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MONTHLY EBLAST

These last two years have had their difficulties, but the silver lining has been the privilege of meeting talented, creative activists. Each month we will focus on a specific issue and share the thoughtful perspective of our contributors. Our Eblasts are posted below.

Contributors

Sajaa Ahmed is a host and co-creator of Spotlight 19, a podcast tracking all things related to New York’s 19th Congressional District. The podcast was an essential tool used by volunteers in 2018 to flip the district blue and will continue to be released monthly in 2019.

JT Compton spent fourteen years in finance before becoming a screenwriter and a political blogger.  He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School and has lived in Dutchess County for nineteen years.

Rep. Antonio Delgado spends every day in Congress focused on creating a vibrant local economy, working with local, state, and federal partners — regardless of party — to get results for the people here. From improving access to quality, affordable health care to expanding rural broadband to protecting our agricultural interests, Rep. Delgado is dedicated to working across the aisle and standing up for what residents need.

Karen Smythe, NYS Senate Candidate in 2018, was the 4th generation to run her family’s Dutchess County union construction business. Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, she is committed to giving back to the community through volunteer and nonprofit work. She currently serves as President of the Dutchess County Woman’s Caucus, is on the Board of the Bardavon Theater and a Trustee of Vassar College.

Assemblymember Didi BarrettGuest Contributor, After a dedicated career as a community activist, writer, and leader of non-profit organizations, Didi Barrett was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2012, where she is now serving her fourth full term. Didi continues to work tirelessly for our community as an advocate for women’s rights, local agriculture, environmental conservation, and all issues affecting the Hudson Valley. She is currently serving as the chair of the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Women’s Caucus, and chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.


Welcome to intelligent life – Veteran’s issues (#4)

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

  • Melanie Whaley, Editor’s Message
  • Sajaa Ahmed – Spotlight 19 / Episode 39 Interview with Major Malia Du Mont
  • Karen Smythe / Thank You for Your Service
  • JTC / Day 921 / GOP Hypocrisy on Veterans
  • Rep. Antonio Delgado / Update on Work Done for Our Veterans
  • Assemblymember Didi Barrett / For Every Veteran, Dignity is an Essential Part of Services

Please email us (msw@Indivisiblethefightison.com) with any comments; we would love to hear from you. Thank you for staying with us! If you do not yet receive our emails you can signup HERE


Welcome to intelligent life – THE ENVIRONMENT (#3)


Welcome to intelligent life – EDUCATION (#2)


Welcome to intelligent life (#1)

The theme for this month’s eblast reflects Women’s History Month.


Day 1287 – Coconspirator Number One

As expected, the Supreme Court yesterday sent both Trump-tax cases back to lower courts.  SCOTUS ruled that the president must comply with a Congressional subpoena if Congress fulfills certain legal criteria–but didn’t in this case.  So Congress now has a road-map from SCOTUS to request Trump’s tax returns from the lower court.  It will just take time.  SCOTUS also ruled that Trump’s accounting firm cannot avoid a state court subpoena simply because Trump is president.  His legal remedies are no different than any other plaintiff.  So now the Manhattan DA will go back to the lower court’s grand jury and re-submit a subpoena to the accounting firm to get Trump’s taxes.  This will also take some time.

The good news is, both cases will ultimately lead to the handing over of Trump’s taxes to investigators.  All will ultimately be revealed.  The bad news is, neither disclosure will likely occur before the election.  But Trump understood how badly he lost yesterday, and it was reflected in the long Twitter tantrum he posted after the rulings, blathering about the Mueller hoax and I’m always beating them but they keep harassing me and spying on me and it’s the biggest scandal in presidential history and so unfair and blah blah blah.

