Thursday Reads: Grim Reaper Trump

Good Morning!!

The Grim Reaper

Mary Trump’s book was released on Tuesday, and the court affirmed her right to freedom of speech, so she is now speaking out about her the horrific family that produced Donald Trump. She’ll be interviewed tonight by Rachel Maddow–that should be interesting. She gave an interview to The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker yesterday: Mary Trump says the U.S. has devolved into a version of her ‘incredibly dysfunctional family.

Mary L. Trump, President’s Trump’s niece, said that watching the country’s leadership devolve into “a macro version of my incredibly dysfunctional family” was one of the factors that compelled her to write her book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

In an interview Wednesday with The Washington Post, Mary Trump said she blames “almost 100 percent” her grandfather, Fred Trump — the family patriarch whom she describes as a “sociopath” in her 214-page memoir of sorts — for creating the conditions that led to Trump’s rise and, ultimately, what she views as his dangerous presidency.

Much like in her extended family, Mary Trump said, a similar dynamic is now playing out on the national stage, with Trump simultaneously possessing “an unerring instinct for finding people who are weaker than he is,” while also being “eminently usable by people who are stronger and savvier than he is” and eager to exploit him.

Cemetery Gates, Marc Chagall

Assessing the current moment, in which Trump has amplified racism and stoked the flames of white grievance and resentment, Mary Trump said that the president is “clearly racist,” but that his behavior stems from a combination of upbringing and political cynicism.

“It comes easily to him and he thinks it’s going to score him points with the only people who are continuing to support him,” she said.

Mary Trump said that growing up in her family, her experience was one of “a knee-jerk anti-Semitism, a knee-jerk racism.”

“Growing up, it was sort of normal to hear them use the n-word or use anti-Semitic expressions,” she said.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

It seems that the majority of Americans are finally waking up to the truth about Trump. After what happened in 2016, I won’t feel confident until after the election, but things are looking very bad for a second Trump term. Here’s the latest:

NBC News: Biden opens up 11-point national lead over Trump in NBC News/WSJ poll.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a double-digit lead nationally over President Donald Trump, with 7 in 10 voters saying the country is on the wrong track and majorities disapproving of the president’s handling of the coronavirus and race relations.

Those are the major findings of a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that comes 3½ months before the presidential election, amid a pandemic that has killed about 140,000 people in the U.S. and during protests and debates over race across the country.

Colonial Graveyard at Lexington, MA, Frederick Childe Hassam

The poll shows Biden ahead of Trump by 11 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 40 percent, which is well outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Biden’s lead in last month’s poll was 7 points, 49 percent to 42 percent.

In addition, the poll shows Democrats enjoying an intensity advantage heading into November, and it has Trump’s job rating declining to 42 percent — its lowest level in two years.

“The atmosphere and the attitudes toward Donald Trump are the most challenging an incumbent president has faced since Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Lyndon Johnson in 1968,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, whose firm conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.

Nate Cohn at The New York Times: Even if the Polls Are Really Off, Trump Is Still in Trouble.

With Joe Biden claiming almost a double-digit lead in national polls, one question still seems to loom over the race: Can we trust the polls after 2016?

It’s a good question. But for now, it’s not as important as you might guess. If the election were held today, Mr. Biden would win the presidency, even if the polls were exactly as wrong as they were four years ago.

Edouard Manet, The Funeral

The reason is simple: His lead is far wider than Hillary Clinton’s was in the final polls, and large enough to withstand another 2016 polling meltdown.

This is not to say that President Trump can’t win. There are still nearly four months to go until the election — more than enough time for the race and the polls to change. The race changed on several occasions over the final months in 2016. And this race has already changed significantly in the last four months. According to FiveThirtyEight, three months ago Mr. Biden held a lead of only about four points.

Read more at the NYT link.

Yesterday, Trump demoted campaign manager Brad Parscale and replaced him with Bill Stepian, the guy who helped Chris Christie with Bridgegate. The Daily Beast: Trump Campaign Chief Was Edged Out ‘Weeks Ago.’ Now He’s Officially Demoted.

President Donald Trump has removed Brad Parscale as his campaign manager, installing instead Bill Stepien, his former second-in-command, in the role. Parscale had held the position since February 2018.

Parscale will remain a part of the campaign as a senior adviser overseeing digital operations, per a Facebook post from the commander-in-chief….

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, delivered the news, according to ABC.

Graveyard, Ernest Lawson

The move was the culmination of multiple elevations and additions to Team Trump earlier this year that amounted to alleviating Parscale of certain key responsibilities, even if he remained at the time as a campaign manager in title. For instance, Stepien and Jason Miller, another top Trump 2020 official who previously worked as a senior aide on the 2016 team and Trump presidential transition, had for weeks largely taken the helm on strategy, with Parscale generally focusing on duties that the president tweeted on Wednesday evening would remain in his portfolio after the demotion, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

In substance and assignments, “this ‘shakeup’ happened weeks ago,” one of these individuals said. “Difference [tonight] is that it’s now official in everyone’s titles.”

