Archives for category: Fraud

I just finished reading Michael Cohen’s new tell-all about his years as Donald Trump’s “fixer.” It is called Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump. Quite a lot of the book consists of Cohen flaying himself for being a lackey who happily did Trump’s bidding, even when he knew that he was being asked to lie, cheat, or cover up for Trump’s misdeeds. He was a lawyer, and he showed no respect for the law. His job for Trump was to twist the law to benefit Trump and to silence those who claimed that Trump had wronged them.

There is a morbid fascination to the book. It confirms everything that Trump’s most rabid critics have said about him. He lies whenever it suits his purposes, and he expects his top executives to lie for him without hesitation. He is unscrupulous, amoral, cynical, and completely self-absorbed. Everyone else in the world is merely an instrument to advance his self-aggrandizement.

He despises the working people who constitute his base. He pretended to be a Christian to win over the evangelical leaders who met with him in Trump Tower and who blessed him with a “laying on of hands” ceremony; as soon as they left his presence, he ridiculed them. He has no religious beliefs whatever. He is obsessed with hating Obama; he even hired someone to impersonate Obama so he could pour out his wrath on the actor. Trump’s ticket to entry into politics was birtherism; he concocted a tale about sending investigators to Hawaii to determine whether Obama was an American citizen. He promised to release the findings. He never did. He claimed that Obama’s success in life was due solely to affirmative action, and hinted that Obama was a mediocre student. Meanwhile, he assigned Cohen the job of making sure that his own academic records from high school, college, and graduate school were never released.

When asked why he didn’t condemn the Saudi government for the murder of journalist Jamaal Khashoggi, Trump would say, “What the f— do I care? He shouldn’t have written what he did. He should have shut the f— up.” So much for freedom of the press.

Cohen spends much of the book explaining his attraction to Trump, whom he knew was a fraud. Trump demanded absolute and complete loyalty, and Cohen gave it to him, like a puppy dog. Cohen admitted that he was drawn to Trump’s outrageousness, his money, his power, his celebrity, his flair, and the excitement of being in a daily circus of chaos and drama. 

Cohen’s fascination with Trump is foreshadowed by his description of his adolescence. He grew up in an affluent suburb on Long Island in New York. His father was a refugee who became a doctor. Young Michael had no interest in school, other than to get by. What he liked best was hanging out at his uncle’s club in Brooklyn, El Caribe, which was a favorite of Mafia figures. They were tough and brazen. They carried guns. He admired their cool, their wealth, their power. He writes about an incident where a wise guy took off his bathing suit in the middle of the club’s swimming pool, which was crowded with women and children. The tough guys told the miscreant to put his suit on; he didn’t. Then one of them pulled a gun and shot him in his butt. Blood streaked the water. When the police arrived, nodody knew anything, no one saw it happen. Cohen relished, as a Trump executive, being armed, with a gun on his belt, another in an ankle holster. He says Trump too was armed.

We learn that Trump regularly ridicules Don Jr. in front of other people. He thinks Don Jr. is a fool and a loser. Don Jr. takes his father’s insults and put-downs with silence; he is used to his scorn. Tiffany, the only child of Marla Maples, is treated by her half-siblings as an outsider. Jared is an arrogant snob. Cohen says that Trump’s first campaign manager in 2016, Corey Lewandowski, was a drunk and was having an affair with Hope Hicks. 

Trump is very boastful about his sexual prowess. He thinks that he can have any woman he wants. Cohen recalls a day when he took his family to swim at Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Trump spotted a young woman on one of his tennis courts and said, “Look at that piece of ass. I would love some of that.” Cohen was mortified. It was his 15-year-old daughter. Cohen was too supine to object. 

If you enjoy hearing tales of how Trump managed to trick others and stiff the little guys, you will find much to enjoy. For Trump, the “art of the deal” consisted of cleverly cheating people of millions of dollars. Contractors and subcontractors who worked on Trump properties were lucky to get 20% of what Trump owed them. Anyone who threatened to sue him was threatened with a countersuit that would bankrupt them. Who wants to be sued by a billionaire with deep pockets?

