Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Trump Won't Let Covid Stop His Campaign, Keeps Mike Pence On The Trail A...

Jared Kushner Faces Backlash Over Comments Considered Racist | Morning J...

Opinion | The Trump administration’s covid-19 message: You’re on your own. Try not to die. - The Washington Post


President Trump at a rally in Lititz, Pa., on Monday.

There are many, many reasons Americans should vote Trump out of the White House, but perhaps the most urgent is his refusal — or perhaps his inability — to face the reality of covid-19. This election is literally a choice between life and death.

Why have we lost approximately 225,000 lives to covid-19, more than any other nation on Earth? Because the Trump administration never even considered taking the basic but difficult measures that could have strangled transmission of the virus during its infancy.

European nations such as Italy, France and Spain saw big initial spikes in infections and deaths but instituted comprehensive shutdowns that reduced transmission of the virus to levels low enough to allow reopening of businesses and schools. They are now responding to new infection spikes with targeted shutdowns. Germany, which has done much better than other Western countries, relied on tried-and-true public health strategies of testing, contact tracing and mask-wearing. I don't buy the argument that cultural differences would have made such measures impossible here. I don't believe most Americans are too stupid to understand the need to work together against a common threat.

Trump, however, is not most Americans.

One of the worst mistakes any leader can make during a crisis is to engage in magical thinking. But that is the only kind of thinking Trump has done about covid-19 — and the only kind he continues to do. From the beginning, he has looked for excuses not to believe what the nation's leading experts on infectious diseases have been telling him.

We know from Bob Woodward's book "Rage" that the president understood in early February that covid-19 was deadlier than even the most "strenuous" flu strains — yet he publicly cited yearly influenza death tolls to suggest the opposite. He touted hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a miracle cure — even after studies proved it worthless and potentially harmful. He refused to regularly wear a mask, and he went out of his way to ridicule those, including Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who did.

Even worse, Trump sabotaged efforts by governors and mayors to control the virus with shutdowns and mask mandates. He made covid-19 denial an article of faith for his political base, encouraging the Republican governors of states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas to reopen their economies prematurely. The one thing Trump does brilliantly in politics is drive wedges, and he has hammered a massive one into the deadliest possible crack: between public health on one side and "freedom" on the other.

Trump's bombastically ignorant leadership on covid-19 has endangered the Americans his government ought to be protecting. Think about the big, reckless campaign rally he held last week at The Villages, a sprawling Florida retirement community, where most in the crowd did not wear masks. Given the high rate of infection in that state, it is flabbergasting that Trump would encourage his supporters to expose themselves in this way.

Many covid-19 survivors are chastened by the experience. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, for example, is now an advocate for mask-wearing, social distancing and general prudence. Trump's experience with the disease, by contrast, seems to have made him even more detached, touting"therapeutics and, frankly, cures" as he looks ahead to the possibility of a humiliating defeat next week.

And such a defeat is what he must be made to suffer. Our health and welfare depend on it.

Doctors know more about how to treat covid-19 patients now, so the death rate has come down somewhat. But the current rise in cases is so steep, and so widespread, that medical systems in the Upper Midwest are already under severe strain. Vaccines will not arrive in time to prevent the "dark winter" that Biden — and public health experts — see coming.

If Biden wins, his policies will aim to ensure that more of our friends, neighbors and family members survive to see the spring. We need, and must elect, a president who is genuinely pro-life."


Opinion | The Trump administration’s covid-19 message: You’re on your own. Try not to die. - The Washington Post

GOP former prosecutors blast Trump, endorse Biden - The Washington Post


"President Trump is joined at a White House news conference by Attorney General William P. Barr.

Twenty former U.S. attorneys — all of them Republicans — on Tuesday publicly called President Trump “a threat to the rule of law in our country,” and urged that he be replaced in November with his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

“The President has clearly conveyed that he expects his Justice Department appointees and prosecutors to serve his personal and political interests,” said the former prosecutors in an open letter. They accused Trump of taking “action against those who have stood up for the interests of justice.”

The letter, signed by prosecutors appointed by every GOP president from Eisenhower to Trump, is the latest instance of Republicans backing Biden. In August, dozens of GOP national security experts signed a full-page newspaper ad endorsing Biden over Trump.

“He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making,” their letter says.

The effort was organized initially by Ken Wainstein, a former U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., who later served during the George W. Bush administration as assistant attorney general for national security.

