88 Days – Trump Under A Microscope

It was announced last night that New York Attorney General Letita James will make a major news announcement today around 11:30 am, presumably about an investigation or indictment, and speculation about the content has been predictably rampant on cable news and social media.  Some wonder if the news concerns Donald Trump. Presidents can’t be indicted by the Feds, but a state court isn’t necessarily bound by that unwritten rule.  Others wonder if Trump’s children might be the target.  We know there are several area of interest to law enforcement concerning the Trump family, including bank fraud relating to loans, misuse of funds relating to charitable organizations, and tax fraud related to valuation irregularities.  Stay tuned.

It was also reported yesterday that the Manhattan DA’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for financial records relating to their investigation of Trump’s finances and loans, and received from the bank a large cache of documents.  It’s the first report of actual documents being handed over to law enforcement concerning Trump.  Does this have anything to do with AG James’ announcement?

It’s safe to say that Trump is under a microscope like never before, and will remain there for the rest of his life.  If his business “success” was fueled by fraud, investigators will find out.

Trump was also on the losing end of Facebook and Twitter policy yesterday, when several of his posts and tweets were taken down because they were spreading false information about Covid.  Trump said in several interviews yesterday that children were “practically immune” from coronavirus, which is a dangerous lie.  And he went on to repeat this lie on social media.  When the posts were taken down, he and his cult raged against the social media platforms, but it’s not the first time his posts have violated the platforms’ terms of service.

Trump delivered another grotesque outrage yesterday by falsely claiming that mail-in voting was fine in Republican-led states like Florida, because they have such great voting systems and regulations.  But Democrat led states can’t do mail-in voting because their poorly managed voting systems are ripe for fraud.  If Obama had said anything similar, Tea Party Lunatics would have been running through the streets screaming bloody murder and the Fox Network would have been announcing the end of the world.  But when dictator Trump spews bold-faced propaganda to manipulate public perception in an effort to cheat the election, the “freedom from tyranny” crowd say and do nothing, zero, zilch.

Trumpublicans in the Senate yesterday tried to bolster Trump’s “Obamagate” fantasy by interviewing former Obama Justice Department official Sally Yates about the Michael Flynn case, but it didn’t go well for the GOP.  Yates cooly and clearly answered their questions and countered several things that Republicans have been lying about for years.  She confirmed that the Obama administration was not surveilling the Trump campaign.  She confirmed that Michael Flynn lied to the Trump people and the FBI.  She also testified that the FBI had a solid basis to interview Michael Flynn.  Senator Lindsey Graham was hoping the hearing would back the Trump claim that the Mueller investigation was illegitimate, but instead Yates’ testimony supported the Mueller findings.  Of course, this won’t keep Republicans in the Senate from trivializing the huge role Russia played in helping Trump in 2016.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

89 Days – “It Is What It Is”

Tropical Storm Isaias blew through our region yesterday and hammered many communities with flooding rain and intense wind.  Thousands in Dutchess County lost power and some are still waiting for it to be restored.  It’s the latest reminder that good government is essential in times of crisis.  Competence and coordination matter from our elected officials.  It’s also a reminder that the intensity, severity and frequency of extreme weather events is rising thanks to unrestrained global warming.

The United States also registered over a thousand Covid deaths for the ninth straight day, with rising case rates in at least fourteen states.  In an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, Trump was confronted on the rising death toll and tried to bullshit his way out of it, eventually dismissing the deaths with the callous phrase, “it is what it is.”

It’s a line that will go down in infamy.  Imagine if FDR had said, “Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  It is what it is.”  Or if Bush had said, “Some planes flew into the World Trade Center.  It is what it is.”

The reaction to Trump’s response was swift and sharp.  Joe Biden posted a video of Trump on social media, writing:

“Thousands of Americans are dying every week.  The President’s response? ‘It is what it is.'”

It was hinted last night that Grim Reaper McConnell might be softening on the stalled coronavirus relief bill, newly willing to entertain an extension of weekly unemployment payments.  Let’s hope this is true, because millions of Americans are wondering how they will pay their bills this month.

Concern was floating around social media last night that without a valid address, a person can’t vote.  And if millions of people get evicted from their homes it could prevent many people from voting.  I’m not sure if this is legally accurate, but more will surely be written on this topic, and it’s also worth asking our Reps about. Stay tuned.

While Isaias was crashing through the Northeast, a massive explosion rocked the city of Beirut yesterday. Video of the explosion was truly horrifying, beyond anything I could have imagined short of a nuclear blast.  Windows were blown out of buildings eight miles away, and car windows were blown out at least several miles away from the blast site.  We’re being told that a port facility storing two-thousand tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate (the same explosive mixture used in the Oklahoma City bombing) caught fire and eventually ignited. Official estimates were at least 100 dead, but I’m sure the toll will rise.  How anybody near the blast could have survived is unimaginable.  The blast was even heard and felt in Cyprus, 150 miles away.  A very sad and tragic development.

