VIDEOS

Trump threw a temper tantrum over an interview and only humiliated himself

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump made clear he wasn't happy with an interview he had given to CBS's "60 Minutes," and he threatened to release footage of the discussion himself. On Thursday, he followed through on the threat — but it didn't help his case. In fact, it appears to have backfired spectacularly.

He seemed to think the raw footage — apparently taken by the White House, not CBS — would somehow make the case that he was treated unfairly. He suggested that the version of the interview produced by CBS, set to air Sunday night, would be a misrepresentation.

But it's hard to see how this version is supposed to make Trump look good. In fact, he came off like petulant child, and the fact that he can't even see that — that he thinks the footage will make him look better and attacking "60 Minutes" host Lesley Stahl will make her look worse — only further cements that image.

In the waning days of a presidential campaign that he is, by all appearances, badly losing, picking a fight and playing the victim this way is hardly a surefire strategy to convince undecided voters.

Trump even started the interview from a place of weakness, despite his efforts to present the image of a strongman. Stahl asked if he was OK with "some tough questions," and he gave a surprisingly meek answer.

"No, I'm not," he said. "I want you to be fair. You don't ask Biden tough questions."

It was a whiny response, and one that CBS itself probably wouldn't have aired. Trump, instead, chose to make it accessible for everyone to see.

He later attacked Stahl for starting the interview by suggesting she had "tough questions," as if that were necessarily hostile. It seems he has so accustomed himself to the coddling world of Fox News and conservative radio that he doesn't even recognize it's expected, indeed, demanded, that people like Stahl ask tough questions. Giving him a warning that they were coming was simply a kindness on her part.

In the Facebook post sharing the video, Trump said Stahl showed "bias, hatred, and rudeness," but in reality, all of that came from him. Stahl was calm and diplomatic throughout, even if she didn't agree with many of the dubious claims and lies Trump tried to push.

At one point, Trump started spewing his conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden and alleged "spying" on his 2016 campaign, and Stahl firmly but politely set him straight.

"Sir, can I say something?" she cut in. "You know, this is '60 Minutes.' And we can't put on things that we can't verify."

"Lesley, they spied on my campaign!" Trump interjected.

"Well, we can't verify that," she said.

"It's been verified!" he said.

She responded simply: "No."

Releasing the footage was a particularly clumsy and self-destructive move on the eve of Trump's last debate with Biden because it only gave the former vice president's team more of a sense of the arguments the president is making in his defense. If Biden's team knows what it's doing, they've prepared carefully crafted responses for Trump's assertions.

The video also suggests that, contrary to what many of the president's supporters are hoping for, Trump is not in a more calm and less combative mood. His standing in the polls fell after his first debate with Biden, where Trump berated and constantly interrupted his opponent. It's hard to imagine we'll see a gentler Trump this time.

More speculatively, it seems pretty likely that American voters, even many Trump voters, are tired of his incessant fights and feuds. They'd prefer a president who tries to get along with the press, even when he has disagreements with them, and isn't always on the attack. That might be a version of Trump that could more easily win re-election. If he were more insightful and had more self-control, that's who he'd be in the final days of a campaign. But that version of Trump is nowhere in sight.

Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse! #MAGA



Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse! #MAGA

news & politics

Ex-White House communications director is on a mission to stop Trump: 'Something's wrong with him mentally'

"I'm out there trying to educate as many people as possible at the systemic danger that Mr. Trump represents to our democracy." Those were part of the opening words of my conversation earlier this week with former Trump White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on "Salon Talks." And it went downhill from there for Trump.

I can't recall another presidential election where as many former officials from a White House administration and members of the president's own political party came out so vocally to defeat that very president. But then again, nothing has been normal in the time of Trump.

In our conversation, Scaramucci, a successful Wall Street investor, shared why he turned on Trump, citing events such as Trump's family separation policy and, finally, when Trump led the "Send her back" bigoted smear of the four Democratic female members of Congress known as "The Squad," saying they should go back to their own countries. As Scaramucci noted, this vile line of attack by Trump was personal for him; his own Italian grandparents heard the same hateful nativist comments when they first came to America.

The son of blue-collar parents who made it to Harvard Law School and onto the White House staff admitted he had been intoxicated in 2016 by Trump's celebrity status. Now Scaramucci wants to make amends for those past sins by leading the charge, along with other Republicans, to defeat Trump.

Some may never forgive Scaramucci and other Trump voters who helped elect him in the first place, but experts on authoritarianism will tell you that the key to saving a democracy is not just having an opposition party, but members of the wannabe fascist's own party standing up to him. Watch my conversation with Scaramucci or read a transcript of our chat below to hear more about his regrets around working for Trump, his continued relationships with General Kelly and Michael Cohen and why he's supporting Joe Biden.

Many know you as a successful Wall Street executive, entrepreneur, lawyer, author, founder of SkyBridge, and of course, for serving 11 days as Donald Trump's communications director in the White House in 2017.

That 11 days feels like it was like 500 years ago, Dean. Thank you for inviting me on.

In 2019, you made a famous break from Trump. You wrote an op-ed in of August 2019 for the Washington Post in which you wrote, "While it's difficult and embarrassing to admit my errors in judgment, I believe I still have the ability to make amends." You're talking there about breaking ranks from Donald Trump. Remind people if you could please, why, and how you got to that point?

Well, I don't want to make this story too long, but here's what I would say. I was a lifelong Republican, but a moderate Republican. I was in the Jeb Bush, Nelson Rockefeller quadrant of the Republican party, sort of agnostic on issues like gay marriage and women's right to choose. Certainly think that they should be able to live their lives the way they see fit, but was more free-market based, but recognize that you need an energetic government. I'm not a hardcore conservative, but I was more center-right, if you will. Mr. Trump slayed all of those people.

I was with Jeb Bush [then Trump] recruited me into the campaign, and this is a shortcoming of mine which I'm open to admit: I got intoxicated by the idea of working on a winning campaign. Mr. Trump was a celebrity. I started normalizing him like many people did and said, "OK, well, he can't be that abnormal. He's running for president. He's going to sit in Abraham Lincoln's seat, he's the successor of Dwight Eisenhower." You start to normalize somebody that is actually very abnormal, and that is a mistake I made, but I did make it alongside of 63 million other people. And then what happens is he wins, which I didn't think was going to happen. And we should talk about that because the election's coming up in a few weeks. But he wins, and then he asked me to go work for him. And then I make the fatal mistake there. And that's due to the intoxication related to working in the office of the presidency and the notion I'd be working in the White House.

I grew up in this blue-collar family and I've lived a pretty good element of the American dream. And so I started this narrative in my head, and I think I've said this to you, that is very ego-based. You got to be very careful when you're making egocentric decisions based on your ego and pride. Your emotions go up and your intelligence goes down, and you got to be very, very careful. And my wife, who probably hates Trump almost as much as Melania hates him, was dead set against it. We started fighting, almost got ourselves divorced. It was a really rough period of time. But I went to go work for him. Then when I got fired abruptly, I always tell people that was my fault. I said something to a reporter I shouldn't have said that caused me to get fired.

Now I'm outside of the White House, lifelong Republican, let me do my best to try to be supportive of the President and his agenda. And then it just became impossible, so I had to separate myself related to the child separation issue. I had to break from him on denigrating our intelligence agencies, and he's praising Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. He's then saying that the press is the enemy to people. I wrote an op-ed saying that it wasn't. That's actually the last time I talked to Mr. Trump — that was Easter Sunday, April 2019, he called to yell at me and tell me I didn't know what I was talking about and that the press is the enemy of the people, sort of demagogic nonsense.

But then by July, he wants to throw the Congresswomen [four members of Congress known as The Squad], he says he wants them to go back to the countries that they originally came from. And so that is a racist nativist trope. They said it to my Italian-American grandparents. I said, "I am done. There's no way I can support this guy." I disavowed my support, I wrote that article. I wrote many articles subsequent to that. And I'm out there trying to educate as many people as possible at the systemic danger that Mr. Trump represents to our democracy.

