Soldiers for trump’s war on the virus MIA !

The New York Times

Celebrity Vetting and ‘Helping the President’ to Defeat Coronavirus Despair

Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere                 October 29, 2020

WASHINGTON — A $265 million public campaign to “defeat despair” around the coronavirus was planned partly around the politically tinged theme that “helping the president will help the country,” according to documents released Thursday by House investigators.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, and others involved envisioned a star-studded campaign to lift American spirits, but the lawmakers said they sought to exclude celebrities who had supported gay rights or same-sex marriage or who had publicly disparaged President Donald Trump. Actor Zach Galifianakis, for instance, was apparently passed over because he had declined to have Trump on his talk show “Between Two Ferns.” (Galifianakis did have President Barack Obama on the irreverent show.)

Ultimately, the campaign collapsed in late September amid recriminations and investigation.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis released the records, declaring that “these documents include extremely troubling revelations.” They accused Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, of “a cover-up to conceal the Trump administration’s misuse of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for partisan political purposes ahead of the upcoming election.”

Caputo, a fierce ally of Trump, had drawn attention to the public relations campaign last month during an extended rant on Facebook, claiming that the president had personally put him in charge of the project and that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” to undermine the president. He is now on medical leave battling cancer.

That public relations effort is now in shambles. The celebrities picked to promote the campaign, including actor Dennis Quaid, have pulled out. Azar ordered a review of whether the initiative served “important public health purposes.” Top health department officials have privately tried to distance themselves from the project.

“The plan has always been to only use materials reviewed by a department-wide team of experts,” a department spokeswoman said in a statement.

The new documents indicate that Quaid stood out mainly because he got through the vetting. Documents show that contractors involved in the public relations effort researched the political views and backgrounds of at least 274 celebrities in what appeared to be an effort to root out anti-Trump sentiment that could inflect the initiative.

Galifianakis “refused to host President Trump on talk show,” one notation reads. Bryan Cranston, the antihero of the television program “Breaking Bad,” “called out Trump’s attacks on journalists during his Tony Awards speech in 2019.” Actor Jack Black was “known to be a classic Hollywood liberal.”

Singer Christina Aguilera “is an Obama-supporting Democrat and a gay-rights supporting liberal.” Adam Levine of the band Maroon 5 “fights for gay rights.” Justin Timberlake “supports gay marriage.”

Dakota Johnson, the actress, once “wore a pin to support Planned Parenthood.” And Sarah Jessica Parker, the actress, was tagged as an “LGBTQ supporter including marriage equality.”

In the end, only 10 of hundreds of potential celebrities considered for the campaign were approved, the documents suggest.

The new documents deal with a $15 million contract awarded to Atlas Research and indicate that government officials successfully urged the company to hire three little-known subcontractors with no obvious expertise to join the bigger campaign.

When Mark H. Chichester, the president of Atlas, tried to research those subcontractors, he discovered “small shops with little on them in the public domain,” according to documents the committee released.

One was a one-person operation run by a state-level Republican pollster, Chichester wrote. Another appeared to be “a small — perhaps one-man” operation.

A third was a “platform owned by Den Tolmor, a Russian-born business associate of Caputo’s,” Chichester said.

In a September meeting with one subcontractor, Caputo suggested “taglines” for the effort, some of which had a distinctly partisan tone, such as “helping the president will help the country,” according to notes released by the lawmakers. Caputo said that theme “would appeal to his base in terms of wearing a mask, vaccine,” the notes state.

Caputo appeared to be trying to shore up support from Trump’s followers who might be skeptical of wearing masks or getting a vaccine by linking those activities with supporting the president. The main contractor, Atlas Research, could not be immediately reached for comment. A person familiar with Caputo’s version of events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Caputo was never in business with Tolmor, the subcontractor, and did not try to improperly intervene in the contracting process.

But in a 2018 press release and in at least two media reports that year, Caputo was described as the chief marketing officer for a film and video company co-founded by Tolmor. And the documents released by congressional investigators suggest that contract officials with the Food and Drug Administration, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, were so concerned about Caputo&aposs involvement in the process that one removed him from an email chain and warned Atlas executives that only contract officers could advise the company about how to fulfill its government obligations.

The public relations campaign became politically toxic even to those who signed up for it. Quaid recently backed out after recording an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, saying in an Instagram post that his role was not an endorsement of Trump, and that he was “feeling some outrage and a lot of disappointment” after public reports on the campaign. Singer CeCe Winans also dropped out.

Democratic lawmakers have questioned the campaign’s funding after Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified in September that $300 million had been steered from his agency’s budget to Caputo’s office, and that the CDC was given no role in the campaign, which aimed to “defeat despair.”

The federal government awarded the campaign’s biggest contract to the Fors Marsh Group, a research company in Northern Virginia. A department official said the award, for $250 million, was competitively bid and Caputo had “nothing to do” with it.

On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported that as part of that same campaign, Caputo had offered early access to a coronavirus vaccine to a group of performers who play Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and elves. In recordings obtained by The Journal, Caputo said that the campaign would feature regional events with “beautiful educational films,” and that the Santas would participate in dozens of cities. Health department officials said the Santa plan was discarded. Caputo also did not have the power to grant special access to a vaccine.

In their letter dated Wednesday, the Democrats scolded Azar for not turning over contract documents, including those related to Atlas. They wrote that it was “completely inappropriate to frame a taxpayer-funded ad campaign around ‘helping’ President Trump in the weeks and days before the election.”

The letter was signed by three committee leaders: Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.

Caputo was especially aggressive in putting the president’s sanguine spin on the pandemic. He and a onetime adviser he hired at the department, Dr. Paul Alexander, repeatedly tried to interfere with weekly bulletins published by the CDC about the latest research on the pandemic, lashing out at career officials for perceived opposition to Trump. Caputo asked CDC officials for the names of the authors of the reports in an attempt to locate potential anti-Trump political bias in their biographies, according to two former senior health officials.

How GDP Growth Under Trump Compares To Clinton, Obama And Other Presidents

Benzinga

How GDP Growth Under Trump Compares To Clinton, Obama And Other Presidents

Wayne Duggan                         October 29, 2020

 

With the presidential election less than a week away, Americans are weighing the two presidential candidates and choosing which is best for the country over the next four years —if they haven’t already voted.

One way they can do that is by looking back on the first term of President Donald Trump and comparing the impact his policies have had on the country to previous administrations.

Trump’s GDP Numbers: Trump has campaigned as the best choice for the U.S. economy. Trump often uses the stock market as a scorecard for his policies, but the best representation of the real U.S. economy is gross domestic product.

Here’s a look at annual U.S. GDP growth during Trump’s presidency. The 2020 estimate comes from the Federal Reserve:

  • 2017: +2.3%
  • 2018: +3%
  • 2019: +2.2%
  • 2020: -3.7%

How Trump Compares: Overall, U.S. GDP growth has averaged about 0.95% during Trump’s first term in office. Here’s a look at how that GDP growth stacks up to his predecessor, President Barack Obama:

  • 2009: -2.5%
  • 2010: +2.6%
  • 2011: +1.6%
  • 2012: +2.2%
  • 2013: +1.8%
  • 2014: +2.5%
  • 2015: +3.1%
  • 2016: +1.7%

In his eight years in office, U.S. GDP growth averaged 1.62% under Obama, about 70% higher than Trump’s growth rate.

Here’s a look at average GDP growth rates under the last six U.S. presidents:

  • Jimmy Carter (D): 3.25%
  • Ronald Reagan (R): 3.48%
  • George H.W. Bush (R): 2.25%
  • Bill Clinton (D): 3.88%
  • George W. Bush (R): 2.2%
  • Barack Obama (D): 1.62%
  • Donald Trump (R): 0.95%

In his first four years in office, Trump has had by far the lowest average U.S. GDP growth rate of any of the last seven U.S. presidents.

Overall, U.S. GDP growth was highest under Clinton and Reagan in this group. GDP growth was lowest under Trump and Obama.

‘Binded by blood,’ split over election: Asian American family embodies generational shift in politics

NBC News

‘Binded by blood,’ split over election: Asian American family embodies generational shift in politics

Rima Abdelkader and Shako Liu and Soumya Shankar – October 27, 2020
'Binded by blood,' split over election: Asian American family embodies generational shift in politics

Four years ago, Louie Tan Vital received an invitation from her 81-year old grandmother, an immigrant, to join a prayer rally for whom she hoped would be the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.

To be respectful, Vital attended, but she didn’t actively participate. “I was incredibly uncomfortable. And I remember talking to my grandmother later,” Vital told NBC News over Zoom from her home in Washington, D.C.

Vital, 25, identifies as a Democrat and considers herself a progressive activist, while her grandmother Estrella Pada Taong identifies as conservative and a Republican. She remembered asking her grandma for her views on Trump then and learning her grandma felt he’s religious and “a good Christian.” Vital said she chose not to respond further so as not to get too upset.

“My opinion is that he is not a religious man, nor would I say he conveys any traditionally Christian values, respecting women and family and all of that,” Vital said.

