VIDEOS

Watch: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teaches CNN how a representative democracy is supposed to work

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps going on Sunday shows, like Republican reps going on Sunday shows, is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Joe Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide whole-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump from the White House, and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Let's send the corporate welfare class of elected officials packing. Donate what you can to help take back the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Joe Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I understand he is in disagreement with that issue.

Tapper now wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Joe Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turn out in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, Ocasio-Cortez sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the Vice President wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.

Get out and vote.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains how democracy works to Jake Tapper youtu.be

news & politics

70-plus science journalists pen open letter condemning Barrett for enabling 'ecological crisis of our times'

More than 70 science journalists have signed an open letter warning that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's close ties to the fossil fuel industry and refusal to publicly acknowledge the established science behind human-caused climate change make her an enabler of "the ecological crisis of our times."

First published in Rolling Stone on Sunday, the letter slams Barrett's responses to basic climate questions during her confirmation hearings as "factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous." As Common Dreams reported, the right-wing judge insisted she has "no firm views" on the climate crisis and, in later written responses, called the science of climate change "controversial."

"It is frightening that a Supreme Court nominee—a position that is in essence one of the highest fact-checkers in the land—has bought into the same propaganda we have worked so hard to dispel," reads the letter, which was signed by author and environmentalist Naomi Klein, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, and other prominent climate writers.

"How can Judge Coney Barrett rule on pending issues of climate change liability, regulation, finance, mitigation, equity, justice, and accountability if she fails to accept even the underlying premise of global warming? The answer is that she cannot," continues the letter, which comes hours before the Republican-controlled Senate is set to clear a procedural hurdle and pave the way for a final vote on Barrett's confirmation Monday.


Below is the full letter and list of signatories:

We are science and climate journalists. We are researchers and weavers of information, creating a fabric that explains the work of scientists who themselves are working to describe our natural world and universe. We are published in the nation's leading outlets, both large and small, including Scientific American, Nature, National Geographic, MIT Technology Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and many more. Over decades of reporting on the threats and now deadly and devastating harms of worsening climate change, we have succeeded in at least one respect. The vast majority of the world's people, including those in the United States, not only acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change, but also want action taken to address it.

We have succeeded because the science is clear, despite there being a massive well-orchestrated effort of propaganda, lies, and denial by the world's largest fossil fuel corporations, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries and fossil-fuel-backed institutes and think tanks. It is frightening that a Supreme Court nominee—a position that is in essence one of the highest fact-checkers in the land—has bought into the same propaganda we have worked so hard to dispel.

And it is facts—a word under repeated assault by the Trump administration, which nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett—that are at issue here. "I'm certainly not a scientist…I've read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it," Judge Coney Barrett told Sen. John Kennedy during the Senate confirmation hearings on October 13th.

The next day, Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Judge Coney Barrett if she believed "human beings cause global warming." She replied: "I don't think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not. I don't think that my views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge."

When asked that same day by Sen. Kamala Harris if she accepts that "COVID-19 is infectious," Coney Barrett said yes. When asked if "smoking causes cancer," Coney Barrett said yes. But when asked if "climate change is happening, and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink," Judge Coney Barrett said that while the previous topics are "completely uncontroversial," climate change is instead, "a very contentious matter of public debate." She continued: "I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial because that's inconsistent with the judicial role, as I have explained."

Judge Coney Barrett repeatedly refused to acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change. This is an untenable position, particularly when the world's leading climate scholars warned in 2018 that we have just 12 years to act to bring down global average temperature rise and avert the most dire predictions of the climate crisis.
At the moment when the facts of the case were presented to her, this arbiter of justice freely chose to side with mistruths. Judge Coney Barrett's responses are factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous.
How can Judge Coney Barrett rule on pending issues of climate change liability, regulation, finance, mitigation, equity, justice, and accountability if she fails to accept even the underlying premise of global warming? The answer is that she cannot.

Judge Coney Barrett's ties to the fossil fuel industry have already proved problematic, forcing recusal from cases involving Shell Oil entities related to her father's work as a long-time attorney for the company. She may also need to recuse herself from future cases due to her father's former position as chairman of the Subcommittee on Exploration and Production Law of the American Petroleum Institute—the nation's leading fossil fuel lobby.
Climate change is already an increasingly dominant aspect of American life, and an issue of growing import in American law. On the Supreme Court docket is BP P.L.C v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore—a case that involves Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and other major oil companies, and could impact about a dozen U.S. states and localities suing Big Oil over its contribution to climate change.

Judge Coney Barrett says, "I'm certainly not a scientist," but she does not need to be a scientist, rather she needs to have faith in science. Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is an ardent supporter of action on climate change, releasing in 2015 the "Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home." The Pope embraces hard science in order to keep close to his faith.

Judge Coney Barrett has displayed a profound inability to understand the ecological crisis of our times, and in so doing she enables it.

Signed,

Bill McKibben, journalist and author, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College

Rebecca Solnit, author and journalist

Sonia Shah, science journalist and author

Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize winning author, science journalist, and professor at Columbia Journalism School

Jeff Goodell, climate journalist and author of The Water Will Come

Naomi Klein, journalist and author

Michelle Nijhuis, science journalist and author

Amy Westervelt, climate journalist

Rachel Ramirez, environmental justice reporter

Iris Crawford, climate justice journalist

Anoa Changa, movement and environmental justice journalist

Tiên Nguyễn, multimedia science journalist

Eric Holthaus, meteorologist, climate journalist at The Phoenix

Jenni Monet (Laguna Pueblo), climate affairs journalist and founder of Indigenously

Nina Lakhani, environmental justice reporter

Samir S. Patel, science journalist and editor

Clinton Parks, freelance science writer

Meehan Crist, writer in residence in biological sciences, Columbia University

Elizabeth Rush, science writer, author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Anne McClintock, climate journalist, photographer and author, professor of environmental humanities and writing at Princeton University

Ruth Hopkins (Oceti Sakowin, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), tribal attorney, Indigenous journalist

Wade Roush, science and technology journalist and author

Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of climate science fiction, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards

Jason Mark, editor in chief, Sierra

Kate Aronoff, climate journalist

Richard Louv, journalist and author

Heather Smith, science journalist

Judith Lewis Mernit, California climate editor, Capital & Main

Madeline Ostrander, climate journalist

Julie Dermansky, multimedia environmental and social justice journalist

Kenneth Brower, environmental journalist and author

Alexander Zaitchik, science and political journalist and author

Hillary M. Rosner, science journalist and scholar in residence, University of Colorado
Wudan Yan, science journalist

Debra Atlas, environmental journalist and author

Rucha Chitnis, climate, environmental justice and human rights documentarian

Drew Costley, environmental justice reporter

Jonathan Thompson, environmental author and journalist

Carol Clouse, environmental journalist

Brian Kahn, climate journalist

Geoff Dembicki, climate journalist and author

Peter Fairley, energy and environment journalist

Nicholas Cunningham, energy reporter

Nina Berman, documentary photographer focusing on issues of climate and the environment, professor of journalism at Columbia University

Michele C. Hollow, freelance journalist

Ben Depp, documentary photographer, focusing on issues of climate and the environment

Virginia Hanusik, climate photographer

Philip Yam, science journalist and author

Maura R. O'Connor, science journalist and author

Chad J. Reich, audio and visual journalist covering energy and environment in rural communities

Steve Ross, environmental writer/editor, former Columbia environmental reporting professor

Starre Vartan, science journalist

Michael Snyder, climate photographer

Brandon Keim, science and nature journalist

Tom Athanasiou, climate equity writer and researcher

Hope Marcus, climate writer

Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, freelance journalist

Dana Drugmand, climate journalist

Tom Molanphy, climate journalist

Roxanne Szal, associate digital editor, Ms. Magazine

Dashka Slater, author and climate reporter

Jenn Emerling, documentary photographer, focusing on issues of climate and culture in the American West

Christine Heinrichs, science writer and author

Clayton Aldern, climate and environmental journalist

Karen Savage, climate journalist

Charlotte Dennett, author, investigative journalist, attorney

Carly Berlin, environmental reporter

Ben Ehrenreich, author and journalist

Ibby Caputo, science journalist

Lawrence Weschler, former New Yorker staff writer, environmental author, most recently with David Opdyke, of This Land: An Epic Postcard Mural on the Future of a Country in Ecological Peril.