It seems increasingly likely that the day Trump leaves office he will be indicted by the Manhattan DA in the campaign finance fraud case that sent Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to jail.  Trump was unnamed “Co-conspirator Number One” in that case because a sitting president can’t be indicted, but the moment he’s no longer president, “Co-conspirator Number One” will be replaced in all of the case filings with Donald John Trump–and this must terrify Trump and his family.  Moreover, with Trump’s taxes in hand, the Manhattan DA can now investigate the massive tax fraud uncovered by the New York Times and mentioned in this blog yesterday.  If Trump isn’t really a billionaire, as many suspect, his fortune could conceivably be severely reduced by a large tax fraud judgement. And this must also terrify Trump and his family.

The November election is only 115 days away and anything could happen between now and then.  But Liberals and Progressives couldn’t ask for a better setup than the current political moment.  Covid is crushing several Red States including Texas, Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma and South Dakota–and voters there are beginning to understand how badly our nation has been betrayed by Trump’s negligence and dereliction of duty.  Rather than respond quickly to the pandemic, he wasted time and lied about the severity of the outbreak.  Rather than finally marshaling the powers of private enterprise to build a huge PPE production effort, and rather than building and coordinating a nationwide testing and tracing effort, Trump surrendered and passed the buck to the states. Rather than lead by example and plead with citizens to minimize activity, wear masks, and socially distance, Trump demonized the virologists and turned public health into a culture war issue to push states into re-opening quickly–putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in order to “look good.” Stories appear daily of Trump supporters who ridiculed the lockdown and refused to wear a mask, and then contracted Covid and are shocked and sorry. Outside his shrinking cult of supporters, Americans are increasingly disgusted with Trump’s malevolence and incompetence, and their disapproval is reflected in a steady stream of poll numbers showing Trump way behind Biden nationally, as well as in several crucial battleground states.

A fascinating article in the Atlantic by Ron Brownstein details how the demographics of America have shifted since 1968.  There are:

  • Half as many White Christian voters
  • Eight times as many secular voters
  • Half as many small town or rural voters
  • Three times as many voters with some college education

The America that Trump grew up in is fading away, and this has huge implications for the political future of our nation, as well as the coming election.  Republicans will have an increasingly difficult time, and Democrats will have an increasingly easier time pushing their agenda and winning elections. Full article linked here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/07/trumps-bad-bet-white-christian-america/613954/

Trump knows his re-election chances are dimming, and he’ll stoop to any level to try to turn things around.  This will be a turbulent and dangerous 115 days, but we can’t let fatigue or exhaustion prevent us from doing whatever we can to ensure Trump’s defeat, as well as every other Republican currently in office.

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

Have a safe and relaxing weekend.

Day 1286 – Trump’s Tax Fraud

Today is a big day.  The Supreme Court will decide two different cases involving Trump’s taxes.  In both cases an entity separate from Trump was subpoenaed to divulge Trump’s tax returns, yet Trump sued to prevent the parties from having to cough up the documents.  One case revolved around a Congressional subpoena of the US Treasury to provide them with Trump’s taxes, in accordance with a law passed by Congress requiring the Treasury to hand over tax returns on demand.  The other case revolved around a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney to Trump’s tax accountant, Mazars, a mid-sized accounting firm based in Paris, demanding eight years of Trump’s taxes for an investigation of his hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and possibly others.

Legal observers and prognosticators seem to think that the subpoena from Congress to the Treasury is the weaker case, and more likely to be decided in favor of the Treasury.  But they also believe that the Mazars case is much more likely to be decided in favor of the Manhattan DA–who might discover other irregularities in those tax returns to investigate once they are handed over.

It’s worth recalling, amid the countless scandals of the Trump regime, that Trump has been credibly accused of gaining his fortune illegally, through fraud.  This charge was detailed in October of 2018 by the New York Times in their single-longest-story-ever-published, which won the three authors a Pulitzer Prize. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow recently described it this way on Twitter:

It is one of the great, overlooked jaw-droppers of the scandal-ridden Trump era that his older sister really did have to give up her lifetime seat on the federal bench in order to avoid a judicial ethics inquiry into a massive multi-million dollar, alleged tax fraud scheme.