Michael Cohen is in prison. It is hard to feel sorry for him. He chose his fate. As a young man, he admired gangsters, and he loved being in the company of ruthless thugs. In Trump-world, he found the environment in which he flourished, providing the muscle and threats to compel people to back off when Trump cheated them.

He is less interesting than the mega-star in whose orbit he lived: a liar, a con man, a cheat, a narcissist, a man with no ethics or morality or conscience. Trump attracted moths to his flame, and Cohen got burned.

Tom Ultican, retired teacher of physics and advanced mathematics in California, writes frequently about school “reform,” aka school choice, as a substitute for adequate funding.

In this post, he explains the fraud of school choice and why billionaires and rightwing zealots promote it. To read it in full,as well as his kinks, open the full post.

He begins:

Birthed in the bowels of the 1950’s segregationist south, school choice has never been about improving education. It is about white supremacy, profiting off taxpayers, cutting taxes, selling market based solutions and financing religion. School choice ideology has a long dark history of dealing significant harm to public education.

Market Based Ideology

Milton Friedman first recommended school vouchers in a 1955 essay. In 2006, he was asked by a conservative group of legislators what he envisioned back then. PRWatch reports that he said, “It had nothing whatsoever to do with helping ‘indigent’ children; no, he explained to thunderous applause, vouchers were all about ‘abolishing the public school system.”’ [Emphasis added]

Market based ideologues are convinced that business is the superior model for school management. Starting with the infamous Regan era polemic, “A Nation at Risk,” the claim that “private business management is superior” has been a consistent theory of education reform promoted by corporate leaders like IBM’s Louis Gerstner, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Wal-Mart’s Walton family, Bloomberg LP’s founder, Michael Bloomberg and SunAmerica’s Eli Broad. It is a central tenet of both neoliberal and libertarian philosophy.

Charles Koch and his late brother David have spent lavishly promoting their libertarian beliefs. Inspired by Friedman’s doyen, Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayek, the brothers agreed that public education must be abolished.

To this and other ends like defeating climate change legislation, the Kochs created the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This lobbying organization has contributing members from throughout corporate America. ALEC writes model legislation and financially supports state politicians who promote their libertarian principles.

Like the Walton family and Betsy DeVos, Charles Koch promotes private school vouchers.

The founder and headmaster of a charter school in St. Louis admitted to skimming $2.4 million in public funding by inflating enrollment.

This is to be expected when private companies obtain public money without accountability or transparency.

The former head of a failed charter school has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges in a scheme that cost taxpayers $2.4 million.

Michael Malone, who founded St. Louis College Prep, inflated attendance numbers for years as a way to collect more government funding for the struggling school.

“What the former headmaster did through his deception, repeatedly over many years, was take advantage of the Missouri taxpayers, while obtaining an unfair advantage over the St. Louis Public Schools and other area charter schools,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Jeff Jensen said in a news release. “This was not a mistake. Evidence proved Michael Malone’s actions were intentional and, unfortunately he got away with it for years.”

Malone, 44, opened the school in 2011 and served as headmaster until November 2018, when he resigned after an internal review and an investigation by Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway showed he was cooking the books. The school closed in 2019.

As a charter school, St. Louis College Prep was funded through the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The funding is calculated through daily attendance records, and Malone routinely jacked up those numbers to increase funding. At times, those numbers exceeded even the total enrollment by as much as 124 percent…

The fraud meant money that rightfully would have gone to St. Louis Public Schools went to the charter school to educate phantom students, authorities say.

Dabs Milbank is a regular opinion writer for the Washington Post. In this post, he reminds us of the numerous Trump allies who have been arrested or indicted or convicted or pardoned. So much for “Draining the Swamp.” What a joke! Trump’s Swamp is bigger and badder than anyone else’s.

He writes:

As Donald Trump’s chief strategist in 2016, Steve Bannon helped shape Trump’s “America First” campaign. Now, Bannon is inadvertently helping to test Trump’s 2020 reelection message: “Me First.”

