Trump enters the stage

Discussion of the recent unfolding of history.

Re: Trump enters the stage - daily corona briefing freebies

Postby Meno_ » Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:18 am

{Trump uses free media coverage of coronavirus for

political push toward election.}


The New York Times


Opinion

Stop Airing Trump’s Briefings!

The media is allowing disinformation to appear as news.

April 19, 2020, 8:30 p.m. ET





Around this time four years ago, the media world was all abuzz over an analysis by mediaQuant, a company that tracks what is known as “earned media” coverage of political candidates. Earned media is free media.

The firm computed that Donald Trump had “earned” a whopping $2 billion of coverage, dwarfing the value earned by all other candidates, Republican and Democrat, even as he had only purchased about $10 million of paid advertising.

As The New York Times reported at the time, the company’s chief analytics officer, Paul Senatori, explained: “The mediaQuant model collects positive, neutral and negative media mentions alike. Mr. Senatori said negative media mentions are given somewhat less weight.”

This wasn’t the first analysis that found that something was askew.

In December 2015 CNN quoted the publisher of The Tyndall Report, which also tracks media coverage, saying Trump was “by far the most newsworthy story line of campaign 2016, accounting alone for more than a quarter of all coverage’ on NBC, CBS and ABC’s evening newscasts.”


Simply put, the media was complicit in Trump’s rise. Trump was macabre theater, a man self-immolating in real time, one who was destined to lose, but who could provide entertainment, content and yes, profits while he lasted.

The Hollywood Reporter in February of 2016 quoted CBS’s C.E.O. as saying, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” because as The Reporter put it, “He likes the ad money Trump and his competitors are bringing to the network.”

I fear that history is repeating itself.

For over a month now, the White House has been holding its daily coronavirus briefings, and most networks, cable news channels and major news websites have been carrying all or parts of them live, as millions of people, trapped inside and anxious, have tuned in.

The briefings are marked by Trump’s own misinformation, deceptions, rage, blaming and boasting. He takes no responsibility at all for his abysmal handling of the crisis, while each day he seems to find another person to blame, like a child frantically flinging spaghetti at a wall to see which one sticks.

He delivers his disinformation flanked by scientists and officials, whose presence only serves to convey credibility to propagandistic performances that have simply become a replacement for his political rallies.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, but we are also in the middle of a presidential campaign, and I shudder to think how much “earned media” the media is simply shoveling Trump’s way by airing these briefings, which can last up to two hours a day.

Let me be clear: Under no circumstance should these briefings be carried live. Doing so is a mistake bordering on journalistic malpractice. Everything a president does or says should be documented but airing all of it, unfiltered, is lazy and irresponsible.

As the veteran anchor Ted Koppel told The New York Times last month, “Training a camera on a live event, and just letting it play out, is technology, not journalism; journalism requires editing and context.” He continued, “The question, clearly, is whether his status as president of the United States obliges us to broadcast his every briefing live.” His answer was “no.”



We have trained the American television audience to understand that regular programs are only interrupted for live events when they are truly important, things that the viewers need to see now, in real time. These briefings simply don’t reach that threshold. In fact, some of what Trump has said has been dangerous, like when he pushed an unproven and potentially harmful drug as a treatment for the virus.

No amount of fact checkers, balancing with the briefings of governors, or even occasionally cutting away, can justify carrying these briefings live. The scant amount of new information that these rallies produce could be edited into a short segment for a show. The major headlines from these briefings are often Trump’s clashes with reporters, the differences he has with scientists and the lies he tells. Just like in 2016, it’s all theater.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about being caught in a lie. Donald Trump doesn’t care about the truth.

Donald Trump is a bare-knuckled politician with imperial impulses, falsely claiming that, “When somebody’s the president of the U.S., the authority is total,” encouraging protesters bristling about social distancing policies to “liberate” swings states, and saying that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be “overthrown, either by inside or out.”

Trump has completely politicized this pandemic and the briefings have become a tool of that politicization. He is standing on top of nearly 40,000 dead bodies and using the media to distract attention away from them and instead brag about what a great job he’s done.


In 2016, Trump stormed the castle by outwitting the media gatekeepers, exploiting their need for content and access, their intense hunger for ratings and clicks, their economic hardships and overconfidence.

It’s all happening again. The media has learned nothing.













© 2020 The New York Times Co.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - more of the same

Postby Meno_ » Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:03 pm

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-NC, released the fourth volume of his panel's investigative report on Russian election interference. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Russia interfered in 2016 election to back Trump, not Clinton, new Senate intelligence report confirms

Tuesday's bipartisan Senate Intelligence report keeps Republicans in the Senate and House at odds over whether Russia backed Trump over his Democratic rival in 2016

Griffin ConnollyWashington





A new bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee reasserts the panel's position that Russia launched an "unprecedented" election interference campaign in 2016 to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is chaired by Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina.

The 158-page, heavily redacted fourth volume of the Senate Intelligence panel's ongoing investigation into Russian election interference and the US government's response to it undermines the president's years-long campaign to frame the intelligence community's 2017 assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to aid Mr Trump as a "hoax" perpetrated by career US intelligence officials who do not like him.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines


The 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) is "a sound intelligence product," the Senate report concludes.

Tuesday's report also keeps Mr Burr's committee at odds with Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who concluded in their own 253-page report in 2018 that intelligence officials exhibited "tradecraft failings" during their investigation and assessment of Russian election interference and Mr Putin's motives.












Trump blasts governor for buying coronavirus tests from South Korea



Trump boasts of ‘great ratings’ as US coronavirus deaths near 43,00o

The 2017 ICA "reflects strong tradecraft, sound analytical reasoning, and proper justification of disagreement in the one analytical line where it occurred," the report concludes.

The Senate report also states that it found no evidence the US intelligence officials who compiled the 2017 ICA that found Russia interfered in 2016 to back Mr Trump were operating under political pressures or otherwise politically motivated.





"In all the interviews of those who drafted and prepared the ICA, the Committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach specific conclusions," the report states. "All analysts expressed that they were free to debate, object to content, and assess confidence levels, as is normal and proper for the analytic process."

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Burr commended the intelligence community's work in 2017 and echoed its warning that Americans should be on guard for repeat efforts by the Kremlin in 2020 to spread misinformation before the presidential election on 3 November.

“One of the ICA’s most important conclusions was that Russia’s aggressive interference efforts should be considered ‘the new normal," Mr Burr said.

"That warning has been borne out by the events of the last three years, as Russia and its imitators increasingly use information warfare to sow societal chaos and discord. With the 2020 presidential election approaching, it’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant against the threat of interference from hostile foreign actors," he said.




The Senate Intelligence Committee has not announced when it will release the fifth and final volume of its report, which, in total, is expected to be nearly 1,000 pages.

That final volume of the report could be the most politically sensitive one yet, as it will focus on US counterintelligence efforts in 2016, when Russia was trying to make contact with advisers on the Trump campaign, including the president's son Donald Trump Jr, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported last year that his team found “evidence of numerous links” between members of the Trump campaign and people with ties — or who claimed to have ties — to the Russian government.

Mr Mueller, however, declined to bring any charges against Mr Manafort, Mr Kushner, Mr Trump, or any others on the campaign for their contacts with purported Russian agents over concerns that it would be difficult to prove to a jury they willfully broke campaign laws prohibiting such behaviour.


New York Times


>>>>>>>><<<<>>>><<<<>>>>>>>><<<<>>><<<<>>
<<>><<

Again? Say what?




The Guardian - Back to home


Joe Biden

Joe Biden warns that Donald Trump may try to delay November election

‘I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow’

Democrat also expect Russia and others to interfere



Published onFri 24 Apr 2020 09.15 EDT



Former vice-president Joe Biden said he is concerned Donald Trump will try to delay the November presidential election, during remarks at an online fundraiser.




“Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said on Thursday night.

Under the law, no president has the power to postpone the presidential election. To change the date, Congress has to intervene.



The US presidential election is frozen in time – can it survive?



Trump has not announced plans to delay the 3 November election, but it is a concern people in both political parties have raised. The president has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of understanding about the limits on executive power, particularly when it comes to his own self-preservation.

The Covid-19 outbreak has also increased concerns about how to conduct in-person voting safely. In response, many are pushing for an expansion of voting by mail.

Trump has used Covid-19 press briefings to make false claims about voting by mail, calling it “corrupt” and “dangerous”. Earlier this month, Trump also urged Republicans to fight efforts to expand voting by mail.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting,” Trump tweeted. “Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

At the fundraiser, Biden also referenced reporting by the Washington Post which revealed Trump’s reluctance to fund the US postal service and efforts to force changes to its financial structure, which could harm voting by mail.

“Imagine threatening not to fund the post office. Now, what in God’s name is that about? Other than trying to let the word out that he’s going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote,” Biden said. “That’s the only way he thinks he can possibly win.”

The Covid-19 outbreak has already reshaped the 2020 campaign. The candidates are campaigning from home and at a stage in the cycle when the election tends to dominate news coverage, reporters are instead focused on Covid-19.

Biden also shared a broader concern about interference in the presidential election by Russia and two unnamed “major actors”.

“I promise you the Russians did interfere in our [2016] election and I guarantee you they are doing it again with two other major actors,” Biden said. “You can be assured between [Trump] and the Russians there is going to be an attempt to interfere.”



© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. (beta)

 
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Mitch McConnell - Trumpoclapsy

Postby Meno_ » Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:55 pm

Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt
The Senate majority leader is prioritizing the Republican Party rather than the American people during this crisis.

A profile view of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
American states are abruptly facing their worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that more than 25 percent of state revenues have evaporated because of the pandemic. Demands on state health-care budgets, state unemployment systems, and state social-welfare benefits are surging. By the summer of 2022, the state budget gap could total half a trillion dollars.


States need help. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not want to provide it. On The Hugh Hewitt Show on April 23, McConnell proposed another idea. Instead of more federal aid, states should cut their spending by declaring bankruptcy:

I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It saves some cities. And there’s no good reason for it not to be available. My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of.”

McConnell expanded on the state-bankruptcy concept later that same day in a phone interview with Fox News’s Bill Hemmer:

We’re not interested in solving their pension problems for them. We’re not interested in rescuing them from bad decisions they've made in the past, we’re not going to let them take advantage of this pandemic to solve a lot of problems that they created themselves [with] bad decisions in the past.

McConnell’s words instantly attracted attention, criticism, even some derision. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted the idea as “dumb,” “irresponsible,” and “petty”:

How do you think this is going to work? And then to suggest we’re concerned about the economy, states should declare bankruptcy. That’s how you’re going to bring this national economy back? By states declaring bankruptcy? You want to see that market fall through the cellar? … I mean, if there’s ever a time for humanity and decency, now is the time.

Cuomo’s fervent rebuttal grabbed the cameras. It did not settle the issue. State bankruptcy is not some passing fancy. Republicans have been advancing the idea for more than a decade. Back in 2011, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich published a jointly bylined op-ed advocating state bankruptcy as a solution for the state of California. The Tea Party Congress elected in 2010 explored the idea of state bankruptcy in House hearings and Senate debates. Newt Gingrich promoted it in his run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.


Read: Red and blue America aren't experiencing the same pandemic

To understand why Republicans want state bankruptcy, it’s necessary to understand what bankruptcy is—and what it is not.

A bankruptcy is not a default. States have defaulted on their debts before; that is not new. Arkansas defaulted in the depression year of 1933. Eight states defaulted on canal and railway debt within a single year, 1841. The Fourteenth Amendment required former Confederate states to repudiate their Civil War debts.

MORE BY DAVID FRUM

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A default is a sovereign act. A defaulting sovereign can decide for itself which—if any—debts to pay in full, which to repay in part, which debts to not pay at all.

Bankruptcy, by contrast, is a legal process in which a judge decides which debts will be paid, in what order, and in what amount. Under the Constitution, bankruptcy is a power entirely reserved to the federal government. An American bankruptcy is overseen in federal court, by a federal judge, according to federal law. That’s why federal law can allow U.S. cities to go bankrupt, as many have done over the years. That’s why the financial restructuring of Puerto Rico can be overseen by a federal control board. Cities and territories are not sovereigns. Under the U.S. Constitution, U.S. states are.

Understand that, and you begin to understand the appeal of state bankruptcy to Republican legislators in the post-2010 era.

Since 2010, American fiscal federalism has been defined by three overwhelming facts.

First, the country’s wealthiest and most productive states are overwhelmingly blue. Of the 15 states least reliant on federal transfers, 11 are led by Democratic governors. Of the 15 states most reliant on federal transfers, 11 have Republican governors.

Second, Congress is dominated by Republicans. Republicans controlled the House for eight of the last 10 years; the Senate for six. Because of the Republican hold on the Senate, the federal judiciary has likewise shifted in conservative and Republican directions.

A state bankruptcy process would thus enable a Republican Party based in the poorer states to use its federal ascendancy to impose its priorities upon the budgets of the richer states.

Read: It pays to be rich during a pandemic

When Cuomo protested McConnell’s bankruptcy idea, the New York governor raised the risk of chaos in financial markets. But McConnell does not advocate state bankruptcy in order to subject state bondholders to hardship. Obviously not! When McConnell spoke to Hewitt about fiscally troubled states, he did not address their bond debt. He addressed their pension debt. State bankruptcy is a project to shift hardship onto pensioners while protecting bondholders—and, even more than bondholders, taxpayers.

Republican plans for state bankruptcy sedulously protect state taxpayers. The Bush-Gingrich op-ed of 2011 was explicit on this point. A federal law of state bankruptcy “must explicitly forbid any federal judge from mandating a tax hike,” they wrote. You might wonder: Why? If a Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky is willing to squeeze Illinois state pensioners, why would he care about shielding Illinois state taxpayers? The answer is found in the third of the three facts of American fiscal federalism:

United States senators from smaller, poorer red states do not only represent their states. Often, they do not even primarily represent their states. They represent, more often, the richest people in bigger, richer blue States who find it more economical to invest in less expensive small-state races. The biggest contributor to Mitch McConnell’s 2020 campaign and leadership committee is a PAC headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey. The second is a conduit for funds from real-estate investors. The third is the tobacco company Altria. The fourth is the parcel delivery service UPS. The fifth is the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical corporation. The sixth is the home health-care company, LHC Group. The seventh is the Blackstone hedge fund. And so on and on.

A federal bankruptcy process for state finances could thus enable wealthy individuals and interest groups in rich states to leverage their clout in the anti-majoritarian federal system to reverse political defeats in the more majoritarian political systems of big, rich states like California, New York, and Illinois.

No question, many states face serious problems with their unfunded liabilities to state retirees. Illinois’s liability nears $140 billion, and its municipalities are liable for additional billions. California’s state and local unfunded liabilities amount to $1.5 trillion.

Those liabilities are often described as “pension” liabilities, but they are driven above all by faster-than-expected increases in retiree health-care costs. They need to be addressed, and addressing them will be a tough policy challenge. It will be a tough legal challenge, too, since those liabilities are often—as in Illinois—inscribed into the state's constitution.

Difficult and important as these problems are, they are not urgent problems. They existed 24 months ago; they will remain 24 months from now. From a strictly economic point of view, McConnell's schemes for state bankruptcy are utterly irrelevant to the present crisis. Reducing future pension liabilities will not replenish lost revenues or reduce suddenly crushing social-welfare burdens.

But McConnell seems to be following the rule “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He’s realist enough to recognize that the pandemic probably means the end not only of the Trump presidency, but of his own majority leadership. He’s got until January to refashion the federal government in ways that will constrain his successors. That’s what the state-bankruptcy plan is all about.

McConnell gets it. Now you do, too.

DAVID FRUM is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy (2020).

Copyright © 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.



{Note: incidentally, I believe, that at 222,222 views, something extraordinary will happen, since 22 is a powerful Angel Number, and two sets of 222 is hyperbolically more so}

I'm not joshing!


Something must have happened , without notice.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Kevin Bassett economic effects

Postby Meno_ » Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:57 pm

From the N.Y. Times today;

"Hassett separately said during an interview on ABC that he thought the country is going to see an unemployment rate comparable to the Great Depression.

“This is the biggest negative shock that our economy, I think, has ever seen. We're going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression,” Hassett said


{ is this a preparatory signal to expect a new 'Great' depression ? -Bassett is the economic advisor to Mr. Trump.}




Some more . Is Trump a genius or a disgruntled neurotic ?



Fox News





CELEBRITY NEWS

Published April 27, 2020

Last Update a day ago

Bryan Cranston questions sanity of 'deeply troubled' Donald Trump and his supporters

By Tyler McCarthy | Fox News

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox.  Sign up here.

Bryan Cranston questioned the sanity of both President Trump and his supporters in a fiery tweet presented with little context over the weekend.

The “Breaking Bad” actor became the latest Hollywood star to criticize Trump and his administration as they respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Clearly not happy with the way that Trump is guiding the country through this unprecedented time, Cranston took to Twitter on Saturday to take a jab at both the president and those that support him.

“I've stopped worrying about the president's sanity. He's not sane,” the 64-year-old actor wrote. “And the realization of his illness doesn't fill me with anger, but with profound sadness. What I now worry about is the sanity of anyone who can still support this deeply troubled man to lead our country.”


While the actor didn’t say what prompted this rebuke of the president and his supporters, the tweet came as the news cycle was dominated by remarks Trump made during a recent coronavirus press briefing in which he seemed to imply injecting light and/or disinfectants like household cleaners into the body could act as a treatment for the coronavirus.

"And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous number, so it will be interesting to check that. So that you're going to have to use medical doctors. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me. So we'll see,” Trump said at the time. “But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that's, that's pretty powerful.”



Bryan Cranston criticized the sanity of Donald Trump and his supporters in a recent tweet. (Reuters)

On Friday, after the comments caught severe backlash from the public and medical experts alike, Trump clarified his remarks, explaining that he was simply asking sarcastic questions to reporters.

“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you,” Trump said. “Disinfectant for doing this, maybe on the hands, would work. I was asking…when they use disinfectant it goes away in less than a minute.”


He added: “I was asking a very sarcastic question to reporters in the room about disinfectants on the inside…that was done in a sarcastic way.”



©2020 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Opinion

Trump is unravelling – even his supporters can't ignore it now




The president is leaning heavily on sarcasm to excuse a range of blunders, but US conservatives are unimpressed


I don’t know what kind of disinfectant Donald Trump has been injecting, but the man does not appear to be well. The president’s lethal medical musing has turned him into (even more of) a global laughing stock and the widespread ridicule has clearly bruised his fragile ego. While Trump has never been a paradigm of calmness or competence, he has become increasingly irate and erratic in recent days. Now even his diehard supporters seem to be cooling towards him. Is the “very stable genius” starting to unravel?

Let’s start with the president’s weekend tweetstorm, which, even by Trumpian standards, was spectacularly unhinged. On Sunday, Trump lashed out at what he called a “phony story” in the New York Times that claimed he spends his days eating junk food and watching TV. “I will often be in the Oval Office late into the night & read & see [in the Times] that I am angrily eating a hamberger & Diet Coke in my bedroom,” he tweeted. “People with me are always stunned.” He then deleted the tweet and replaced it with one in which hamburger was spelled correctly. (This was clearly a challenge for him: he has previously misspelled hamburgers “hamberders”.)

It turned out that the hambergers were just an appetiser. A rant about the “Noble” prize, which Trump seems to have confused with the Pulitzer prize, followed. This was subsequently deleted and replaced with a tweet stating it had all been an exercise in sarcasm. He is a master of sarcasm, as we all know.

While none of Trump’s aides seem able to shut down his Twitter account, they are trying to tone down his daily press briefings. Trump didn’t hold a briefing over the weekend as he normally does, while Monday’s event was cancelled and then reinstated. “We like to keep reporters on their toes,” the White House director of strategic communications, Alyssa Farah, tweeted with a winking emoji. She then deleted the tweet – presumably to keep reporters on their toes. Monday’s briefing was notable for the briefness of Trump’s remarks; instead of treating it like a political rally, he ceded the floor to a number of CEOs.

Trump enjoyed a bump in his ratings last month when he stopped downplaying coronavirus and announced a 15-day plan to slow the virus’s spread. During his brief experiment with coherence, 55% of Americans said they approved of the way he was handling the crisis and CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, told viewers Trump “is being the kind of leader that people need”.

The tide now seems to have turned. Recent polls show that most Americans are unimpressed with Trump’s handling of the crisis. This includes conservatives: a Siena College poll released on Monday found that 56% of Republican voters in New York say they trust Andrew Cuomo, the state’s Democratic governor, to decide how to reopen the state over Trump. Even Fox News seems to have cooled towards Trumpism; the network has just cut ties with Diamond & Silk, a pair of rightwing social-media stars who have been two of Trump’s biggest cheerleaders, after they promoted conspiracy theories and disinformation.

Perhaps the only people more incompetent than Trump are the ragtag team of sycophants he has surrounded himself with. According to Politico, Trump is leaning heavily on Hope Hicks, who he reportedly calls “Hopey”, to steer him through the coronavirus crisis. Hicks, 31, who was formerly the White House communications director, is one of Trump’s most-trusted aides; according to one tell-all book, her duties used to include steaming his trousers – while he wore them. It turns out Hopey is the mastermind who urged Trump to “act as a frontman” during the crisis instead of deferring to health experts. Now that plan has backfired, Hicks – who officially works under boy genius Jared Kushner – is apparently developing a new strategy for Trump. He had better Hopey this one is a little more effective.


© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.



POLITICO

CORONAVIRUS

Trump faces the risk of a coronavirus cliff

Unemployed Americans will lose a federal safety net long before the economy fully recovers — potentially creating a messy Election Day for the GOP.





Republicans are trying to pull off a high-wire act over the next three months: Reopen the economy enough to get most jobless Americans back to work and off the public dole, while resisting another giant stimulus package.

If they fail, they’ll face a coronavirus cliff — an even deeper collapse in spending and sky-high unemployment in the months before Election Day. That could both damage President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects and put the party’s Senate majority at serious risk.



Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has suggested that states be allowed to seek bankruptcy protection and questioned the need for a big new stimulus, said Monday that the Senate would return next Monday along with the House. He indicated he would consider additional coronavirus relief funding, but that any aid to states would continue to come with strings attached. And he told POLITICO last week that he was leery of adding much more to the deficit, joining other conservatives who are growing concerned about the GOP record of racking up a mountain of debt after railing against it for a decade before Trump.

Republicans are currently betting that efforts to reopen states will be successful and the nearly $3 trillion already allocated by lawmakers — the largest federal rescue in American history — will be at least close to enough to start bringing the unemployment rate down and sending economic growth back up.

But it remains far from clear that it will be anywhere near enough to restore the tens of millions of jobs lost in recent weeks. A provision of the enhanced unemployment benefits enacted under the CARES Act added $600 per week to jobless benefits offered by states — but only through July 31.

And risks remain high that quick reopenings could lead to fresh virus breakouts, shutting down the economy again.



If that happens and the rescue programs aren’t expanded for individuals, businesses and state and local governments, the political toll could be enormous.

“Trump in 2016 won quite a few voters who traditionally back Democrats, the so-called ‘forgotten voters’ in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan,” said Michael Weber, a University of Chicago economist. “So it’s very risky to think about austerity right now because it would hit many Trump voters the hardest. Trump realizes his reelection depends on the economy and that’s why he is pushing to reopen states, even though that creates a very big risk of a second wave of the virus.”

There are complex political calculations in play over a potential successor to the $2.3 trillion CARES Act. Some close McConnell observers say despite recent remarks urging states to consider bankruptcy and warning of any more big spending, the Kentucky Republican knows another significant injection of federal funds will be required to boost the economy heading toward Election Day. Blocking one could wreck the prospects for numerous GOP candidates in November.

These people say McConnell is simply trying to start negotiations on a footing more friendly to the Senate GOP caucus while holding off other recent Democratic demands on mandating states to allow mail-in voting, clean energy, food stamp benefits and other wish list items. They say there will likely be another coronavirus relief bill, but that it will be significantly smaller than the CARES Act and only passed with both chambers in session in Washington.


McConnell on Monday acknowledged the need for at least some added funding. But he suggested it would have to be coupled with more liability protection for corporate America and would not amount to bailouts for states. “I’m open to additional assistance. It’s not just going to be a check, though, you get my point?” McConnell said in an interview. “We’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.”

