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53 Days – Trump’s Pitch Has Always Been Panic

Another day, another new book release revealing disturbing information about Trump’s criminally incompetent regime. Yesterday’s debut, Compromised, came from former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who worked in counter-espionage for decades. Strzok led the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties and was fired by Mueller after sending text messages critical of Trump. Strzok made the news and talk-show circuit last night and reinforced one of the central points of his book, that he believes Donald Trump is beholden to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Strzok feels confident that Putin and Russia have some sort of financial leverage over Trump, and goes into great detail about how often Trump has lied about having no financial ties to Russia, when in fact he did. Strzok was tasked with setting up an expert team within the Mueller probe to follow the money and look at Trump’s financial and corporate ties to Russia and its oligarchs, but he acknowledges that he doesn’t know what became of that team or its investigation. It’s not hard to imagine Bill Barr shutting it down.

Trump was hammered yesterday by reporters on revelations from the recent book Rage by Bob Woodward that Trump misled the public on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump became extremely testy and frustrated, insisting that he was only trying to keep the public from panicking. But this desperate defense was bogus, as Seth Myers pointed out on his show last night. Trump had more options than “create a panic” or “lie about the facts,” and any student of history knows this. FDR gave Americans the cold, hard truth about Pearl Harbor and the threat we faced across both the Atlantic and Pacific, yet he also took actions to rally the nation and assure citizens that we would rise the occasion. Trump merely lied and hoped it would all blow over–and now more than 191,000 Americans are dead and counting.

We cannot escape the profound hypocrisy that the most inflammatory, vicious, divisive president in at least a hundred years now whines about not wanting to panic people. His ENTIRE election platform is based on stoking fear and demonizing out-groups. He’s like a Fearmonger-In-Chief using the most vile, insulting, dehumanizing language imaginable to describe those who don’t support him, as he did last night in a (maskless Super Spreader) rally in North Carolina. People outside Trump’s cult bubble need to know that he describes progressives and liberals as dangerous criminals and traitors who want to kill his supporters and destroy America. The screed of lies and smears that come out of his mouth at rallies is truly disgusting, deplorable and unAmerican, and we ignore his words at out peril.

During yesterday’s press coverage of Trump’s statements to Woodward, commentators kept asking whether the “Trump Knew” scandal would alter the election outcome, and they kept wondering how Trump seemed able to avoid the consequences of so many otherwise devastating scandals that have marred his tenure from day one. But I cannot believe they have to keep asking this question. The answer is obvious and simple, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Trump and the dirty Republicans who support him escape consequences because their voters are in thrall to a television network that has been pumping out hateful and divisive propaganda for two decades, bolstered by talk radio shock-jocks whose rhetoric is so filthy and dishonest and vile that it’s hard to stomach (Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh). I despise Trump because he is an immoral, incompetent, ignorant, vain, lying racist, but Trump is only a symptom. The true disease, the true cancer, is the Fox Network owned by Rupert Murdoch, who’s amassed vast wealth by sowing and selling fear. We can point fingers at Lee Atwater, Karl Rove and any number of other right-wing partisan dirtbags over the years, but the core of our national nightmare is Fox. We are divided because a large fraction of Americans don’t get news, they get propaganda and editorial disguised as news, and presented in a way that appeals to their most base fears, insecurities, anxieties and biases. In the weeks and months ahead, keep this in mind. Trump can only exist and persist because of Fox.

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

Have a restful weekend and save your strength. It’s going to be a rough couple of months.

54 Days – Trump Knew

This has been a week of devastating blockbuster news about Donald Trump, beginning with the fallout from revelations in The Atlantic that he called our troops suckers and losers for enlisting and dying in our wars. No sooner did the public begin to process the disgusting and soulless substance of these statements, corroborated by multiple news outlets, than the book by Michael Cohen was released, confirming our fears that Trump wants to stay in office for life, that he’s openly racist, that his business overstated assets for purposes of borrowing money and understated assets for tax calculations, that he loves dictators and dreams of their powers, and that he only cares about getting re-election.