Of course Jared is really the one in charge of the campaign.

Trump’s planned convention in Florida keeps shrinking. Axios: RNC to restrict attendance at Florida convention amid coronavirus surge.

The Republican National Committee will move to significantly limit attendance at its nominating convention events in Jacksonville, Fla., next month, party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in a Thursday letter to members, Politico reports.

What’s happening: Only delegates will be able to attend the convention on the first three nights. On the fourth night, when President Trump will give his acceptance speech — which may take place outdoors — delegates will be able to bring a guest, while alternate delegates will also be permitted to attend.

— “Adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines,” McDaniel wrote. “I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville.”

— Florida’s coronavirus outbreak has continued to worsen in recent weeks. The state reported 15,299 new coronavirus cases on Sunday — a single-day record for any state</blockquote

By Diana Salina-Sandoval

The coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, while Trump refuses to do anything to help states where the virus is raging out of control. The latest alarming coronavirus stories:

NBC News: Russia is attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine research, U.S., U.K. and Canada claim.

Hackers from Russia’s intelligence services have attempted to steal information related to COVID-19 vaccine development from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, British officials said Thursday.

A group called “APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear” has been using malware to target various groups across the three countries, the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre said in a statement.

It said the United States’ National Security Agency agrees with the assessment.

This is a breaking news report. Please check back for updates.

The Atlantic: A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming. There was always a logical explanation for why cases rose through the end of June while deaths did not.

There is no mystery in the number of Americans dying from COVID-19.

Despite political leaders trivializing the pandemic, deaths are rising again: The seven-day average for deaths per day has now jumped by more than 200 since July 6, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. By our count, states reported 855 deaths today, in line with the recent elevated numbers in mid-July.

By William Bell Scott

The deaths are not happening in unpredictable places. Rather, people are dying at higher rates where there are lots of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations: in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California, as well as a host of smaller southern states that all rushed to open up.

The deaths are also not happening in an unpredictable amount of time after the new outbreaks emerged. Simply look at the curves yourself. Cases began to rise on June 16; a week later, hospitalizations began to rise. Two weeks after that—21 days after cases rose—states began to report more deaths. That’s the exact number of days that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated from the onset of symptoms to the reporting of a death.

Many people who don’t want COVID-19 to be the terrible crisis that it is have clung to the idea that more cases won’t mean more deaths. Some Americans have been perplexed by a downward trend of national deaths, even as cases exploded in the Sun Belt region. But given the policy choices that state and federal officials have made, the virus has done exactly what public-health experts expected. When states reopened in late April and May with plenty of infected people within their borders, cases began to grow. COVID-19 is highly transmissible, makes a large subset of people who catch it seriously ill, and kills many more people than the flu or any other infectious disease circulating in the country.

CNN: As Trump refuses to lead, America tries to save itself.

President Donald Trump isn’t leading America much as its pandemic worsens. But that’s not stopping Walmart — along with Kroger, Kohl’s, and city and state leaders and officials — from making the tough decisions that the President has shirked.

The Graveyard, by Uko Post

Given Trump’s approach, if the country is to exit the building disaster without many more thousands dead, it will fall to governors, mayors, college presidents and school principals, teachers and grocery store managers to execute plans balancing public health with the need for life to go on.

There were growing indications Wednesday that such centers of authority across the country are no longer waiting for cues from an indifferent President whose aggressive opening strategy has been discredited by a tsunami of infections and whose poll numbers are crashing as a result.

More school districts — in Houston and San Francisco, for example — are defying the President’s demand for all kids to go back to class in the fall.

Head over to CNN to read more examples of state and local leaders acting on their own.

It’s just another sad and frustrating day in an American held hostage by Trump’s dysfunctional “presidency.” Hang in there, Sky Dancers! We will survive this somehow.


Thursday Reads: Love Will Trump Hate in November

 2815Good Afternoon!!

Last night Dakinikat and I were talking about how the Donald Trump phenomenon is affecting us, and it dawned on me that it reminds me of what it’s like to live in an alcoholic family with an abusive and completely unpredictable father–only in this case it’s the entire country that is trying to deal with the crazy abuser. You never know what is going to happen next, but you know it will be incredibly stressful and emotionally exhausting.

In the case of Trump’s very public behavior, I never know what shocking news will greet me when I get up in the morning. If it’s a day when I write a post it’s even worse because I get overwhelmed trying to figure out what to write.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but it helps me understand why I feel so disoriented and stressed-out as I follow the news each day. I suppose it’s not as bad for people who aren’t paying as close attention to the campaign as we are; but judging by the polls, just about everyone except angry, racist white men is turned off by Trump’s bizarre behavior.