The election is less than three months away.  Covid will continue raging and the climate will continue changing until we kick Trump and his enablers out of Washington.  Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.

90 Days – A Further Focus On Fraud

House Democrats and White House officials continued to negotiate yesterday on a new coronavirus relief package but no deal has yet been struck.  Trump and the Republicans don’t want to extend the $600 per week jobless benefit believing that it keeps people from seeking work–which is absurd.  There are roughly six times as many people out of work as there are job openings, so reducing the weekly benefit would do nothing but reduce spending power and lower revenue for businesses, especially small businesses.  Continuing the benefit would continue to support and stimulate the economy.  Trumpublicans are also resisting aid to state and local governments even though such aid is exactly the purpose of a federal government–to backstop states in times of severe revenue loss from significantly lower tax receipts.  And once again, by giving emergency aid to states, the federal government would be stimulating the overall economy in a time of downturn and free-falling GDP.

The other big news yesterday concerned a filing by the Manhattan District Attorney that hinted at a much broader investigation than was previously known into financial fraud and misdeeds by the Trump organization.  DA Cyrus Vance has been going after Trump’s taxes, and Vance’s latest court filing disclosed that his investigation has a wide legal basis for demanding those records.  Here’s good coverage in the NY  Times by William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/nyregion/donald-trump-taxes-cyrus-vance.html

The legal net is closing around Trump and it’s one of the many reasons he’ll seemingly do anything to get re-elected.  Recall that he is Individual One in the felony election fraud case that sent his lawyer Michael Cohen to prison.  In fact, it was Cohen’s statements to the court in that felony case that put the fraud focus squarely on Trump.  Cohen claimed under oath that Trump inflated his assets for the purposes of obtaining loans from banks, which is fraud.  Vance is surely interested in looking into this claim.

We also learned yesterday that the Census Bureau plans on ending their Census-counting efforts a month early, ending on September 30th instead of October 31st.  This is just the latest ploy by Trump’s people overseeing the Census to change the rules, cheat the system, and undercount people of color, who may historically wait longer to report than other groups.  It’s vitally important that we do our part to report to the Census Bureau and make sure members of our community do the same.  If we don’t, we stand to lose federal funds and maybe even a congressional seat in New York State.  It’s easy to reply to the Census online, which is how I did it.  Just go here and follow instructions:

https://my2020census.gov/

As you probably know, tropical storm Isiasis is bearing down upon us this afternoon.  Please stay safe.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

91 Days – Distancing From Trump

Coronavirus continues to surge in dozens of states as the national new case count starts to level off.  The daily death toll, lagging new cases by several weeks, is now shooting up to record highs.  Virologist Deborah Birx warned yesterday that the virus is in a new phase, more widespread in the country than in March and April, which means that widespread countermeasures like mask wearing, distancing and hand washing are critical to keep hot spots from flaring.  It was also reported over the weekend that in an area experiencing a hot spot, a gathering of any 10 people has a 40% chance of one of those people being infected, and a gathering of 25 people has a 72% chance of one of these people being infected.  Yet many schools are scheduled to be reopened soon and some states refuse to mandate mask wearing for students.  It’s insane.  And how did Trump respond to the worsening crisis this weekend?  He went golfing.

Even Republicans are starting to reject Donald Trump.  To them, social distancing is less about Covid protection than running away from the stain of Trump’s failures. Grim Reaper McConnell this weekend told Senate Republicans that they should start to distance themselves from Trump if it helps their re-election chances. McConnell is terrified of losing the Senate, which seems more probable with each passing day.  Trump’s tweet about postponing the election secretly horrified Republicans in Congress and was enough to prompt a co-founder of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society (the group whose list of right-wing Supreme Court nominees Trump used to pick Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) to demand that Congress impeach Trump again!

A sad but compelling op-ed was published in the Times last week that may have skipped your attention about the pitiful state of the Republican party.  The author was Stuart Stevens, a Republican insider for four decades who worked on multiple Republican campaigns including Romney and Bush, and he makes the case that Trump is the inevitable outcome of decades of Republican policy.

I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it. Hold Donald Trump up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party.

He also makes this sad observation about where the GOP is now:

Reading Mr. Bush’s 2000 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention now is like stumbling across a document from a lost civilization, with its calls for humility, service and compassion. That message couldn’t attract 20 percent in a Republican presidential primary today. If there really was a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, we lost.