Now yet another book has been released, “Rage,” by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, comprised of 18 lengthy interviews with Trump as well as many other figures in the Trump cabinet and in the defense and intelligence world. Woodward’s book is based on tape recordings, some of which were released to news outlets like CNN to bolster the book’s credibility and protect it from the inevitable attacks by Trump and others. Woodward reveals the fact that in early February Trump knew that Covid was going to be catastrophic and that it was airborne, telling Woodward it was at least five times more deadly than the flu. Yet he also confessed to Woodward that he purposefully downplayed the facts, not wanting to cause a panic. In other words, for weeks and months Trump knew what was coming yet failed to properly warn us about the imminent threat. He lied to governors, making it harder for them to protect their citizens in the absence of any Federal response. He called the virus a hoax and demonized mask wearing when he knew we were facing a vicious airborne pathogen. Trump knew.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-reaction-woodward-interview-coronavirus/2020/09/09/fc21e67e-f2ca-11ea-b796-2dd09962649c_story.html

It’s not hyperbolic to believe and declare that Trump has the blood of thousands on his hands. Experts now estimate that if Trump had acted in early February, it could have saved up to 95% of the deaths, and it could have saved untold financial pain and economic damage since we could have avoided the worst parts of the shutdowns. No wonder so many other countries are emerging from Covid and moving forward while we still have 22 states with rising case numbers and are approaching a staggering death toll of 190,000.

It’s clear that when Trump says he doesn’t want to “panic” people, he means that (a) he doesn’t want to hurt his precious stock market, and (b) he doesn’t want voters to associate anything bad (like a pandemic) with Trump. So his strategy has been to pretend that “it is what it is” and move on.

Needless to say, it’s rich that a political figure would care about “panic” while his entire political movement has been based on fear-mongering. Watch out for Mexican rapists! Commies and socialists! Antifa! Deep State shadow people trying to destroy my presidency and our way of life! Libtard Democrats who hate America and want to destroy it because they hate Trump and the MAGA crowd! MS-13 gangs are taking over the suburbs! Anarchist rioters are coming to kill you and burn down your cities! Be afraid! BE AFRAID!!

Any other president would have resigned in disgrace by this point but Trump has no moral core, no conscience. The big question now, amid all these scandals and grotesque revelations, is whether or not they will move the political needle in Biden’s favor. They only need to have a small negative effect to do great political damage to Trump. But the fact that we even have to wonder exposes an even deeper truth. Trump has been able to maintain his power and his voters for a single horrifying reason. For two decades, a greedy and soulless Australian oligarch has developed, along with a recently deceased delusional and radical television producer (and sexual predator), a malignant propaganda network masquerading as news. It’s mostly staffed by partisan rumor-mongers and gossip spreaders with zero knowledge of journalism whose main function is to work with the GOP to solidify the power of a radical white minority under an authoritarian regime they control while destroying our democratic institutions. They’ve done this by creating a cult of viewers totally divorced from reality, fed lies and distortions 24/7 while the network and it’s stars profit. And their viewers vote.

At this point, voters who still support Trump only do so because they watch Fox and have no idea what a corrupt and dishonest scumbag he has revealed himself to be, or they are aware but just don’t believe it because they’ve been told that only Fox is true, everything else is a lie.

Trump still has an alarmingly good chance to win in November. Only an army of people devoted to truth and true democracy can ensure Trump doesn’t win another term. If you need further motivation, Trump said yesterday that Senator Ted Cruz is on his short list of nominees to the Supreme Court if he gets the chance to fill another opening. It’s not too late to pitch in and help defeat Trump. Start with MoveOn or SwingLeft. Join the events being held locally by Rep Antonio Delgado. Give to Biden, DSCC and other worthy outfits.

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

55 Days – No Bar Too Low For Barr

It was bad enough that Attorney General Bill Barr lied about the contents of the Mueller Report before it was officially released. And it was worse that he fired top prosecutors in several Federal Districts to impede or interfere with investigations that might include Trump or his family. And it was much worse that he tried to vacate the Michael Flynn prosecution after Flynn already arranged a guilty plea. And it was even more heinous and sleazy that he argued against a harsh sentence for Trump crony Roger Stone. It was also heinous that he allowed scumbag convict Paul Manafort to enjoy home-release due to Covid fears but tried to deny Trump lawyer Michael Cohen home-release simply because Cohen was writing a tell-all book about Trump. But now Barr is inserting himself into a civil prosecution of Trump by E. Jean Carroll, who claimed that she was raped by Trump and then was allegedly defamed by him when he called her a liar. Barr is pushing the ludicrous theory that because the defamation occurred while Trump was president, Trump deserves the same legal protection any federal employee gets, despite the fact that the actual incident between Trump and Carroll happened many years ago. In other words, our tax dollars will be spent defending Trump from his own words against a private US citizen. As former federal prosecutor Neal Katyal said on Twitter last night, “This is, putting it mildly, an insane position for DOJ. They are doing everything they can to appear to be Trump’s personal law firm. Its the opposite of the way the Department of Justice is supposed to behave.”

