up anti-Trump demonstrators, and said that the white supremacists included "many fine people," not to mention supports the killing of adults (i.e., the death penalty)?

As we all know by now, there are countless lies and conspiracy theories, many of them by QAnon, charging various Democrats (especially Trump’s guilty pleasure, Hillary Clinton) with crimes. Here’s the question I keep asking those who believe the charges of crimes by Democrats: If these stories were true, it is totally within the power of the Republican-controlled Senate to hold hearings on them. Why don’t they hold those hearings? Obviously it’s because public testimony would prove them to be false. It’s more useful politically for McConnell and Trump's other enablers to keep those lies circulating on social media instead of providing an opportunity to disprove them.

    Most Trump supporters agree he’s a terrible human being, but there are some who think he’s “a good man,” citing an urban legend about him paying off the mortgage of a black man who changed a flat tire on his limo. It was totally disproved on
snopes.com in 1998, but when I informed a Trumper of this, his response was predictable: “Snopes is owned by George Soros” (another urban legend). Trump supporters simply can’t handle the truth.

Assuming (again, hopefully) that Donald Trump is defeated next week and his sycophantic majority in the Senate evaporates, Trump will cease to hold the sway that he has held over Republicans, and “the truth will out.” It may take time for his hard core alt-right white supremacists to withdraw into the shadows where they resided before Trump emboldened them to “unite the right” as they did in Charlottesville. The majority of Trump supporters will, I believe, follow the path of Germans after Hitler’s downfall and come to realize how badly they were duped and misled by the worst president in American history. It will take a while, but it will happen. America is too strong to fall. We will recover.

From HuffingtonPost.com - "Data Disappeared" - Trump hides data that doesn't match his rhetoric

Four years ago, Donald Trump won the presidency while relentlessly fearmongering about refugees. So it came as no surprise when, in March 2017, his White House ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to study the long-term costs of refugee resettlement. A few months later, HHS returned with their results: Far from being a drain on resources, refugees had, in fact, contributed $63 billion more in government revenue than they had received in benefits between 2005 and 2014. The numbers were not to the White House’s liking—and so senior adviser Stephen Miller simply buried them. “The president believes refugees cost more, and the results of this study shouldn’t embarrass the president,” he reportedly told agency staff.

That’s just one example out of a myriad of instances during the last four years where the Trump administration has purposefully destroyed, manipulated, subverted and sidelined data—the lifeblood of a functioning government. Are honey bee colonies on the verge of collapse? How toxic is mercury? Are people of color paid less for the same work? How economically devastating has the COVID-19 pandemic been? The Trump administration’s war on data has made each of those questions, and many more, harder to answer—and thus harder to do anything about. As writer Samanth Subramanian puts it in the introduction to Data Disappeared, “by attacking numeracy, it is attacking democracy.” In 2021, for example, the United States will accept no more than 15,000 refugees, down from an annual average of 76,000 during the Obama administration.

Over the past year, a team of reporters at HuffPost has tracked and vetted these data distortions, using published accounts, NGO reports and government documents. What we present to you today is by no means an exhaustive list. Instead, it’s a chilling collection of the Trump administration’s most consequential and well-documented assaults on science—and reality itself.

Thanks for reading and take care,

Richard Kim

Enterprise Director, HuffPost

Click here to read the full story


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

We Can Make America Great Again -- by Defeating Trump & His Enablers

In a previous column I asked what Trump and his supporters have in mind when they speak of “making America great again.” Are they harking back to the Jim Crow era; to when only men could vote and black voting was suppressed with poll taxes and literacy tests; to before the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts; or to when people with pre-existing conditions were unable to get health insurance at all and certainly not at the same price as others?

It seems that "MAGA" is devoid of meaning except to Trump’s white supremacist followers, but it means more and more to me every day. Yes, I want to return to the days before Trump was elected — back to a time when:

We had a president who was not a pathological liar and did not embolden white supremacists and other “deplorables” with thinly veiled dog whistles.

The United States of America was respected around the world for our values, and foreign governments could depend on us for stable and sensible foreign policies.

People with pre-existing conditions were guaranteed health insurance at the same rate as people without health challenges.

Health insurance for women cost the same as for men.

The president put the country first instead of his own personal interests and did not violate the constitution by profiteering from government business, accepting money (and loans) from foreign powers.

The Secretary of Labor did not try to gut protections for laborers.

The Secretary of Energy, like the president himself, knew that an economy based on fossil fuels was itself a dinosaur and that we need to transition to clean and renewable energy.

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency was to protect the environment, not eliminate protections.

The president was not in the pocket of our number one enemy, Russia.

The Republican Party believed in free trade, not supporting trade wars and tariffs that only hurt American farmers and consumers.

We expected better than average morals, ethics and integrity from our politicians and punished those who fell short.