Justin Nobel, science journalist

Antonia Juhasz, climate and energy journalist and author
election '20

Here are 5 scenarios that show how the campaign’s endgame might be disrupted: historian analysis


W. Joseph Campbell, American University School of Communication

The storyline of the presidential campaign seems to be solidifying, as polls show Joe Biden maintaining a sizable lead over President Donald J. Trump.

But the lead may not be insurmountable, and the election is not over.

The history of polling in modern elections suggests that the endgame could yet be altered by a number of disruptive scenarios.

None of the following narrative-altering scenarios can be considered a certainty. But only one is rather far-fetched. All are informed by the content of my latest book, “Lost in a Gallup: Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections."

Here are descriptions of five prospective scenarios, in order of possibility. In a bow to even-handedness, a reality check is appended to each of them.

1. A powerful late October surprise disrupts the campaign trajectory

Jarring, out-of-the-blue developments have happened often enough in presidential election campaigns as to be almost expected. Remember James Comey's announcement 11 days before the 2016 election that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails? It may have shifted enough votes in battleground states to elect Trump.

To alter the trajectory in 2020, the October surprise probably would have to be akin to a very public meltdown by Joe Biden – a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier" moment on steroids – that would clearly signal he's not up to the job. While Biden's gaffes, exaggerations and garbled comments have been on frequent display during the 2020 campaign, they haven't been concentrated or dramatic enough to puncture his advantage in preelection polls.

Why it won't happen: Presidential elections may be growing immune to late October surprises, given the popularity of early voting and the advent of extensive mail-in balloting. As such, millions of Americans will have cast ballots for president well before Election Day – tempering the impact of any late October surprise.

2. Significant polling errors occur in key states, enough for Trump to win an electoral vote majority

In states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, which were crucial to the outcome in 2016, preelection polls pointed to a clear lead for Hillary Clinton – an advantage that evaporated when votes were counted. Clinton's polling advantage in Wisconsin, for example, was 6.5 percentage points at campaign's end; Trump carried the state by less than a point. Such errors are not entirely out of the question in 2020.

Why it won't happen: This scenario essentially is a 2016 replay. If the history of election polling tells us anything, it is not to expect elections, or polling failures, to replicate themselves. Not only that, but considerably more scrutiny is being devoted to polling in battleground states in 2020 than four years ago. Such attention may render this scenario unlikely.

3. The 1996 scenario materializes

This is a nuanced scenario that recalls Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection, when he defeated Republican Bob Dole by 8.5 percentage points – a comfortable margin but not the blowout many polls and pollsters had anticipated. At the end of October 1996, veteran California pollster Mervin Field declared Clinton was “heading for as big a win" as Ronald Reagan's 18-point landslide in 1984, when he carried 49 states.

The polls in 1996 didn't miss on the winner, but some were well off the final margin. For example, the end-of-campaign CBS News survey estimated Clinton's lead at 18 points, nearly a 10-point miss.

Why it won't happen: Polling failure in presidential elections is rarely duplicated. A rerun of the 1996 scenario depends on Biden holding a double-digit polling lead in the campaign's final stages – a time when presidential races tend to tighten. Biden's aggregate lead in national polls, as compiled by the RealClearPolitics website, stood at 8.6 percentage points two weeks before Election Day.

4. 'Shy Trump' voters emerge en masse, decisively so in battleground states

This theory maintains that because they want to avoid disapproval, some Trump supporters conceal their preferences from pollsters and others. They are reluctant to acknowledge support for such a divisive character.

Because they are guarded about their intentions, these undercover supporters skew polling data because they supposedly are so hard to find, or fail to answer candidly when they are interviewed. By turning out in great numbers, the theory goes, “Shy Trump" voters could tip the electoral vote to the president.

Why it won't happen: Such voters probably do not exist in numbers large enough to alter a national election. Assessments by pollsters and polling organizations have suggested as much. Besides, Trump's outdoor rallies indicate that his supporters aren't exactly reserved about expressing political preferences.

5. An epic polling collapse, akin to that of 1948, takes place

The famous “Dewey defeats Truman" election signaled a stunning and never-since-duplicated breakdown of national election polling. George Gallup and other pollsters confidently predicted President Harry Truman's loss to Republican Thomas E. Dewey – and their polling set expectations for the country's press and pundits. Truman won by 4.5 percentage points in the greatest polling embarrassment in U.S. presidential history.

Why it won't happen: Polling since 1948 has become more sophisticated in techniques and more numerous in practitioners. It is almost inconceivable that contemporary election pollsters will be profoundly and uniformly wrong in 2020. While 1948 does offer an intriguing prospective precedent, this is a most improbable scenario.

[Get our most insightful politics and election stories. Sign up for The Conversation's Politics Weekly.]The Conversation

W. Joseph Campbell, Professor of Communication Studies, American University School of Communication

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

economy

Pennsylvania small business owners have a drastically different take on Trump than they did 4 years ago

Small business owners in Pennsylvania are sharing their reaction to life after four years under President Donald Trump, the only Republican president to win the state since 1988.

With all that has occurred over the last several months, many voters are having reservations about the possibility of Trump winning a second term. It is no secret that small businesses have been hit particularly hard amid the ongoing pandemic.

Joshua Mast, who owns a small business venue and restaurant in Scranton, Penn., happens to be one of them. He expressed concern about Trump's presidency as he admitted that his business is not better off than it was four years ago. He also shared his concerns about health care.

"I would have to say over the past four years we have not been better off," Mast said. "It would definitely take one level of stress away if [health] insurance was paid for or even reasonable. For any small business, that's a huge burden."

Mast also noted some of the characteristics he expects the president to have. Not only does he expect the president to have extensive knowledge of Washington, he also wants a president who will be proactive in the advancement of small businesses.

"I feel right now we need somebody who knows Washington, who is going to do something for the small-business owner and who's going to get something done."

Mast admitted that while he can manage to keep the doors of his business open, he knows that it will not be able to grow with Trump in office another four years.

"I will continue to have side hustles, as they say, to be able to keep my business open," he said. "But I will not be able to grow if we have another four years of this president."

Like Mast, many other Pennsylvania business owners are also facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. In fact, according to PennLive, requests for COVID relief funds for small businesses in Pennsylvania are reportedly outpacing the state's funds available by more than $600 million. The staggering deficit signals are major problem that could lead to long-term, and possibility permanent impacts, on small businesses in the state.

In addition to business owners like Mast, the Post-Gazette also reports that at least 33 mayors in Pennsylvania cities have also announced their support of Biden.

culture

Political scientist dismantles the 'folk theory of democracy': Trump revealed that 'truth and reason' don't matter in politics

Public opinion polls and other data show that Joe Biden has a double-digit lead over Donald Trump, with just over a week to go until the election. Biden's campaign also has substantially more money. As judged by conventional standards, Biden won the two presidential debates. Nate Silver's much-cited FiveThirtyEight site gives Joe Biden an 87 percent chance of defeating Trump.

If Biden and the Democrats win by a landslide — an outcome that seems increasingly likely — one of the dominant narratives will be that a multiracial coalition of Americans rose up against Donald Trump and did so loudly and bravely in a time of plague, when gathering in public could quite literally be a death sentence. Trump's defeat will be heralded as true populism as compared to the authoritarian, white-supremacist faux-populism that won Trump his flukish Electoral College victory in 2016. Normalcy will have returned; the healing can begin. It will feel good, for a little while. Of course, matters in the real world are far more complicated.