Barr is simply corrupt and has no ethical guardrails when it comes to doing Trump’s dirtywork. He’s almost as dangerous to our democracy and constitution as Trump. Recall that Barr was recently asked if it was legal for an individual to send in an absentee ballot and then go ahead and vote in-person, and Barr claimed he wasn’t sure, it depended on the state, blah blah. But in fact, it’s a felony and Barr was either lying or manifestly unfit for his job. Barr also lied to CNN recently about mail-in voter fraud in Texas, claiming that an individual involved in widespread voter fraud had recently been indicted there when in fact nothing of the sort had occurred. It’s becoming clear that, like Trump, Barr will do ANYTHING to stay in power so he can push his insane Christian-fundamentalist worldview that “secularism will destroy the moral order,” while at the same time serving a president who is blatantly and constantly immoral. To Barr, the ends justify the means, so he can rationalize lying and cheating and screwing anybody over as long as it accomplishes his larger goals. Just like Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to hit the campaign trail, holding an event in North Carolina last night where nobody wore a mask or distanced. It’s yet another Trump event that might turn into a super spreader, like his Tulsa event. To see how badly public events can turn out, the Sturgis motorcycle rally held recently in South Dakota has now been linked to a subsequent outbreak of Covid cases estimated to number 250,000. Yes, you read that right. And the related costs to our nation are estimated at $12-billion dollars.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/did-sturgis-motorcycle-rally-really-infect-250000-people

The drugmaker AstraZeneca halted one of their Covid vaccine trials yesterday because of a serious adverse reaction in one of the participants, which is a reminder that creating a vaccine is not easy and does not happen quickly. This is bad news for the Trump lie that a vaccine will be ready soon, maybe in time for the election!

All of this chaos has caused a large drop in the stock market, which should also make Trump nervous. He wants to campaign on good news but because of his catastrophic mismanagement of the pandemic, there is little good news left. Whether the market rises or falls, it will certainly be volatile in the next two months as investors try to decipher how badly the economy is damaged and which sectors will thrive, which will only survive, and which will go bust. But don’t let Trump fool anybody that the economy is in decent shape or somehow zooming back. It’s not.

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

56 Days – To Trump, Everyone’s A Sucker

I hope your Labor Day weekend was peaceful and relaxing, but if you were in a blissful media blackout, there are a few things you need to know.

A devastating article in the Atlantic Magazine claimed that top-level sources in the Trump administration confirmed that the president said disparaging and insulting things about members of our armed forces on multiple occasions. Trump apparently refused to visit a US cemetery in France because the dead there were “losers.” He also said that anyone who signed up for the military were “suckers.” He even warned his administration against including wounded veterans and amputees in military parades because “nobody wants to see that.” Here’s the article, by Jeffrey Goldberg:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/09/trump-americans-who-died-at-war-are-losers-and-suckers/615997/

A firestorm of criticism arose in the wake of the article, and of course Trump began saying that it was fake news, that it was a hit job, blah blah blah. But these statements were perfectly congruent with the smears he made about John McCain, saying that McCain was only considered a hero because he was captured, but didn’t consider McCain a hero. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

New Yorkers have known for decades that Trump has always been a heartless, selfish playboy with absolutely no sense of service nor sacrifice. He has no idea what motivates anyone to act selflessly because his entire life has been dedicated to the selfish pursuit of money.

Trump continues to ignore the pandemic that’s still raging across the nation. We just surpassed 6,300,000 cases and 190,000 deaths, with hot-spots in Missouri, Tennessee and Iowa, as well as both North and South Dakota (in the wake of the Sturgis motorcycle rally). We are also learning more about the longer term effects of Covid on the infected, including asymptomatic people. Many have enlarged hearts and damage to their liver or kidneys, and doctors in Hong Kong say many infected have “prolonged and active gut infections.” Keep in mind that the Trump regime is currently trying to invalidate the entire ACA (Obamacare) in court while thousands suffer from the pandemic. Trump promised a healthcare replacement plan by the end of August, but it hasn’t materialized yet and seems more like another hollow promise from the mouth of a con-man.

Another big news story that broke over the weekend concerned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. According to the New York Times, while at the helm of his prior firm, New Breed Logistics, he pressured employees to make political donations that he later reimbursed them for in the form of bonuses or other compensation, which would be illegal. It’s a way of circumventing campaign donation limits on individuals. DeJoy himself can only donate $2,800 to a specific candidate, but if he can pressure his workers to give money they otherwise wouldn’t and then pay them back, he’s essentially giving all that money himself in violation of the spirit and letter of the law. Here’s a link to the article.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/06/us/politics/dejoy-political-donations.html

The House Oversight Committee has decided to investigate this claim, but there have been many other reasons for DeJoy to have resigned already, like massive conflicts of interest, testimony to Congress filled with lies and evasions, and blatant sabotage of the USPS for purely partisan political gain. By the way, many of the changes DeJoy put in place have not been reversed, and mail is still not being delivered in as timely a way as it used to be before DeJoy was installed.