Read the letter from Republican former U.S. attorneys

A spokesman for the Trump campaign dismissed the letter from the former prosecutors as arrogant and offensive, noting that it is Trump who has the support of police officers and their unions.

“No one should be surprised establishment elitists are supporting Joe Biden,” Hogan Gidley said. In an emailed statement, he noted that the signers did not speak out “when Joe Biden promised to redirect funds away from police. I noticed their worry for politics wasn’t voiced when Joe Biden’s DOJ claimed to be a ‘wingman’ for the Administration, and I must have missed their unease for disunity when Biden refused to condemn his supporters for burning down churches, destroying businesses, and physically assaulting innocent Americans in the streets.”

The letter is signed by former U.S. attorneys from Florida, Minnesota, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and other states. One of the signers, Gregory Brower, a former U.S. attorney for Nevada, also served during the first years of the Trump administration as the FBI’s assistant director for congressional affairs.

“I had an up-close view of how the President and the White House dealt with the Justice Department in recent years,” he said in an interview. “It’s clear that President Trump views the Justice Department and the FBI as his own personal law firm and investigative agency,” Brower said. “He made that clear privately — and publicly.”

Brower and Wainstein said Trump has soiled the department’s prized attributes: independence and a commitment to equal justice under the law.

In criticizing the Trump Justice Department publicly, the signers effectively joined half a dozen or so career prosecutors who publicly protested what they have decried as politicized decision-making, including reducing a recommended prison sentence for Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone and seeking to dismiss the case against Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

“Although we were political appointees, it was expected that politics would play no role in the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion and that we would make decisions according to the facts and law and without regard to their political implications,” the letter says, adding that: “as the chief federal law enforcement officials in our districts, we were expected to work closely with state and local officials of all political affiliations.”

Trump, on the other hand, has “undermined the Department’s ability to unify and lead our nation’s law enforcement by picking political fights with state and local officials in a naked effort to demonize and blame them for the disturbances in our cities over the past several months,” the letter says.

A former two-time U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Tom Heffelfinger, a Republican fixture in the state, said that a series of actions led him to sign the letter, including the president’s treatment of women, his personal and political demands of the Justice Department, and his handling of the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

“He bad-mouthed the mayor, the governor, leaders who were trying to get things under control,” Heffelfinger said. “Trump was interfering, demoralizing local officials and dividing the country.”

This fall, the accumulated weight of the president’s conduct led Heffelfinger to decide to sign the letter circulated by Wainstein and speak out publicly.

“I can’t look at myself in the mirror, I can’t look my daughters in the face if I can’t do what I can to get rid of him,” said Heffelfinger.

If Biden wins, Brower said the Justice Department could see a quick recovery in morale and sense of purpose, but it will take longer to recover confidence from American citizens and U.S. allies overseas.

Wainstein said U.S. allies are unnerved by the administration’s decision to release previously classified information to Republican lawmakers about sources who provided information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“It has caught the attention of foreign partners in a way that makes them ask whether they can trust us going forward,” Wainstein said. Restoring confidence in those relationships, he said, may be Biden’s greatest early test if he is elected."

GOP former prosecutors blast Trump, endorse Biden - The Washington Post

Opinion | Amy Coney Barrett and the Republican Party's Supreme Court - The New York Times


