alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

VIDEOS

Trump’s top health official lies and says the US is doing as well as the rest of the world on COVID

The Trump administration is a disaster. It was a garbage fire when it began, but that ongoing fire, stoked by the entire Republican Party, has led to an increase in authoritarian use of law enforcement and ICE forces to dehumanize people all across our country. On top of all of that, the bad economic policies and general culture of avarice and self-serving incompetence promoted by Trump and the Republican Party have led us to the precipice of an economic depression, and a public health crisis the likes of which has not been seen in generations has pushed that depression into the territory of collapse.

With just over two weeks until Election Day, Trump's surrogates—the ones not sick with COVID-19 or hiding out to pretend they aren't still milking the poisonous Trump cow—have taken to the airwaves to pretend everything is going according to plan. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was on Meet the Press Sunday, to implore Americans in his most imploring-sounding voice, to wear masks and follow the basic general protections against spreading the COVID-19 virus that experts have been promoting since the beginning of this pandemic. Azar even scripted his statement as a plea to Chuck Todd's "viewers." This, obviously, surprised even Meet The Press host Chuck Todd, since Donald Trump and his administration have done the opposite now for, oh, about ... seven months.

Secretary Azar's message to Chuck Todd's viewers was specifically about large "indoor gatherings." This is relevant due to upcoming Halloween festivities and Thanksgiving celebrations. Todd remarked that Azar's statement was strange considering that just last week, Azar attended an indoor rally with President Trump—the same President Trump that still may very well be COVID-19 positive. Azar said that everyone at the indoor rally was socially distanced—sort of—and were all offered masks. Of course, this means nothing if you don't wear said mask. Todd pointed out that the message being sent doesn't seem consistent, as states like Wisconsin see surges in COVID-19 cases, while Donald Trump flies into those areas to promote big superspreader events.

It is here that Azar attempts to promote misinformation that does two things: It attempts at justifying the Trump administration's current anti-public health farewell tour, while also absolving the administration's criminally negligent handling of a pandemic that has claimed almost a quarter of a million American lives. Azar says that lots of countries in lockdown are having big surges. The implication here is that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

This isn't true. The fact of the matter is that the United States, for the first time in years, is actually No. 1 in the world in something: death rates due to COVID-19 and death rates in general during the pandemic. We are also a leader in the world in cases per 100,000 and deaths per 100,000. I guess Azar is talking about how places like Aruba and Bahrain have a worse case rate? Todd asks why it's been so "difficult for the president" to promote a public health message that would actually save thousands, if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives.

ALEX AZAR: I think it's a difficult message for all western democracies. We're seeing that in Europe. The American people have given so much. People of Europe have given so much, Chuck. They've been locked down, isolated. But they're tired. But the point is, we're so close. Hang in there with us. We're so close ...

Azar has been a Trump hack throughout this process and can be justifiably blamed for much of the misinformation and confusion among certain sections of the American public in regard to COVID-19. He has attacked Americans and frontline responders instead of the virus. If we lived in a just universe, Alex Azar would soon find himself doing some prison time along with the hundreds of Republican operatives and scam artists who have brought us to where we are now.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar says wear a mask but that it doesn't really matter www.youtube.com

news & politics

Trump’s inner circle ‘furious’ with FBI’s Wray for undercutting Biden smear: report

According to a report from Politico, high-ranking members of Donald Trump's administration are "furious" with FBI Director Christopher Wray for siding with the intelligence community and calling recent revelations about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

As the New York Post story about the Democratic presidential nominee's son continues to fall apart — with even Fox News reportedly passing on it before Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani took it to the Post — Wray, who has had a strained relationship with the president is allowing his department to investigate Russia instead of the Biden's.

That, in turn, has angered White House officials looking for a helping hand to help out the president's cratering re-election campaign.

According to Politico, "Trump's inner circle was already furious at Wray for echoing the intelligence community's finding that Russia is acting to damage Biden's candidacy, as well as his description of antifa as 'an ideology' rather than an organized entity. Now, they're ratcheting up calls for Trump to fire his handpicked director."

The report goes on to note that Republicans had been hoping that Wray would open up a full-scale investigation into the sketchy accusations based upon unverified information reportedly found on the younger Biden's laptop computer.

For his part, Wary is reportedly loath to enter the fray with an eye on the election just two weeks away, and his own future uncertain.

"Other congressional and law enforcement sources noted that Trump might lack the leverage to bend Wray — who, like past FBI directors, was appointed to serve a 10-year term, a setup designed to insulate the bureau from politics — to his will," the report states. "A public offensive against Biden by the FBI would doom Wray's chances of remaining atop the bureau in a potential Biden administration. Wray, they say, would have no incentive to burn the rulebook in order to score a point for Trump, particularly when he enjoys relatively bipartisan support in the Capitol."

According to those who know Wray, he is unlikely to take the president's side this time.

"Chris does not need my advice," explained Chuck Rosenberg, a former FBI chief of staff. "He is smart and thoughtful and principled and has the best interests of the FBI and the nation in mind."

You can read more here.

election '20

Trump could sink vulnerable Senate Republicans even in states he manages to win

Donald Trump's parting gift to vulnerable Senate Republicans is that he appears to be a drag on them with both his most loyal supporters and the swing voters they need to win their reelection bids.

In several of the most crucial Senate races, Trump is running ahead of his Senate GOP counterparts. In some cases, Trump might even win the state while the corresponding Senate Republican loses their race. In others, they both appear poised to lose the state but the Senate Republican could suffer a bigger defeat.

What this suggests is that Trump's wild support among MAGA enthusiasts isn't making the 1-to-1 transfer to his Senate colleagues—meaning their blind loyalty to Trump hasn't paid the dividends they anticipated. At the same time, Senate Republicans' studied obsequiousness to Trump has hobbled their chances of winning enough moderate and independent voters to be assured they can prevail in their reelection bids.

In North Carolina, for instance, Trump and GOP Sen. Thom Tillis are both losing to their Democratic rivals according to polling composites, but Tillis is running behind Trump. According to Washington Post aggregates of the races, Trump has 45% support to Tillis' 41%.

In Georgia, the Post has Trump running slightly ahead of Joe Biden, 48% to 46%, but Sen. David Perdue only garners 46% support. It's worth noting the some aggregates show Biden just slightly ahead or virtually tied. But more crucially to Sen. Perdue, if he can't clear the 50% threshold in the state, he'll be forced into a two-way runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff.

South Carolina's Senate race is wild and GOP incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham is still favored to win reelection, though Democrat Jamie Harrison has made a real race of it. But in last week's New York Times/Siena poll, for instance, Trump enjoyed a "very favorable" rating among 79% of GOP voters while only 54% said the same of Graham. The survey also showed Trump up by 8 points, while Graham was winning by 6 points.

In Iowa, polls show a dead heat between Trump and Biden in the presidential race but incumbent Senator Joni Ernst is fairing worse against her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. The Post aggregates have Trump winning 46% of voters to Ernst's 44% of voters.