Like many immigrant groups, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience generational splits among voters. Vital, who was born in the United States, and her grandmother Taong, who was born in the Philippines, reflect these differences — some of which can be explained by their age and where they grew up.

Sixty-six percent of Asian Americans, 18 to 34 years old, would vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, compared to 20 percent of those more than 50 years old, according to the most recent Asian American Voter Survey.

“What we find is that, where Asian Americans live doesn’t make as much of a difference in terms of which party they identify with or who they’re going to vote for, as much as age and nativity,” according to Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of the Asian American Voter Survey and founder of AAPI Data.

Ramakrishnan said that younger voters identify more with the Democratic Party and as progressive on issues such as health care, the citizenship process, protecting the environment, gun control, abortion and in their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and having a heightened sensitivity to matters like racial discrimination whereas older voters tend to not be as progressive.

Ramakrishnan explains that while party affiliation and identity politics vary among different Asian American groups when comparing younger and older voters, younger voters still tend to be more progressive.

Organizing for ‘the exact opposite beliefs’

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, conversations surrounding political beliefs and dissent with family could get difficult to navigate. Vital’s intergenerational Filipino American voting family found it’s more about understanding one another’s upbringings and life experiences than to center on disagreement.

“It’s interesting that I’m over here on this side of the country doing community organizing. I’m fighting in politics and fighting for progressive policies. And on the complete other end of the country, my grandma is also out here community organizing for the exact opposite beliefs,” Vital said.

Vital said when she visits her family in Hawaii, the time spent is not about discussing politics but “cooking together, just hanging out, watching movies, just everyday family stuff.”

“I’m not authentically myself in the presence because I know that my political views might come between us and I’m actively choosing sometimes to not address that,” she explained.

Alex Ly, a registered associate marriage and family therapist in Fremont, California, says a family member choosing to disengage from a political disagreement happens and suggests ways families could communicate their views.

“When that person feels understood, they are more open to a different perspective,” Ly said.

Ly, who sees around 10 to 15 clients per week including Asian Americans, suggests bringing “a level of curiosity” to the conversation, considering intention and outcome, and understanding not only the person’s position but also the story behind it.

Explaining splits in subgroups such as Indian Americans and Vietnamese Americans

AAPI Data shows that Vietnamese Americans are the only Asian American subgroup that identify more as Republican at 38 percent, compared to Democratic at 27 percent and 29 percent identify as independent. The explanation as to why includes nuances such as refugee trauma and its past colonial history. One of the main factors is how Vietnamese communities were affected in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, according to Nick Nguyen, a research lead at VietFactCheck.org, a project formed by PIVOT, a progressive Vietnamese American nonprofit social justice organization.

Many Vietnamese Americans formed political opinions following the Vietnam War, when the lives of the Vietnamese people were upended and once-stable families became refugees, Nguyen said from Palo Alto, California. He said that a belief had emerged that the Republican Party held an anti-communist agenda rather than a peacenik view which reflected views from these communities at the time and carried over since then. To add, that political affiliation, he said, could also be explained by more Vietnamese people feeling much more welcomed by that party in being accepted into the United States and because of other reasons like religiosity.

“We didn’t go through the trauma they went through,” Nguyen, 44, said, adding, “I’m very empathetic towards elders and why they feel the way they feel.”

Nguyen, who is a second-generation Vietnamese American, credits his family who came to the United States as refugees and became naturalized citizens with providing him with security and enfranchisement through their sacrifices.

“Because we didn’t grow up under all this sort of stress that can really affect your outlook on the world and on life, we have the luxury of really looking outward at problems that we think will snowball into bigger problems and we want to solve them,” he said.

Nguyen said he grew up as a Republican due to his family’s influence and past history but later identified as Democratic at age 25 when he developed his own political views from his personal and professional experiences.

Another reason could be Trump’s tough talk on China, a communist country that once ruled over Vietnam. For elderly Vietnamese Americans, that appears to be a favorable factor in their support for the incumbent, because it harkens back to former president Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist approach, according to Dr. Anh – Thu Bui, who is directing election strategy at PIVOT, a nonprofit working to increase voter participation among Vietnamese Americans.

Within the Asian American voting bloc, naturalized immigrants are the biggest sources of growth for eligible voters.  Of the group, Indian Americans are among the fastest growing and have doubled in size in the recent past.

About 89 percent of Indian Americans who refer to themselves as Democratic are planning to vote for Biden compared to 80 percent of those who identify as Republican who are planning to vote for Trump, according to the Carnegie Endowment For Peace citing the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey. Those who were born in the United States tend to identify more as a Democrat, representing 64 percent, compared to naturalized U.S. citizens at 48 percent, according to the same report.

“I’m very connected to India through my family but I have to focus on what the U.S. government does vis a vis the economy,” said Khyati Joshi, a professor of education at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. “Most second-gen Indians like me, however, are looking at health care, economy and social justice issues here.”

Some experts explain one contributing factor in this split could be Trump’s alliance with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, given the large portion of the U.S. community born in India. While a total of 14 percent of the U.S. population is foreign born, among Indian Americans, that number is 71 percent.

In 2019, Modi and Trump hosted a rally to address Indian American supporters in Houston. The “Howdy Modi” event drew 50,000 people and the two leaders appeared together on stage. In February, they held a joint rally in India, during which they praised one another in front of over 110,000 people.

Still, other issues, like Trump’s order to curb H-1B visas that have been temporarily blocked by a district judge until the end of the year have affected Indians working in the United States who have received half of all H-1B visas, widely given to tech workers with specialty skills since 2001.

Other experts explain any differences within the community as a matter of perspective. Pawan Dhingra, a sociologist and professor of American studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts, said immigrants tend to think that “we need to pay our dues and so, tend to accept certain kinds of inequalities.” Their children, however, he noted, are less likely to conform. “The second gen feels that we, as U.S. citizens, are raised here and deserve equal rights.”

Choosing to understand one another

Taong, who works as a mortgage loan officer in Honolulu, said she became politically active with other Filipino Americans when Trump ran for president in the previous election. She recognizes that her political views differ from her granddaughter’s and chooses to understand why.

“What I only do is I have to understand, I have to understand her present situation, her present place, the culture she is now. I have to understand her. I have to understand her peers, the school she goes, the training she gets from the school,” Taong said over Zoom from Honolulu.

Unlike her granddaughter, Taong said she grew up with strict parents in the Philippines whom she said she could not disagree with.

“We cannot go anything against what our parents would say. If I were on that, like what Louie had been doing, I’m sure my parents would say, as what I said, that do not join the activist group. As a child, I have to follow,” Taong said.

Her granddaughter said she has participated in marching for the Black Lives Matter movement and has been vocal on being a progressive activist since her undergraduate and graduate educations at the University of Washington.

Third Andresen, a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington who teaches courses on ethnic studies and critical race theory, remembered teaching Vital as a student in his study abroad course in the Philippines and said she excelled in her studies.

Andresen also remembered Vital seeking his advice as a student on how to handle disagreements with family.

“Be prepared to be uncomfortable. If you’re not ready, you might want to keep practicing until you’re ready,” Andresen said he tells his students.

Taong recalls her granddaughter’s passion for being an activist as a student and not being in acceptance of it at the time, but found a way to understand and respect it.

“I respect her opinion, because I believe that she’s a little bit mature enough to think what is good for herself. And the only thing that I can help her is to pray for her, pray for her safety and pray that her plans are well accepted by the world,” she explained.

Taong shared that she based her guidance from having lived in the Philippines and seeing a different view of activism that sometimes left people hurt and unsafe and being fearful of that for Vital.

Even among the differences, Taong pursued higher education like her granddaughter. She said she obtained a doctoral degree in administration and supervision in the Philippines. She said there are a few different factors that shape viewpoints.

“It’s through culture, family background and training and educational background and the influence of the environment,” she explained. “What we got from our parents, we transcended, we transfer it to our next generation, next siblings.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by her daughter Lucky Tan Tasato, 49, who said she raised Vital to be free to “decide and choose.”

“I have my own set of beliefs. I am driven by my own values and morality basically. And when it comes to Louie, I do encourage her to stand for what she thinks is right,” Tasato said over Zoom from Honolulu.

Vital’s mother remembered when her daughter sported a mask that read, “We decide” on the day she voted. “And I told her, you’re right, you are part of the we,” she said.

“We can be on the left, on the right and the middle. But in the end, we’re still binded by blood,” Tasato said. “So, we still have to show respect to one another, and respect the fact that we’re free to express ourselves quite vocally or maybe not even vocally of our political affiliation.”

Household incomes grew more slowly in a majority of states under Trump – even before COVID-19

USA Today

Household incomes grew more slowly in a majority of states under Trump – even before COVID-19

Jessica Goodheart and Danny Feingold, Capital & Main – October 26, 2020
Household incomes grew more slowly in a majority of states under Trump – even before COVID-19

Even before the U.S. economy was slammed by a pandemic, the typical American household’s income grew at a slower pace in more than half of the states under Donald Trump than in the years leading up to his presidency, according to a new Capital & Main analysis of U.S. Census data.

Those states include several key battlegrounds, undercutting one of Trump’s central campaign themes: that before COVID-19 his actions led to an economy he has described as “the best it has ever been.”