The Pulitzer-winning story can be found here:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html

Donald Trump’s niece Mary was the source of the material that propelled the Times’ tax fraud story, and her new book goes into detail about how she was affected.  When real-estate mogul Fred Trump died (Donald’s father, Mary’s grandfather) his estate was worth a paltry thirty-million dollars, and Mary sued for a share because her father died many years before her grandfather.  She eventually negotiated a settlement.  But the Times discovered that in years leading up to Fred Trump’s death he and his remaining children conspired to secretly and illicitly siphon Fred’s assets into a shell company the children controlled, avoiding gift and estate taxes.  They did this by disguising transfers and payments as gifts, and by transferring property at vastly underinflated values.  At one point Fred Trump may have had as much as a billion dollars of real estate, yet at the time of his death only 30 million remained.  So Mary and other family members were defrauded, along with the IRS and US Treasury, to the tune of hundreds of millions.  According to the Times, Donald Trump received around $413 million in today’s dollars from the scheme.

In a normal country, with a president who isn’t also a cult leader, this tax fraud scandal would have brought the presidency down, just like it brought his sister’s judicial career to an ignominious end.  But it was swept from the headlines by a tsunami of subsequent Trump scandals and outrages that continue to flood the headlines to this day.

“Successful businessman Trump” wasn’t self made nor successful in business.  He was a real-estate heir who used his trust fund to buy a lot of shiny toys, driving around in limos pretending to be a business mogul while chasing women and cheating on his wife-of-the-moment.  His inheritance was a fraud, and his persona was a fraud.  In her book, Mary Trump recalls never really understanding what the Donald did all day.  And now we know–he role-played Master of the Universe, funded by his father’s estate.

There is no statute of limitations on tax fraud, so NY State and the IRS could conceivably claw back hundreds of millions of dollars from the Trump family, and will probably try the moment Trump is out of office.  Their ability to subpoena his tax returns will play an important role in that investigation.  Let’s see what happens this morning at the Supreme Court.

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

 

Day 1285 – The Plague of Magical Thinking

The United States set ominous new coronavirus records yesterday.  Our total confirmed cases surpassed the 3-million mark, and our death toll rose above 130,000.  Hospitals in Florida and Texas were running out of ICU beds.  The infection rate in several states was higher than it was at the peak of the outbreak in New York City.  Doctor Fauci warned that we are still “knee deep in the first wave” of the pandemic.  Trump and the White House, on the other hand, were treating Covid like it’s on the wane, using words like “embers” to describe the surges reported in more than half of our states.

In his New York Times column on Monday, Paul Krugman argued that our failed response to the coronavirus had less to do with our culture and more to do with a lack of leadership at the top.  Krugman wrote:

But why did America bungle Covid-19 so badly?

There has been a fair bit of commentary to the effect that our failed pandemic response was deeply rooted in American culture. We are, the argument goes, too libertarian, too distrustful of government, too unwilling to accept even slight inconveniences to protect others.

And there’s surely something to this. I don’t think any other advanced country (but are we still an advanced country?) has a comparable number of people who respond with rage when asked to wear a mask in a supermarket. There definitely isn’t any other advanced country where demonstrators against public health measures would wave guns around and invade state capitols. And the Republican Party is more or less unique among major Western political parties in its hostility to science in general.

But what strikes me, when looking at America’s extraordinary pandemic failure, is how top-down it all was.

Full link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/opinion/covid-19-trump.html

Krugman went on to detail how Trump and his circle led many conservatives, by example and goading, to ignore or reject science in order to re-open businesses more quickly, hoping to juice the economy in time for the November election.  And while I agree that Trump’s toxic example was and is a big part of our national failure to minimize the epidemic, it also seemed that Krugman glossed over the condition of the soil that Trump tilled.