It's kind of beautiful, when you think about it. After Senate Republicans built Trump into a monster by underwriting every abhorrent thing he's done and then acquitting him of all wrongdoing to boot, they're getting punished for selling out America on both sides of the electoral equation.

economy

Struggling Wisconsin voters are unimpressed with Trump bragging about the economy

In 2016, President Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984. But four years later, many polls are showing Trump struggling in the midwestern Rust Belt state. Between the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment and the state of Wisconsin's economy — journalist Dominic Rushe emphasizes in an article for The Guardian — Trump is facing an uphill climb in Wisconsin this time.

"Trump beat Clinton in Wisconsin by just 0.77% in 2016," Rushe explains. "The polls currently have Biden ahead by a clear 6.5% in the state, but in a year that feels like no other, anything can happen between now and 3 November. In this volatile environment, progressives have been making gains with voters, reflecting on the fragility of the economy Trump had hoped would re-elect him."

For many years, Wisconsin had a reputation for being a deep blue state. Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a Democrat, lost the popular vote by 8% to Republican Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988's presidential election, but he carried Wisconsin. However, Republicans gained a lot of ground in Wisconsin during the Barack Obama years, and Trump's narrow victory in Wisconsin in 2016 was a very unpleasant surprise for Democrats.

"The Republicans have been remarkably successful in their economic messaging, not least in Wisconsin," Rushe notes. "Since Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has promulgated the idea that there is a simple formula for economic success: lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government. That message, repeated over and over for 40 years, helped Wisconsin shift from a bastion of progressive politics to a union-bashing laboratory for right-wing economic experiments led by Scott Walker, the former governor, and Paul Ryan, the former House speaker, and backed by the Koch Brothers."

But now, Rush explains, many Wisconsin residents are struggling badly.

"Until February, Trump could have confidently boasted that he had made good on his promises," Rush writes. "Unemployment had fallen to record lows in the state, manufacturing was coming back — albeit at the same, snail-paced crawl that it had under Obama. The headline figures looked good. Then came the coronavirus — a disease that is now ravaging the state and has, in its wake, exposed the fault lines beneath those headline figures."

Dana Bye, campaign director for the group The Hub Project, emphasizes that Wisconsin residents who are hurting economically are unimpressed when Trump brags about the stock market.

Bye told The Guardian, "Nationally and in Wisconsin, people look at the stock market and the jobs figures and think that's the economy. But often, their personal experiences are not reflected in those macro figures…. The pandemic has crystalized the idea that there is one economy for the rich and another for working folk."

culture

How toxic masculinity became a threat to public health

As if the first two waves of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States weren't enough to inspire serious political changes to stop the coronavirus, health experts have sounded the alarm that a third wave is underway. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising across the nation, specifically in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Montana, as the seasons change and the election nears.

It's certainly taken a lot of resilience and strength to persevere through this pandemic — particularly given the backdrop of political chaos, uncertainty and immense change in our daily lives. Yet perhaps it is this attitude of "staying strong," and acting stoically — which is rooted in a culture that favors and thrives off toxic masculinity — that has hurt and continues to hurt us the most.

Toxic masculinity, which has become a household phrase over the last few years, is when the archetypal image of masculinity, like displaying strength, becomes harmful to oneself. In 2005, in a study of men in prison, psychiatrist Terry Kupers defined toxic masculinity as "the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence." The phrase is used to describe the issues men face or sometimes, wrongfully, justify them. Certainly, in a patriarchal society, toxic masculinity not only defines people but politics — as its mores trickle into our entertainment, discourse and politics.

Notably, the pandemic response is being led by the most psychologically compromised, toxic men in America. As I wrote last weekend, President Donald Trump's insistence on depicting himself as so strong as to be able to "work through" his COVID-19 illness is deeply harmful, and apt to put Americans' lives at risk who mimic his behavior — either by working while sick or hiding symptoms.

Meanwhile, Trump's re-election campaign has tried to frame Trump as a "warrior" — masculine, strong and void of emotion. The administration's individualistic, pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps rhetoric personifies toxic masculinity, and trickles down to Trump's underlings, too. In June, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed essay in The Wall Street Journal claiming there was no second wave of COVID-19, despite all the evidence to the contrary. "We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy," Pence wrote then, adding "our greatest strength is the resilience of the American people."

Yet as psychologists will warn, there is a dark side to resilience.

"There is no doubt that resilience is a useful and highly adaptive trait, especially in the face of traumatic events," psychologists Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Derek Lusk wrote in Harvard Business Review. "However, when taken too far, it may focus individuals on impossible goals and make them unnecessarily tolerant of unpleasant or counterproductive circumstances." In other words, self-sufficiency is not always a show of strength; humans, as social creatures, rely on others for society to function and to remain healthy. Denying that means hurting ourselves, either by delaying care or eschewing guidance that may help us or save others.

I've often wondered how much my so-called "resilience" in all of this is just making me numb and tolerant, in an unhealthy way. When looking at which countries have the pandemic somewhat under control, we look and judge their leaders. It's interesting to do this through a gendered lens. For example, New Zealand has some of the lowest coronavirus numbers in the world under Prime Minister Jacinda Adern's leadership. That's partly because she never advertised grandiose ideas about being above or stronger than the coronavirus. As I've previously written, the strengths—such as empathy and compassion— Ardern has brought throughout her tenure are the very same traits that have been used against women seeking leadership positions in the workplace and in the public sector. When male leaders display traditionally feminine qualities, they can also be maligned as weak — former House Speaker John Boehner, for example, used to shed tears in public; Politico's response was to ask, "Why Does John Boehner Cry So Much?"

It's obvious the Trump administration is terrified of appearing "weak" during the pandemic. But where has that gotten us? Prioritizing the economy over our health. Over 8 million infections, and 218,000 Americans dead. And the politicizing of wearing masks, as though wearing them were a sign of weakness — something Trump mocked his opponent Joe Biden for at their first and so far only debate.

As much as toxic masculinity's social repercussion are harmful to our physical health, it is also taking a toll on our mental health. A study published in JAMA Network Open in September showed that three times as many Americans met criteria for a depression diagnosis during the pandemic compared to before it. According to an analysis of Google Trends, symptoms of anxiety increased too.

Why? In part, it could be a result of having to power through these extraordinarily abnormal times without seeking help — that "bootstraps" mentality innate to toxic masculinity. One's attempts to hold it together can devolve into emotional suppression, which in return can cause more emotional distress. In July 2018, Penn State researchers found that women tried to suppress their fears about the Zika virus reported higher levels of fear later. "It turns out that not only is suppression ineffective at handling fear, but it's counter-productive," one researcher said. "It creates a cycle of fear — and it's a vicious cycle."

As a society, many of us — particularly men — haven't been authorized to express sadness publicly, and these studies reflect that. With over 200,000 Americans dead of coronavirus, their loved ones are grieving. Seven months later, we've yet to have a moment of national reflection to mourn.