Pennsylvania saw its typical household’s income growth slow from 6.2% in Obama’s last three years to 4.7% in Trump’s first three years, while median household income growth in Wisconsin declined from 7.1% to 6%.

In New Hampshire typical household income growth slowed from 7.2% between 2013 and 2016 to 3.1% from 2016 to 2019, while in Iowa it slowed from 4.5% to 3%.

Nationally, median family income growth in Trump’s first three years was almost identical to the rate of growth in the three years prior to his presidency, according to one of the two main Census surveys. A second Census survey shows that median household income growth actually slowed in Trump’s first three years to 2.1% annually compared with 2.6% annually during Obama’s last three years.

The President has said that, before COVID-19, he oversaw an economy that was "the best it has ever been.”
The President has said that, before COVID-19, he oversaw an economy that was “the best it has ever been.”

 

Defenders of the president point to other indicators such as family income, which does not include households with single people and unrelated people living together. Family income, they point out, grew faster in Trump’s first three years than in the years before he took office.

Measured by median household income, however, 26 states saw slower growth under Trump even before the pandemic – including in half of the 2020 battleground states identified by The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter that analyzes campaigns and elections. They include Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio, along with Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In addition, two states with battleground districts, Maine and Nebraska, saw median household income growth slow in real terms.

In the hotly contested 2016 race between Trump and Hillary Clinton, sixteen of the 26 states where household income growth slowed in the ensuing years supported Trump. Seven of those 16 are considered battlegrounds in the current presidential race.

The slowing income growth in most states during the Trump years came despite the fact that the president inherited a strong economy, unlike his predecessor, who took office during the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

“Obama was carrying us out of a very deep and long recession, and Trump inherited that. If anything, it’s notable that real income didn’t rise any faster under Trump than it did under Obama, despite the stimulus that his tax cuts were supposed to provide,” said Nari Rhee, director of the retirement security program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education.

The coronavirus downturn, President Donald Trump says, means he'll have to rebuild the U.S. economy a second time.
The coronavirus downturn, President Donald Trump says, means he’ll have to rebuild the U.S. economy a second time.

 

The analysis of the latest American Community Survey data by Capital & Main, a nonprofit news organization, was conducted in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Labor Center. It compares two periods of economic expansion: Obama’s last three years in office (2014 to 2016) to the first three years of the Trump presidency (2017 to 2019). In each case, the income reported in the prior years (2013 and 2016) allows growth to be measured over the subsequent years.

Trump has repeatedly promised that he can return the economy to its pre-pandemic heights. But the Capital & Main analysis shows that, even before the pandemic, the rate of income growth for the typical household was geographically uneven.

Stephen Moore, Trump’s former economic adviser and a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has recently argued that Trump rescued an economy in serious financial trouble.

“Family incomes surged to record-high levels in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as deregulation and tax cuts fueled a powerful engine,” Moore wrote in an editorial earlier this month.

Stephen Moore, Donald Trump’s former economic adviser, argues that Trump rescued an economy in serious financial trouble.
Stephen Moore, Donald Trump’s former economic adviser, argues that Trump rescued an economy in serious financial trouble.

 

Yet, for the first half of the Trump administration, during 2017 and 2018, real income growth for the typical household grew at less than half the rate it did in the two years before he took office, according to a previous analysis by Capital & Main and the Economic Policy Institute.

All but two states experienced a trend of slower growth in median household income for the first two years of Trump’s presidency compared to the prior two years. The poorest households also saw slower income growth in Trump’s first two years compared with Obama’s last two years.

It was only in 2019 that the picture brightened for many Americans. The low unemployment rate and prolonged expansion likely led to rising incomes as more people found jobs in a tight labor market, says David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute.

However, Cooper gives little credit to Trump’s economic policy for the growth in household incomes in 2019, saying he “squandered every opportunity to lift up ordinary Americans.”

“The data are a good reminder that the Trump administration inherited one of the best economies in (a) generation. But they did nothing in their first three years that meaningfully altered the overall trajectory of the economy during that time,” he said.

“Despite all the rhetoric, companies continue to offshore jobs, the trade deficit with China continues to grow. (Trump’s) signature economic policy was a massive tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited the rich.”

Cooper does not dispute that family incomes did grow at a faster pace under Trump than under Obama, but he credits the fact that the country was eight years into an economic expansion, not Trump’s tax cuts or deregulatory agenda. The austerity measures pushed by a Republican-controlled Congress and state legislatures prevented family incomes from rising more under Obama, according to Cooper.

Of course, what’s foremost on people’s minds right now is a pandemic and a recession that has erased economic progress made under Obama and Trump alike.

The employment gains made since the Great Recession have been wiped out by COVID-19-related job losses. Its impact on the typical household in battleground states and elsewhere will be more fully understood when the U.S. Census Bureau releases its income data next September, long after the election.

Capital & Main is a nonprofit publication that reports on economic, environmental and social issues.

Trump just signed an executive order letting him purge thousands of federal workers for disloyalty

Vanity Fair – Levin Report

Trump just signed an executive order letting him purge thousands of federal workers for disloyalty

Even if he loses, the action could sabotage a Biden administration indefinitely.
Image may contain Human Person Face Clothing Suit Overcoat Apparel Coat and Frown
By Olivier Douliery / Getty Images

 

Historically, when Donald Trump has signed executive orders, like to issue a travel ban against people from majority-Muslim nations or to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, he’s done so with lots of fanfare, tweeting about how they’ve made America great again, inviting camera crews to watch him scribble his Sharpie across the page, and sending his lieutenants out to brag about them on TV. But last week, the White House was relatively, strangely quiet as the president signed the esoteric-sounding “Executive Order on Creating Schedule F In the Excepted Service.” And that was probably by design; because the action not only gives Trump the power to purge thousands of federal workers—the kind whose job protections have allowed them to deal in facts and stand up to presidential intimidation—and replace them with politically appointed hacks who would spend the next four years doing Trump’s bidding, but it would cripple a Biden administration for months, at a time when it will need to act fast on, among other things, COVID-19.

Of course, that’s not how the administration has summarized the EO, saying, instead that it’s all about getting rid of “poor performers.” But competence has never been of much interest to Trump, who evaluates who is the best person for any given job based on how hard they kiss his ass and pledge to do his bidding no matter what. Unfortunately, until now the president has been bedeviled by rules saying he can’t just fire civil servants for writing reports that say mask-wearing helps stop the spread of COVID-19, or coal mining is hastening climate change, or refusing to say that a hurricane was headed for Alabama when it definitely wasn’t. Thus, this new plan.

Here’s how the Independent describes it:

The order…would strip civil service protections from a broad swath of career civil servants if it is decided that they are in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions”—a description previously reserved for the political appointees who come and go with each change in administration. It does that by creating a new category for such positions that do not turn over from administration to administration and reclassifying them as part of that category.

The range of workers who could be stripped of protections and placed in this new category is vast, experts say, and could include most of the non-partisan experts—scientists, doctors, lawyers, economists—whose work to advise and inform policymakers is supposed to be done in a way that is fact-driven and devoid of politics. Trump has repeatedly clashed with such career workers on a variety of settings, ranging from his desire to present the COVID-19 pandemic as largely over, to his attempts to enable his allies to escape punishment for federal crimes, to his quixotic insistence that National Weather Service scientists back up his erroneous claim that the state of Alabama was threatened by a hurricane which was not heading in its direction.

In creating the new category, called “Schedule F,” Trump would basically take employees whose jobs are nonpolitical and are protected from, for instance, a president who doesn‘t believe science is real, and make them “at will,” while at the same time, giving political appointees the very job protection he’s stripping from civil servants. That would obviously be extremely bad under a scenario in which Trump is elected to a second term—as the Washington Post puts it, “think of the Federal Aviation Administration employee evaluating whether an airliner is safe to fly” or “the Food and Drug Administration employee evaluating the efficacy of a vaccine”—and there isn‘t a single person left in the federal government who is qualified or non-corrupt. But it would also mean, in the likely event Trump loses, he could go scorched earth and screw over Joe Biden when time is of the essence:

Creating the new category…could allow a lame-duck President Trump to cripple his successor’s administration by firing any career federal employees who’ve been included on the list. It also could allow Trump administration officials to skirt prohibitions against “burrowing in”—the heavily restricted practice of converting political appointees (known as “Schedule C” employees) into career civil servants—by hiring them under the new category for positions which would not end with Trump’s term. Another provision orders agencies to take steps to prohibit removing “Schedule F” appointees from their jobs on the grounds of “political affiliation,” which could potentially prevent a future administration from firing unqualified appointees because of their association with President Trump.

“It’s a two-pronged attack—a Hail Mary pass to enable them to do some burrowing in if they lose the election,” Walter Shaub, who ran the U.S. Office of Government Ethics during Barack Obama’s second term and in first six months of the Trump administration, told reporter Andrew Feinberg. “But if they win the election, then anything goes for the destruction of the civil service… [This could] take us back to the spoils system and all the corruption that comes with it.” Or as New Jersey chief innovation officer Beth Noveck put it, “It’s the twin danger of both firing [someone like Dr. Anthony] Fauci and replacing him with Eric Trump’s wedding planner permanently.” Or, say, a guy who thinks the government’s strategy to combat the pandemic should be to let 2 million Americans get it and die.