But others warn that McConnell’s stance and general Republican pressure not to add much more to federal deficits could wind up delaying or even killing another big stimulus package, an outcome that could curtail any chance for a fast recovery and slam marginal Trump voters in critical swing states.

It could also give Democrats an even better shot at flipping the three or four seats they will need to control the Senate. They would need three if Joe Biden wins the White House and his vice president controls the deciding vote in a 50-50 Senate.

The question of additional assistance on top of the roughly $3 trillion already allocated — on top of trillions in additional support from the Federal Reserve — comes as grim economic data continues to pile up.

The first read on economic growth in the first quarter of the year, due out Wednesday morning, is expected to show an annualized decline of around 4 percent. The second quarter, which covers most of the Covid-19 shock thus far, will be far worse with estimates ranging up to an annualized decline of 30 to 40 percent.

Already, over 26 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits during the crisis, suggesting a jobless rate of up to 20 percent, nearing the Great Depression high of 24.9 percent. The number is expected to leap over 30 million new jobless claims when fresh numbers come out on Thursday.

These numbers help explain why Trump — who regularly boasts about how great the economy was before the virus hit — wants states to start opening up as soon as they possibly can.

The president on Monday evening said he did not know how bad the economy might tank in the second quarter, but that “the third and the fourth quarter in particular are going to be I think spectacular.” He added that it would be a “tremendous comeback.”



But he is not in charge of the reopening process, which is likely to unfold quite slowly until the U.S. has far more effective virus testing and tracking capabilities. New outbreaks of the virus caused by rapid reopenings could also force fresh lockdowns and further damage the economy.




Party strategists are worried the GOP isn't prepared for the coming spike in voting by mail.

The Trump campaign is furious over a strategy memo on coronavirus circulated by the Senate Republican campaign arm.

President Trump said the estimated death toll for coronavirus is higher than he recently predicted.

California’s plans for contact tracing could serve as a national model.



And plenty of gaps could open up by summer if the GOP sticks to its current approach.

The Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help small businesses stay afloat, has been beset by problems from the start and already ran out of money once. It may do so again this week.

Economists suggest there is only a limited chance that most who lost jobs during the initial wave of the crisis — largely lower-paid service industry workers — will be reemployed by the summer. The jobless rate is likely to remain well into the double digits into the fall.

If the added benefits are not extended and more money is not pushed into the small business program, dreams that the economy could snap back to rapid growth heading into the November elections could be vaporized.

“There is a time and place to have these discussions about spending and debt, but now is certainly not the time,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “I do think Republicans will have to relent here because the number of unemployed we are seeing is just horrendous. A lot of businesses have already gone under and more will follow.”

Farooqi added that “the unemployment rate is going to stay high through the end of the year. We will need extended help and it’s inappropriate to be having these discussions and saying things like states should be allowed to go bankrupt.”

McConnell brought up the state bankruptcy possibility last week on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” he said. “My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of.”



The comments drew howls of rebuke from Democratic governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who noted that his state pays far more into federal coffers each year than it takes out. Some Republicans, including Maryland governor Larry Hogan, also slammed McConnell’s remarks.

In an interview last week with POLITICO, McConnell also staked out a hardline position on another stimulus package. He expressed little appetite for adding much more to a federal deficit that the Congressional Budget Office now says could nearly quadruple this year to nearly $4 trillion. And he is leery of the federal government bailing out state pension funds. Any further aid to states is likely to feature the same restrictions included in the CARES Act that the money only go to offset losses directly attributable to the virus.

“You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” McConnell told POLITICO last week. “We need to see how things are working, see what needs to be corrected, and I do think that the next time we pass a coronavirus rescue bill, we need to have everyone here and everyone engaged.”

Trump weighed in on the aid to states argument on Twitter Monday, basically echoing McConnell’s approach. “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” Trump wrote.

Many economists, meanwhile, argue that it is not yet time to be “cautious” when considering further economic assistance for individuals, small businesses and cash-strapped state and local governments that have seen tax receipts crash. State and local governments employ around 13 percent of the American workforce. And huge layoffs in the sector helped worsen the 2008-09 recession and slowed the recovery, according to some analysts.

There may not be enough time to see if current federal assistance is working — as McConnell wants to do — before Congress needs to act again. It takes significant time for fiscal stimulus, including direct payments to individuals and businesses, to show up in economic data.

While the deficit is breaching historic levels, interest rates remain close to zero, meaning the cost of borrowing is historically low. And the old economic consensus that debt begins to get dangerous when it outstrips the overall size of a country’s economy, as is likely to happen to the U.S. this year, no longer really holds, especially for such a large nation that controls the most widely used currency in the world.

“In the next year or two, the more they do in terms of fiscal stimulus, the quicker the economy will recover. This is a very big whole the economy has to dig out of,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. macro strategist at TD Securities. “There is going to have to be more aid for states.”



“One caveat to all this would be if markets get spooked by deficits and interest rates rise,” he said. “But we just aren’t seeing any of that at this point. I’m not saying something like that couldn’t happen in 10 years’ time, but right now, it’s pretty clear the U.S. needs more fiscal help.”



© 2020 POLITICO LLC
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Re: Trump enters the stage - gearing up to the fight

Postby Meno_ » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:28 am

POLITICO

LEGAL

Judges worry Trump position on McGahn testimony could force Congress into extreme measures

The fight centers on one of the most urgent political and legal issues of Trump’s presidency.



Don McGahn in Trump Tower in 2016. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images



04/28/2020 11:47 AM EDT

Updated: 04/28/2020 02:53 PM EDT


Barring Congress from enforcing its subpoenas in court could push lawmakers toward arresting senior Trump administration officials or pursuing even more extreme measures, several appeals court judges suggested Tuesday.

It was the second time in recent months that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has openly mulled the bizarre and unnerving prospect of armed conflict between the House sergeant-at-arms and FBI agents if other, more peaceful options for the House to obtain information from the executive branch are closed off.



The discussion occurred as lawyers for the House and Justice Department sparred over efforts by Democrats to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about his knowledge of alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump.

Most of the nine judges who joined in the rare en banc session Tuesday seemed receptive to the House’s concerns, with one judge musing the Trump administration was so intent on sidelining the courts that the public would be left only with "revolution" as an alternative.

A lawyer representing the Trump administration offered a sweeping argument that Congress has no authority to take legal action to enforce its subpoenas because that power lies solely with the president. Rather, lawmakers must rely on a set of political tools — from choking off funding to blocking presidential nominations to impeachment — to bend a stonewalling president to the Congressional will.

“Issuing subpoenas — that's a prerogative of Congress. Enforcing subpoenas and enforcing laws — that’s a prerogative of the president,” Justice Department attorney Hashim Mooppan said.


The House’s top lawyer, Doug Letter, said DOJ’s position would upend decades of practice in congressional investigations and effectively leave lawmakers powerless to stand up to an obstructive administration.

“If the court goes with the Justice Department arguments … congressional oversight as it has been known for this country for years is going to change and be very, very different,” Letter said.

House Democrats are hopeful for a victory from the full appeals court, which is heavy with appointees of President Barack Obama and generally seen as more favorable to the House’s arguments than the three-judge panel which ruled against them 2-1 in February.

Most of the judges taking part in Tuesday’s arguments signaled early and often that they viewed DOJ’s stance with skepticism, repeatedly referencing the extreme notion of the House having to resort to arresting McGahn to get its questions answered or even a judicial resolution of Trump’s claims of executive privilege.

Judge Nina Pillard, an Obama appointee, said DOJ’s stance would leave the House with little but “huge, blunt, disproportionate nuclear options” to try to procure information.

The high-stakes battle over the House’s demand for testimony from McGahn could decide one of the most urgent political issues of Trump’s presidency — whether the White House can block Congress from using the legal system to force crucial witnesses to testify about alleged obstruction of justice by the president himself.

But it also has the potential to reshape the relationship between presidents and Congress for generations to come.

A decision by the courts seems increasingly unlikely to come in any definitive way on a timeline that would produce testimony from McGahn or other witnesses in advance of the November presidential election.

That reality, as some congressional Democrats feared, represents a win for Trump, whom they accused of tying up their case in unending litigation to prevent McGahn from publicly testifying about presidential wrongdoing. McGahn was a central witness in the two-year investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians in 2016. He ultimately provided damning evidence that Trump repeatedly sought to obstruct the probe, though he declined to recommend criminal charges, citing a Justice Department prohibition on moving against a sitting president.

But even if the D.C. Circuit ultimately orders McGahn to testify, Justice Department lawyers are expected to ask the Supreme Court to step in. The justices may well decide to freeze the status quo, putting potential high court arguments in the case off until the fall or winter and pushing off a final decision until well after Trump is sworn in for a second term as president or Joe Biden is sworn in for a first.

The appeals court heard the case Tuesday by teleconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, it considered the McGahn dispute in tandem with another legal fight between the House and the Trump administration: a suit seeking to block officials from spending money on Trump’s border wall project.

Mooppan pleaded with the judges to steer clear of both fights. He accused the House of making a “radical break” with history by seeking to enmesh the judiciary in the interbranch battles.



“Disputes between the political branches about their institutional prerogatives have occurred since the founding, but lawsuits between them are a novel and unsanctioned tactic,” Mooppan said.

But Judge Merrick Garland said foreclosing all suits by Congress could allow a rogue president to spend wildly, like by paying for health insurance for every American even if Congress never authorized such a program.

“Does Congress have standing to challenge that?” asked Garland, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

“No,” Mooppan replied.

There were a few technical glitches early in the roughly three-and-a-half hours of arguments, as Mooppan’s voice disappeared at times amid a combination of rustling noises and outright silence. At another point, one judge could be heard talking to someone else as another sought to ask a question. The questioning was also more stilted than usual since the judges went one-by-one in order of seniority to ask questions, with little repartee among the jurists.

House Democrats, who took power in 2019, quickly sought to secure McGahn’s testimony, but Trump directed him to refuse cooperation and McGahn deferred. The White House asserted that McGahn was “absolutely immune” to testifying, a position that seemed at odds with an earlier court rulings requiring executive branch officials to appear before Congress and provide records that are not legally privileged. The standoff led to a string of legal battles last fall that included a resounding win for the House at the District Court level, where Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson excoriated the Trump administration’s posture toward Congress.

But in February, a three-judge D.C. Circuit panel swept aside Jackson’s ruling and determined that the courts have no role settling disputes between the White House and Congress — a sweeping decision that would reshape Congress’ ability to wrest information out of reluctant administrations.

The appeals court panel suggested that Congress could use other political tools, short of court intervention, to force an administration to provide information: from cutting off funds to holding officials in contempt to impeaching the president — and in extreme cases, detaining or jailing administration officials. House lawyers emphasized that they had pursued all of those tools short of physical detentions that they said would provoke an almost comical level of hostility between the branches, imagining gun battles between the House sergeant at arms and the FBI.


Judge David Tatel returned to those issues Tuesday, asking Mooppan if the dispute he urged the court to step aside from couldn’t come right back to the court if the House chose to arrest McGahn.

Mooppan insisted the courts would have to free McGahn, even without wading into the merits of the subpoena fight.

“That is beyond the scope of Congress’ power,” the Justice Department lawyer said about the prospect of such an arrest. “Congress doesn’t have any express authority to go around arresting people…There is simply no historical support for the notion that they can arrest an executive branch official for following executive branch directives.”

McGahn in a Cabinet meeting in 2018.

Writing for the majority in the February decision in the McGahn case, Judge Thomas Griffith said that allowing the courts to adjudicate such subpoenas would result in Congress abandoning the usual process of negotiation.

“The walk from the Capitol to our courthouse is a short one, and if we resolve this case today, we can expect Congress’s lawyers to make the trip often,” wrote Griffith, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

The victory for the president was short-lived, however, as just two weeks later the D.C. Circuit announced it was accepting the House’s request that a rare “en banc” court convene to re-hear the case.

Strikingly, during Tuesday’s arguments, no judge offered vigorous public support for the administration’s stand.

While Griffith sided with the Justice Department in February and wrote the ruling saying the courts should butt out of the McGahn fight, he expressed sympathy Tuesday for the House, saying it has faced extraordinary obstructionism from the Trump administration.



“How is Congress to conduct its constitutional duty of oversight in the face of the type of utter disregard this administration has shown for that oversight?” the George W. Bush appointee asked Mooppan. “Hasn’t this administration eschewed the traditional norms of compromise and negotiations that you rely on in your arguments so heavily?”

The judge who joined with Griffith in that opinion, fellow Bush appointee Karen Henderson, was on the call Tuesday but passed up the chance to question the lawyers or discuss her own views on the disputes.

The lineup of nine judges who heard the McGahn appeal Tuesday is starkly different ideologically from the increasingly conservative, nine-justice Supreme Court that could eventually resolve the case.

The active D.C. Circuit bench leans toward Democratic appointees, 7-4, but the two judges nominated by Trump recused themselves, leaving the court with only two GOP appointees among the nine judges hearing Tuesday’s cases.

Trump appointee Greg Katsas, who served in the White House counsel’s office early in Trump’s term, indicated during his confirmation hearings that he would likely recuse from cases stemming from the Mueller probe. It’s less clear why the D.C. Circuit’s newest member, Judge Neomi Rao, stepped aside, but from 2017 to 2019 she held a top position at the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House.

For more than a decade, presidents and lawmakers from both parties have shied away from the sort of showdown that took place Monday before the powerful Washington-based appeals court. While Congress occasionally took such battles to court, both sides typically pulled back from the brink before the D.C. Circuit could issue a precedent-setting ruling.

The impulse to leave unresolved the question of the courts’ role in enforcing Congressional subpoenas directed to the executive branch led to negotiated settlements in two high profile disputes in the last dozen years.

In 2009, President Barack Obama’s new White House helped broker a compromise in a lingering battle over House Democrats’ demands for testimony and documents from aides to former President George W. Bush about his firing of eight U.S. attorneys after the 2006 election.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bates — a Bush appointee — rejected the Justice Department’s claim of absolute immunity, insisting that the Bush aides could not ignore the House subpoenas. But Bates never waded into the issue of what specific questions had to be answered or what specific documents had to be forked over.

Under the 2009 deal, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and political strategist Karl Rove gave transcribed interviews to the House Judiciary Committee, while the Justice Department dropped its appeal of Bates’ ruling.

A similar fight broke out in 2012 as the GOP-led House sought documents from the Justice Department and White House pertaining to the fall-out from Operation Fast and Furious, a federal gunrunning investigation that allowed as many as two thousand weapons to be purchased illegally with many ending up in Mexico.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, echoed Bates’ decision and turned down the Justice Department’s call for the courts to butt out of the case. The legal battle bogged down for years as Justice tried to appeal while the White House also sought a compromise.

Ultimately, Obama turned over most of the documents the House sought but the House appealed to get even more. The legal saga lingered into the Trump administration before it was finally settled last year, after both sides made an unsuccessful bid to wipe out Jackson’s decision.



 



© 2020 POLITICO LLC



&&&&&&&___&&&&&&&_____&&&


Very high intellect?




."..... increasingly ridiculed Mr. Trump of late — were greeted with a doctored image of “Clorox Chewables.” “Trump Recommended,” "
the tagline read. “Don’t Die Maybe!”

For Mr. Trump, such mockery tends to singe.......


from Drodge report.



& this from Faucci:


"Fauci: US could have 'a bad fall and a bad winter'
A second wave of the new coronavirus is "inevitable," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. But how the U.S. the responds before it comes will determine how the country fares."




!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!


Some good news: Gilead Pharm., the same with the HIB cocktail successful treatment, came up with a preliminary cure:





Trump, Fauci tout 'good news' from remdesivir drug trial in treating COVID-19

"What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," Anthony Fauci said.





April 29, 2020, 3:10 PM ET



Remdesivir coronavirus drug trial shows ‘quite good news’: FauciDr. Anthony Fauci touted the potential promise of the drug remdesivir, which may reduce recovery time for COVID-19 patients.Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday touted the results of trial examining an experimental drug treatment for the novel coronavirus, calling it "good news" as he spoke in the Oval Office alongside President Donald Trump.

A randomized, international trial of the drug remdesivir had resulted in "quite good news," shortening the period patients experienced symptoms and potentially slightly reducing the mortality rate, according to Fauci, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the trial.

"What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," Fauci said, calling the development "very optimistic."

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

The trial had 1,063 patients spread across 22 countries, including the U.S., and the first participant was an American who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship wracked by the virus that was docked in Japan earlier this year, according to the NIAID.

It had not yet been peer-reviewed but was being submitted to a journal for review, Fauci said as he previewed the results. Experts interviewed by ABC News urged caution until the full data was released.



One vial of the drug Remdesivir is viewed at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 8, 2020, amidst the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.POOL/AFP via Getty Images, FILE



Fauci said the data so far showed the drug, made by the biotech company Gilead Sciences, had "a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."

MORE: Remdesivir could be promising drug candidate to treat coronavirus

For those who took the drug, Fauci said, it took less time to recover, averaging 11 days compared to 15 days for those in a control group who received a placebo.

Fauci said the data represented "a very important proof of concept" -- showing that a drug could, in fact, "block" COVID-19.

He also said the mortality rate trended lower for those who took the drug -- 8% compared to 11% for those who did not -- although he noted that trend was not yet statistically significant, and the results will undergo further analysis.

Announcing the results was accelerated because of the ethical obligation to let patients in trial control groups know about this drug "so that they can have access," Fauci said.

Moving forward, he said, "this will be the standard of care.

The president, who in the past repeatedly encouraged COVID-19 patients to seek out a different, anti-malarial drug despite no strong evidence it helped, said that the results of the remdesivir trial were "good news." Trump has praised remdesivir in the past, too.

"It's a beginning, it means you build on it," Trump said Wednesday. "I love that as a building block -- you know, just as a building block, I love that. But certainly it's a positive, it's a very positive event from that standpoint."





Remdesivir, which is delivered through an intravenous infusion, was initially developed by Gilead to treat Ebola. Although initially promising, it didn’t prove as effective as other Ebola treatments, so research was halted.

However, laboratory studies found remdesivir might work against SARS, a close cousin to the virus that has caused the current COVID-19 pandemic. Because of its promise, governments around the world acted quickly to set up formal studies to answer the question: Does remdesivir help patients with COVID-19 get better faster?

Experts said today's results were hopeful but that more study was needed.

“The news about remdesivir might get us jumping for joy today but we need to see the data and continue to study this for a definitive answer," Jay Bhatt, an ABC News contributor who was until recently the chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association, noting the "rigor" of the study did give him "hope."

MORE: Democrats question accuracy of new coronavirus antibody tests

William Schaffner, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and expert on infectious diseases, told ABC News the results were "very encouraging."

"These are the first data from a controlled trial," he said. "Even though the trial had to be truncated, this data would indicate we have a drug that can benefit patients. It’s not a miracle drug, but seems to reduce hospitalization duration and death rates. These are very, very important.”



Copyright © 2020 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved
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Re: Trump enters the stage - meeting of minds on meat

Postby Meno_ » Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:44 pm

The real reason Trump treats meatpacking workers as disposable

Opinion by Raul A. Reyes

Updated 7:34 AM EDT, Thu April 30, 2020





(CNN)Get back to work, says President Trump. He might as well add: even if it might kill you.



Tuesday, he used the Defense Production Act to order meat and poultry processing plants to stay open, despite the coronavirus pandemic. He declared them "critical infrastructure" in an executive order designed to avoid shortages of beef, pork and chicken.

"We're working very hard," Trump said, "to make sure our food supply chain is sound and plentiful."

Given that meat processing plants are Covid-19 hotspots, this order is the height of irresponsibility and cruelty. It endangers the health of some of America's most vulnerable workers, many of whom are Latino, African American and immigrants. It prioritizes corporate interests over workers' lives.

Sadly, to this President, immigrant labor is clearly disposable -- and always useful for political gain.

Across the country, meatpacking plants have been closing as their employees have gotten sick. Smithfield Foods closed its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, this month after more than 600 workers tested positive for coronavirus. Last week, Tyson Farms shut down its biggest pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after more than 180 workers tested positive.

Other plants across the country have similarly closed, with reports of coronavirus-related illness and deaths.



The employees at such plants work under extremely difficult, hazardous conditions. They often work shoulder to shoulder, receiving and killing animals and butchering them for sale. It is grueling, repetitive work that many Americans would shudder at doing, especially given the risk of injury and the low pay.

In 2017, employees at meat plants earned on average about $15 an hour plus benefits, while employees at chicken plants earned on average about a dollar less per hour. The think tank New American Economy estimates that nearly half of this workforce is made up of immigrants, and many are people of color.

Trump's order may well amount to a death sentence for workers in meatpacking plants, who have little choice but to continue to work to provide for their families. In Iowa, for example, citing Iowa state data, The Gazette reports that African Americans and Latinos have disproportionately high rates of coronavirus as a result of their work in meatpacking plants when compared with US Census Bureau figures on their relative representation in the state: While Latinos are 6% of Iowa's population, they account for 17% of the state's confirmed coronavirus cases. African Americans are 3% of the state's population, yet they are 9% of the state's coronavirus cases.

These are the people the President wants to continue working for the benefit of American consumers. How unsurprising that the President, who has shown unprecedented cruelty and disdain for immigrants and minorities, now expects them to risk their lives so we all can have an uninterrupted food supply.

Recall, for one example, that last year, Trump ordered massive sweeps of food processing plants in Mississippi, resulting in hundreds of arrests of undocumented workers, as well as devastated communities.

The way Trump rolled out this executive order is especially telling. He told reporters he was working with Tyson Foods -- as opposed to health and workplace safety experts. The order was developed in consultation with corporate industry leaders.

"We're going to sign an executive order today, I believe, and that'll solve any liability problems," Trump said on Tuesday.

While his executive order states that employers will follow guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, his main concern seems to be for corporate bosses, not for employees or public health. And does anyone think that the President would be comfortable ordering white-collar professionals to stay at work, despite significant health risks of Covid-19 transmission?

That Trump was reluctant to invoke the Defense Production Act to expedite the production of personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care workers, and is now invoking the act in a manner that could truly harm meat plant workers, speaks volumes.

The president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute told the website Vox that meat processing plants are completely disinfected every night after the last shift, and that workers are required to wear masks and face shields when the plants can obtain them.

Separately, Dean Banks, the head of Tyson Foods, told CNN's Erin Burnett that "we're doing everything we can to make sure we take care of our team members." Banks said that his company was "extremely early in providing as many protective measures as we could possibly imagine."

Yet if conditions were safe, employees would not be staging walkouts and protesting at meat plants over working conditions.

There is no doubt that the meat processing sector is facing a serious threat from the coronavirus pandemic. The United Food and Commercial Workers international Union noted that plant closures have resulted in a 25% decline in pork slaughter capacity and a 10% reduction in beef slaughter capacity.



Black America must wake up to this viral threat

But the union also estimated that 20 meatpacking and food processing union workers have died from the virus so far, and that 6,500 union workers are sick or have been exposed to the virus. So safeguarding our food supply needs to begin with safeguarding workers on the food supply chain. A thoughtful response to this situation would be to prioritize worker safety, not corporate input.

Trump should be ordering the meat processing industry to comply with the highest standards of social distancing and safety, or else face fines and criminal liability. Instead he is protecting the industry at the expense of its workers.

Like so many other aspects of his administration's coronavirus response, Trump's latest executive order is profoundly misguided and negligent. Meat processing plant employees are not expendable -- and should not be forced back into dangerous working conditions.



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Re: Trump enters the stage - the Chinese Connection

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 03, 2020 4:15 pm

POLITICO

WHITE HOUSE

Trump says blame China. His supporters are listening.

At rallies, one protester yelled, "Go to China." In state legislatures, anti-China bills are being proposed. On conservative radio, callers want to punish China over the coronavirus.


Polls conducted for the Trump campaign and Republican senators show China will be an effective issue for Republicans in November. | Evan Vucci, File/AP Photo




The strategy to blame China for the coronavirus outbreak began weeks ago in Washington, D.C. Now it’s spread to the rest of the country.

In Wisconsin, a state senator introduced a bill criticizing “the negligence and hostile actions” of the Chinese government. In Virginia, a conservative talk radio host debated ways the Trump administration could punish China for inflicting a pandemic on the world. And in Colorado, an activist protesting stay-at-home orders confronted a health care worker on a busy street. “Go to China if you want communism!" she yelled. "Go to China."