As it is with the death of a loved one, grief isn't lessened by ignoring one's uncomfortable emotions. Instead, it requires collective vulnerability, compassion and patience. As author David Kessler told HBR:

Emotions need motion. It's important we acknowledge what we go through. [...] We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn't feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn't help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they'll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we're not victims.

As we try to stay strong through this pandemic, the strength we seek to feel will come from falling apart and allowing ourselves to feel the loss and the chaos—physically and emotionally. By persevering through that, still standing in so much unknown, we can experience real strength. In other words, the non-toxic kind.

science

A physics Nobelist has an odd theory about black holes and the universe. Here's the evidence for it

University of Oxford mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose won a Nobel Prize earlier this month for a lifetime of work studying black holes, singularities from which not even light can escape. Yet he is also behind a provocative and controversial theory about the formation of the universe — namely, that the Big Bang did not mark the beginning of the universe as we know it, but merely started the next iteration of our universe. In his theory, known as conformal cyclic cosmology, our current conception of the universe is merely one of a series of infinite universes that came before it and which will come after, too.

Cosmology, of course, is full of theories of assorted degrees of harebrainedness, and many of the most famous ones — such as string theory — lack any observational evidence. But Penrose's prediction is different, as there is some evidence in observations of the cosmic background radiation — meaning the average background temperature of the entire night sky, in which one can see remnant heat from the Big Bang and differentiate bright patches in the sky. As pictured in the featured photo on this story, some of those "bright spots" could be, as Penrose believes, radiation emanations from ancient black holes that predate this universe.

"The idea of Roger's 'conformal cyclic cosmology' [CCC], is based on three facts," Pawel Nurowski, a scientist at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences, explained to Salon by email.

"The idea of Roger's 'conformal cyclic cosmology' [CCC], is based on three facts," Pawel Nurowski, a scientist at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences, explained to Salon by email. Specifically, Nurowski says, in order for Penrose's theory to make sense, one would have to observe a universe that has a positive cosmological constant (meaning the mysterious, constant repulsive force that pushes everything in the universe which is not gravitationally bound away from everything else), as well as a universe that would look similar at its end as it did in its beginning. Observations of our universe suggest that it will end in a disordered, empty state, with all matter converted to stray photons that never interact with each other.

Nurowski concluded, "We believe that every possible universe will have all these three features," that "we have an infinite sequence of universes (eons)" and that "Penrose considers this sequence of conformally glued eons as the full physical Universe."

"In this picture, our standard cosmology Universe is only one of the eons," Nurowski added. "So the main difference between 'conformal cyclic cosmology' and the standard cosmology is that our Universe is only a part of Penrose's universe," whereas adherents to the traditional idea of a Big Bang believe that that specific event began our current universe.

This brings us to the recent discovery that may support Penrose's CCC hypothesis. According to a paper co-authored by Penrose, Nurowski and two other scientists, unexpected hot spots that have been discovered in the cosmic microwave background of the universe suggest that there are "anomalous regions," perhaps enormous black holes left over from previous universes that have yet to decay. These regions are known as "Hawking Points," after Stephen Hawking, who first came up with the theory that black holes would very slowly decay over unimaginably long timescales, emitting what is called Hawking radiation in his honor. The discovery of these Hawking points suggests that Penrose's cosmological model is accurate.

"The existence of such anomalous regions, resulting from point-like sources at the conformally stretched-out big bang, is a predicted consequence of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC)," the paper explains, adding that these so-called Hawking points would be caused by radiation emanating from "supermassive black holes in a cosmic aeon prior to our own."

It must be emphasized that Penrose's Nobel Prize was not awarded because of his theory of a conformal cyclical cosmology. Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb clarified in an email to Salon: "In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a paper in Annals of Mathematics doubting that black holes exist in nature. Roger Penrose demonstrated that black holes are a robust prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity and in doing so invented a new mathematical tool to depict spacetimes, called Penrose diagrams."

Loeb added, "He also showed that it is possible to extract energy from a spinning black hole as if it was a flywheel, through the so-called Penrose Process."

Loeb says that Penrose's belief that the hot spots prove that the black holes in question came from previous universes is controversial.

"The particular theory advocated by Penrose, Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, asserts that the Big Bang expansion repeats in succession of cycles of expansion, implying that one can see through our current Big Bang into past Big Bangs, giving rise to patterns in cosmic microwave background," Loeb explained. "Penrose made the controversial claim that such patterns are seen in data, but it was shown by others that the patterns he identified are not statistically significant.... and so his claim is controversial."

There are skeptics in the astrophysics community. Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist who pens a science blog that is published in Forbes magazine, was very critical of Penrose's theory. Last week, he penned an article titled "No, Roger Penrose, We See No Evidence Of A 'Universe Before The Big Bang.'"

"The predictions that [Penrose] has made are refuted by the data, and his claims to see these effects are only reproducible if one analyzes the data in a scientifically unsound and illegitimate fashion," Dr. Siegel wrote. "Hundreds of scientists have pointed this out to Penrose — repeatedly and consistently over a period of more than 10 years — who continues to ignore the field and plow ahead with his contentions."

Nurowski and Loeb both pushed back against Siegel's claims.

"The person that wrote this article seems to never read our recent Monthly Notices paper," Nurowski wrote to Salon, linking to he and Penrose's article showing evidence for Hawking points. "[Siegel] also seems not to read our three other papers. He gives a quote of a picture from an old paper with Penrose and Gurzadyan. He has not a single argument against our newest MNRAS [Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society] paper.... I stress that the statistical analysis in our paper is at the highest astronomical standards."

He added, "I am happy to answer any critics, provided that I hear a single argument against this what we have written, and not the repetition of this what the standard cosmology says. Either we are talking about facts or beliefs. Our paper is about facts. But to talk about them, one has to read the paper first."

Loeb seemed to echo this view, despite his own skepticism about CCC.

"My problem with Penrose's theory is that it is not fully worked out and that there is no statistically irrefutable evidence to support the patterns that he claims to have identified in the cosmic microwave background, but we should remain open minded to new ideas on what preceded the Big Bang," Loeb explained. "This is the story of where we came from, our cosmic roots. The simple picture we have now is clearly incomplete and requires more scientific work. Not more bullying of any new idea."

belief

Attacking COVID, not religion: New York City, state have the right approach

The two Brooklyn federal judges who reviewed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new temporary COVID restrictions in stretches of that borough and Queens both rightly decided that the rules do not unfairly intrude on religion. The lawsuits seeking to set aside the 10-person cap on worship services, one brought by Orthodox Jews and the other by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, were properly denied by Judges Kiyo Matsumoto and Eric Komitee.Matsumoto noted, in fact, that Cuomo gave extra latitude to faith, as nonessential gatherings of any size are banned entirely. However, still undefined is what com...

human rights

Trump expresses all his pent-up contempt for women in two words to NBC's Savannah Guthrie

The takeaway from Trump's self-immolation at his Town Hall on Thursday can be found exactly at the 1:57 mark in the video above, when he sarcastically expresses his contempt for moderator Savannah Guthrie, who has clearly gotten under his skin. He mutters it, underneath his breath, and you could be forgiven for missing it, but for a fleeting second we get a glimpse of all the animosity, all the malice, all the narcissism, all the misogyny and contempt this man feels towards women. You can just hear it in his voice:

"Ha Ha. So cute."

