Thursday, December 31, 2020

Did Melania Get Her “I Really Don’t Care” Jacket From Donald’s Closet?

   It’s beginning to make sense now. Even Donald Trump’s supporters must recognize by now that he really doesn’t care about anything except himself. 

My headline for this week’s column was going to be, “Does Anyone Not See by Now That Trump Is a Self-Obsessed Criminal and Con Man?”  But then I remembered the jacket Melania wore on her visit to the border. As a former model, it was so out of character for her to wear an  ill-fitting jacket, much less one with a scrawled message on it. The only explanation can be that it was really Trump’s jacket, not hers. Of course, he would never wear it, but how could he resist buying it?  Borrowing it for her trip to the border fit Melania’s passive aggressive nature, which has been to give the middle digit to her husband — much like how she adopted the issue of cyber bullying. 


If you Google it, you’ll see that the jacket is for sale by multiple vendors.  I wonder how well it is selling among the MAGA crowd, since there are a lot of things they must not care about to continue supporting a man, much less a president, like Donald Trump.

“The President Is Missing” is a phrase we heard starting in mid-November as it became clear there was nothing on the president’s mind except overturning the election of Joe Biden. There has been no comment by the president about anything else, including the pandemic and, more recently, the Nashville bombing.

When he said before the election that the only way he could lose the election was if it were stolen, I suspect he believed it — and still does. The fact that he can’t produce any evidence must surely be frustrating for him, but he is mentally incapable of not believing that he really won. This is how mentally disturbed the man is. We can only hope that he won’t take his psychosis to its logical conclusion, which would be to declare martial law and then resist eviction from the White House, kicking and screaming like the child his niece, Mary Trump, has described him as.

Her description of the president is summarized as follows in an article by the CBC: The president of the United States, in her opinion, struggles to control his impulses; tell the truth; learn new facts; apologize for mistakes; and lives in constant terror of having people perceive his flaws.”

This is the description of a profoundly disturbed individual — someone that his die-hard fans would likely ban from their personal circle, but whom they support because, despite such flaws, he expresses racial and other prejudices which they endorse privately — and, for some, way too publicly.

Those of us who see the man for what he truly is are holding our breath, hoping he doesn’t do more damage to the country between now and January 20th, worried that his personality disorder might compel him to do some pretty destructive things. As the jacket says, he really doesn’t care about what his actions do to the country. It’s all about him.

It’s easy to foresee a 2021 in which Donald Trump faces the music regarding the illegalities committed by himself and his enterprises. The Trump Foundation was already shut down for its illegal activities.

We can expect that the former president will continue to hold rallies on the pretext of being a candidate in 2024, but the funds raised will be used to pay the $400 million-plus in debts that the New York Times has already reported are facing him in the next four years. He has already raised half that amount through his fundraising ostensibly to fund his challenge of the 2020 election.

At his rallies he will label any indictments and convictions and bad press as politically motivated fake news, which will fly long enough for him to collect more funds from his remaining supporters. His political support by other Republicans will slowly go away, as it already started to do during December, when he was unable to get members of Congress to sustain his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act and to change the Covid-19 relief payments to $2,000 per adult.

The defense bill contained one provision that has really bad ramifications for Trump and his family. It contains the provisions of the Corporate Transparency Act which bans shell corporations from hiding their owners, thus laundering money. Trump himself used a shell corporation created for him by Michael Cohen to disguise the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, and he has used shell corporations in his businesses too. The technique is also used by foreign actors to launder money.

Please see my blog post from this past Monday at www.JimSmithBlog.com for a longer explanation about this law, excerpted from Heather Cox Richardson’s email newsletter.

    Above I mentioned the Nashville bombing. You probably heard on the news that a girlfriend of the bomber had warned police in 2019 that he was making bombs in his RV. The police went to his house but were refused permission to inspect his home and RV. Because he had no history of criminality, they were also unable to obtain (or perhaps didn’t seek) a warrant to do so.

    This story reflects something that has always bothered me in the discussion about background checks for gun purchases. So often, the people who commit heinous crimes such as in Nashville, or the bombing in Oklahoma City, or the killing of school children in Newtown, Connecticut, are people with no prior criminal record. 

Of the 300 million firearms in civilian hands in America, between 5 and 10 million are AR-15s, the kind used to kill the children at Sandy Hook elementary school. Presumably those owners passed background checks, but let’s say that a mere 1% of them are mentally unstable and could be triggered (excuse the word) by some personal or other event to commiet a heinous mass casualty event with their firearm. That computes to between 50,000 and 100,000 AR-15s in the hands of future mass murderers.