On the eve of this week’s Republican National Convention, federal authorities arrested Bannon aboard a Chinese billionaire’s $28 million, 152-foot yacht and charged Bannon and three other men with defrauding donors giving to a private effort to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Bannon and his alleged co-conspirators had promised donors that “not a penny” would go to the organizers and “100 percent” would go to the wall. Instead, they allegedly used donations for such things as home renovations, boat payments, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, cosmetic surgery, personal tax payments, credit-card debt, travel, hotels and consumer goods. Bannon allegedly squirreled away $1 million for himself and another organizer, much of it funneled through a nonprofit Bannon created called Citizens of the American Republic, ostensibly devoted to “economic nationalism and American sovereignty.” To top it all off: The small section of the wall the group did build was so poorly done that it is now in danger of falling into the Rio Grande.

Give Bannon credit: The alleged fraud perfectly captures the cynicism and self-dealing among leaders of the American right at this moment. As the president seeks reelection, the moral rot of Trump and his retinue has spread to the core.

At the National Rifle Association, chief executive Wayne LaPierre and other leaders have drained millions of dollars from the organization, the New York attorney general alleged this month, much of it for private jets, security, yachts in the Bahamas and personal payouts.

On Tuesday, Jerry Falwell Jr. said he had resigned as president of Liberty University, which he had used as a forum to vouch for Trump’s moral integrity and religious bona fides. Falwell acknowledged a multiyear affair in which he is accused of watching his wife have sex with a pool boy.

On Monday, the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, reported that the Trump Organization has refused to hand over some documents and that Eric Trump canceled an interview with prosecutors looking into whether the company paid proper taxes when a lender forgave more than $100 million of debt on a Trump hotel in Chicago.

Separately, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., continues to seek Trump’s financial records as part of an investigation into payoffs made in 2016 to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump — and potentially into Trump business dealings.

Last week, a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort (now doing prison time over his ill-gotten gains), was a “grave counterintelligence threat” because his receptivity to Russian outreach during the campaign made the Trump campaign vulnerable to “malign Russian influence.”

These developments are on top of former adviser Roger Stone’s prison sentence (which Trump commuted); former Trump adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea (which Trump’s Justice Department wants dismissed); the upcoming trial of two associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and former Trump aide Michael Cohen’s three-year prison sentence for what he called “my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

But the biggest swindle happens in front of our eyes: a president using his office to promote his business properties around the world, to push for tax policies that benefit his businesses, and to pressure foreign countries to help his campaign.

Former national security adviser John Bolton attributes our current pandemic woes to the president’s pursuit of self-interest: Trump ignored early warnings “because he didn’t want to concede that the pandemic . . . could have a dramatically negative impact on the U.S. economy and therefore his ticket to reelection.”
At the convention this week, we see Trump stripping the GOP of policy (the party declined to approve a platform) and replacing it with a cult of personality. He has stacked the speaking program with members of his family, his friends and himself — nightly. The lead consultant to the convention? A guy who produced “The Apprentice” for Trump and was a judge for Trump’s Miss Universe pageant.

Trump is using federal property — the White House itself — as a political backdrop for his campaign. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, using Israel as his campaign backdrop, is one of a host of officials violating laws and rules in ways previously unimaginable to play overtly political roles in the convention.
With Trump in charge, is it any wonder those around him are also taking a “Me First” approach? The same day as Bannon’s yacht-deck arrest last week, We Build the Wall posted a picture of Trump on Facebook. Written across the photo: “The Most Honest Man in Washington!”

David Dayen writes a regular column for The American Prospect. In this post, he explains why Bannon was indicted. He and some of his friends created a website to “Build the Wall.” None of them had any engineering experience. They raised $25 million, and they paid personal expenses.

Dayen says this scam was part of a long history of grifting by con artists.

It was ironic that Bannon was taken into custody by agents from the USPS.