The next two months are going to be stressful and difficult. Channel your emotions into action and make sure you do something to help, whether it’s phone-banking for a local candidate, helping GOTV groups by texting voters in swing states, signing up as poll workers, or sending money where it’s needed. This is a political emergency and there are plenty of ways to be useful.

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

67 Days – Trump’s Miserable America

The final night of the Trump Convention turned into a massive violation of the Hatch Act as Trump transformed The People’s House into his own sleazy reality-TV stage in a vain and desperate attempt to bolster his stagnant poll numbers and TV ratings. (Night Three, the prior evening, had horrible viewership with only half as many people watching as watched Night Three of the Democrats’ convention). Trump’s acceptance speech was introduced by daughter Ivanka, who said about her father’s presidency, “The results speak for themselves!” The deaths of 180,000 Americans, 10-million unemployed, historic deficits, racial strife, targeted troops and presidential corruption speak loudly indeed.

Trump eventually swept in and took the stage to read lifelessly from the teleprompter for a miserable seventy minutes–the second longest convention acceptance speech behind his 2016 acceptance speech–and even Fox host Chris Wallace afterwards described a sweaty Trump as “low energy.”

But more to the point, Trump’s speech was filled with lies.  As he often does, Trump claimed that he passed the Veteran’s Choice Law but in fact President Obama signed it into law in 2014.  He also repeated his lie that he and Republicans would protect pre-existing conditions even though his DOJ is currently in court trying to kill the ACA and end protection for pre-existing conditions. Trump bragged about presiding over a gain of 9-million jobs in the last three months but conveniently forgot to mention that the gains followed a historic job loss of 22-million in the prior two months.  Trump said he would continue to lower drug prices but they have actually increased during his tenure.  He said he opened the Jerusalem Embassy for under $500,000 but government documents reveal the actual cost was at least $21-million.  He claimed to have banned travel from China and Europe when in fact he only placed partial restrictions on both with many exemptions.  Trump bragged about building 300 miles of border wall but only 5 miles of border wall has been built that didn’t exist before he entered office, the rest was replacement wall.  He said Biden wants to take away guns when in fact Biden supports voluntary buy-backs of assault weapons.  He also said Biden wants to eliminate borders, which is ridiculous on its face and a bold-faced lie.  And of course he blamed the protests and violence on Biden even though they are happening while Trump is president.  Trump said the DNC removed the word “God” from the pledge of allegiance in their telecast when in fact “God” was in the DNC telecasts.  Trump whined about the left-wings’ cancel culture even though he tried to cancel all sorts of people and businesses, most recently trying to cancel Goodyear Tires for prohibiting political attire in the workplace.

Adding more insult to the injury of his speech, the evening concluded with a large and garish fireworks display above the DC Mall with “Trump 2020” emblazoned in the sky, yet another misuse of public property (and taxpayer money) for a purely partisan political event.  And the fireworks were accompanied by a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that was apparently not authorized, like so many other songs Trump appropriates for his events. For anyone who cares about the traditions of the executive branch and the principles upon which they are based, including prohibiting campaigns from using public property, projecting the appearance of bias and impropriety, the appropriation and misuse of pubic symbols, the utter degradation and cheapening of the White House to prop up a lying con-man was truly heartbreaking.

Trump said nothing about Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back, nor did Trump mention the radical right-wing militia gunman (aka domestic terrorist) who later killed two protesters in cold blood.  Because that would have required leadership, and Trump has proven himself incapable.

The overarching theme of the night, from Rudy Giuliani to Ivanka to Donald seemed to be the ridiculous and contradictory notion that “if you don’t like all the horrible things going on in America, vote for Trump and he will fix them.”  Trump never takes responsibility for ANYTHING, so all of the bad things happening now are not his fault, yet he will somehow make things better if re-elected.  But we all know the truth.  The violent, divided, discordant, battered, exhausted America we’ve suffered for three-and-a-half years is Trump’s America.

This will be the most important election of our lifetimes.  Have a voting plan.  Encourage your friends to vote.  Volunteer to help in swing states (with Swing Left, MoveOn or similar groups).  Give money to Biden, Delgado, the DSCC, individual senate races, voter engagement groups (SwingLeft, MoveOn) and maybe even groups like The Lincoln Project or Meidas Touch.

Keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

I’ll be taking the coming week off before resuming for the final dash to the finish.  Have a safe and relaxing weekend, and a productive week.