Too extreme a thought? Okay, let’s say that one-tenth of 1% of those AR15s are in the hands of potential domestic terrorists or mass murderers. That’s still 5 to 10 thousand AR15s that someday will make their owner “famous.”

 

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Trump Era Is Summed up by the phrase "Enemy of the People"

I have to share these opening paragraphs from tonight's "Reliable Sources" email newsletter. (Subscribe here.) 

Enemy of the people

 

If someone managed to sleep through the Trump years, and asked me what they'd missed, I'd start with "enemy of the people." Why? Because Trump's demonization of the media explains almost everything. He convinced his fans that the people covering him were lying. He advised them to trust certain Fox shows and ignore practically everything else. He said he was in a "running war with the media" on his very first weekend in office, and never stopped.

 

Many times, in many influential corners of the mainstream media, there was an impulse to ignore Trump's attacks. To deprive him of oxygen. But here's the counter-argument: Americans are drinking from a poisoned well of information. It's what caused some of the fractures in America and exacerbated so many of the others. And the poison is advertised as an antidote! Whataboutism, cherry-picked controversies, cover-ups of Trump's corruption – all of it flows 24/7 from a parallel universe of news, a universe that is largely predicated on criticism of legacy news outlets. All of it relates back to Trump's endless campaign against the people who report the news. The people he labeled as the "enemy."

 

Trump said it more and more every year, between 2017 and 2020, according to Factba.se data. And his base believed it. Disdain for the media glued his base together. That's why, in my view, "enemy of the people" is the No. 1 thing to understand about the past four years. It needs to be factored into every story about governmental action and inaction, every analysis of American politics, even after President-elect Biden is sworn in...

 

 

A "cult president"

 

David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, wrote this about Suffolk and USA Today's newest poll: "What does it mean to be a 'cult president' — one whose supporters will believe and trust him no matter what any other government officials, academics, journalists, politicians, and 'professional' experts say? Donald Trump could at the very least be characterized as one of the few presidents with a cult of personality and a cult-like following."

 

"A whopping 78 percent of Republicans do NOT believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president," Paleologos wrote. In the poll, he wrote, "we ask a question about which television and news sources are trusted the most. Among those who trust Fox News, 16% said that Biden was elected legitimately and 83% said he was not. If you combine the next seven news sources including PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, 93% said Biden was legitimately elected and 6% said he was not."

 

Biden was elected legitimately. The widespread belief that he was not – that a vast conspiracy rigged the election against Trump – is evidence of radicalization among the Fox-GOP base. Conservative columnist and CNN contributor Matt Lewis tweeted on Monday, "As a lifelong conservative, I am still surprised by how many people I thought were like me have revealed themselves to be right-wing AUTHORITARIANS."


Vetoed Defense Authorization Bill Contained Ban on Shell Companies Used for Money Laundering, Including by Trump and Russians

Thank you, Heather Cox Richardson, for pointing this out in last night's "Letters from an American"  (Subscribe here.)  Here's what she wrote: 

The National Defense Authorization Act this year does something else, though, that seems to me of far more importance to the president than the naming of military bases.

It includes a measure known as the Corporate Transparency Act, which undercuts shell companies and money laundering in America. The act requires the owners of any company that is not otherwise overseen by the federal government (by filing taxes, for example, or through close regulation) to file a report that identifies each person associated with the company who either owns 25% or more of it or exercises substantial control over it. That report, including name, birthdate, address, and an identifying number, goes to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The measure also increases penalties for money laundering and streamlines cooperation between banks and foreign law enforcement authorities.

America is currently the easiest place in the world for criminals to form an anonymous shell company which enables them to launder money, evade taxes, and engage in illegal payoff schemes. The measure will pull the rug out from both domestic and international criminals that take advantage of shell companies to hide from investigators. When the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists dug into leaked documents from FinCEN this fall, they discovered shell companies moving money for criminals operating out of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria.

Shell companies also mean that our political system is awash in secrecy. Social media giants like Facebook cannot determine who is buying political advertising. And, as Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) noted, shell companies allow “foreign bad actors” to corrupt our system even more directly. “[I]t’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to our campaigns,” he reminded Congress in a speech for the bill, “but if you launder your money through a front company with anonymous ownership there is very little we can do to stop you.”