"The quest to entrench political conservatism in the country’s highest court comes with a steep cost.
By The Editorial Board Oct. 26, 2020
What happened in the Senate chamber on Monday evening was, on its face, the playing out of a normal, well-established process of the American constitutional order: the confirmation of a president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
But Senate Republicans, who represent a minority of the American people, are straining the legitimacy of the court by installing a deeply conservative jurist, Amy Coney Barrett, to a lifetime seat just days before an election that polls suggest could deal their party a major defeat.
As with President Trump’s two earlier nominees to the court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the details of Judge Barrett’s jurisprudence were less important than the fact that she had been anointed by the conservative activists at the Federalist Society. Along with hundreds of new lower-court judges installed in vacancies that Republicans refused to fill when Barack Obama was president, these three Supreme Court choices were part of the project to turn the courts from a counter-majoritarian shield that protects the rights of minorities to an anti-democratic sword to wield against popular progressive legislation like the Affordable Care Act.
The process also smacked of unseemly hypocrisy. Republicans raced to install Judge Barrett barely one week before a national election, in defiance of a principle they loudly insisted upon four years ago.
The elevation of Judge Barrett to be the nation’s 115th justice was preordained almost from the moment that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last month. When she takes her seat on the bench at One First Street, it will represent the culmination of a four-decade crusade by conservatives to fill the federal courts with reliably Republican judges who will serve for decades as a barricade against an ever more progressive nation.
This is not a wild conspiracy theory. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader and one of the main architects of this crusade, gloated about it openly on Sunday, following a bare-majority vote to move Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Senate floor. “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” Mr. McConnell said. “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
That’s the perfect distillation of what this has been all about. It also reveals what it was never about.
It was never about letting the American people have a voice in the makeup of the Supreme Court. That’s what Mr. McConnell and other Senate Republicans claimed in 2016, when they blocked President Obama from filling a vacancy with nearly a year left in his term. As of Monday, more than 62 million Americans had already voted in the 2020 election. Forget the polls; the best indicator that Mr. McConnell believes these voters are in the process of handing both the White House and the Senate to Democrats was his relentless charge to fill the Ginsburg vacancy.
It was never about fighting “judicial activism.” For decades, Republicans accused some judges of being legislators in robes. Yet today’s conservative majority is among the most activist in the court’s history, striking down long-established precedents and concocting new judicial theories on the fly, virtually all of which align with Republican policy preferences.
It was never about the supposed mistreatment that Robert Bork, a Reagan nominee, suffered at the hands of Senate Democrats in 1987. That nomination played out exactly as it should have. Senate Democrats gave Judge Bork a full hearing, during which millions of Americans got to experience firsthand his extremist views on the Constitution and federal law. He received an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, where his nomination was defeated by Democrats and Republicans together. President Ronald Reagan came back with a more mainstream choice, Anthony Kennedy, and Democrats voted to confirm him nine months before the election. Compare that with Republicans’ 2016 blockade of Judge Merrick Garland, whom they refused even to consider, much less to vote on: One was an exercise in a divided but functioning government, the other an exercise in partisan brute force.
How will a Justice Barrett rule? The mad dash of her confirmation process tells you all you need to know. Republicans pretended that she was not the anti-abortion hard-liner they have all been pining for, but they betrayed themselves with the sheer aggressiveness of their drive to get her seated on the nation’s highest court. Even before Monday’s vote, Republican presidents had appointed 14 of the previous 18 justices. The court has had a majority of Republican-appointed justices for half a century. But it is now as conservative as it has been since the 1930s.
Of all the threats posed by the Roberts Court, its open scorn for voting rights may be the biggest. In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the lead opinion in the most destructive anti-voter case in decades, Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the central provision of the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to rampant voter suppression, most of it targeted at Democratic voters. Yet this month, Chief Justice Roberts sided with the court’s remaining three liberals to allow a fuller count of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. The four other conservatives voted against that count. In other words, with Justice Barrett’s confirmation the court now has five justices who are more conservative on voting rights than the man who nearly obliterated the Voting Rights Act less than a decade ago.
In 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected same-sex marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia angrily dissented. “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote.
The American people, who have preferred the Democratic nominee in six of the last seven presidential elections, are now subordinate to a solid 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
Republicans accuse those who are trying to salvage the integrity and legitimacy of the Supreme Court with trying to change the rules or rig the game. Having just changed the rules in an attempt to rig the game, that’s particularly galling for them to say.
The courts must not be in the position of resolving all of America’s biggest political debates. But if Americans can agree on that, then they should be able to agree on mechanisms to reduce the Supreme Court’s power and influence in American life.
As Justice Scalia would put it, a democracy in which the people’s will is repeatedly thwarted by a committee of unelected lawyers is not a democracy at all."

Opinion | Amy Coney Barrett and the Republican Party's Supreme Court - The New York Times

Monday, October 26, 2020

If Bea Lumpkin can vote, so can you


“If Bea Lumpkin can vote, so can you

By Jennifer J. Raab, President of Hunter College, C.U.N.Y.

New York Daily News |

Oct 26, 2020 at 5:00 AM

A few days ago, a retired Chicago schoolteacher named Bea Lumpkin dressed herself in multiple layers of protective gear — including medical-grade gloves for her hands and beekeeper-style headgear so enveloping that only her eyes showed behind her face shield — and then made her way outdoors to drop her 2020 election ballot into a street-corner mailbox.