Our president didn’t promote violence against his opponents.

The president didn’t hide his tax returns and his foreign entanglements.

The president (and his supporters) saw value in marital fidelity.

We joined the rest of the world in committing to address the existential threat of climate change.

Our president supported our allies instead of ridiculing their leaders.

Scientists were respected by the president and both political parties, not ridiculed and insulted.

Voter suppression was not the stated policy of the president and his political party.

The president didn’t fall for and promote conspiracy theories, unable to censor his own public utterances.

The president (like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan) would admit their errors and apologize instead of doubling down. He practiced humility.

It was not considered presidential to engage in name calling and insults at every opportunity.

The president concentrated on running the country instead of being glued to his TVs and engaging in an absurd amount of spontaneous tweeting.

Loyalty to the country was more important than loyalty to the president.

Members of the president’s party were willing to speak out when they knew the president was wrong.

The media were respected instead of attacked for telling the truth and was not called “the enemy of the people.”

The president upheld the conservative principle of the rule of law.

Voters who don't want to make America great again as described above should ask themselves why. What kind of America do they want?

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Here's a recommendation - Heather Cox Richardson's daily newsletter

Here are the first paragraphs of today's edition.  You can subscribe at https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/subscribe 

"The theme of the day was the palpable sense of rats leaving a sinking ship as Republicans, administration officials, and administration-adjacent people distanced themselves from the president.

"There was a foreshadowing of that exodus on Wednesday, when Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) let loose about the president in a telephone call with constituents. Sasse was an early critic of Trump but toned down his opposition significantly in the early part of the administration. On Wednesday, he reverted to his earlier position, saying he had “never been on the Trump train.” He complained about the way Trump “kisses dictators’ butts,” and went on: "The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor…. [He] mocks evangelicals behind closed doors...has treated the presidency like a business opportunity" and has "flirted with white supremacists." He said: “What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?"

Each newsletter includes links supporting every citation.  Not surprising, since she's a professor of history at Boston College. She previously taught at MIT and the University of Massachusetts.  Here are the footnotes from today's edition of her newsletter:

Notes:

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/story/2020-10-14/william-barr-department-of-justice-doj

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/15/politics/donald-trump-bill-barr-attorney-general/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/us/politics/regulatory-rush-federal-agencies-trump.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2020/10/16/biden-trump-townhall-ratings/

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/trump-rejects-california-disaster-wildfires/

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/16/politics/donald-trump-criticism-from-former-administration-officials/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/10/16/us/trump-biden-town-halls#if-he-loses-the-election-trump-mused-friday-maybe-ill-have-to-leave-the-country

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/gop-sen-sasse-unleashes-scathing-attack-trump-tv-obsessed-narcissist-n1243701

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/us/politics/justice-department-barr-prosecutors.html

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/16/politics/rudy-giuliani-daughter-caroline-joe-biden-2020/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/us/politics/republican-senators-trump.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/10/16/republicans-should-have-stopped-trump-2016-ex-state-gop-chair-column/3665008001/


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Trump’s Hostility to Obamacare Is Emblematic of His Psychopathy

   From everything I’ve read and seen, Donald Trump is a profoundly insecure person, and it’s most evident in his antipathy to everything identified with his predecessor, Barack Obama.

We all saw it on day one, when he couldn’t abide the fact that Obama’s inauguration had drawn a bigger crowd than his own. That was when Kellyanne Conway introduced us to the concept of “alternative facts.”

Since that day he has been focusing single-mindedly on reversing or voiding everything with Obama’s stamp on it, and the Affordable Care Act, because of its more common identification as Obamacare, is at the top of his hit list.

What proves my point is the claim that he wants to repeal and replace it with the same provisions, notably protection against pre-existing conditions. He can’t be satisfied with amending the law, which would be far more practical than kicking millions of people off of Obamacare with only a vague promise of replacing it at some future date with a law that has the same provision.

It has been demonstrated in multiple ways by multiple former insiders that Donald Trump is only interested in himself. He’d be a pro-choice Democrat (as he was before) if that provided a path to power, but the path which opened for him was to be a pro-life Republican. He doesn’t actually care about this or any issue.

He thought he should get the Nobel Peace Prize because of his meeting with Kim Jung Un. Clearly it bothers him that Obama won that prize during his first term.

Trump had to replace NAFTA because Obama created it. Again, he couldn’t amend it, he had to replace it with the USMCA, which is only a minor tweaking of NAFTA.

He had to withdraw from the Paris Accord on Climate Change because it was Obama’s, despite the fact that virtually every other country in the world joined it, thanks to Obama's diplomacy on the topic. It goes deeper than that, however. He is a climate change denier only because Obama accepted climate change and was working to address it.  Again, he doesn't actually care about the issue.

