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McEnany claims Amy Coney Barrett is a Rhodes scholar — in reality, she just attended Rhodes College: ‘My bad’

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has incorrectly described Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's third nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, as a "Rhodes scholar." But reporters corrected McEnany during a press conference on Thursday, letting her know that although Barrett graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, she isn't a Rhodes scholar.

The reporter told McEnany, "You said that Judge Barrett is a Rhodes scholar. I'm not sure that that's true" — and McEnany, looking at her notes, responded, "That's what I have written here."

Another reporter at the press conference chimed in, "She attended Rhodes College." And McEnany acknowledged her mistake, saying, "Attended Rhodes College. So, my bad."

Trump nominated Barrett — a far-right social conservative who has been involved with the extremist religious cult People of Praise — for the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. People of Praise have been controversial for their extreme patriarchal views and teaching that female members should be totally submissive to their husbands.

Barrett's Senate confirmation hearings are set to begin on Monday, October 12. Trying to rally his white evangelical Christian Right base, Trump is hoping that the Senate will have a full vote on Barrett's nomination before Election Day.

news & politics

A national meltdown: Why Trump's debate ploy backfired miserably

Years ago, when I was a high school sophomore, at the beginning of the academic year one of our teachers gave us an assignment to come up with ideas to reform the American political system.

Dutiful wonk that I was even then, I came up with my list of serious, thoughtful changes not all that different from a lot of what we're still debating today—abolishing the Electoral College, an end to gerrymandering, making voter registration automatic, etc.

A friend and classmate, more sharp-witted than I, chose the satirical route instead, and to the horror of our teacher came up with a spot-on takedown of modern government, a parody of contemporary politics.

As I recall, her report ended with the presidential election being determined by a mud wrestling match in Madison Square Garden. It made more sense and possessed more dignity and class than the horror show that unfurled before the world Tuesday night in what laughingly was billed as the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Just minutes in, Trump turned it into a travesty; bellowing, repeatedly interrupting and talking out of turn, lying, pigheadedly violating the agreements carefully worked out by the official Commission on Presidential Debates and both campaign staffs for a proper discussion of policy. At a time when we're desperate for rational solutions, Trump was the proverbial bull in the china shop of democracy, and when he was done there was barely a piece of porcelain left intact. He acted as if this was one of his rallies, God help us, playing to our lowest animal instincts and insulting our intelligence.

Throughout his life and so-called career, Trump has always insisted that rules are for suckers and don't apply to him—he can shoot a person on Fifth Avenue, grab a woman by her genitals, refuse to pay his millions of debt—and last night was no exception. By all accounts, what happened Tuesday is what he planned all along. Maybe it satisfied his bloodthirsty, delusional base, stewing in a toxic soup of Fox News and QAnon conspiracies, but for most of us it was one more manifestation of the tragedy imposed on the nation—and the world—by a megalomaniac with nary a scruple or a scintilla of human kindness.

Behind in the polls, perhaps it was an act of desperation on his part, as some have suggested, a ploy to make Biden seem weak. If so, it backfired miserably and was just a further demonstration of why he is the worst president in the history of the United States—and we've had some beauts. Unfit for office, corrupt, delusional: a real triple threat. He must not receive a second term.

As many have noted, the lowest moment—the Badwater Basin at the bottom of a Death Valley-like rhetorical debacle—was Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacy and issuing what essentially was a call-to-arms to the Proud Boys, the right-wing racist thugs who are welcomed by many Republicans, and who frequently show up at peaceful protests to taunt, incite and bust some heads. Trump's people deny it's what he meant but the fringe group already has made his "Stand Back and Stand By" a new battle cry.

Further, when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would "urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period [of ballot-counting], not to engage in any civil unrest," Trump refused and said, "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it." With that kind of encouragement, harassment on Election Day could make the 2000 Brooks Brothers riot look like a tea dance. Advice: Don't watch that movie The Purge or any of its sequels between now and the resolution of this election; it's a little too close to the bone right now.

Washington Post national correspondent Philip Bump writes, "What Trump is obviously encouraging is to poll watching what armed militias are to police: self-appointed experts whose priority is less keeping order than confronting perceived enemies. It wasn't the first time that Trump had similarly called on his supporters to serve in that capacity, but it was probably the call that had the largest audience." Very scary stuff.

In the end, few, if any, minds were changed Tuesday night: as Republican analyst Mike Murphy succinctly said post-debate on MSNBC, "Men are split on Trump and women hate him." Those against him may have been galvanized by the president's rants to work even harder to get out the vote, an excellent thing, but others may have been so turned off by this Hindenburg explosion of an evening that they won't cast a ballot at all. What does this one-man riot tell them about our political system? And as for the next Biden-Trump debates, who's going to want to watch? I live in Manhattan; if I want that kind of twisted human turbulence, I can walk around my block a couple of times and get it out of my system.

For me, perhaps one of the defining moments came when Trump had launched into another incoherent harangue about Biden's son Hunter and then falsely claimed that his own children had "lost a fortune… by coming down and helping us with governance." Biden replied—addressing the camera in the way that was his safe haven several times during this melee—"This is not about my family or his family. It's about your family, the American people… You, the American people, it's about you. That's what we're talking about here."

Would that it was so. Right now at least, our American family is dysfunctional, led by a power mad liar. And almost half our relations have lost their ever-loving collective minds.

Bring on my high school pal's mud wrestling idea; it's nowhere near as filthy or frightening as this national meltdown.

Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship

election '20

Trump allies fear his debate performance may ultimately destroy his chances at re-election

Publicly, President Donald Trump's allies are displaying a united front on his behalf but numerous reports detailing private conversations suggest otherwise.

Trump's aides and allies fear his first presidential debate performance could greatly impact his chances of re-election. According to Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott, many of the former president's aides have revealed the debate actually gave the American public "a window into how he leads and how he governs."

White House aides have revealed the president's behavior in White House staff meetings is no different than the behavior he exhibited during the chaotic debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The undermining, disrespect, repeated interruptions, and personal attacks launched when people disagree with him are common occurrences.

The president's allies were also disappointed about him missing "repeated opportunities" to challenge Biden in the critical areas discussed leading up to the debate.