Dayen begins:

Author and historian Rick Perlstein (who’s doing a Prospect Zoom event with me about his new book Reaganland on Monday) wrote a famous story back in 2012 about “mail-order conservatism,” the tendency for the conservative movement to bilk their supporters through hysteria and lies and small-time grifting schemes. This tendency to rip off the rank and file dates back to the mail-order empire of Richard Viguerie. Con men were always critical to the conservative movement. Now, they comprise virtually the entire Republican Party.

Read the indictment of Steve Bannon and three associates, accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the “We Build the Wall” campaign, a preposterous effort on its face to crowdsource the private construction of the border wall with Mexico. We Build the Wall took in an astounding $25 million, only enough for one mile of the 576 Trump means to erect, but about $25 million more than should be handed over for a building project to people with no engineering or logistics background.

But Bannon and his pals were experts at thievery. He took hundreds of thousands of dollars from We Build the Wall for travel and hotels, while Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage nabbed $350,000 for “home renovations, payments on a boat (named “Warfighter”), a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, cosmetic surgery (!), personal tax payments, and credit card debt,” per the indictment. The money was routed through a third-party nonprofit and a shell company, using fake invoices and vendor receipts.

The We Build the Wall website, numerous donor solicitations, and written bylaws of the organization made repeated assurances that all the money would go to border wall construction. Hilariously, when they learned of the criminal investigation, they took the “no compensation” pledge off the website.

Anette Carlisle, public education advocate in Texas, describes how State Commissioner Mike Morath, a non-educator, bought into the anti-democratic strategy of killing local school boards and privatizing public schools. He swallowed whole the disruption program of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, one of the Gates-funded think tanks that call for the abandonment of public schools.

Despite a full decade of failure, phony “reformers” claim that education will improve if private corporations and entrepreneurs take over from elected school boards. It hasn’t worked anywhere, and it won’t work in Texas.

Carlisle writes:

Texas has chosen to abandon our local public schools, locally elected school boards, superintendents and our 5.4 million schoolchildren in favor of a “my way or the highway” single system directive by Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath. That’s why I’m standing up to say, “Whoa! Hold your horses, please, Mr. Commissioner.”

It’s an effort that’s been building for years, right under our noses. People said, “Surely not,” but here we are.

Look back to 2019 and the Center for Reinventing Public Education’s (CRPE) report centered around the System of Great Schools (SGS) concept. The System of Great Schools “starts from the premise that local school districts are ill-positioned to improve schools directly,” and local districts should “get out of the business of managing instruction in schools.”

Morath, according to the CRPE, “prioritized the SGS initiative as a signature project” and even “smoothed the path for the SGS team to work inside the agency” when other TEA staff disapproved.

It’s just one example of the state telling school district leaders to take a hike and locally elected boards to get out of the way.

Earlier this year, The Texas Tribune interviewed Commissioner Morath, and his thoughts on local control came more clearly into focus. Asked about the state’s takeover of Houston ISD, Morath said, “This is basically a grand, philosophical question that is a right for state legislatures around the country to try to answer. Why do we have schools? Do we have schools to teach children, or do we have schools to have elected school boards?”

The takeaway? Local communities don’t know what’s best for kids. The state does.

Who knew that a conservative Republican Governor and his ignorant State Commissioner would launch a state takeover of public schools?

Trump is obsessed with the U.S. Postal Service. He is certain that the U.S. mail is his enemy. One of his aides told him that he lost the 2016 popular vote because of mail fraud, and he’s ranted about the USPS ever since. He openly admitted in a recent news conference that he wants to block mail-in voting in hopes of cutting Democratic votes. Trump forced out the career professional who was running USPS and replaced with a donor to his campaign, Louis DeJoy. In the name of “efficiency,” USPS has been removing hundreds of high-speed sorting machines and thousands of mailboxes. At a time when millions of people count on the mails for their prescriptions and Social Security checks, the slowdowns are wreaking havoc. Even Republicans from heavily rural states whose constituents rely on the local post office have remained silent, as Trump orders the dismantling of USPS.

Democrats scheduled a hearing with Trump’s Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who gave $2 million to the Trump coffers, but decided to move up the date to August 24. Trump and his wife voted by mail in Florida.