President Donald Trump’s decision to focus his coronavirus anger on China, America’s top economic rival, is part of a pivot for Trump’s reelection team as it scrambles to revise a campaign message that had been focused on financial prosperity. Now, with the economy in a coronavirus-induced coma, Trump’s team is working to instead make the 2020 race a referendum on who will be tougher on China — Trump or Joe Biden. In recent days, Trump’s campaign has even dubbed the president’s likely Democrat opponent “Beijing Biden."

The message appears to be resonating. John Fredericks, the Virginia talk radio host and Trump supporter, said his callers, many out of work in rural areas, trust Trump to retaliate against China.

“My callers know what China has done,” he said. “There’s blood on their hands.”

But while Republican pollster Frank Luntz predicted China will be the biggest issue in the presidential campaign, second only to the coronavirus itself, he said it’s not clear the issue will benefit Trump.


Trump's evangelical supporters want China to pay a price for coronavirus


“The question pollsters can't answer right now is whether this helps Trump or Biden,” Luntz said “More precisely, both candidates will be criticized for past and current comments they've made. It's not clear which candidate will be hurt more by China.”



Indeed, both the Trump and Biden camps seem to think they have a winning hand on China.

Polls conducted for the Trump campaign and Republican senators show China will be an effective issue for Republicans in November, according to three people who have seen the numbers, leading the GOP to buy a flurry of TV and Facebook ads, dash off emails to supporters and increase their tough rhetoric.

“Unlike Sleepy Joe Biden and the rest of the Crooked Democrats, President Trump keeps his promises, which is why we're not letting China get away with using America as a scapegoat,” one Trump campaign Facebook ad read.



But Biden and the Democrats, too, think focusing on China will lift their chances in November. They’re criticizing Trump for initially praising the country’s response to the pandemic and accusing him of caring more about his trade deal with China than American lives. The Democratic group American Bridge just launched an ad accusing Trump of trusting China.

Both candidates also have perceived weaknesses on the issue.

Biden last year appeared to downplay China as a geopolitical competitor and is fighting claims that the business partners of his son, Hunter, landed a $1.5 billion deal days after they traveled to China on official business when he was vice president, even though there’s no direct evidence of impropriety.

For his part, Trump has wavered repeatedly on China’s culpability for the pandemic. He initially praised the country and its leader, President Xi Jinping, more than a dozen times in the early days of the outbreak, often stressing the recent trade deal the two countries had signed.

Trump later reversed course, though, and started excoriating the country for its handling of the virus. The pivot came as Trump faced criticism that he initially downplayed the outbreak and failed to quickly produce and ship tests and medical supplies to states. America has now passed 1 million coronavirus cases, with more than 60,000 people dying from the disease.

“He understands his presidency rises and falls on the very pandemic he denied was a pandemic and he is desperate to try to counteract the narrative that has set in that he wasn’t up to the job,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who cited coronavirus when he endorsed Biden last month. “That’s a devastating critique. You don’t get re-elected with that narrative.”

In response, Trump has touted the narrative that China, not him, is at fault. It’s a message that plays into American’s current feelings about China. About two-thirds of the country has an unfavorable view of China, the highest number in 15 years, according to a poll by Pew Research Center. That figure is also up nearly 20 percentage points since Trump was inaugurated in 2017.

“The desire for China to be held accountable for the spread of Covid-19 is no longer limited to Trump supporters,” said Brian Swenson, a Republican strategist in Florida who worked for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), referencing the disease that results from the coronavirus. “There is a growing bipartisan call at the local level for China to be held accountable for their lack of transparency with the world community, their spreading of propaganda and misinformation and for failing to diminish the spread of Covid-19.”

15 times Trump praised China as coronavirus was spreading across the globe



Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Republican party in the red state of Indiana, said residents expect Trump to get to the bottom of the pandemic. “There’s certainly a level of distrust related to what China has done and how they’re approached this,” he said.



In recent weeks, Trump has tried to take advantage of those growing feelings of animosity — nicknaming the virus the “Chinese virus,” accusing China of lying about its number of cases and boasting he contained the outbreak by restricting travel from China in January, even though many public health experts say the ban merely bought the U.S. time that Trump did not use to prepare adequately.

This week, Trump said his administration was investigating whether China covered up what it knew about the early spread of coronavirus. His aides are discussing ways to penalize the country.

“We are not happy with China,” Trump told reporters Monday. “We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source, it could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn't have spread all over the world. And we think that should have happened.”

Peter Navarro, Trump’s economic adviser, has pushed the president to reduce the government’s dependency on imports from China when it comes to medical supplies and drugs. Trump supporters around the country have latched onto Navarro’s efforts.

“To make America great again, we need to be dependent on ourselves,” said Ralph King, a Trump supporter in Bedford, Ohio, who co-founded the conservative group Main Street Patriots. “We should not be dependent on other countries.”


One side effect of the pandemic: Disabled and elderly people are going without their in-home caregivers.

Confirmed U.S. Cases: 1,133,069 | U.S. Deaths: 66,385

 How coronavirus will change the world permanently



TOP DEVELOPMENTS

Supporters of President Trump are taking up his call when it comes to blaming China.

Will President Trump set off a global fight over a vaccine?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he came very close to dying.





Trump’s allies say going after China is a particularly compelling issue for the president because he constantly criticized Beijing while on the campaign trail in 2016, accusing the country of taking U.S. jobs, spying on U.S. businesses and stealing U.S. technology.

“He should stay on the message he has had for many years,” said a Republican who speaks to Trump.

So far, Trump’s surrogates and aides have stayed on that message, talking about China daily in online campaign events. America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, released a new TV ad attacking Biden on China Friday in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania

In the coming weeks, Trump’s campaign is expected to launch a similar ad blitz.

“Our internal data shows that Joe Biden’s softness on China is a major vulnerability, among many,” said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh, though he declined to release the polling numbers.

There are growing signs Trump’s strategy is working.

Last week, Missouri became the first state to sue the Chinese government for its role in the pandemic, accusing it of failing to warn other nations of the virus and allowing people to travel outside the country, among other things. Mississippi followed with its own suit.



Legislators in other states are considering their own actions while some conservative activists protesting stay-at-home orders are mentioning China.

Some Republican senators, including Rubio, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have pushed for additional actions to hit China. Rubio wants to halt China’s hold on the pharmaceutical supply chain. Hawley wants to prove the virus started in Wuhan, China. And Cotton wants to ensure Americans can sue Chinese officials for the pandemic.

Senate Republican strategists also recently distributed a memo advising GOP candidates to focus on China and blame the country for covering up the virus, accuse Democrats of being “soft on China” and stress that Republicans will push to sanction Beijing.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is encouraging medical companies to stop doing business with China and has explored divesting the state’s interests out of China. He wants everyone to know he’s tough on China — just like Trump.



“I have not forgotten about China,” DeSantis told reporters recently. “In fact, some of you guys may want to look this up, but there was a Chinese Communist Party think tank that did a report in February, and they analyzed the governors in the United States — who was hardline, who was friendly and who was unknown. There were five governors that were hardline against China. Where do you think I was?”

Arek Sarkissian contributed to this report.



Europe has been ’naive’ about China, EU official says



© 2020 POLITICO LLC



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


May 3, 2020Updated 9:08 a.m. ET

BRUSSELS — Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus. Germany and Britain are hesitating anew about inviting in the Chinese tech giant Huawei. President Trump has blamed China for the contagion and is seeking to punish it. Some governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.

Across the globe a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis that helped loose the coronavirus on the world, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the United States.

China, never receptive to outside criticism and wary of damage to its domestic control and long economic reach, has responded aggressively, combining medical aid to other countries with harsh nationalist rhetoric, and mixing demands for gratitude with economic threats.



The result has only added momentum to the blowback and the growing mistrust of China in Europe and Africa, undermining China’s desired image as a generous global actor.



A group of Chinese doctors inspecting a makeshift hospital in Belgrade. China has been showering European countries with millions of masks, test kits and other aid, recasting itself as the hero in the battle against the coronavirus.Credit...Oliver Bunic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even before the virus, Beijing displayed a fierce approach to public relations, an aggressive style called “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy, named after two ultrapatriotic Chinese films featuring the evil plots and fiery demise of American-led foreign mercenaries.

With clear encouragement from President Xi Jinping and the powerful Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party, a younger generation of Chinese diplomats have been proving their loyalty with defiantly nationalist and sometimes threatening messages in the countries where they are based.



A video screen in Beijing in March showing President Xi Jinping of China with army officers and other officials.Credit...Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times



“You have a new brand of Chinese diplomats who seem to compete with each other to be more radical and eventually insulting to the country where they happen to be posted,” said François Godement, a senior adviser for Asia at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne. “They’ve gotten into fights with every northern European country with whom they should have an interest, and they’ve alienated every one of them.”

Since the virus, the tone has only toughened, a measure of just how serious a danger China’s leaders consider the virus to their standing at home, where it has fueled anger and destroyed economic growth, as well as abroad.

In the past several weeks, at least seven Chinese ambassadors — to France, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and the African Union — have been summoned by their hosts to answer accusations ranging from spreading misinformation to the “racist mistreatment” of Africans in Guangzhou.



Chinese flags lining a street in Guangzhou, where Africans say they have been evicted and forced into quarantine.Credit...Alex Plavevski/EPA, via Shutterstock



Just last week, China threatened to withhold medical aid from the Netherlands for changing the name of its representative office in Taiwan to include the word Taipei. And before that, the Chinese Embassy in Berlin sparred publicly with the German newspaper Bild after the tabloid demanded $160 billion in compensation from China for damages to Germany from the virus.

Mr. Trump said last week that his administration was conducting “serious investigations” into Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

He has pressed American intelligence agencies to find the source of the virus, suggesting it might have emerged accidentally from a Wuhan weapons lab, although most intelligence agencies remain skeptical. And he has expressed interest in trying to sue Beijing for damages, with the United States seeking $10 million for every American death.

Republicans in the United States have moved to support Mr. Trump’s attacks on China. Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to hold Beijing responsible for the outbreak.



A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, called the suit “frivolous,” adding that it had “no factual and legal basis’’ and “only invites ridicule.”



Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to hold Beijing responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.Credit...Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

The suit seems to aim less at securing victory in court, which is unlikely, than at prodding Congress to pass legislation to make it easier for U.S. citizens to sue foreign states for damages.

“From Beijing’s point of view, this contemporary call is a historic echo of the reparations paid after the Boxer Rebellion,” said Theresa Fallon, director of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies, referring to the anti-imperialist, anti-Christian and ultranationalist uprising around 1899-1901 in China that ended in defeat, with huge reparations for eight nations over the next decades. “The party’s cultivation of the humiliation narrative makes it politically impossible for Xi to ever agree to pay any reparations.”



Instead, it has been imperative for Mr. Xi to turn the narrative around, steering it from a story of incompetence and failure — including the suppression of early warnings about the virus — into one of victory over the illness, a victory achieved through the unity of the party.

In the latest iteration of the new Chinese narrative, the enemy — the virus — did not even come from China, but from the U.S. military, an unsubstantiated accusation made by China’s combative Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian.

Chinese diplomats are encouraged to be combative by Beijing, said Susan Shirk, a China scholar and director of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego. The promotion of Mr. Zhao to spokesman and his statement about the U.S. Army “signals to everyone in China that this is the official line, so you get this megaphone effect,” she said, adding that it makes any negotiations more difficult.

But in the longer run, China is seeding mistrust and damaging its own interests, said Ms. Shirk, who is working on a book called “Overreach,” about how China’s domestic politics have derailed its ambitions for a peaceful rise as a global superpower.



“As China started getting control over the virus and started this health diplomacy, it could have been the opportunity for China to emphasize its compassionate side and rebuild trust and its reputation as a responsible global power,” she said. “But that diplomatic effort got hijacked by the Propaganda Department of the party, with a much more assertive effort to leverage their assistance to get praise for China as a country and a system and its performance in stopping the spread of the virus.”

In recent days, Chinese state media has run numerous inflammatory statements, saying that Australia, after announcing its desire for an inquiry into the virus, was “gum stuck to the bottom of China’s shoe.” Beijing warned that Australia risked long-term damage to its trading partnership with China, which takes a third of Australia’s exports.

“Maybe the ordinary people will say, ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’” China’s ambassador, Cheng Jingye, told The Australian Financial Review. Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, dismissed China’s attempt as “economic coercion.”



The Sydney waterfront. Chinese state media recently assailed Australia, after it announced its desire for an inquiry into the virus.Credit...Matthew Abbott for The New York Times



Even in European countries like Germany, “the mistrust of China has accelerated so quickly with the virus that no ministry knows how to deal with it,” said Angela Stanzel, a China expert with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

In Germany, as in Britain, in addition to new questions about the advisability of using Huawei for new 5G systems, worries have also grown about dependency on China for vital materials and pharmaceuticals.

France, which traditionally has good relations with Beijing, has also been angered by critical statements by Chinese diplomats, including a charge that the French had deliberately left their older residents to die in nursing homes. That prompted a rebuke from France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and anger from legislators, despite an early reciprocal exchange of medical aid like masks.

Recently, the German government complained that Chinese diplomats were soliciting letters of support and gratitude for Beijing’s aid and efforts against the virus from government officials and the heads of major German companies.



The same has been true in Poland, said the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw, Georgette Mosbacher, in an interview, describing Chinese pressure on President Andrzej Duda to call Mr. Xi and thank him for aid, a call the Chinese heralded at home.

“Poland wasn’t going to get this stuff unless the phone call was made, so they could use that phone call” for propaganda, Ms. Mosbacher said.

There is some unhappiness in China with the current diplomatic rhetoric. In a recent essay, Zi Zhongyun, now 89, a longtime expert on America at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, sees parallels in the harsh nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric of the Wolf Warriors of today with the period around the Boxer Rebellion against Western influence in China.

Ms. Zi said such reactions risked getting out of hand.

“I can say without a doubt,” she concluded, “that as long as Boxer-like activities are given the official stamp of approval as being ‘patriotic,’” and as long as “generation after generation of our fellow Chinese are educated and inculcated with a Boxer-like mentality, it will be impossible for China to take its place among the modern civilized nations of the world.”

Isabella Kwai contributed reporting from Sydney, Australia. Monika Pronczuk contributed research from Brussels.

China and the Pandemic

Pressured by China, E.U. Softens Report on Covid-19 Disinformation

April 24, 2020

As Virus Spreads, China and Russia See Openings for Disinformation

March 28, 2020

China’s Coronavirus Battle Is Waning. Its Propaganda Fight Is Not


{Note : the same old story : }
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Re: Trump enters the stage - fait accompli?

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 05, 2020 3:26 pm

The Guardian - Back to home

Trump gives up on virus fight to focus on economic recovery – and re-election

With Covid-19 deaths set to almost double this month, the president is putting the stock market before lives, critics say



Tue 5 May 2020 09.03 EDT

Donald Trump is effectively abandoning a public health strategy for the coronavirus pandemic and showing “clear willingness to trade lives for the Dow Jones”, critics say.

Will Americans ever forgive Trump for his heartless lack of compassion? | Francine Prose

A leaked internal White House report predicts the daily death toll from the virus will reach about 3,000 on 1 June, almost double the current tally of about 1,750, the New York Times revealed on Monday.

Yet at the same time, Trump has scrapped daily coronavirus taskforce briefings and marginalized his medical experts in favour of economic officials flooding the airwaves to urge states to reopen for business – even amid rising infection rates.

“They’ve decided in a very utilitarian kind of way that the political damage from a collapsed economy is greater than the political damage from losing as many as 90,000 more Americans just in June,” said Rick Wilson, a former Republican strategist. “We’re witnessing the full-scale application of a kind of grisly realpolitik that is a clear willingness to trade lives for the Dow Jones.”

In a sign of the shift, the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie told CNN that increased deaths could be worth it if the economy reopens. “Of course, everybody wants to save every life they can – but the question is, towards what end, ultimately?” said Christie, a Republican who led Donald Trump’s presidential transition team in 2016. He added: “Are there ways that we can … thread the middle here to allow that there are going to be deaths, and there are going to be deaths no matter what?”

When Trump declared a national emergency in the White House rose garden on 13 March, hopes rose that, for all the early downplaying and missed testing opportunities, the federal government was finally ready to attack the crisis with full force.

Trump quickly branded himself a “wartime president” and, on 31 March, somberly braced Americans for a “very, very painful two weeks” ahead. His daily White House coronavirus taskforce briefings earned comparisons with campaign rallies, sometimes running for more than two hours, but also featured respected experts, Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, armed with graphics and science.

On 23 April, however, Trump pontificated about injecting disinfectant into coronavirus patients, prompting worldwide disbelief and derision. The briefings would never be the same again and over the past week have been replaced by set-piece events touting an economic comeback.

On Sunday, tellingly, when Trump held a Fox News virtual town hall entitled “America Together: Returning to Work” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, he was accompanied not by Birx and Fauci but Vice-President Mike Pence and the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

Vice-President Mike Pence and the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, with phone, watch as Donald Trump participates in a Fox News virtual town hall. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The president has been egged on by Fox News hosts who question whether the virus is any worse than the common flu, doubt the value of physical distancing and contend that the economic shutdown, which has cost at least 30m jobs, shows the cure is worse than the problem.

On Saturday, a Washington Post report suggested Trump had been encouraged to pivot from the health crisis to the economic fightback by an internal White House analysis that suggested the daily death toll would peak in mid-April then fall away significantly. His “decision-making has been guided largely by his re-election prospects”, the Post added.

But death toll predictions from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a model favored by the White House, were raised on Monday from 72,000 to 134,000 by the start of August because, it said, states are relaxing physical distancing too soon.

Now, critics say, Trump seems ready to shrug at the losses as collateral damage, paying greater heed to his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, than Birx or Fauci.

Wilson, author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, warned: “They may end up making the situation so bad with a second wave in the summer and a third wave in the fall that we end up with a much worse set of economic challenges than if we’d taken our bitter medicine and stayed shut down until we were through the early part of this crisis.”

The grim news remains inescapable but the administration hopes its economic message will offer at least some counter-programming.

Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary, said: “Almost by necessity, they are changing their strategy. They are pinning all of their hopes on getting the economy reopened, using their economic spokespeople and hoping that the American public has a high toleration for the death count moving up. It sounds terrible to say and even worse to do.

“I think you won’t be seeing much from the scientists any more – the news is that bad – and they’re just going to turn a blind eye to the fact that what they’re doing is going to kill more people, because ultimately the way the president makes decisions is what’s good for his re-election.”



© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.





---------------------------------'-------- xxx xxx


Break down?


-----------------???------



IDEAS

The President Is Unraveling

The country is witnessing the steady, uninterrupted intellectual and psychological decomposition of Donald Trump.


In case there was any doubt, the past dozen days have proved we’re at the point in his presidency where Donald Trump has become his own caricature, a figure impossible to parody, a man whose words and actions are indistinguishable from an Alec Baldwin skit on Saturday Night Live.

President Trump’s pièce de résistance came during a late April coronavirus task-force briefing, when he floated using “just very powerful light” inside the body as a potential treatment for COVID-19 and then, for good measure, contemplated injecting disinfectant as a way to combat the effects of the virus “because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on them, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

Anne Applebaum: The rest of the world is laughing at Trump

But the burlesque show just keeps rolling on.

Take this past weekend, when former President George W. Bush delivered a three-minute video as part of The Call to Unite, a 24-hour live-stream benefiting COVID-19 relief.

Bush joined other past presidents, spiritual and community leaders, frontline workers, artists, musicians, psychologists, and Academy Award winning actors. They offered advice, stories, and meditations, poetry, prayers, and performances. The purpose of The Call to Unite (which I played a very minor role in helping organize) was to offer practical ways to support others, to provide hope, encouragement, empathy, and unity.

In his video, which went viral, Bush—in whose White House I worked—never mentioned Trump. Instead, he expressed gratitude to health-care workers, encouraged Americans to abide by social-distancing rules, and reminded his fellow Americans that we have faced trying times before.



The President Is Trapped

“I have no doubt, none at all, that this spirit of service and sacrifice is alive and well in America,” Bush said. He emphasized that “empathy and simple kindness are essential, powerful tools of national recovery.” And America’s 43rd president asked us to “remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.”

“In the final analysis,” he said, “we are not partisan combatants; we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God.” Bush concluded, “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”

That was too much for Trump, who attacked his Republican predecessor on (where else?) Twitter: “[Bush] was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”

Yascha Mounk: The problem isn’t Twitter. It's that you care about Twitter.

So think about that for a minute. George W. Bush made a moving, eloquent plea for empathy and national unity, which enraged Donald Trump enough that he felt the need to go on the attack.

But there’s more. On the same weekend that he attacked Bush for making an appeal to national unity, Trump said this about Kim Jong Un, one of the most brutal leaders in the world: “I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!”

Then, Sunday night, sitting at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for a town-hall interview with Fox News, Trump complained that he is “treated worse” than President Abraham Lincoln. “I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen,” Trump said.

By Monday morning, the president was peddling a cruel and bizarre conspiracy theory aimed at MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a Trump critic, with Trump suggesting in his tweet that a “cold case” be opened to look into the death of an intern in 2001.

I could have picked a dozen other examples over the past 10 days, but these five will suffice. They illustrate some of the essential traits of Donald Trump: the shocking ignorance, ineptitude, and misinformation; his constant need to divide Americans and attack those who are trying to promote social solidarity; his narcissism, deep insecurity, utter lack of empathy, and desperate need to be loved; his feelings of victimization and grievance; his affinity for ruthless leaders; and his fondness for conspiracy theories.

George T. Conway III: Unfit for office

None of these traits are new in Trump; they are part of the reason why some of us were warning about him long before he won the presidency, even going back to 2011. But, more and more, those traits are defining his presidency, producing a kind of creeping paralysis. We are witnessing the steady, uninterrupted intellectual and psychological decomposition of an American president. It’s something the Trump White House cannot hide—indeed, it doesn’t even try to hide it anymore. There is not even the slightest hint of normalcy.

This will have ongoing ramifications for the remainder of Trump’s first term and for his reelection strategy. More than ever, Trump will try to convince Americans that “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” to quote his own words in 2018.

That won’t be easy in a pandemic, as the death toll mounts and the economy collapses and the failures of the president multiply. But that doesn’t mean Trump won’t try. It’s all he has left, so Americans have to prepare for it.

Trump and his apparatchiks will not only step up their propaganda; they will increase their efforts to exhaust our critical thinking and to annihilate truth, in the words of the Russian dissident Garry Kasparov. We will see even more “alternative facts.” We will see even more brazen attempts to rewrite history. We will hear even more crazy conspiracy theories. We will witness even more lashing out at reporters, more rage, and more lies.

George Packer: We are living in a failed state

“The real opposition is the media,” Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, once told the journalist Michael Lewis. “And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

We will see more extreme appeals to the fringe base of Trump’s party, including right-wing militias. For example, after hundreds of protesters, many of them carrying guns, descended on the capitol in Lansing, Michigan, to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, Trump, summoning the ghosts of Charlottesville, described the protesters as “very good people.” Some of these “very good people” carried signs saying tyrants get the rope and tyrant bitch and comparing the governor to Hitler.

We will see a more prominent role played by One America News, a pro-Trump network that the president has praised dozens of times. And we will see the right-wing media complex go to even more bizarre places—not just people such as InfoWar’s Alex Jones, who literally threatened to eat his own neighbors if the lockdown continued, but more mainstream figures such as Salem Radio Network’s Dennis Prager, who declared the other day that the lockdown was “the greatest mistake in the history of humanity.”

Watching formerly serious individuals on the right, including the Christian right, become Trump courtiers has been a painful and dispiriting thing for many of us to witness. In the process, they have reconfigured their own character, intellect, and moral sensibilities to align with the disordered mind and deformed ethical world of Donald Trump.

And we will see, as we have for the entire Trump presidency, the national Republican Party fall in line. Many are speaking out in defense of Trump while other timid souls who know better have gone sotto voce out of fear and cowardice that they have justified to themselves, and tried less successfully to justify to others.

Read: I have seen the future—and it’s not the life we knew

What this means is that Americans are facing not just a conventional presidential election in 2020 but also, and most important, a referendum on reality and epistemology. Donald Trump is asking us to enter even further into his house of mirrors. He is asking us to live within a lie, to live within his lie, for four more years. The duty of citizenship in America today is to refuse to live within that lie.

“The simple step of a simple courageous man is not to partake in falsehood, not to support false actions,” Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said in his mesmerizing 1970 Nobel lecture. “Let that enter the world, let it even reign in the world—but not with my help.”

