Archives for category: Trump

Amber Phillips explains in the Washington Post why Trump will continue holding indoor rallies to mostly maskless people, despite the warnings of public health officials.

The president held an indoor rally Sunday in Nevada and a large indoor event in Phoenix on Monday. More could be coming.

And reporting indicates that he thinks flouting public health advice is the right way to rally his base.

But that probably comes at the expense of picking up moderates. Polls show a majority of Americans support wearing masks and taking precautions against the virus. Not to mention hat this indoor-rally-practice creates the very real risk that the president is helping spread coronavirus in key swing states rather than slow it. But it’s what Trump wants, so it looks like it will continue. The Post’s Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey report:

“Many around the president are acutely aware that a potential surge in coronavirus cases and deaths close to the election could be disastrous, according to campaign and White House aides, but they are mostly bowing to Trump’s desire to pack the house.”

In other words, he is endangering the lives of his most ardent supporters because he wants to impress them with his heroics. He is removed feom the crowd and is not in danger. They are in danger, not him. He doesn’t press the flesh. Their exhalations do not reach him. His friend Herman Cain died of coronavirus shortly after attending Trump’s rally in Tulsa. Coincidence? Tulsa exoerienced a surge in cases two weeks after the rally.

Trump may be a one-man super spreader.

Not a good look after 200,000 Americans have died.

But maybe this bravado impresses his MAGA base.

The New York Times explains how China opened its schools safely. As an authoritarian state, dissent is not permitted. No one is allowed to disobey the rules. The rules are strictly enforced.

As a free society, we rely on people to exercise civic responsibility and good judgement to protect themselves and others.

When the president of the nation ridicules people who wears masks and doesn’t wear one himself, it’s difficult to promote civic responsibility.

Jan Resseger reviews here a new book that explains the full-blown triumph of plutocracy. Trump is the culmination, not the cause. Wealth and power are now concentrated, more than ever, in the hands of a small minority, and Trump has persuaded his followers that plutocracy works for them!

She begins:

For ten years Jacob Hacker, the Yale political scientist, and Paul Pierson, the Berkeley political scientist, have been tracking exploding economic inequality in the United States. In this summer’s book, Let Them Eat Tweets, Hacker and Pierson explicitly identify our government as a plutocracy. And they track how politicians (with the help of right-wing media) shape a populist, racist, gun-toting, religious fundamentalist story line to distract the public from a government that exclusively serves the wealthy. In a new article published in the Columbia Journalism Review, Journalism’s Gates Keepers, Tim Schwab examines our plutocracy from a different point of view: How is the mainstream media, the institution most of us look to for objective news, shaped increasingly by philanthropists stepping in to fill the funding gaps as newspapers go broke and news organizations consolidate?

In their 2010 classic, Winner-Take-All Politics, Hacker and Pierson present “three big clues” pointing to the tilt of our economy to winner-take-all: “(1) Hyperconcentration of Income… The first clue is that the gains of the winner-take-all economy, befitting its name, have been extraordinarily concentrated. Though economic gaps have grown across the board, the big action is at the top, especially the very top… (2) Sustained Hyperconcentration… The shift of income toward the top has been sustained increasingly steadily (and, by historical standards, extremely rapidly) since 1980… (3) Limited Benefits for the Nonrich… In an era in which those at the top reaped massive gains, the economy stopped working for middle-and working-class Americans.” Winner-Take-All Politics, pp. 15-19) (emphasis in the original)

Hacker and Pierson’s second book in the recent decade, the 2016 American Amnesia explores America’s loss of faith in government, our massive forgetting about the role of government regulation and balance in a capitalist economy: “(T)he institution that bears the greatest credit often gets short shrift: that combination of government dexterity and market nimbleness known as the mixed economy. The improvement of health, standards of living, and so much else we take for granted occurred when and where government overcame market failures, invested in the advance of science, safeguarded and supported the smooth functioning of markets, and ensured that economic gains became social gains.” (American Amnesia, p. 69)