80 years of voting and not done yet.
80 years of voting and not done yet. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Lumpkin’s effort was captured for the cameras, and went viral, for good reason: She is 102 years old and, having voted in every presidential contest since Franklin Roosevelt beat Wendell Willkie in 1940, she was determined to keep her streak alive — even in the wake of a pandemic that imperils super-seniors like herself. As CNN later reported, Bea spent the next few days relentlessly tracking the progress of her ballot online, staying connected until she received confirmation that it had been received and counted. Now she proudly wears an “I Voted” sticker.

The story comes as no surprise to those who know about her early life and career in New York City, for Bea Shapiro — as she was known then — graduated from Hunter College with a bachelor’s degree in history back in 1939. Then she proceeded, as did many of her classmates, to pursue a life of social activism, embracing the Hunter motto: mihi cura future — “the care of the future is mine.”

Bea, born in the Bronx to two struggling immigrant garment workers, came by her passion for justice naturally. Her mother labored at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village but was pregnant, and fortunately at home, when the notorious fire there cost the lives of 146 laborers, mostly women and girls. Bea went on to work at a Brooklyn laundry, where she quickly organized its workers into a union. During World War II, serving as an electronics technician in Buffalo, she became a labor and tenants’ rights activist. Her own eviction was upheld by a local judge when her one-time affiliation with the Communist Party was read into the record.

Later, alongside her African-American husband, steelworker Frank Lumpkin, Bea fought Jim Crow laws, launched a new career as a schoolteacher and eventually became a tenured professor at Malcolm X College in Chicago. She wrote a 1999 book about her husband’s struggle to recover 3,000 lost pensions from a bankrupt Wisconsin Steel plant. And in 2013, she produced an unapologetic autobiography chronicling her proud life as a radical activist: “Joy in the Struggle: My Life and Love.”

Not an unimpressive legacy for a poor, first-generation American. But no real surprise. As our unofficial college slogan goes: “You can always tell a Hunter girl. But you can’t tell her much.”

Now, contrast Lumpkin’s 80-year-long fight for civil and voter rights with the message on a recently unearthed, similarly viral video, in which the 20-something activist Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point U.S.A., all but advocated for voter suppression: The COVID-19 pandemic had forced the shutdown of so many college campuses that some 500,000 likely progressive students registered to vote near their schools might well be disenfranchised this year.

“So, please keep the campuses closed,” Kirk urged. “Like, it’s a great thing.”

Bea Shapiro Lumpkin would disagree. And her story animates Hunter College’s ongoing work to make sure that today’s students — even those studying remotely while our own campus remains largely closed — stay engaged on the issues and fully prepared to exercise the franchise.

The Daily News Flash Newsletter

Hunter’s student government, for example, used Instagram to conduct a virtual voter registration drive, and is now engaged in a vigorous get-out-the-vote campaign. Students who worked through the summer on completing the census are now being successfully recruited to serve as poll workers. Two of our alumni are even running for office this cycle.

The pandemic has not curtailed outreach. A recent Hunter online discussion of Gen Z activism brought organizers and undergraduates together to stress the urgent need to participate, especially in an age plagued by anxiety and disparity.

In New York City, commuter students like CUNY’s must be sure to vote in their home districts — or secure their absentee ballots ASAP from the Board of Elections website. Local students enrolled (and registered to vote) at out-of-town campuses that may be closed: secure mail-in-ballots from the state where you study, and cast ballots as soon as you can.

As Lumpkin put it to CNN: “The most important reason to vote in this election is that there’s so much at stake, more than any other vote I’ve cast, because of the great challenge to the survival of democracy.”

Whatever side of the political spectrum you identify with, this much should be true: If this woman can risk her very life to vote at age 102, every student can vote as if their own lives depended on it.

Raab is the president of Hunter College.”

Asylum: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Republicans closely resemble autocratic parties in Hungary and Turkey – study | US news | The Guardian
























"The Republican party has become dramatically more illiberal in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a new international study.

In a significant shift since 2000, the GOP has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland and Turkey.

The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Donald Trump.

By contrast the Democratic party has changed little in its attachment to democratic norms, and in that regard has remained similar to centre-right and centre-left parties in western Europe. Their principal difference is the approach to the economy.

The new study, the largest ever of its kind, was carried out by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, using newly developed methods to measure and quantify the health of the world’s democracies at a time when authoritarianism is on the rise.