Solzhenitsyn went on to say that writers and artists can achieve more; they can conquer falsehoods. “Falsehood can hold out against much in this world, but not against art,” he said.

But art, as powerful as it is, is not the only instrument with which to fight falsehoods. There are also the daily acts of integrity of common men and women who will not believe the lies or spread the lies, who will not allow the foundation of truth—factual truth, moral truth—to be destroyed, and who, in standing for truth, will help heal this broken land.

PETER WEHNER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Egan visiting professor at Duke University. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.



Copyright © 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - faux or no faux

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 07, 2020 12:43 am

{ The failed hoped for synthetic unity is exposed as a fraud, with the rising of the horrid deep stated euphemism, the swampishly horrid monster from below. As overstated this vampiric description may be perceived, it has multiple causal agents: each arguably contributing to the extreme de-escalation of Faith: in this system come home to roost.

It is becoming systemic, the enigmatic philosophical exit has nowhere to descend to, nor to clear it's self by rising above it. The situation has become pathetic.}


THE NATIONAL INTEREST 5:27 P.M.
Trump Is About to Go Full Coronavirus Death Denier
By Jonathan Chait

Photo: Doug Mills/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
During the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration believed the media was exaggerating the virus in order to scare people and hurt Trump’s polling. “The reason they are paying so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to bring down the president,” said then–chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Later, they insisted the media was exaggerating the economic contraction. Trump has repeatedly floated predictions for the number of deaths from the pandemic that were quickly exceeded by reality.

The next step, reports Axios, will be to begin publicly questioning the listed totals of coronavirus deaths. “Trump has vented that the numbers seem inflated,” it reports, as have several people around him who believe the same.


This is not just a matter of public spin, like Trump’s campaign to pressure the news media into reporting that his tiny inauguration crowd was larger than it was. The news source he trusts, Fox News, has been running hours of programming questioning the death totals. One Fox theory has seized on changes to official tabulation by the CDC. Another misinterprets the categorization of pneumonia deaths. Axios reports that Trump himself has repeated yet another theory, which raises questions about an increase in previously uncategorized nursing-home deaths in New York.

All of these theories are pure crankery. Indeed, the official recorded death count is lower, not higher, than the actual coronavirus death toll. People who die at home from the virus without receiving medical attention have not been included in the official totals. But the fact that Trump and his allies have developed so many different pseudo-statistical objections shows how desperate they are to cast doubt on the official numbers.

The propaganda campaign has worked. The percentage of frequent Fox News watchers who believe that the official coronavirus death counts are exaggerated has risen from 45 percent last month to 61 percent this month.

Trump is a devoted member of the Fox News audience. What’s more, he believes everybody is as dishonest as he is. The deep state would like to defeat Trump, and embarrassing Trump by publishing death tolls higher than Trump predicted would occur will make Trump look bad, so of course they’re cooking the books. Inventing fake statistics to support his goal is exactly what Trump would do, so naturally he believes it is being done against him.


© 2020 VOX MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



----!!----!!----!! ----!!----!!----!! ----!!


On the economic front:



across the country. In March, the official unemployment rate in the US was 4.4%, close to a 50-year low, but economists predict it could now be as high as 20%, a level unseen since the 1930s Great Depression.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Dog, wag, continued Kimmell com

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 07, 2020 9:23 pm

BBC News



Trump says coronavirus worse 'attack' than Pearl Harbor

 

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Video captionWATCH: Trump: 'This is worse than Pearl Harbor'

US President Donald Trump has described the coronavirus pandemic as the "worst attack" ever on the United States, pointing the finger at China.

Mr Trump said the outbreak had hit the US harder than the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War Two, or the 9/11 attacks two decades ago.

His administration is weighing punitive actions against China over its early handling of the global emergency.

Beijing says the US wants to distract from its own response to the pandemic.

Since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the coronavirus is confirmed to have infected 1.2 million Americans, killing more than 73,000.

Will we ever shake hands again?

What did President Trump say?

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Mr Trump said: "We went through the worst attack we've ever had on our country, this is worst attack we've ever had.

"This is worse than Pearl Harbor, this is worse than the World Trade Center. There's never been an attack like this.

"And it should have never happened. Could've been stopped at the source. Could've been stopped in China. It should've been stopped right at the source. And it wasn't."

Video captionLife for asylum seekers in lockdown on the US-Mexico border

Asked later by a reporter if he saw the pandemic as an actual act of war, Mr Trump indicated the outbreak was America's foe, rather than China.

"I view the invisible enemy [coronavirus] as a war," he said. "I don't like how it got here, because it could have been stopped, but no, I view the invisible enemy like a war."

Video captionUS shopping centres re-open: 'This is the best day ever'

Who else in Trump's team is criticising China?

The deepening rift between Washington and Beijing was further underscored on Wednesday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed his rhetoric against China, accusing it of covering up the outbreak.

He stuck by his so far unsubstantiated charge that there is "enormous evidence" the coronavirus hatched in a Chinese laboratory, even while acknowledging there is still uncertainty about its origins.

"Those statements are both true," America's top diplomat told the BBC. "We don't have certainty and there is significant evidence that it came from a lab."

Chinese state media accused him of lying.

One of the most trusted US public health experts has said the best evidence indicates the virus was not made in a lab.

Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of Mr Trump's coronavirus task force, said on Monday the illness appeared to have "evolved in nature and then jumped species".

Why is the US blaming China?

President Trump faces a tough re-election campaign in November, but the once humming US economy - which had been his main selling point - is currently in a coronavirus-induced coma.

A Pew opinion survey last month found that two-thirds of Americans, a historic high , view China unfavourably. But roughly the same margin of poll respondents said they believed Mr Trump acted too slowly to contain the pandemic.

As Mr Trump found his management of the crisis under scrutiny, he began labelling the outbreak "the China virus", but dropped that term last month days before speaking by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Both Mr Trump and his likely Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, appear to be fastening on to China's unpopularity as an election issue, with each accusing the other of being a patsy for America's primary economic competitor.

As the coronavirus began spreading in the US back in January, Mr Trump signed phase one of a trade deal with China that called a truce in their tariff war. The US president's hopes of sealing a more comprehensive phase two deal are now in limbo because of the pandemic.

What's the latest on the situation in the US?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had prepared detailed guidance on how the nation's public places could reopen, but the White House decided against sharing it, US media report.

The 17-page document, first reported by the Associated Press , has step-by-step guidelines on resuming operations at schools, restaurants, camps, day cares, churches, mass transport, and workplaces.

Trump administration officials reportedly asked for changes to the guidelines, saying they were too specific as the virus is affecting regions differently.

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.



{Kimmel comment on analogy between FDR and Trump}
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Re: Trump enters the stage- FDR

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 07, 2020 10:19 pm

https://youtu.be/Lwjy-iqcyfM







////////////////////\/////////////\\\\///////////



{Lies, lies , and yet more lies, but wait!
What if there may be another angle to this :}


Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Plum Line

Opinion

This is one of Trump’s biggest and most insulting lies yet

President Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on Thursday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

By Greg Sargent 

Opinion writer

May 8, 2020 at 10:07 AM EDT

The new economic report paints a picture of truly extraordinary economic carnage. In April, a stunning 20 million jobs disappeared into the abyss of the coronavirus crisis, and unemployment soared to 14.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s the highest since the Great Depression.


{What if, the another reason for returning to work hides primarily more consequential societal factors?

Anybody notice the escalation of violence that has emerged because of self quaranteeing ?
The woman shooting McDonalds employees requiring masks to enter, the Chinese university professor shot , while researching Cobid 19?

The creeping intolerance resulting from the widening gap of partisanship?

These add up, and don't go unnoticed. All developing events should be taken into consideration.}
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 10, 2020 3:38 pm

The New York Times

Opinion

Live and Let Die, Trump-Style

The world’s greatest con artist has finally come up against a foe he can’t fool.



By Maureen Dowd






WASHINGTON — This is not a good time for vampires.

Or bats.

Which is disorienting for me because, as a lifelong aficionado of vampires, I have a big collection of bat T-shirts, Victorian bat pins and vampire books and movies.

Once the imagery was hot: Batman with his bat signal; Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise slinking around New Orleans in “Interview With the Vampire”; Sookie Stackhouse from “True Blood” naked and drenched in blood on the cover of “Rolling Stone”; the Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson sensation in “Twilight.” (Their broken romance was a favorite subject of Donald Trump’s early tweets.)

But now the bat is a global villain, sparking memes like, “Whoever said one person can’t change the world never ate an undercooked bat” and rants like Bill Maher’s denunciation of Chinese wet markets because eating bats is batty.

Vampires were conjured centuries ago in part as a response to plagues passed from animals to humans, when the afflicted turned to the supernatural to explain the many terrors.



According to Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio, the president’s own grandfather, Friedrich, a German immigrant, might have died of the Spanish flu, contracted as he walked around Queens looking for real estate properties in 1918.

Many struck by the coronavirus describe the awful sensation of the virus receding during the day only to viciously strike once the sun sets. As Chris Cuomo put it, “The beast comes at night.”

The metaphor is also cropping up as members of the Trump dynasty are exposed as leeches. A podcast by The Daily Beast this week was titled “Jared Kushner, Our First Android Vampire President.”

David Axelrod wrote a Times Op-Ed with David Plouffe, advising Joe Biden, whom they dubbed “the Man in the Basement,” to juice up his campaign.



“Trump is like a vampire!” Axelrod told me, adding a salty expletive. “You’ve got to drive a stake right through his heart. He’s going to keep coming. There’s nothing he won’t do. Even in this environment, you can’t count on him losing.”

Image

“He will not admit anything, and down faces everybody. If he can’t out-argue them he bullies them, and then takes their silence for agreement with his views.” — Bram Stoker, “Dracula”Credit...Photograph by Doug Mills/The New York Times

Now the monstrous virus has invaded the Oval Office. Both the president’s valet and a Pence staffer, Katie Miller, the wife of the racist Stephen Miller, who looks like he hasn’t seen daylight in decades, have succumbed. Yet just a few days ago Axios reported that the president and some top aides were questioning the high death toll.

Trump has always been fixated on numbers and perfectly willing to fake them — his billions, his inaugural crowd, even the number of stories in Trump Tower — and he knows the number of dead, now surpassing 77,500, could be the death knell of his campaign.


So he is despicably turning the dead into the undead, trying to figure out how to claim they weren’t lost.

His talent as an escape artist has run out because he’s up against an even more amoral, vicious enemy. Microbes don’t give a damn about Trump’s fake narrative and suppression of the facts.

When the new Trump press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, was asked Friday what the plan was for reopening, she replied that we must trust the president to open safely because he is relying on the data. Risible.

Trump is too much of a fake tough guy to wear a mask and Mike Pence is too much of a sycophant to the fake tough guy to wear a mask. It was apt that, as the maskless Trump toured a Honeywell factory making masks in Arizona, Guns N’ Roses’ cover of “Live and Let Die” was playing.



Trump’s unmoored assertions add up to a horror story, from his failure on testing to his advice to inject bleach to encouraging rowdy protesters and impatient states to “LIBERATE” from the government’s own guidelines to perpetrating the suicidal idea that we have to choose between public health and the economy when they are the same thing.

When Mike Pompeo tried to push the 2020 re-election line demonizing China, saying there is “enormous evidence” that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, even intelligence and senior officials pushed back. The man who is trusted to lead America beyond the plague, Anthony Fauci, dismissed it, reiterating with near certainty that the virus originated with a bat and jumped species.

Trump has sidelined the nonpareil Fauci and, no doubt consumed with jealousy and irritated by his honesty, would like to get rid of him. He barred the N.I.H. scientist from testifying before the House this month because the committee has “every Trump hater” who “want our situation to be unsuccessful, which means death.”

Wallowing in petty insults, vindictiveness and p.r. piffle even in such a tragic season, the president tried to shut down the pandemic task force as the pandemic is still ravaging the country until alarmed associates intervened. The White House scuppered the safety guidelines the C.D.C. wanted to put out, for fear they would crimp the reopening.


Trump has been leaning into his son-in-law, the pallid nonentity. Jared is like Renfield, the “zoophagous maniac” in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” who eats flies and death’s head moths and does the vampire king’s bidding.

For two of the most urgent missions in American history, hunting for supplies and a vaccine, the president — who is always accusing Joe Biden of nepotism — relied on nepotism and favoritism. As The Times reported the other day, Jared bollixed up the desperate search for masks, gloves and ventilators this spring, heading a group of volunteers that prioritized tips from those with Trump connections, putting them on a VIP list, like a lead on N95 masks from a former “Apprentice” contestant who runs Women for Trump.

D’Antonio says that Trump was always preoccupied with death. When he was young, he was convinced he would die before 40. The early death of his alcoholic older brother, Fred, was his formative experience. He regards every loss or humiliation as a small death.

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, compared their 2020 bid to the Death Star. (Parscale also modeled a “Trump-Pence, Keep America Great!” mask on Twitter. A pandemic is, most important, a branding opportunity.)



One of Trump’s favorite songs is the morbid Peggy Lee ballad “Is That All There Is?”

Yet now that it is his duty to lead us out of the valley of death, Trump appears removed, shirking responsibility and deflecting blame. He’s the world’s worst empath. As the president tries to prematurely yank the country back to work, he seems less focused on the real suffering than reviving his precious stock market. Maybe Trump doesn’t seem real to Trump, either.

So I must ask, Mr. President, is that all there is, to live and let die?



© 2020 The New York Times Company
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Re: Trump enters the stage. : What's happening?

Postby Meno_ » Mon May 11, 2020 3:12 am

Why aren't editorial boards screaming: Trump has to go?

By Joe Lockhart

Updated 8:18 PM EDT, Sun May 10, 2020



Editor's Note: (Joe Lockhart is a CNN political analyst. He was the White House press secretary from 1998-2000 in President Bill Clinton's administration. He co-hosts the podcast "Words Matter." The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.)

(CNN)By the height of the Watergate scandal in 1974, virtually every major newspaper in America had called for President Richard Nixon's resignation. During the investigation and impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998, more than 100 newspapers called for him to resign.

Joe Lockhart

But President Donald J. Trump? He could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody... and not a single major daily newspaper would call for his resignation. I admit that -- just like the original Trump quote it references -- that Fifth Avenue statement is a bit hyperbolic, but think about it:

After three years of political and actual carnage under Trump, including Robert Mueller's description of acts that amounted to, he told Congress, obstruction of justice; Trump's "fine people on both sides" reaction to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville where a counter-protester was killed; his rampant conflicts of interest and credible accusations of his violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution; his close to 17,000 false statements; a travel ban that primarily targets mostly Muslim-majority countries; impeachment for alleged extortion of a foreign government (he was acquitted in the Republican Senate), and the gross mishandling of a deadly pandemic, you'd think somebody on an editorial board might say it's time for the President to leave.

But this has not happened. Why not?

Not knowing the answer, I set out to talk to a lot of smart people to find out why.

I did this because history would lead you to believe that most of the editorial boards of America's newspapers/digital sites would have stepped up to that plate already. To be clear, editorial boards are the group of writers and editors behind the daily editorials on the news -- appearing in the editorial pages -- that reflect the newspaper's values. These are separate from the "op-eds" commissioned by opinion editors from outside writers that reflect a range of views -- often at odds with those of the editorial board.

Pulling no punches on Nixon and Clinton

According to United Press International, by August of 1974, almost every major daily newspaper had called for President Richard Nixon's resignation over the Watergate scandal. The most prominent exception was the New York Times, which argued that it was the impeachment process that should determine the fate of the President.

The Wall Street Journal wrote "resignation to insure the orderly transfer of power is fitting, we emphasize only because impeachment and conviction would otherwise be certain." The Chicago Tribune argued, "We are appalled. We saw the public man in his first Administration and we were impressed. We now see a man who, in the words of his old friend and defender, Senator Hugh Scott, is 'shabby, immoral and disgusting.' The key word here is immoral."

The House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment for Nixon and sent them to the House; he resigned before they could vote on them.

Twenty-four years later, in 1998, more than 100 newspapers called for the resignation of President Bill Clinton, both during the Kenneth Starr investigation and the subsequent impeachment trial for obstruction of justice and perjury, over his affair with a White House intern.

The editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jane Eisner, told the New York Times that her paper debated the issue fiercely: "Ms. Eisner said she was not expecting the feelings of profound exhaustion and 'nausea' she experienced when finally, after two and a half hours of anguished arguments, Chris Satullo, the deputy editorial page editor, went to write the Sunday editorial that began with the words 'Bill Clinton should resign.' "

Peter R. Bronson, then-editorial page editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, told the Times, "'As soon as we saw the Starr report and got knee deep, we said, 'This really smells, we've seen enough, the evidence is compelling and damning,''' Mr. Bronson said.

The ground shifts

So, what changed between 1998 and 2020? Both John Dean, Nixon's White House counsel and Carl Bernstein, the famed reporter who with Bob Woodward broke news in the Washington Post of the Watergate coverup, have called Trump's Ukraine scandal far worse than anything in Watergate.

And Trump's offenses were much more far reaching than Clinton's: he used American foreign policy to leverage a political favor, and he's also certainly had a fair share of tawdry scandals

What has changed?

Just about everything, it seems, beginning with the media: the explosion of 24/7 news networks and the endless horizon of internet-on-demand caused some newspapers to fold or shrink and lose relevance. The lucky few left standing wobbled through a decade trying to claw their way back into news dominance. Papers lost advertisers, lost readers and increasingly lost influence with the public, particularly the editorial pages: so much opinion journalism was readily available from so many other new online sources.

And there also was a shifting of standards post-Clinton that held politicians to a different moral standing than in the past. Even given the multitude of Trump's scandals and failings, only two mid-sized dailies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Connecticut Post have been willing to call for President Donald Trump's resignation (as far as I could find in an exhaustive search).

And while a handful of large-newspaper editorial boards called for his impeachment, I could find only one -- the LA Times -- that called for his removal (and with a headline that covered all the bases: "Convict and remove President Trump -- and disqualify him from ever holding office again").

Why have so many editorial pages railed -- over and over -- against Trump's behavior in the most vehement terms, through scandal, impeachment, botched pandemic response and much more, and yet they won't call for him to go?

Editorial boards' new reluctance

I put this question to more than a dozen experts, media columnists, editorial writers, academics and White House reporters. What emerged was not one simple explanation, as journalism professor Jay Rosen of New York University explained it, but a number of factors that have discouraged editorial pages around the country from taking this bold step.

Central to these, according to John Avlon, a senior political analyst at CNN and the former editor in chief of the Daily Beast, is that "the reality of the hardened partisanship is beyond reason. We've become really unmoored from our best civic traditions." And one of our best civic traditions used to be holding political leaders to account -- demanding, in extreme situations, that they resign.

Almost everyone I talked to mentioned timing: editorial boards' reluctance to urge Trump to resign so close to the election. One editor (who preferred to remain anonymous) at a major daily said his editorial board came close to calling for Trump's ouster during his impeachment, but added "my question is why now, when the election will be decided in six months."

On one level that argument makes sense: the voters should have the final say on the President's future. But it misses the mark, given that many editorial pages have already excoriated, for example, the President's handling of the pandemic, a tragedy that has cost more than 78,000 American lives so far, without addressing his fitness to continue to serve. Any CEO who was deemed responsible for allowing a massive tragedy to unfold would be immediately called upon to resign or be fired, even if he or she were six months from retirement.

When I asked my question of Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for the Washington Post and former public editor of the New York Times, she responded by speculating, or spit-balling, as she called it: "It may have something to do with the knowledge that such a call would not be effective but would also deepen the rampant polarizations among citizens. And for some, it would exacerbate the resentment of the traditional press, if that's even possible at this point."

Loss of relevance in new media landscape?

Indeed, Sullivan's speculation captured the consensus of everyone I talked to. Jonathan Karl, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News, was one of them. He told me "perhaps it's the fact that there is zero percent [chance] he (Trump) would do it [resign] or that any in his party would ask him to do it." He compared the situation to Clinton, where many in the press thought he might resign and many editorial pages chimed in with their own calls.

Karl makes an important point: although there was no chance Clinton was going to resign (I know that because I was there), there was a chance that members of his own party might demand it, something I also know from my personal experience then.



Trump's support for Michigan protesters sends a dangerous message

Karl's futility argument resonates, in part due to the polarization Sullivan referenced above. The only problem with his theory is that editorial pages take positions every day knowing that they will fail to persuade politicians -- or the public -- most of the time.

In defense of editorial pages' recent reticence, many believe their editorials have less impact anyway in the diffuse new-media environment of today and may want to avoid highlighting that by taking a public stand -- and being shown as ineffectual or out of touch. In the 2016 campaign, the overwhelming majority of newspapers endorsed Hillary Clinton, or chose not to endorse at all. We know how that turned out. That has led, in part, to a trend among many newspapers to discontinue endorsing candidates in elections.

The changing nature and business models of local papers also play a role. Jay Rosen from NYU again: "Local newspapers are weaker institutions, they have declined a lot in quality, reach and authority. This gives some of them less confidence in their voice, especially in regions where they know they will get push-back." Both Rosen and Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent, pointed to the budget cuts often hitting editorial pages even before they hit reporters. What's more, the internet, which if nothing else is full of opinion, has diluted the impact of major news organizations' editorial pages, making them less relevant.

But the answer to my questions goes beyond the news media's effectiveness or its business models. It has a lot to do with Trump himself -- and the tactics of the right wing of American politics.

The power of the right

Kurt Bardella, a former Republican who served as the spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, put it this way: "Donald Trump and his right wing allies have invested so much time in creating the false narrative that the mainstream media is fake and the enemy of the people. I think the media falls into their trap of not wanting to go down a certain path because they're worried about being labeled biased or partisan."

Jay Rosen has a similar take, saying the right wing's "working the refs" strategy works. But he goes further: "You cannot overlook the level of flak, push-back and general hatred that newspaper editors get from Trump supporters for anything like this... editors defy these attacks every day, but it can make you think twice."

Nearly all the editors and columnists I talked to echoed a certain empathy for editorial page editors and a resignation that nothing was likely to change soon.

But Brian Karem, columnist for Playboy, was less charitable. "Major newspapers are shaky -- not on the solid financial ground they were even 10 years ago," he told me in an email. "They are fearful of losing any more advertisers or readers... they see no need to buck the tide or even join it... We are unlikely to find a Katharine Graham in the age of Donald Trump -- though we desperately need one."

He was referring to the Washington Post publisher who weathered tremendous blow-back when she presided over the paper during the reporting on Watergate that led to Nixon's resignation.

So, where does this leave us? Have the nation's editorial boards -- with so many of them clearly and frequently expressing no confidence in this President's ability to do his job -- abdicated their duty?

I agree with Professor Rosen's admonition that there is no simple explanation... and I think my friend Brian Karem is being a bit harsh.

In my view, there is a simple solution to this problem. They should go down fighting. If the President is unfit to lead the country, then say it. And if lives are at risk and our Constitution is being attacked on a regular basis, then it is the duty of our great editorial pages to seek the ultimate remedy -- a call for resignation.

Yes, the election is only six months away and voters usually should have the last word. But if the President's policies are a clear and present danger to Americans, or his behavior -- like Clinton's and Nixon's -- so outside of the agreed upon norms, why aren't the guardians of truth at the nation's top editorial pages screaming: He has to go?



© 2020 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


{As a postscript, just summarizing the lack of philosophical idealism, that the Foundation was settled very early after the Revolutionary War, the parties were in much more agreement , the synthetic middle much more literally understood as trusted truths.

Within these realms of trustworthiness, rested the accepted rules of law, and it's sacrosant absolute need, that has not yet been compromised.

There were still possibilities for great compromises, like that of Henry Clay, and the synthesis, and great turbulances whittled down, and hystory smoothed out the fabric of dissent.

Now, there is something real critical in the air, certainly , partisanship and media meddling are merely topical aspects of very basic re-emerging signs with ideas, which better left be covered, if to avoid cataclysmic dangers of universal significance.

It has been pointed out a great difference between knowledge and lead ing, where the latter appears to be consistent with rigorous applications of mostly subliminal repetition of disinformative rote.

The reasons behind them are the usual but forgotten poignant repetitive phrases that we have learned to associate with propaganda: communism, capital , imperialism , but these terms have become vacuous, due to disuse , going back about two generations. But disuse causes the laps of association between the elements which can reconstruct the larger picture that went down, and there is no media which can reconstruct it in terms of black and white, in terms of the basic understanding of the people. The scene of reality just became too complex.