We know the Trump family uses shell companies: Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen used a shell company to pay off Stormy Daniels, and just this month we learned that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner approved a shell company that spent more than $600 million in campaign funds.

The new requirements in the NDAA apply not just to future entities, but also to existing ones.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

It’s Time to Stop Calling Democrats ‘Socialists, Communists and Leftists’

   I make a practice of watching Fox News to see how that network’s news division portrays the day’s events. (I consider the network’s evening opinion shows — Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham — a waste of time.)

The Fox shows I watch the most are America’s Newsroom in the morning, Special Report in the late afternoon, and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Sunday.

These shows make an effort to be “fair and balanced,” but they do include interviews with right-wing commentators who are prone to making outrageous statements that are rarely challenged as they should be by the anchors -- except for Chris Wallace.

I remember in particular listening to one of those weekday programs prior to Nov. 3rd on which a guest referred to “the communist wing of the Democratic Party.” What, pray tell, constitutes the communist wing of the Democratic Party?  Did the anchor not ask because “everyone knows”?  Is it simply an accepted fact that there is a communist, not just a socialist or leftist, wing of the Democratic Party?  Is it “the Squad”?

I’d like to see Fox News Channel define these terms instead of just throwing them around, leaving the interpretation to whatever the audience chooses.

What’s ironic about this is that the same party which, under the influence of Donald Trump, no longer treats the communist former Soviet Union as an enemy, applies the communist label to the Democratic Party.

Donald Trump’s singular accomplishment as president has been his fulfillment of Vladimir Putin’s desire to make Russia great again. How? By diminishing America’s role and prestige around the world.  One can identify several ways in which Trump has served the interests and goals of Vladimir Putin.

First and foremost, Trump has weakened the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by (1) supporting Brexit, and (2) failing to express support, when asked, of Article 5 of the NATO treaty which says that an attack against one member is to be treated as an attack against all members.

That article has only been invoked once — in response to the 9/11 attack on the United States. It was because of Article 5 that NATO members joined the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump’s failure to criticize Putin or Russia, first by calling Russia’s interference in the 2016 election a “hoax,” has been reinforced more recently by his failure to acknowledge or criticize Russia’s payment of bounties to Taliban fighters who kill American soldiers in Afghanistan and Russia’s current cyber attack on American government and industry computer systems.

Making Russia great again depends largely on making America less great, and that is accomplished by creating dissension and chaos on an unprecedented scale within America. Trump has demonstrated his expertise in that task, dividing America as it has never been divided before.

What has made Trump’s work in this regard so effective is that the side he has chosen to take is that of the well-armed alt-right racists and white supremacists, who are themselves experts at creating violent encounters with counter protestors, creating a vicious cycle of extreme divisiveness. Death threats are their stock in trade when they aren’t actually killing those who dare to oppose their Supreme Leader. Think, for example, of the Georgia Secretary of State and poll workers in several states who have received death threats for doing their jobs and telling the truth. Think also of Eric Coomer, the security chief at Dominion Voting Systems, who is living in hiding because of threats against his life for allegedly masterminding a feature of his company’s voting machines to change Trump votes to Biden votes.

Back now to the claim that leaders of the Democratic Party are communists, socialists and leftists. What is the evidence? Medicare for all? In that case, Canada, the UK, Scandinavia and most European countries are communist, or at least socialist. Are those countries not democratic? Do they lack freedom and liberty?

What those countries have is a more equitable and socially stable country, where taxes are higher but so is the quality of life for the middle class. As for “lower classes” and homeless, those are less of a problem in those countries, where it exists at all. What they don’t have are 530,000 families declaring bankruptcy every year due to medical bills they can’t pay.

My sister Janet lives with her Swedish husband Staffan north of Stockholm.  Last month, Staffan underwent a 5-hour surgery for a defective heart valve. It was a surgery which has been performed several times in America, but it was the first time it had been performed in Sweden. The hospital flew in a cardiologist from Atlanta and experts from other countries to participate in the surgery. The bill to Staffan and Janet was 500 Swedish krona, equal to 60 American dollars.

In America, someone with that condition might have chosen to live with the symptoms and die earlier rather than face financial ruin for his family. That, unfortunately, is the American way.