In addition to debate aftermath, Trump's campaign rally in Duluth, Minn., just one day after the debate also did not help his current situation. Although Trump faced heightened backlash for his refusal to denounce white supremacy, he continued with the same type of racist rhetoric and anti-immigrant propaganda during the rally when he took aim at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as he suggested Biden wants to "turn Minnesota into a refugee camp."

Despite the concerns about the performance, the president believes he did an exceptional job. In fact, he took to Twitter on Wednesday to rave about the historic ratings.

He tweeted, "HIGHEST CABLE TELEVISION RATINGS OF ALL TIME. SECOND HIGHEST OVERALL TELEVISION RATINGS OF ALL TIME. Some day these Fake Media Companies are going to miss me, very badly!!!"

While many Americans tuned in to watch the debate, poll results show the vast majority of those who watched were not pleased with what they saw. A CNN poll also indicated that an estimated 60% of viewers believe Biden won the debate while only 28% sided with Trump.


Trump made a promise he never intended to keep: 'There was no plan'

Bob Kemper recalls the hope Donald Trump intentionally stirred in 2016 by pledging to revive manufacturing and keep factories busy producing steel, aluminum and other materials for a major infrastructure overhaul.

Keep reading... Show less

Is Fox News obsessed with 'hate'? Study finds network uses this word 5 times more than its rivals

Tucker Carlson is a big fan of the phrase 'they hate.' Usually, he's talking about Democrats.

Curd Knüpfer, Freie Universität Berlin and Robert Mathew Entman, George Washington University

`Fox News is up to five times more likely to use the word “hate" in its programming than its main competitors, according to our new study of how cable news channels use language.

Fox particularly uses the term when explaining opposition to Donald Trump. His opponents are said to “hate" Trump, his values and his followers.

Our research, which ran from Jan. 1 to May 8, 2020, initially explored news of Trump's impeachment. Then came the coronavirus. As we sifted through hundreds of cable news transcripts over five months, we noticed consistent differences between the vocabulary used on Fox News and that of MSNBC.

While their news agendas were largely similar, the words they used to describe these newsworthy events diverged greatly.

Fox and hate

For our study, we analyzed 1,088 program transcripts from the two ideologically branded channels – right-wing Fox and left-wing MSNBC – between 6 p.m. and 10:59 p.m.

Because polarized media diets contribute to partisan conflict, our quantitative analysis identified terms indicating antipathy or resentment, such as “dislike," “despise," “can't stand" and “hate."

We expected to find that both of the strongly ideological networks made use of such words, perhaps in different ways. Instead, we found that Fox used antipathy words five times more often than MSNBC. “Hate" really stood out: It appeared 647 times on Fox, compared to 118 on MSNBC.

Fox usually pairs certain words alongside “hate." The most notable was “they" – as in, “they hate." Fox used this phrase 101 times between January and May. MSNBC used it just five times.

To put these findings in historic context, we then used the GDELT Television database to search for occurrences of the phrase “they hate" on both networks going back to 2009. We included CNN for an additional comparison.

We found Fox's usage of “they hate" has increased over time, with a clear spike around the polarizing 2016 Trump-Clinton election. But Fox's use of “hate" really took off when Trump's presidency began. Beginning in January 2017, the mean usage of “they hate" on the network doubled.

'Us' versus 'them'

So who is doing all this hating – and why – according to Fox News?

Mainly, it's Democrats, liberals, political elites and the media. Though these groups do not actually have the same interests, ideology or job description, our analysis finds Fox lumps them together as the “they" in “they hate."

As for the object of all this hatred, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and other Fox hosts most often name Trump. Anchors also identify their audience – “you," “Christians" and “us" – as the target of animosity. Only 13 instances of “they hate" also cited a reason. Examples included “they can't accept the fact that he won" or “because we voted for [Trump]."

Citing liberal hate as a fact that needs no explanation serves to dismiss criticism of specific policies or events. It paints criticism or moral outrage directed at Trump as inherently irrational.

For loyal Fox viewers, these language patterns construct a coherent but potentially dangerous narrative about the world.

Our data show intensely partisan hosts like Hannity and Carlson are more likely than other Fox anchors to use “they hate" in this way. Nevertheless, the phrase permeates Fox's evening programming, uttered by hosts, interviewees and Republican sources, all painting Trump critics not as legitimate opponents but hateful enemies working in bad faith.

By repeatedly telling its viewers they are bound together as objects of the contempt of a powerful and hateful left-leaning “elite," Fox has constructed two imagined communities. On the one side: Trump along with good folks under siege. On the other: nefarious Democrats, liberals, the left and mainstream media.

Research confirms that repeated exposure to polarized media messages can lead news consumers to form firm opinions and can foster what's called an “in-group" identity. The us-versus-them mentality, in turn, deepens feelings of antipathy toward the perceived “out-group."

The Pew Research Center reports an increasing tendency, especially among Republicans, to view members of the other party as immoral and unpatriotic. Pew also finds Republicans trust Fox News more than any other media outlet.

Americans' divergent media sources – and specifically Fox's “hate"-filled rhetoric – aren't solely to blame here. Cable news is part of a larger picture of heightened polarization, intense partisanship and paralysis in Congress.

Screenshot of Sean Hannity on Fox News with text reading 'Hate & Hysteria' across the Democratic donkey symbol

Sean Hannity portrays criticism of Donald Trump as hate-based.

YouTube/Fox News

Good business

Leaning into intense partisanship has been good for Fox News, though. In summer 2020 it was the country's most watched network. But using hate to explain the news is a dangerous business plan when shared crises demand Americans' empathy, negotiation and compromise.

Fox's talk of hate undermines democratic values like tolerance and reduces Americans' trust of their fellow citizens.

This fraying of social ties helps explain America's failures in managing the pandemic – and bodes badly for its handling of what seems likely to be a chaotic, divisive presidential election. In pitting its viewers against the rest of the country, Fox News works against potential solutions to the the very crises it covers.The Conversation

Curd Knüpfer, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin and Robert Mathew Entman, J.B. and M.C. Shapiro Professor Emeritus of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University

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


Here's the surprising element ancient microbial life used to thrive in a world without oxygen

Pieter Visscher, University of Connecticut; Brendan Paul Burns, UNSW, and Kimberley L. Gallagher, Quinnipiac University

Billions of years ago, life on Earth was mostly just large slimy mats of microbes living in shallow water. Sometimes, these microbial communities made carbonate minerals that over many years cemented together to become layered limestone rocks called stromatolites. They are the oldest evidence of life on Earth. But the fossils don't tell researchers the details of how they formed.