So it's a sad thing for me. It's not like I'm all happy about it. I mean, it's sad to listen to the President of the United States ask for the Governor of Michigan, who 10 days ago her life was threatened, they were trying to kidnap her, a white militia group, and possibly execute her. They had to have that broken up by the FBI. And then 10 short days later, the leader of the free world is in her state saying "lock her up." I mean, it's sort of bizarre.

And then, Anthony Fauci, who's been in the American government for 36 years, has dedicated his life to science and healing, he has to now go on his power walks at age 79 with armed federal agents because of death threats related to him because he's just really just trying to tell people the facts about the pandemic and his observation of 6,000 years of scientific discovery on Planet Earth, and what we need to do to protect ourselves. But now he's being threatened as well.

And so there's an evil in our world, you and I both know that. It's important for good men and women to reject evil. We know from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that evil people can get ahead mostly based on the silence of good people and the inaction of good people. I feel compelled to speak out about it and I'm going to continue to do that. And by the way, if Mr. Trump is defeated, which I predict he will be in two weeks, you still have a problem in the country because there is a systemic issue related to a very large group of people that are angry and they feel left out of the system. Mr. Trump has preyed on their anger, trying to divide the country. We have to work with those people to see if we can calm things down and bring them back. So it's a sad situation, Dean.

You're still friends with John Kelly, who was chief of staff for President Trump and is a retired U.S. Marine Corps general. CNN reported last week that Kelly told his close friends the following about Trump."The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it's more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life." You're friends with John Kelly, can you share anything more about this comment?

I think he's made a decision — alongside of HR McMaster, who I interviewed on Friday for SALT Talks, and for General Mattis — I think they've all made the decision that they are going to stay consistent with what George Washington wanted for the military, and Eisenhower, and Marshall, was the separation of military men from the political system because they want to adhere to the civilian nature of the democracy. And they don't want to use their uniforms and their brass, if you will, to make any undue influence.

Having said that, they've all spoken out. They've all said that the President is unfit to serve. They've disagreed with the President's use of force in Lafayette Square. They have said that the President is a threat to the constitution. They have said that he is trying to divide the nation, he's not trying to unite the nation. Because of their roles in the military, as former military general officers, they don't feel that they should be out on a platform or a podium. But having said that, I'm friends with all three of them, including Admiral [William H.] McRaven who has spoken out a little bit more voraciously than them. They've all said to me, "Hey, this is your civilian duty to get out there and speak truth to power related to this." So Olivia Troy, Miles Taylor, myself. I guess what should upset the American people is that there's a very large group of people inside the administration that know how dangerous President Trump is. There's also senators that know how dangerous he is. John Cornyn is now saying, "Well, I broke from him privately." So what's going to happen is this ship is sinking, all the rats are going to climb over to one side and say, well, yeah, we didn't really like him that much.

It speaks to the cowardice and the political expediency and the selfishness of people, because when Mr. Trump was flying high they wanted to be around him. And it was speaking to their power of personal preservation and so forth. I broke from President Trump, it turned out, at the height of his poll numbers. If you look back July of 2019 into August of 2019, he was at the height of his poll numbers, he was at the height of his popularity and approval rating. And many people said to me, "Well, that's a kamikaze mission, and you're going to be rejected soundly by your fellow Republicans." But it's not a kamikaze mission today. It's a mission loaded with aircraft carriers and squadrons.

General Kelly knows this man is unfit. He knows this man is dishonest. General Kelly knows that he called his son who died for our country a sucker and a loser. General Kelly would tell you if he would come on your show that that's the tip of the iceberg of the way Mr. Trump talks about our servicemen and women. He's just, unfortunately, an unfit guy. He's an unwell guy. Something's wrong with him mentally. You don't have to be a psychiatrist to see that there's something wrong with him. The guy is very sick. He's an unwell person.

I'm going to work over the next 16 days to get rid of him. But then over the next several years, we have another project, we have to heal the country. We have to figure out why the country got to where it is right now. And God forbid, look, there's a chance he could win. If he wins, we're going to be heading into an American winter, Dean. And it's going to be a sad four years for America. This guy's going to try to really disrupt and destroy the institutions of our democracy.

Healing is so appealing to me down the road, but winning right now is everything because it has to be. Right now we've got 11 million Americans who have still lost their jobs. You're a finance guy. Last week, we get our weekly unemployment claims. We had almost 900,000, the highest since mid-August. We're going the wrong way on unemployment claims. Trump is not talking about any job creation program whatsoever. From your point of view, forget politics for a second. You look at our economy right now, is it getting sicker, and do we need some federal leadership to make things better for people?

We need two things, actually. We need a coordinated public health and safety policy where the federal government in coordination with the 50 states really follows a process. If you look at what's going on in China right now, they were successful in doing that. Their economy is growing and there are people sitting in Wuhan where the virus originated from without masks on, they're in restaurants. The virus has almost been completely eradicated from the area that it originated from. The virus can be contained, the virus can ultimately be destroyed, and we can move on from the pandemic like we did the Spanish flu and other pandemics throughout history.

You're not going to contain it by lying about the science. You have a science denier in the White House that's saying, "Don't vote for Joe Biden. He may listen to the scientists." Now, what the president is trying to say to his supporters is, "Well, if he listens to his scientists, he's going to shut down the economy and we're going to tip further into a recession." I don't believe that's the case. I think we can explain to people what they need to do to protect themselves. We can get the economy moving. We can offer up, hopefully, more stimulus. We certainly need it.

If you go back to my writings in early March, I was saying we have to go very, very big on this stimulus. We are at war and you have to look at it that way. And so therefore deficit spending needs to increase when you're at war. We can afford it. We have some flexibility in the economy. We're about to enter an amazing growth phase, technologically, for America and the rest of the world. This will unleash another great wave of prosperity.

Now, we have to figure out a way to even it out. That's been one of the dilemmas. We have too big of a wealth divide now. So you need public policy people that are less focused on left and right issues and more focused on what's right and wrong for America. And if we do that, we're going to enter into a golden age for America. Having said that, we got to get the virus behind us. You can't have somebody like Mr. Trump telling you, "Let's just let herd immunity go." We'll have four and a half, 5 million people dead. Why would we do that as a society? What is the case for "economic growth"? You won't have it, by the way, because what will happen is you will scare the living daylights out of every person in the country.

If you offered a coordinated, responsible plan that was national, you could fix this thing. And so, yeah, I'm worried about the economy, but I'm not overly worried about it. I think we've got tremendous resources in the country. We were at peak economic performance in the fourth quarter of 2019. We can get back there. It's not the end of the world. We have to rebuild these cities. All of these things are possible, but they're not going to be possible under a President Trump, they're not. And I'm not saying that Joe Biden is the panacea for our civilization, but at least he's a step towards re-fortifying the institutions of our democracy and the semblance of our government that has made all of us have this great peace and prosperity and this great opportunity in this country.

Over the weekend, Donald Trump said that if he loses he might leave the country. When you hear him say, "Maybe I'll have to leave the country," what does that indicate to you about Trump's thought process now?

Well, he said, "You may never hear from me again if I lose, and maybe I have to leave the country." I think those are both statements by him that should not be taken lightly. I mean, he's got serious problems. His business is under threat, he's got tremendous amounts of debt. There are people that think, though, that he's been paid by some foreign leaders and autocrats to move our foreign policy around, and that that stuff is hidden which will offer him some financial protection. I don't know if that's true or not any more than I... I shouldn't even be saying that because who the hell knows what's going on.