Anna Lührmann, V-Dem’s deputy director, said the Republican transformation had been “certainly the most dramatic shift in an established democracy”.

Graphic
V-Dem’s “illiberalism index” gauges the extent of commitment to democratic norms a party exhibits before an election. The institute calls it “the first comparative measure of the ‘litmus test’ for the loyalty to democracy”.

The study, published on Monday, shows the party has followed a similar trajectory to Fidesz, which under Viktor Orbán has evolved from a liberal youth movement into an authoritarian party that has made Hungary the first non-democracy in the European Union.

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been transformed in similar ways under Narendra Modi, as has the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Law and Justice party in Poland. Trump and his administration have sought to cultivate close ties to the leadership of those countries.

The Republican party has remained relatively committed to pluralism, but it has gone a long way towards abandoning other democratic norms, becoming much more prone to disrespecting opponents and encouraging violence.

“We’ve seen similar shifts in parties in other countries where the quality of democracy has declined in recent years, where democracy has been eroding,” Lührmann said. “It fits very well into the pattern of parties that erode democracy once they’re in power.”

“The demonisation of opponents – that’s clearly a factor that has shifted a lot when it comes to the Republican party, as well as the encouragement of political violence,” she said, adding that the change has been driven in large part from the top.

“We have several quotes from Trump, that show how he has encouraged supporters to use violence against either journalists or political opponents.”

In western Europe, centre-right parties like Germany’s Christian Democratic Union and Spain’s People’s Party have stuck to their commitment to democratic norms. By the same measure, Britain’s Conservative party has moved some way along the liberal-illiberal spectrum but not to the Republicans’ extremes.

“The data shows that the Republican party in 2018 was far more illiberal than almost all other governing parties in democracies,” the V-Dem study found. “Only very few governing parties in democracies in this millennium (15%) were considered more illiberal than the Republican party in the US.”

The institute has found the decline in democratic traits has accelerated around the world and that for the first time this century, autocracies are in the majority – holding power in 92 countries, home to 54% of the global population.

According to V-Dem’s benchmark, almost 35% of the world’s population, 2.6 billion people, live in nations that are becoming more autocratic."

Republicans closely resemble autocratic parties in Hungary and Turkey – study | US news | The Guardian

White House signals defeat in pandemic as coronavirus outbreak roils Pence?s office - The Washington Post




White House signals defeat in pandemic as coronavirus outbreak roils Pence’s office
By Philip Ruckerwashingtonpost.com1 min

The presidential campaign was roiled this weekend by a fresh outbreak of the novel coronavirus at the White House that infected at least five aides or advisers to Vice President Pence, a spread that President Trump’s top staffer acknowledged Sunday he had tried to avoid disclosing to the public.

With the election a little over a week away, the new White House outbreak spotlighted the administration’s failure to contain the pandemic as hospitalizations surge across much of the United States and daily new cases hit all-time highs.

The outbreak around Pence, who chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, undermines the argument Trump has been making to voters that the country is “rounding the turn,” as the president put it at a rally Sunday in New Hampshire.

Further complicating Trump’s campaign-trail pitch was an extraordinary admission Sunday from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow the virus’s spread."

White House signals defeat in pandemic as coronavirus outbreak roils Pence?s office - The Washington Post

Barrett Set to Be Confirmed to Supreme Court - The New York Times






















"Oct. 26, 2020, 8:11 a.m.

2020 Election Live Updates: Barrett Set to Be Confirmed to Supreme Court
The confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett could sway voters in key Senate contests. The White House chief of staff said, “We’re not going to control the pandemic” as an outbreak spread in Vice President Pence’s circle. Eleven people were arrested in a fight between Trump supporters and protesters in New York."

Biden vs. Trump: Live Updates for the 2020 Election - The New York Times

Opinion | Trump’s Army of Angry White Men - The New York Times



























Opinion

Trump’s Army of Angry White Men

This group will continue to fight for Trump and he knows that.

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
This election will test the country’s core.

Who are we? How did we come to this? How did this country elect Donald Trump and does it have the collective constitution to admit the error and reverse it?

At the moment, Joe Biden is leading in the polls, but the fact that Trump is even close — and still has a chance, however slim, to be re-elected — is for a person like me, a Black man, astounding. I assume that there are many women, Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans and people from Haiti and African nations he disparaged who feel the same way.