There have even been reports of bullying by children who have heard and been influenced by Trump’s ugly hate speech.

From The Guardian in June: ‘You were born in a Taco Bell’: Trump’s rhetoric fuels school bullies across US.

Tracey Iglehart, a teacher at Rosa Parks elementary school in Berkeley, California, did not expect Donald Trump to show up on the playground….

“They said things like ‘you’ll get deported’, ‘you weren’t born here’ and ‘you were born in a Taco Bell’,” said Iglehart, 49. “They may not know exactly what it means, but they know it’s powerful language.”

Hearing it in Rosa Parks elementary, of all places, came as a shock. “Berkeley is not an area where there are Trump supporters. This is not the land of Trump.”

Yet the spirit of the GOP presidential candidate has surfaced here and, according to one study, in schools across the country.

An online survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers by the Southern Poverty Law Center found toxic political rhetoric invading elementary, middle and high schools, emboldening children to make racist taunts that leave others bewildered and anxious.

“We mapped it out. There was no state or region that jumped out. It was everywhere,” said Maureen Costello, the study’s author. “Marginalized students are feeling very frightened, especially Muslims and Mexicans. Many teachers use the word terrified.” The children who did the taunting were echoing Trump’s rhetoric, she said. “Bad behavior has been normalized. They think it’s OK.”

So my notion of the Trump campaign as a dysfunctional family that is affecting millions of Americans is not so far-fetched.

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The latest Trump shock came early yesterday when his campaign announced its latest shake-up. The campaign “manager” will now be pollster Kellyanne Conway and the “chairman/CEO” of the campaign will now be Steve Bannon, editor of the far right white supremacist website Breitbart. In essence, there has been a hostile takeover of the Republican Party by the worst lowlifes in the right-wing fever swamp. I wonder how Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell feel about that?

Joshua Green at Bloomberg: Steve Bannon’s Plan to Free Donald Trump and Save His Campaign.

“I am who I am,” Donald Trump declared, shortly after the New York Times ran a story depicting chaos in his presidential campaign. “I don’t want to change.” He wasn’t lying. The next day, on Aug. 17, Trump shoved aside his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and installed Steve Bannon—ex-Naval officer, ex-Goldman Sachs banker, ex-Sarah Palin filmmaker. Until Trump called, he was executive chairman of Breitbart News, the avatar of the so-called alt-right: the nationalist, racially paranoid splinter group of anti-establishment conservatives who have rallied to Trump’s banner.

Since June, Manafort has tried fruitlessly to mold Trump into someone palatable to establishment Republicans and the swing voters he’ll need to win over if he’s to have any chance of beating Hillary Clinton. Bannon, who becomes chief executive of the Trump campaign, represents a sharp turn in the opposite direction—a fireball hurtling toward the 2016 presidential election. (In announcing the hiring, the Trump campaign quoted Bloomberg Businessweek’s description of Bannon from a profile last fall as “the most dangerous political operative in America.”) Along with campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Bannon will encourage Trump to cast aside political niceties and aggressively go with his gut. “I’ve known Steve for a long time—he is an extraordinary guy, an extraordinary talent, and he, like me, truly loves our country,” Trump said in a statement to Businessweek.

Trump’s own diagnosis of his campaign’s shortcomings led to this unusual prescription—which is the diametric opposite of what most Republicans have been counseling for their embattled nominee. “The campaign has been too lethargic, too reactive,” says a senior Trump official. “They wanted to bring in someone who understood new media, understood digital. It’s not going to be a traditional campaign.” Trump was frustrated by Manafort’s efforts to contain him and angry about his plummeting poll numbers. With Bannon in the fold, the source adds, Trump will feel free to unleash his inner Trump: “It’s very simple. This is a change election. He needs to position himself as anti-establishment, the candidate of change, and the candidate who’s anti-Washington.”

The shake-up is an ominous development for Republican elected officials alarmed at Trump’s collapse and the effect he could have on down-ballot races across the country. In recent years, Breitbart News has bedeviled Republican leaders, helping to drive out former House Speaker John Boehner and, more recently, making life difficult for his successor, Paul Ryan. Last fall, at Bannon’s insistence, Breitbart reporters visited Ryan’s Wisconsin home (which is surrounded by a wall) and published a story shaming him for not endorsing Trump’s proposal to erect a wall along the Mexico border.

Bannon, who’s as eager to attack Republicans as Democrats, is unlikely to worry much about the plight of mainstream GOP incumbents. At a New Year’s party at his Capitol Hill home last year, Bannon gave guests silver flasks stamped with his personal motto: “Honey badger don’t give a shit.”