The House Oversight Committee will hold an emergency hearing on mail delays and concerns about potential White House interference in the U.S. Postal Service, inviting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Postal Service board of governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan to testify Aug. 24, top Democrats announced on Sunday.

Democrats have alleged that DeJoy, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is taking steps that are causing dysfunction in the mail system and could wreak havoc in the presidential election. The House had earlier not planned a hearing until September.

“The postmaster general and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Oversight Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said in a statement announcing the hearing.

The Postal Service is beset with delays because of policy changes implemented by DeJoy, a former logistics executive and ally of President Trump. DeJoy banned postal workers from making extra trips to ensure on-time mail delivery and cracked down on overtime hours. Localities across the country have struggled with USPS backlogs of up to a week, hamstringing local businesses and delaying the arrival of crucial mail items, including prescription medications, Social Security checks and bills.

The Postal Service is in the process of removing 671 high-speed mail-sorting machines nationwide this month, a process that will eliminate 21.4 million items per hour’s worth of processing capability from the agency’s inventory.

On Thursday and Friday, it began removing public collection boxes in parts of California, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Montana. The agency said Friday that it would stop mailbox removals, which it said were routine, until after the election.

And White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that it would also halt sorting-machine removals.

Meadows also said the White House is open to Congress passing a stand-alone measure to ensure the U.S. Postal Service is adequately funded to manage a surge in mail voting in November.

“The president of the United States is not going to interfere with anybody casting their votes in a legitimate way whether it’s the post office or anything else,” he said.

Both statements would appear to step back from the president’s comments Thursday when he said he opposed Postal Service funding because he wanted to restrict expanding voting by mail.

Meadows insisted the president is only opposed to states sending ballots directly to all registered voters — not to a more common practice in which states send mail ballots only to registered voters who request them. Trump, however, attacked all forms of mail voting for months before recently dialing back his criticism in particular states, including Florida, where he voted by mail himself this year.

“The president doesn’t have a problem with anybody voting by mail if you would look at it in terms of a no-excuse absentee ballot,” Meadows said. “What he opposes is universal mail-in ballots.”

There are five states that voted nearly entirely by mail before the pandemic and four more that have announced plans to do so since the pandemic hit. Meadows suggested more states will attempt to shift to sending ballots directly to all registered voters between now and the election.

“This is more about states trying to re-create how they get their ballots and they’re trying to do it on a compressed timeline that won’t work,” he said.

Carl J. Petersen, a parent advocate for students with special needs in the public schools of Los Angeles, wrote here about the failure of the LAUSD school board to monitor graft in the charter sector.

He writes about the deliberate negligence of board members supported by the charter industry:

As Community Preparatory Academy (CPA) approached the end of its charter, it was $820,303 in debt. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was a major creditor, with invoices that were about two years old totaling $82,240. The school had not resolved the majority of the Notices to Cure that the LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD) had issued, some of which involved health and safety violations. “Since CPA [had] opened in 2014, the school [had] not earned a rating higher than a ‘2’ (Developing) in the area of governance” on its annual oversight visits. Despite all of these problems, CPA requested that the LAUSD renew its charter.

Speaking in favor of rejecting CPA’s charter renewal, I noted some of the financial irregularities in the school’s governance and asked: “Was this school [Executive Director Janis] Bucknor’s personal piggy bank?” Yesterday, Bucknor herself provided the answer when she “agreed to plead guilty to embezzling $3.1 million in school funds that she spent on her personal use”. These funds were stolen from students “to pay for personal travel, restaurants, Amazon and Etsy purchases and private school tuition for her children” along with “more than $220,000…spent on Disney-related expenses, including cruise line vacations and theme park admissions.”
Central to my comments before the LAUSD board was the assertion that CPA’s charter should have been revoked long before it was up for renewal. This opinion is now strengthened the serious corruption that has been exposed by Bucknor’s guilty plea. How much of the $3.1 million could have been saved for use in the education of students if CPA had been shut down from the moment the school refused to resolve the concerns brought forward by the district? Instead, the LAUSD allowed the charter to continue operating with Bucknor having unfettered access to public funds.