What if that does not happen? What if Trump somehow manages to steal another implausible victory through both legal and illegal means, combining foreign interference, voter suppression and intimidation, and perhaps even a usurpation of the public's will by the Supreme Court? America will slide further into the abyss of full-on fascism and an authoritarian "managed democracy." A good many Americans, already afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder because of Donald Trump and his allies' collective assaults, will come to feel that resistance is futile. Both "people power" and the normal operation of electoral politics will appear impotent against the Age of Trump.

With either outcome, dangerous myths about American political culture will remain unchallenged, left as assumed truths and conventional wisdom created by throwing uncomfortable facts down the memory hole.

These myths are numerous, but perhaps begin and end with American exceptionalism, the delusional idea that the United States is fundamentally different from all other nations, and not subject to the laws and patterns of history. Beneath that overarching belief, we find these dogmas: America's democratic institutions, norms and values are strong and permanent; the free press serves as a resolute guardian of the country's democracy; the American people are fundamentally decent and American society is healthy; Americans will always reject authoritarianism and fascism, along with large-scale political violence and terrorism are rejected; white supremacy, nativism, misogyny and other antisocial values are largely things of the past; our multiracial democracy, whatever its flaws, is a settled fact.

It is these myths that helped to create the disaster of American fascism in the form of Donald Trump and his movement. Even if Trumpism in its present form is defeated, these uninterrogated myths almost guarantee that American fascism will spring forth again.

These myths are tied together by an assumption on the part of American political elites and other influentials that the American people are reasonable, rational, politically engaged and at least somewhat ideologically consistent. There is no basis in logic or fact for any of those assumptions.

How does this folk theory of democracy lead to incorrect understandings and conclusions about American politics in general, and about the Age of Trump and its aftermath? What is the role of "ethnic antagonism" and authoritarianism in voting and other political behavior in American politics? What does the data actually reveal about the fabled voters of the "white working class" voters and their support of Trump and the Republican Party? Do American voters actually factor in disasters such as the coronavirus in how they assess presidents?

In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with political scientist Larry Bartels, who holds the May Werthan Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science at Vanderbilt University. Bartels is the author of several books, including "Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age" and "Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government" (with Christopher Achen). His commentaries and other writing have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times and other leading publications. Bartels is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Toward the end of our conversation, Bartels shares his thoughts on the reliability of the various models offered by historians, political scientists and others who claim to be able to predict the outcome of presidential elections and the likely defeat of Donald Trump. (I will not spoil his remarks for you here.) As usual, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What are some of the major assumptions about American democracy that Donald Trump's time in office has shattered?

Among people who think and write about politics for a living, there is a kind of assumption that truth and reason, especially in American democracy, are the driving forces of people's behavior. These years with Donald Trump have stripped away some of those assumptions.

In 2016, I predicted that Trump would win the election. I argued that the average American voters is not rational or sophisticated. There was an incredulous response to my conclusion. In these four years of Trump, it took a long time for prominent people to state plainly that he is an authoritarian if not a fascist. Even as the facts reveal that to be true, there is deep anger at the truth and a profound denial among many in the commentariat and among the American people more generally. Why the anger? It almost seems like a type of narcissistic injury.

I believe that we all have, in some way or another, an attachment to what my co-author Christopher Achen and I describe as the "folk theory of democracy." That framework and narrative is a reassuring and comforting way of thinking about politics in this country. If we study the relationship between the political views that people espouse and then who they should vote for, there was this assumption that political views are causing political behavior, when in fact our research shows that it is probably more the reverse. Other variables are also involved in political decision-making as well, which are outside of many traditional rationalizations and explanations.

I was surprised by Donald Trump's election, not because I expect voters to be ideological, but because I viewed the identities that he was appealing to as being too narrowly focused. I was also surprised by the extent of loyalty among everyday Republicans, for whom white identity may be an inclination to their behavior and decision-making but is not a part of their identity on a day-to-day basis. Sheer partisanship motivated many people to vote for Trump who otherwise might have been put off by him and what he stands for.

Why does Donald Trump have such a stable and deep level of unwavering support among Republicans? It endures to this late date, no matter what he does.

Partisanship is an identity in and of itself, one that has become increasingly important in the last 10 or 20 years in American politics. One reason that partisanship has become more important is that is it more strongly correlated with many other identities, of which race is an important one, but certainly not the only one.

In some new research, I examined attachment to democratic values. I included prompts such as "The president should take the law into their own hands," "The results of elections can't be trusted," "Patriots may have to resort to force to save the American way of life" and other such items. We were surprised by how much agreement with those items there was among Republicans.

In trying to understand the data, I applied an index for "ethnic antagonism." This consists of questions about immigrants having too much access to government resources, the political influence of black people, "discrimination" against whites and questions of a similar theme. Ethnic antagonism was by far the most powerful predictor of these anti-democratic attitudes.

The cutting edge of the strong emotions and enthusiasm in the Republican Party for Trump, although not all Republicans exhibit high levels of "ethnic antagonism," is basically grounded in a kind of ethnic panic that some people have about the possibility that "their way of life" or "their America" may be swamped by demographic changes.

"White working-class" voters are still being obsessed over by the mainstream news media and too many Democratic political strategists. What do we know empirically about the white working class and its political behavior?

I think the first thing to figure out is what people mean by white working class. "Working class" is usually understood to be "people without college degrees," which is the majority of white voters. They did disproportionately switch to Trump in 2016, but those numbers were pretty small. It is easy to exaggerate the numbers and to imagine that these people who made an important difference at the margins are representative of Trump's supporters more generally. That is not the case. Donald Trump's supporters were generally more upscale, for example, than Hillary Clinton's supporters.

The typical Republican is someone who did not go to college but did pretty well in life despite that fact. He or she attributes that success to hard work and expects other people to be able to do the same thing. I believe that most such voters were already Republicans before 2016. But the people who switched to Trump in 2016 were disproportionately that person. Education has a role in Trump's rise in another way as well. Donald Trump's behavior is unappealing to those people who went to college and internalized a particular set of norms and values about American political culture.

The New York Times kept running these long pieces where they would explain to the readers how Donald Trump was violating some cultural and political norm, with the assumption that if readers understood that fact then the public would turn against Trump. For many people in the United States, those norms are not very salient. Their allegiance to what we understood to be "democratic norms" is pretty shallow. People who respected Donald Trump for "saying it like it is" and not being restrained by "political correctness" are disproportionately people who were less educated, although not less affluent.

What are some of your largest frustrations in terms of how supposed "political experts" in the news media analyze the country's politics?

Many professional political observers in the news media and elsewhere want to interpret politics in terms of ideology. They also want to interpret politics in the country by focusing on the most intense people on each side, as though they are representative of the public as a whole. One of the main arguments about Trump's voters and racism is that he appealed to a fragment of the American public that had been underserved by racism and related values, even as compared to Republican politicians, before he came along. There is evidence in support of that conclusion.

Prior to Trump there was a concerted effort among Republican elites to try to appeal to racism, but not in overt terms. They tried to appeal to anti-immigration sentiment, but not in a way that would cut off their chances to build support among immigrant communities.

One of the other common narratives is that Trump's election is a function of some huge upswing in racism. But if you track these measures of racial resentment over time, the big shift in the last decade has been that the public as a whole has become less racist and racially resentful. But this is largely because Democrats have increasingly learned what they are supposed to say in response to questions from pollsters and other researchers about race and racial inequality. Republicans have not.

There are more major shifts in American politics in terms of media coverage than there are in reality. Every time there is some major announcement about shifts in attitudes, one should be skeptical. However, public attitudes and values do sometimes change fairly rapidly. In terms of race and politics, my intuition would be that what has changed in the Age of Trump is mostly a verbal attachment to one position or another, rather than people's deep-seated feelings about race.