But I will say this. He is a guy that is unstable, and he's a guy that is unfit for the presidency of the United States. To just imagine that he's saying to people, "Well, I may not accept a peaceful transfer of power." After 244 years of the American experiment. And then he's saying he may have to leave the country. And it's never a joke with him. Michael Cohen has said that; I have said that. People that know him know he doesn't know how to joke. He doesn't laugh. He has almost like an Asperger's way about him where he can't pick up the emotional cues and know when to laugh and when not to laugh. He's very rarely joking, if ever.

Your friend Michael Cohen was on MSNBC recently talking about this whole idea of Hunter Biden and the laptop that Rudy has and Cohen said that Rudy is "drunk all the time," making him more easily swayed by Russian disinformation. Is Rudy being used by Russian disinformation forces?

Obviously, you may have read the New York Times article about the New York Post article about Hunter Biden, how the journalists didn't even want to be involved with it because they didn't have enough evidence and they felt the stuff was specious and illusory. Additionally, I choose to think about the mayor the way he was at 9/11 and the way he was from 1993 to 2001. The mayor today is not frankly the same guy that I recognize from 30 years ago and it breaks my heart. It also obviously has an impact on his children. And if you think about what his daughter is saying, "We've got to get rid of Mr. Trump." I mean, it's scary. What Michael is saying about Rudy is true, unfortunately.

At a recent rally, Donald Trump had the crowd cheering, "Lock him up" about Joe Biden. Crowds also cheered "Lock her up" about Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan. He's gone back to [talking about] imprisoning his political opponents. Not just defeating them, but actually putting them in jail. In this case, there's not even evidence Joe Biden's done any wrongdoing whatsoever. How alarming is that to you? Is that just Trump being desperate?

There's a great book out, the title is "Active Measures" [by Thomas Rid] about what the Russians do in terms of disinformation. One of the things is lock up your political opponents. That's a clear message from them. Now, another one is this disinformation, and then it's always pedophilia, by the way. You always want to go with pedophilia. You're going to go with pedophilia because pedophilia is by and large repulsive to 99.5 percent of the population, or hopefully more than that. And so if you accuse somebody of pedophilia and you get people to believe that, it'll engender a lot of hate and create some negative activism. And so they've even tried that now.

I think the good news is that both Facebook and Twitter, which were easily manipulated by Russian intelligence, the GRU, and these troll farms last time, a lot of that stuff has been contained. But I just want you to imagine that the American president, instead of denouncing this sort of activity and denouncing foreign interference, is welcoming the foreign interference. And my liberal friends have a point when they say to me, "Well, you supported that last time." And I have to own that, unfortunately, because I did support it last time, unfortunately. I have to own that.

I admire your honestly there. The stakes are too high. When this is over, if Trump is defeated, do you think that you, Rick Wilson and other Republicans like yourselves might return to the Republican Party and try to reshape it? Or has the party become that of QAnon and Trumpism and wild conspiracy theories and white supremacy?

Yes, I think it'll cause the end of the Republican Party as we know it. And the party already is this aging white demographic. It's going to be a party that buys catheters and CPAP machines and MyPillows in between a Fox News commercial. I mean, it is a weird thing going on right now and the party needs a reset and the party needs a tent expansion and it needs to look like the wonderful, colorful mosaic of America. And it's not going to look like that in its current configuration. Could he pull it off again? Could he have this one last gasp of win, of an aging white America that wants this aging white demagogue to run America? That's possible.

I hope that's not the case, but all I can do right now is fight against it. I can get out there and speak about it. I can offer my opinions on social media. On Friday, I was 10 hours on the radio. I did radio in Michigan, Florida. I did radio in Pennsylvania, radio in Wisconsin. And some of it was tough on me. It was talk radio, conservative talk radio, where these guys have got their callers coming in and lighting me up, and I'm a traitor and I'm a two-faced guy and can't be trusted. I said, "No. I'm not a traitor. I'm just abiding and I'm loyal to the country and I'm loyal to democracy and loyal to the constitution. I'm not loyal to a person."

I would also caution people. You have to have symmetry in loyalty. I tell that to my children. You don't have unconditional asymmetrical loyalty. That's what got Michael Cohen in trouble. Once Trump realized that Mr. Cohen was out to please him any way, anyhow, he kept moving the goalposts on Michael. And so Michael said, "Okay, well, I'm not loyal if I don't pay this porn star. Or I'm not loyal if I don't pay this Playboy model. I'm not loyal if I don't do this. I'm not loyal if I don't do that." Which is why I think Michael named his book "Disloyal" because he's trying to point out that the person that's actually the most disloyal is Mr. Trump. He doesn't care about anybody but himself.

I agree.

When he's doing a news search, Dean, he's not searching USA. And he's definitely not searching you. He could care less about you. But he's searching Trump, that's it. And so hopefully we can defeat him. And by the way, I will point out when I'm on conservative radio, they want me off in a hurry. I did Steve Hilton's show last time I was on Fox News, Trump was going crazy lighting me up on Twitter because he doesn't want people like me breaking through the vessel of his reality distortion. So what are they going to say to me? How are they going to argue? "Oh, no, Trump is a conservative." "No, he's not. You got a $3 trillion deficit." "Oh, Trump is patriotic." "Tell me how so? He's destroyed the country. He's pitting the country against each other. The first name of the country is United. He's trying to dis-unify the country. So tell me what he's doing that is so patriotic?" By the way, when is bullying been a pro-American value? When has that been a pro-American value?

Let's assume for a second that Trump loses. Michael Cohen testified that he feared if Trump loses in 2020 "there will never be a peaceful transition of power." We don't have to speculate because Trump said maybe there won't be. You know the guy, you know what he's about. He loses, he loses soundly. Do you think he resigns? Do you think he leaves quietly, he does the right thing and shakes Joe Biden's hand on January 20th and escorts him out like Obama did and transfers power? How do you think it truly ends, knowing Trump?

I'm a little bit of a contrarian on this. It has to be a big enough margin. I think if it's a tight margin, I think Michael's going to be right, we're going to be in for a fight. But if it's a big enough margin, if it looks consistent to what the polls look like and what Nate Silver is suggesting, I'm a contrarian because I think Trump is a baby. I think he's a keyboard warrior coward. He's not a confrontational guy. He couldn't handle a confrontation if his life depended on it.

Anderson Cooper said to me, "Wow, you guys are like in a bar fight" last August. I'm like, "We're not at a bar fight." I mean, first of all, this guy's never been in a bar fight. And by the way, with somebody like Trump, I would have dragged him into the street. I would have never left him in the bar. I mean, in the bar, you got the risk of a bouncer intervening in what you need to do to the guy. So no, this guy has never been able to handle conflict like that. He's an over blustering, overcompensating, arguably one of the most insecure people I've ever met in my life. I think the humiliation will cause him to retreat. And I think he'll slink away. And I think he'll want to surprise people by offering some level of conciliation end of power.

Now, if I'm him, I'm trying to negotiate with Biden right now my pardon. I'm trying to figure out a way: "Hey, you're going to be the president. I need a pardon and it'll be better for the American people if I'm pardoned. And I need you to pardon my family as well." And I know people will hate me for saying this, but if you really study political history, you don't want that yoke on the American people. I just want to make this point. Edward Kennedy, he wrote it in his book in 2009, before he passed. He said that he was very upset with Gerry Ford when he pardoned Nixon. And then he reflected upon it. He was pardoned in September 1974. He was writing the book 35 years later. And he said that ultimately Gerry Ford was right. That it actually helped heal the country and allowed the country to move forward and it was a statesman's thing to do and he regrets his criticism of Gerry Ford. And so, I'm just telling my liberal friends to have that historical perspective, let's move on from Mr. Trump and move on from his criminality. We're bigger than him as a country and we need to figure out a way to unify now.

election '20

Trump’s push for voter intimidation is working as armed Florida men claim to have been hired by his campaign

During his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on September 29, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to serve as poll watchers. Trump's critics have been arguing that Trump was promoting voter intimidation and encouraging would-be vigilantes, and according to reporting from Vanity Fair and Florida's WFLA News 8, it appears to be working.