Ignoring the almost five years of misbehavior by the charter that was allowed to continue without interruption, Board Member Nick Melvoin mocked my concerns by claiming that “we need to point out and be consistent of [sic] people who are saying that this board doesn’t hold charters accountable at a meeting where we are closing two schools”. He also said the board should “look at themselves in the mirror” and they should “be thinking [about] how are we holding ourselves accountable both academically at the school level and fiscally.” A good start would be to ensure that scarce funds are not taken from students in order to finance a charter school administrator’s Disney vacations.

Melvoin stated that he thought that the LAUSD would not “be comfortable with [a] conversation” that compared public schools to privately run charter schools. This is an easy position to take when he and other charter industry-financed board members like Monica Garcia, Caprice Young, and Ref Rodriguez have ensured that this competition does not take place on a level playing field. Instead of demanding accountability as they allowed public funds to flow into private hands, they built a bureaucracy that ensures that charter schools do not have to follow the same rules as their public school counterparts. The charter school industry will spend millions more this year on the campaigns of Marilyn Koziatek and Tanya Ortiz Franklin to ensure that their underregulated operations continue without interference.

The charter school industry would like you to believe that the corruption that occurred at CPA is an isolated incident. They said the same thing when Vielka McFarlane of the Celerity Educational Group “agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate and embezzle public funds” and when El Camino’s former Executive Director David Fehte was caught charging personal expenses to his school credit card. Even after these cases of misconduct became public, the CCSA fought against measures that would make charter schools accountable. This makes them complicit when the corruption continues. The same can be said for politicians like Melvoin who have stood in the way of reforms.

Don’t board members have a duty to represent the people who elected them, rather than the California Charter School Association that funded their campaigns?

George T. Conway III is a lawyer and a Republican. He is a founder of The Lincoln Project. His Twitter feed is brilliant. He happens to be married to Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. Imagine the dinner-table conversations at the Conway home.

He wrote this article for the Washington Post, where is is an occasional contributor. I did not insert the many links that verify each statement. It may be worth the cost of a subscription to see them.

Conway writes:

If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he lies and he cheats. Endlessly. And shamelessly. But still, mostly, incompetently.

So it should have come as no surprise that Trump finally went where no U.S. president had ever gone before. In a tweet last week, he actually suggested that the country “Delay the Election.”

That trial balloon was a brazen effort to see if he can defraud his way into four more years in the White House. And why not try? After all, Trump has managed to swindle his way through life, on matters large and small, essential and trivial.

He paid someone to take the SAT for him, according to his niece Mary L. Trump. (He denies it.) A prominent sportswriter wrote an entire book, titled “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,” on how Trump cheats at golf — golf! — through such methods as throwing opponents’ balls into bunkers, miscounting strokes and even declaring himself the winner of tournaments he didn’t play in.

Trump posed as a nonexistent publicist, so he could lie about his wealth and plant stories about his supposed sexual exploits, including one with actress Carla Bruni, who denied a tryst and called Trump “obviously a lunatic.” And his life has been littered with myriad alleged financial cons, including Trump University, which resulted in a $25 million settlement, though no admission of wrongdoing, and his “charitable” foundation, which regulators ordered be shut down.

His presidency has been of a piece. By The Post’s count, more than 20,000 falsehoods in 3½ years, on subjects ranging from his inaugural crowd size to the coronavirus, from conversations with foreign leaders to forecasts of a hurricane track. The untruths have accelerated, from five a day in early 2017 to nearly two dozen daily this year and last. With the coronavirus, his untruths have finally brought him down: No, concern about the virus wasn’t a “hoax.” No, the disease won’t just “disappear,” “like a miracle.” No, we’re not in a crisis because we’ve done so much testing. No, Trump hasn’t done a “great job” fighting the virus, and no, we’re not on the verge of a “tremendous victory” over it.

So finally, Trump’s credibility, such as it ever was, is shot — and his poll numbers with it. He stands on the verge of electoral oblivion. He’s capable of no response other than his lifelong mainstays: shamelessly lying and trying to cheat. He tried once before, of course, to cheat in this election, by using presidential powers to try to extort Ukraine into propagating lies about his opponent — and was caught, although not punished.