Cartoon_44

The piece ends with this choice quote from Stuart Stevens, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign:

“This is the bunker scene in Downfall, only the Trump crowd won’t tell Hitler the truth. It’s utter madness,” says Stuart Stevens, who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “Trump is a nut, and he likes to surround himself with nuts. It’s a disaster for the Republican Party.”

Read the whole thing at the Bloomberg link.

At Vanity Fair, Ken Stern has a longer article about Bannon and Trump, Exclusive: Stephen Bannon, Trump’s New CEO, Hints at His Master Plan. It’s well worth the read.

The night before the big shake-up, Trump gave a “law and order” speech in West Bend, Wisconsin, a lily-white town about 40 miles north of Milwaukee, where protests have been raging after police shot and killed a black man whom they claim had a gun. In the speech, Trump pretended to “reach out” to African Americans, while advocating for more and harsher policing in poor urban areas. During the speech, Trump repeatedly said he was in Milwaukee. It was insulting to black people and to anyone who cares about inequality.

While he was in Wisconsin, Trump gave an interview to The La Cross Tribune. At Huffington Post, Julia Craven called attention to one very “tone deaf” comment in the interview:

Trump, whose campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again!” said he views the 1980s as the time when things were good for the nation, though he also hearkened back to the late 1700s and early 1800s.

“The industrial revolution was certainly — in terms of economically — that was when we started to grow,” Trump said. “I liked the Ronald Reagan years. I thought the country had a wonderful, strong image.”

Craven notes that the Industrial Revolution was built on the backs of slaves and during the Reagan era, black neighborhoods were inundated with crack and “the war on drugs drove the incarceration rate for black people through the roof.”

I’m almost beginning to buy into Peter Daou’s theory that Trump is campaigning not for the presidency but for leadership of a white nationalist movement.  Here’s Daou’s latest at Blue Nation Review: We’re Witnessing History: The Extreme Right Just Seized Control of the GOP. Please go read the whole thing if you haven’t already.

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Now here’s something to help get the bad Trump taste out of our mouths: Wired Endorses Optimism.

Wired has never been neutral. For nearly a quarter of a century, this organization has championed a specific way of thinking about tomorrow. If it’s true, as the writer William Gibson once had it, that the future is already here, just unevenly distributed, then our task has been to locate the places where various futures break through to our present and identify which one we hope for….

We value freedom: open systems, open markets, free people, free information, free inquiry. We’ve become even more dedicated to scientific rigor, good data, and evidence-driven thinking. And we’ve never lost our optimism.

…for all of its opinions and enthu­siasms, WIRED has never made a practice of endorsing candidates for president of the United States. Through five election cycles we’ve written about politics and politicians and held them up against our ideals. But we’ve avoided telling you, our readers, who WIRED viewed as the best choice.

Today we will. WIRED sees only one person running for president who can do the job: Hillary Clinton.

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Why have the magazine’s editors made this decision?

Right now we see two possible futures welling up in the present. In one, society’s every decision is dominated by scarcity. Except for a few oligarchs, nobody has enough of anything. In that future, we build literal and figurative walls to keep out those who hope to acquire our stuff, while through guile or violence we try to acquire theirs.

In the other future, the one WIRED is rooting for, new rounds of innovation allow people to do more with less work—in a way that translates into abundance, broadly enjoyed. Governments and markets and entrepreneurs create the conditions that allow us to take effective collective action against climate change. The flashlight beam of science keeps turning up cool stuff in the corners of the universe. The grand social experiments of the 20th and early 21st centuries—the mass entry of women into the workforce, civil rights, LGBTQ rights—continue and give way to new ones that are just as necessary and unsettling and empowering to people who got left out of previous rounds. And the sustainably manufactured, genetically modified fake meat tastes really good too.

Our sights might not be perfectly aligned, but it’s pretty clear Hillary Clinton has her eye on a similar trajectory. She intends to uphold the Paris Agreement on climate change and reduce carbon emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025. She hopes to produce enough renewable energy to power every American home by the end of her first term. She wants to increase the budgets of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, two major drivers of research and innovation via government funding. And she wants to do the same for Darpa, the defense research agency—without which, let’s face it, WIRED probably wouldn’t exist, because no one would have invented the things we cover.

Clinton also has ideas that clear away stumbling blocks for entrepreneurs and strivers. She proposes linking entre­preneurship to forgiveness of student loans, as a way to help young people start businesses. Clinton favors net neutrality—giving every packet of data on the Internet the same priority, regardless of whether they originate from a media corporation or from you and me. She has proposed easier paths to legal immigration for people with science, technology, and engineering degrees. And she has spent my entire adult life trying to work out how to give the maximum number of Americans access to health care; she will con­tinue to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, which among other things has helped people walk away from crappy, dead-end jobs by alleviating the fear that they’ll lose their insurance.

I agree that Hillary is an optimist and she has the competence and intelligence to turn her ideas into real change. I think most Americans will also choose optimism and love over negativity and hate in November.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!