One opinion can negate an opposing one, in such a way, that opposition create a necessary conclusion, even if being unnecessary. The lack of cohesion between necessary and contingent facts accomodates charges of conspiracy, and thus the charge applied produces it by fallacious necessity.

Reality will be constructed out of necessary propaganda , that will set the stage
to construct that reality to confirm it.

This is tantamount to the kind of identifiable truth, which is based on necessary tautology. The deception may be promoted as necessary , for reasons known only to those who actually see and understand the big picture.

That Trump is reading a well scripted narrative, there is little to doubt. All his antics are pure theater, and the critical moment has arrived, to admit, that we are at this juncture witnessing the life and death struggle not merely a ideological fight , but the substantial life force which can support Capital.

For this end, no amount of hedging will suffice, for partisanship can not avoid drawing a line that extends from the late 1800's to the present in continuum. The mechanics, the machinery is in dire straights, and it is the workings of the whole world, in respect within the contexts of all it's perimeters that is showing the enormous challenges ahead to enable a favorable succession of powers.

Compromise is out of question now, where criticality has reached an unprecedented level of brevity. At the very basic level, only a dictatorial and simplified application of power can survive a tumult. of such magnitude that can be anticipated, as when the pent up pathos of the past two hundred years of accommodation become transparently dangerous.
All, in furtherance of something as vague as 'Democracy'

Editorial Boards may surmise the danger hidden there.}


Close:
In terms of successful compromise, a Manifest Destiny as a strong positive motive for finding unity, has whittled down to merely a foregone conclusion.

There is a diminished sense if confidence, trust and the applications of the power of the will in the latter, more a recognition of the automatic effects of recognized clues.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Acts to die for

Postby Meno_ » Mon May 11, 2020 4:15 pm

The Guardian - Back to home

Trump-Russia investigation

Trump charges Obama with ‘biggest political crime in American history’

Retweet storm after justice department drops Flynn case

Obama: US ‘rule of law’ is at risk under Trump

Opinion: Under Trump, American exceptionalism means misery

For God and Country: Christian case for Trump is a thin read



Donald Trump continued to fume over the Russia investigation on Sunday, more than a year after special counsel Robert Mueller filed his report without recommending charges against the president but only three days after the justice department said it would drop its case against Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

Kayleigh McEnany - the 'acceptable' face of Trumpism who infuriates liberals

“The biggest political crime in American history, by far!” the president wrote in a tweet accompanying a conservative talk show host’s claim that Barack Obama “used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration”.

The tweet echoed previous messages retweeted by Trump, which earned rebukes for relaying conspiracy theories. On Sunday afternoon the president continued to send out a stream of tweets of memes and rightwing talking heads claiming an anti-Trump conspiracy. One tweet by Trump simply read: “OBAMAGATE!”

Trump fired Flynn, a retired general, in early 2017, for lying to Vice-President Mike Pence about conversations with the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions levied by the Obama administration in retaliation for interference in the 2016 election.

The US intelligence community has long held that such efforts were meant to tip the election towards Trump and away from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI – which Trump has acknowledged – and co-operated with Mueller, who was appointed to take over the investigation of Russian interference after Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy but did lay out extensive links between Trump and Moscow and instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Flynn sought to change his plea while awaiting sentencing and the president championed his case, floating a possible pardon. On Thursday, in an act that stunned the US media, attorney general William Barr said the justice department would drop the case entirel

Trump and his supporters have loudly trumpeted the decision and across Saturday and Sunday the president unleashed a storm of retweets of supporters and conservative commentators attacking targets including Obama, Mueller, Comey and House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff.

The talkshow host retweeted by the president, Buck Sexton, is a former CIA analyst who now hosts a show which he says “speaks truth to power, and cuts through the liberal nonsense coming from the mainstream media”.

In another message retweeted by the president, Sexton called former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe – who Trump fired just short of retirement – “a dishonorable partisan scumbag who has done incalculable damage to the reputation of the FBI and should be sitting in a cell for lying under oath”.

In February, the US justice department said it would not charge McCabe over claims he lied to investigators about a media leak.

Like Comey, McCabe released a book in which he was highly critical of Trump, who he said acted like a mob boss. McCabe also wrote that Trump had unleashed a “strain of insanity” in American public life.

In his own tweets, Trump did not directly address comments by Obama himself which were reported by Yahoo News. The former president told associates the Flynn decision was “the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic – not just institutional norms – but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk”.

But Trump’s anger was evident.

“When are the Fake Journalists,” he wrote on Sunday, “who received unwarranted Pulitzer Prizes for Russia, Russia, Russia, and the Impeachment Scam, going to turn in their tarnished awards so they can be given to the real journalists who got it right. I’ll give you the names, there are plenty of them!”

The president did not immediately name anyone.

But in 2018 the Pulitzer committee did, awarding its prize for national reporting jointly to the Washington Post and the New York Times for “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the president-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.”

Trump has further reason to resent the Pulitzer committee and question its choices.

In 2019, for example, a New York Times team won a Pulitzer for an “exhaustive 18-month investigation of President Donald Trump’s finances that debunked his claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges”.

Biden sexual assault claim divides Democrats as Republicans pounce

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, was rewarded for “uncovering President Trump’s secret payoffs to two women during his campaign who claimed to have had affairs with him, and the web of supporters who facilitated the transactions, triggering criminal inquiries and calls for impeachment”.

Trump’s actual impeachment, which he survived at trial in the Senate in February, concerned his attempts to have Ukraine investigate his political rivals. No reporter or news outlet won a 2020 Pulitzer, announced this week, for its coverage of that affair.

Trump’s focus on Sunday remained largely on the Russia investigation despite continuing developments in the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 1.3m Americans and killed nearly 80,000.

With cases confirmed among White House aides close to the president, top public health experts including Dr Anthony Fauci in quarantine and Trump reported by the New York Times to be “spooked”, the president claimed in a rare non-Russia-related tweet: “We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic.”

He also attacked Obama and his vice-president, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president this year, over their response to the “disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu” in 2009.



© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Preview of coming attractions

Postby Meno_ » Mon May 11, 2020 9:39 pm

POLITICO

Magazine

OPINION | 2020

Why It Doesn’t Matter That Trump Is Beating Biden Online

Biden got the nomination because he won the argument. And better gadgetry didn’t save the candidates who lost it.









6

If Donald Trump’s digital media operation is, as his campaign manager Brad Parscale described it this week, a “Death Star,” the consensus seems to be that Joe Biden’s digital presence more closely resembles Jar Jar Binks.

Trump has 80 million Twitter followers; Biden has 5 million. Trump’s Facebook page has 27.5 million likes; Biden’s has less than than 2 million. “From mid-March to mid-April,” Karl Rove noted in his Wall Street Journal column this week, “Mr. Trump had seven times the social-media interactions, 620 million to Mr. Biden’s 87 million.” Biden’s live-streamed events, such as his first “virtual rally” on Thursday, are often hampered by technical glitches. It’s bad enough that David Axelrod and David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s former campaign gurus, took to the New York Times to vent that Biden must “transform a campaign that lagged behind many of his Democratic competitors during the primary in its use of digital media.” To put it succinctly, as a New York Times headline declared last month, “Biden Is Losing The Internet.”




Biden won the presidential primary with an analog campaign while being outmatched online by his rivals’ much more sophisticated efforts. That should not be dismissed as a fluke event.

Political operatives and journalists have a tendency to size up campaigns based on the size of their campaign apparatuses. Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign looked indestructible because his digital footprint was so enormous, he could generate a huge crowd almost anywhere he went. Mike Bloomberg seemed unstoppable because he had hired thousands of field staff, stuffed mailboxes and flooded the airwaves. Now Trump looms large because of his massive war chest and his campaign’s digital savvy, and Biden’s campaign has responded in recent days by hiring several prominent digital strategists from the campaigns of former rivals Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke.

But piles of money and social media engagements don’t matter if your fundamental argument falls flat.



The path Biden blazed to the nomination — culminating in his Super Tuesday blowout — provided a real-time political science experiment, testing whether grassroots online organizing, paid media or free media is most important for a successful campaign. Sanders was the organizing champ, having built a massive digital operation that cultivated nearly 12 million Twitter followers, almost 2 million small donors and a grassroots army that knocked on 2 million doors. Bloomberg literally owned paid media, drowning out all competitors with more than a half-billion spent on TV, radio and digital ads. (This included paying online influencers to produce ironic memes.)

Then there was Biden. His campaign was nearly broke. His field offices were often desolate, sometimes nonexistent. But between his Saturday night victory in South Carolina and the morning of Super Tuesday, his free media was pure gold. He didn’t just win South Carolina and secure key endorsements from three former rivals; he amplified his core messages to deafening levels in mainstream media. Data had long showed Democratic voters wanted a candidate who could win and could govern in a pragmatic, bipartisan way. That was Biden’s longtime pitch, and the final days of the competitive primary showcased top Democrats embracing it.

Simply put, Biden won the argument. And he’s still winning it.

From mid-March to mid-April to today, despite Trump’s much-ballyhooed digital advantage, Biden has maintained a stable lead in nearly every national and swing state poll. In the past four national polls, Biden’s lead has ranged from 3 percentage points to 9 points. While in theory Trump can still win the Electoral College while losing the national popular vote, current swing-state polling suggests he won’t. The Electoral-Vote.com snapshot of the latest state polling gives Biden a whopping 352–148 Electoral College lead.



Biden is not a one-man content machine. His theme of restoring the “soul of America,” does not lend itself to shareable, snackable social media memes, or outrage-inducing Facebook debate threads. And while he can be a good theatrical performer with the right material (he was a solid straight man with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a 2014 video skit), reaching online comic heights while social distancing is challenging. Watching Biden play “Go Fish” with Keegan-Michael Key was not as exciting as watching Key play Barack Obama’s “anger translator.”

Axelrod and Plouffe appear to understand this, and recommended that Biden lean on high-profile surrogates with more social media followers to “carry the load.” Nothing wrong with that advice. But voters will primarily be looking at Biden and comparing his persona and platform with the president’s.

To present a favorable contrast, he doesn’t need to make himself artificially edgy and juice his online engagement. He simply needs to be accessible to the media, at the local, state and national level. Pete Buttigieg’s media maven, Lis Smith, this week argued Biden’s “personal warmth … translates well on TV,” and so, “he should be willing to go everywhere.”

Biden can take that advice to the extreme, much as Buttigieg did. In addition to the usual diet of national, state and local news programs, go on Fox News (as he did two months ago). Go on Howard Stern, Joe Rogan, Ellen, The Breakfast Club. Hell, go on Chapo. Make news by having interesting conversations and civil debates, showing depth as well as empathy. By communicating with a wide range of media personalities, Biden would be true to his overarching message that he will be a uniter that listens to all Americans, and present a stark contrast with Trump’s chronic divisiveness. Will Biden have off-message moments as a result? Most likely. But Biden had plenty of off-message moments in the primary. Yet he still was able to successfully convey his main messages and engender good will in the process. As David Karpf, professor of media and public affairs at The George Washington University, told Wired, “for all the digital media tools out there, all the fundraising and organizing you can do, all of that matters—but the thing that matters more than we ever think is crafting, shaping, influencing, manipulating media narratives.”

Still, at this point in 2016, Hillary Clinton led in head-to-head matchups against Trump. And you might argue that today’s polls might lead to a false sense of comfort for Biden. But Clinton’s and Biden’s numbers are not the same.

By spring 2016, Clinton was already showing volatility. While she led Trump most of the way, she experienced several dips that shrunk her lead to less than 3 percentage points, and occasionally less than one or slightly behind. And between late April and late May 2016—when the FBI investigation into her email server ramped up—she suffered a 9-point drop, allowing Trump to edge ahead for the first time.

Biden, in contrast, going back to September 2019, has never held a national lead in the Real Clear Politics average over Trump of less than 4 points, and since January, his lead has generally remained somewhere from 5 to 7 points. Of course, things can always change: In the past five months, we have experienced an impeachment, a pandemic and now a sexual assault allegation against Biden, which he denies. And the needle still hasn’t moved much. Yes, there’s still time for the Tara Reade story to inflict political damage on Biden. In fact, Biden’s RCP average ticked down from 6.3 to 4.4 over the last two weeks—a period when Biden’s free media coverage because of the allegations was far from ideal. But the answer to preventing that number from sinking any lower is better free media coverage, not better tweets.

Should Biden run as if the race will come down to handful of votes? Of course. Should he build the best digital operation he can to help connect with hard-to-reach voters? Absolutely. But gutting out a narrow win should be a campaign’s Plan B. Plan A should be to win the argument, decisively. That’s how Biden won the primary. All available data strongly suggests he’s winning today.



Biden will probably always be an analog candidate in a digital world. But considering how exhausted many Americans are with a president who governs by tweet, an analog candidate may be exactly what the electorate is looking for.


 



 



 



 



 

 

The Forgotten Law That Could Compel Mnuchin to Hand Over Trump’s Tax Returns






© 2020 POLITICO LLC


&&&&&&& &&&& &&&


Trump's Attorney General Barr called to resign for 'assaults on the rule of law'


Nearly 2,000 former Department of Justice Officials are calling for Attorney General Bill Barr to resign, citing his "repeated assaults on the rule of law in doing Trump's personal bidding." MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber reports on "unprecedented move” to drop Michael Flynn's case even after a guilty plea.




>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Supreme Court coming attractions:



Donald Trump

Supreme court grills Trump lawyers over president’s unreleased tax returns

Trump has refused to release documents but Sonia Sotomayor says there is a tradition of Congress ‘seeking records and getting them’



As the supreme court heard arguments concerning Donald Trump’s tax returns on Tuesday, justice Sonia Sotomayor told a lawyer for the president “there is a long, long history of Congress seeking records and getting them” from occupants of the Oval Office.

McConnell tells Obama to 'keep his mouth shut' after Trump criticism

The other two liberals on the court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer, brought up requests for documents during the Watergate and Whitewater scandals, which occurred under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton and were decided unanimously against the president concerned.

Elena Kagan, like Sotomayor an Obama appointee, told Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow a “fundamental precept of our constitutional order is that the president is not above the law”.

The court is in its second week of working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Lawyers for Trump and attorneys for Democrats in Congress and prosecutors in New York presented their arguments by telephone. The world listened in.

Trump did not release his tax returns during the 2016 election and has not done so since, despite promising to do so.

“President Trump is the first one to refuse to do that,” Ginsburg said.

Every president since Nixon, who was elected in 1968, had released tax information. But there is no legal compunction to do so.

Democrats in Congress are attempting to establish whether Trump is breaking ethics laws and constitutional safeguards against profiting from the presidency.

The New York prosecutor Cyrus Vance Jr wants to find out if hush money payments to women who claimed affairs with Trump involved illegal business practices.

Trump is asking the justices to put an end to subpoenas for tax, bank and other financial records which seek information from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the Mazars USA accounting firm.

Trump’s lawyers, supported by the justice department, contend that he should not be so constrained by Congress and cannot be prosecuted while in office.

Opponents of the president say he is simply not above the law.

Appellate courts in Washington and New York have ruled that the documents should be turned over. Those courts brushed aside the president’s broad arguments, focusing on the fact that the subpoenas were addressed to third parties asking for records of Trump’s business and financial dealings as a private citizen, not as president.

Rulings against Trump could result in the release of damaging information during his campaign for re-election.

According to practice, Chief Justice John Roberts spoke first. The other justices asked questions in order of seniority. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s two appointees to the 5-4 conservative majority, went last.

Roberts asked Trump lawyer Patrick Strawbridge: “Do you concede any power in the House to subpoena personal papers of the president?”

The Trump attorney said it was “difficult to imagine” a situation in which that would be justified.

However, in 1974 the justices acted unanimously in requiring Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor. And in 1997, another unanimous decision allowed a sexual harassment lawsuit to proceed against Clinton.

In those cases, three Nixon appointees and two Clinton appointees, respectively, voted against the president who chose them. Ginsburg and Breyer were those Clinton appointees.

For the justice department, Jeffrey Wall said allowing the House subpoenas would lead to presidents being “harassed”.

“The potential to harass and undermine the president … is plain,” he said. “It is not much to ask that before the House delves into the president’s personal life it explains in some meaningful way what laws it is considering and why it needs the president’s documents in particular. The subpoenas here don’t even come close.”

Gorsuch expressed concern about lawmakers abusing the subpoena process and hunting for unlawful conduct by political rivals.

Speaking to congressional lawyer Douglas Letter, Samuel Alito said: “In your view, there’s no protection for the purpose of preventing harassment of a president.”

But the conservatives on the court were not in uniform sympathy with the arguments presented by Trump’s lawyers.

Kavanaugh asked: “The question … boils down to how can we both protect the House’s interest in obtaining information it needs to legislate but also protect the presidency. How can the court balance those interests?”

Gorsuch questioned why the court would give Trump immunity in a criminal investigation when it did not give Clinton immunity in a sexual harassment lawsuit. In the 1997 case, lawyers for the plaintiff wanted Clinton to be questioned, Gorsuch noted, while in the Trump case the information is sought from third parties.

What is 'Obamagate' and why is Trump so worked up about it?

Sekulow responded that criminal cases result in a loss of liberty and are very different from civil lawsuits that could lead to monetary damages.

Alito challenged Sekulow’s assertion that a grand jury subpoena cannot be enforced against a sitting president in a case in which waiting for a president to leave office would undermine a criminal prosecution.

Kagan, meanwhile, noted that where personal records are concerned, “the president is just a man”.

“What it seems to me you’re asking us to do,” she told Strawbridge, “is to put a kind of 10-ton weight on the scales between the president and Congress, and essentially to make it impossible for Congress to perform oversight and to carry out its functions.”


© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - The price of democracy

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 14, 2020 8:17 am

The New York Times

Opinion

Trump Is Staking Out His Own Universe of ‘Alternative Facts’

The president’s re-election strategy isn’t based on reality. How could it be?



By Thomas B. Edsall



May 13, 2020



President Trump participated in a prayer before speaking at the Evangelicals for Trump kick-off rally at the King Jesus International Ministry in Miami in January.Credit...Eva Uzcategui/Reuters







In less than a year, from May 2019 to March 2020, the share of weekly church-attending white Protestants convinced that Donald Trump was anointed by God to be president grew from 29.6 percent to 49.5 percent.

This finding — based on direct responses to the question: “How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Donald Trump was anointed by God to become president of the United States” — comes from surveys conducted by Paul A. Djupe and Ryan Burge, political scientists at Denison and Eastern Illinois Universities. Their study illuminates the depth of quasi-religious devotion to Trump among key segments of the population.

Capitalizing on that devotion is integral to Trump’s re-election strategy and has led to the creation of an all-enveloping digital campaign website, Army for Trump, as well as the Trump-Pence Keep America Great campaign app.

The Trump campaign’s digital sites serve a dual purpose. His supporters are able to enter a self-contained, self-reinforcing arena where Trump reigns supreme, and the campaign gets detailed marketing information about those who go through the elaborate sign-up process — information subsequently used for voter mobilization, fund-raising and volunteer recruitment.



According to Stefan Smith, a Democratic tech strategist, you should think of the Trump campaign website as a casino. Writing in the Daily Beast, Smith argues that the Trump campaign’s website is designed on the Vegas principle, “purposefully built to keep gamblers inside and at the table.”

Trump’s digital infrastructure, Smith wrote,

is performing a similar function — it’s trapping people inside an ecosystem of dangerous misinformation, conspiracy theories, and grievance politics. And it’s doing so while making the experience as fun and exciting as possible.

It is clear that millions of voters willingly enter this arena.

The coronavirus lockdown has turned the internet into a central battleground of the 2020 presidential contest, even more indispensable than it would be under normal circumstances. Trump operatives, guided by his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, are trying to make the most of the situation.

Parscale, who is not given to understatement any more than his boss, tweeted on May 7:

For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star). It is firing on all cylinders. Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc. In a few days we start pressing FIRE for the first time.

“The new Trump campaign app uses gamification to drive voter outreach and valuable data collection,” CNN reported on April 23. “Share the campaign app with a friend, win 100 points. Earn 5,000 points and you can redeem a campaign store discount. Earn 100,000 points, and you can get a picture with President Donald Trump.”



Those who download the Trump app can “watch live ‘shows’ hosted by senior campaign aides and surrogates,” according to CNN, and receive

tutorial videos from top campaign aides and surrogates like Lara Trump, who explains how to become a “digital activist” on social media and host a “MAGA meet up.” Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr, explains how to become a fund-raising “bundler” and political director Chris Carr discusses how to be a grass roots “team leader.”

In nightly appearances, Trump loyalists are freed of the constraints of television or campaign rallies.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, joked, for example, that Joe Biden had “the coveted Osama bin Laden endorsement” since bin Laden knew “Biden would destroy America,” The Associated Press reported. Parscale himself told viewers that his favorite item at his Florida home is Hillary Clinton toilet paper: “I have boxes of it,” he said, “and I take it into the bathroom and it’s just enjoyable since she said so many mean things about me and our campaign and our president.”

The Trump app shows “create an echo chamber for true believers,” A.P. reporters Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin wrote:

Trump officials warmly speak in shorthand, trusting that their audience knows the plot and its characters and are tuning in to see programs that, at times, made the president’s infamously off-the-cuff rallies look tightly scripted.

All of this brings us to an intriguing question: why are so many voters willing to enter this echo chamber?



A series of recent research papers explore reasons for the appeal of the demagogue; the role of anger in Trump’s ascendance; and the political dark triad of psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism.



The official Trump 2020 app.

In “The Authentic Appeal of the Lying Demagogue: Proclaiming the Deeper Truth about Political Illegitimacy,” published in 2018 in the American Sociological Review by Oliver Hahl, Minjae Kim and Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan, of the business schools at Yale, Northwestern and M.I.T., pose the question: “How can a constituency of voters find a candidate authentically appealing (i.e., view him positively as authentic) even though he is a ‘lying demagogue’ (someone who deliberately tells lies and appeals to nonnormative private prejudices)?”

They conclude that “for the lying demagogue to have authentic appeal,” the crucial ingredient is “that one side of a social divide regards the political system as flawed or illegitimate.”

For such a besieged constituency, they write, the belief that “publicly-endorsed norms are imposed rather than freely chosen” is crucial.



In that case, the three authors continue, “the lying demagogue claims to be an authentic champion of those who are subject to social control by the established political leadership.”

At the same time, Trump and his critics in the liberal establishment enter into an intensifying conflict that serves to strengthen loyalists’ support for Trump:

The more Trump is willing “to antagonize the establishment by making himself persona non grata, the more credible is his claim to be his constituency’s leader.” In a push-me, pull-you process, the more

his flagrant violation of norms makes him odious to the establishment, someone from whom they must distance themselves lest they be tainted by scandal. But this very need by the establishment to distance itself from the lying demagogue lends credibility to his claim to be an authentic champion for those who feel disenfranchised by that establishment.

A crucial element of the sense of disenfranchisement described by Hahl and his colleagues is the anger and outrage of those who believe that their interests are not represented by the political establishment.

Steven Webster, a political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of the forthcoming book “American Rage,” wrote in an email that “Trump attracts and maintains the devotion of his supporters because he is angry at the ‘right’ people, institutions, organizations, etc.”

This anger has been present for years, if not decades, but, Webster argued,

it is not the case that Trump is merely a vehicle for voter anger. On the contrary, Trump is also a perpetuator of the anger that we see. The relationship between Trump, his supporters, and anger, is circular in nature.

The difference between anger and anxiety, in Webster’s view, helps explain why so many of Trump’s supporters simply disregard his many documented lies and distortions:

When people are anxious they tend to seek out new information. Anxiety rouses people from a sort of ‘autopilot’ mode and causes them to re-evaluate their beliefs.

Anger, in contrast,

has the opposite effect. When people are angry they tend to mentally retreat and dig in on the things that they know and believe to be true.

The result?

The psychological nature of anger essentially precludes any sort of attitudinal change against Trump. Anger causes Trump’s supporters to become more reliant on information they receive from him, the RNC, Fox News, etc.

In other words, they become ideal candidates to enter Trump’s digital universe, the realm of suspended belief, a place where supporters are fully insulated from mounting claims of administration failures and mismanagement.



Trump not only taps into his supporters’ anger but he does so with exceptional confidence and a lack of self-doubt, further enhancing his persuasiveness.