From The Independent:

The president and the Ms Guthrie exchanged barbs during a heated opening to the NBC event.
Mr Trump even sarcastically told the TV host "so cute" when she pressed him to denounce QAnon's wild conspiracy theories.

From the New York Times:

"Why aren't you asking Joe Biden questions about why doesn't he condemn antifa?" Mr. Trump asked her.
"Because you're here," she said, matter-of-factly.
"So cute," Mr. Trump responded, in a condescending tone that was unlikely to endear him to the suburban women voters he has been trying to win back.

x

I think the suburban women will love Trump telling Savannah Guthrie sarcastically that she is "so cute."
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) October 16, 2020

And one other note; As of 9:55 EST, nearly a half hour after his own town hall ended, Joe Biden is still there, answering voters' questions.

more news

This single sentence from a federal court's ruling exposes the dark right-wing view of voting

Three judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday stayed an injunction by a lower district court that sought to protect the voting rights of Texans voting by mail.

The majority decision, written by Judge Jerry E. Smith, blocked the lower court's orders to Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs that would have required officials to notify Texans whose mail ballots were rejected because of an apparent signature mismatch and give them an opportunity to address the issue. Under current law, election officials can reject a mail ballot if they determine that the signature does not match the voter's signature on file; officials must notify the voter of the rejection within 10 days. But even then, the voter may not be given an opportunity to fix the problem.

As the result of an ongoing lawsuit, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ordered Hughs to adopt procedures that would allow voters to address a signature mismatch, or to stop rejecting ballots based on signature issues altogether. Judge Orlando Garcia said the existing policy "plainly violates certain voters' constitutional rights." But the Fifth Circuit rejected this injunction, saying Hughs should follow the law as written — rejecting ballots without necessarily giving voters any due process.

In a remarkable sentence encapsulating the emerging right-wing view of voting rights, the decision explained:

Because Texas's strong interest in safeguarding the integrity of its elections from voter fraud far outweighs any burden the state's voting procedures place on the right to vote, we stay the injunction pending appeal.

While this may sound like dry legalese, it's a dramatically bold and unambiguously dangerous idea. The court's claim is that "any burden" on the right to vote can be justified if it is meant to restrict the opportunity for voter fraud.

This notion sounds like a farcical caricature of Republicans' views on voting, but it's an actual statement from right-wing judges defending a right-wing administration. It falls apart under even the mildest scrutiny though. While preventing voter fraud is surely a legitimate interest of the state, there must be some reasonable limits on how far the government can go in trying to prevent it. Is it reasonable to, say, create so many obstacles to voting that 10,000 fewer ballots will be cast in an election if doing so will also stop a handful of fraudulent ballots?

The answer should obviously be "no." The problem with voter fraud is that it distorts the will of the electorate, undermining the very point of a democracy. But if efforts to combat voter fraud distort the democratic process even more than fraud would, it's difficult to see how they can be justified. And all the best evidence indicates that voter fraud is incredibly rare.

But when Republicans discuss voter fraud, all they ever seem to care about is stopping the extremely rare cases of illegally cast ballots. They almost never consider balancing the risk of fraud with the risk of preventing legitimate votes from being cast. In this decision, the court made that view explicit. And it's even more absurd than it sounds, because the decision actually allows election officials to literally throw away votes that may have been legitimately cast without giving the voter any platform to challenge this decision. Isn't this at least as bad as voter fraud?

The Texas Tribune reports of this process:

The state election code does not establish any standards for signature review, which is conducted by local election officials who seldom have training in signature verification.

So at best, the disposal of ballots may be entirely capricious. At worst, it could disproportionately target groups of voters that the existing government would rather not have voting — minority groups, for instance, that may be likely to vote Democrat. It may be hard to say what the motivation is for the laws in this particular case, but the GOP's actions in the past decade have made clear that they see restricting the right to vote as a vital part of retaining electoral power. The court's reasoning lays bear this motivation: Based on the slimmest fears about "voter fraud," they can justify restricting voters' rights as much as possible. The path to illegitimately holding on to office is clear.

The Fifth Court's decision justified the stay in part by arguing against the idea that there's a due process protection for the right vote. But even if there is, the court argued, there isn't a right to vote by mail — that's simply an option that Texas provides without being obligated to.

This reasoning, though, is spurious. If Texas provides voters the option to vote by mail, it is not reasonable that it can then simply reject those ballots based on dubious and unreviewable claims of a signature mismatch that the voter may not even be alerted to until after Election Day has passed. Once it has provided the option of voting by mail, Texas is still obligated to ensure that the process provides reasonable protections for voters' rights.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Patrick Higginbotham rejected the majority's arguments for the stay. He agreed with issuing the stay, however, noting the difficulties of changing election rules while votes are already being cast. And he warned that the matter in question is grave:

In 2016 and 2018, "approximately 5,000 [Texas] ballots were rejected on the basis of perceived signature mismatches."8 Such "small" differences have the potential to decide both local and national elections. And with the large increase in votes cast by mail in our ongoing pandemic that error rate would toss out far greater numbers. There is much at stake here.

A stunning split decision at the Supreme Court may be the most significant election case of 2020

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued what may be its most significant decision involving the 2020 election, and the Democratic Party should be pleased. But there are still reasons for consternation.

Splitting 4-4, the court left in place the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to extend the deadline to receive mail-in votes until Nov. 6, three days after Election Day. As long as ballots are postmarked by the end of voting on Nov. 3, and received by the 6th, election officials will count the vote.

Court watchers had noted that the decision was taking longer than expected, leading to extensive speculation about the backroom machinations. Surprisingly, there was no long dissent or other written opinion that would explain the delay. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the three liberals on the court in favor of leaving the extension in place, and the four other conservatives voted to overturn it. Many pointed out that were Judge Amy Coney Barrett a Supreme Court justice, as she is expected to be confirmed shortly, she would likely have sided with the other conservatives and flipped the result of the ruling.

But since the court was evenly split, the Pennsylvania court's decision stands.

This is potentially significant for several reasons. First, Pennsylvania is rated by FiveThirtyEight to be the state most likely to be the "tipping point" state in 2020 presidential election. That means if the race comes down to a single state's vote, that state is most likely Pennsylvania. Second, extensive polling shows that Democrats are far more likely to be voting by mail than Republicans are. Giving voters more time to get their ballots in and have them count makes it more likely that Democrats, and former Vice President Joe Biden in particular, will prevail in the election.

Republicans brought the challenge to the Supreme Court, arguing that the states' supreme court had overruled the legislature's decision to set its elections laws. Democrats opposed this challenge, arguing that the state supreme court has protected Pennsylvanians' right to vote. Law professor Josh Douglas argued that the conservatives' vote to hear the case and possibly overturn the state court's ruling could undermine the very idea of states having their own constitutions.