Today, most life is supported by oxygen. But these microbial mats existed for a billion years before oxygen was present in the atmosphere. So what did life use instead?

Our team of geologists, physicists and biologists had found hints in fossilized stromatolites that arsenic was the chemical of choice for ancient photosynthesis and respiration. But modern-day versions of these microbial communities still live on Earth today. Perhaps one of these used arsenic and could offer proof for our theory?

So we joined a surveying expedition of Chilean and Argentinian scientists to look for living stromatolites in the extreme conditions of the High Andes. In a small stream deep in the Atacama Desert, we found a big surprise. The bottom of the channel was bright purple and made of stromatolite-building microbial mats that thrive in the complete absence of oxygen. Just as the clues we'd found in ancient fossils suggested, these mats use two different forms of arsenic to perform photosynthesis and respiration. Our discovery offers the strongest evidence yet for how the oldest life on Earth survived in a pre-oxygen world.

Turning sunlight into energy

For the last 2.4 billion years, photosynthetic organisms like plants and blue-green cyanobacteria have used sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to make oxygen and organic matter. In doing this, they turn energy from the Sun into energy to be used by life. Other organisms breathe in oxygen as they digest organic carbon, gaining energy for their respiration in the process.

Microbes in the ancient world also captured energy from sunlight, but their primitive machinery could not make oxygen from water or use oxygen for respiration. They needed another chemical to do this.

From a biochemical perspective, there are only a few possible candidates: iron, sulfur, hydrogen or arsenic. A lack of evidence in the fossil record and minuscule amounts of some of these chemicals in the primordial soup suggests neither iron, sulfur nor hydrogen would be likely candidates for the earliest form of photosynthesis. That leaves arsenic.

In 2014, our team found the first clue that stromatolites were produced by arsenic-assisted photosynthesis and respiration. We collected pieces of 2.72-billion-year-old stromatolites from the pre-oxygen world by drilling into an ancient reefs in the Outback of Australia. We then took these samples to France and cut them into thin slivers. By measuring the X-rays that came off these samples when we bombarded them with photons, we made a map of the chemical elements in the sample. If two kinds of arsenic are present in the map, then it is a sign that life was using arsenic for photosynthesis and respiration. In these relics of ancient life we found lots of both forms of arsenic, but not iron or sulfur.

This was tantalizing, but we wanted more proof: a modern analog to help prove our arsenic theory. No researchers had ever found a microbial mat community living in a place completely free of oxygen, but if we found one, it could help explain how the first stromatolites formed when our planet's oceans and atmosphere were lacking oxygen.

Modern microbes, ancient analogs

The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest place on Earth, flanked by volcanoes and exposed to extremely high UV radiation. It's not too different from how the Earth looked 3 billion years ago and not exactly supportive of life as we know it. Here – with the help of a team that spanned four continents and seven countries – we found what we were looking for.

Or destination was Laguna La Brava, a very salty shallow lake deep into the harsh desert. A shallow stream, fed by a volcanic groundwater spring, led into the lake. The streambed was a unique, deep purple color. The color came from a microbial mat, thriving quite happily in waters that contained unusually high amounts of arsenic, sulfur and lithium, but missing one important element – oxygen.

Could these slimy purple blobs offer answers to an ancient question?

We cut a piece of the mat and looked for evidence of minerals. A drop of acid made the minerals fizz – carbonates! – this microbe community was forming stromatolites. So our team went to work, camping out at the site for days at a time.

We measured the chemistry of the water and the mat with our field equipment during day and night, summer and winter. Not once did we find oxygen, and back in the laboratory we confirmed that sulfur and arsenic were abundant. Looking through the microscope, we saw purple photosynthetic bacteria, but oxygen-producing cyanobacteria were eerily absent. We had also collected DNA samples from the mat and found genes for arsenic metabolism.

In the lab, we mixed up microbes from the mat, added arsenic and exposed the mix to sunlight. Photosynthesis was happening. The microbes used both arsenic and sulfur, but preferred the arsenic. When we added a minuscule amount of organic matter, a different arsenic compound was used for respiration and preferred over sulfur.

[You're too busy to read everything. We get it. That's why we've got a weekly newsletter. Sign up for good Sunday reading. ]

All that was left was to show that the two types of arsenic could be detected in the modern stromatolites. We went back to France, and using an X-ray emission technique made chemical maps from the Chilean samples. Every experiment we performed supported the presence of a vigorous arsenic cycle in the absence of oxygen in this unique modern stromatolite. This validates, beyond doubt, the idea that the fossil Australian samples that we studied in 2014 held evidence of an active arsenic cycle in deep time on our young planet.

Answers on Earth, leads for Mars

The harsh conditions of the Atacama are so similar to Martian and early Earth environments that NASA scientists and astrobiologists turn to the Atacama to answer questions about how life began on our planet, and how it might start elsewhere. The arsenic-cycling mats we discovered at Laguna La Brava offer strong clues to some of the most fundamental questions about life.

On board the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover that is currently hurtling through space is an instrument that can observe elements using the exact same process we used to make our element maps. Perhaps it will discover that arsenic is abundant in layered rocks on Mars, suggesting that life on Mars also used arsenic. For over a billion years, it did so on Earth. Under the harshest conditions life finds a way, and it is that way we are trying to understand.The Conversation

Pieter Visscher, Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut; Brendan Paul Burns, Senior Lecturer, UNSW, and Kimberley L. Gallagher, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry, Quinnipiac University

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


Amy Coney Barrett tied to far-right religious cult that believes women must ‘submit’ to their husbands

Now that President Donald Trump has nominated far-right Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court, her connection to the extremist quasi-Catholic cult People of Praise is once again coming under scrutiny. Trump's supporters are trying to paint criticism of Barrett as anti-Catholic, but in fact, People of Praise is controversial within Catholicism and isn't exclusively Catholic. And the Associated Press is reporting on some of its disturbing practices.