Trump is the president of the United States because a majority of white people in this country wanted him to be. Perhaps some supported him despite his obvious flaws, but others undoubtedly saw those flaws as laudable attributes. For the latter, Trump’s racism was welcome in the coven.

Still, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll, more white people support Trump than Biden. This is primarily a function of white men who prefer Trump over Biden 57 percent to 36 percent. Most white women support Biden, which is a reversal from the last election, when a plurality voted for Trump.

The white racist, sexist, xenophobic patriarchy and all those who benefit from or aspire to it are in a battle with the rest of us, for not only the present in this country but also the future of it.

The Republican Party, which is now without question the Party of Trump, has become a structural reflection of him. They see their majorities slipping and the country turning brown with a quickness, and they are becoming more tribal, more rash, more devious, just like him.

Like Trump, the Republican Party sees a future in which the only way they can win is to cheat. That is why they are stacking the courts. That is why they openly embrace tactics that are well known to result in voter suppression. That is why they gerrymander. That is why they staunchly oppose immigration.

Trump’s base of mostly white men, mostly without a college degree, see him as the ambassador of their anger, one who ministers to their fear, consoles their losses and champions their victimhood. Trump is the angry white man leading the battle charge for angry white men.

The most optimistic among us see the Trump era as some sort of momentary insanity, half of the nation under the spell of a conjurer. They believe that the country can be reunited and this period forgotten.

Editors’ Picks
2 Broke Artists Started a Bakery at Home. It’s a Pandemic Hit.
He Was a Rising Jazz Pianist. Then His N.Y.C. Dreams Were Shattered.
The White Issue: Has Anna Wintour’s Diversity Push Come Too Late?
Continue reading the main story

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story

I am not one of those people. I believe what political scientist Thomas Schaller told Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson in 2018: “I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war.” If 2018 was the beginning of it, it is now well underway.

Trump is building an army of the aggrieved in plain sight.

It is an army with its own mercenaries, people Trump doesn’t have to personally direct, but ones he has absolutely refused to condemn.

When it comes to the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, the young neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville and the far-right fight club the Proud Boys, Trump finds a way to avoid a full-throated condemnation, often feigning ignorance.

“I don’t know anything about David Duke,” Trump said when he ran in 2016. That of course was a lie. In fact, Trump is heir to Duke’s legacy.

In 1991, when Duke ran unsuccessfully to be governor of Louisiana but received a majority of the white vote in the state, Trump told CNN’s Larry King, “I hate seeing what it represents, but I guess it just shows there’s a lot of hostility in this country. There’s a tremendous amount of hostility in the United States.”

King responded, “Anger?”

Then Trump explained: “It’s anger. I mean, that’s an anger vote. People are angry about what’s happened. People are angry about the jobs.”

It is that very anger that Trump harnessed to win the presidency: anger over racial displacement disguised as economic anxiety.

Trump has bottled defiance and sold the serum to his acolytes and henchmen. He is fighting for white power and white heritage — he mourns the loss of “beautiful” monuments to racists while attacking racial sensitivity training. He is fighting to keep out foreigners, unless they are from countries like Norway, an overwhelmingly white country. He is fighting for people to be foolish, like not wearing a mask in the middle of a global pandemic caused by an airborne virus.

Trump is fighting for these people and they will continue to fight for him. Trump knows that. And he keeps them angry because he needs them angry. There is a strong chance that Trump won’t win the coming election, but there is also a strong chance that he will win a majority of white men.

The question then is how an angry Trump and those angry men will react to defeat and humiliation."

Opinion | Trump’s Army of Angry White Men - The New York Times

Infection of Pence Aides Raises New Questions About Trump’s Virus Response - The New York Times

"From the beginning, the president has turned mask wearing and other preventive measures into a loyalty test. He and his aides have taken the same approach inside the White House.

A coronavirus testing site in Chicago. The United States is suffering its third surge in cases across the nation, with a death toll that has risen to more than 225,000.
A coronavirus testing site in Chicago. The United States is suffering its third surge in cases across the nation, with a death toll that has risen to more than 225,000.

WASHINGTON — “Covid, Covid. Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” President Trump groused at a rally in North Carolina on Saturday, expressing dismay that the deadly coronavirus pandemic had come to dominate the final days of his struggling re-election campaign. He made up a scenario: “A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don’t talk about it. ‘Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.’”