In a sign of just how catastrophic the action could ultimately prove, on Sunday, Ronald Sanders, the Trump-appointed head of an advisory council on the civil service, quit in protest, writing in his resignation letter that the order “is nothing more than a smoke screen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.“ He added: “I simply cannot be part of an Administration that seeks…to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance. Career Federal employees are legally and duty-bound to be nonpartisan; they take an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution and the rule of law…not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration.”

Or as Richard Loeb, a senior policy counsel at the American Federation of Government Employees, put it to the New York Times: “This is a declaration of war on the career Civil Service. It is an attempt to politicize the process and to hire cronies and fire enemies. It is really a 19th-century concept.”

Surprise: a Minnesota outbreak has been linked to Trump campaign events

Who could have predicted this, other than everyone? Per CNN:

Minnesota is reporting three COVID-19 outbreaks related to Trump campaign events held in September. At least 21 cases have been traced to outbreaks occurring at rally events in Bemidji on Sept. 18, a speech held by Vice President Mike Pence on Sept. 24 in Minneapolis, and another rally held by the President on Sept. 30 in Duluth, the Minnesota Department of Health said in an email to CNN. President Trump’s Bemidji rally took place in an airport hanger. According to a CNN producer who attended the event, at least 2,000 people were in attendance. Based on contact tracing by the state department of health, at least 16 cases, including two hospitalizations, were identified among attendees.

In the month proceeding the rally, the seven-day average of new cases in Beltrami County, where Bemidji is located, was 2.85 new cases a day, according to Johns Hopkins University. On the day of the rally it had climbed up slightly to three new cases a day. But four weeks after, the average rate of new cases in the county had increased more than fourfold, reaching an average of 14.57 new cases a day.

Trump’s rallies, which have only increased in frequency since he himself contracted COVID-19, have been largely mask-free affairs where social distancing is nonexistent, which probably has something to do with the fact that the president has alternatively told supporters that the virus is a hoax or that it’s real but we’re “rounding the corner” (as cases surge).

Trump’s new coronavirus spin: doctors are inflating their case numbers to make extra cash

We say this a lot, and sometimes on a daily basis, but the president of the United States is truly a malignant tumor:

Donald Trump attacked U.S. doctors in a speech Saturday night, accusing them of fabricating the coronavirus death toll for money. He gave the example of someone with a terminal illness getting COVID-19, whose death is then written off as due to the virus.

“We report them, and doctors get more money, and hospitals get more money,” he said. “Some countries, they report differently. If somebody is sick with a heart problem, and they die of COVID-19, they say they die of a heart problem…. This country,” he continued, “and their reporting systems are really not doing it right,” by naming COVID-19 as the cause of death, and not the terminal illness. Trump added, “We’re gonna start looking at things, because they have things a little bit backwards.”

At the same rally, the president gleefully recounted an MSNBC reporter getting hit by “pepper spray or a canister of tear gas,” saying he’d “never seen anyone go down so fast.”

Jared and Ivanka are not fans of Time Square billboards broadcasting their role in mass murder

Unfortunately for Javanka, they’re unlikely to come down any time soon:

The Lincoln Project “will not be intimidated by empty bluster,” a lawyer for the group wrote late on Saturday, in response to a threat from an attorney for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner over two billboards put up in Times Square. “Sue if you must,” Matthew Sanderson said.

The New York City billboards show the president’s daughter and her husband, both senior White House advisers, displaying apparent indifference to public suffering under COVID-19. Kushner is shown next to the quote “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem,” above a line of body bags. Trump is shown gesturing, with a smile, to statistics for how many New Yorkers and Americans as a whole have died…. On Friday, Marc Kasowitz, an attorney who has represented the president against allegations of fraud and sexual assault, wrote to the Lincoln Project, demanding the “false, malicious, and defamatory” ads be removed, or “we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”

In a legal response on Saturday night, attorney Matthew Sanderson told Kasowitz: “Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster…your clients are no longer Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities.

Kasowitz claimed Kushner “never said” the words attributed to him by the ad, which were reported by journalist Katherine Eban in a Vanity Fair article last month. He also said Ivanka Trump “never made the gesture” she is shown to make. “May I suggest,” Sanderson said, “that if Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are genuinely concerned about salvaging their reputations, they would do well to stop suppressing truthful criticism and instead turn their attention to the COVID-19 crisis that is still unfolding under their inept watch. These billboards are not causing [their] standing with the public to plummet. Their incompetence is.”

On the bright side…

While Ivanka and Jared may no longer be welcome on the Upper East Side or in other Manhattan neighborhoods, Staten Island would apparently love to have them, a consolation prize we’re sure has brought the couple great comfort:

“The reality is if you kill thousands and thousands and thousands of New Yorkers, you’re not going to re-enter polite society and go to the Met ball,” said the writer Molly Jong-Fast, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project. The couple might be greeted warmly in some parts of the city, said Joe Borelli, a councilman from Staten Island—which voted for the president in 2016. Mr. Borelli said he has no insight into “polite society” but noted that Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner “are always welcome on Staten Island.”

 

Barrett and the zombie tots of the apocalypse

Chicago Suntimes

Barrett and the zombie tots of the apocalypse

The Indiana jurist’s nomination is the devil’s bargain that Trump’s evangelicals have sold their souls for. But if the court overturns Roe, an indignant public may have the final say.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifying, sort of, before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her pre-ordained confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. Getty Images.

 

As the Republican majority in the Senate huzzahs Amy Coney Barrett onto the United States Supreme Court — which is their right — I hope you’ll forgive me for ignoring the hearing completely. This machine grinds onward whether I jam my hand into the gears or not. Why sweat the details? Better to keep my fingers.

This isn’t a sideshow, but the main event, the core of the devil’s bargain Christian extremist America struck with Donald Trump five years ago: rescue our imaginary babies and we’ll forgive you everything else, every flailing, foaming, lying, malicious, pandemic-botching, country-betraying minute.

Elections have consequences, the GOP sneers, two weeks before an election. Point taken. Thank you for the reminder.

Though I wish I could go back in time to replay this week for all those indifferent, what-does-my-vote matter? sorts. It matters because of this.

Hidebound, my-way-or-the-highway religion tries to steamroll the country back to its idea of goodness, via gigantic concern for proto-babies the size of kidney beans and no concern at all for actual baby-sized babies, newborns yanked from the arms of their mothers at the border. Heck, their parents’ paperwork isn’t in order. What choice have we?

This is like the worst zombie movie ever: “Baby Crusaders of the Apocalypse,” as the Republicans conjure up an army of hacked apart fetuses, which assemble themselves and, eyes glowing, jerkily march on Jerusalem, to liberate the Holy Land from the clutches of Saracen feminists.

Madness. So why am I so inexplicably unruffled? Maybe just numb? No shame there. After four years of this ridiculous circus, with the tiny Trump administration clown car disgorging an endless stream of henchmen and haters, felons and fanatics, what’s one more? I just can’t focus on Amy Coney Barrett.

C’mon in Amy, grab a seltzer bottle and a flappy paddle and get at it. The more the merrier. You won’t be the worst justice on the court, not while Clarence Thomas is around.

Sometimes, as a parlor game, I try to imagine what the Right is thinking. They can’t hope that Roe gets overturned and women will simply shrug, sigh, slip on their white gloves and go back to taking Valium and flipping through the Simplicity Pattern Book. Maybe they do.

I imagine the opposite: indignation unleashed, furious Americans, accustomed to freedom, rattling the rafters of our already shuddering society and finally getting the laws in place that should have been there all along, rather than relying on the rickety jalopy of Roe to carry us where we’re going.

Other countries have gone through this. We could look to the Republic of Ireland for a hint at what might transpire here (if Americans, you know, were the sort of people to look at other countries). Abortion was banned in the constitution of that deeply Catholic nation. There were 25 legal abortions in Ireland in 2016, and Irish women of means were grateful they could finally slip over to England for their abortions, after a wildly divisive case in the early 1990s involving “Girl X,” a 14-year-old who became pregnant after being raped by a family friend. The Irish courts basically tried to put the girl in jail for nine months to force her to bear the child, one of the many gruesome realities that we are shuffling toward.

Most people don’t want that. In May 2018, Ireland had a referendum — after being given a push by the European Union, which tagged banning abortion the human rights violation it certainly is — and guess what? Some 70% of the Irish population wanted to make their own decisions regarding whether to carry a child, thank you very much.

Turns out, people like freedom. One reason we’ve gotten to this sad point in our history, is that most Americans are busily going about their own lives, not tunneling under the lives of others.

One of the boggling mysteries of the past four years is how lightly freedom is held by 41% of the American population, who would see free elections, a free press, science, truth, you name it, battered and beaten in the service of their theoretical tots.

I’m not as broken up as others about this court business because we are never going back.

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation was shockingly hypocritical. But there may be a silver lining.