Why were so many of our fellow citizens ready to rail against science and demonize Doctor Fauci?  It wasn’t just the libertarianism and selfishness pointed out by Krugman.  It was also due to a large segment of our population’s embrace of various forms of magical thinking.  No other advanced western nation has so many fundamentalist Christians willing to adopt a mythology of the End Times and a Second Coming–reinforced by countless books and videos–that’s nearly on a fantastical par with Harry Potter.  It’s big business.  Don’t believe me?  Read the Book of Revelations and you’ll hear a lot about flying serpents and dragons.  Mormons believe Jesus visited the United States two thousand years ago.  Scientologists believe aliens seeded life on Earth.  Many Evangelicals believe that if you accept Christ as your personal savior in the right way, He will speak to you.  Many prosperity gospel adherents believe that if you accept a certain version of Jesus and God, and behave a certain way, you’ll get rich.  And so on.

When our citizens place the supernatural above the concrete evidence staring them in the face, it’s no wonder many Trump supporters say he was “sent by God” or that he is “a messenger from God.”  No wonder so many Trump supporters are willing to believe that our government is run by an international “deep state” cabal (headed by Satan worshiping George Soros) that wants to replace capitalism with communism and do away with the white race or similar nonsense.  No wonder so many Trump supporters have embraced the grotesquely warped and ridiculous Q-Anon fantasy that supercharges the Soros conspiracy to lunatic heights.  No wonder so many people are willing to accept that a reality TV show host who inherited a bunch of money and spent it building condos while chasing women and cheating on his wives is somehow a business genius–despite all evidence to the contrary, including six casino bankruptcies.

This plague of magical thinking has been reinforced by televangelists and bogus “news” outlets like Fox and InfoWars.  It’s also the product of several decades of the demonizing of scholarship and higher education.  For years blathering idiots on Fox have been screaming about coastal “elites” and liberal professors in their ivory towers indoctrinating students into socialism, blah blah blah, while the real “God-fearing” Americans toiled in the Bible Belt.  This kind of propaganda takes a toll, and makes the populace more receptive to autocratic con men like Trump, who stoke fear and division while appealing to the unspoken resentments and grievances of people whose privileges and cultural advantages have been eroding.  It produces thousands of people who refuse to wear a simple mask during a pandemic because they will suffocate or because it’s against the will of Jesus or because it’s part of a conspiracy of foreign bankers (code for “Jews”) to make American men docile and impotent.

This November may be our last chance to preserve something resembling the democracy and culture we valued before Trump took over.  Trump’s own niece said this in her new book:

If he is afforded a second term, it will be the end of American democracy…

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

Day 1284 – Year of Ashes

You probably watched the news over the past few days so I won’t do much of a recap here.  Suffice to say, the coronavirus has spread like wildfire through the Sun Belt, forcing conservatives who spent months whining that the epidemic was a “coastal elite hoax” to face the tragic reality of their ignorance. Many thousands will suffer and die because Trump and his cult refused to embrace the facts.

With only four months until the election, it’s clear that Trump’s profound incompetence and costly leadership failures have severely damaged his re-election prospects.  The situation is so bad that Trump even rage-tweeted at Fox “news” yesterday because they had the audacity to report his horrible poll numbers. But the more Trump feels cornered, the more desperate and dangerous he’ll get.

We’re approaching the period in this calamitous saga when our own anger and outrage need to be channeled into action.  We need to support efforts to register voters, resist voting purges and other forms of voter suppression, and ultimately get our voters to the polls.  We also need to be raising awareness that Trump could conceivably try to invalidate the election by claiming widespread voter fraud or declaring a national emergency or somesuch nonsense–especially with corrupt Bill Barr overseeing the inJustice Department.  We shouldn’t be surprised, but we should damn-sure be outraged and ready to reject any trickery.

We should also begin, cautiously, to imagine the post-Trumpian world we want to shape and fight for.  The most interesting and thought-provoking article I read over the holiday was an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer by a former Air Force Colonel, Curtis Milam. Colonel Milam’s piece was titled “How I Learned to Relax and Love Donald Trump,” and it’s a fascinating “silver lining” outlook on our current political moment.  Milam writes:

Reflected in Trump is all that is wrong with the United States: the injustice of our broken social contract, the crassness of our politics, and the cruelty of our economy. Trump is also the shock that a mature democracy needs for action. To use a timely metaphor, Trump and his supporters are a virus, and they have activated our democratic antibodies. What we are seeing in the streets is the body fighting the infection.