I spoke by phone with Cristina Bicchieri, a professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the lead author of the January paper “It’s Not a Lie If You Believe the Norm Does Not Apply: Conditional Norm-Following with Strategic Beliefs.”

One of Trump’s strengths, Bicchieri said, grows out of the fact that “people hate ambiguity,” and if there is one thing Trump is not, it’s ambiguous. Trump’s ability to convey conviction, even when saying things that are demonstrably false, is critically important in persuading supporters to believe and vote for him.

“He is always sure of what he says, when he sends a message, he is always sure,” Bicchieri noted. He may change his mind and say “things are black one day and they are white” the next day, but on both days “he will have the same strength of conviction.”



In an email, Bicchieri cited research that shows “political conservatism being negatively correlated with tolerance to uncertainty.” This supports, she said, “the general notion that conservative voters would enjoy Trump’s simple and ‘certain’ declarations about the world.”

How can Trump maintain this certitude in the face of explicitly contrary facts?

Paul Chen, a political scientist at Beloit College is the lead author of “The Dark Side of Politics: Participation and the Dark Triad,” an April 2020 paper. I asked him about Trump’s political style.

Chen responded by email: “Narcissism predicts lower levels of knowledge but higher levels of engagement.”

In addition, narcissism is “a likely factor” in “Donald Trump’s personal ambition to run for office. We consistently find that people high in narcissism tend to overestimate their own abilities in politics.”



The Trump campaign’s drive to create an enclosed political universe where voters are sheltered from any criticism of the president is aided and abetted by political allies like Fox News and conservative talk radio.

One less-noticed source of essential support comes from the pulpits of the churches with predominately Republican parishioners.

The study by Paul Djupe and Ryan Burge I mentioned at the outset demonstrates how the belief that Trump was anointed by God to be president rises in direct proportion to the frequency with which ministers raise “political speech topics.” These topics include immigration, gun rights, impeachment, same-sex marriage and abortion.

For Republicans, the two authors write,

clergy speech is driving up the religious significance of Trump. There is no effect of clergy speech on anointment beliefs for Democrats and Independents. But there is quite a strong effect for Republicans.

At the same time, they continue,

more Republicans believe in Trump’s anointment when they attend a political church. Though some of this effect surely reflects the political engagement of the respondent, a fair bit of congregational experiences are beyond the control of the individual.

The results are shown in the accompanying chart.



While elite “right wing media are having a profound effect on public opinion, serving to insulate Trump supporters,” Djupe and Burge write, the process is also “built and sustained from the bottom up. That is, political churches, among Republicans especially, reinforce the argumentation that is also coming from above.”

While most acute among white evangelical Republicans, Djupe and Burge continue, belief in the divine sanction “of the presidency is swelling across the board for the religious” of all faiths.

David Kreiss, a professor of journalism and the media at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, suggested in an email that there has been a dramatic shift in the political environment over the past 12 years:

What has changed between 2008 and 2020 on the right is the emergence of a vast extended network of digital and other media that is designed to strengthen the collective identity of the right and its constituent groups and generate internally consistent narratives and ideas about politics.

The conservative media, he continued, is

designed to create that self-referential universe. It exists to not only deflect criticism but literally to create new narratives of Trump (such as transforming his handling of the virus into a success), and to strengthen political and social divisions, undermine opponents, and provide people with identity and ideational resources to refute counter-narratives.

The 2020 election, Kreiss predicted, will be “a big test of whether empirical reality will outweigh motivated partisan reasoning.”



If the test Kreiss anticipates does determine who our next president is, and if the digital world becomes a key battleground, as it certainly will, Democrats believe Joe Biden and his campaign need to be better prepared.

Jim Messina, Barack Obama’s campaign manager, warned in an April 9 appearance on David Plouffe’s podcast, that

the numbers are pretty stark. Joe Biden has 4.6 million Twitter followers. Donald Trump has 75 million. Joe Biden has 1.7 million Facebook fans. Donald Trump has 28 million.

Messina didn’t stop there: “Biden’s first virtual online chat got 5,000 people. Just one with Lara Trump gets 945,000.”

Biden did not ease the anxieties of his fellow Democrats when, on May 7, he attempted to hold a virtual campaign event for supporters in Tampa, Fla. The Tampa Bay Times headline and accompanying story captured the Biden campaign’s digital quandary: “Joe Biden hosted a virtual campaign rally in Tampa. It didn’t go great.”

There is some evidence that as innovative and efficient as Trump’s digital operation is, he will struggle to overcome the liabilities he has acquired over the past three and a half years.



In the 2016 election, Trump won in part because the 14 percent of voters who disliked both him and Hillary Clinton chose Trump 69 percent to 15 percent.

Going into the current election, the opposite is true. The April 10 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that among the 11 percent of voters who dislike both Biden and Trump, Biden had a 60-10 advantage — despite misgivings about Biden’s cognitive health, voiced by even such liberal outlets as Vox (“He’s always been gaffe-prone, to be sure, but something about it feels worse now to a lot of Democratic voters).”

It is difficult to calculate the vulnerabilities of Trump’s digital casino strategy: the number of voters willing to abandon their critical faculties is limited, even if it’s in the tens of millions. The majority of American voters may not yet be ready to take a second step into this nether world.

Still, the Covid-19 pandemic has created an aura of chaos; a certain amount of fear is pervasive; naturally there is a hunger for safety and shelter. In this climate, does Trump’s self-referential, illusory, confected, digital-marketing universe offer a solution to those hungry, anxious, angry voters predisposed to believe in a savior like Trump? Incredible as it may seem, it is an all-too-vivid possibility.





Thomas B. Edsall has been a contributor to The Times Opinion section since 2011.

© 2020 The New York Times Company



{The price of democracy. is inordinately expensive, it has become unaffordable on principle. The fact is structurally it has become unworkable, and that structural mess has caused the freedoms by which it is supposed to operate, diverge from the social responsibility within which framework it can operate.

Social responsibility and the international corporate world simply don't jive.}



&&&&&& &&&&&& &&&&&&

Here is a bit about the outcry which arose in connection to Mr. Barr's violation of the rule of law :


Trump's Attorney General Barr Called To Resign Fo…: https://youtu.be/EuackYylnaA
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Re: Trump enters the stage - sure bet:

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 16, 2020 8:41 pm

If the vaccine arrives by this year, or, the health or economy matrix comes to favor Trump by November, then he
is a sure bet!
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Re: Trump enters the stage - sure bet:

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 16, 2020 8:41 pm

If the vaccine arrives by this year, or, the health or economy matrix comes to favor Trump by November, then he
is a sure bet!


In spite of the gains made by the application of power through propaganda ! :



This viral video of Trump supporters screaming at a reporter is a Rorschach test of America right now


And this:


Jack Shafer wrote in Politico, "but that doesn't bother Trump. His hardcore supporters are the target of the tweets, speeches, pressers and conspiracy theories. The more he does to make himself look persecuted and reviled by the 'elites' and the press, the more heroic he appears to his base.... His goal is a permanent schism in American society, a cold civil war, with lots of finger-pointing and yelling and demagoguery. Even if he loses in November, his audience will endure, and he'll do whatever he needs to make sure we never take our eyes off of him.

Trump's team has accused Obama's administration of using the intelligence community's powers to cook up what Trump says was a bogus controversy over his campaign's contacts with Russian officials. Attorney General William Barr lent support to Trump's condemnation of Obama by orchestrating what he hoped would be the dismissal of criminal charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.





(CNN)On Thursday, a local reporter named Kevin Vesey covered a rally of people on Long Island protesting the ongoing closures in New York due to the coronavirus. He recorded almost 2 minutes of video of people calling him "fake news," cursing at him and refusing to allow him to do his job. He then posted it on Twitter with these words: "The level of anger directed at the media from these protestors was alarming. As always, I will tell a fair and unbiased story today."

View this interactive content on CNN.com

Almost immediately the video became a viral sensation. (As of Saturday morning, it had been viewed more than 11 million times.) Why you watched the video -- and what you thought about it -- depends almost entirely on how you feel about President Donald Trump.

Speaking of Trump, he has now tweeted the video twice in the last 13 hours.

First, at 9:34 p.m., ET, on Friday night, he tweeted it -- adding this quote from one of the protesters: "FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL!" Then, on Saturday morning, he tweeted it again, this time with these words: "People can't get enough of this. Great people!"



For Trump -- and those who support him, the video is a testament to the fact that "real" Americans have woken up to the fact that the media isn't playing it straight. That the gig is up. And that, in this specific instance of the coronavirus, the media is somehow complicit with those who want to keep the economy closed indefinitely.

Just in case you missed that message, Trump tweeted this Saturday morning -- shortly after, again, tweeting out the Vesey video:

"I'm not running against Sleepy Joe Biden. He is not even a factor. Never was, remember 1% Joe? I'm running against the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats & their partner, the real opposition party, the Lamestream Fake News Media! They are vicious & crazy, but we will WIN!"

For me -- and I hope a lot of you -- the Vesey video (and Trump's framing of it) said something very different.

At the most basic level, Vesey was simply doing his job. He's a local TV reporter. When there's a protest -- particularly one related to the coronavirus pandemic -- he goes and covers it. That includes shooting video of the protesters as they assemble.

What he captured was people villainizing him for doing his job. Literally for documenting their decision to protest -- and for ensuring that their voices on the subject were heard. And for that he was screamed at, cursed at and condemned.

Which, to my mind, is bad enough.

What's worse is the way in which the President and his side have seized on the video as some sort of totem of their righteousness -- proof that what they've been saying all along about the media is justified.

How so? Because a reporter covered an event? And documented the ways in which people are protesting the quarantine restrictions in New York as a result of the coronavirus? That he videoed them voicing their anger? How, exactly, was Vesey being "fake news" when he was just turning on a video camera and capturing the threats and taunts these people were directing his way?

It, of course, makes no logical sense. But Trump and his supporters seem entirely unconcerned with that fact. Trump knows that stoking rage -- at the media, at Democrats, at anyone who doesn't agree with him 100% of the time -- is where his political power lies. And so, he does it. Because he can. Because he knows it works -- facts be damned.

This is the America that Trump has created -- and the one in which he hopes to win a second term. What America is that, you ask? An America where a video of a reporter being mocked and taunted for doing his job becomes fodder for Trump's war on the media. An America where the President of the United States calls those jeering at a reporter for doing his job "great people." An America where common decency is ignored in favor of rank, blind partisanship.





© 2020 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Last edited by Meno_ on Mon May 18, 2020 1:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Thought- the comedians

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 17, 2020 10:35 pm

What if the whole Trump routine is nothing but a very new revision of fiscal conservatism and little anything else?
What if, the idea of gradually opening society up to the realities, cruel as they may be, to the idea that it is preferAble to create a dynamic society comprised of energetic people who won't lapse into complacency and dependence on the econo/politics dynamis of social welfare?
How would closure for another 6 months or more effect morale, and lead to perhaps another greater depression, where the combined effects of political, economic and health concerns , would/could make things a lot worse?
How could this new formula effect the coming election?
Which side, relactively speaking would / could fare better?
Socialism in the areas of Northern Europe, including Sweden do not need to deal with the extremely complex concerns that originated with the aligned Democratic concerns of U.S. and French revolutionary politics, since in form, at least, those countries retained the monarchial rule.
The heart of Europe, so called, Hungary, adopted and coined the concept ' goulash capitalism, and people there that have gone through all the ism's from monarchy, through fascism to communism, know , that a synthesis of pronounced ideology is preferable to pretensions to a pragmatically dubious transition, for they have been jaded so many times, misappropriated of their rights, both patently implied , and blantently coerced.
Is the republicans, coming around to realize that within the various pickets of national interest, there are merely relative truths abiding those who sees grass roots expressions of relevance?

Is the Teump act merely using a near defeated old caricature in the brand of Teump, to profess their own fears of impending trouble to the pathos of the failure of the real meaning of democracy?

Should we hate Teump, feel sorry for him in very generam terms, laugh with or at him? Should we reserve judgement until the confusion of seeing , it understanding the intended place, where we could say, I get it?

CN private fortunes be allowed to snowball in excess of a trillion dollars, without applying the word plunder to such a happening? Could we?

Now more then ever, we as ordinary citizens must each, on his own , enable ourselves the opportunity to answer on our own, as if our very life depended on it.
As it does.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Republican Strategy

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 19, 2020 8:32 pm

Economy & Politics




Sen. Sherrod Brown inquires of Treasury’s Steven Mnuchin: ‘How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow Jones by a thousand points?’



Published: May 19, 2020 2:01 pm ET

‘No workers should give their lives to do that, Mr. Senator, and I think your characterization is unfair,’ the Treasury secretary responds



Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clashed Tuesday over reopening the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

‘How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow Jones by a thousand points?’

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio

That line came from Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio in a tense exchange on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over efforts to reopen the U.S. economy after lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Brown said he was hearing from experts that it was not safe to reopen the economy until there were better worker protections, including more testing, contact tracing and protective equipment. The senator said President Donald Trump has failed to lead the country on these matters.

“No workers should give their lives to do that, Mr. Senator, and I think your characterization is unfair,” Mnuchin responded. “We have provided enormous amounts of equipment. We’ve worked with the governors. We’ve done a terrific job of getting ...”

Brown then cut off Mnuchin, saying he wouldn’t let the Treasury boss “make a political speech.” Their exchange came during a virtual Senate hearing on relief programs.



Also: Coronavirus update — U.S. death toll tops 90,000

More broadly, Brown said he remains outraged that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has held the Senate in session for three weeks, requiring legislative staff, Capitol police and cafeteria and custodial workers and others to report for work, contrary to public health guidance, as he and his fellow Republicans pursue their own Senate priorities and not the needs of American families and communities.

The Kentucky Republican sees no urgency in responding to those latter exigencies brought on by the pandemic, Brown said — “those are his words: no urgency.”


Trump has said the economy has to get going again, and states continue to lift restrictions on business and personal activity imposed about two months ago to combat the spread of the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19.

In Brown’s home state of Ohio, May 4 brought a reopening for offices, warehouses, manufacturers and construction companies. Retailers and service businesses were able to open on May 12, according to MarketWatch’s report on moves by various states.








Copyright ©2020 MarketWatch, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Devolution convolution or revol

Postby Meno_ » Wed May 20, 2020 12:25 am

Democracy Dies in Darkness



Trump’s rage at a Fox News anchor contains a key



President Trump watches Fox News obsessively and constantly tweets examples of Fox News personalities extolling his glorious greatness. But every now and then, Trump explodes with rage at the network — when it departs from its mission to function as his personal 24/7 propaganda channel and lapses into momentary truth-telling.

Trump’s rage at a Fox News anchor contains a key tell













It’s Trump’s party now — and will be even after he’s gone



‘This will kill you’: Fox’s Neil Cavuto at center of Trump’s hydroxychloroquine madness




Trump says if Pompeo's 'wife isn't there' a staffer should do dis...


Enough with the QAnon and 'Liberate' tweets, Mr. Trump. Coronavirus is lethal enough.

The deluded QAnon cult chugs on as an implicit threat on Donald Trump’s behalf. And the president has rewarded its fealty with at least 131 retweets.



President Trump's top health advisers attended a White House event with protective masks, though the president himself did not wear a face covering.

USA TODAY

I have no hope that Donald Trump will ever behave like a president of all 50 United States. But I ask one simple thing from him and his son: Please stop trying to get my fellow Americans killed.

It’s impossible to keep track of all the norms Trump is petulantly stomping on as he runs for reelection amid the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. 

As the American death toll from COVID-19 has moved closer to 100,000, he has fired inspector general after inspector general, the only independent watchdogs inside the executive branch. His lawyers have argued before the Supreme Court that this president should essentially be immune from all prosecution and oversight, denying taxpayers the right to know whether he’s even a taxpayer. And @realdonaldtrump has gone into overdrive with his wild tweets and rhetoric, which he has to know could make his more unhinged supporters think he’s hoping they’ll get violent.

And some seem to be getting the message!

Trump's troubling QAnon retweets

Detroit real estate agent Robert Sinclair Tesh has been arraigned on a terrorism charge after he made what authorities determined were credible death threats against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. We can’t say for sure whether the man behind the alleged threats was a Trump fan. But he does appear to be a fan of the conspiracy theory known as QAnon, having used hashtags associated with the movement.

This arrest ties together two of the most dangerous threads of what rhetoric professor Jennifer Mercieca describes as Trump’s “argument ad baculum” in her forthcoming book, "Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump." These “appeals to the stick,” or implicit threats of force or intimidation, are “used by a demagogue to attack and overwhelm opponents,” Mercieca writes.

Trump has literally incited Michiganders to rise up against their governor with a “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” tweet that former Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord called illegal. And he has cheered on the so-called protesters who’ve garnered national attention by flooding into Michigan’s Capitol brandishing firearms, something you’d never be allowed to do at an NRA convention when Vice President Mike Pence is speaking.

But it’s the connection to the QAnon movement that’s most troubling about this arrest.

Donald Trump supporters hold up phones referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory at a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 21, 2020.


While there are always oaky traces of a death cult inside the Republican Party — “pro-lifers” fulminating for unnecessary wars and executions — the calls to sacrifice American (especially older Americans) to “the economy” have become audible as the death toll from COVID-19 has risen.

But QAnon is a literal death cult. It imagines crimes, often cannibalism and pedophilia, that would justify the arrest and even execution of the president's opponents and enemies. And it’s also a domestic terror threat, according to liberal fake news sources such as the FBI. 

What Republicans don't get: Donald Trump is our biggest obstacle to coronavirus recovery

Either violent people are attracted to this fantasy — which originally touted Trump as an  all-powerful crusader bound to take down international child sex rings and now seems more interested in spreading COVID-19 misinformation to justify Trump’s panoply of failures — or individuals who are into Q just happen to enjoy making criminal threats or killing a family member with a sword. 

Of course, the big joke of all this is that Trump is the guy who started a teen beauty pageant, and several former contestants said Trump walked in on them while they were in various states of undress. And the one big name child sex offender this administration has arrested — former Trump playmate Jeffrey Epstein — died mysteriously in the custody of Trump’s Department of Justice, an unresolved crime that stinks of a real conspiracy.

Still, the deluded QAnon cult chugs on as an implicit threat on Trump’s behalf. And the president has rewarded its fealty with at least 131 retweets. 

Tickling death cult bone of dad's fans

Anyone paying any attention knows that when Donald Trump Jr. makes a joke about former Vice President Joe Biden being a pedophile, he’s trying to tickle the death cult bone of his dad's fan base. And when Don Jr. pretends to back off by then reiterating the charge, he’s showing that he has learned his daddy’s “I’m not saying; I'm just saying” rhetorical trick of paralipsis.

Mercieca says that's what demagogues use "to circulate rumors and accusations, to ironically say two things at once, and to build a relationship with supporters.”

I get the desperation.

The Trumps' best attempt at digging up foreign dirt on Biden resulted in impeachment and the revelation that Biden was actually leading the international community’s efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine. 

They haven’t found any attack on Biden yet that tanks him the way they smeared a woman for using personal email. And older voters are telling pollsters that they may be abandoning Trump. (Maybe because they’ve heard that some Republicans think they should stop complaining about COVID-19 and start dying.)

Trump impeachment intimidation: Weaponized Twitter feed, die-hard fans who get the 'code'

This is all bound to get more intense as Trump feels the risk of losing the one job in the United States that prevents him from being indicted. The question is how many people the Trumps are willing to take down with them.

The president’s steaming rhetoric may have influenced his superfan Cesar Sayoc, who was convicted of mailing bombs to 13 Trump opponents — including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The only thing that saved us from this Trump fan carrying out one of the worst terror attacks in American history was his incompetence. 

But as Trump’s election proved, competence isn’t necessary for success.

So please, Mr. President, stop trying to get us killed. COVID-19 is bad enough on its own.

© Copyright Gannett 2020



>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>

2020 ELECTION

Trump's trip to the Hill was all about campaign, not coronavirus

At a lunch with Republican senators, Trump focused on poll numbers, Joe Biden and telling senators they need to toughen up or they’ll lose in November



President Trump went to Capitol Hill Tuesday with the campaign on his mind, not coronavirus.

In a nearly hour long lunch with Republican senators, the president focused on poll numbers, Joe Biden, and telling senators they need to toughen up or they’ll lose in November, according to multiple senators leaving the lunch.

“He just said be tough, don’t get rolled over by them,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said.

“He was encouraging all of us to get in the fight and not get pushed around,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The president’s latest campaign strategy involves pushing investigations into the Obama administration’s treatment of Michael Flynn, which Trump refers to as “Obamagate.” It’s an attempt to undermine the foundations of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and possible collusion with the Trump team.

It comes as the president is less than six months away from facing Biden in the general election — and with the Senate now in play, there is a very real possibility that Democrats could control all the elected levers of power in Washington for the first time since Republicans won back the House in 2010.

“I think the president thinks that on certain issues we act like a bunch of weenies, and I agree with him,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.

Pressed to explain on which issues the president believed senators were “weenies,” Kennedy said: “On getting serious about finding out what happened with respect to Flynn and Carter Page. … You guys know what I’m talking about.”

Kennedy was referring to Flynn, Trump's former national security who the Justice Department wants to drop harges of lying to the FBI of which he was convicted of, and Page, a Trump campaign adviser who the FBI conducted surveillance on in its investigation of whether the campaign was colluding with Russia.

A senior administration official put it this way: “Trump’s message to Republicans was that they will be successful if they stick together and are tough” — while a Republican Capitol Hill aide familiar with the remarks said the message “was 'We’re doing a great job on Corona and Pelosi is mean.’”

Trump's focus on questioning Democrats' campaign tactics comes as the country is still in the throes of the coronavirus crisis. While the president touched briefly on testing and vaccines, there was no mention of state and local aid that desperate states are waiting for, according to multiple sources.

There were brief discussions of future aid bills but it wasn’t the focus of the conversations, senators said.


© 2020 NBC UNIVERSAL

President calls negative hydroxychloroquine study ‘a Trump enemy statement’ – live

Trump falsely claims hydroxychloroquine ‘doesn’t harm you’

Vice-president says he is not taking anti-malaria drug

Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine despite FDA warnings

Strikes erupt as US essential workers demand protection amid pandemic











“Trump’s latest order makes about as much sense as drinking bleach,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “He’s using the pandemic to slash life-saving protections for our air, water, and wildlife when these safeguards have never been more important. It’s astounding that Trump is so out of touch with the majority of people who understand that there can’t be economic recovery on a dying planet.”



Trump signs executive order to hasten rollback of regulations

Trump has signed an executive order encouraging agencies to cut regulations in the name of economic recovery.

“Agencies must continue to remove barriers to the greatest engine of economic prosperity the world has ever known: the innovation, initiative, and drive of the American people,” the order states.

President Trump signs Executive Order giving Cabinet members authority to cut regulations.

A new study suggests a connection between crowded polling places and the spread of Covid-19 in Wisconsin during the state’s April 7 election.

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

The study finds a “statistically and economically significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election.” By studying state election and Covid-19 data, researchers concluded that consolidating polling places and decreasing the number of absentee ballots led to an increase in positive Covid-19 tests weeks after the election. The research by economists at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, University of

Wisconsin-Madison and Ball State University was published as a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.“Our results indicate that Wisconsin counties with higher levels of in-person voting per polling location led to increases in the weekly positive rate of COVID-19 tests,” they wrote.

Furthermore, counties with higher absentee voting participation had lower rates of detecting COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election.”State and local officials scrambled in the weeks ahead of the election to prepare amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In Milwaukee, election officials were forced to close 175 of 180 polling places, but other places, such as the city of Madison, were able to keep 66 of 99 polling places open.

State health officials said that 52 people who tested positive for Covid-19 participated in in-person voting, but have cautioned they don’t know if people contracted the virus at the polls.

Here’s some more on that VA study that the president has described as “a Trump enemy statement”:

The study by VA and academic researchers reviewed the cases of 368 male patients treated at government hospitals — 97 treated with hydroxychloroquine, 113 with hydroxychloroquine, and the antibiotic azithromycin, and 158 without any hydroxychloroquine.

The study found that those who were treated with the antimalarial drug had a higher risk of death. But the research comes with several big caveats.

Most significantly, the study is retrospective. Rather than randomly assigning some patients to be treated with hydroxychloroquine and others without, researchers looked back on how patients who had and had not taken the drug fared. It’s unclear why doctors gave some patients the drug and not others, and it’s possible that physicians treated the most severe cases with hydroxychloroquine, which could at least partly explain why those patients fared worse.