Column: Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation was shockingly hypocritical. But there may be a silver lining.

Nicholas Goldberg                             October 26, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives as Republicans work during a rare weekend session to advance the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) during a rare weekend session in October to hurry the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, (Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

 

So now it is official: The same Republican senators who in 2016 refused to consider Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court because, with eight months to go, it was supposedly too close to the presidential election, have now confirmed Amy Coney Barrett with just eight days left before the election.

This is so unprincipled, so inconsistent and so cynical that it defies the imagination. It is the flip-flop of the century, undertaken by the Republicans for one reason: Barrett’s confirmation ensures a conservative majority on the high court for the foreseeable future.

But here is one good thing that could come of this shameful episode. With millions of people still casting their votes before Nov. 3, perhaps the Barrett confirmation will open Americans’ eyes, once and for all, and show them who they’re dealing with. Perhaps it will persuade them to reject the radical and hypocritical Senate Republicans at the polls.

Barrett’s confirmation, after all, is only one of many irresponsible moves by the Senate majority, led by the craven Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who long ago threw his lot in with President Trump. In recent years, he and his caucus have grown not just more extreme in their ideology but more unscrupulous in their tactics.

Not only did they refuse a hearing to Garland (giving that seat instead to Trump appointee Neil M. Gorsuch), but not long after, McConnell and his colleagues rammed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination through without a comprehensive investigation of the sexual assault allegations against him.

The Senate majority also slow-walked the confirmation of lower court judges during the final years of the Obama administration — and then sped them up when Trump came into office.

The Senate majority ignored evidence, disregarded facts and refused to hear additional witnesses before acquitting Trump in a half-baked impeachment trial in February, thereby giving the imprimatur of the upper house to the president’s high crimes and misdemeanors.

Senate Republicans have refused to stand up to Trump as he politicized every part of the government from the post office to the census to the Justice Department, and even as he turned the conduct of American foreign policy to his own political ends.

And they did virtually nothing to stop further Russian interference in American elections.

Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has identified some of the factors that have driven congressional Republicans to the right over the years and encouraged their take-no-prisoners approach to politics. He cites the no-tax pledge promulgated by conservative activist Grover Norquist and the anti-Washington animus fostered by Newt Gingrich. There was the “Southern strategy” of Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater to win white votes in the Southern states.

And there’s been the slow but steady disappearance of liberal and moderate Republicans.

In 2012, Ornstein, along with Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution, called the Republican Party “ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science.” Today, Ornstein says the problem is worse. “Now it’s not a party but a cult.”

The GOP today is the anti-immigration party, the party of racial division and the party of Trump. It has squandered any reputation it may once have had for principled fiscal conservatism, presiding over costly and irresponsible tax cuts designed to win votes. It largely rejects bipartisanship, as we saw clearly during the Obama administration.

Democracy only works when rules and norms are in place. It only works when the parties compromise through a process of discussion, deliberation and voting.

Unquestionably, both political parties have made bad decisions over the years; both are susceptible to the tugs of partisanship. Democrats and Republicans alike have engaged in tit-for-tat tactics that make compromise more difficult.

For me, though, the turning point was the mistreatment of Merrick Garland. The Republicans flatly blocked an elected president from exercising his constitutional duty to name a new justice.

That was shocking enough. But now, with the Barrett confirmation, they’ve brazenly reversed their own logic, proclaiming their hypocrisy for the world to see.

That kind of disingenuous politics needs to be rejected.

Over time, the U.S. needs to rebuild a system that allows men and women of different parties, ideas and ideologies to work together in good faith to solve the serious problems facing the country.

Hubble Examines Asteroid That’s Worth More Than the Global Economy

Hubble Examines Asteroid That’s Worth More Than the Global Economy

Gabrielle Olya                           
Asteroid shutterstock_1325862941
Asteroid shutterstock_1325862941

 

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new, clear picture of the 16 Psyche asteroid — one of the most valuable asteroids we know to be in existence, Forbes reported. Some estimates place the value of the asteroid at $10,000 quadrillion. To put that in perspective, the global economy was worth about $142 trillion in 2019.

What makes the asteroid so valuable? Well, for starters, it’s huge — it’s about 140 miles wide. And it appears to be made out of pure metal, which is very rare for an asteroid.

“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” Dr. Tracy Becker, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, told Forbes.

Psyche is located about 230 million miles from Earth and is one of the most massive objects in the solar system’s main asteroid belt, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter. Because it is so dense and metallic, scientists believe that Psyche is actually a “protoplanet” — the leftover core of a planet that failed to fully form. Many planets, including Earth, have a metal core, typically composed of iron and nickel. Becker believes that Psyche may have been struck by another object during its formation, destroying its mantle and crust.

Although Hubble has been able to get clear images of Psyche, only a visit to its surface will reveal what it’s really like. Fortunately, NASA is planning to do just that as part of its Discovery Program. An orbiter is set to launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in August 2022, putting it on track to arrive at Psyche in January 2026. The orbiter will spend at least 21 months mapping and studying the asteroid’s unique properties. Visiting Psyche could give researchers more insights into the very, very valuable stuff planets are made of.

An American Scoreboard: trump v. Obama / Biden !

An American Scoreboard: trump v. Obama / Biden !

John Hanno, tarbabys.com        October 17, 2020

I’m glad to say the great American trump experiment in Kleptocracy / Putinesque Autocracy  is almost over. It’s not hard to believe many of us saw this coming; we just thought it would happen much sooner. The last 4 years seem like 4 decades. I and others wrote even before trump took office, that he would destroy the Grand Old Party. “Mission accomplished”!

A few voices within the old party tried to speak up at times but were drowned out by trump cult sycophant’s in congress and by far right media.

Some in the old GOP, the never trumpers, the true Republicans, the true conservatives, never waivered; they refused to bend and only spoke louder when the deprivation and calamities grew. Thank you to the Lincoln Project and others for remembering to honor the Constitution and our Democratic principles. Are there enough remnants left to rebuild a viable conservative party?

Now we’re beginning to hear the suddenly woke, trump cult party members in congress, express their indignation; sorry, much too late.

The coming bloodbath on November 3rd will reward these cowards in congress, and especially in the Senate, with a monumental ass-wuppin. Thank-you suburban women and women of color.

I always take the time at Thanksgiving to look back on the previous year and express gratitude for the things I’m truly grateful for. I’ll do that again in November after the 2020 election, because I believe the list will be much greater and more rewarding.

But I thought it would be helpful to post my Thanksgiving musings from 2016, 4 years ago and just after a highly qualified Hillary was cheated out of her rightful presidency by Vlad Putin, republi-con state operatives bent on voter suppression, mistakes in the DOJ, and a narcissistic, self serving reality show con man and liar extraordinaire.

We can only dream of how the last 4 years would have turned out if Hillary Rodham Clinton would have been in the White House. We know the covid crisis would have been much less economically consequential and deadly.

The choice on November 3rd should be very simple; 4 more years of trumpism, AKA widespread death and destruction, or a return to normalcy and to the battered legacy of the Barack Obama and Joe Biden style of competent, honest and ethical leadership.

8 years of an Obama-Biden 'bromance,' in photos | National Politics | gazettetimes.com

The last 4 years of trump cult MAGA “accomplishments” are an embarrassment to our nation and our Democratic history. The only legislation of any consequence is the one single bill passed to give the super-rich, corporations and the powerful and connected even more than they need or deserve. And of course all the destructive executive orders trump “sharpied” for the benefits of his rich donors.

No level of horror or criminality was left unturned. Our Constitution, our Democratic institutions, our alliances, our environment, our national treasures, our civil peace and harmony, and America’s reputation around the world, suffered daily bashings and Tweet-storms. And thanks to Moscow Mitch and barr, our courts and the Department of Justice will have to be reconstituted.

For those few still undecided (really ?) about who to vote for, please read my 2016 post, the 2020 Democratic Platform of how Joe, Kamala and the Democratic Congress plan to govern and “build back better;” and also read the Republican platform (oh yea, they were too embarrassed to publish it because none of it is favored by the American voters).

John Hanno, tarbabys.com

Thanksgiving 2016

November 24, 2016, John Hanno

Image

On Thanksgiving 2008, exactly eight years ago, I had an article published in a Chicago newspaper, where I described all the things I was thankful for. Although the war in Iraq was finally winding down, ours and most of the worlds economies were imploding, thanks to the risky and criminal financial schemes of the world’s banking giants. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month and markets were in free fall. America had just chosen Democrat Senator Barack Obama to be it’s next president and savior; and I truly believed he and Michelle understood why I was thankful for the 35 things listed in my article.

I was thankful the eight years of the Bush Administration were almost over and we didn’t elect John McCain because the world could not have survived another Republican term like that. I was thankful the world was welcoming President Obama with open arms and a deep sigh of relief because it showed they believed America could still lead us from despair. I was thankful Barack Obama realized we all had to work together to solve the enormous problems because being divided was what got us into the mess in the first place. I appreciated the important things; family, friends and community because we had to depend on each other. I was thankful and hopeful that 60 years from then, people would be glad they were born in 2009, because it was the beginning of another period of great hope and change, and not because they were sorry to have been born into another great depression.