WFLA (an NBC affiliate in Tampa) reports that in St. Petersburg, Florida, two armed men dressed as security guards in a tent they set up outside an early voting site "were not hired by" Trump's campaign, even though they claimed to be.

Julie Marcus, supervisor of elections in Pinellas County, Florida, told WFLA that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri "told me the persons that were dressed in these security uniforms had indicated to sheriff's deputies that they belonged to a licensed security company, and they indicated — and this has not been confirmed yet — that they were hired by the Trump campaign."

Marcus, a Republican who was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also told WFLA, "The sheriff and I take this very seriously. Voter intimidation, deterring voters from voting, impeding a voter's ability to cast a ballot in this election is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form."

During his debate with Biden, Trump said, "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully." And Trump's critics have been arguing that he wasn't talking about official poll watchers, but rather, was encouraging his supporters to become vigilantes.

In Vanity Fair, journalist Eric Lutz reports that "at several sites across the country, including California and New Mexico, Trump supporters have gathered near polling sites — in some cases, worrying those waiting to vote."

In Florida, Lutz notes, an armed police officer named Daniel Ubeda "was seen near a poll wearing a face mask that read 'TRUMP 2020' and 'NO MORE BULLSHIT' on the front of it."

Attorney Steve Simeonidis, who chairs the Dade County Democratic Party, saw Ubeda near that polling place and told the Miami Herald, "He may have been going to vote. But he was in full uniform with the mask and a gun. That's voter intimidation."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, in response to that incident, said, "It's a violation of departmental orders. A police officer is supposed to be impartial."

On October 21, the Washington Post's Joshua Partlow reported, "A wide array of complaints have been reported around the country, many involving Trump supporters, according to tips reviewed by ProPublica's Electionland project and shared with other news organizations, including the Washington Post."

economy

Billionaire wealth has surged by nearly $1 trillion during 7 months of pandemic and economic collapse

Over just the past seven months—as millions lost their jobs and health insurance, tens of thousands of small businesses shuttered permanently, and more than 200,000 Americans were killed by the coronavirus—U.S. billionaires saw their combined net worth surge by more than $930 billion, bringing the collective wealth of just 644 people to a staggering $3.88 trillion.

That's according to an analysis released Tuesday morning by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), progressive organizations that have been tracking the explosion of billionaire wealth since the start of coronavirus lockdowns in mid-March. (See the groups' compilation of billionaire wealth data here.)

The new analysis shows that the collective wealth of America's billionaires grew by $931 billion—or nearly 33%—between March 18 and October 13, a period that also saw unprecedented job loss, a nationwide surge in hunger, and a sharp increase in housing insecurity.

The groups noted that the jump in billionaire wealth over the past seven months exceeds the size of both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) so-called "skinny" Covid-19 relief bill and the estimated two-year budget gaps of all state and local governments, which have been forced to lay off more than a million public-sector workers due to revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus crisis.

"Sadly, the Gilded Age is here again," ATF executive director Frank Clemente said in a statement. "We have extraordinary gains in wealth by a small sliver of the population while millions suffer, this time from the ravages of the pandemic, much of which could have been avoided."

"In the short-term we need a robust pandemic relief package that meets the urgency of the moment, not Senator McConnell's skinny bill that offers political cover," Clemente continued. "In the long-term we need major reform that taxes the extraordinary wealth of the billionaires and millionaires and uses that wealth to create an economy that works for all of us."


The new analysis shows that a handful of billionaires "have seen a particularly astonishing increase in wealth" over the past seven months:

  • Jeff Bezos' wealth grew from $113 billion on March 18 to $203 billion on October 13, an increase of 80%. Adding in his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott's wealth of $65.7 billion on that day and the two had a combined wealth of more than a quarter of a trillion dollars thanks to their Amazon stock.
  • Mark Zuckerberg's wealth grew from $54.7 billion on March 18 to $101 billion on October 13, an increase of 85%, fueled by his Facebook stock.
  • Elon Musk's wealth grew from $24.6 billion on March 18 to $92.8 billion on October 13, an increase of 277%, boosted by his Tesla stock.
  • Dan Gilbert, chairman of Quicken Loans, saw his wealth rocket by 656%, to $49.2 billion from $6.5 billion seven months earlier.

"With Mitch McConnell's Senate paralyzed with inaction, U.S. society is kicking into inequality overdrive, with wealth surging up to U.S. billionaires," said Chuck Collins, director of IPS' Program on Inequality. "The juxtaposition between surging billionaire wealth and the imploding livelihoods of ordinary Americans is grotesque and unseemly."

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

White House documents expose the truth: Trump lied — and people died

President Donald Trump has known for over a month that new coronavirus infections have been soaring even as the White House has lied about the seriousness of the surge, documents released Tuesday by a leading Democratic lawmaker show.

HuffPost reports Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, published six weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports (pdf)—dated August 16, August 23, August 30, September 6, September 13, and September 20—proving the administration has known since early September that Covid-19 infections were rising rapidly.

However, instead of being forthcoming with the American people and the world, Trump opted to hide the reports while spuriously claiming that the virus "affects virtually nobody"— even as it caused record infections and deaths in numerous states in September.

Not only did the administration fail to honestly inform the nation, Trump held several so-called superspreader rallies and other events in September, including in states hit hard by surging Covid-19 infections, such as Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

On October 1, Trump declared that "the end of the pandemic is in sight." The following day, he announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus.

The reports also show that the White House was fully aware that the number of states in the so-called "red zone"—where new coronavirus cases rose above 100 per 100,000 people and where more than 10% of test results were positive—soared from 18 on September 13 to 31 on October 18.

On October 19, Trump told campaign staffers on a phone call that "people are tired of Covid... People are saying, 'Whatever. Just leave us alone.' They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots," a reference to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Clyburn released a statement on Tuesday calling the reports proof that "Trump's contempt for science and refusal to lead during this crisis have allowed the coronavirus to surge."

"Contrary to his empty claims that the country is 'rounding the turn,' more states are now in the 'red zone' than ever before," Clyburn said. "It is long past time that the administration implement a national plan to contain this crisis, which is still killing hundreds of Americans each day and could get even worse in the months ahead."

Indeed, according to prominent University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, "the darkest part of the pandemic [will occur] over the course of the next 12 weeks."

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 8.2 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and nearly 221,000 deaths in the United States, representing just under 20% of the global death toll of 1.12 million people.

belief

Pat Robertson: 'The Lord told me' Trump will be reelected — and help set off the Apocalypse

Christian fundamentalist evangelical and televangelist Pat Robertson is predicting that President Donald Trump will win reelection and usher in the end of the world.

The 90-year-old Robertson, this week on his long-running show, "The 700 Club," predicted, "I want to say, without question, that Trump is going to win the election…. He's going to win; that, I think is a given."

Robertson went on to say that after Trump wins in November, major wars will follow. Those wars, according to Robertson, will be part of the End Times — and Christians who vote for Trump can help to bring that about.

The far-right evangelical argued, "We've never seen the likes of it before, but I want to relate to you again: there is going to be a war. Ezekiel 38 is going to be the next thing down the line. Then, a time of peace and then, maybe the end. But nobody knows the day or the hour when the Lord is going to come back. He said the angels don't know it, and only the Father knows it."

Trump's reelection, according to Robertson, will be part of a series of events in which Jesus Christ returns to Earth.

"I am saying that if things that people thought would be during the millennial time with the coming of Jesus, they are going to happen in our lifetime," Robertson told viewers. "And the next thing is the election that's coming up in just a few weeks — at which time, according to what I believe the Lord told me, the president is going to be reelected."

