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Going broke? Here's how the Trump campaign plowed through $1 billion in cash

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign's fundraising efforts have surpassed $1 billion since 2017 but now, the vast majority of that money is gone as speculation rises about the true financial state of Trump's campaign.

Over the last several months, Trump has made several high-dollar political advertising decisions that have cost his campaign greatly. From the staggering $10 million-dollar Super Bowl ad during the primary while several Democratic presidential candidates were still in the race to using his campaign funds to cover the cost of excessive legal fees for his impeachment and war on mail-in voting, Trump has shelled out exorbitant amounts of money.

Many of Trump's campaign advisors and aides also turned heads with their own pricey purchases. In addition to purchasing a lavish $2 million-dollar home in Florida, Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale is said to have taken more than $40 million while running the campaign.

According to Huffington Post, financial reports also revealed a string of limited liability companies (LLCs) formed to conceal more than $310 million in campaign spending in an effort to keep the expenditures from being disclosed.

Now, there is one question looming over the president's campaign: is the president's re-election campaign going broke? As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to break fundraising records, the Trump campaign appears to be cash-strapped, according to multiple reports. The publication also reports some of Trump's campaign aides "privately acknowledge they are facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Democratic nominee Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising."

With just two weeks left until the election, Trump is putting more time into traveling to rallies to connect with voters than spending on political ads and other forms of advertising. Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant and Trump critic. weighed in with his take on why Trump is likely so focused on rallies.

"They spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff and vanity ads way too early," said Murphy. "You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn't have burned through it as stupidly."

Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, also expressed concern as he claimed the financial woes appear to be a bad sign for the president's re-election campaign.

"Advertising obviously isn't everything. But we do think ads matter for a couple percentage points in a presidential race. And it's just not a good sign for the Trump campaign," Ridout, who traces advertising statistics, said.

"We have more than sufficient air cover, almost three times as much as 2016," he told reporters Monday.

Tiffany Trump burned over disastrous LGBTQ pride campaign event: ‘Beyond pathetic'

Tiffany Trump, the First Family's youngest daughter, is being highly criticized after headlining a disastrous and offensive "LGBTQ pride" campaign event for her father, in which she left out the "T" – for the transgender community – upon hitting the stage and garbling what should have been a simple "LGBTQIA."

Tiffany also immediately told the presumably LGBTQ Republicans at the sparsely-attended event her father used to support them, but stopped after entering politics.

"Prior to politics, he supported gays, lesbians, the LGBQI – IA plus community, OK?" Tiffany Trump admitted.

Unsurprisingly, the announcement didn't even mention it was an LGBTQ event.


President Donald Trump is the most anti-LGBTQ president in modern American history. Directly and indirectly he has attacked the LGBTQ community, through rescinding President Barack Obama's executive orders protecting LGBTQ people, by banning transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. Military, by attacking ObamaCare, by installing far right wing anti-LGBTQ judges at every level of the federal judiciary, by empowering the religious right, by creating anti-LGBTQ offices within federal agencies, by enabling and supporting white supremacists, white nationalists, and other domestic terrorists, and more.

On social media Tiffany Trump was roundly excoriated – take a look:
















New poll reveals the disturbing extent of the delusional QAnon cult

As outlandish as QAnon's beliefs are, the conspiracy cult has been gaining ground in the Republican Party. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds that roughly 50% of President Donald Trump's supporters now embrace at least some of QAnon's claims.

QAnon believes that the United States' federal government has been infiltrated by an international cabal of pedophiles, Satanists and cannibals and that Trump was put in the White House to lead the fight against the cabal. According to the fictional belief set, an anonymous figure named Q is providing updates on Trump's battle. And one of QAnon's beliefs is that R&B superstar Beyoncé isn't really African-American but rather, is really an Italian woman named Ann Marie Latrassi who is passing herself off as Black as part of the conspiracy.

The Yahoo/YouGov poll, conducted October 16-18, asked participants, "Do you believe that top Democrats are involved in elite child sex trafficking rings?" — and 50% of Trump supporters said "yes" compared to only 5% of former Vice President Joe Biden's supporters.