Some of that hope was quickly dashed when the Republican leaders in Congress, led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, met on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration, to hatch a plan to obstruct the President on everything he tried to do, just to make him a one term president. They didn’t care about the consequences to Americans reeling from an economy driven off a cliff by, too big to fail banks and neocon ideologue’s in the Bush Administration.

Every time the President held out a hand, the Republicans slapped it away. They refused to allow him to succeed at anything. Compromise to them meant total capitulation. But what they really accomplished was to make America even more polarized, and it showed during this election. Donald Trump took advantage of and widened that divide to Grand Canyon proportions.

As the votes continue to be counted, Hillary has received more than 2 million more votes than Donald Trump. The 64.5 million folks who voted for Hillary, the media and pollsters, most Republicans and even the Trump campaign, still can’t believe she lost. Computer experts have found evidence that the results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin may have been manipulated or hacked; possibly by the Russians, who favored Trump. And if these shenanigans with electronic ballots are proved valid, Hillary’s supporters might yet be vindicated. The Jill Stein campaign has collected millions of dollars from concerned Americans, who like me, can’t believe America is still not able to guarantee a free and fair national election.

The OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics reports that the cost of this 2 year long election is approaching 7 billion dollars, thanks to Citizens United and dark money. Couple that with Republican legislatures throughout the country passing bills aimed at voter suppression, gerrymandering, a reality candidate who believes lying and deception are invaluable traits, debates where discussing critical issues are put on the back burners, a media more concerned with profits than truth in journalism, campaign hacking by the Russians, and the latest peril of Russian propaganda spreading fake news stories, is it a wonder that 53% of America’s eligible voters didn’t bother to vote.

Some of the 62.5 million folks who voted for Mr. Trump believe he will govern much different than he campaigned; that all the nativist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti immigrant and violent dialog and conduct was just chalked up as campaign talk. But half of those who voted for Trump, who Hillary named the “Deplorables,” are in sympathy with the alt right tea party and obstructionist McConnell. They want to burn down the government. They want to “Make America Great Again,” which really means they want to take America back to the dark ages, when America was primarily male controlled,  white and Christian, before workers rights and women’s rights and civil rights for our black and brown brothers and sisters. Before regulations on banks and corporations and protections for workers and the environment.

But so far, based on the people he’s chosen for his cabinet, it’s clear he will govern exactly like he campaigned. He told his supporters that he knows, and would choose, the best and the brightest people for his cabinet. Then he turns around and picks rich, alt right ideologues; Rudolf Giuliani, who most people think has gone off the deep end, Steve Bannon, alt right white supremacist sympathizer, Mike Flynn for National Security Advisor, who has endorsed the use of torture and other war crimes that violate the Geneva Convention and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, who worked hard to gut the Voting Rights act and suppress minority voting. Fellow Republicans denied Sessions a federal judgeship because of his racist track record. Trump also nominated Koch Brothers aligned Billionaire charter school and voucher advocate and $9.5 million Trump campaign contributor Betsy DeVos, as his Secretary of Education, someone who American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten describes as “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.” Weingarten said, “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.” This coming on top of the 31 mostly red states that have already cut funding to public schools.

During the election, Mr. Trump told his supporters he would not touch Social Security or Medicare, two of the most successful government programs in our history. But the Republican House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, has the privatizing of those programs at the top of their to do list.

Trump repeatedly told supporters that he would repeal Obama-care (Affordable Care Act) on his first day in office but he’s already backpedaling on that promise. He might have discovered that the popular parts of the ACA, which he also favors, the preexisting conditions part and the ability to keep children on their parents policy thru age 26, must be paid for, by mandating that everyone sign up or pay a penalty. It’s mind-boggling to me that many of the folks who signed up for Obama-care, some who never before had medical insurance, voted for Trump. Thanks to Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, more than 60% of Kentuckians, most of them poor, had signed up for subsidized Obama-care. But they not only elected a new Republican governor who favors ending the ACA, but more than 70% of them voted for Mr. Trump in this election. And with Kentucky’s 2 Republican Senators and full cadre or Republican Congress persons, I’m sure the Republican Congress, who already tried to repeal the ACA more than 60 times, will finally succeed without President Obama to veto them. I believe some of the poorest of the poor, those left behind by the new economy, jumped on the Trump train because they were desperate for any type of change.

Mr. Trump said many times during the election, that if elected, he would build a wall on the border with Mexico and make them pay for it, ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., send 11 million illegal immigrants back to Mexico, cancel the nuclear peace treaty with Iran, cancel all of President Obama’s executive orders, bring all the jobs back from China, keep others from off shoring, bring back the coal industry, drop out of the Paris agreement, exit the TPP, renegotiate NAFTA and the China PNTR agreement, end the carried interest exemption, drain the Washington swamp of lobbyists, throw crooked Hillary in jail, destroy ISIS because he knows more than the generals, cut taxes for individuals and corporations, rebuild the depleted military and a whole list of other things. And that’s just in the first 100 days. I hope those who voted for him don’t hold their breaths waiting for most things on this list. It should soon be obvious that Donald Trump was feeding his supporters a monumental line of bull dung. And how these poor souls will react, when they wake up from their Kool-aid induced stupor, is anyone’s guess.

I suspect Mr. Trump will quickly reveal himself as a traditional billionaire zealot who champions, and will again try to implement, the neocons discredited trickle down economics. He despises paying any taxes even though the rich and corporations benefit from them more than anyone, so he will again place cutting taxes above all else, even though it will surely blow up the deficit. He will fall in line with fossil fuel interests and join with his Republican Congress to gut environmental regulations, and to support drill baby drill and heavy investment in pipeline infrastructure; and of course at the same time, they will dial back investments and subsidies for alternative energies. He will fully support charter schools and school vouchers because he simply hates free public education. He will go along with the Republican Congress to attack middle class entitlement and social safety net programs, while at the same time passing out favors to crony capitalists, fossil fuel companies and the prison and military industrial complexes. He will hire a long list of other billionaires, who like himself, have little regard for 99% of the rest of America.

There are some things the Democrats would be willing to work with Mr. Trump on, like an infrastructure bill, modifying trade agreements to make them fairer for America and the American worker and real tax reform that includes ending the carried interest tax dodge. But if the Republican juggernaut resumes efforts to steamroll America’s middle class, the poor and the environment, the Democrats will have to use every tool, including the Republican’s favorite filibuster, to minimize the damages.

America is starkly divided; there’s a pitched battle for America’s Democratic ethos:

Between those who believe a rising tide lifts all boats and that all of us should share in the profits and benefits of a free society and economy….. and those who believe in a plutocratic, corporatist, limited government with lax regulations, low or limited taxes to support our commons and consequently, diminished worker and middle class rights.

Between those who believe our diversity makes for a stronger America and a better future …..and those who long for a lily white, male dominated, Christian past.

Between those who embrace science, innovation and a green future based on sustainable alternative energy….. and those steeped and mired in fossil fuel’s dirty and unsustainable past.

In spite of the Republican’s unrelenting obstruction, the Obama Administration still accomplished a lot, primarily during the first 2 years, when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. I think history will regard him as one of our best presidents.

Joe Biden, Barack Obama had joint graduation party for girls in family - Business Insider

With the help of the admittedly weak stimulus after the economic crash, they were able to apply a tourniquet to the bleeding economy. In spite of staunch opposition from the Republicans in Congress, they bailed out the auto industry, which has increase production each year since 2009 and reached a new record of 17.5 million last year. I wrote the president a letter in early 2009 advocating for the auto bailout and also saying I thought the three most important issues were Jobs, Jobs and living wage Jobs. But he concentrated on and expended a lot of capital and good will on the Affordable Care Act. I guessed that when he sat down with the corporate executives after the crash, he asked them about creating more jobs at home. I’m sure they told him the number one reason for exporting jobs was the escalating, enormous and unpredictable cost of health care. For auto manufacturing, that means between $2,300 and $2,700 per vehicle.

So the administration did what 5 presidents couldn’t do; they committed to finally providing healthcare for 40 million Americans, which caused more than 20,000 deaths a year simply because folks didn’t have insurance. They also slowed the double digit escalating health care costs. They not only had to tackle the number one cause of America’s long term fiscal problems but needed to level the playing field for companies that must compete with countries with much lower wages and much lower health care costs. It wasn’t pretty but it’s a start. America is finally on the path to universal health care. And on the path to healing and rebuilding the finances of the families where medical costs contributed to 65% of all personal bankruptcies.

As part of the ACA, the Obama Administration also took the banks out of the Federal Student Loan Program and expanded Pell Grants. Since 2010, students now get their loans directly from the federal government instead of from subsidized banks. This will save the Treasury almost $70 billion dollars over 10 years. And $36 billion of that will go into expanding Pell Grants for low income families. They also cracked down on predatory for profit colleges.

With the help of Michele Obama, they passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, giving $4.5 billion for higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. It doubled the amounts of fruits and vegetables and whole grains in foods served to school children.

They passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

They repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

They helped make same sex marriage, the law of the land.