How ideological is the average American? And how does ideology relate to the folk theory of democracy?

The folk theory of democracy is a belief that America is a representative democracy, and that we the voters decide on who the political leaders are and basically give them a mandate to pursue some set of policies. If these elected officials do not live up to expectations, then they are voted out and replaced by someone else.

There are some elements of that story which are true. But most Americans do not have a very well-developed or sophisticated political ideology. Their views about politics are shallower, more contingent on circumstances and more subject to self-contradiction than people who spend their careers thinking about politics would likely be able to to imagine.

Now, this does not mean that the average American is without meaningful attitudes about politics and related topics. They are not a blank slate. But the average American thinks about American politics sporadically, when they are forced to or when there is something happening in terms of political life that they cannot easily ignore. In all, journalists and scholars of politics think about politics much more than the average person.

What do we know about how the average American factors in calamities and disasters such as the coronavirus pandemic in terms of their voting behavior?

There are many debates about that question among political scientists and others who study politics. One view, which our book "Democracy for Realists" adopts, is that people are not very critical about assessing the responsibility of elected officials for certain kinds of calamities. In "Democracy for Realists", Achen and I wrote about shark attacks in New Jersey and also how the public reacts to droughts and floods.

There is some existing and still in-progress research on the American people's reaction to the Spanish flu pandemic [of 1918]. We examined that work and it was surprising, because one would imagine a large backlash. But we did not see that in the data. [President] Woodrow Wilson was not punished. State governors were also not being punished by the public. One of the explanations is that no one of public prominence at the time was constructing the Spanish flu as a political issue or attaching blame to elected officials.

By comparison, when the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold and people were asking me about the political implications, I told them there that there is no way that it is not going to be politicized, and that once it becomes politicized, people are going to associate it with Donald Trump.

The alternative view is that voters attempt to assess the quality of elected officials' response, and that the backlash against Donald Trump is not simply a reaction to the pain of the pandemic and resulting economic collapse, but rather an assessment of Trump's performance. Therefore, if Donald Trump were performing better than average in terms of his response to the coronavirus pandemic, then he would have been rewarded rather than punished for the pandemic. We will need to do more research in the future, of course, but my sense is that someone has to be blamed and held responsible for the failures of the pandemic response — and for the public that is Trump.

There are various models from historians, political scientists, economists and others which purport to predict the outcome of presidential elections in this country. Is there a consensus on how accurate these models are?

There are a number of these predictive models. My first observation is that if there are seven factors, for example, then an intervention could be made so that the model is made to fit the data which the researcher already has.

But there are in fact models that have a pretty good track record in terms of accounting for election outcomes over time. In these predictions and models, the two most important factors are the state of the economy in the election year and how long the incumbent party has been in power. Those two things appear to work well in terms of predictive power. In 2016 they predicted an outcome which was not much different from what happened.

Many of the people responsible for these models said at the time, "This is what the models predict, but it certainly will not apply to Donald Trump because he is such an unusual candidate." Nevertheless, the models did turn out to apply to Donald Trump. I interpret that outcome to be a statement about the extent to which partisan behavior was shaped by the usual partisan factors, rather than by anything specific about Trump or the 2016 election. Those same models now predict that Donald Trump is going to lose substantially.

Here is a qualifier: There has been an increase in partisan polarization in this country. That probably means there are fewer people who are sufficiently undecided to be swayed by the state of the economy in the election year. Therefore, the magnitude of Donald Trump's loss, if he does in fact lose, will be less than one would predict based on the historical record.

science

Investigation reveals just how dangerous Trump's rallies are for public health

An investigation into the latest accelerated spread of coronavirus in multiple states appears to be linked to President Donald Trump's string of campaign rallies over the last several weeks.

As coronavirus plagues states all across America, Trump continues to blatantly disregard how dangerous his campaign rallies are for his campaign staff, White House advisors and aides, and everyone who attends his political events. Now, USA Today has explained the extent of the spreads in several counties following the president's rallies.

According to the analysis released by USA Today, case rates in at least five counties—Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota—increased at a faster pace after Trump's rallies. Collectively, these counties reported 1,500 additional new cases in the two weeks after Trump's campaign rallies. The previous number of 8,069 jumped to 9,647 cases.

As President Donald Trump jetted across the country holding campaign rallies during the past two months, he didn't just defy state orders and federal health guidelines. He left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks in his wake.

While the absence of full contact tracing will make it a bit more difficult to definitively determine whether or not Trump's rallies were the sole cause of the coronavirus' accelerated spread in multiple states, the upticks in the counties highlighted clearly indicate that the president's events likely influenced the spread.

Public health officials have also managed to link some cases and hospitalizations in Wisconsin to the president's recent rallies.

Public health officials additionally have linked 16 cases, including two hospitalizations, with the rally in Beltrami County, Minnesota, and one case with the rally in Marathon County, Wisconsin. Outside of the counties identified by USA TODAY with a greater case increase after rallies, officials identified four cases linked to Trump rallies.

The USA Today report comes as the United States battles its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day, now surpassing the massive surge over the summer. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States topped 80,000 cases in a single day on

belief

Faith and spirituality run deep in Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matters (BLM) has been portrayed by its detractors as many things: Marxist, radical, anti-American. Added to this growing list of charges is that it is either irreligious or doing religion wrong.

In late July, for instance, conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan tweeted that BLM was “incompatible" with Christianity.

He isn't alone in that belief. Despite receiving the backing of diverse faith leaders and groups, BLM has been attacked by sections of the religious right. One evangelical institution felt compelled to issue a statement warning Christians about the movement's “Godless agenda." Other evangelicals have gone further, accusing BLM founders of being “witches" and “operating in the demonic realm."

Joining conservative Christians are some self-proclaimed liberals and atheists who have also denounced BLM as a social movement that functions like a “cult" or “pseudo" religion.

As scholars of religion, we believe such views fail to acknowledge – let alone engage with – the rich spiritual and religious pluralism of Black Lives Matter. For the past few years, we have been observing the way the movement and affiliated organizations express faith and spirituality.

Since 2015 we have interviewed BLM leaders and organizers as well as Buddhist leaders inspired by the movement. What we found was that BLM was not only a movement seeking radical political reform, but a spiritual movement seeking to heal and empower while inspiring other religious allies seeking inclusivity.

A love letter

Black Lives Matter was born from a love letter.

On July 13, 2013 – the day of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who had killed an unarmed black teenage named Trayvon Martin – soon-to-be BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, posted “A Love Letter to Black People" on Facebook. She declared:

“We don't deserve to be killed with impunity. We need to love ourselves and fight for a world where black lives matter. Black people, I love you. I love us. We matter. Our lives matter."

Since its inception, BLM organizers have expressed their founding spirit of love through an emphasis on spiritual healing, principles, and practices in their racial justice work.

BLM leaders, such as co-founder Patrisse Cullors, are deeply committed to incorporating spiritual leadership. Cullors grew up as a Jehovah's Witness, and later became ordained in Ifà, a west African Yoruba religion. Drawing on Native American, Buddhist and mindfulness traditions, her syncretic spiritual practice is fundamental to her work. As Cullors explained to us, “The fight to save your life is a spiritual fight."

Theologian Tricia Hersey, known as the “Nap Bishop," a nod to her Divinity degree and her work advocating for rest as a form of resistance, founded the BLM affiliated organization, The Nap Ministry in 2016.

In an interview with Cullors, Hersey said she considers human bodies as “sites of liberation" that connect Black Americans to the “creator, ancestors, and universe." She describes rest as a spiritual practice for community healing and resistance and naps as “healing portals." Hersey connects this belief to her upbringing in the Black Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, where, she explained, “I was able to see the body being a vehicle for spirit."

The movement is committed to spiritual principles, such as “healing justice" – which uses a range of holistic approaches to address trauma and oppression by centering emotional and spiritual well-being – and “transformative justice" which assists with creating processes to repair harm without violence.