And what about the Green New Deal? It is portrayed as socialist, but it is a job-creating program to address the global threat of climate change, which is already resulting in stronger hurricanes and other severe weather, flooding and droughts, record forest fires and rising sea level. (Did you hear about the Antarctic ice shelf the size of Delaware which broke off this year?)

Before the 2016 election, we heard about the issue of “low information voters” who are easily manipulated by politicians. Compound that with organized disinformation of the kind perfected by Russia and magnified by today’s social media and right-wing “news” sources such as One America News and Newsmax, as well as by QAnon.

The fact that the majority of Trump voters believe the election was stolen by Joe Biden testifies to the power of disinformation on the part of a trusted leader. The only reason there is a low level of trust in our electoral system is that Donald Trump has not accepted defeat. If he had conceded, that level of mistrust simply wouldn’t exist.

Putting aside what that says about the mental state of our current president, consider what it says about our fellow citizens. As a whole, we seem to be a pretty ignorant and easily conned bunch, don’t we?

A final thought:  It has been reported that White House staffers are concerned about the president's mental health, given his recent actions and his questionable pardons.  If Trump gets demonstrably crazier, perhaps his cabinet will get together and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from the presidency before he can do more damage.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Some Say to “Move On” and Stop Talking About Trump. Here’s Why I Disagree.

  We’ve heard it said by Winston Churchill and others, reportedly paraphrasing George Santayana, that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I agree, and we certainly don’t want to repeat the past four years.

We need to keep studying how Donald Trump came to power and, just as important, how he created and maintained the grip he continues to have on 30% or more of the American electorate.

Yes, we’re glad to put the Trump administration behind us, but I for one will continue to study the man, his techniques, and his followers. Like Germany, which suffered even worse from their own misguided leader in the 1930s and 1940s, we need to fully understand what just happened.

It’s primarily a psychological and mental health study, and I’m so grateful for all the primary sources, such as Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, his long-time fixer, Michael Cohen, and his longest-serving National Security Advisor, John Bolton, for the first-hand information and insights they have provided through their books about Donald Trump. There are more books to come, and, as a student of history, I welcome them.

I have said from the beginning that “history will not be kind to Donald Trump and those who have fallen under his spell.” The question remains as to how much damage, including violence by far-right, gun-toting extremists, might be done in the meantime.

We all recognize that Trump’s racist dog whistles have emboldened countless “deplorables” — a term coined by Hillary Clinton but also adopted with affection, we're told, by Trump himself — to come out of the shadows, as they did in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting too often in violence and death. By echoing conspiracy theories concocted by others, such as Q-Anon, he gave them legitimacy leading to yet more activism and violence.

    An early expression of that was “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory that the Clintons and other “Washington elites” were conducting a pedophile ring out of the basement of a Washington, DC, pizza parlor (which doesn’t even have a basement). One man, infected by that conspiracy theory, showed up with his AR-15 to save the children he believed were being trafficked for sex. Fortunately he was arrested with no shots fired.

And just this Tuesday, the following event unfolded, as described by my favorite newsletter writer, Heather Cox Richardson:

In Houston, Texas, today [Dec. 15], police arrested a former police department captain for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in a misguided attempt to foil a massive voter fraud scheme. Sixty-three-year-old Mark Anthony Aguirre claimed to be part of a citizens’ group investigating voter fraud. Believing his victim was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck, Aguirre rammed the truck with his SUV and held the driver first at gunpoint and then with his knee in the man’s back until police came. Upon inspection, it turned out the truck was full of air conditioning parts. The district attorney, Kim Ogg, said “His alleged investigation was backward from the start — first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened…. [W]e are lucky no one was killed.”

We can’t pretend that once Trump leaves and sanity returns to the White House that these kooks will stop believing everything Trump has told them and will tell them in the future, including that the landslide election of Joe Biden was fraudulent. These people are deeply patriotic in their own minds and would go to war for this country. I cringe to think how that war will play out on American soil. Remember, there were death threats made against fellow citizens counting ballots and to the Secretaries of State for whom they worked.

Sen. Mitch McConnell is now being attacked and probably threatened by the same people for acknowledging that “the electoral college has spoken” and Joe Biden is president-elect.

This whole episode of our history is an embarrassment for our country, but it is also a serious threat. In light of this, the worst thing we could do, in my mind, is to “move on” and not address this threat directly — and I don’t mean by meeting violence with violence.