People of Praise does not practice traditional Catholicism, but rather, has been greatly influenced by far-right fundamentalists and Pentecostal evangelicals. While many of members have been Catholics, evangelical Protestants have been participants as well.

Associated Press reporters Michael Biesecker and Michelle R. Smith explain, "People of Praise is a religious community based in charismatic Catholicism, a movement that grew out of the influence of Pentecostalism — which emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus and can include baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The group organizes and meets outside the purview of a church and includes people from several Christian denominations, but its members are mostly Roman Catholic."

One of the most controversial aspects of People of Praise is the severely patriarchal belief system it promotes. People of Praise used to refer to female members as "handmaids."

Former People of Praise member Coral Anika Theill, who joined the group in 1979 and is now 65, told the Associated Press that when she was a member, women were expected to live in "total submission" to their husbands. Theill told AP, "My husband at the time was very drawn to it because of the structure of the submission of women."

Theill has written about her experiences with People of Praise in her book, "Bonsheá: Making Light of the Dark." Biesecker and Smith note that in her book, Theill "recounts that in People of Praise, every consequential personal decision — whether to take a new job, buy a particular model car or choose where to live — went through the hierarchy of male leadership. Members of the group who worked outside the community had to turn over their paystubs to church leaders to confirm they were tithing correctly."

According to Theill, her husband accompanied her to gynecological appointments to make sure she was not obtaining birth control.

Adrian Reimers, another ex-member of People of Praise, wrote about the group in his 1997 book "Not Reliable Guides." According to Reimers — who now teaches at Notre Dame University — People of Praise believe that wives must "submit in all things" to their husbands.

Reimers wrote, "A married woman is expected always to reflect the fact that she is under her husband's authority. This goes beyond an acknowledgment that the husband is 'head of the home' or head of the family; he is, in fact, her personal pastoral head. Whatever she does requires at least his tacit approval. He is responsible for her formation and growth in the Christian life."

Biesecker and Smith report that another ex-member of People of Praise, 56-year-old Lisa Williams, has described her experiences with the group in a blog called Exorcism and Pound Cake. According to Williams, "I remember my mother saying a wife could never deny sex to her husband, because it was his right and her duty. Sex is not for pleasure. It's for as many babies as God chooses to give you.... Women had to be obedient. They had to be subservient."

Trump considered nominating Barrett, a federal appellate judge, for the U.S. Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation in 2018. The president ended up nominating Brett Kavanaugh instead, and he was confirmed to the High Court after a series of turbulent hearings in the Senate. But Trump's allies said he would keep Barrett in mind if any more seats on the Supreme Court became vacant while he was president. And a seat became available when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of cancer on Friday, September 18.

Senate confirmation hearings for Barrett are set to begin on October 12.

human rights

Trump admin’s proposed overhaul of VISA policy could leave many international students hanging in the balance

The international student community is on edge as President Donald Trump's latest proposed changes threaten to kneecap student VISAs.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration rolled out proposed rule changes that could ultimately derail the academic structure for many international students who have just begun the 2020-21 academic year, reports USA Today.

The 256-page document, which outlines Trump's proposed overhaul for student VISAs, includes directives and initiatives that have been met with opposition from many who have noted the long-term impacts of the proposed changes. Although Trump believes the changes may be economically beneficial where the job market is concerned, experts warn such changes could ultimately devastate scientific research and technological innovation.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell Law School professor and attorney specializing in immigration law, weighed in with his take on the proposed changes.

"The overall tone of the proposed rules sends a chilling message to current and prospective international students that we are no longer a welcoming nation," said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor and attorney at Cornell Law School who specializes in immigration law. "It says we're more focused on national security threats, and that we suspect they could be coming here to do harm rather than help the U.S."

"It feels terrible," Lewis-Nicol said. "The stigma is that if you're from Africa, you're not wanted and that your dreams are not as valid."

According to the Yale-Loehr's analysis, there are three distinctly problematic changes Trump's proposed directives could:

  • Require most international students to complete their degree programs in four years. Based on statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse, most first-time college students spend more than five years earning a bachelor's degree, and many doctoral degree programs also take more than four years to complete;
  • Limit stays in the United States to just two years for some international students;
  • Require many international students to apply for extensions to their visas after their initial two-year stay with no guarantee that extension would be granted, especially if the immigration agency makes a determination that suggests the student is not making substantial progress toward earning their degree.

With the level of uncertainty that surrounds Trump's proposed rule changes, Students have also expressed concern as their futures hang in the balance.

Briana Quintenz, director of the Center for International Education at Millikin University revealed they are "sending things out almost constantly trying to calm the fears of our international students" in the wake of these possible changes.

"It's so unfair to them that they can't just enjoy their college experience," Quintenz said. "They have to continually dissect these very confusing regulations that seem to be coming out all the time. My biggest concern is that the already very rigid restrictions are going to become even more complicated, and international students are just going to stop trying to come to the U.S."

However, the Trump administration has a different take on the situation. According to Ken Cuccinelli, a senior immigration official in the Department of Homeland Security, they believe enforcing stricter requirements would ensure only legitimate students are given the opportunity to attend collegiate institutions in the United States.

Cuccinelli said, "Amending the relevant regulations is critical in improving program oversight mechanisms; preventing foreign adversaries from exploiting the country's education environment; and properly enforcing and strengthening U.S. immigration laws."

more news

Trump team terrified Brad Parscale will flip on them: report

Amid the crisis caused by President Donald Trump's chaotic presidential debate performance, he now has another obstacle to contend with: the devastating impact his former campaign manager Brad Parscale could have on his re-election.

Over the last five days, a lot has changed for Parscale and the Trump family fears he could be reaching his tipping point. On Sunday, Parscale made headlines following a domestic altercation and meltdown that, subsequently, led to his arrest.

The arrest came amid an ongoing investigation reportedly being conducted by the Trump campaign and Republican National Convention. Both parties allege Parscale stole more than $40 million from the presidential campaign and an additional $10 million from the Republican National Committee.

Now, the Trump family, along with the president's re-election campaign, fear Parscale could turn on them and opt to cooperate with law enforcement on "possible campaign finance violations."

"The family is worried Brad will start talking," the source said, according to Vanity Fair.