Black Lives Matter protesters pray near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Transformative justice, central to the beliefs of many in the BLM movement, is a philosophic approach to peacemaking. With roots in the Quaker tradition, it approaches harms committed as an opportunity for education. Crime is taken to be a community problem to be solved through mutual understanding, as often seen in work to decriminalize sex work and drug addiction.

BLM affiliated organizer Cara Page, who coined the term “healing justice," did so in response to watching decades of activists commit themselves completely to social justice causes to the detriment of their physical and mental health. She advocates that “movements themselves have to be healing, or there's no point to them."

'Without healing, no justice'

BLM-affiliated organizations utilize spiritual tools such as meditation, reiki, acupuncture, plant medicine, chanting, and prayer, along with other African and Indigenous spiritualities to connect and care for those directly impacted by state violence and white supremacy.

For instance, Dignity and Power Now or DPN, an organization founded by Cullors in Los Angeles in 2012, hosts almost weekly wellness clinics on Sundays, often referred to as “church" by attendees.

On July 26, 2020, they held a virtual event called Calm-Unity, to remind people that “without healing there is no justice." Classes included yoga, meditation, African dance, Chinese medicine, and altar making.

In interviews, movement leaders described honoring their body, mind and soul as an act of resilience. They see themselves as inheritors of the spiritual duty to fight for racial justice, following in the footsteps of freedom fighters like abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

BLM leaders often invoke the names of abolitionist ancestors in a ceremony used at the beginning of protests. In fact, protests often contain many spiritual purification, protection and healing practices including the burning of sage, the practice of wearing white and the creation of sacred sites and altars at locations of mourning.

'More religion, not less'

BLM's rich spiritual expressions have also inspired and transformed many American faith leaders. Black evangelical leader Barbara Salter McNeil credits BLM activists in Ferguson as changing the Christian church by showing racism must be tackled structurally and not just as individual sin.

U.S. Buddhist leaders presented a statement on racial justice to the White House in which they shared they were “inspired by the courage and leadership" of Black Lives Matter. Jewish, Muslim and many other religious organizations, have incorporated BLM principles to make their communities more inclusive and justice oriented.

As University of Arizona scholar Erika Gault observes, “The Black church is not the only religious well from which Black movements have historically drawn," and with Black Lives Matter, “We are actually seeing more religion, not less."

Religious pluralism

Attempts to erase the rich religious landscape of Black Lives Matter by both conservative and liberal voices continues a long history of denouncing Black spirituality as inauthentic and threatening.

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

The history of white supremacy, often enacted within institutional Christianity, has often vilified and criminalized Indigenous and African beliefs, promoted the idea that Black people are divinely destined to servitude, and subjected communities to forced conversions.

As Cullors said to us in response to current attacks against BLM as demonic, “For centuries, the way we are allowed to commune with the divine has been policed; in the movement for Black lives, we believe that all connections to the creator are sacred and essential."The Conversation

Hebah H. Farrag, Assistant Director of Research, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Ann Gleig, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Central Florida

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

human rights

Election holds future of young, undocumented immigrants in the balance

SAN DIEGO — Among the many policies that will be on the ballot Nov. 3 is what will happen to the lives of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.The Trump administration has tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which began under the Obama administration. For the past four years, Trump officials have argued that the program is illegal and should be stopped.DACA has so far survived only through court intervention. Even after the Supreme Court issued a decision in June that it should be fully restored because it wa...

more news

Democrats are missing a big chance to increase turnout and take down the Trump machine

The anxiety over changes and irregularities with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in August finally spilled over. A functioning postal service undergirds many of our society’s most basic functions, so there was no shortage of reasons to be alarmed. However, one concern—the threat to November’s election—overwhelmingly rose to the top. And the public outcry over that threat pushed a normally lethargic House majority into action, winning some mild but incomplete reversals from USPS.

Keep reading... Show less

Watch: Obama drowns Trump in a flood of mockery in a brutally hilarious speech

Former President Barack Obama took the stage in Miami, Florida, for a drive-in rally where people could social distance safely. That didn't stop Obama from bringing the heat against the president, however. Speaking to a honking crowd, Obama mocked Trump for the overwhelming ignorance and cruelty that has persisted throughout his four years in office. "When the daily intelligence briefings are flashing warning signs about a virus, the president can't be AWOL," Obama said. "When Russians put bounties on the heads of our brave soldiers in Afghanistan, the commander in chief can't be MIA. He can't be somebody who doesn't read the briefings. Joe Biden would never call the men and women of our military suckers and losers. He knows those troops are somebody's husband, somebody's wife, somebody's kids, somebody's spouse, somebody's father. And when a hurricane devastates Puerto Rico, a president is supposed to help it rebuild, not toss paper towels withhold billions of dollars in aid until just before an election. We've got a president who actually suggested selling Puerto Rico." The former president then went on to blast Trump for being so weak he couldn't even handle a "60 Minutes" interview. Obama continued: "Believe it or not, could have been worse. He once asked national security officials if he could nuke hurricanes. I mean, at least he didn't do that. A nuclear hurricane seems like it would have been bad. I mean, it would be funny if it wasn't. Look, some of the rhetoric you're hearing down here in south Florida, it's just made up. It's just nonsense. Listening to the Republicans, you think Joe was more communist than the Castros. Don't follow for that baloney. Don't fall for that okie-doke. Joe Biden was a senator from Delaware; he was my vice president. I think people would know if he was a socialist by now." See the videos below: https://twitter.com/mayaharris_/status/1320103196933672960

'What's going on?' Mitch McConnell refuses to explain to voters why he's bruised and bandaged

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday was photographed with what appear to be disturbing bruises on his face and hands, and with bandages on his hands as well, but he is refusing to share with voters what health issues he is suffering from.

McConnell told CNN there are "no problems." When asked if he had any health problems the 78-year old said: "Of course not."

The Kentucky lawmaker "did not respond when asked if he was being treated by a doctor. An aide to McConnell also declined to provide any additional details when asked multiple times about the majority leader's health."

The Courier-Journal reports McConnell earlier this month "refused to say whether he had recently been tested" for coronavirus.

"Have I ever been tested? Yes," he said after reporters repeatedly asked him about that. "But I'm not going to answer questions about when."

McConnell, who has been blocking coronavirus legislation for months, is seeking re-election. He is challenged by Democrat Amy McGrath. He is nine points ahead of her according to a recent poll.

On social media, many are speculating about the Majority Leader's heath since he refuses to share with voters what has caused his appearance.

Some images and responses via Twitter:













'This isn't over': Lincoln Project issues lawyer letter mocking Jared and Ivanka's billboard threat