Some even warned that the votes counted after Election Day may not end up counted anyway, if Republicans take their challenge back to the Supreme Court once Barrett is confirmed. However, it's not guaranteed that even the four conservative justices would vote the same way if they consider the case again.

Here's what Donald Trump's hatred of women reveals about his psyche

by Bud McClure

Trump's hatred of women and his rejection of the feminine are confirmed by his behavior on a daily basis. Confronted with a black woman opponent, Kamala Harris, his self-loathing is expressed through his projection of his rejected feminine side and his shadow complex. A psychological perspective on this phenomena is informed by Mary Trump's book Too Much and Not Enough which details the early childhood wounding that led to Trump's dysfunction behavior. For a full analysis of Trump's pathology read Dr. Brandy Lee's, a forensic psychiatrist, book The Dangerous Case of Donald. There is also a new film #Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump.

The psychologist Carl Jung proposed that males and females have contrasexual archetypal traits. The male has a feminine side known as the anima and the masculine side of the female is known as the animus. These archetypes are idealized images. In young people these archetypes remain undeveloped and are mainly expressed through projection onto others. For example, a young man who is attracted to a woman will project his ideal feminine, the anima, onto her. Initially she will try to match that projection through her behavior. This requires considerable energy. No matter what she does, she will never live up the man's ideal image. As the woman reveals more of her real self, the projection wanes and the real relationship can begin. The same phenomenon occurs for women through the projection of the animus onto male suitors.

Jung proposed that as we grow older, we integrate these contrasexual images. The man becomes more feminine and the female more masculine. This is known as individualization, is a lifelong process. We may ultimately integrate all aspects of the self and become whole. The more integrated we become the less likely we are to project these archetypal images onto others. However, for many males this integration never talks place. There are various reasons including the influence of sociocultural factors and family of origins.

The complex relationship between psychological development and socialization of men that begins at birth is captured eloquently by Teresa Bernardez. She suggests that because of socialization there is a cultural injunction against appearing to be like a female or exhibiting characteristics associated with being feminine. In our culture, the feminine is stereotyped as weak, helpless, and less competent than the male. Affect, empathy and other feminine characteristics are belittled and rejected as unmanly. A counter-identification process can take place. Men divorce themselves from traits that are seen as female-like or even those associated with the mother. Bernardez argues this negative view of women or the feminine causes an internal struggle within the male to control those unwanted feminine aspects of self by projecting them outward onto women.

Bernardez summarizes, "The male thus controls the female aspects of himself that he fears and devalues. The domination of women is encouraged by the culture, but its strength comes from the need of males to control and domi­nate the female-self in themselves."

From this perspective, when a man encounters a strong women, a woman in power or a woman in a leadership position, he feels out-of-control. He may even fear that the woman controls him and forces upon him the very feminine characteristics he eschews - dependency, submissiveness and compliance.

As Mary Trump reports in her book, Donald was abandoned by his mother and ignored by his father. His early socialization of women was very negative. His mother was sickly and not involved in any parenting role. His father was disinterested in him and preferred work. His father ruled his house "under a dark, oppressive cloud of psychological and emotional abuse."

Both of his parents were haunted by their own pathology and had little interest or ability to properly parent Donald. He developed a very negative view of women through his relationship with his mother. This may have coincided with his own childhood feelings, of abandonment, helplessness and being out-of-control.

To control those negative injunctions against the feminine in himself Donald projects that loathing onto women around him, particularly strong woman. His relationship with the feminine in his outer world mirrors his own internal relationship with the feminine in him. The extent to which he denigrates women and the anger and even hatred he projects onto them reflects, in equal measure, his own self-hatred of his dependency, weakness, and passivity that he associates with the feminine in him.

Donald's favorite sexist invective toward women is 'nasty.' He has used the word to describe both men and women. When referring to Kamala Harris it is often meant to demean and dismiss her as a woman and as a serious political candidate. He mispronounces her name. He calls her a monster. He called her the "meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful member of the United States Senate." These words that be used to describe Trump's own presidential behavior. The most telling comment that summarizes Trump's view of women and by extension his own feminine side occurred in 1992 when he said of women, "You have to treat 'em like shit."

Trump prefers his women to be compliant. This fits with some antiquated notion that women should be seen and not heard. Donald's own preference for models underscores this notion.

Jung posited another domain of the psyche called the shadow. The shadow is a repository for all of the unwanted and rejected aspects of self. Those characteristics we deny, those which we wish to keep hidden from others, those that cause us shame and embarrassment and those that are outside our awareness. Ideally, during the individuation process those darker aspects of self would be uncovered and integrated with all other aspects of the psyche. This reclamation can lead to a fuller, more integrated and creative life. It harnesses psyche energy rather than diffuses it. Without this reclamation process we must manage the psychic energy that is required to repress the shadow material. Like the unwanted feminine traits, we project this shadow outward onto others. Because the shadow material remains hidden and in a dark place it is most easily projected onto people of color. Trump's vile racism is again a measure of his own shadow and his efforts to keep it at bay.

This is another aspect to his projection on Kamala Harris that is a function of her being black. He labels her angry. This is a racist trope that is meant to conjure images of an ill-tempered and ill-mannered black who does not know her place. The opening salvo from the Trump camp, after Harris was nominated to be the vice-presidential candidate, was to label her a 'hoe".

His hatred of immigrants, Muslims, any person of color, Obama and now Kamala Harris are projection of his own shadow. His descriptions of these people are reflections of his own revulsion with aspects of himself. He even refers to mostly non-white countries as "shitholes." Mary Trump has heard Donald using the N-word. Trump refers to Black Lives Matter protesters as thugs, looters lowlife and scrum. Many of these same characteristics have been used to describe Trump's behavior.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, in his forthcoming book, Disloyal writes,

"I knew him better than even his family did because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man,"

This race for president is extremely negative as Trump feels endangered of losing his office and by extension control of himself. Kamala Harris, and other women are perfect screens onto which Trump will project all of the unwanted and rejected aspects of himself. He will project his feminine side which he associates with weakness, passivity, and helplessness and his own dark side full of shame, embarrassment, and not feeling good enough.

Bud McClure is professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is the author of Putting A New Spin on Groups: The Science of Chaos and the award-winning Divine Daisy: A Transpersonal Tale. He can be reached at bmcclure@d.umn.edu

A Supreme Court case decided over a decade ago may come back to haunt Judge Amy Coney Barrett

A Supreme Court case that was decided over a decade ago may come back to haunt Judge Amy Coney Barrett as America enters an impending post-election 2020 judicial nightmare; one in which the sitting president may deny a peaceful transfer of power.

Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. was argued in 2009 with the primary holding that a judge cannot hear a case that centers on the financial interests of someone who supported him substantially in his campaign for election. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority that "recusal may be constitutionally required even where a judge is not actually biased, if there is a 'serious risk' of actual bias."

Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the majority for constitutionalizing the judge's recusal decision "in a manner ungoverned by any discernable rule," but wrote that "in the best of all possible worlds, [judges should] sometimes recuse [themselves] even where the clear commands" of the Constitution don't require it.