In their new Let Them Eat Tweets, Hacker and Pierson no longer avoid the label. They now call America a full blown plutocracy: “This is not a book about Donald Trump. Instead, it is about an immense shift that preceded Trump’s rise, has profoundly shaped his political party and its priorities, and poses a threat to our democracy that is certain to outlast his presidency. That shift is the rise of plutocracy—government of, by, and for the rich. Runaway inequality has remade American politics, reorienting power and policy toward corporations and the super-rich (particularly the most conservative among them)… The rise of plutocracy is the story of post-1980 American politics. Over the last forty years, the wealthiest Americans and the biggest financial and corporate interests have amassed wealth on a scale unimaginable to prior generations and without parallel in other western democracies. The richest 0.1 percent of Americans now have roughly as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent combined. They have used that wealth—and the connections and influence that come with it—to construct a set of political organizations that are also distinctive in historical and cross-national perspective. What makes them distinctive is not just the scope of their influence, especially on the right and far right. It is also the degree to which the plutocrats, the biggest winners in our winner-take-all economy, pursue aims at odds with the broader interests of American society.” (Let Them Eat Tweets, pp. 1-2)…

But there is another hidden element of the power of plutocrats. Philanthropies led by the wealthy make charitable gifts which subtly shape news reporting itself. And the subject here is not merely Fox and Breitbart and the other right-wing outlets. Tim Schwab’s important report from the Columbia Journalism Review is about one of America’s powerful plutocrats, Bill Gates. Schwab explores, “a larger trend—and ethical issue—with billionaire philanthropists’ bankrolling the news. The Broad Foundation, whose philanthropic agenda includes promoting charter schools, at one point funded part of the LA Times’ reporting on education. Charles Koch has made charitable donations to journalistic institutions such as the Poynter Institute, as well as to news outlets such as the Daily Caller, that support his conservative politics. And the Rockefeller Foundation funds Vox’s Future Perfect, a reporting project that examines the world ‘through the lens of effective altruism’—often looking at philanthropy. As philanthropists increasingly fill in the funding gaps at news organizations—a role that is almost certain to expand in the media downturn following the coronavirus pandemic—an unexamined worry is how this will affect the ways newsrooms report on their benefactors.”

Those of us who have been following public education policy over two decades know that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in policy itself—funding think tanks like the Center on Reinventing Public Education—which brought us “portfolio school reform” charter school expansion—which led to Chicago’s Renaissance 2010— which led to Arne Duncan’s bringing that strategy into federal policy in Race to the Top. We know that the Gates Foundation funded what ended up as an expensive and failed small high schools initiative, and, after that failed—an experiment with evaluating teachers by their students’ standardized test scores—and later experimenting with incentive bonuses for teachers who quickly “produce” higher student scores. We remember that the Gates Foundation brought us the now fading Common Core. And we remember that Arne Duncan filled his department with staff hired directly from the Gates Foundation.

I urge you to read it all. It’s important!

Despite the Constitution and it’s clear limit of two terms for the President, Trump has dropped many hints that he wants to stay longer, like his friends Putin and Kim.

Trump says he’ll ‘negotiate’ for a third term in office

At a campaign rally in Minden, Nev., on Saturday night, Trump revived the idea of serving more than two terms in office, telling supporters that he’s “entitled” to more time as president because of the way he has been treated over the past four years.

You have to scroll down to get to it.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/09/13/trump-biden-live-updates/?utm_campaign=wp_evening_edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_evening

At a campaign rally in Minden, Nev., on Saturday night, Trump revived the idea of serving more than two terms in office, telling supporters that he’s “entitled” to more time as president because of the way he has been treated over the past four years.

“Fifty-two days from now, we’re going to win Nevada, and we’re going to win four more years in the White House,” Trump said to cheers from the crowd at the Minden-Tahoe Airport. “And then, after that, we’ll negotiate, right? Because we’re probably — based on the way we were treated — we’re probably entitled to another four after that.”

The 22nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution limits the presidency to two terms. Even so, Trump has repeatedly floated the notion of staying in office for more than eight years.

In April 2019, he told a crowd at an event for the Wounded Warrior Project that he might remain in the Oval Office “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

In June last year, he suggested in a tweet that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer.”

And in a 2018 speech to Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump joked about doing away with term limits and praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for doing so.
“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said, according to CNN. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

Some Democrats on Sunday criticized Trump for his comments at the Nevada rally.

“Democracy is not up for negotiation,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said in a tweet.