Fortunately, brave prosecutors will press their cases against the Trump organization and Donald Trump after he leaves the safe haven provided by the White House. I still believe that after he has preemptively pardoned everyone he wants to pardon, including his children, that he will step down, saying he wants to “honor” Mike Pence by giving him the opportunity to be president, whereupon President Pence will preemptively pardon Donald Trump to “put the baseless charges against him behind us.”

But pardoning Trump from federal crimes doesn’t lessen the many crimes he can be charged with by DAs such as New York’s Cyrus Vance, who this week won another victory in court to obtain financial records from the Trump Organization.

It has already been reported by the New York Times that our ex-president has $400 million in personal debts coming due in the next four years. We now know how he’s planning to pay some or most of those debts — by continuing to raise funds promoting conspiracy theories that he himself probably doesn’t believe but his gullible supporters do believe because he is voicing them. As I wrote in my Nov. 26 column, his actions in doing so make it clearer than ever that he puts his own interest ahead of the country’s — that it was always “Trump First,” not “American First.”

It’s really a sad and pathetic unraveling of his presidency, and I believe the unraveling needs to be documented and that Americans need to pay attention to it.  If Germany could do it, so can the United States. Let’s learn from this history so we never repeat it.

 

As Trump's Path to Election Success Vaporizes, His More Extreme Supporters Get More Desparate and Violent

The following three paragraphs from Heather Cox's Richardson's overnight newsletter hint and the desparation and violence we can expect between now and January 20th:

The lies about the election spread by Trump and his loyalists are radicalizing Republican true believers, according to security officials and terrorism researchers. They worry that fringe conspiracy theories are going mainstream. Polls suggest that 77% of Trump supporters believe that Biden stole the election—although there is no evidence of fraud—and officials worry those true believers are turning to violence. 

Elizabeth Neumann, who resigned from her job as Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy at the Department of Homeland Security in April out of concerns that Trump was exacerbating right-wing violence, noted that “the conservative infotainment sector makes money off… outrage.” Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, who was a senior adviser in the State Department, Defense Department, and the National Security Council, agreed with others that Trump is promoting radicalism by spreading conspiracies and disinformation. "Leadership matters," she said. "It really matters that the president of the United States is an arsonist of radicalization. And it will really help when that is no longer the case."

In Houston, Texas, today [Tuesday, Dec. 15], police arrested a former police department captain for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in a misguided attempt to foil a massive voter fraud scheme. Sixty-three-year-old Mark Anthony Aguirre claimed to be part of a citizens’ group investigating voter fraud. Believing his victim was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck, Aguirre rammed the truck with his SUV and held the driver first at gunpoint and then with his knee in the man’s back until police came. Upon inspection, it turned out the truck was full of air conditioning parts. The district attorney, Kim Ogg, said “His alleged investigation was backward from the start—first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened…. [W]e are lucky no one was killed.”


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Michael Cohen’s Book Tells the Story of How Trump Won Over the Evangelicals

  Of all the books written by former confidants, friends and family about Donald Trump, only Michael Cohen’s book Disloyal addresses the biggest mystery of Trump’s ascendancy — his popularity among Christian evangelicals.


Even the evangelicals admit that Trump is not a model Christian. Heck, he doesn’t even attend church. So how did this man gain the undying support of evangelicals? Michael Cohen describes with some pride and in convincing detail how he, not Trump, made it happen.

As he recounts in an early chapter, it all began with, of all people, Justin Bieber. Cohen learned that Jerry Falwell Jr.’s daughter Caroline was infatuated with Bieber, and when there was a Bieber concert in town, he offered to get a VIP pass for her. With his connections, Cohen made the arrangement, even offering the possibility of a meet and greet for Caroline.

Falwell was so blown away by this favor that he said he’d do anything in return. That return favor ended up being to arrange for himself and a number of other evangelical leaders to meet with Donald Trump in Trump Tower.

This was in 2011 when Cohen was urging Trump to run for president and it was being considered. At the get together, Michael Cohen, who is Jewish, watched with astonishment as Falwell orchestrated a laying on of hands by all those evangelical and Pentacostal leaders on Trump, a germaphobe, who pretended it was all very real for him. After the clerics had left, according to Cohen, Trump said, “Can you believe that bullshit? Can you believe people believe that bullshit?”

During that same meeting, there was a discussion of Trump running for president in 2012, and Falwell said the timing wasn’t right. As Cohen describes it, Trump agreed for two reasons. First, he couldn’t see himself being successful up against Barack Obama, but secondly, there was money still to be made on his reality show.