"The question for Barrett, if it arises, will not be whether she personally believes she can be fair in deciding an election case but, rather, whether a reasonable person would conclude that her impartiality would be inescapably overborne by the flood of influences brought to bear on her," wrote former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig in a column for the Washington Post.

seated in time to decide the election cases. These bludgeoning pressures alone are at once singular and unprecedented, unsurpassed and quite possibly unsurpassable in their magnitude. By comparison, the pressures believed put on the West Virginia judge in Caperton pale."

Watch the video below.

Barrett faces questions on health care and voting rights on third day of hearings


Barrett faces questions on health care and voting rights on third day of hearings www.washingtonpost.com


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 14 questioned Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett after a nearly 12-hour session where she avoided saying how she'd rule on key issues the previous day.

Nixon's authoritarianism led us to Trump — and we must finally address the root of the problem

After Richard Nixon resigned from office in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Congress set out to create numerous reforms designed to rein in future presidents. After all, Nixon had set forth a view of the presidency that was downright un-American: "If the president does it it's not illegal," essentially saying that no law can apply to the executive branch.

The legal system had worked, up to a point. Twenty-two members of the Nixon administration were convicted of crimes pertaining to Watergate. Most of them did time in prison, including the White House chief of staff and the attorney general. Nixon himself was guilty of numerous crimes but was never tried for any of them because he was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford. But much of what Nixon did wasn't illegal. It was unethical, immoral and totally disrespectful of any and all norms of decent leadership. It turns out that those kinds of transgressions are even harder to check than rank criminality.

There were committee investigations, such as the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House which delved deeply into the intelligence community's abuses, resulting in the permanent select committees on intelligence in each chamber. Later reforms required the president to inform congressional leaders of both parties prior to major covert actions, and for leaders of the CIA to regularly brief the committees.

Unfortunately, those reforms were of limited utility. The Iran-Contra scandal and the pardons that followed mocked the idea of intelligence oversight. The CIA black sites and torture program program during the George W. Bush administration pretty much destroyed the illusion that Congress had any control over the intelligence services. Throughout this period, the War Powers Act, which was enacted over Nixon's veto in the first place, has been a joke. As for campaign finance and ethics reforms, well, those were nice ideas. The Supreme Court took care of the first with the Citizens United ruling, and the second turns out to be almost entirely dependent on a sense of shame — a thing that turns out to be easily discarded.

And yet, for all of that, no one has come close to abusing the power of the presidency as Donald Trump has done. He didn't do it on his own. Yes, his personal inclination has been to treat the government as his private fiefdom, demanding loyalty oaths, conducting purges and using the office for his personal profit. But people such as Attorney General Bill Barr and others in right-wing legal circles who were politically baptized by Nixon's downfall have used Trump's authoritarian instincts to institute the "imperial presidency" that Nixon once espoused.

When Trump says "I have an Article II that says I can do anything I want," he didn't get that idea from reading the Constitution. He has obviously never done that, and wouldn't understand it anyway. He has been told this by people who believe very strongly in unaccountable presidential power: "If the president does it, it's not illegal." Barr's covering for Trump's obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe, the White House refusal to cooperate with Congress, the assertion of novel rationales that render oversight null and void and the Department of Justice claiming that personal cases against Trump come under the rubric of presidential immunity, among many other instances are not just exercises in Trumpian corruption. They are assertions of executive power way beyond anything that Nixon, Reagan or Bush ever thought of.

That's not Trump. It's a Republican power grab, and it's just one of many we've seen coming from the right in recent years. This authoritarian strain of thought has been with us at least since the Nixon era and it's metastasizing.

I wrote the other day that should the Democrats win the presidency and the Senate they must take the necessary step of expanding the Supreme Court. There has also been considerable discussion about getting rid of the Senate filibuster and granting statehood to Washington, D.C. These ideas and others are starting to make people nervous.

The Washington Post published an essay by Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore this past weekend in which she argues against one of the ideas percolating on the left: that a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" is needed to examine what happened during the Trump administration. This idea stems from the suspicion that the law will not adequately deal with a corrupt former president and his accomplices. I suspect that many people believe that our system is so damaged at this point that Congress will be unable to properly handle the task of unraveling this disaster and putting it right. So something like a truth and reconciliation commission comes into play since that would make it possible for the truth to come out, even if no legal penalties for the abuses that took place are likely or possible. At least we would know.

Lepore doesn't think the situation is grave enough for that. Trump can be dealt with by journalists and historians; Congress will carry on with passing legislation. But as you can see, we've been dealing with this for more than 40 years and it's just getting worse and worse.

Donald Trump has turned 40% of the country into his private cult. The Republican Party has become radical, corrupt and power-mad and America is now seen as a rogue superpower around the world, unpredictable and dangerous. We're being tested by foreign adversaries and we don't seem to be able to respond. The nation's economic situation is dire and nearly a quarter of a million people have died in the last eight months because our system is so broken. The racial injustice at the heart of our society has become too much to bear.

Journalism and history, in Lepore's view, are going to keep us tethered to the truth? There is an entire right-wing information ecosystem based on lies and fantasy. We live in an age where tens of millions of people live in an alternate reality, believing that the Democratic Party is run by a Satanic pedophile cult and that John F. Kennedy Jr. is coming back from the dead to help Donald Trump save the children.

We are in very big trouble.

Our immediate survival depends upon electing new leadership — that much is true. Our democracy is under stress but it may not yet be so damaged that we can't make that happen. But whether it's a truth and reconciliation commission or a "presidential crimes commission" made up of independent prosecutors, as Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., has suggested, or some other mechanism by which we document what has happened and attempt to hold people accountable, we need something. Otherwise I'm afraid we'll just let it all slide out into the ether as if nothing happened at all. Until it happens again.

For more than 40 years the U.S. has been heading down this path, sometimes pushed back by various institutions that were designed in the wake of Watergate to keep it from going too far. But those institutions have been failing for a while and I don't think we can survive another onslaught, especially if someone smarter than Donald Trump comes along and picks up the the tools that Bill Barr and others have provided them. The Democrats must do their duty and deal with this now.

Presidential debate commission just changed the rules to keep Trump in line

The Commission on Presidential Debates will announce a change to the rules for Thursday night's final debate, and it's sure to anger President Donald Trump. The Commission will allow the candidates' microphones to be muted while their opponent is speaking, which is one of the reasons Trump gave for pulling out of last week's virtual debate.

"As in the first debate, each candidate will be allotted two minutes of speaking time to initially answer the moderator's questions," The New York Times reports. "But under a plan being finalized by the commission on Monday, his opponent's microphone would be turned off during that period, an attempt to ensure an uninterrupted response."

Explaining why participating in a virtual debate would be "a waste of time" for him, Trump last week specifically said one of the reasons he wouldn't is because moderators could "cut you off," meaning cut his microphone off.

Trump has yet to react to the change in the rules.