Robertson continued, "I'm saying by all means, get out and vote. Vote for whoever you want to vote for, but let your voice be heard. But it's going to lead to civil unrest and then, a war against Israel and so forth…. I think it's time to pray. But anyway, that is the word. You ask what's going to happen next, and that's what's going to happen next."

One of the most prominent figures in the far-right evangelical movement, Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in the early 1960s and launched "The 700 Club" in 1966. Robertson, the son of the late Democratic Sen. Absalom Willis Robertson, ran for president in 1988 but lost to Vice President George H.W. Bush in that year's GOP presidential primary.

Robertson has a long history of predicting the Apocalypse, going back to at least the 1970s. In 1976, Robertson predicted that the Apocalypse would occur in 1982 — and when that didn't happen, Robertson predicted, in 1990, that 2017 would be the year of the Apocalypse. But since the End Times didn't come about in 2017, Robertson now has high hopes that a second Trump term will mean the end of the world.

human rights

Pope Francis says same-sex couples should be ‘legally’ protected by civil unions

Pope Francis is calling for same-sex couples to be "legally" protected by civil union laws.

"Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family," the Pope says in a new documentary, Catholic News Agency reports. "They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it."

Later, Pope Francis defended his remarks in the film, saying, "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."

"I stood up for that," he added.

The Pope said nothing about the morality of same-sex relationships, which the Catholic Church still vehemently opposes.

The Vatican leader's remarks, while a step forward, show the Roman Catholic Church continues to treat LGBTQ people unequally.

Some are calling the Pope's remarks a "major shift," and a "long overdue moment." Others have noted to Catholics in countries where same-sex relationships or marriages are banned it is a welcome sign.

Pope Francis continues to oppose marriage for same-sex couples. He has a lengthy record of vacillating between making compassionate statements about same-sex couples and gay people, while denouncing in the strongest possible terms affording them the same rights and responsibilities as those in different-sex marriages.

In 2014, for example, Pope Francis called same-sex marriage "anthropological regression."

One year later he said same-sex marriage threatened to "disfigure God's plan." He later called marriages of same-sex couples "disfigured." Also in 2015 he announced support for constitutional bans on marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

The following year Francis said the Catholic Church and Christians "must ask forgiveness" and "apologize" to gay people. In 2018 the Pope reportedly told a gay man, "God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

more news

Why one neurology expert says Trump’s ‘forward-leaning posture’ and ‘body tics’ are cause for serious concern

A professor of Neurology at George Washington University says he believes there may be legitimate concerns over President Donald J. Trump's "forward-listing posture" that goes beyond the comical memes and gif responses normally shared on social media.

"I know something about political figures and observable signs of illness from afar," Richard E. Cytowic M.D. wrote in Psychology Today. "… The American public deserves an accurate account of our president's health."

"While most frequently observed in Parkinson's Disease, the bent posture so evident in Trump may also be seen in Alzheimer's Dementia, movement disorders of the basal ganglia, and as the side effect of certain medications," Cytowic continued. "Also noted are the sudden, jerking movements of Trump's right arm. Since they occur only on one side, the prefix "hemi" is applied, while "ballistic" means sudden or flinging in the manner of a projectile. Trump's hemiballistic arm movements are evident in news clips from Memorial Day (also here via C-Span) at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as are his uncontrolled swaying and forward tilt. He is seen to grab his wayward arm with the left one in an effort to keep it under control."


President Trump at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day. youtu.be

While Trump "aced" a 10-minute mental status screening in August, Cytowic said "the test is one an average adult should easily pass. To a neurologist, his way of walking, posture, and jerky movements are concerning and in want of explanation."


According to Cytowic, "It is true that individuals who have balance and gait issues similar to those observed in Trump can have degenerative brain disease in the frontal lobes, such as fronto-temporal dementia or Pick's Disease. Other possibilities are normal pressure hydrocephalus, sensory ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, small lacunar strokes in the basal ganglia, supranuclear palsy, the effects of too many medications, and Parkinson's Disease, which can begin on one side and also show early cognitive impairment."

Regardless, "The president is a public figure whose judgment we must trust," Cytowic said. "The American public is entitled to know about his neurological health given the enormous responsibilities placed on our Commander in Chief."

'Many, many red flags': NPR explains why it’s refusing to take the Hunter Biden attacks seriously

Supporters of President Donald Trump were hoping that a New York Post report on a hard drive allegedly belonging to former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, would be the "October surprise" that doomed the older Democrats' presidential campaign. But Biden voters appear unfazed by the Post's highly questionable story: Biden is still leading in many national and state polls. And National Public Radio is among the media outlets that has refused to take the smear campaign of the Bidens seriously.

In an NPR newsletter, NPR's Kelly McBride responded to a question from listener Carolyn Abbott, who said, "Someone please explain why NPR has apparently not reported on the Joe Biden, Hunter Biden story in the last week or so that Joe did know about Hunter's business connections in Europe that Joe had previously denied having knowledge?" And McBride laid out some reasons why NPR found the Post's reporting problematic.

The Post, owned by Fox News' Rupert Murdoch, reported that the hard drive that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden contained what the Post described as "smoking gun e-mails" supposedly sent to the younger Biden by a Ukrainian business executive — and those e-mails, Trump allies have been claiming, show that the former vice president is compromised. The story was given to the Post by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now a personal attorney for Trump.

Responding to Abbott's question, McBride stressed that the Post's story was full of holes.

McBride noted, "There are many, many red flags in that New York Post investigation…. Intelligence officials warn that Russia has been working overtime to keep the story of Hunter Biden in the spotlight. Even if Russia can't be positively connected to this information, the story of how Trump associates Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani came into a copy of this computer hard drive has not been verified and seems suspect. And if that story could be verified, the NY Post did no forensic work to convince consumers that the e-mails and photos that are the basis for their report have not been altered."

McBride added that the "biggest reason you haven't heard much on NPR about the Post story is that the assertions don't amount to much." And she quotes Terence Samuel, NPR's managing new editor, as saying, "We don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners' and readers' time on stories that are just pure distractions. And quite frankly, that's where we ended up. This was…. a politically driven event, and we decided to treat it that way."

NPR's David Folkenflik, in an article published on October 17, also offered some reasons why the Post's reporting on Hunter Biden was badly flawed.

Folkenflik explained, "This week, the New York Post published a story based on what it says are e-mails — 'smoking gun' e-mails, it calls them — sent by a Ukrainian business executive to the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The story fits snugly into a narrative from President Trump and his allies that Hunter Biden's zealous pursuit of business ties abroad also compromised the former vice president. Yet this was a story marked more by red flags than investigative rigor."

Folkenflik laid out what those "red flags" are, noting, "The e-mails have not been verified as authentic. They were said to have been extracted from a computer assumed — but not proven — to have belonged to the younger Biden. They were said to have been given to the Post by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is known for making discredited claims about the Bidens."

Folkenflik added, "The venue is also suspect. The pro-Trump New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a steady supporter of the president despite recently casting doubt on Trump's reelection prospects. The lead reporter was a former producer for Sean Hannity, Trump's best friend on his favorite news network, Fox News, also controlled by the Murdochs."

Trump mocked for posting photo of a 'blank sheet of paper' touting ‘many things we’ve done for healthcare’

President Donald Trump is harping on his failed "60 Minutes" interview that he walked off from after veteran CBS News host Lesley Stahl began asking him questions about the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

CNN reports Trump has been pushing his chief of staff to release the White House's recording of the interview, and barely minutes after that segment aired the President tweeted out photos of him with Stahl.

President Donald Trump is harping on his failed "60 Minutes" interview that he walked off from after veteran CBS News host Lesley Stahl began asking him questions about the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

CNN reports Trump has been pushing his chief of staff to release the White House's recording of the interview, and barely minutes after that segment aired the President tweeted out photos of him with Stahl.



But as Vox journalist Aaron Rupar noted, the book appears to be filled with blank paper – or at least the page she happened to be looking at clearly is blank.