Now he peddles a different lie: that somehow extensive “Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good)” would produce “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.” Hence the supposed need to “Delay the Election.”

All untrue, of course. Voting by mail has a long, venerable tradition in this country, most notably the election of 1864, when 150,000 Union soldiers sent in ballots that helped ensure President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection, the preservation of the union and the abolition of slavery. Mailed votes leave a paper trail that renders them less, not more, susceptible to fraud. The fraud is Trump’s: He’s lying so he can buy more time — or so he can delegitimize the vote and blame someone other than himself for his defeat.

But Trump is apparently too inept, ignorant, desperate or deluded — probably all four — to realize or care: His suggestion is absurd. The electoral calendar is set in stone, by law. Title 3 of the U.S. Code makes clear that the election must be held on Nov. 3, that members of the electoral college must meet and vote on Dec. 14, and that their votes must be counted before a joint session of the new Congress on Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. sharp. And the 20th Amendment provides that, no matter what, Trump’s current term ends at precisely noon on Jan. 20, and that if no president has been elected, another provision of Title 3 would confer the presidency’s powers on … the speaker of the House.

Even the worst of Trump’s enablers in Congress dismissed out of hand the idea of delaying the election. But Trump’s suggestion was more than just imbecilic. Steven G. Calabresi, a law professor who was a founder of the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers’ group of which I’ve long been a member (and a member of its visiting board), nailed it: Trump’s suggestion was “fascistic.” It was the ploy of a would-be dictator, albeit an inept one.

Calabresi added that Trump should be impeached and removed for his tweet, and if Trump ever acted on it, and were there time, I’d agree. Trump should have been removed already twice over, for obstructing the Russia investigation and extorting Ukraine. His effort to sabotage a democratic system he swore to protect only confirms his unfitness for the job. But it’s too late for impeachment now.

Trump’s sanction must come at the polls, and beyond. For the sake of our constitutional republic, he must lose, and lose badly. Yet that should be just a start: We should only honor former presidents who uphold and sustain our nation’s enduring democratic values. There should be no schools, bridges or statues devoted to Trump. His name should live in infamy, and he should be remembered, if at all, for precisely what he was — not a president, but a blundering cheat.

Carl J. Petersen, writer and public school parent in Los Angeles, writes here about a Los Angeles charter schools that took millions from the federal Paycheck Protection Plan, then laid off employees anyway.

The purpose of PPP was to help small businesses and to ensure that they did not fire employees because they couldn’t afford to pay them. But charter schools, which had suffered no economic harm, cashed in on the program…because they could.

Petersen writes:

With unemployment rates reaching levels unseen since the Great Depression due to the problems caused by the failed response to COVID-19, every dollar from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) should be going towards helping small businesses survive. Unfortunately, the charter school industry found a way to double-dip into the government trough to supplement the money they are diverting from public schools with funds from this program.

Despite acknowledging that they could be taking money away from small businesses that needed it to survive the crisis, the governing board of Palisades Charter High School voted last month to accept a $4.606 million dollar loan from the PPP. They admitted at the time that they did not have an immediate need for the money and they failed to articulate a plan to spend the money or to pay it back. They simply felt that it was important to “get the money while the getting’s good.” Discussion of the moral and financial costs of receiving this money was swept aside.

Ignoring the reason for their $4,606,000 windfall, the governing board of Pali voted this month to lay off five members of their staff and reduce the hours for 18 other employees. Even as students throughout the country struggle to transition to distance learning, these cuts included an IT Tech assigned to helping parents, students and teachers navigate the technology needed in this new learning environment. They also eliminated a Tutoring Center Coordinator whom a member of the public and a board member credited with “helping hundreds of kids pass classes and graduate from Pali during e-learning”. A Library Media Technician, Copy Clerk, and Office Assistant will also join the unemployment line in 60 days.

The federal government should “claw back” the wasted $4.6 million.