The research was published as a pre-print — it has not yet gone through a rigorous process of peer review.

But there is absolutely no evidence that the researchers behind the study were biased, against the administration or against the use of the drug.


In response to growing criticism, the VA said last week that while it wouldn’t halt the use of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment, it would offer the unproven drug to fewer patients



----- ----- ----- ----- -----

And now this:




A number of commentators noted that several Republican-led states, including West Virginia, Georgia and Nebraska, have also pushed to expand vote by mail, yet Trump has not threatened to withhold funding from them.

A former senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign suggested the president would be much better served by developing effective strategies for vote by mail, which is supported by most Americans.

A Gallup poll released last week showed 64% of Americans, including 40% of Republicans, support allowing all voters to vote by mail or absentee ballot.

The issue will likely become increasingly important as the November general election approaches, considering many public health experts are expecting a second wave of coronavirus cases later this year.





Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a member of the progressive group known as “the Squad,” mocked Trump for incorrectly saying her state was sending absentee ballots to all registered voters.

Tlaib applauded her state for promoting democracy “without jeopardizing people’s health” and accused Trump of “endangering people’s lives” through his handling of the coronavirus crisis.





The president is visiting a Ford Motors plant in Michigan today, and he will almost certainly be asked about his (likely unconstitutional) threat to withhold funding funding from Michigan over the state’s vote by mail policy.





A number of legal experts pointed out in reaction to Trump’s tweets about Michigan and Nevada that withholding federal funding from states over opposition to a specific policy would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

From a former federal prosecutor:











From a University of Alabama law professor:

States run their own elections. Congress voted the funds to support voting in Covid relief bills. Trump, who has already publicly conceded Republicans can’t win if too many people vote, seems to think his power is limitless & includes controlling elections. https://t.co/uoncNjBHpt





Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson corrected Trump’s tweet about her state’s vote by mail policies, noting her office only sent ballot applications (not actual ballots) to registered voters.

Hi! I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. https://t.co/kBsu4nHvOy



Benson said yesterday that the move would ensure that “no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”

“We know from the elections that took place this month that during the pandemic Michiganders want to safely vote,” Benson said.

It will be interesting to see how Nevada’s secretary of state reacts to Trump’s threat, considering she is a Republican.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - basic narcissistic angst

Postby Meno_ » Wed May 20, 2020 10:04 pm

Just to take a break between the revolutionary and reactive substance of these convoluted times, I bring up a factual narrative to a lesson that should be learned on the repetitious signs that are prevalent .

Those who can not learn from the leaaons of history, are condemned to to repeat them , says Santayana.

The parallels between the time of the -'phony' war and now, (the period between Chamberlain and the outbreak of hostilities prior to the second world war.)
The economic downturn nearing the indexes leading to indications approaching levels near those of the Great Depression, low levels of cooperation between the nations of the world, huge compensatory efforts
to save Capital, indicating very grave concerns about the viability of funding
not only the measurable indexes of Interest, (both literally and figuratively)

The almost certain mechanics of predictable defenses, that will recur, if
the usual expectations are not met.

Literally, the Federal Reserve support of the economy is blatant on even an interest plunging beneath 0.
Such would indicate more then merely keep the value of purchasing power in line with the diminished returns of a highly overpriced market.

The market has reached maximum tolerance to the automated mechanics by which values can be adjusted , in fact , the inverse is happening as noted reactions to social tolerance appears to exhibit.

At the stage of limits, the predictable is happening - the deflationary appearance of the functional derivitive
displayed by standard models, are held in bay increasingly through systematic search for weaknesses that are out of the bounds of the inherent structural efficacy.

That Chinese are really responsible for the virus, is an example of this. Not to even mention that the conspiratorial voices raised are beginning to ring to the familiar pattern of using this pre/provocative form of reifying the familiar defense.

Things really are at some sort of a breaking point, and the ideological measure has brought about, preemptively the need for the inversive effects of what has become recognized as neo-fascist sub-strata.

Social distancing , echoes the social psychological dissociation between the devolved inversive reduction into the confound regions of society.

The convolusive weight of a countered paradigmn can be linked with the present administration's lack of a viable platform in the early days of the 2016 campaign.

Such lack is inversely proportional to the ideological vacuum that the collapse of the Soviet Union manifested.

Hopefully such dire parallels can alleviate the next logical step mirroring the 'phony war' of yesteyear.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - political drain of swamp vampir

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 21, 2020 6:53 pm

{Vampires are narcissists, who presume on their victims by elevating their own stature by inflating differences rather then deflating them.

Such contra-figurative dynamic, of pseudo constitutive behavior, then, is rationalized as a demand on the structural complexity - too difficult without a simplified version of a material dialectical phenomenon.
The last refuge of though sinks to the primal synthesis of conscious manifestation : the pseudo Kantianism which can successfully unite with pure, ideal dialectics.

But is this not wishful thinking at best? Is it not a repetition of the trickle down of conscious reality as a modified version of Reagan's more literal distributive attempts of sharing ?

But times have changed, and factions grew increasingly bellicose on account of repressive attempts to control monetary inflation, as a way to distract from the actual inflation of minds and hearts.
Here are two antithetical opinions relating to the current state of opinions, and how extremely contradictory the appear in print} :



POLITICO



ALTITUDE

Once Again, Democrats Are Caught in the Trump Trap

Obama explains why his successor is bad. That reminds Trump supporters why they think he's good.






Former President Barack Obama since leaving office rarely wades into debates about his successor, but President Donald Trump’s performance during the pandemic compelled him to raise his voice.

He was sharp by his standards, though hardly by Trump’s, in a rapidly leaked conference call with former employees in which he credited the incumbent with “an absolute chaotic disaster.” He was a bit more understated in a video commencement address in which he didn’t mention Trump by name but said selfish and shortsighted values are “why things are so screwed up.” Trump responded with customary overstatement, alleging a murky “Obamagate” conspiracy and saying his predecessor was “grossly incompetent.”



And so in highlighting what he sees as Trump’s obvious failures, Obama also illuminated a less obvious Trump success: The incumbent president has managed to make American politics the first arena of national life to return to something recognizable as normal.

Campuses are still closed, and may yet be for months to come. Most people still don’t feel it’s safe to visit aging relatives. Baseball has yet to have opening day.

But political culture has returned to something close to its pre-pandemic state. People are filled with resentment and malice toward their fellow citizens. They are arguing over eccentric or ephemeral controversies. They are sanctimoniously and often hypocritically denouncing the sanctimoniousness and hypocrisy of their opponents. Above all, many influential voices across the ideological spectrum are united in the assumption that the most important subjectconstant and all-consuming—to be thinking and talking about is Trump.

Here is the essence of the Trump Trap. For critics, not speaking out against his provocations could be reasonably interpreted as complicity or cowardice. Speaking out, however, gives those provocations the centrality upon which the Trump movement depends. It’s an old phenomenon. What’s new is the pandemic, which looked for a while like it might make Trump’s brand of politics obsolete. Instead, it has proven the adaptability and durability of Trumpism. His immediate predecessor, like many other Democrats and much of the media, has ratified the achievement.









At first glance, this looks like two powerful political leaders with large followings expressing their disdain for each other on more or less equal terms. But the nature of Obama’s command of the loyalty and affection of his supporters is far different than the nature of Trump’s command of his supporters. This difference is critical to the most important question of 2020 politics: Can Trump survive the pandemic and the astounding disruption it has caused in the economy and the routines of everyday life?

Most people who admire Obama, it’s clear, do so in absolute terms. To these people, his character and style represent virtues that approximate the ideal of how they might wish all presidents at all times should act. He’s progressive, even if not quite as much as some admirers want. He values rationality and restraint, a bit more so than many partisans would wish—an elegant and inspirational figure in an inelegant and cynical age. These virtues, by these lights, do not depend primarily on context—on who his opponents are, or what external circumstances he is facing.

Most people who admire Trump, in my conversations, do so in a relative way. Context is everything. Yes, they say, Trump is coarse and combative, often outrageous, with a wandering attention span. No, this does not represent their ideal of how a president should act. But these aren’t ideal times—they are infused with double standards and cynicism—and this makes Trump a great leader for these particular times. He calls out institutions (political parties, Congress, the media) who his partisans don’t believe deserve their respect or influence. He gratuitously offends liberal pieties. He is not boring, and he’s not afraid.



It's often said that Trump’s brand of politics requires him to identify enemies—people want to see who he’s against. What’s overlooked is Trump’s brand of politics requires other people to identify him as the enemy. There’s never a shortage of volunteers, and none more prestigious than a former Democratic president widely respected by his party. Democrats were pleased to hear Obama’s words of condemnation. But Trump was even more pleased. No one could doubt that Obama sincerely believed his comparatively mild rebuke of Trump. No one really doubts that whether Trump believes his broadsides against Obama is secondary to his true objective of drawing lines and creating the kind of chaos in which he has previously thrived.

The rejoinder to all this is obvious: Who cares? What relevance do Trump’s grievances and posturing and conspiracy theories have in the middle of a pandemic? Surely there is only one question that matters: Is Trump doing a good job responding to the crisis?

But that question immediately leads to the next: Good job, according to who?

Trump knows that the likelihood that a sufficient number of people will say he’s doing at least an acceptable job during the pandemic increases the more that certain types of people say he’s a terrible person doing a terrible job.

Democrats believe the pandemic and Trump’s belated and erratic response to it will be his undoing. There is polling to bolster this hope. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday showed Joe Biden leading Trump by 50 percent to 39 percent in a head-to-head matchup—an 11-point national lead that, if it held, likely would put several battleground states out of reach for Trump.

But weighing against hope is experience. Democrats have yet to be validated, not after the Billy Bush tape in 2016, not after the Ukraine revelations of 2019, that there is a “this time he’s gone too far” moment that will cause Trump backers to mournfully turn their support away from him.

So far, there is no evidence that a galvanizing rhetorical moment—such as Joseph Welch in 1954 challenging Joe McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”—will derail Trump. There is plenty of evidence, on the other hand, that being told Trump is bad causes some people to think he is good.

Even so, the eternal belief in some precincts is that American politics will finally pivot when just the right person finds just the right words to pierce the Trump Movement.



Obama surely understands the Trump Trap. Likely he also believes that at some point political leaders risk losing their moral authority and claim on public attention if they don’t say what they think. Nancy Pelosi also understands the Trump Trap. Democrats won the 2018 elections by stressing new reforms for health care over denunciations of Trump. But she also knows the trap is hard to resist, as when she explained this week that she called Trump morbidly obese because she wanted to give him “a dose of his own medicine.” Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday mocked Trump as “President Tweety,” but generally has resisted trying to match his much more theatrical opponent insult for insult.

Most partisans don’t have or aspire to that restraint, and accept a role as essential supporting actors in his show.

The latest example is this week’s uproar over Trump supposedly taking hydroxychloroquine, medically unsupported for use as treatment or prophylaxis against Covid-19. If Trump really is taking the stuff, which some critics doubt, one can see why that might be a bad idea from his perspective. Logically, however, it’s not clear why people who dislike Trump should be outraged. “Oh, no, he might get sick and we need his leadership.” I haven’t heard anyone sincerely say that. “I’m mad because when I first heard him prattling on about the stuff I really got my hopes up but it turns out he didn’t know what he was talking about.” I don’t think there are very many such people. Probably there are some people who genuinely are worried on behalf of Trump supporters. “I’ve got friends and relatives who I like even though we disagree about politics and I could imagine some of them actually following Trump’s lead.”

But let’s be honest: People outraged by Trump and hydroxychloroquine are mostly offended on their own behalf, not other people’s. He utterly shocks their sensibilities about how a president is supposed to act, with caution and deference to the counsel of experts. Which is precisely the reason Trump takes, or claims to take, the drug.

In just the past several days, Trump has suggested that Biden is suffering from senility, lashed out at governors who he says aren’t opening up their states fast enough, and called MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough “Psycho Joe” and implied that the former member of Congress may be connected to a “cold case” 20 years ago involving the death of a woman who worked in his office, even though the medical examiner said this isn’t a “cold case” at all but was long ago ruled an accident.

The barrage of allegations does not reflect a president confident about his political standing. But it doesn’t necessarily reflect a president who has lost self-control and has no idea what he’s doing. He’s trying to get American politics back to normal, as he understands the word. At least in some narrow ways he knows it’s working.



 

 


 


Warren pivots on 'Medicare for All' in bid to become Biden's VP


© 2020 POLITICO LLC




OPINION

Trump didn't drain the swamp. Now Biden may drown him in it.

Money that should be going to needy Americans is going to Trump's friends and cronies. If anything, the swamp is bigger than ever.

KURT BARDELLA | OPINION COLUMNIST | 10 hours ago



Whatever happened to “drain the swamp” — one of the original promises from then-candidate Donald J. Trump? At the time, it was a powerful rhetorical refrain that harnessed a widespread sentiment that Washington had sold out the American people in favor of special interest influence. It was an effective rallying cry that created a tangible contrast between the outsider insurgency that was Donald Trump juxtaposed with the ultimate insider that was Hillary Clinton. And yet four years later, Trump has become the swampiest of swamp creatures, giving the Joe Biden campaign a very real opening to do to Trump what Trump did to Clinton.

If you’re among the 36.5 million Americans who have filed for unemployment insurance since mid-March, you might be asking yourself, “What happened to all of that money Congress passed to shore up the economy and keep small businesses afloat?” The answer: Too often, it went to donors, supporters, allies and former aides of President Donald J. Trump, aka The Swamp.

The friends of Trump that hit the jackpot 

Clay Lacy Aviation, a private jet company founded by a Trump campaign and Republican National Committee donor, received $27 million in government funding through the $2 trillion coronavirus package known as the CARES Act.

Phunware, a data firm that is doing work for the Trump re-election campaign, received $2.85 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — the average loan distributed through this program is $206,000.





CloudCommerce, a company whose largest shareholder is Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, received nearly a million dollars through the PPP.

Ronald Gidwitz is the president’s ambassador to Belgium and was the Trump campaign finance chair for Illinois. Gidwitz’s family is the largest shareholder in a company called Continental Materials Corp. They were approved for a $5.5 million PPP loan.

It is worth noting that Congress gave a much-needed "booster shot" to unemployment benefits by allowing some to receive an additional $600 a week, however, the influx of unemployment claims has created a massive backlog, delaying support from reaching millions of Americans. On top of that, emergency relief dollars intended to support small businesses are instead going to publicly traded companies with more than 500 workers. All the while, dozens of lobbyists with direct ties to the Trump administration and Trump campaign are cashing in, receiving tens of thousands of dollars from private companies to leverage their relationships and access to deliver a piece of those taxpayer dollars.

Flynn is the test case: Will Trump and Barr force justice system to aid and abet corruption?

You might remember that in April, Trump removed the inspector general who had been tasked with conducting oversight of the $2 trillion CARES Act relief package. That IG was replaced with White House lawyer Brian Miller, whose nomination was advanced last week by the Republican-controlled Senate Banking Committee. Trump clearly wants a loyalist in this position who will look the other way while taxpayer-funded handouts are delivered to his allies.

Republicans said they cared about corruption when Obama was president

In 2010, my former boss Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), was the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Appearing on The Rush Limbaugh Show, Issa declared that President Barack Obama was “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” A month later, Issa added context to his remarks on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer saying, “When you hand a president nearly a trillion dollars in walking around money, he uses it for political paybacks, that’s corrupt.”

Donald Trump’s bank-heist in broad daylight of coronavirus funding is the manifestation of everything working-class Americans believe is corrupt about Washington. The idea that the elite and privileged get a life boat, while the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves. That access to support and relief is bought and paid for with political contributions, while millions of Americans are being laid off and furloughed. That pay-for-play is the only currency that Donald Trump accepts, and the rest of us are dispensable and disposable.

110 bipartisan leaders: Congress needs to reform itself in wake of coronavirus

It’s a campaign narrative that practically writes itself and can put Biden on the right side of the middle/working class voters that Trump and the Republicans are taking for granted with their flagrant corruption. Donald Trump may have won the presidency on the promise to “drain the swamp.” Joe Biden should end it by drowning him in it.


© Copyright Gannett 2020



: Analyst: New poll shows Biden way ahead with key deciding group of voters
Meno_
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 6400
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

Re: Trump enters the stage - Devolution convolution or revol

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 21, 2020 10:39 pm

Meno_ wrote:Democracy Dies in Darkness



Trump’s rage at a Fox News anchor contains a key



President Trump watches Fox News obsessively and constantly tweets examples of Fox News personalities extolling his glorious greatness. But every now and then, Trump explodes with rage at the network — when it departs from its mission to function as his personal 24/7 propaganda channel and lapses into momentary truth-telling.

Trump’s rage at a Fox News anchor contains a key tell













It’s Trump’s party now — and will be even after he’s gone



‘This will kill you’: Fox’s Neil Cavuto at center of Trump’s hydroxychloroquine madness




Trump says if Pompeo's 'wife isn't there' a staffer should do dis...


Enough with the QAnon and 'Liberate' tweets, Mr. Trump. Coronavirus is lethal enough.

The deluded QAnon cult chugs on as an implicit threat on Donald Trump’s behalf. And the president has rewarded its fealty with at least 131 retweets.



President Trump's top health advisers attended a White House event with protective masks, though the president himself did not wear a face covering.

USA TODAY

I have no hope that Donald Trump will ever behave like a president of all 50 United States. But I ask one simple thing from him and his son: Please stop trying to get my fellow Americans killed.

It’s impossible to keep track of all the norms Trump is petulantly stomping on as he runs for reelection amid the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. 

As the American death toll from COVID-19 has moved closer to 100,000, he has fired inspector general after inspector general, the only independent watchdogs inside the executive branch. His lawyers have argued before the Supreme Court that this president should essentially be immune from all prosecution and oversight, denying taxpayers the right to know whether he’s even a taxpayer. And @realdonaldtrump has gone into overdrive with his wild tweets and rhetoric, which he has to know could make his more unhinged supporters think he’s hoping they’ll get violent.

And some seem to be getting the message!

Trump's troubling QAnon retweets

Detroit real estate agent Robert Sinclair Tesh has been arraigned on a terrorism charge after he made what authorities determined were credible death threats against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. We can’t say for sure whether the man behind the alleged threats was a Trump fan. But he does appear to be a fan of the conspiracy theory known as QAnon, having used hashtags associated with the movement.

This arrest ties together two of the most dangerous threads of what rhetoric professor Jennifer Mercieca describes as Trump’s “argument ad baculum” in her forthcoming book, "Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump." These “appeals to the stick,” or implicit threats of force or intimidation, are “used by a demagogue to attack and overwhelm opponents,” Mercieca writes.

Trump has literally incited Michiganders to rise up against their governor with a “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” tweet that former Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord called illegal. And he has cheered on the so-called protesters who’ve garnered national attention by flooding into Michigan’s Capitol brandishing firearms, something you’d never be allowed to do at an NRA convention when Vice President Mike Pence is speaking.

But it’s the connection to the QAnon movement that’s most troubling about this arrest.

Donald Trump supporters hold up phones referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory at a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 21, 2020.


While there are always oaky traces of a death cult inside the Republican Party — “pro-lifers” fulminating for unnecessary wars and executions — the calls to sacrifice American (especially older Americans) to “the economy” have become audible as the death toll from COVID-19 has risen.

But QAnon is a literal death cult. It imagines crimes, often cannibalism and pedophilia, that would justify the arrest and even execution of the president's opponents and enemies. And it’s also a domestic terror threat, according to liberal fake news sources such as the FBI. 

What Republicans don't get: Donald Trump is our biggest obstacle to coronavirus recovery

Either violent people are attracted to this fantasy — which originally touted Trump as an  all-powerful crusader bound to take down international child sex rings and now seems more interested in spreading COVID-19 misinformation to justify Trump’s panoply of failures — or individuals who are into Q just happen to enjoy making criminal threats or killing a family member with a sword. 

Of course, the big joke of all this is that Trump is the guy who started a teen beauty pageant, and several former contestants said Trump walked in on them while they were in various states of undress. And the one big name child sex offender this administration has arrested — former Trump playmate Jeffrey Epstein — died mysteriously in the custody of Trump’s Department of Justice, an unresolved crime that stinks of a real conspiracy.

Still, the deluded QAnon cult chugs on as an implicit threat on Trump’s behalf. And the president has rewarded its fealty with at least 131 retweets. 

Tickling death cult bone of dad's fans

Anyone paying any attention knows that when Donald Trump Jr. makes a joke about former Vice President Joe Biden being a pedophile, he’s trying to tickle the death cult bone of his dad's fan base. And when Don Jr. pretends to back off by then reiterating the charge, he’s showing that he has learned his daddy’s “I’m not saying; I'm just saying” rhetorical trick of paralipsis.

Mercieca says that's what demagogues use "to circulate rumors and accusations, to ironically say two things at once, and to build a relationship with supporters.”

I get the desperation.

The Trumps' best attempt at digging up foreign dirt on Biden resulted in impeachment and the revelation that Biden was actually leading the international community’s efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine. 

They haven’t found any attack on Biden yet that tanks him the way they smeared a woman for using personal email. And older voters are telling pollsters that they may be abandoning Trump. (Maybe because they’ve heard that some Republicans think they should stop complaining about COVID-19 and start dying.)

Trump impeachment intimidation: Weaponized Twitter feed, die-hard fans who get the 'code'

This is all bound to get more intense as Trump feels the risk of losing the one job in the United States that prevents him from being indicted. The question is how many people the Trumps are willing to take down with them.

The president’s steaming rhetoric may have influenced his superfan Cesar Sayoc, who was convicted of mailing bombs to 13 Trump opponents — including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The only thing that saved us from this Trump fan carrying out one of the worst terror attacks in American history was his incompetence. 

But as Trump’s election proved, competence isn’t necessary for success.

So please, Mr. President, stop trying to get us killed. COVID-19 is bad enough on its own.

© Copyright Gannett 2020



>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>

2020 ELECTION

Trump's trip to the Hill was all about campaign, not coronavirus

At a lunch with Republican senators, Trump focused on poll numbers, Joe Biden and telling senators they need to toughen up or they’ll lose in November



President Trump went to Capitol Hill Tuesday with the campaign on his mind, not coronavirus.

In a nearly hour long lunch with Republican senators, the president focused on poll numbers, Joe Biden, and telling senators they need to toughen up or they’ll lose in November, according to multiple senators leaving the lunch.

“He just said be tough, don’t get rolled over by them,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said.

“He was encouraging all of us to get in the fight and not get pushed around,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The president’s latest campaign strategy involves pushing investigations into the Obama administration’s treatment of Michael Flynn, which Trump refers to as “Obamagate.” It’s an attempt to undermine the foundations of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and possible collusion with the Trump team.

It comes as the president is less than six months away from facing Biden in the general election — and with the Senate now in play, there is a very real possibility that Democrats could control all the elected levers of power in Washington for the first time since Republicans won back the House in 2010.

“I think the president thinks that on certain issues we act like a bunch of weenies, and I agree with him,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.

Pressed to explain on which issues the president believed senators were “weenies,” Kennedy said: “On getting serious about finding out what happened with respect to Flynn and Carter Page. … You guys know what I’m talking about.”

Kennedy was referring to Flynn, Trump's former national security who the Justice Department wants to drop harges of lying to the FBI of which he was convicted of, and Page, a Trump campaign adviser who the FBI conducted surveillance on in its investigation of whether the campaign was colluding with Russia.

A senior administration official put it this way: “Trump’s message to Republicans was that they will be successful if they stick together and are tough” — while a Republican Capitol Hill aide familiar with the remarks said the message “was 'We’re doing a great job on Corona and Pelosi is mean.’”

Trump's focus on questioning Democrats' campaign tactics comes as the country is still in the throes of the coronavirus crisis. While the president touched briefly on testing and vaccines, there was no mention of state and local aid that desperate states are waiting for, according to multiple sources.

There were brief discussions of future aid bills but it wasn’t the focus of the conversations, senators said.


© 2020 NBC UNIVERSAL

President calls negative hydroxychloroquine study ‘a Trump enemy statement’ – live

Trump falsely claims hydroxychloroquine ‘doesn’t harm you’

Vice-president says he is not taking anti-malaria drug

Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine despite FDA warnings

Strikes erupt as US essential workers demand protection amid pandemic











“Trump’s latest order makes about as much sense as drinking bleach,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “He’s using the pandemic to slash life-saving protections for our air, water, and wildlife when these safeguards have never been more important. It’s astounding that Trump is so out of touch with the majority of people who understand that there can’t be economic recovery on a dying planet.”