Indeed, the failure of this president to marshal the federal government in addressing climate change will be one of his many terrible legacies which a Biden administration will need to deal with. With all the evidence of having passed the “tipping point” on climate change, it’s going to be hard. It could well be impossible after four more years of Donald Trump as president ignoring the issue.

Trump had to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal because it was Obama’s deal. One of the biggest lies that he and his sycophants like to repeat is that Obama sent a plane-load of money to Iran to secure the deal, even though it was Iran’s own assets that had been seized and were now being released to them as part of the deal. Yes, it was dollars and was in cash, but it was Iran’s dollars.

The lies and deception put forth by Donald Trump and echoed by his supporters are astounding, but thankfully they don’t appear to be working, since Biden’s lead in the polls keeps widening. As the election approaches, the lies and distortions will probably get worse and Biden’s lead will hopefully increase as a result.

Can Americans really be fooled into thinking that Obama’s former vice president is going to foment a communist takeover of America? And forget about white supremacists — Trump won’t even disavow Qanon, with its theory that the leaders of the Democratic Party and Hollywood celebrities are a Satan-worshipping cabal engaged in child sex trafficking and drinking the blood of babies. No wonder the president is finally losing credibility except among his base who so love his racist attitudes and policies that they will accept things in him that they wouldn’t ever accept in any other human being.

Trump’s desperation, I believe, is rooted in his fear of prosecution once he is out of office.  I predict that once he finally accepts that he has lost re-election and his 2nd Amendment followers haven't created a coup, he will resign so President Pence can pre-emptively pardon him, although that would only protect him from federal, not state, prosecution. He knows that New York, among other jurisdictions, is waiting to indict him. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Will Trump’s Biggest Legacy Be Ending the Peaceful Transition of Power?

   I fear for the future of our country, regardless of who wins the presidential election next month. I agree with the president's longest-serving National Security Advisor, John Bolton that we can survive four years of Donald Trump but not a second term.

But I also fear the future if Joe Biden wins the election, even if by such a margin as to overcome phony charges of the election being “stolen.” In this regard, our decentralized election system will serve us well, because Trump will have to allege cheating in enough individual states and counties to add up to a change in the electoral college totals. At least in Colorado, the statewide vote is the sum of the vote counts in 64 individual counties, many of them run by Republicans. It would be a steep climb to say the totals reported at the state level were wrong by a statistically useful amount.

However, I’m talking about something deeper and more intractable than public confidence in the electoral process. I’m talking about the willingness of Trump’s base, not Trump himself, to accept defeat.

If one is to believe what his base believes — that a Biden victory will lead to a communist takeover — wouldn’t a true patriot with an arsenal of military grade weapons and ammo take up arms against the new regime? Trump has invoked their support in the past and would not hesitate, I suspect, to do so again. Trump knows that there is no danger for him — the Secret Service will keep him safe as Americans spill each other’s blood in his name. It might even warm his narcissistic heart to know that supporters are willing to die in defiance to his defeat at the polls.

What I find so disheartening is, to quote a Forbes.com headline on Sept. 2, 2020, that a “Majority of Republicans Believe The QAnon Conspiracy Theory Is Partly Or Mostly True.”  The breakdown is that 33% of Republicans believe QAnon’s theory is “mostly true” and 23% say it is “partly true.” On the other hand, only 4% of Democrats think QAnon’s conspiracy theories are even partly true, and 72% of Dems say they’re “not true at all.”  I’m proud to be a Democrat. Unfortunately, QAnon supporters are proud to be Republicans and Trump supporters.

To quote the article by Forbes staff writer Tommy Beer, “QAnon supporters claim President Trump is defending the planet from a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles (consisting mostly of Hollywood celebrities, liberal politicians and 'deep-state' government officials) who are running a secret child sex-trafficking ring.”

If fear of a communist takeover doesn’t scare you into taking up arms, would believing that bullshit do the trick for you?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bi-partisan resolution condemning QAnon by a 371-18 vote. That may have no effect, since Donald Trump won’t disavow QAnon. “I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” he said during a White House news conference. “So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”

The enthusiasm of Trump supporters will certainly get them to the polls. The question I have is whether it will also get them to the barricades when and if Joe Biden takes office. With the current President of the United States emboldening them to do just that, we have a serious problem on our hands.

The headline of my May 14 column was, “Dems Need to Realize That People in Trump’s Base Are Simply Unreachable.” That statement has been reinforced for me by the emails I receive each week from Trump supporters who, God bless them, keep reading this column. I engaged in email conversations with several of them, but recently have started blocking their email addresses and cell/text numbers because they are so totally lost in their adoration of Trumpism, and not worth the distraction.

So sad, so true, and now so scary as the president lays the emotional basis for his supporters to take up arms if the election is “stolen” from their man. Even if bullets don’t fly, as I fear they might, they will never accept defeat.