He calls us to take advantage of this galvanizing moment, and goes on to conclude that:

Our revulsion at Trump is causing Americans to ask: How did we get to this place? And how do we get out? That will take time and hard work by well-intentioned people from every corner of American society.

Here’s a link to the op-ed:

https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/donald-trump-revolution-uprising-election-2020-20200623.html

We have much work yet to do, but the political wind is at our back and history is calling us to rise from the ashes of the Trump-coronavirus catastrophe to remake our nation into a more just and equitable society.

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

Day 1280 – A New American Exceptionalism

New coronavirus cases hit 50,000 yesterday for the first time as the epidemic continued to hammer the Sun Belt and West.  Officials in many states are pleading with citizens to stay home for the Fourth of July weekend, or at least wear a mask if they go out.  States that re-opened first seem to be the hardest hit.  Collective action by a significant majority of Americans is the only thing that will keep the outbreak from once again cratering our economy and overwhelming our healthcare system–but can our citizens set aside their individual selfishness and act for the common good?  Time will tell, but the situation would be a lot better if our president weren’t catastrophically irresponsible and derelict in his duty to lead by example.

The United States has a lot of problems.  This isn’t new information.  We’ve known for many years that American exceptionalism has been on the wane.  Travel to another advanced country (pre-Covid) and the contrasts are immediate.  Their airports are much nicer than ours and their rail systems are far more advanced.  The difference in infrastructure almost seems like the difference between the Jetsons and the Flintstones.  Their healthcare systems are better.  They also tend to have a solid and satisfied middle class.  This comparison could go on and on.  American exceptionalism has sadly come to mean that we are exceptionally behind our peers in most of the ways that matter to our everyday lives.

It’s easy to focus on a particular part of our economy and list the things about it that don’t work, like healthcare.  But it’s harder to see the bigger picture of how so many elements of our republic have been degraded, and then diagnose why.  The New York Times published a fascinating article yesterday by David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez that shows in a series of simple graphs where the United States stands on a variety of economic metrics, like union membership, CEO pay, wages, and so forth.  Here’s a link:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/02/opinion/politics/us-economic-social-inequality.html

Yesterday’s blog argued that once we remove Trump and the corrupt Republicans from power, our first job as activists is to dismantle the right-wing lie machine led by the Fox “news” network.  As long as they’re spewing lies, distortions and propaganda, our nation will remain divided and conservatives will remain artificially enraged.

Our second job will be to address the substance of this NY Times article.  Almost every graph the NY Times displayed illustrated one overarching truth: Corporate power and CEO greed have hijacked our democracy to loot our citizens and accumulate wealth in the hands of the few.  This piracy has only been possible because Republican (and a few Democrat) lawmakers have fostered it, assisted by right-wing courts.  Republicans are bought and paid for by the CEO and billionaire class, and have been for decades.  The Koch Brothers, the Murdoch family, the Mercer family, the Adelsons, Pete Peterson, Steve Schwarzman, the oil lobby, the gun lobby, the defense lobby, the pharma lobby–the list is endless.  Republicans broke up unions, demonized collective bargaining, blocked efforts for fair wages, blocked healthcare-for-all, blocked drug pricing restrictions, blocked consumer protections, and gave a green light to the polluting and poisoning of our air, water and land.  And they conned citizens into believing the fault lay elsewhere–women, minorities, immigrants, foreign nations, etc.  Until we get corporate and billionaire money out of politics, at least one major political party will continue to do the bidding of American oligarchy in order to receive campaign cash at the dire expense of our citizens. This is real populism, and it should be at the forefront of our discussions as we approach the election.

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

Have a safe and peaceful holiday weekend.  The next blog will post on Tuesday morning.