Here’s the full article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/opinion/trump-republican-party-racism.html

It’s clear that Trump’s campaign is failing.  His poll numbers are horrible, and they should be.  He did NOTHING to attack Covid and instead tried to politicize the pandemic and bullshit his way around it.  All a person needs to do is look at almost every other advanced country to see how miserably Trump failed.  Life is beginning to slowly normalize in Asia and Europe, while we are blocked from entering most countries.  Our death toll just passed 154,000 and our GDP fell an astounding 32.9% last quarter.  Statisticians are now giving Biden a 9-out-of-10 chance of winning the election, but of course it will require us to show up and vote.  Rosy predictions also don’t factor in Russia or GOP operatives hacking our voting systems or voter rolls–which is far from impossible.  We have a lot of work left to do.

It’s also notable that Rep Antonio Delgado has kept a high profile this year, working hard to amend legislation to benefit our farmers, veterans and small businesses.  He’s been highly visible and accessible, both on social media and in virtual town halls.  On the other hand, his Republican challenger, Kyle Van De Water, has been mostly invisible.  If he’s got a social media presence, it’s well hidden.  And with three months until the election, I’ve seen not one Van De Water lawn sign.  Meanwhile, Biden lawn signs are sprouting up around Dutchess County, which is a wonderful sight to see.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

 

94 Days – Another Horrible Day

Yesterday was another horrible day for America.  Second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell a record -32.9%, crushing every other downturn in American history by a wide margin.  Weekly jobless claims also fell for the second week in a row, adding over a million more citizens to the jobless rolls.  Deaths from Covid are once again rising rapidly, especially in the Sun Belt.  Despite these calamitous numbers, the Senate refuses to present any relief package remotely compatible with the House’s HEROES act, which has been sitting in front of Grim Reaper McConnell for weeks.  Hunger in America is at an all time high, nearly one-third of American households FAILED to make their housing payment last month, eviction protections have expired, the $600-per-week coronavirus unemployment benefit has expired, yet some Senate Republicans don’t believe any further assistance should come from the government while others in the Senate try to co-opt the stimulus package to pad the defense industry or insulate businesses from liability for negligence that contributes to the death of their workers.  Covid has laid bare the stinking rot at the heart of the Trumpublican party.  They only care about their corporate overlords, including a rogue’s gallery of filthy-rich American oligarchs.  They don’t care that local communities are going bankrupt and they sure don’t care that millions of Americans are living on the knife edge of starvation and ruin.

The only thing Trump himself cares about is his re-election.  Yesterday he tweeted “Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”  It was the kind of tin-plated-dictator move that would make conservative heads explode if ever suggested by a Democrat.  But in Trump’s banana republic, it’s just the latest horrifying window into his bottomless ego and willingness to shatter any norm, tradition or law to save his ass from a humiliating electoral defeat.

What story can Trump tell voters now that the economy is in ruins, the virus is rampant thanks to his failures, Russia is targeting our soldiers in Afghanistan, and his border wall is lying on the ground, blown over by storm winds?  Here is Trump’s playbook for the months ahead:

  1. Trump will continue to stoke division and fuel the flames of culture war.  He will continue to describe non-whites and immigrants as lethal threats to your jobs and lives. He will continue to demonize Democrats, especially women.  He will continue to describe the protest movement as an ultra-violent terrorist scourge poised to flood every peaceful white community.
  2. Trump will continue to lay the groundwork to bolster his future claim that his election loss will be the result of massive voter fraud.  He will continue to paint mail-in-voting as a threat to Democracy and the worst thing that has ever happened to our country.  He will continue to pretend that the polls consistently showing him losing badly to Biden are all fake and meant to crush the morale of his voters.
  3. Trump and his surrogates will continue to cheat and bend the election system in any way they can.  Voter purges, voter intimidation, voter challenges, reduced polling places, reduced voting times, challenges to vote-by-mail, challenges to vote counts, destroying the USPS, etc.
  4. Trump will continue to promise a vaccine or cure for Covid soon, even though the vast majority of experts say no broad-based vaccination regime will be possible until at least early next year.  He will continue to paint an unrealistically rosy picture of upcoming treatments and cures while blaming our massive outbreak on China, not on his abject failure to respond.

The funeral of Civil Rights icon Rep John Lewis was held yesterday and presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush were in attendance.  President Obama gave an extraordinary eulogy–please listen to it or read the text if you haven’t already–and it was a stirring and emotional reminder of what an actual, competent president sounds like.  On the other hand, Trump gave an interview recently to Jonathan Swan of Axios where he was asked about Putin’s bounties on American soldiers and Russia arming Afghan soldiers.  Trump waffled and dodged and basically dismissed the reports, excusing and minimizing Russia’s role in the Middle East based on no evidence whatsoever.

I would say to any Trump voter:  If you watch Obama at John Lewis’ funeral and say, “that guy’s a disgrace,” and you watch Trump interviewed by Axios and say, “that guy’s awesome,” your reasoning, your perceptions, and your values are profoundly broken and indefensible. They go against everything I’ve ever understood America to represent.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Have a save and relaxing weekend.