The Lincoln Project is staffed with a slate of Republicans using a unique set of ads to bring down President Donald Trump. One of the latest is a billboard in New York City's Times Square, where many tourists often visit when they are in town. https://twitter.com/AynRandPaulRyan/status/1319821537520750592 The ad features a photo of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, which prompted the first family to lash out at the organization demanding the billboard be taken down or they would sue for "what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages." In response to the letter, the Lincoln Project's lawyers fired off a letter of their own: "Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster," the letter says. "Your clients are no longer more Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities. Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are public officials. They have been public officials since President Trump, in a gross act of nepotism, awarded Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump senior White House positions in 2017. The placement of Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump in these high-level White House offices has been disastrous for Americans everywhere, but it is now also devastating to the prospects of your would-be lawsuit." They included a footnote saying that to have standing for such a case, Jared and Ivanka must "satisfy the First Amendment 'actual malice' standard to bring a libel claim." "The Lincoln Project plans to avail itself of these constitutional protections to duly criticize Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump until they cease to be public officials, at approximately Noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2021," the letter goes on. Contrary to your claim that 'Mr. Kushner never made any such statement,' Vanity Fair reported in a widely circulated article that Mr. Kushner did indeed say that New Yorkers "are going to suffer and that's their problem" during the time that he was entrusted to lead our nation's COVID-19 response," the Lincoln Project lawyers continue. "The Lincoln Project explicitly cited Vanity Fair as the source for Mr. Kushner's featured statement. Please contact us again if, at some point, you somehow succeed in convincing Vanity Fair to retract its article, but I trust that this supplemental explanation settles the matter for now as to Mr. Kushner's reported remark." They went on to dispute that Ivanka Trump "never made any such gesture." Ms. Trump took a photo of herself, "in violation of federal ethics rules," to promote a commercial product in July 2020. The photo was of her holding a can of Goya beans. They explained that the photo of her endorsing Goya beans and in the Lincoln Project's photo, she "endorses the Trump Administration policies that have led to an unacceptable number of American deaths every bit as much as she once endorsed that can of beans." They closed by saying that'd love an opportunity to "establish their truthfulness through litigation and discovery," which would be one of the most disastrous things the Trump children could face. It would mean they would be required to turn over a host of documents, emails and other things about Kushner's communications about the COVID-19 pandemic. "This isn't over," the Lincoln Project letter says. "Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump will hear more from The Lincoln Project soon." Read the full letter below: https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1320150701947846656

An agency Trump created just debunked his lies about 'massive' mail-in voting fraud

For months, Republican President Donald Trump has been crowing about how expanding mail-in voting during a pandemic will create widespread voter fraud, even though there's no evidence supporting this. And the head of an agency Trump created just contradicted Trump's bogus claims as well.

Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said on Friday, "I have confidence that your vote is secure, that state and local election officials across this country are working day in and day out, 24/7, that the 2020 election is as secure as possible." He added that "bad guys" are trying to "sow chaos, sow doubt" about the election's integrity.

Krebs and CISA are actually directly responsible for "monitoring the election amid the inevitable voting glitches and delays," according to Edge Media.

On Thursday, Krebs said the tens of millions of votes already cast by mail and early voting have shown no signs of any foreign interference either.

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."

Here are the questions that caused Trump to walk out of his ‘60 Minutes’ interview with Lesley Stahl

The reason President Donald Trump stormed out of a "60 Minutes" interview with Lesley Stahl was that she asked about the Michigan rally in which his supporters began chanting "lock her up" about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Trump held the rally over the weekend attacking her for not opening up the state back up when he wanted it.

"So you don't want to lock her up?" Stahl asked.

"That's such a vicious thing you just said," Trump claimed. "When did I say lock her up?"

Trump laughed when his audience chanted it and repeated the phrase. He then said that he hopes they "send her packing soon."

"I never said lock up the governor of Michigan," Trump disputed. "I would never say that. Why would I say that? Because she's doing lockdowns."

"You want to lock up the Bidens?" Stahl asked Trump.

"No, but they certainly should be looked at," Trump said. Over the past several days he's encouraged "lock him up" chants at rallies talking about the Biden family.

"You want to lock up Obama?" Stahl asked.

"No, I don't want to lock him up but he spied on my campaign," Trump falsely claimed. "You know what that is? Do you know what they did? Do you know how horrible it is what they did? You don't get it."

Trump never told Stahl what the FBI proved was done by Obama or Biden, but he did bring in a special counsel to investigate it and Trump's own Department of Justice hasn't been able to find anything.

Trump said that Biden likely will because he's "dishonest" and that Barr has been "very nice" and that he's ignored the "evidence." He didn't clarify what the evidence was.

"You know, I didn't want to have this kind of interview," Stahl then said.

"Yes, you did. Yes you did," Trump said. "Well, you brought up a bunch of subjects that were inappropriately brought up. They were inappropriately brought up. Right from the beginning. No your first question was, 'This is going to be tough questions.' Well–"

"You're president. Don't you think you think you should be accountable to the American people?" she asked.

"No, no, listen, your first statement to me, 'This is going to be tough questions,'" Trump said. "Well, I don't mind that. But when you set up the interview you didn't say that."

A staffer ultimately interviewed and said that they only had about five more minutes, but Trump said that they were finished and walked out.

See the video below – about the last five minutes.


Trump walked into a trap on Obamacare — and the Lincoln Project pounced

The Lincoln Project quickly fired back at President Donald Trump when he revealed his true intentions regarding the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare.

During the president's debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, he admitted that the goal is to "terminate" Obamacare. As Trump offered multiple baseless excuses to justify his administration's reason for wanting to terminate healthcare for more than 20 million Americans, he walked into another debacle. When asked how he would replace Obamacare, the president failed to provide any serious answer to that question.

Instead, he pivoted and promised to deliver a "beautiful healthcare plan." But once again, Trump offered no substance to detail what that means. His remarks influenced The Lincoln Project's response.

The anti-Trump Republican group took to Twitter with highlights of the president's so-called healthcare plan. With a video compilation of the president's previous remarks about healthcare, The Lincoln Project shed light on what Trump really meant during the debate.

The tweet read, "JUST LEAKED: President Trump's healthcare plan."

Since January 2017, Trump has volleyed on healthcare often spewing lies about forthcoming release dates for his plan. On multiple occasions, Trump has claimed his full healthcare plan would be released in "two weeks," "one month," "soon," and so on, the truth is that it has been three and a half years and Trump still has not released a plan. The president's failed war on healthcare also sheds light on how reckless his decision would be to terminate healthcare for millions of Americans. The Lincoln Project's clip made that very clear.

The group's latest video is one of several clips that have been released to highlight the inconsistencies in Trump's promise to voters and his ability to execute. Over the last two weeks, The Lincoln Project's support on Twitter has surpassed that of the Republican National Committee which suggests there are many Republicans that may be jumping ship as Election Day approaches.

Trump's smile falls from his face as his attempt to get a foreign leader to attack Biden backfires

In a now-infamous phone call, President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to insert himself into American politics by announcing an investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. That call and the scheme surrounding it led to Democrats impeach Trump, alleging that he had corruptly leveraged his office and congressionally approved funds to benefit his own political campaign.

Trump appeared to be taking a shot at similar gambit, if on a much smaller and less elaborate scale, on Friday during a televised call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While discussing a new plan for Israel to normalize relations with Sudan on speakerphone in front of reporters, Trump tried to goad Netanyahu into attacking Biden.

"Do you think Sleepy Joe could have made this deal, Bibi? Sleepy Joe?" Trump asked, smirking. "Do you think he would have made this deal? Somehow, I don't think so."

Of course, the ask wasn't as duplicitous or egregious as the on Trump made of Zelensky. It involved no withholding of military aid, and he was simply asking for Netanyahu to disparage his opponent, not open a criminal investigation of him. Still, it was wildly inappropriate and corrupt, both from the perspective of domestic and international politics.

And despite the fact that Netanyahu has made no secret for his preference for Republicans and his fondness for Trump in particular, the Israeli prime minister refused to bite on the president's bait. He pointedly avoided disparaging Biden.

"Well, Mr. President, one thing I can tell you is that we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America," Netanyahu said. "And we appreciate what you've done enormously."

The smile dramatically fell from Trump's face, and he gave a deflated: "Yeah." It was clear he was disappointed that Netanyahu didn't join him in attacking Biden, which would have given him a de facto campaign ad with the endorsement of one of his favorite foreign leaders.

Many pointed out, though, that despite Netanyahu's fondness for Trump, he can read polling data as well as anyone. And the polling quite clearly indicates that Biden is heavily favored to win in the 2020 election. Netanyahu is likely to have a more fraught relationship with Biden regardless, but he wisely doesn't want to intentionally aggravate the Democrat in the last days of an election.

Netanyahu seemed to try to make up for the disappointment his remarks surely caused by adding: "This will be registered in the history books. History registers who did what, I think it does." But the damage was done.