I believe the Obama Administration has done more for Veterans than any since Truman’s and Eisenhower’s. They increased the budget for the Veterans Administration by 16 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2011, passed a new G.I. Bill that provided $78 billion dollars in tuition assistance and gave tax credits to businesses who hire Vets.

And they still created more than 15 million jobs, including the biggest (800,000) growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990’s. Unfortunately many of those are not living wage jobs. They’ve created an average of almost 200,000 jobs for 29 straight months between 2010 and 2016 and the unemployment rate dropped from more than 10% to 4.9%.

Medium household income has gone up $1,140 or 2 %.

The buying power of the average workers weekly paycheck is up 4.2%

Median sales prices of existing single family homes are up 23%

The murder rate is down 5%, despite an increase in 2015.

The number of unauthorized immigrants is also down.

Our national deficit has been cut by three-quarters, from the 2009 bail-out deficit of $1.4 trillion to the $439 billion 2015 deficit.

The stock markets have soared. The S&P 500 was up 220% over 2009. Nasdaq is up more than 320% and the Dow is up almost 200%, rising from about 8,000 after the crash to a new record of more than 19,000 now.

The Federal Reserve also played a big role in digging us out of the financial crisis and deep recession, by keeping interests low, which also helped the housing sector recover.

They passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to regulate the practices that bank engaged in that crashed the economy and caused the Great Recession. Dodd-Frank improved the regulation of eight areas that led to the financial crisis. The “Volcker Rule” banned banks from being involved in hedge funds. The Financial Stability and Oversight Council regulated hedge funds and banks that became too big to fail. Dodd-Frank also directed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to regulate the riskiest derivatives, like the credit default swaps and commodities future that were the primary causes of the collapse.

They also created the Consumer Financial protection Bureau, which has returned billions of dollars back to victimized consumers and improved regulation of credit cards and mortgages.

They also passed the Credit Card Accountability Act in 2009.

And the first bill they passed in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act, which gave women who are paid less that men for the same work the ability to sue their employers after they finally discover the discrimination.

They passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, which increased the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion dollars, so they can expand food inspections, issue direct food recalls and increase safety practices of countries importing products into America.

They Passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Which mandated that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients and obtain FDA approval for any new tobacco product.

They passed the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program (Chip) to cover health care for an additional 4 million children, paid for by a tax on tobacco products.

In 2009, they got the EPA to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant and allowing them to regulate its production.

In 2009, they eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

They engineered Federal Communications approval to transfer $8 billion in subsidies away from landlines and toward broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.

In 2009, they passed the Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion funding for the legal settlement for black and Native American farmers who the government denied loans and natural resource royalties to in the past.

They passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act in 2009, which designated more than 2 million acres of wilderness, created historic trails and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.

They invested $90 billion dollars in research for smart electric grids, energy efficiency, electric autos, renewable electric generation, clean coal and bio-fuels.

They issued an executive order in 2009 requiring all federal agencies to reduce their environmental impact. This includes 30% reduction in fleet gasoline use, 26% increase in water efficiency and sustainability requirements for all federal contracts.

They passed in 2011, over staunch objections from fossil fuel pandering Republicans, new fuel efficiency standards that will double fuel economy for cars, and for the first time trucks by 2025. Some auto manufacturers have already surpassed those standards.

Wind and solar power have quadrupled; coal production has dropped 36% and carbon emissions have gone down 12%.

Clean energy production (300 million megawatt hours) from solar, wind and biomass has doubled since (150 million megawatt hours) in 2009.

The Administration engineered an agreement with British Petroleum to set up a $20 billion dollar fund to quickly compensate victims of the Deep-water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after pointing out that it took almost 2 decades for the victims of the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill to receive $1.3 billion.

President Obama led global efforts for the International Climate Agreement in Paris in December 2015. Countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon trading and to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

He also enacted the Clean Power Plan in 2015. It reduces carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. This is accomplished by reduction goals for the nations power plants. Power plants will create 30% more renewable energy generation by 2030.

They reduced military spending in 2011 by $450 billion dollars.

They stopped the $1 billion per launch Space Shuttle program boondoggle and the even more bloated Bush era Constellation program in 2011.

In 2009 they ended the Lockheed Martin single-seat, twin engine, fighter aircraft program, which cost $358 million dollars for each plane. The plane never flew a single combat mission, even though they already had 187 planes built. Eliminating the program saved $4 billion.

They also created Recovery.gov, an independent board of inspectors general directed to look for fraud and abuse in the stimulus program. It provided transparent information on every contract funded by the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

They ended the war in Iraq and wound down the war in Afghanistan.

They captured and killed Osama bin laden.

They joined with European and Arab governments to topple Moammar Gaddafi and helped unseat Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

After rescinding Bush Administration torture policies, President Obama began rebuilding the world’s opinion toward the U.S, which was severely damaged during the previous Republican administration.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in March 2010. The committee cited “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” He withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011 and reduced the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile by 10%.

The Iran sanctions they helped get passed in 2010, with other countries, led to the Iran Nuclear weapons program agreement.

They helped the South Sudan declare Independence. They appointed envoys to the Sudan, and had U.S. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice negotiate a peaceful split

And I think one of the most important issues, especially in light of the potential conflict of interest issues for the incoming Trump Administration, is that President Obama has served longer than any other president in decades without a scandal. When he came into office, he told the American public that he was demanding that everyone who worked in his administration would be held to a higher standard of ethics and he has faithfully delivered on that promise.

When the President came into office, he said he would be a president for all the American people, even those who didn’t vote for him. He said he made mistakes but got up every day determined to help improve the lives of all Americans. I think he was successful in spite of Republican refusal to compromise on anything. But looking at the list of achievements, we see that he has helped 100’s of millions of folks in countless ways.

Michelle Obama in talks with Biden team on endorsement, campaign involvement: report | Fox News

President Obama’s administration has helped:

The banks and financial institutions who benefited from the bail-out,

The investors and pension funds harmed by the financial crash and then made whole,

The homeowners who lost equity in their homes and then recovered with TARP funds,

The entire auto industry and the millions of new workers in that industry,

The 40 million folks now eligible for Obamacare,

The 10’s of millions of who can’t be denied insurance because of preexisting conditions,

The millions of young folks who can stay on their parents policy through age 26,

The 10’s of millions of folks who won’t have to file bankruptcy because of medical costs,

The 10’s of millions who can now get preventative care at no cost,

The millions of students and their families who now pay reduced student loan interest,

The millions of students and their families who have benefited from more Pell Grants,

The 10’s of millions of children who now have healthier and more nutritious lunches,

Those less likely to be the victims of hate crimes,

The LGBTQ members of the military who can now openly serve their country,

The same sex partners who can now legally get married,

100’s of thousands of men and women of the military and vets who depend on the V.A.,

The 15,000,000 Americans who now have a job,

The 10’s of millions of taxpayers who will have to pay less interest on the deficit,

The millions who profited from the doubling and tripling of the stock markets,

The millions of homeowner families who have benefited from low home mortgage rates,

The 10’s of millions who are protected by Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Act,

The 10’s of millions of women who are now protected by the Lilly Ledbetter Act,

The 10’s of millions of young people who will not start smoking, or will decide to quit,

The 4 million additional children in the expanded CHIPS health program,

The 10’s of millions who will benefit from reduced carbon dioxide emissions,

The millions who will benefit from embryonic stem cell research,

The millions of rural folks who can now use the Internet,

The black and Native American farmers who can now get farm loans and royalties,

The millions who use the 2 million acres of new wilderness and 1,000 miles of rivers,

The millions who benefit from a smart electric grid, energy efficiency and electric autos,

The millions of taxpayers who benefit from a more efficient environmental impact,

The 10’s of millions who will benefit from doubling the fuel economy standards,

The folks in the Gulf who will receive payouts from the Deep Water victims fund,

The billions of people around the world who will benefit from the Paris accord,

The 10’s of millions of American taxpayers who benefit from reduced military spending,

The 100 million folks in Iraq and Afghanistan who can now see the end of the tunnel,

The 100’s of millions around the world who are glad Osama bin laden is in hell,

The 100 million people of Libya and Egypt who have new leadership,

The 10’s of millions of Iranians who are no longer suffering sanctions and,

The 100’s of millions who no longer have to worry about Iran’s nuclear program,

The 100’s of millions who are just a little safer after we reduced our nuclear arsenal,

The many millions in the South Sudan who now have an independent country,

Add to this list the millions of folks helped by the presidents signing of executive orders, including undocumented children and young Latinos, and we can see why President Obama’s approval rating is 57%, the highest it’s been since 2009; and why folks in the U.S. and around the world are sad to see Barack and Michele leave the White House.

What amazes me, when honestly considering this list of accomplishments, is the 43% of American’s who don’t approve of the job the President has done. The alt right, the tea party and virtually every member of the far right media refuse to give the President any credit at all. Anyone who claims this isn’t racism is fooling themselves. And Trump, with his “birther” rants, was the main culprit in this racist campaign to diminish the first black America President.