That observation was echoed by many, and others mocked the President for yet another empty plan.
























One of the photos shows White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany handing a huge book to Lesley Stahl.

"Kayleigh McEnany presenting Lesley Stahl (@60Minutes) with some of the many things we've done for Healthcare. Lesley had no idea!" Trump tweeted.

Trump is creating a huge problem for one of his key Senate allies

Poll after poll on Arizona's 2020 U.S. Senate race has showed incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally losing to her Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly. And according to Washington Post columnist David Byler, President Donald Trump will bear some of the responsibility if McSally loses.

"The suburbs represent McSally's biggest Trump-induced struggle," Byler explains in his column this week. "The vast majority of Arizona's votes come from Maricopa and Pima counties, which roughly correspond to Phoenix and Tucson."

The possibility that Arizona could end up with two Democratic U.S. senators — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and, if he wins, Kelly — is downright shocking in light of how deeply Republican Arizona was for many years. Arizona is closely identified with the conservative politics of Sen. Barry Goldwater and Sen. John McCain, and McSally is fighting to hold onto the Senate seat once held by, at different points, both men.

But in recent years, Arizona has evolved into a swing state.

In the past, Goldwater and McCain had no problem performing well in Maricopa County or Pima County. But McSally, Byler notes, is struggling in those counties, where Trumpism is hurting her campaign.

"For years, these counties weren't problems for Republicans," Byler notes. "Maricopa used to be staunchly Republican, with older voters, immigration hardliners and well-educated suburbanites coming together to vote for GOP politicians who ranged from immigration restrictionists such as former Gov. Jan Brewer to relative moderates such as the famously bipartisan Sen. John McCain. Democrats won Tucson, but not by margins large enough to overcome Phoenix and GOP-friendly rural areas. But in 2016, Trump gave up suburban votes, losing ground in both counties."

In 2018, Byler adds, Sinema "won Maricopa County by four points and notched a two-point statewide victory over McSally, giving the seat to the blue team for the first time since 1988."

McSally has never won a U.S. Senate race in Arizona, but Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to the seat that McCain, who died in 2018, held for many years. Sen. McCain detested Trump, and his widow, Republican Cindy McCain, has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

"The suburbs aren't McSally's only problem," Byler observes. "Trump has also closed off many of her most plausible avenues for pushing back on the suburban blue wave. Americans above age 65 have turned sharply toward Joe Biden; so, she can't easily appeal to the state's solid senior population. Trump has turned off many Mormons, which probably isn't helping McSally rally the state's small but notable LDS population. And Trump's relative resilience with Hispanic voters will help only so much in Arizona, where 90% of the fast-growing Hispanic population is Mexican-American and Republican-leaning Cuban-Americans are scarce."

McSally, Byler stresses, finds herself in an "unenviable position" because she "has to stay somewhat close to the president to cater to the state's Trumpian base" but must also "find ways to distance herself from Trump to appeal to voters who backed McCain" in 2008's presidential election" and Mitt Romney in 2012 but don't support Trump in 2020.

Polls released during the second half of October have found McSally trailing Kelly by 11% (CBS News/YouGov and CNBC/Change Research), 4% (Morning Consult), 8% (Ipsos) or 7% (RMG Research).

"If Trump manages to push back against these demographic forces and win Arizona, McSally might have a chance," Byler writes. "But if McSally loses, at least part of the blame will rest on Trump."

Joe Biden goes into the 2020 election with a key advantage Hillary Clinton was missing

A substantial number of voters opted to cast their ballots for third-party candidates during the 2016 presidential election, but poll results indicate that may change this time around.

Many people who vote for a third party in 2016 are opting to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, according to Morning Consult polling.

While 14 percent of third-party voters insist they would still support a third-party candidate in the upcoming election, tracking statistics compiled from October 16-18 found "53 percent of likely voters who opted for someone other than a major-party nominee in 2016 said they're backing Biden in this year's election." Statistics project that Trump will only manage to snag approximately 21 percent of the vote.

The report also indicates that Biden's popularity among formerly third-party voters has increased by nearly 10 percent from May to mid-October. Morning Consult's latest poll comes months after their previous poll report which found that voters who supported candidates other than Trump and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 accounted for 18 percent of voters who shared an unfavorable sentiments toward both candidates. The polling indicates that Biden's increase in support is a result of the fact that people have a more favorable opinion of him compared to Clinton.

The poll also suggests the overall desire to support third-party candidates had decreased in battleground states, which could ultimately lead to more voters casting their ballots for the two top candidates:

This time around, very few voters in key battleground states are indicating their interest in voting third party, with Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins lacking the prominence of their 2016 predecessors, and Kanye West — the well-known musician whose candidacy has been pushed by Republican operatives — on the ballot in a handful of states and just two competitive battlegrounds (Iowa and Minnesota).

As of Thursday, October 22, more than 35 million Americans have already cast their ballots for the 2020 election.

Why Lincoln Project ads so often strike a nerve

by Chris Lamb, IUPUI

The narrator in a recent Lincoln Project ad tells listeners, “In six months, COVID-19 has killed more Americans than any disease in a hundred years. Donald Trump lied about it, rejected science, and still has no plan to save Americans."

The narrator tells listeners that, unlike Trump, Democratic challenger Joe Biden has a plan for the virus, while a second voice, in the background, reads the names of some of those who have died of the coronavirus.

The ad ends with the narrator saying, “On November 3, vote like your life depends on it."

The Lincoln Project's 'Names' ad uses elements of satire to increase its effect on viewers.

The ads, which air on television and online, were created by the Lincoln Project, a political action committee founded by longtime Republican strategists and staffers, including Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign; Rick Wilson, ad maker for politicians Rudy Giuliani and John Kasich; and George Conway, attorney and husband of Trump loyalist Kellyanne Conway.

The PAC has spent US$28 million – most of that money on ads – to defeat Trump, who, it says, has destroyed GOP principles and, in the process, is destroying America. The ads portray Trump as unfit for the presidency – a draft dodger who calls soldiers who died in wars “losers."

I've written a book on editorial cartooning and served as a Pulitzer Prize judge in the category of editorial cartooning. As a scholar of satire, I'm not interested in whether the Lincoln Project videos are good politics or bad politics; I'm interested in whether they're good satire.

They are.

This Lincoln Project ad uses sarcasm and ridicule.

Satire is a destructive art

Satire is the use of ridicule, sarcasm and irony to attack or expose the vices and follies of society. Satirists see themselves on the outside of society, looking in at an unjust or immoral world with mean-spirited, corrupt or inept leaders.

Effective satire must resonate with readers in a way that's intimate, personal and often uncomfortable. A satirist wants the reader to grimace or howl at his or her description of a politician's fatal flaws, and not chuckle comfortably as when watching a “Saturday Night Live" character parodying a politician.

An example of good satire that is an exception to the regular “Saturday Night Live" pattern of ridicule would be Tina Fey's spoof of Sarah Palin, which was meant to mock John McCain's 2008 running mate as wholly inadequate for the job of being vice president.

The satiric tradition includes ancient writers like Aristophanes and Horace; prominent writers of past centuries like Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain and “Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau; as well as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's televised depictions of right-wing excesses.

Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin on 'Saturday Night Live' was excellent satire.

A satirist takes his or her sense of indignation and tries to shake the audience out of its sense of futility or indifference to confront the injustice.

Hitting the mark

For satire to be effective, it must attack someone or something that is readily identifiable. This often includes using someone's own words to make a fool out of them – as the Lincoln Project ads often do with Trump. One way to measure satire's effectiveness is in the response of the person being satirized.

The ads certainly struck a nerve with Trump, who called the Lincoln Project “the Losers Project."

If Trump intended to damage the project, it backfired. The group received $2 million in donations in the two days after his comment, which also inspired the creation of more ads that were designed to poke fun specifically at him.