Concern about Parscale's next move came amid the announcement of his departure from the Trump campaign. In a statement released on Wednesday, Parscale attributed his immediate departure from the president's re-election to "overwhelming stress."

"I am stepping away from my company and any role in the campaign for the immediate future to focus on my family and get help dealing with the overwhelming stress," Parscale said in a statement.

Parscale's wife, Candice, also spoke out on Wednesday with a statement of her own. Although she told law enforcement authorities on Sunday that her husband had been physically abusive, she now insists her statements have been "misconstrued" and her husband has never been violent.

"The statements I made on Sunday have been misconstrued, let it be clear my husband was not violent towards me that day or any day prior," she said.

The two have also released a joint statement about the ordeal saying, "We extend our thanks for everyone's thoughts and support during this difficult time for our family and we eagerly await all of the facts emerging."

The latest ordeal involving Parscale comes months after he was demoted as campaign manager following the president's underwhelming rally in Tulsa, Okla. In the days leading up to the highly anticipated rally, Parscale claimed more than one million Trump supporters had registered to attend the event. He also touted the possibility of massive turnout. However, the Tulsa Fire Department reported that only 6,200 Trump supporters attended the rally as photos and footage of the arena revealed mostly empty seats.

Almost immediately after reports surfaced about the rally, there was speculation Parscale would be held responsible for the lackluster event. Less than one month after the rally, Parscale was demoted.

Since then, Parscale has reportedly been concerned about how he will maintain his lavish lifestyle without the campaign cash flow.

The Daily Mail reported:

A Trump insider explained to that Parscale went into a tailspin after he was demoted in July and replaced by his former number two, Bill Stepien, as he's worried about the 'gravy train' ending and keeping up with his lavish lifestyle.

But, despite numerous reports about the investigative probe into Parscale's financial activity, Trump campaign's communications director, Tim Murtaugh has refuted the claims saying, "It's utterly false. There is no investigation, no audit, and there never was."

Rep. Katie Porter brilliantly grills a pharma CEO and exposes his horrifying earnings

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter has spent her first couple of years in Congress really working hard to point out the corruption and greed being perpetrated by the CEOs of major industries. She's exposed the banking industry and its moral bankruptcy, and she has time and time again exposed the criminal negligence, greed, and corruption in the Trump administration. She is frequently using her time in House committee hearings to face off against the smartest men in the room: the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

These are men that can buy and sell all of us! Manly men, with big brains, right? Not really. They're just good at taking money from people. That's usually the entirety of their personal acumen. On Wednesday, former Celgene CEO Mark Alles joined two other pharmaceutical company CEOs to testify about drug pricing at a House Oversight Committee hearing. Porter decided to pull out her big white board and give Alles—and America—a lesson in what exactly CEOs of these companies do for a living: Price gouge the American people.

Porter first asked Alles to answer what the cost of the cancer drug Revlimid was in 2005, 2013, 2017, and today. Alles couldn't readily come up with those numbers because he's a big shot CEO. The short story is that Revlimid cost $215 per pill in 2005 and right now it costs $763 per pill. Obviously, the pill must have gotten better and/or the demand has diminished for the pill! Wrong. In fact, Alles admits that a lot more uses for the pill were discovered, meaning a ton more patients, and shockingly, nothing about the pill or its efficacy has changed.

So why is the price going up? Why is Medicare paying out $3.3 billion for Revlimid?

Rep. Porter has some ideas if CEO Alles doesn't. It turns out that Mr. Alles made $13 million, which is "200 times the average American's income and 360 times what the average senior makes on Social Security," she kindly explained to him. And lo and behold! Mr. Alles gets nice big bonuses if he raises the cost, say triples the cost since 2005, of Remlivid. In fact, to bring an average monthly course cost of the cancer drug to a patient up to $16,023, Mr. Alles was able to pocket an extra $500,000. Sweet deal. Fuck those cancer patients, amiright? Don't worry, everyone else will pay for it!

Finally, Rep. Porter gave a summation that even a smart guy like Alles can understand. "So to recap here: The drug didn't get any better. The cancer patients didn't get any better. You just got better at making money. You just refined your skills at price gouging!"

Amen. The Committee's findings on Celgene price gouging can be found in their report here.

Rep. Porter grills Big Pharma CEO for price gouging

Here's why Chris Wallace blew it

Ihate to say, "I told you so," so let me just say: Elizabeth Warren told you so.

So did Tom Perez, the head of the Democratic National Committee. Both rejected offers from Fox News to host political events during the 2020 Democratic primary, a town hall in Warren's case and a candidate debate for the DNC.

"A Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass," Warren plainly stated. And while he claimed "Chris Wallace isn't my concern," Perez correctly identified that "at the highest levels of Fox News they" — meaning right-wing ideologues — "have infiltrated the news side." Perez had to defend his decision to Democrats at the time, but Chris Wallace's hapless performance as a presidential debate "moderator" on Tuesday evening may have finally made clear that Fox News is not an honest media broker. Not one host from the network can be trusted to present facts outside the requisite right-wing narrative.

It's easy to feel for Wallace. At no point during that rage-inducing national embarrassment did Donald Trump allow the first presidential debate of the 2020 campaign to play out as planned, at least according to what Wallace repeatedly reminded the president were the mutually agreed-upon rules. Wallace lost control in the first 90 seconds and Trump ran roughshod over him for the next 90 minutes.

"I'm the moderator of this debate and I'd like to ask my question," Wallace pleaded with Trump at one point.

The host of "Fox News Sunday" told The New York Times earlier this week, "If I've done my job right, at the end of the night, people will say, 'That was a great debate, who was the moderator?'" Wallace not only failed to meet his own low standard of uselessness, he actively aided Trump by peddling dangerous misinformation and pushing modulated versions of the same right-wing narrative deployed by Trump, creating a dangerous feedback loop.

Despite Trump's day-after complaints, for much of Tuesday's debate it was clear that Wallace simply let the president moderate. "If you want to switch seats, we can do that," Wallace offered Trump a little more than an hour into the debate. Wallace repeatedly interrupted Biden to ask Trump questions. He then permitted Trump to keep talking over Biden without cutting him off, and allowed lie after lie to go unchallenged. Much too late, Wallace tried to exert some control, but he rarely, if ever, succeeded.