Trump lashes out at Dr. Fauci with a petty and personal smear

On Monday, President Donald Trump fired off tweets attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci — who has sounded increasingly critical of the president. Fauci has earned widespread trust from the public as one of the top government officials in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, while Trump is seen as an unreliable source of information on the crisis. But Trump decided to attack Fauci — in the last weeks before an election, no less — not simply about policy disagreements but on a petty and personal level.

During an interview for CBS News' "60 Minutes" that aired on Sunday night, Fauci candidly said that he wasn't surprised that Trump was recently infected with COVID-19 and that he wishes the president had been more careful. Trump, Fauci emphasized, could be doing a lot more to promote the use of protective face masks. Fauci has also said, as news outlets have reported, that he's been prevented from appearing before the media on numerous occasions.

Trump apparently wasn't happy with these remarks, tweeting on Monday: "Dr. Tony Fauci says we don't allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope. All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said 'no masks & let China in.' Also, Bad arm!"

Trump has previously claimed that Fauci opposed the restrictions the president placed on travel from China in late January (he also exaggerates the effectiveness and importance of this move, which quite clearly did not stop the virus from coming to the United States.) But Fauci was on the record in support of the restrictions at the time. It's true that Fauci, like most of the public health community, was slow to realize the importance of widespread mask-wearing and even discouraged its use by ordinary people at the start of the pandemic. But that was the unanimous position of the administration's public health agencies, which Trump oversees, so he cannot escape blame for this grave error. And since public officials changed their minds and advocated universal mask-wearing, Trump himself has continued to cast doubt about the measure and demonstrably discouraged his followed from taking this vital precaution.

The "bad arm" part of the tweet was a baseball reference. Although the 79-year-old Fauci is a Brooklyn native, he has lived in Washington, D.C. for half a century — and in July, the city's baseball team, the Washington Nationals, announced that Fauci would be throwing the first pitch of the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

"Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals' Mask for two reasons," Trump continued. "Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!"

Not surprisingly, Trump is being mocked on Twitter for his Fauci-related posts.

Travel author Kyle Robert James, @KyleRobertJames, tweeted, "This is a level of petty I hope to one day achieve." And Twitter user Frank Amari, @FrankAmari2, posted, "With each new day, this President gives new meaning to 'National Embarrassment' — to which @JPaulMurdock responded, "Make that International Embarrassment." Another Twitter user, @aosprague, posted, "That super hip reference to Bob Hope will totally draw in the younger voters."

Trump touted a major new factory — but all Wisconsin got was ‘empty promises and empty buildings’: report

President Donald Trump and his supporters were hoping that a deal with the Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn would create 13,000 new manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin, guaranteeing that he would win the state this election year and convince voters that he made good on his promise to bring new jobs to the Rust Belt. But the Foxconn deal, journalist Josh Dzieza emphasizes in an article for The Verge, has been a flop — and the LCD plant that was promised never materialized. Instead of a manufacturing renaissance, all Wisconsin got were "empty promises and empty buildings," according to The Verge.

"Hopes were high among the employees who joined Foxconn's Wisconsin project in the summer of 2018," Dzieza explains. "In June, President Donald Trump had broken ground on an LCD factory he called 'the eighth wonder of the world.' The scale of the promise was indeed enormous: a $10 billion investment from the Taiwanese electronics giant, a 20 million-square-foot manufacturing complex, and, most importantly, 13,000 jobs."

In a press release touting the factor in 2017, the White House employed the hard sell.

"This $10 billion investment will create thousands of new American jobs," it claimed. "The construction of this facility represents a major advancement in regaining America's place in advanced electronics manufacturing."

And the White House didn't hesitate to criticize others who were critical of these grandiose claims.

"While pundits have said for years that electronics manufacturing in the U.S. was a lost cause, the policies and focus of President Trump's administration are producing results that show America can eventually re-emerge as a dominate country in advanced manufacturing," it said. "The new Foxconn plant has the potential to be one of the largest non-energy manufacturing job creators in modern U.S. history, and powerfully illustrates that nothing is beyond America's capabilities."

Trump himself boasted: ""Foxconn joins a growing list of industry leaders who understand that America's capabilities are limitless and that America's workers are unmatched, and that America's most prosperous days are just ahead."

These words now ring quite hollow.

According to Dzieza, the building in Wisconsin that Foxconn "calls an LCD factory" is "about 1/20th the size of the original plan" and "is little more than an empty shell." And in September, Dzieza adds, Foxconn "received a permit to change its intended use from manufacturing to storage."

The Foxconn debacle, Dzieza laments, not only failed to create the 13,000 jobs that were promised, but also, had a high cost in Wisconsin.

"State and local governments spent at least $400 million, largely on land and infrastructure Foxconn will likely never need," Dzieza observes. "Residents were pushed from their homes under threat of eminent domain, and dozens of houses bulldozed to clear property Foxconn doesn't know what to do with."

In 2018, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — a Republican Trump ally who was voted out of office in the 2018 midterms — exalted the Foxconn project as "Wisconn Valley" — that is, a Wisconsin equivalent of Silicon Valley. But Walker's talk of "Wisconn" didn't help him in the gubernatorial election: that year, Walker lost to Democrat Tony Evers, now Wisconsin's governor.

Dzieza notes, "Rather than the 1040 people Foxconn intended to hire by the end of 2018, per its contract with the state — or even the 260 needed in order to receive subsidies — an audit found the company had managed to hire only 113."

An engineer who was supposed to work at "Wisconn Valley," interviewed on condition of anonymity, told The Verge, "The most common misunderstanding with Foxconn is people here thought Foxconn had a strategy and a business plan when they were coming into Wisconsin. They did not. They had no plans at all."

Robert Reich on the public, personal and total hypocrisy of the GOP

Trump and many Republicans insist that the decisions whether to wear a mask, go to a bar or gym, or work or attend school during a pandemic should be personal. Government should play no role.

Yet they also insist that what a woman does with her own body or whether same-sex couples can marry should be decided by government.

It's a tortured, topsy-turvy view of what's public and what's private. Yet it's remarkably prevalent as the pandemic resurges and as the Senate considers Trump's pick for the Supreme Court.

By contrast, Joe Biden has wisely declared he would do "whatever it takes" to stop the pandemic, including mandating masks and locking down the entire economy if scientists recommend it. "I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists," he said.

And Biden wants to protect both abortion and same-sex marriage from government intrusion. In 2012 he memorably declared his support of the latter before even Barack Obama did so.

Trump's opposite approaches, discouraging masks and other Covid restrictions while seeking government intrusion into the most intimate decisions anyone makes, have become the de facto centerpieces of his campaign.

At his "town hall" on Thursday night, Trump falsely claimed that most people who wear masks contract the virus.

He also criticized governors for ordering lockdowns, adding that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer "wants to be a dictator." (He was speaking just one week after state and federal authorities announced they had thwarted an alleged plot to kidnap and possibly kill Whitmer.)

Attorney General William Barr – once again contesting Trump for the most wacky analogy – has called state lockdown orders the "greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history" since slavery.