I think if the Obama Administration would have tried to prosecute some of the evildoers who crashed the economy, had concentrated more on a legitimate jobs program and not just retraining for nonexistent jobs, and had done more about unfair trade agreements and practices or explained their efforts better, they could have dulled Trumps populist message to those who have been left behind in this new economy; and Hillary would have won the electoral college. I realize the administration tried to get a jobs bill, and countless other legislation they thought would help the middle class and the American worker, thru the filibuster happy Republicans in the Senate and past a Republican House unwilling to propose or compromise on any meaningful legislation that would have allowed the President to succeed; but I think the administration could have done a much better job of explaining their goals and the Republicans obstruction, to the voters. The Republicans were adept at framing their obstruction, as handcuffing an out of control socialist spendthrift and as being beneficial to the economy, where in reality, it just exacerbated America’s widening income inequality.

There are any number of mine fields ahead for Trump and the Republicans, including the 25 million dollar Trump University settlement. Neither the plaintiffs nor the courts have signed off on that agreement. Then there’s Trumps upcoming rape trial. Many experts also believe this Trump Administration will explore uncharted new frontiers of governing conflicts of interest. He honestly believes he can run his family business from the White House. And of course, the Republicans always tend to overreach, especially now that they have the White House, the Senate and the House. So strap on your seat belt because it looks like a rough 4 year ride for progressives, the middle class, the working poor, the environment and the economy. Between the cast of characters Trump has assembled for his administration and the temperament and apparent unfitness of the President elect himself, there’s a 50/50 chance this administration may not make it past the 2018 midterm elections intact.

A November 21st article in USA Today by Matt Krantz, highlighted the economic records under Republican and Democratic Presidents. “Recessions are much more common under Republican presidents.” In the last 63 years, since President Eisenhower at the beginning of 1953 until President Obama through 2016, there have been 111 months of recession. 105 of those months of recession have been under Republican presidents, with only 6 months under President Carter. And I think that was because of the oil embargo.

“Every Republican president since Teddy Roosevelt in 1901 has endured a recession in the first term, according to an analysis from Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at stock research firm CFRA.” Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton and Obama had no months of recession. Eisenhower had 28 months, Nixon/Ford had 27 months, Regan had 16, Bush senior had 8 and George W. Bush had 26 months. The average GDP in the last 65 years since President Truman was 3.33%, according to Princeton Professors Alan Blinder and Mark Watson. “With a Republican in the White House, the GDP slowed to 2.54% and with a Democrat jumped to 4.35%.

“A variety of other economic indicators, such as per capita GDP, stock market returns, real wages, and the change in the unemployment rate are also more robust under Democrats. Unemployment fell by .8% under the Democrats and rose 1.1%  with the Republicans.” “The U.S. Economy has performed better when the President of the United States is a Democrat rather than a Republican, regardless of how one measures the performance.” “The current economic expansion has been running for 89 months (under President Obama), 4th longest since 1902.”

Some experts believe this disparate performance may just be a matter of timing or bad luck. I think it’s simply about the economic philosophy of the Republican president and his cabinet and not due to random acts. Republican’s number one goal is cutting taxes, especially for folks who don’t need it (millionaires, billionaires and corporations, who like Mr. Trump,  already enjoy a very low or N/A effective tax rate). Number two is cutting programs started during the FDR New Deal era, especially for those who simply can’t afford it (attacking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). And of course continuing the assault against organized labor (attacking teachers, mail-carriers, government workers, collective bargaining and promoting right to work legislation). But these zealots will never understand that these actions severely depress the economy. It’s been proven time and again that when lower and middle class folks have more discretionary income, they freely spend it and the economy flourishes. When rich folks get huge tax cuts and have more money than they know what to do with, they don’t invest it in the economy but engage in risky business practices (the 2008 financial crisis). These folks heading to the White House again are not true conservatives. They can’t wait to get their hands on Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Agency (Overreaching). The richest of the rich always benefit from chaos and financial distress. Like Mr. Trump stated during the campaign, when the economy goes to crap, it’s a great opportunity for him and other billionaires to make a killing. You wonder, by looking at their record, if they actually try to crash the economy on purpose.

But all is not lost. This is after all Thanksgiving and while I don’t have 35 things like I did in 2008, I still have a few things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for all the courageous and patriotic American’s in the streets, especially the young folks, who are protesting the election of Divider in Chief Donald Trump, as America’s leader, especially after eight years of President Obama, Michele, and Joe and Jill Biden attempting to unite us.

I’m thankful for all the Native American water protectors, our first environmentalists, standing up for the earth at Standing Rock, especially all the young people. And thankful for all the Native American tribes (more than 300) from all over the country and Canada who have gone to stand with them. I’m thankful for all the environmental activists like myself who have donated and spoken up and stood with them. I’m thankful for all the landowners and farmers like myself, from North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois who have stood in the way of the Dakota Access and other risky pipelines. I’m thankful for all the earth protectors who stood up in Canada against the Alberta Tar Sands. I’m thankful for the protectors who stood up in Minnesota and stopped the Sandpiper pipeline project. I’m thankful for all the Native Americans, activists, landowners, farmers and members of Bold Nebraska who stood up and stopped Keystone XL. And I’m thankful for all the Americans and Canadians and people around the world who have donated and wrote letters and signed letters and petitions and said prayers and commented on social media. I am thankful for all the celebrities and concerned media who refuse to ignore the plight of our Native American brothers and sisters. I’m thankful for all the environmental organizations around the country and the world who stand with Standing Rock and stand for the earth. I’m thankful for all the activist leaders who organized demonstrations supporting Standing Rock on November 15th across the country, in almost every state and around the world. I’m thankful for all the 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, with their hand made signs, who were at the Standing Rock protest in downtown Chicago; and for their parents and teachers for showing them the right way to live sustainably. They will be the earth protectors taking over for their elders. And I will be thankful for all of my fellow Veterans who are going to standing Rock the first week in December to stand with Standing Rock, to show that they represent the true patriotic Americans defending their country and our earth.

I’m thankful for all of humanity who shuns greed in order to protect our blessings of clean air, fertile soil, clean precious water and wholesome food.

I’m thankful for those on the front lines, protesting exploitation of our wilderness, our public lands and our National Parks and Monuments.

I’m thankful for all the organic and sustainable farmers like myself, who feed their neighbors without spoiling the earth. And I’m thankful for the organizations like MOSES who promote and teach the next generation of protectors.

And in spite of how hard Mr. Trump, his exploitative cabinet, the fossil fuel pandering Republican controlled Congress and the evil doers in the fossil fuel industry work, to overturn progress made by the Obama Administration, to reverse climate change and global warming, they can’t stop the march to a cleaner more sustainable world. Alternative energy is cheaper than coal, oil and gas, it’s sustainable and 10’s of millions of people around the world are already enjoying it’s benefits. The world is using less coal, more wind, solar and alt energy, emitting less carbon dioxide and growing and farming more sustainably. More than 100 large corporations have pledged to become 100% renewable. Corporations, utilities, countries, states, cities and communities have promoted and invested in renewable energy. Even oil companies and insurance companies have woken up to the new sustainable world order. We are plodding forward. Trump, his fellow billionaires and the big banks who are heavily invested in fossil fuel assets will attempt to extract every ounce before America says, enough is enough. But they’re on the wrong side of preserving humanity.

Like probably 80% of Americans who did not vote for Mr. Trump, I’m worried for America’s children and grandchildren, the poor, our middle class, labor, the environment, our Democracy and half of the rest of the world. And I worry that Trump will try to undo  60 to 75% of what President Obama accomplished. President Obama set the bar high with his performance in repairing the economy after the Republicans drove it into a ditch, by repairing our reputation around the world and by his integrity and concern for all human beings. If the Trump Administration can do half as well, I will be surprised. I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong.

By John Hanno, tarbabys.com

The Lincoln Project savages Trump’s debate claim that separated migrant kids are ‘so well taken care of’

The Lincoln Project savages Trump’s debate claim that separated migrant kids are ‘so well taken care of’

Catherine Garcia                               October 23, 2020

 

Just minutes after President Trump declared during Thursday night’s debate that migrant kids separated from their parents are “so well taken care of” inside U.S. facilities, the Lincoln Project released a searing four-second ad combining his words with the wails of children.

This week, lawyers tasked with reuniting migrant kids with their families told a court they haven’t been able to track down the parents of 545 children. They were separated under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, and when asked about this by moderator Kristen Welker, Trump claimed the government is working to find the parents, but added that many are smuggled into the country by coyotes and when kids are placed in U.S. facilities, they are “so well taken care of.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pushed back, saying the children in question were ripped away from their parents, not smugglers, and called the act “criminal.” On Twitter, PBS NewsHour reporter Amna Nawaz said that she has “been inside the border processing centers where many kids and families were held. They were under resourced. Crowded. Staff overwhelmed. Groups of young kids crammed into windowless rooms.”

The Lincoln Project wasted no time bringing attention to Trump’s claim. Their video uses footage from facilities, showing young children wrapped up in mylar blankets inside cages, and the audio is Trump’s claim that “they’re in facilities that were so clean … so well taken care of,” mixed with the sounds of kids crying. Watch the ad below.