To be fair, no moderator deemed acceptable to the Trump campaign would conceivably have the chops to rein in the president. That would defeat his whole debate strategy. Indeed, I'd predict that Wallace will eventually be graded the highest of the three presidential debate moderators after CSPAN call-in host Steve Scully and NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker get their turn.

As Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote, the idea that either of them "can hope to control things any better is a dubious one unless the format changes substantially." On Wednesday, the the Commission on Presidential Debates announced it may do just that: "Last night's debate made clear additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the commission said in a statement, adding that it is "considering the changes" and will "announce those measures shortly."

But what was even more troublesome than Wallace impotently shouting "Mr. President!" in exactly the way I ask my 10-month-old to not put every single thing he picks up into his mouth was the frame and premise Wallace deployed for several of the night's most serious topics.

On police violence and the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon, the Fox News host portrayed the issue as nightly riots by the protesters — rather than nightly violence by police. People have assembled in Portland to protest police violence every night and cops have responded by brutalizing them. Wallace didn't mention the Trump supporters driving down the streets following a pro-Trump rally, shooting random people with paintball guns and pepper-spraying them. Wallace brought up antifa — all-purpose right-wing bugaboo of the moment — but made no mention of the men who traveled to a Walmart in El Paso and a synagogue in Pittsburgh to carry out what they interpreted as a mission of violent racial animus supported by the president.

Even if Wallace deserves plaudits for pressing Trump to denounce white supremacists, we wouldn't even be in this situation if Fox News and the right-wing media hadn't spent decades and billions of dollars promoting hate. Trump's most rambling monologues on Tuesday night were hard to follow for anyone not completely immersed in the Fox News conspiracy universe.

Right after his horrific call-out to the Proud Boys, Trump declined an invitation to call for restraint following the election, calling instead for his supporters to show up as an intimidating force at the polls. Wallace then just let him go on unabated, making groundless allegations about election integrity.

When Wallace asked Trump why he insisted on holding campaign rallies in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump falsely said all of his rallies had been outdoors. Wallace simply replied: "You are right." Wallace also tried to get Trump to shut up by promising him a softball: "You'll like this next question."

Give Wallace credit for asking a climate change question, the first in a presidential debate since 2008, and almost getting an answer. But he failed as a moderator because Fox News can't be trusted when the network's entire motive is propaganda. The network even ran Trump campaign propaganda after the debate. Wallace's own colleagues won't defend him from Trump, even in the next hour, because they rely on Trump and his viewers.

And no, Bernie Sanders, who famously held a Fox News town hall, would not have fared better. Although Sanders' Fox appearance was widely perceived as successful (he got wild applause for mention of Medicare for All), the Fox News website posted no viral clip of Sanders explaining why health care is a human right. Instead, his answer to a gotcha question about why he didn't personally cut a check to the IRS if he wanted higher taxes was weaponized for wide dissemination. Media's fake commitment to "fair and balanced" goes beyond Fox News. It is killing people and our democracy.

Fox Business host gives Kayleigh McEnany a brutal reality check: ‘Biden won the debate’

Following Trump's presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night, September 29, Fox Business host Stuart Varney was honest enough to admit that Biden won the debate. And he was clearly in disagreement with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany when she tried to convince him that Trump was the winner.

McEnany, appearing on Fox Business, told Varney that Trump was "in very good spirits" following the debate and "brought the fight that I think the American people wanted to see." But Varney responded that Trump was much too abrasive for his own good during the debate, which was moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace.

"His style, the frequent interruptions — I mean, the insults came from Biden — but the frequent interruptions and the talking over everybody, that was a lot from President Trump," Varney argued. "And I think that's what the audience didn't like and will turn off."

After McEnany claimed that Trump's "offense style" was necessary to get answers from Biden, Varney told her, "What's your response to this? Biden won simply because he got through the whole 90 minutes — no gaffe, no senior moments, no lack of focus, and reasonable amount of energy all the way through. Therefore, he survived. He won."

But McEnany maintained that Trump won the debate, resorting to bogus talking points about Biden and Antifa.

"No gaffes — that's a really subjective interpretation," McEnany told Varney. "I would consider it a pretty big gaffe when asked about Antifa — an organization that has killed Americans and targeted police officers — and there's no condemnation of that group. I consider that a pretty big gaffe, along with many others."

Biden, in fact, has been stressing that he condemns violence from either the left or right. And Trump is drawing a great deal of criticism for, during the debate, expressing his solidarity the Proud Boys — a white nationalist group that openly promotes violence. Trump said, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."

Watch the video below:

Fox Business host tells Kayleigh McEnany: 'Biden won'

‘Classic projection’: Mary Trump says the president was triggered when Biden called his policy ‘not smart’

President Donald Trump's niece Mary not only spent her life around the president and his family, but she also has the benefit of being a psychologist who could legitimately assess the life and mental health of her uncle.

Speaking to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, she explained that in one particular moment in the Tuesday evening debate, Trump seemed triggered by former Vice President Joe Biden's use of the phrase "not smart" in reference to a policy. Trump went off.

"Did you use the word 'smart?'" Trump asked after Biden insulted Trump's coronavirus plan as not being "smart."

"So you said you went to Delaware State but you forgot the name of your college," Trump continued, falsely claiming something Biden never said. "You didn't go to Delaware state. You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don't ever use the word 'smart' with me. Don't ever use that word."

Mary Trump explained that it was "classic projection" on the president's part. Even though the "not smart" had nothing to do with Trump himself, he couldn't control himself.

"Well, he knows [smart] doesn't apply to him, and he's very insecure about it," she said. "That was just classic projection because, you know, it also didn't make any sense. Joe Biden was talking about a tactic that wasn't the right way to approach something. He wasn't talking about anybody's IQ. So, I think it was just another example of Donald's insecurity coming to the surface.

O'Donnell noted that when Biden called Trump a "racist," he didn't bat an eye and didn't seem to care.

Mary Trump explained that it was "classic projection" on the president's part. Even though the "not smart" had nothing to do with Trump himself, he couldn't control himself.