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.

The pastor who officiated at a super-spreader wedding gave a defiant indoor sermon to maskless congregants, according to the Boston Globe:

The officiant of a now-infamous wedding in Millinocket gave a defiant sermon during an indoor church service on Sunday, just a day after Maine’s CDC announced it was investigating a coronavirus outbreak among those affiliated with the Sanford church.

Todd Bell, the pastor, portrayed Calvary Baptist Church, which he leads, as being on the front lines of a culture war, battling against a “socialistic platform” that mandates mask-wearing and distance learning in schools.

“I’ll tell you what the world wants all the churches to do,” Bell said during one of two Sunday services, which the church posted on YouTube. “They want us to shut down, go home, and let people get used to that just long enough until we can finally stop the advancing of the Gospel.”

Bell’s comments echoed some of the political talking points that President Trump and others on the right have used to decry coronavirus restrictions. At a rally in New Hampshire on Friday night, for example, Trump lamented that Democrats “don’t believe law-abiding citizens can go to a church together. You can’t go to church anymore.”

The Aug. 7 wedding at which Bell officiated in East Millinocket has been linked to 123 coronavirus cases in Maine, the largest outbreak in the state, as well as to the death of Theresa Dentremont, an 83-year-old woman who did not attend the event. Many of the participants in the wedding, including the bride and groom, went silent as the fallout grew, switching their social media accounts to private.

But Bell’s sermon on Sunday, at his church 225 miles south of the scene of the wedding, was fiery and unrepentant, indicating just how politicized the coronavirus has become, even in communities that have been affected by it. At times, he seemed to delight in provocation, saying that he hoped media outlets would watch the service. He did not respond to a request from the Globe for comment.

Churches have been political battlegrounds during the coronavirus, as well as occasional hot spots, with more than 650 cases linked to houses of worship and religious events since the pandemic began, according to a New York Times database in early July.

On Sunday morning, a 15-person choir assembled onstage at Calvary Baptist, maskless, and sang hymns.

The state of Maine says “cloth face coverings must be worn by all attendees when physical distancing is difficult to maintain” at worship services and also that “choirs are strongly discouraged.” When asked by the Globe whether the Sanford church was violating state rules, the Maine CDC said only that there was an ongoing investigation into the outbreak.

Gib Parrish, an epidemiologist in Maine, said that, based on what the Globe described of the service, the Sunday gathering appeared to increase the risk of participants contracting the coronavirus.

“If there are people who are likely to be positive in that group, then having an extended period of time together — particularly if they’re close by, [and] they’re not doing anything in terms of physical distancing or wearing masks, if they’re singing or shouting or talking loudly — those are activities that are known to facilitate transmission of the virus,” Parrish said.

Bell said in the sermon that the church was discouraging people from coming if they were sick and advising them to quarantine at home.

The pastor also warned his congregants that a vaccine against the coronavirus would include “aborted baby tissue,” an issue that some religious and antiabortion groups have seized upon in recent months. A number of vaccines, including those against rubella, chickenpox, and shingles, were manufactured using fetal cells from elective abortions decades ago, but the cell lines that continue to grow the vaccines are now generations removed from fetal cells. In April, a group including committee chairmen from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged the Food and Drug Administration not to develop a coronavirus vaccine using cell lines that originated from fetal cells.

Bell said that instead of trusting a vaccine, he would put his faith in God, “the one that has the power to remove pestilences.”

The Boston Globe says the infamous wedding has thus far produced three deaths and more than 130 infections. It cited evangelical leaders who said that Pastor Bell represented a fringe element, not the mainstream of evangelical Christianity.

But even as such episodes of defiance and denial of COVID-19 make the rounds online, pastors and theologians in New England say such stances represent a fringe view within evangelical Christianity, one that serves to heighten the distance many faithful already feel from the politically fraught term “evangelical…”

“I think the aggressive stance of the guy in Maine is an outlier, and it makes me kind of cringe,” said Jeffrey Bass, executive director of Emmanuel Gospel Center, a group that works closely with evangelical churches in the Boston area.

Ryan Burge, an assistant professor at Eastern Illinois University who researches religion and political behavior, said evangelicals who reject public health guidance in the name of religious freedom are not representative of the movement as a whole.