Watch the clip below:

More than 2 dozen constitutional law experts endorsed a bill to create 18-year term limits for Supreme Court

Over two dozen constitutional law experts on Friday endorsed legislation recently introduced by a trio of House Democrats that would establish 18-year term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices.

The endorsement letter (pdf) signed by professors and scholars across the country, along with a former U.S. senator and a former chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court, comes as the Senate GOP is trying to confirm right-wing Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's third nominee to the high court, before the November general election.

The ongoing political battle over the Supreme Court vacancy that resulted from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death has elevated discussions and proposals to reform the high court. The term limits bill (pdf) was unveiled last month by Reps. Khanna (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.).

"We can't face a national crisis every time a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court," Khanna said while announcing the Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act (H.R. 8424), which would allow presidents to nominate two new appointees per four-year term.

The legal experts said in their endorsement:

We are pleased that a formal legislative proposal to limit future justices to 18 years of high court service has been introduced and is advancing public discourse on court reform.
Though the bill is not perfect, we believe it to be a critical piece in prescribing how our country's leaders can work to depoliticize the Supreme Court and its confirmation process.

Their support for the bill came just a day after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and the rest of the panel's Republicans flouted their own rules—in the face of a boycott by Democratic members—and voted to advance Barrett to the full chamber.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier this week that he expects Trump's nominee to be confirmed on Monday, just over a week before Election Day, when Trump formally faces off against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who is leading in national polls.

Biden explained in a promotional clip of a forthcoming "60 Minutes" interview released Thursday that if he is elected, he will form a bipartisan commission of constitutional scholars to offer recommendations for "how to reform the court system," which he said is "getting out of whack."

While the former vice president said the possible reforms would "go well beyond packing" the court, attorney and activist Miles Mogulescu declared in an opinion piece for Common Dreams last week: "It's time for Biden and the Dems to call bullshit! It's Republicans who are the true court-packers."

Mogulescu also detailed various ways that a victorious Biden and Democratic lawmakers could "begin to unpack the courts," from increasing the number of Supreme Court justices to introducing term limits for those appointed to the nation's highest court, noting Khanna's bill.

"A more indirect way would be to grant statehood to the District or Columbia and Puerto Rico," Mogulescu wrote. "This would represent justice in its own right, since residents of those jurisdictions are tax-paying American citizens without voting representation in Washington."

"But it would also add four new senators," he explained, "diminishing the impact of the current situation where the Republican Senate 'majority,' which is about to confirm Barrett on a party-line votes, was elected by nearly 15 million fewer voters than the Democratic 'minority.'"

'Nuts!' Lincoln Project mocks Jared and Ivanka for their 'comical' threat to sue over Times Square billboards

The Lincoln Project on Friday night fired back at White House advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for threatening to sue over billboards in Times Square attacking their response to the coronavirus crisis.

The ads show the couple smiling alongside coronavirus death tolls for New Yorkers and Americans.

https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1319294071513346053?s=20

Kushner and Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, on Friday sent a letter to the Lincoln Project warning that the billboards were defamatory. “Those ads show Ms. Trump smiling and gesturing toward a death count of Americans and New Yorkers, and attribute to Mr. Kushner the statement that “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that's their problem" (alteration in original), with body bags underneath," the letter read.

"If these billboard ads are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages," the letter continued.

“Nuts!" the Lincoln Project replied, an allusion to commander Anthony McAuliffe's response when German forces demanded the U.S. 101st Airborne Division surrender during the Battle of the Bulge.

"The level of indignant outrage Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shown towards The Lincoln Project for exposing their indifference for the more than 223,000 people who have lost their lives due to their reckless mismanagement of COVID-19 is comical," the group added in a statement.

View their full statement below:

'Dark moment for the Senate': Republicans block consideration of COVID relief — and rushes ahead with Barrett confirmation

Republicans on Saturday blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's attempt during a rare weekend session to force consideration of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill as the GOP rushed ahead with its effort to confirm right-wing judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court just before the November election.

After a speech decrying the Barrett confirmation process as "a very dark moment for the Senate," Schumer requested unanimous consent for the chamber to take up a revised version of the HEROES Act that the Democrat-controlled House passed earlier this month. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow a Senate vote on the bill despite growing suffering across the nation and warnings that failure to approve additional spending could cause lasting damage to the economy.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) objected to Schumer's request for unanimous consent, dismissing the effort to force debate on the revised HEROES Act as a political ploy.

If passed, the legislation would restore the $600-per-week federal unemployment boost Republicans allowed to expire in July, send another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, and provide much-needed aid to state and local governments.

"It's an outrage that Senate Republicans are ramming through a radical Supreme Court nominee who will strip healthcare from 23 million Americans during a pandemic while doing nothing to provide economic relief to millions of working-class Americans who desperately need our help," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday.

Watch the Senate session, which came 48 hours before the chamber is expected to hold a final vote on Barrett's confirmation:


WATCH LIVE: Senate continues debate on Amy Coney Barrett nomination for Supreme Court youtu.be

After Republicans blocked the HEROES Act, Senate Democrats requested unanimous consent for consideration of a slew of additional bills that McConnell has "consigned to his legislative trashcan," including measures that would expand voting rights and reform law enforcement. Republicans denied each request.

"Two hundred twenty thousand Americans have died from Covid, but the Senate GOP only seems to care about forcing Trump's nominee through an illegitimate process," Schumer tweeted Saturday.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, applauded Democrats' efforts, writing that the public "should remember what McConnell is ignoring as he jams through an anti-civil rights SCOTUS justice."

"Remember: McConnell has the Senate in session right now to rush through Barrett's nomination," Gupta tweeted. "Not to pass real Covid relief, or police reform, or voting rights bills. He isn't working for the people. He is working to stack the courts and entrench power. That's it."

The 'Q' movement is a pro-terrorist Trumpian cult

Well, we seem to be getting closer to the national realization that this thing that calls itself "QAnon" is, at heart, just another partisan iteration of the same far-right conspiracy theories that have plagued conservatives since forever ago. The New York Times has another look at the growth of "Q" nonsense in the Republican mainstream, and while it doesn't contain anything new, it does more forcibly connect the batshit conspiracy theorizing of gullible, gullible supporters to the cowardice—and complicity—of Republican leaders.

The most plausible explanation for the Q hokum, in which an anonymous supposed member of the Deep State drools out accusations against anyone deemed to be enemies of Donald Trump in comically performed pseudo-riddles, remains the obvious one: It is the work of chan-style trolls, part of that internet corner's grand tradition of crafting gaudily improbable hoaxes to distribute for no other purpose than to see who they can draw in. It may turn out to be the first domestic terrorism group founded for funsies—though at this point, those connected to the movement have focused their claims and targets enough to make it clear that stoking incidents of real-world terrorism is, in fact, the current goal.

Like the 2016 proliferation of European "fake news" sites aiming to generate advertising traffic by inventing hoax political stories, Q conspiracies have been tailored to American conservative tastes because American conservatives are the richest (read: most gullible) targets. Fox News conservatives have been fed decades of tawdry but false information, all packaged with advertising pitches to buy gold, or "survival" equipment, or hyper-expensive pills sold through conservative mailing lists and on conservative programs relentlessly. It is an audience of laboratory-grown suckers, people who have been whittled down over the years to a base of the most credulous, and therefore profitable, marks.

But—and this is a big but—there's an undercurrent here that's getting more and more ... let's say blatant, as actual news events slap Q claims back and forth and sideways month after month after month.

The QAnon claim is that most or all of the world's most famous powerbrokers, including politicians, actors, nonpartisan government figures and so on, are secret ultra-pedophiles and child traffickers. But the revelation of Trump ally Jeffrey Epstein as precisely that did not make a ripple. Instead, the "real" traffickers are unanimously people who oppose Donald Trump, and most especially those who report what looks to be criminal behavior by Trump.