Yet at the very same time Trump and his fellow-travelers defend peoples' freedom to infect others or become infected with Covid-19, they're inviting government to intrude into the most intimate aspects of personal life.

Trump has promised that the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, establishing a federal right to abortion, will be reversed "because I am putting pro-life justices on the court."

Much of controversy over Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court hinges on her putative willingness to repeal Roe.

While an appeals court judge, Barrett ruled in favor of a law requiring doctors to inform the parents of any minor seeking an abortion, without exceptions, and also joined a dissenting opinion suggesting that an Indiana state law requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains was constitutional.

A Justice Barrett might also provide the deciding vote for reversing Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision protecting same-sex marriage. Only three members of the majority in that case remain on the Court.

Barrett says her views are rooted in the "text" of the Constitution. That's a worrisome omen given that earlier this month Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito opined that the right to same-sex marriage "is found nowhere in the text" of the Constitution.

What's public, what's private, and where should government intervene? The question suffuses the impending election and much else in modern American life.

It is nonsensical to argue, as do Trump and his allies, that government cannot mandate masks or close businesses during a pandemic but can prevent women from having abortions and same-sex couples from marrying.

The underlying issue is the common good, what we owe each other as members of the same society. During wartime, we expect government to intrude on our daily lives for the common good: drafting us into armies, converting our workplaces and businesses, demanding we sacrifice normal pleasures and conveniences. During a pandemic as grave as this one we should expect no less intrusion, in order that we not expose each other to the risk of contracting the virus.

But we have no right to impose on each other our moral or religious views about when life begins or the nature and meaning of marriage. The common good requires instead that we honor such profoundly personal decisions.

Public or private? We owe it to each other to understand the distinction.

‘We will coup whoever we want’: Elon Musk and the overthrow of democracy in Bolivia

On July 24, 2020, Tesla’s Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that a second U.S. “government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the people.” Someone responded to Musk soon after, “You know what wasn’t in the best interest of people? The U.S. government organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there.” Musk then wrote: “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

Keep reading... Show less

Mitch McConnell waited too long to distance himself from Trump — and now it will cost him: report

According to a report from USA Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and fellow Republican senators waited too long to put some distance between themselves and unpopular President Donald Trump and that will likely cost McConnell his power and GOP control of the Senate.

With the election a little more than two weeks away and Trump appearing to be heading to defeat, members of the Republican Party have begun to openly suggest they are facing a "bloodbath" on November 3rd. According to the USA Today report, conservatives lawmakers have only themselves to blame for the coming debacle.

According to Jessica Taylor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, "It just shows that these senators are pulled in two different directions. They can't irritate the very conservative Trump base but they also need independents to win the general election. It's a no-win situation for them in many regards."

The report notes that McConnell is pushing through the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and scheduling a vote of COVID-19 relief this coming week in an effort to give GOP candidates something to brag about while avoiding mention of the president.

"McConnell, known for bringing home the political bacon to Kentucky, looked to give GOP colleagues a way out when he announced the Senate's schedule was shifting," the report stated.

"As a general rule, presidential candidates have coattails that help down-ballot candidates of their own party because they help expand the participation of like-minded voters. But that wasn't the case in 2016 with Trump," the report continued. "Four years ago, a number of senators publicly disavowed Trump, many of them breaking with him over the Hollywood Access tape in which the then-reality show star Trump was caught on a hot mic bragging about groping women."

This go-around it appears that Republican Senators from North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona and Georgia could be out of a job after election day because they failed to disavow the president — thereby handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.

You can read more here.

Mark Kelly’s lead over Martha McSally widens following testy debate

Arizona Democrats, more and more, are looking at a possibility that would have seemed unimaginable 20 or 30 years ago: hat the once-red state could end up with two Democratic U.S. senators. And if a new Monmouth University poll is any indication, one of them is likely to be former astronaut Mark Kelly.

Monmouth's poll finds incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally trailing Kelly by 10% in Arizona's 2020 U.S. Senate race. Released following McSally's recent debate with Kelly, the poll (which was conducted October 9-13) indicates that the debate didn't do McSally any good.

According to Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, "Both campaigns have been trying to paint their opponents in a negative light. Among that all-important group of independent voters, the image of McSally as a rubber stamp for (President Donald) Trump has more resonance than Kelly being portrayed as in lockstep with the left."

The Monmouth poll is not an outlier. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released after the debate found Kelly ahead by 11%.

If Kelly wins on November 3, he will be joining centrist Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in the U.S. Senate next year and taking over the seat that was once held by Sen. Barry Goldwater and later, Sen. John McCain — whose widow, Cindy McCain, has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race.

The possibility of Arizona having two Democratic U.S. senators is shocking to anyone who remembers the Arizona of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Back then, Arizona was a deep red state and was synonymous with the phrases "Goldwater conservative" and "Goldwater Republican." But in recent years, Arizona has evolved into a swing state — and embracing Trumpism, Monmouth's poll indicates, is not helping McSally. Monmouth found that Kelly has a 37-55% advantage over McSally with Arizona voters under 50 and a 40-55% advantage over her with voters who are 65 or older. McSally's strongest support comes from voters in the 50-64 age range — that is, a combination of Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers.

US COVID-19 cases surge as Trump continues unmasked campaign rallies

There are now over 40 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world. The U.S. has topped 8.1 million cases, remaining by far the most infected country, with around 20% of known cases globally. The U.S. death toll is nearing 220,000. On Friday, the U.S. reported around 70,000 new cases, the highest daily total since July. At least 12 states set single-day case records since Friday. Only two states — Vermont and Missouri — reported significant decreases in reported cases over the past week.

In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," top White House Coronavirus Task Force scientist Anthony Fauci shared his reaction when he saw the Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on TV last month.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: "Were you surprised that President Trump got sick?"
Dr. Anthony Fauci: "Absolutely not. I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask. When I saw that on TV, I said, 'Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that. That's got to be a problem.' And then, sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event."

At around the same time as Fauci's interview aired Sunday, Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Carson City, Nevada, where he mocked Joe Biden, warning there would be more lockdowns if Biden is elected.

President Donald Trump: "If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression, instead of we're like a rocketship."

In response, the Biden campaign said in a statement, "Donald Trump tanked the strong economy he inherited … by continually discounting and attacking warnings from the scientific and medical experts working around the clock to save lives. Now new coronavirus cases are surging and layoffs are rising." Joe Biden campaigned in the key battleground state of North Carolina this weekend, as running mate Senator Kamala Harris is back on the campaign trail and will appear today in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida.

Trump also held rallies in two other coronavirus hot spots over the weekend — Michigan and Wisconsin — just as state officials reported record-high COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Trump's top coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas — known for pushing a "herd immunity" strategy — tweeted this weekend, "Masks work? NO." Twitter blocked the post for violating a policy on misleading information about COVID-19.

A federal judge struck down a Trump rule that would have thrown 700,000 people off food stamps, known as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, amid the pandemic and record unemployment.

BRAND NEW STORIES