Although there is no universally accepted definition of what it means to be an evangelical Christian, it’s generally understood to mean a commitment to the Christian gospel’s message of spiritual salvation through Jesus Christ, and a dedication to spreading that gospel to others. Self-identified evangelicals and born-again Christians make up 41 percent of Americans. Polls suggest the majority take COVID-19 precautions seriously, Burge and other experts said.

Veteran journalist John Merrow poses the ethical dilemma of the journalist: if you see a child drowning, do you save the child or take a great photo? He says, you act as a citizen and save the child.

Thus, he criticizes Bob Woodward for saving his tapes of Trump lying about the severity of COVID. Woodward saved them for his book, knowing that the book would make lots more money than an article that released the tapes. Telling the truth months ago might have saved lives, so Trump and Woodward are both complicit in the coverup.

Peter Greene assures is that Trump and DeVos are a disaster for education. We know that. No one could be worse. They want to blow up public schools. No question.

But he’s worried that Biden will bring back the staffers from the Obama era of high-stakes testing, charter love, and Commin Core. In particular, he’s worried about Carmel Martin, a perennial favorite of Democratic neoliberals.

My one encounter with Carmel occurred at a panel discussion at the progressive Economic Policy Association in D.C. about one of my books. I lacerated charters, vouchers, and high-stakes testing, as well as the continuity between NCLB and Race to the Top. Carmel vigorously defended all that I criticized.

Like Peter Greene, I’m worried that Obama-era education staffers will return to restore the failed ideas of NCLB and Duncan’s disastrous reign.

Trump must go, and we must keep up the pressure to insist that Biden produce a fresh vision for federal education policy that discards the failures of the past 20 years.

More of the same is unacceptable.

In an effort to fire up his base, Trump identified three of the most extreme rightwing Senators as next in line for a Supreme Court appointment. One is Ted Cruz of Texas. During the 2016 campaign, Trump claimed that Ted Cruz was a key figure in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Apparently he told author Bob Woodward that he placed the story in the National Enquirer, even picked the photo of Cruz to run on the first page. If Trump should win, that’s the end of abortion, federal support for health care, and gay rights, as well as public schools, environmental protection and every progressive accomplishment of the past 50 years. Expect universal vouchers for religious schools and an explosion of charter schools. Expect a dramatic contraction of federal protection for civil rights. We can’t let it happen. We can’t throw away nearly a century of modernism.

President Trump on Wednesday named Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) to his shortlist of potential nominees for the Supreme Court should he win a second term.

Trump’s announcement, aimed at firing up conservatives eight weeks before the election, reflects the degree to which he has supercharged the politicization of the judicial branch, plunging the court system more deeply into the partisan fray than at any time since five Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents delivered the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.

All three senators have been plotting potential 2024 presidential campaigns of their own. Each man has been crystal clear that he would support overturning reproductive rights codified in Roe v. Wade, strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety and rule against LGBTQ rights if given the chance.

Trump has been on a rant about teaching history, despite the fact that his own knowledge of American and world history is limited, possibly non-existent. He wants history to remain as it was taught in textbooks sixty years ago, when he was a student. This would be a white-centered, triumphal story of the American past, where the only blacks ever mentioned were George Washington Carver and (maybe) Booker T. Washington. White men did everything important, and everyone else was subservient and missing.

Like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Trump is outraged by the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, which begins with the arrival of the first African slaves on the shores of what was eventually to become the United States. Senator Cotton has proposed withdrawing federal funds for the teaching of this revisionist view of American history.

Trump wants to go farther and threatens to withdraw federal funding from any school or district that teaches the history described in the 1619 Project. Trump and Attorney General Barr insist that there is no systemic racism in the United States.

Trump read a tweet warning that the schools of California were using the 1619 Project and he said the Department of Education would investigate and suspend federal funding if it were true. He undoubtedly doesn’t know that the State Board of Education in Texas approved an African-American studies course last April

Trump is abysmally ignorant and hopelessly racist. We already knew that. In addition, he is threatening to break the law. There is a federal law specifically prohibiting any interference by any federal official in curriculum or instruction in any school. As we know, Trump believes he is above the law and can do “whatever he wants.”But 20 USC 1232a prohibits “any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”