Trump signs executive order to hasten rollback of regulations

Trump has signed an executive order encouraging agencies to cut regulations in the name of economic recovery.

“Agencies must continue to remove barriers to the greatest engine of economic prosperity the world has ever known: the innovation, initiative, and drive of the American people,” the order states.

President Trump signs Executive Order giving Cabinet members authority to cut regulations.

A new study suggests a connection between crowded polling places and the spread of Covid-19 in Wisconsin during the state’s April 7 election.

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

The study finds a “statistically and economically significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election.” By studying state election and Covid-19 data, researchers concluded that consolidating polling places and decreasing the number of absentee ballots led to an increase in positive Covid-19 tests weeks after the election. The research by economists at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, University of

Wisconsin-Madison and Ball State University was published as a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.“Our results indicate that Wisconsin counties with higher levels of in-person voting per polling location led to increases in the weekly positive rate of COVID-19 tests,” they wrote.

Furthermore, counties with higher absentee voting participation had lower rates of detecting COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election.”State and local officials scrambled in the weeks ahead of the election to prepare amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In Milwaukee, election officials were forced to close 175 of 180 polling places, but other places, such as the city of Madison, were able to keep 66 of 99 polling places open.

State health officials said that 52 people who tested positive for Covid-19 participated in in-person voting, but have cautioned they don’t know if people contracted the virus at the polls.

Here’s some more on that VA study that the president has described as “a Trump enemy statement”:

The study by VA and academic researchers reviewed the cases of 368 male patients treated at government hospitals — 97 treated with hydroxychloroquine, 113 with hydroxychloroquine, and the antibiotic azithromycin, and 158 without any hydroxychloroquine.

The study found that those who were treated with the antimalarial drug had a higher risk of death. But the research comes with several big caveats.

Most significantly, the study is retrospective. Rather than randomly assigning some patients to be treated with hydroxychloroquine and others without, researchers looked back on how patients who had and had not taken the drug fared. It’s unclear why doctors gave some patients the drug and not others, and it’s possible that physicians treated the most severe cases with hydroxychloroquine, which could at least partly explain why those patients fared worse.

The research was published as a pre-print — it has not yet gone through a rigorous process of peer review.

But there is absolutely no evidence that the researchers behind the study were biased, against the administration or against the use of the drug.


In response to growing criticism, the VA said last week that while it wouldn’t halt the use of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment, it would offer the unproven drug to fewer patients



----- ----- ----- ----- -----

And now this:




A number of commentators noted that several Republican-led states, including West Virginia, Georgia and Nebraska, have also pushed to expand vote by mail, yet Trump has not threatened to withhold funding from them.

A former senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign suggested the president would be much better served by developing effective strategies for vote by mail, which is supported by most Americans.

A Gallup poll released last week showed 64% of Americans, including 40% of Republicans, support allowing all voters to vote by mail or absentee ballot.

The issue will likely become increasingly important as the November general election approaches, considering many public health experts are expecting a second wave of coronavirus cases later this year.





Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a member of the progressive group known as “the Squad,” mocked Trump for incorrectly saying her state was sending absentee ballots to all registered voters.

Tlaib applauded her state for promoting democracy “without jeopardizing people’s health” and accused Trump of “endangering people’s lives” through his handling of the coronavirus crisis.





The president is visiting a Ford Motors plant in Michigan today, and he will almost certainly be asked about his (likely unconstitutional) threat to withhold funding funding from Michigan over the state’s vote by mail policy.





A number of legal experts pointed out in reaction to Trump’s tweets about Michigan and Nevada that withholding federal funding from states over opposition to a specific policy would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

From a former federal prosecutor:











From a University of Alabama law professor:

States run their own elections. Congress voted the funds to support voting in Covid relief bills. Trump, who has already publicly conceded Republicans can’t win if too many people vote, seems to think his power is limitless & includes controlling elections. https://t.co/uoncNjBHpt





Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson corrected Trump’s tweet about her state’s vote by mail policies, noting her office only sent ballot applications (not actual ballots) to registered voters.

Hi! I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. https://t.co/kBsu4nHvOy



Benson said yesterday that the move would ensure that “no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”

“We know from the elections that took place this month that during the pandemic Michiganders want to safely vote,” Benson said.

It will be interesting to see how Nevada’s secretary of state reacts to Trump’s threat, considering she is a Republican.



{An interesting take: a while ago I posted that a capital accumulation of 1 trillion will not happen, and here is where it has come up again :}


"In the Midst of Covid-19, Elites Have Begun to Prepare For the Uprising.

Maybe it’s time we do, too.



Lauren Martinchek







In the wake of a global pandemic that has left ninety thousand people dead and brought tens of millions of people to their knees financially here in the United States, it should go without saying that in the richest nation on earth, the citizens should be able to look to the government for some relief during these unprecedented and traumatic times.

One need only look at the HEROES Act that recently passed the Democratic Majority House of Representatives for the latest example of how our government has failed to take wellbeing of the American people in to consideration. No paycheck guarantee act, no recurring $2000 checks for the duration of the crisis, no automatic stabilizers, and no improvements to ensure people get the relief they need more quickly and efficiently.

With a record 30 million people filing for unemployment over the past couple of months and losing health insurance along with their jobs, at a time when 78 percent of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before this crisis even began, desperation is growing with each passing day. Government inaction makes it increasingly clear that we will be starved in to submission. The people who have made this the richest, most profitable country on the planet will be sent back to work, risking not only our lives and health but that of our family and friends as well while the government hands the taxpayer money that our labor generated to big banks and corporations. At the same time that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is reportedly projected to become the world’s first trillionaire, his company has cut the measly two dollar an hour hazard pay for his workers.

The American government and the elites who they work for are playing with fire, so no wonder they’ve begun to prepare for the uprising that’s coming.

Lee Fang at The Intercept writes:

“The Federal government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show.

The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”

The Veterans Affairs department, which manages nearly 1,500 health care care facilities around the country, has also extended special contracts for coronavirus-related security services.While the pandemic has coincided with a historic drop in violent crime across the country, analysts have expressed concern that the rapid spread of the virus will fuel confrontations.

There have been multiple inmate riots in response to Covid-19 outbreaks in prisons and jails, which have become dangerous hotspots for the disease. The economic upheaval and disagreements over coronavirus-related policy have also fueled demonstrations across the country.

…The federal funding requests contrast sharply with the rosy rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who has lavished himself with praise for his response to the crisis and issued optimistic predictions that recovery is around the corner. Last month, the federal government secured a contract to purchase 100,000 body bags to dispose of deaths related to the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Every step along the way as this crisis has unfolded, the American people have been treated as nothing more than collateral damage. Whether it be the Trump administration turning down an offer for millions of masks back in January, Nancy Pelosi seeking to bail out health insurance companies after the bundled “donations” to the democratic party from their lobbyists, or Mitch McConnell saying he has not yet felt the “sense of urgency” for a new stimulus bill as countless people miss another rent or mortgage payment, at this point it’s certainly fair to say that our government’s actions or lack thereof have been nothing less than criminal.

If the elites are beginning to prepare for what they clearly know is coming in response to how this crisis has been handled, then perhaps it’s time for us to get ready as well.

For far too long, as a society we have been conditioned to shrug our shoulders and accept that there’s really nothing we can do. For far too long, we have bene conditioned to forget that when a government fails its citizens — as the declaration of independence stated — it is our right, it is our duty to throw off such government. With each passing day, it becomes more and more apparent that we may have no other choice but to do just that. As surreal as it feels to consider, I’m not sure we are in a political or economic situation we’ll ever be able to vote ourselves out of, especially knowing that the government is already preparing to defend it. For months I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that the powers that be have been daring the American people to bring on the pitchforks and guillotines.

With each escalation of the class warfare being waged against the American people, it’s as fascinating as it is frightening to think of what they so clearly see coming right around the corner"

Lauren Martinchek




>>>>> >>>>>




Ouster of watchdog designed to protect Pompeo

OPINION

Trump's latest ethical violation: Firing the State Department's inspector general

Again and again, President Trump violates moral and ethical norms with corrupt decisions. This is only the latest example.



In March 2017, I was speaking to a group of government officials from Latin America about government anti-corruption tools. I have conducted dozens of these sessions over the years for foreign officials and have always proudly touted the strength of the U.S. anti-corruption regime.

This time, however, it was different. Donald Trump had just been elected president and had announced that he would not divest from his business interests. Indeed, several months prior to this training session, Trump had proudly claimed that "the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” I had just finished describing our federal ethics regime as “strong” when the entire group broke out in laughter. The officials laughing during this presentation were from a country with endemic, deep-rooted and well-known corruption issues. And yet here they were — laughing at the state of U.S. ethics laws.

Trump continues to degrade ethical norms

I thought the U.S. reputation for strong anti-corruption laws couldn’t sink lower than it had that day, but little did I know how much more the current administration would continue to degrade our anti-corruption institutions over the next three years.

The latest attack on oversight is Trump’s letter to Congress notifying them that he intends to fire the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick. This comes on the heels of Trump removing numerous other inspectors general who have attempted to do their jobs and provide oversight over the administration.



Then-State Department Inspector General Steve Linick leaves Capitol Hill after a briefing with lawmakers on May 16, 2020.


After nearly four years watching this administration diminish anti-corruption and oversight mechanisms, it is easy to become numb to the damage this is causing to the United States’ institutions and reputation. Lest anyone think this is merely a mundane personnel action, let me disabuse you of that notion. This is a big deal.

Linick was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for allegedly misusing a government employee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife, Susan Pompeo. And let’s be clear — this is not an overzealous IG gone rogue. There have been allegations of Pompeo and his wife misusing government staff and resources for personal reasons since he joined the administration. As a government official, Pompeo is not permitted to treat civil servants like TaskRabbit.

Helen Thomas, a match for Trump: I wish she could quiz him on coronavirus.

Moreover, Linick was also purportedly looking into Pompeo’s decision to facilitate the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval. By investigating these allegations, Linick was doing exactly what his job requires him to do — root out fraud, waste and abuse within his agency. And when the target of his investigation learned what he was doing, he asked Trump to remove him. This is textbook retaliation and fundamentally undermines the independence and effectiveness of agency inspectors general.

Inspectors general are meant to provide oversight, not cover

The 1978 Inspector General Act created inspectors general to serve as independent watchdogs tasked with, among other things, uncovering corruption, misconduct, waste and abuse in the government. They have always received wide latitude in order to perform their jobs without fear of retaliation. The statute requires that at least 30 days before an IG’s removal or transfer, the president must notify Congress, in writing, of the reasons for this action.

Trump has made clear that he views legally-mandated oversight efforts as “scams,” “witch hunts” and “hoaxes.” So the chances of him voluntarily changing course in this matter are pretty close to nil. That leaves it to Congress to do something to stop this attempted removal of all accountability mechanisms. And it must be more than a tepid letter asking for a more detailed reasoning for removal of a Senate-confirmed IG. Although the democratic investigation into Linick's firing is a start, unless Congress is willing to take concrete action — like refusing to confirm nominees — Trump will continue to remove any inspectors general who try to hold his administration accountable.

Flynn is a test case: Will Trump and Barr force justice system to aid and abet corruption?

There is another element to consider in Linick’s firing: Every inappropriate removal of an IG, failure to follow government ethics laws, comingling of government and personal interests, attack on federal anti-corruption laws and defunding of global anti-corruption initiatives chips away at the U.S. government’s long-standing reputation for following the rule of law and leading the fight against global corruption.

The United States, like every other country in the world, has never been free of corruption. But our strong anti-corruption laws, active anti-corruption enforcement and global commitment to combating corruption have long served as a model for countries around the world. Sadly, these days, instead of serving as a beacon in the global fight against corruption, we are now just the butt of a joke.



© Copyright Gannett 2020
Meno_
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 6400
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
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Re: Trump enters the stage - convolution - resolution - revo

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 23, 2020 4:38 pm

At this point in the evolving saga of the peculiar behavior of Trumpism in the modern world, it's implications, can be inverted, pyramid like, turned on its head, if, and only if, it can conclusively be shown, that the so called 'Naturalistic Fallacy' has outlived it's usefulness.
In that case, the supposed reduction from a material to a pure ideological dialectics may be more relevant.


As if the proposition-'An ellipse equation, in conics form, is always "=1". Note that, in both equations above, the h always stayed with the x and the k always stayed with the y.'- be always true.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>

From Maureen Dawd-opinion :


WASHINGTON — My corona dreams are so crazy and vibrant, with star turns by politicians, celebrities, zombies and my late mother, that sometimes as I wake, I groggily think the virus that devoured the globe has to be a dystopian vision.

Then, still sliding into consciousness, I muse that Donald Trump lumbering around the White House must have been a dream, too. How is it possible that this man is actually president?

But the Trump carnival of dread, with its twin fixations on masks and unmasking, is all too real.

On Thursday, as China played King Kong with Hong Kong; as unemployment rose to 38.6 million; as broken dams unleashed a flood in Central Michigan; as the president continued to stubbornly and recklessly claim he was taking hydroxychloroquine, causing sales to soar; as the news sunk in that if the U.S. had acted even a week sooner on social distancing that 36,000 people might still be alive; as Senate Republicans finally cemented themselves to Trump and his crazy schemes; as Trump stuck to his threat of withholding federal funds to Michigan and Nevada if those states enabled voters to vote; as a partisan know-nothing was put in charge of all our intelligence; as Trump pulled out of another major arms control pact; as Mike Pompeo basked in getting Trump to fire another inspector general (this one looking into a backdoor deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and brazen grifting by the Pompeos), the cliffhanger president made sure the focus was on just one little thing: Would he or wouldn’t he wear a mask as he toured the Ford plant in Ypsilanti?

After donning it for a few private moments with Ford executives, Trump removed the mask for the public part of the tour, saying he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”



While you know Barack Obama would have been all about the mask, showing the nation the proper example, Trump is afraid his followers will think he’s a wimp if he wears it, that he’s conceding the danger of a pandemic many in MAGA-land think is exaggerated or some sort of hoax.

The mask should be a medical signal, not a political one. But Trump rejects the mask because of a misbegotten image of masculinity and power. In denying the mask, he denies reality, science and the fact that the country is in a crouch. Trump has proved that people wearing a mask can present more truth than people not wearing a mask.

His latest con, something that he stupidly refers to as “Obamagate,” a scandal about unmasking, is also misbegotten. You can’t create a scandal about Obama out of nothing just because you hate the fact that he went by the book while you dwell in a murky world of transgressions, that he glides while you lurch.

Even as Trump tries to paint Joe Biden as gaga, he is doing something truly gaga: He is running the government that is responding to the worst pandemic in a century at the same time he is the leader of the resistance to his own government, urging people and states to open up whenever they see fit, recommending Clorox injections, stifling Dr. Fauci, refusing to wear the mask

The fact is that Donald Trump has been wearing a mask for a long time, like Eleanor Rigby “wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.” He studied larger-than-life titans like George Steinbrenner and Lee Iacocca and invented a swaggering character called Donald Trump with a career marked by evasions, deceptions and disguises.

The young builder was intent, as T.S. Eliot wrote, to take the time “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” Early on, Donald locked in his costume for the masquerade, the look of a C.E.O. in the ’80s. His body armor was a dark suit, white shirt and monochromatic silk tie. His hair was a blond helmet, his war paint was orange.

“He is the most vaudevillian performance artist who ever inhabited the White House,” says his biographer Tim O’Brien. “He has a consuming desire to always be center stage, yet he never wants to reveal who he really is. He masks his finances, his taxes, his friendships, his ongoing family conflicts of interest, his ignorance and his inadequacies. He’s constantly making up areas of expertise he doesn’t have.

“He doesn’t read the Bible and he doesn’t live as a Christian and love thy neighbor. But he is demanding that the churches be reopened because his evangelical base will love that. Everything he’s doing right now is to stave off a loss in November


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POLITICO

WHITE HOUSE

Trump's drive against watchdogs faces constitutional reckoning
The inspector general system is being tested like never before in the Trump era.

President Trump
President Donald Trump’s aggressive push to diminish the independence of inspectors general has alarmed Democrats and some Republicans who have long defended them as the last bulwark against administrative waste and misconduct. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo







President Donald Trump’s campaign against the watchdogs monitoring his administration could soon get a huge boost from the Supreme Court.

Trump’s drive to undermine inspectors general has outraged Democrats, who have offered a mountain of legislation to protect them from reprisal and removal. But there are deepening doubts about whether these efforts would survive constitutional scrutiny. And the high court could leave lawmakers powerless to combat Trump’s incursion against independent oversight, as it weighs a case that calls into question whether Congress can restrict the president from removing senior Executive Branch officials without cause.



Interviews with a dozen constitutional experts, former inspectors general, lawmakers and aides suggest that, even absent the upcoming Supreme Court ruling, any efforts to block Trump from ousting inspectors general would be on unsettled constitutional terrain. And lawmakers' ambitious efforts could force a reckoning over the entire system of internal watchdogs.

Trump’s aggressive push to diminish the independence of inspectors general has alarmed Democrats and some Republicans who have long defended them as the last bulwark against administrative waste and misconduct. Previous presidents have bristled at internal watchdogs’ scrutiny but have rarely mounted such a broad-based, politically-driven campaign to chill their efforts.

In other words, a watchdog system that has operated largely on handshake agreements and tacit understandings of independence is — like many aspects of long-accepted U.S. governance — being tested like never before in the Trump era.

“For the president to stand up and say, ‘If I didn't appoint this IG, he's gone or she's gone. If I don't like what they're saying, I’m going to stop them from saying it’ — that does not smack of an elected democracy,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in an interview. “It smacks of a different kind of government.”

John Tester
Sen. Jon Tester.

Trump has already engaged in extensive stonewalling of House investigations, which led to one of the impeachment articles against him. His Senate acquittal has left him unrestrained and eager for retribution.



Democrats’ pushback reached new decibels in recent days, as Trump claimed “absolute” power to remove inspectors general he dislikes, even if they’re investigating cabinet officials for potential abuses.

“Everybody agrees that I have the absolute right to fire the inspector generals,” Trump told reporters after facing questions about his decision to oust State Department IG Steve Linick, who has been reviewing an array of actions by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump indicated he didn’t know Linick but agreed to Pompeo’s request to remove him because he was appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama.

Other Republicans have picked up Trump’s mantle, arguing that he has unfettered power to oust inspectors general. “He has the full authority to hire and fire, under the Constitution, anybody in the executive branch,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.




Trump and McConnell’s comments came amid growing calls by Democrats for new measures to restrict Trump’s power to remove these IGs, some of whom have issued stinging reports about administration mismanagement and drawn the president’s fury.

As part of a sprawling, $3 trillion coronavirus response package, the House recently passed a proposal authored by nearly two dozen committee chairmen that would prohibit Trump from removing inspectors general without “good cause,“ such as incapacitation or malfeasance. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) offered a similar proposal that would also provide for congressional review of IG removals and limit who the president may install as acting replacements when there’s a vacancy.

CONGRESS

Trump’s attacks on inspectors general galvanize unusual coalition of critics

BY ANDREW DESIDERIO AND KYLE CHENEY

And on Friday, House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) offered a closely related measure that would require “documented” good cause reasons to oust an inspector general. Their efforts have been cheered by advocacy groups like the Project on Government Oversight, who say protecting IGs from political interference is a crucial aspect of modern checks and balances.

In fact, Congress has made a series of moves to protect inspectors general in the years since they were established after Watergate. The most recent push came in 2008, when Congress passed the IG Reform Act, enshrining new protections, such as a requirement that the president notify lawmakers 30 days before removing an inspector general.

But for the first time, the entire system is being challenged by a president who rejects the notion that these roving internal auditors, who straddle the bright line between Capitol Hill and the Executive Branch, should do anything but answer to him.

Trump has made that clear in ways large and small. In addition to his removal of Linick at the State Department, last month Trump abruptly ousted intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson over his handling of a whistleblower complaint that ignited the House’s impeachment effort.

Days before that, Trump issued a signing statement accompanying a massive coronavirus relief law asserting that he — not Congress — decides whether an inspector general even communicates with lawmakers.

In recent weeks, Trump has also demoted or sidelined a slew of other inspectors general and moved to appoint loyalists to fill some of the vacancies. At both the State Department and Department of Transportation, the aides picked to temporarily fill the top IG position are also continuing to report to their agency bosses, a split role that Democrats and some Republicans warned could chill new whistleblowers and expose existing ones. Trump also nominated a replacement for the Health and Human Services Department IG after her office issued a report critical of the administration’s pandemic response.



It’s quickly become the stiffest test of the inspector general system — a pillar of the post-Watergate reform effort — since Ronald Reagan fired them all upon taking office in 1981, only to rehire some amid a withering backlash from Congress.

In fact, Congress so closely guarded the independence of inspectors general that a move by Obama to abruptly oust the AmeriCorps IG in 2009 prompted a five-month investigation by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and then-Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that resulted in a 62-page report sharply criticizing the decision.

Sen. Chuck Grassley.

“This isn’t the first time there’s been a tango or a contretemps between IGs and the president,” said Saikrishna Prakash, a University of Virginia constitutional scholar. He noted that IGs are somewhat “anomalous” and have been described as “moles for Congress” because of their unique obligations to sit within the Executive Branch but report their findings to lawmakers.

Today, Grassley is one of only a few Republicans raising alarms about Trump’s more broad-based push to remove inspectors general he dislikes.

Grassley mused just days ago that he may propose legislation to prohibit acting inspectors general who temporarily fill vacancies from continuing to report to agency leaders as well. And he’s written bipartisan letters to the Trump White House demanding more detail about Trump’s reasons for removing Linick and Atkinson, suggesting Trump’s initial rationale — a general loss of confidence — was insufficient.

Still, Grassley hasn’t signaled any move toward tying Trump’s hands with legislation, and such a proposal would be difficult to get passed in the GOP-controlled Senate let alone signed into law by Trump.

Whether Congress can bar Trump from removing any inspector general is likely to come into focus within weeks, as the Supreme Court rules on a case over whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is constitutional.

The agency, which was established after the 2008 financial crisis, is being challenged by a law firm that argues its structure violates the separation of powers because its director can only be removed for specific “good cause” reasons. How the court rules could determine whether other senior Executive Branch officials — such as inspectors general — can be protected from removal without violating the president’s power to manage his own branch of government.


Though IGs have less authority than other senior officials — they don’t have the power to prosecute or control large budgets — they also have no term limits. Congress expressly opted against including a seven-year term limit in the 2008 IG reform bill; lawmakers also rejected a call to protect IGs from removal without cause in favor of a provision requiring the president to notify Congress 30 days in advance before firing an inspector general.

Adding in removal protections without corresponding term limits could give the courts — now stocked with Trump-appointed judges who may be more amenable to his views on executive authority — reason to rule broadly against limiting the president’s power.

“There are certainly ways to make such provisions more likely to survive scrutiny (term limits would be an essential first step), but Congress needs to go in with its eyes open about the Court it’s now facing,” said Deborah Pearlstein, a Yeshiva University legal expert who advised the House on the constitutionality of its recent proxy voting decision.

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Peter Shane, an Ohio State University constitutional scholar, added, “Typically, officers protected from at-will presidential removal also have statutory terms of office so they don't serve forever.”

Instead, some experts think other forms of congressionally imposed limitations might survive legal scrutiny. One includes a new proposal from Tester that would automatically zero out the Department of Treasury’s budget if the newly created coronavirus response inspector general is blocked from accessing internal information.

“Congress can stop this bullshit from happening right now if the Republicans would step up,” Tester said.

Some legal scholars also argue that despite the lack of certainty, previous rulings suggest Congress can impose limits on Trump’s removal of inspectors general so long as they don’t impede his constitutional responsibility to execute the law faithfully. A 1935 Supreme Court decision allowed Congress to limit the removal of officers who lead independent agencies like the Federal Trade Commission. The House Oversight Committee cited that ruling to support its new proposals to limit Trump’s ability to fire IGs.

Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general who has since become a vocal Trump critic, said he worries that “for cause” restrictions on IG removal could be unconstitutional but that proposals like Tester’s could be valuable.



“Until now, IGs operated in a world where they believed that standard existed as a matter of fact even though it did not exist in law,” Bromwich said. That’s no longer the case.


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