Playing off his bragging of having the “most loyal people" working for him, one ad quotes John Kelly, Trump's former chief of staff, calling Trump “an idiot"; Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, calling Trump “a f—ing moron"; and John Bolton, the former national security adviser, saying, “I don't think he's fit for office."


Another ad targeted military families and veterans, showing American soldiers carrying the flag-draped coffin of one of their fallen comrades while the narrator reads out the words Trump has used to describe soldiers: “losers," “suckers," “dopes" and “babies."

The Lincoln Project ads have occupied the attention of the news media. The New Yorker and “60 Minutes" have published recent stories on the PAC, promoting its objective to defeat Trump.

Advertising Age reported that the ads have become a sensation during the 2020 campaign. One ad, called “Hospital," opens with an image of a patient in a hospital bed that then quickly fades to black as we hear the beep of a heart monitor. There is no narrator. The words on the screen say, “A death from COVID is the loneliest death imaginable."

The ad finishes by linking the responsibility for those deaths to Trump with the following words: “Over 200,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID. We could have stopped it. His lying is killing us. We have to stop it. Vote him out."

The Lincoln Project uses many of the same techniques of satire, but gives them a thoroughly modern bite by using slick videography. The ads go viral on social media to audiences that may not watch television ads.

The Lincoln Project attacked Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

One Lincoln Project ad was posted after Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus. The ad criticizes Trump for reportedly infecting staffers because he refused to wear a surgical mask and he mocked those who did. The ad, called “Covita," shows a montage of a maskless Trump at White House functions as a singer delivers a parody of the words from “Evita":

“Don't cry for me, White House staffers. The truth is, I will infect you. All through my tweeting, my mad existence. I broke my promise. Won't keep my distance."

The Lincoln Project may or not accomplish its objective to defeat Trump on Nov. 3. But it already has made a contribution to the tradition of political satire.

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation's email newsletter.]The Conversation

Chris Lamb, Professor of Journalism, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Rudy Giuliani tricked by Sasha Baron Cohen into having ‘indiscreet encounter’ with young actress

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was reportedly tricked by comedian Sasha Baron Cohen into having an "indiscreet encounter" with a young actress who was playing as a far-right journalist in his new "Borat" movie.

The Guardian, which has seen footage from Cohen's upcoming movie, reports that "the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat's daughter."

The actress in question, 24-year-old Bulgarian native Maria Bakalova, posted as a right-wing journalist interested in interviewing Giuliani to ask him about his work for President Donald Trump.

According to The Guardian, Bakalova after the interview asks Giuliani to come to her hotel room for a drink.

Little does the New York mayor know, however, that Bakalova's room has been rigged with cameras — and as soon as Giuliani starts apparently playing with himself, Cohen's character bursts into the room and tells him that she's only 15 years old and thus "too old for you."

How to stop Trump from stealing the election: Robert Reich

Trump is likely to claim that mail-in ballots, made necessary by the pandemic, are rife with "fraud like you've never seen," as he alleged during his debate with Joe Biden – although it's been shown that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

So we should expect him to dispute election results in any Republican-led state he loses by a small margin – such as Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin.

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides that if state electors deadlock or neither candidate gets a majority of the votes in the Electoral College needed to win the presidency (now 270) – because, for example, Trump contests votes in several key states – the decision about who'll be president goes to the House, where each of the nation's 50 states gets one vote.

That means less-populous Republican-dominated states like Alaska (with one House member, who's a Republican) would have the same clout as large Democratic states like California (with 53 House members, 45 of whom are Democrats).

So if the decision goes to the House, Trump has the advantage right now: 26 of state congressional delegations in the House are now controlled by Republicans, and 22 by Democrats (two — Pennsylvania and Michigan — are essentially tied).

But he won't necessarily keep that advantage after the election. If the decision goes to the House, it would be made by lawmakers elected in November, who will be sworn in on January 3 – three days before they'll convene to decide the winner of the election.

Which is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is focusing on races that could tip the balance of state delegations – not just in Pennsylvania and Michigan but any others within reach. "It's sad we have to plan this way," she wrote recently, "but it's what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen."

The targets are Alaska (where replacing the one House member, now a Republican, with a Democrat, would result in a vote for Biden), Montana (ditto), Pennsylvania (now tied, so flipping one would be enough), Florida (now 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats, but 3 Republicans are retiring) and Michigan (where Republicans now have 6 members and Democrats 7).

Congress has decided contested elections only three times in U.S. history, in 1801, 1825, and 1877. But we might face another because Donald Trump will stop at nothing to retain his power.

That's why it's even more critical for you to vote. Make this a blowout victory for Joe Biden and Democrats down the ballot, and stop Trump from stealing this election.

Watch:


How to Stop Trump from Stealing the Election | Robert Reich youtu.be

New report reveals Trump's hidden bank account in China

President Donald Trump has a bank account in China which until now has been hidden from the public. The account, as first reported by The New York Times Tuesday evening, does not appear anywhere on the president's financial disclosure forms.

Trump for years attempted to claim he and President Xi of China were good friends.

"Mr. Trump's own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state," the Times reveals. "He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company."

Trump operates his business empire as a "pass-through," which means that ultimately all profits makes their way to the president and his family.

"And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr. Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president's tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times. The foreign accounts do not show up on Mr. Trump's public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The identities of the financial institutions are not clear."

The Times goes on to report Trump paid China in taxes from 2013 to 2015 far more than the zero taxes he paid to the U.S. government during the same years.

One of Trump's companies in China "reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years' combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company's capital account."

"Until last year, China's biggest state-controlled bank rented three floors in Trump Tower, a lucrative lease that drew accusations of a conflict of interest for the president," the Times adds.

Read the entire report at The New York Times.

Epidemiologist delivers brutal epitaph to Trump’s COVID response: ‘Worst case of public health malpractice ever’

A top epidemiologist on Thursday delivered a brutal epitaph to President Donald Trump's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 220,000 Americans in just eight months.

Appearing on CNN, University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health dean Dr. Ali Khan pointed to new research from Columbia University claiming that over 100,000 Americans could still be alive today if the United States had enacted stronger measures to control the spread of the virus.

"We always had the tools to get this disease contained," he said. "And if we had used those public health tools — and not just at the national level, but the national, state, and local level — we would have had a marked decline in deaths, anywhere from maybe 10,000 to… 160,000 deaths. So, there's a whole lot of people who are dead in America. That was completely preventable."

He then looked at responses to the disease around the world and said the United States really stood out for being disastrous.

"There's no doubt, this is the worst case of public health malpractice we've ever seen in this nation," he said. "If we had followed the path of South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Rwanda — I mean, I can go all over the world of countries with excellent leadership… using tools that we have that have protected their populations."

Watch the video below.


Doctor delivers brutal epitaph to Trump's COVID response youtu.be

Why silencing Trump's mic won’t stop him from short-circuiting the democratic process

by Karrin Vasby Anderson, Colorado State University

New rules will mute the microphones of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden for parts of the next presidential debate, but it may not be enough to solve the problems that arose in the chaotic first presidential debate.

The candidates will still be able to hear each other, potentially interrupting their train of thought – and, as The New York Times reported, anything a candidate says while his own microphone is muted may still be picked up by the other candidate's mic.

And in late September, after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates promised to add “additional structure" to “ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," President Donald Trump said he would defy any new rules.

By promising to dominate rather than debate, Trump made clear that he would continue his signature strategy for campaigning and governing: undermining democratic institutions.

That leaves one big question: Is a debate even possible?

As a professor of political communication and former college debate coach, I've spent 20 years teaching students how to learn from presidential debates. I teach them that functional political debates, like healthy democracies, require participants who respect the process and follow mutually agreed-upon rules. The rules are often mundane – what the time limits are, whether candidates can directly question each other and when rebuttals are allowed – but they make it possible for political opponents to engage one another, answer tough questions and give voters a way to evaluate contrasting arguments.