By 2015, the money engine was beginning to slow down, and Cohen again pressed Trump to run. About this time, Falwell came to Cohen, the friend and fixer, with a serious problem. A photographer had convinced Falwell’s wife, Becki, to pose draped over the front of a farm tractor, like you might see on certain calendars. As the shoot proceeded, clothing started coming off and finally there Becki was, reclining topless on the tractor.

The photographer was ready to publish those pictures, and Falwell sought Cohen’s help in preventing that from happening. Cohen swung into action and was successful primarily through threats of legal action against the photographer. Falwell was delighted and, although there was no quid-pro-quo about it, Cohen subsequently got Falwell to endorse Trump as a “repentant Christian” just prior to the Iowa caucuses. The rest of the evangelical leadership, many of whom had participated in the 2011 laying on of hands at Trump Tower, fell in line, and their congregations followed suit, convinced by their leaders that Donald Trump was one of them and shared their values despite his worldly (and abundant) flaws.

Now it all makes sense. And now we know that it was Michael Cohen who orchestrated Trump’s evangelical following, without whose considerable support he could not have won the presidency in 2016.

Previously, it was John Bolton who gave me the up-close portrait of the president which made so much sense, and Mary Trump’s explanation of family dynamics along with her psychological insights were so convincing, but this book by Michael Cohen, which I haven’t yet finished, is the final touch. Please read it.

How long it will take for his followers to become disillusioned about Trump we don’t yet know, but there is enough in print already to do the job.

 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Job #1 (of many) Should Be Restoring Trust in Professional Journalism

  President-elect Joe Biden has a lot of Trump-generated damage to undo, but one of the most important is to help the nation recover from the “fake news” and “enemy of the people” tropes promoted by Donald Trump.

From the beginning, news was labeled “fake” by him, not because it wasn’t true but because it was all too true and perceived as anti-Trump. But members of “Cult-45” took the label to heart, believing that straight news organizations like CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post were anti-Trump and were fabricating stories that were negative to the President. Shamefully, the conservative talk radio shows and evening Fox News opinion programs — Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham — gave undeserved credence to the actual lies, which were coming from Trump.

Often, the lies were created by the TV hosts and then tweeted and otherwise echoed by the president.  It truly fit the definition of an echo chamber.

How can our incoming president neutralize and reverse this toxic situation? First and most importantly, Biden can do what he already did in his Nov. 7 victory speech and his Thanksgiving address to the nation: namely to be presidential. The contrast to President Trump will be as obvious as it will be refreshing.

 Second, Joe Biden’s press secretary can hold daily briefings, and he can hold frequent press conferences. He could learn from Pete Buttigieg’s example and make himself available for interviews and town halls on Fox News.  Mayor Pete (who will hopefully have a high position in the Biden administration) was well received by Fox News’ moderators and audience, and being on Fox News is the only way to reach that audience.

There are two easily debunked lies by Donald Trump — three, if you include that he won the election. The first lie is that we were “turning the corner” on Covid-19 in October.  The second, however, is that Joe Biden was senile, incoherent, living in a senior home and incapable of serving as president. Trump supporters need to be reminded of such statements to help in their deprogramming.

Remember, it’s called “Cult-45” for a reason. Deprogramming is the appropriate technology to employ in helping that portion of the electorate recover their senses.

Biden’s appointment of John Kerry as a cabinet-level “climate envoy” was a welcome move. Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, has suggested the appointment of a “Special Presidential Envoy for Press Freedom,” whose job  would be “to represent the administration at a high level wherever journalists are under threat.” Although the focus of his proposal is on threats to journalists and press freedom in other countries where authoritarian leaders have been inspired by Donald Trump’s attack on the press, I’d like to see a White House counterpart to the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker team when appropriate. Lies will no doubt be forthcoming about White House initiatives, and they shouldn’t be allowed to fester unchallenged.

I like the motto of the Washington Post which appears on its front page: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” It was popularized by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame in a 2007 piece criticizing government secrecy and was adopted as the Post’s motto a month after Trump’s inauguration.

Sonni Efron, a RAND Corporation analyst, coined the term “Truth Decay,” leading to a 2018 book by that name with the subtitle, “An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life.”  It’s on my reading list.

Trump reportedly intends to stay in the public eye, announcing his candidacy for 2024 on Biden’s inauguration day. His ongoing spouting of lies calls for a diligent response.