"Well, he knows [smart] doesn't apply to him, and he's very insecure about it," she said. "That was just classic projection because, you know, it also didn't make any sense. Joe Biden was talking about a tactic that wasn't the right way to approach something. He wasn't talking about anybody's IQ. So, I think it was just another example of Donald's insecurity coming to the surface.

O'Donnell noted that when Biden called Trump a "racist," he didn't bat an eye and didn't seem to care.

"That was a great observation," noted Mary Trump. "No, he's happy to take that label as we saw with his horrific comments or failure to comment, I should say, on condemning white supremacy. He knows — first of all, he is a white supremacist, so he's not going to go condemn himself. And secondly, he knows that that is something about him that plays with his base, and his base is all he's got left."

Biden went after Trump's attacks on soldiers, talking about his late son, who served in Iraq. Trump pivoted from Biden talking about soldiers to attacking Biden's other son Hunter for his addiction struggle. Mary Trump said that her reaction to it was "pure rage."

"It was horrifying," she said. "It was certainly not the most dangerous moment in the debate, but I think it explains why other moments are as dangerous as they are. This shows us who he is. First of all, I found Vice President Biden's restraint absolutely incomprehensible. But that's who — that's who Donald is. He is cruel. He is contemptuous. And when Vice President Biden was able to steer the conversation back to something that mattered, his son's recovery, and to say how proud he was of his son, I first thought personally I wish he had been my father's dad. But unfortunately, Donald Trump was my father's brother, so it was a pretty devastating moment."

See the interview below:

Part 1:

Mary Trump

Part 2:

Mary Trump 2

These 5 Republicans refused to vote for a resolution committing to a peaceful transition

Claiming that Democrats are trying to use mail-in voting to promote voter fraud, President Donald Trump has refused to say that he will accept the election results if former Vice President Joe Biden wins in November. The U.S. House of Representatives, in response, adopted a resolution on Tuesday calling for a peaceful transfer of power in the presidential election — and it passed 379-5. Most House Republicans voted in favor of the resolution, but five didn't: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana.

Gaetz, according to Axios reporter Rebecca Falconer, views the resolution as a Democratic attack on Trump even though many Republicans voted for it. Falconer quotes the Florida congressman as saying: "This resolution is a way for Democrats to attack the president and disguise the fact that they will refuse to accept the election results unless they win. Professional loser Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden that he should not concede — and I'm quoting — 'under any circumstances.'"

Gaetz is taking Clinton's words out of context. During an August interview with Jennifer Palmieri for Showtime, Clinton stressed that under no circumstances should Biden, in a close election, concede until he is certain that all of the votes have been counted. Clinton fears that Trump will prematurely claim victory on Election Night before all of the votes have been counted in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona.

Clinton, during that interview, said, "Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances, because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch — and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is." But Clinton wasn't saying that Biden should never concede under any circumstances, only that under no circumstances should he concede until there has been a thorough vote count. And Clinton is confident that a thorough vote count will eventually favor Biden, who unlike Trump, has said that he would concede if a final vote count showed a Trump victory.

During that interview, Clinton also said, "We've got to have a massive legal operation; I know the Biden campaign is working on that. We have to have poll workers, and I urge people who are able to be a poll worker. We have to have our own teams of people to counter the force of intimidation that the Republicans and Trump are going to put outside polling places. This is a big organizational challenge, but at least we know more about what they're going to do."

NYT report fuels hope that a massive new source of green energy could be on the horizon

How the United States will meet its energy needs in the future has been hotly debated among politicians. President Donald Trump has been a strong supporter of fossil fuels, while some progressive Democrats have been pushing for green energy. Journalist Henry Fountain, in the New York Times, reports Tuesday on research on the possibility for a fusion energy power plant, which could be a complete game-changer in the hunt for green energy. According to Fountain, such a plant is on the way — although some scientists are skeptical about the timetable.

Fountain reports that according to researchers, "Construction of a reactor, called Sparc, which is being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a spinoff company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is expected to begin next spring and take three or four years."

Bob Mumgaard, chief executive at Commonwealth and a founder of the company, told the Times that one of the goals of the Sparc project is to combat global warning. According to Mumgaard, "We're really focused on how you can get to fusion power as quickly as possible."

In his Times article, Fountain explains how a fusion plant would work and the differences between such a plant and a "conventional" nuclear power plant.

Fountain notes, "Like a conventional nuclear fission power plant that splits atoms, a fusion plant would not burn fossil fuels and would not produce greenhouse-gas emissions. But its fuel, usually isotopes of hydrogen, would be far more plentiful than the uranium used in most nuclear plants — and fusion would generate less, and less dangerous, radioactivity and waste than fission plants. But the hurdles to building a machine that can create and control a fusion plasma — a roiling ultra-hot cloud of atoms that will damage or destroy anything it touches — are enormous."

While it has long seemed like a pipe dream, new research shows encouraging signs that it could be possible, the report says: seven peer-reviewed papers published Tuesday in a special issue of The Journal of Plasma Physics, researchers laid out the evidence that Sparc would succeed and produce as much as 10 times the energy it consumes.

The research "confirms that the design we're working on is very likely to work," said Martin Greenwald, deputy director of MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center and one of the project's lead scientists. Dr. Greenwald is a founder of Commonwealth Fusion but has no current affiliation with the company.

The Times reporter adds that some scientists believe the ambitious timetable for Sparc may be unrealistic even though they share Commonwealth's enthusiasm.

University of Washington physicist Cary Forest told the Times, "Reading these papers gives me the sense that they're going to have the controlled thermonuclear fusion plasma that we all dream about. But if I were to estimate where they're going to be, I'd give them a factor of two that I give to all my grad students when they say how long something is going to take."

Federal law enforcement officials directed to defend Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse: Leaked DHS memo

Internal documents reportedly suggest federal law enforcement officials with the Department of Homeland Security were directed to maintain a publicly sympathetic stance regarding Kyle Rittenhouse — the 17-year-old facing murder charges for the fatal shootings of protesters in Kenosha, Wisc.

In preparation for questions from the media regarding the highly publicized shootings, DHS officials were advised to focus on focus on Rittenhouse's initial efforts, according to NBC News. The document, which included multiple talking points regarding the case, advised officials to suggest Rittenhouse "took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners."