Trump broke the rules, abused the process and treated the notion of democratic debate with disdain. This microphone change may not prevent him from doing so again.

Debates have a purpose

Scholars lament that televised presidential debates don't follow academic debate rules, but they can serve important functions for the public.

They demonstrate candidates' ability to react under pressure, address a broad range of policy questions and connect with voters. The Pew Research Center reports that in many election cycles, large majorities of voters have said the debates help them choose whom to support.

What happened on Sept. 29 achieved none of that.

Trump launched a 90-minute blitz of outbursts, interruptions and attacks, which was roundly denounced across the political spectrum. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News repeatedly inserted himself into the barrage of cross-talk, but was unsuccessful in his efforts to get Trump to abide by the rules.

Joe Biden expressed exasperation, using language unprecedented for a presidential debate, telling Trump to “shut up" and calling him a “clown." Political scientist Jennifer Piscopo described the scene as one in which both candidates were “goading each other with performative masculinity."

The Washington Post's Jill Filipovic speculated that one reason the 2016 debates didn't devolve into that level of chaos was that, as a woman, Hillary Clinton would have subjected herself to sexist criticisms if she had taken the bait.

Sabotaging democracy

Can this be fixed with a simple technological adjustment, like cutting speakers' mics? If only.

The problem is that Trump didn't just speak too long or out of turn. He adopted an anti-democratic stance and sabotaged the entire process. Muting his mic wouldn't force Trump to participate in the debate in good faith. Moreover, it would give him the opportunity to claim that he's being censored by what he considers a hostile media establishment.

The televised presidential debates were designed to ensure that American voters could evaluate presidential and vice presidential candidates in a live, unscripted context – one that exposed them to questions from journalists and citizens and enabled them to engage one another on the issues.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation's newsletter.]

They were not designed with a saboteur in mind. Trump's response to these debates is emblematic of his approach to the presidency. He wants to command an audience, not respond to voters. What he values most of all is having the mic to himself.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published Oct. 2, 2020, adding information about specific new rules for the next presidential debate.The Conversation

Karrin Vasby Anderson, Professor of Communication Studies, Colorado State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Former CIA official reveals the 'weird' reason intel officers are 'terrified' to brief Trump on Russia

U.S. intelligence officers responsible for briefing President Donald Trump on the country's potential threats are reportedly "terrified" to brief him on anything Russian-related due to concerns about his possibly explosive reaction.

During an interview with GQ magazine, former CIA official Marc Polymeropoulos weighed in on Trump's perplexing affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to like him. At this point, Polymeropoulos insists no one is willing to brief the president on anything involving Russia.

"No one's going to brief anything on Russia to the president," Polymeropoulos told GQ correspondent Julia Ioffe. "They're terrified of doing that. I know that from the briefers. Because he'll explode and the whole thing will get derailed, because he has this weird affinity for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."

When Polymeropoulos was asked why the subject of Putin and Russia are such delicate issues in the White House, insisted Trump "wants Putin to like him."

According to Polymeropoulos, the issue is sensitive for Trump because: "He doesn't want to be embarrassed in front of Putin, that's part of the dilemma. Polymeropoulos went on to recall how Trump interacted with the Queen as he noted that the president insists on being connected to people who have "glamour and cachet."

"Just look at how he behaves with the Queen. That's how he behaves with everyone who has any glamour and cachet," Polymeropoulos continued, adding, "Putin has everything he doesn't have."

The latest news comes as intelligence reports warn of the possibility of Russian election interference as election day fast approaches. In 2016, the former Soviet republic was accused of running disinformation campaigns in an effort to sway the election in Trump's favor. Now, reports suggest Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani may be Russia's new target to help circulate disinformation campaigns on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a manner similar to the attacks on former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has repeatedly refused to address situations involving Putin.

Rudy Giuliani calls NSFW Borat hotel room scene a 'hit job' in retaliation for recent Biden smear

Former LifeLock spokesperson Rudy Giuliani is defending his unwitting cameo in the "Borat" sequel as a "hit job" in retaliation for his recent smears on Democratic nominee Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

In the controversial appearance, the man once called "America's Mayor" appears to be touching himself under his pants while on a hotel bed beside an actress posing as a young journalist.

After news of the scene first broke on Wednesday, the former New York mayor called in to radio station WABC to explain that he had merely been tucking in his shirt. Giuliani suggested that the scene might have been "added, doctored, [or] manipulated" — allegations which he denies about his own dubious accusations against Biden.

"I had to take off the electronic equipment," the former assistant U.S. attorney claimed. "And when the electronic equipment came off, some of it was in the back. And my shirt came a little out, although my clothes were entirely on. I leaned back, and I tucked my shirt in. And at that point — at that point, they have this picture they take which looks doctored. But, in any event, I'm tucking my shirt in. I assure you that's all I was doing."

In the sequel to the hit mockumentary, 24-year-old actress Maria Balakova, who poses as Borat's teenage daughter, Tutar, scores a one-on-one sit-down with Giuliani in a Manhattan hotel suite. According to Giuliani — whose work representing President Donald Trump's personal interests in Ukraine led directly to his own client's impeachment — he entered into what "seemed like a legitimate interview" with a "young woman."

"At one point, she explained to me some problems she had. I actually prayed with her," he said. "And then, I had to leave. I had my jacket on. I was fully clothed at all times."

However, that description omitted some relevant details.

Throughout the scene, "Tutar" flirts heavily with Giuliani, and she reaches out to touch his knee several times. At one point, after Giuliani blames China for the coronavirus pandemic, he agrees to eat a bat with her.

After Sacha Baron Cohen, in the role of Borat, interrupts the interview costumed as an audio tech to "save" his daughter, the scene cuts to Tutar inviting Giuliani to "have a drink in the bedroom." Giuliani, whom U.S. officials reportedly warned the White House had been a target of Russian intelligence, follows her out.

The next scene appears to be captured on hidden cameras. Giuliani, the president's former informal cybersecurity adviser, removes Tutar's microphone, sits on the bed and asks for her address and phone number. She removes his microphone, touching his pants, and he pats her backside. Giuliani then lies back on the bed and puts his hands down his pants for longer than he suggested in his later radio interview.

At that point, Borat, dressed in pink neglige which Giuliani later described as a "pink transgender outfit," bursts into the room. Borat screams, "Put down your chram!" — his word for penis. "She's 15! She's too old for you!"

Giuliani, who had been given no information about the woman's age, attempts to leave as quickly as possible. He is hounded by Borat, who shouts after him, "Rudy, Trump will be disappoint! You are leaving hotel without golden shower!"

After Wednesday's radio spot, Giuliani posted a series tweets in his defense, attacking Baron Cohen, the film's star and director, as a "stone-cold liar."

"The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment," Giuliani wrote. "At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar."

"In fact, the NY Post today reports 'it looks to me like an exaggeration through editing,'" he continued, citing a review from the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid — an echo of his allegation of possible "doctored" footage, which he floated in his radio interview.

"Now let me tell you why I know this is a hit job that happens because, it's not an accident that it happens that I turn in all this evidence on their prince and darling Joe Biden who's one of the biggest crooks in the last thirty years, and since I have the courage to say that I'm the target," Giuliani added, neglecting to mention that the scene was filmed in July.

"Everybody in Hollywood hates me, you know, right?" he asked. "I'm a devil in Hollywood. Nothing about me comes out in that period of time, nothing sensational about me in the movie. Now all of a sudden there's all this sensational stuff about me in the movie. Don't know if it was added, doctored, manipulated, whatever."

In July, Giuliani told The New York Post — the same outlet he recently handed what he claimed were Hunter Biden's emails — that he had called the police after he left the hotel. When pressed later that month in a WABC radio interview about whether he did anything "regretful," Giuliani replied, "I don't think so. I'm trying to remember."

The movie, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," will be released Friday on Amazon Prime.

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