The QAnon claims burst into Republican popularity after Donald J. Trump was accused of sexual assault by two dozen women, after his taped bragging about committing sexual assaults, and after a long public history of being an eager pervert—whether it be the purchase of a top beauty pageant as apparent ticket to ogle nude teenagers or the mysterious and Epsteinesque "Trump modeling company." Instead, the movement holds Trump up as the mockingly dubious "hero" fighting against society's sex predators. He is alleged to be doing this secretly, with Good Genes and near-godlike powers, and the movement remains absolutely immune to news cycle after news cycle in which their own predictions prove to be fan-fiction bunk.

This week, Trump ally Rudy Giuliani was revealed to have been secretly filmed (as part of a new Borat movie, of all things) fondling himself in front of a youthful female "interviewer." Without getting too far into a description of that particular chunk of nightmare fuel, it continues the pattern of 1) Republican 2) conservative 3) Trump-allied 4) powerbrokers revealed as tawdry often-sexual-assaulting ultrapervs. From Wynn to Epstein to Broidy to Falwell to Rudy, there is a very robust claim to be made that the QAnon suspicions of an enormously powerful cabal of sex freaks are indeed well-founded—and that they radiate from the Republican National Committee's finance offices, from Mar-a-Lago, or both.

All these real-world crimes and bizarre improprieties, however, are dismissed by the QAnon faithful. Nope: They are convinced that the True Pedophiles are "Democrats" and "globalists," and that four years of the nation's top Republican figures getting caught with their pants around their ankles are the fictional part.

It should be obvious from that history, then, that isn't a conspiracy base that gives a damn about pedophilia and child sex trafficking, and if anything the "movement" has sabotaged law enforcement's attempts to pursue sex traffickers by flooding lines with false claims pointing to everyone but the true culprits.

This is a group born to defend criminal acts by the powerful, not combat them. It does so using the precise playbook Trump himself uses when caught committing apparent tax fraud, foreign extortion, or embezzlement: The projection defense. It's not me, it was that other guy. It has always been that other guy. No matter how much the evidence proves it was me, the evidence is mere conspiracy and the truth is its opposite.

As Trump's charity foundation was revealed to be little more than a passthrough for the Trump family's personal spending—resulting in the family being barred from future charity boards—an organized effort to portray the Clinton's own family foundation as corrupt erupted from longtime conservative hoax-peddlers. As Trump personally profited off the presidency with the aid of his sons and favorite daughter, a new hoax emerged claiming that Actually it was the Biden family that was doing that thing. It is the far-right response to revealed Republican wrongdoing. Even Benghazi!, a far-right led claim that four American deaths in a terrorist attack were the result of something-something Hillary Clinton (it was never, even at the end, consistent in what the something-something was supposed to be) was a cheap version of the inquiries held after 9/11, probing what the Republican-led government knew in advance and why that information was not processed into action.

In that context, QAnon's relentlessly partisan far-right claim that a Republican Party visibly awash in corruption—with a series of Trump lieutenants and allies being led off in handcuffs for everything from sex trafficking to foreign influence-peddling to election crimes—is "actually" a group of heroes working to expose the corruption of their enemies looks less like a coincidence than a pattern.

Isn't this just a more spittle-flecked version of what Fox News personalities have been peddling for years? That the news as it is reported by your eyes and ears is false, promoted by "elites" in order to deceive you, and that the real news is how ingenious conservative figures are despite policies that have caused clear ruin, and how malevolent non-conservative figures are for opposing them? Is that not the very definition of Sean Hannity's evening broadcast? The theme of every conservative book?

There's not a lot of daylight between the QAnon version of reality and that promoted by Glenn Beck's now-famous chalkboards, or Tucker Carlson's parade of "alt-right" fascist-adjacent guests. The online versions of each conspiracy are always more vigorous than the versions the Fox hosts themselves provide, but they each grow from similar stock. They intertwine more often than not.

Then there is the other, deeper origin of QAnon claims. The movement's guides insist not only that there is a secret global cabal of child sex traffickers, but that the ultimate purpose of the plot, run by "globalist" figures, is to harvest those children's fluids for consumption.

There's not an educated person alive who doesn't recognize that theory. It is the blood libel conspiracy theory that has been promulgated by anti-Semites for literally hundreds of years, but made most famous in Nazi Germany for a variation very close to the Q version.

The QAnon claim does not bother to go too far afield from the versions peddled in the 1920s and 30s. "Globalists" is used to mean "Jewish," as it is by most modern neo-Nazi adherents; rather than "blood" of children, a specific compound is named this time around in near-comical pseudoscientific gibberish. The premise of a secret group of global "elites" running the world from the shadows is the claim from the Henry Ford-peddled hoax Protocols of the Elders of Zion; the omnipresent inclusions of George Soros and "Hollywood" as alleged conspirators are lifted directly from neo-Nazi fever dreams, anti-Semitic tropes that were willingly taken in as staples of Republican Party rhetoric long before Q-anything arrived on scene.

So it's clear that the originators of QAnon are well-versed in neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda, and are particularly interested in repopularizing it for a modern audience. Why those messages reverberate so very strongly among the Fox News-watching Republican base, and the merging of these conspiracies to become inextricably linked to Trumpism, is not hard to imagine. That it would achieve true cult status, with some adherents willing to commit terrorist acts in deluded efforts to prove conspiracies invented in someone else's head, may only be evidence of the omnipresent undercurrent of good violence that has burrowed itself into the American psyche in a hundred other forms.

If anything, the rise of Q belief as increasingly mainstream Republican phenomenon, complete with its own candidates and in-movement codes, appears to be the natural culmination of multiple conservative trends, all balled together in one malevolent, hyper-cynical lump:

Fox News and conservative talk radio provided a large Republican base already trained to disbelieve news uncomfortable to the party, a base literally willing to deny reality in favor of pleasing fictions. A set of gullibles that could easily be transformed into deplorables.

The white supremacist and white nationalist movement provided the conspiracy itself, a bog-standard edition of "evil global cabal that has secretly undermined world governments" that has been a staple of neo-Nazi movements in this country and in others.

American militia movements are providing, in a literal sense, the ammunition: A far-right collection of malcontents who insist that violence against nonright citizens is essential, glorious, and nigh.

The Republican Party's own widespread embrace of corruption, nearly all of it centered around Trump, has all but required more and more outrageous conspiracy theories as official party defense.

That all of this would combine into kleptocratic fascism is not surprising. That its enablers did not, at any point along the way, reflect on the likely outcome of the combination is damning.

It remains vitally important to see QAnon for what it is, and no more. It is an amateur-led trolling effort based primarily on the same ambiguous nonsense-spewing used by fortune-telling hucksters, but one led by amateurs steeped in anti-Semitic claims and rhetoric popular among neo-Nazi and "alt-right" subcommunities. It is Alex Jones by way of fortune cookie, or Jim Jones by way of sudoku. It is a scam intended for the most gullible. Its adherents should be pitied. It is the fascist version of the hula hoop or the pet rock, a hip new trend that will someday be confined to your parents' attic, mysterious artifacts of pop culture tremors since vanished.

And mocked. As racism-embracing nitwits incapable of discerning truth from fiction despite having access to nearly all of human history tucked in the space before a single wandering thumb, its adherents should be mocked. There is not enough mocking of willful, self-absorbed, self-interested gullibility these days, which is why it spreads so prolifically. If you willingly listen to Fox News hosts lie to you night after night and become irate at contrary information, you are a self-built fool and should be treated as such. If you believe that Donald Trump, serial sex abuser, pedophile-adjacent thug is the good Christian hero who will secretly reveal that everyone aside from him is the dribbling pervert he appears to be, however, you are something closer to a half-sentient wart. You should be pilloried as one of the true suckers of the planet.

Congratulations, all those willing to fall for transparent anti-Semitic gobbledegook rather than admit you got played by a skeevy lifelong con man. You certainly have revealed yourselves.

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