But just seven hours later, the White House made its own Covid headlines when officials acknowledged that another coronavirus outbreak had struck the White House, infecting Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff and four other top aides — and raising new questions about the Trump administration’s cavalier approach to the worst health crisis in a century.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, essentially offering a verbal shrug in response to any effort to prevent an outbreak in the top echelon of the nation’s leaders. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations, because it is a contagious virus — just like the flu.”

Mr. Trump made no reference to the new cases during campaign rallies in New Hampshire and Maine on Sunday. But for voters, the new wave of infections at the White House just over a week before Election Day was a visceral reminder of the president’s dismissive and erratic handling of the virus, even in one of the most secure spaces in the country. And it comes just as the United States suffers its third surge in infections across the nation, with a record number of daily new cases on Friday and a death toll that has risen to almost 225,000.

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, said Sunday that the statement by Mr. Meadows was “an acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.”

“It’s sadly no surprise then that this virus continues to rage unchecked across the country and even in the White House itself,” said the former vice president, who has sought to make the administration’s handling of the coronavirus the centerpiece of his campaign.

From the beginning, Mr. Trump has downplayed the threat of the virus, initially insisting that it would just “go away” and failing to ramp up testing that might have helped slow its spread. Mr. Trump clashed with his own scientists, pressuring officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change their restrictive recommendations about how and when to reopen businesses and schools.

The president organized his pandemic response around his political ideology, warring with “blue state” governors while praising the hands-off approach of Republican leaders. And he publicly sided with people frustrated with restrictions and shutdowns, demanding on Twitter that the governor of Michigan, among others, “liberate” her state.

Mr. Trump turned mask wearing and other preventive measures into political loyalty tests, dismissing the critical importance of social distancing and pinning his hopes on Operation Warp Speed, a plan to accelerate development and distribution of a vaccine that has shown promise, but that scientists have insisted was never going to be quick or easy.

The president and his aides have taken the same approach inside the White House. They have declined to follow quarantine guidelines, ignored warnings from doctors, largely refused to wear masks and, in the case of the president, mocked reporters who did as recently as Friday in the Oval Office.

“The White House has had very loose rules about protecting the workers and leadership,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “They’ve had one large outbreak, and it was very clear that they didn’t learn from that outbreak and so these are going to continue.”

Credit...Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News, via Associated Press

The president and vice president have largely stayed in messaging lock step as the pandemic unfolded. Mr. Trump has minimized it from the beginning, and used his own infection and hospitalization as a way of doubling down, telling Americans after his treatment with experimental drugs, “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” and urging them not to “let it dominate your life.” He said during his second debate with Mr. Biden last week that the country was “learning to live” with it.

As the leader of the White House virus task force, Mr. Pence has parroted the president’s rosy outlook, even mimicking Mr. Trump’s aversion to masks by refusing to wear one during a visit to a hospital in April.

Over the past several months, Mr. Pence stood by as the White House sidelined Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the task force coordinator, and instead embraced Dr. Scott W. Atlas, a radiologist and senior fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, who has advocated a largely hands-off approach by the federal government to stopping the pandemic.

Mr. Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday, and said he would not quarantine after his exposure to infected aides, who include Marc Short, his chief of staff, and Marty Obst, a senior adviser. His spokesman would not say whether Mr. Pence was receiving some of the drugs Mr. Trump was given, including an experimental cocktail of antibodies by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, as a preventive measure.

In a statement, the White House deemed the vice president “essential” and said he would stick to his campaign schedule. That included an address on Sunday evening to supporters in Kinston, N.C., where Mr. Pence made no reference to the cases that had infiltrated his staff and instead defended the administration’s coronavirus response as the “greatest national mobilization since World War II.”

But several White House aides and officials on his campaign said privately that Mr. Pence should stay off the campaign trail, and instead host virtual events and phone calls to demonstrate that the vice president and his aides were taking the outbreak in their ranks seriously.

Others said that the latest outbreak would be in the news either way, and that deploying Mr. Pence to a state like North Carolina, where campaign aides think the race will come down to fewer than 100,000 votes, was crucial in the final days.

But the decision to continue Mr. Pence’s schedule risked making the outbreak in his ranks a bigger story than if he pulled back from the campaign trail.

Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s national security adviser, defended Mr. Pence’s decision to maintain his campaign schedule, even as he acknowledged that the virus was “ripping through this country.” He cited the C.D.C.’s guidelines that allow essential personnel to continue working.

“Essential workers going out and campaigning and voting are about as essential as things we can do as Americans,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Those guidelines, issued in April and updated in September, were developed to ensure that “people who are helping us keep the lights on and the water running can do their jobs,” said one federal health official who participated in drafting them. And while Mr. Pence has thus far tested negative, health experts denounced his decision to continue traveling to campaign stops around the country.

“The idea that you can just be declared an essential worker without being quarantined undermines the whole concept of quarantine,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the C.D.C. under President Barack Obama.

Latest Updates

On the campaign trail, blaming the news media for covering the virus incessantly has become a stock part of Mr. Trump’s rally performance — a sign he is appealing to voters by leaning into the country’s general virus fatigue. The president has repeatedly said the country is “rounding the corner” in the fight against the virus — even as all evidence is to the contrary.

The president’s assessment stood in stark contrast to more aggressive guidance from Dr. Fauci, who said in an interview Sunday that the country should consider mandating the use of masks — something Mr. Trump has repeatedly refused to consider — because “the universal wearing of masks” is essential to curbing the spread of the deadly virus.

“It would be optimal if this could be accomplished without resorting to a mask mandate,” Dr. Fauci said, repeating comments he first made late last week. “However, if the situation continues to deteriorate regarding numbers of cases, hospitalizations and likely deaths while many people still refuse to wear masks, we should seriously consider mask mandates.”

The outbreak in the vice president’s office is the third to strike the White House, following a small outbreak in May that included Mr. Pence’s spokeswoman and a larger explosion of infection in late September after a Rose Garden ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

The latest one began late last week, when Mr. Obst fell ill. Once that happened, people who had been in contact with him went into quarantine and contact tracing measures were employed, according to a senior administration official. But during that period, two other top aides to Mr. Pence tested positive for the virus. Officials in the vice president’s office did not make it public at the time.

Then on Saturday, both Mr. Short and Zach Bauer, Mr. Pence’s personal aide, tested positive, two senior administration officials said. Two officials familiar with the events said Mr. Short wanted White House doctors to issue a statement about his diagnosis, adding that Mr. Pence had tested negative.

But Mr. Meadows did not want the information becoming public on Saturday, the officials said. He pressed the White House medical office not to release a statement, and urged the vice president’s staff not to publicly reveal the diagnoses, the officials said. Several people said they believed Mr. Meadows was trying to keep the situation from becoming public so close to Election Day. Mr. Meadows has indicated to people that he was doing what the president wanted.

A senior administration official said that Mr. Meadows was not trying to prevent the outbreak from becoming public, but instead that he thought the White House medical office should not issue the statement and wanted the vice president’s office to engage in contact tracing before putting out a statement. After the Rose Garden ceremony last month, the White House made little effort to track the spread of the virus.

Across the White House complex, there was a mixture of anxiety about what the outbreak means for the election, and intense frustration with Mr. Short, who has been among the leaders in the administration in arguing the risks of the virus have been overblown.

Mr. Short has also played down the value of mask wearing, administration officials said. Mr. Short was expected to stay home for at least 10 days.

Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said he gave the vice president’s office credit for acknowledging that Mr. Short was sick, and took no issue with Mr. Pence being out on the trail.

“I don’t think they should overdramatize this,” Mr. Cole said. “It is near the end of a campaign. I’m sure all these things are weighed carefully by a presidential campaign. I guess you could call it either way, but if I were in a similar situation I’d be doing a similar thing to what Vice President Pence is doing.”

Asked by reporters on Sunday whether Mr. Pence should come off the campaign trail, Mr. Trump said that “you’ll have to ask him” and bragged about the size of the vice president’s rally crowds, saying they had been socially distanced.

The only person in the president’s orbit whose own experience with the virus appeared to have altered his thinking is Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, who was hospitalized after testing positive and now urges Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“These minor inconveniences can save your life, your neighbors and the economy,” he wrote last week in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. “Seldom has so little been asked for so much benefit. Yet the message will be broadly heeded only if it is consistently and honestly delivered by the media, religious leaders, sports figures and public servants.

“Those in positions of authority,” he said — without directly mentioning Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence — “have a duty to get the message out.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting."

Infection of Pence Aides Raises New Questions About Trump’s Virus Response - The New York Times