A different set of talking points distributed to officials also discussed the media's depiction of the group, Patriot Prayer. While the media is said to have labeled the group as "racist" following their clash with protesters amid civil unrest in Portland, Ore., DHS officials were reportedly told to dismiss the claims.

It remains unclear whether or not the directives came from the White House but President Donald Trump has shown support for Rittenhouse and law enforcement.

Now, multiple former Homeland Security officials have expressed concern about the handling of internal affairs at the government agency. Peter Boogaard, who served as a spokesperson for Homeland Security under the Obama administration, condemned the reports.

"It is as unprecedented as it is wrong," Boogaard said.

Elizabeth Neumann, who served as DHS's assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy in the Trump administration, also pointed out one important suggestion that did not appear to be highlighted in the internal talking points.

"What strikes me about the talking points is that they didn't call for calm among the public," Neumann said. "Even in the early hours after the incident, it was known private militias had self-deployed. …They seemed more interested in Rittenhouse's reputation than calling for calm and actual law and order."

The latest regarding Kyle Rittenhouse follows multiple reports about the staggering number of donations he has received through fundraising efforts sphere headed by a Christian crowdfunding website. According to Rittenhouse's lawyer, the Christian has received more than $1 million in donations from more than 11,000 donors.

As of Monday night, a total of $605,550 had been donated to the FightBack Foundation for Rittenhouse's legal fund. Another $534,000 had also been donated to Rittenhouse through the Christian fundraising platform GiveSendGo. However, all funds will ultimately be transferred to the FightBack Foundation.

Ex-Homeland Security official describes how Trump suppressed efforts to fight white supremacist terrorism

On CNN Wednesday, former Trump administration national security staffer Miles Taylor outlined how the president's soft spot for white supremacy — put on full display at the previous night's presidential debate — carried over into federal policy.

"You previously told me President Trump didn't prioritize white supremacist violence or domestic threats in general," said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "How did that become clear in your meetings with him and your work deep inside the Trump administration?"

"I'll tell you this," said Taylor. "From the beginning of the Trump administration, we had a sense that the numbers were going in the wrong direction. By the numbers, I mean, the number of terrorist plots we were tracking in the United States. When we first came in, ISIS was the big threat. That was obvious to everyone. There was a surging threat from violent extremist groups here domestically, primarily focused on white supremacy. And that was a big concern for us. The FBI and our own DHS analyst came to us and said this is worrying."

"We went to the White House and said the numbers are heading in the wrong direction," said Taylor. "The response we got was the president put his head in the sand. The president and his senior advisers did not want to pay attention to the threat. They didn't want to talk about the threat. They told us to not use certain terms having to do with the threat, such as 'right-wing extremism' and at the end of the day they refused to actually include this in any meaningful way in the national counterterrorism strategy. The message from the white house to us could not have been clearer. It was, do not focus on this, do not prioritize this."

"I'm glad to say the secretaries that I served … didn't listen to that. They did prioritize the threat," added Taylor. "But it's important that the White House care because the White House can muster a whole of government response against a threat like this. The White House never did, and as a result, we have named cities that remind us how bad the threat actually got. Charlottesville. El Paso. We could go on down the list. Those events happened in part because our government wasn't as focused as it should have been on the threat."

Watch below:

Miles Taylor says the White House suppressed counterterror efforts against white supremacy

Noam Chomsky: Trump is a ‘sociopathic maniac’ capable of provoking ‘civil war’ if he doesn’t win

"Unhinged," "thuggish," "racist," "undisciplined" and "appalling" are among the many derogatory adjectives that have been used to describe President Donald Trump's performance during his debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, September 29. But such adjectives were being used to describe Trump long before the debate, and one author who has not been shy about stressing that he considers Trump to be the most dangerous president of his lifetime is Noam Chomsky — who, in an interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine published this week, laid out a variety of reasons why he is so troubled by Trump's presidency.

The fact that Chomsky considers Trump's presidency the absolute worst he has ever lived through is saying a lot considering his age. The left-wing author, now 91, was born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928, when Republican Calvin Coolidge was still president and Herbert Hoover was four months away from being sworn into office. Chomsky is old enough to remember everything from the Great Depression and World War II to Watergate to 9/11 — and now, he is living through the worst health crisis since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918/1919. Trump's COVID-19 response, Chomsky stressed during the interview, has been disastrous.

Chomsky told Smashing Interviews, "In Trump's first days in office back in January 2017, some of his first acts were to dismantle the pandemic response program that had been executed under (President Barack) Obama. He immediately started efforts to defund the Center for Disease Control and all other health-related aspects of the government. That went on for years and went on as late as this past February. While the pandemic was raging, he was denying — and other countries were reacting. Trump presented his budget proposal for 2021 defunding the Center for Disease Control even further."

But COVID-19 is only one of the reasons why Chomsky is so troubled by Trump's presidency. Chomsky, during the interview, also lambasted Trump for everything from his terrible environmental record and failing to take climate change seriously to showing a total contempt for liberal democracy.

"On the climate issue," Chomsky warned, "Trump continues to make it much more dangerous. Deterioration of democracy has reached a truly incredible point. Trump's already cleansed the executive branch of any independent voice. The inspectors general who are supposed to supervise executive departments started looking into the swamp of corruption Trump has created; so, he fired them."

Chomsky continued, "The latest move was to publicly state that if he doesn't like the outcome of the election, he may refuse to accept it. That's never happened in the history of parliamentary democracies. And now, people in high places are taking him seriously. There's a high level independent commission of leading figures in the Republican and Democratic parties and other independent analysts that's been running 'war games,' asking what's likely to happen in the coming election if Trump refuses to leave office."

The 91-year-old author even went so far as to say that he believes Trump is unhinged enough to encourage a civil war in the United States.

Chomsky told Smashing Interviews, "Unless Trump wins the Electoral College, every scenario they run leads to civil war if Trump and the Republicans just refuse to accept it. There are a lot of options they could pursue to try and undermine it. It's like the actions of a dictator in a neo-colony somewhere — a small country that has a military coup every couple of years. There is no historical precedent for this in a functioning democratic society. That's deterioration of democracy at a level we've never seen before and being taken very seriously in the most respectable places…. We have a sociopathic maniac in the White House."