The poll also asked, "Do you believe that President Trump is working to dismantle an elite child sex trafficking ring involving top Democrats?" — to which 52% of Trump supporters responded "yes," while only 4% of Biden supporters said "yes."

Yahoo News reporters Andrew Romano and Caitlin Dickson note that only 16% of Trump supporters who were familiar were QAnon were willing to dismiss the entire movement as conspiracy nonsense that has no basis in fact.

The inroads that QAnon has made in the GOP were evident when, in August, QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene won a Republican congressional primary in Georgia. Because her district is overwhelmingly Republican, Greene will likely win the general election on November 3 and be sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2021.

Well-known Republicans who have made donations to Green's campaign include Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. And after her primary win, Trump congratulated Greene on Twitter and exalted her as a "future Republican star."

Nina Jankowicz of the nonpartisan Wilson Center told Yahoo News that it's "really crazy" that "such a high number" of Trump supporters embrace QAnon's conspiracy theory.

Jankowicz explained, "It seems, increasingly, like we're dealing with two different sets of facts in this country, sometimes more. The fact is that QAnon is a movement, a conspiracy that has been cited by the FBI as potentially inciting terrorist and other violent extremist acts in this country. It shouldn't be something that we're this split (on) along partisan lines."

During a recent town hall event hosted by NBC News, moderator Savannah Guthrie grilled Trump about QAnon — and he maintained, "I know nothing about QAnon." But Trump added that from what he has heard, "They are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that."

Jankowicz told Yahoo News, "The fact that we have so many political candidates who are public adherents of QAnon and a president who himself has refused to disavow the theory (amounts to) a tacit endorsement of a different set of facts. That's what's really worrisome about it."

Suburban women are on a mission to save America — and it may not stop at ousting Trump

rom politically apathetic to pants on fire urgency, Lori Goldman of Troy, Michigan, is among the ranks of suburban women who have felt called to duty by the existential threat to America that is Donald Trump.

Dressed in yoga pants and sneakers and whizzing through suburban streets on the state's east side to leave no door unknocked, Goldman has taken on the very mantra that many Democratic strategists have employed to help fight the complacency that some believe led to Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016.

"We take nothing for granted," she told her canvassing partner, according to the Associated Press. "They say Joe Biden is ahead. Nope. We work like Biden is behind 20 points in every state."

These suburban women stories are everywhere now and they tell a similar tale of mostly white suburban women—some of whom voted Trump in 2016 and others of whom did not—feeling called to effect a different outcome for themselves, for their family, for other families, and for the nation in 2020.

Goldman founded the group Fems for Dems in early 2016 with an email to a few hundred of her friends. Now the group boasts nearly 9,000 members. She may drink Aperol spritzers and have her sights trained on the tony Detroit suburbs of Michigan's Oakland County, but make no mistake—she's taking no prisoners.

"I hate the saying, 'When they go low, we go high.' That's loser talk," she says. "You can be right all day, but if you're not winning, what's the point?"

Clinton actually did win Oakland County by about eight points in 2016, but she did so by fewer points than Barack Obama in 2012. The difference in their win margins alone could have cut Trump's 10,700-vote triumph in the state by half, according to the AP.

Two years later, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and now-governor Gretchen Whitmer doubled Clinton's margin in the county, while Democrat Elissa Slotkin unseated a GOP incumbent to represent the district. And while Goldman has successfully grown her group of "dumpy, middle-aged housewives" as she once called them, she is simultaneously dismayed by how fatigued many of her members grown by the daily the churn of Trump crazy.

"Our house is on fire," Goldman says.

Portraits of transformation like that of Goldman abound in these stories. And some of those transitions include a more comprehensive outlook on what their vote means for the nation rather than just their own self interests.

Kate Rabinovitch of Westerville, Ohio, reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 and now spends all her in-between moments texting with friends and family and generating social media posts to turn the tide against him.

Rabinovitch, who has a 4-year-old son, has many objections to Trump, but she also pinpointed the killing of George Floyd as a seminal moment for her. Before February, she said, racism wasn't a key issue for her. But watching that video really impressed upon her the structural racism that continues to plague the country.

"I have to think of everybody," Rabinovitch told The New York Times. "So if I'm voting against Donald Trump, that's not a vote for me or a vote for my son. That's a vote for everyone. Everyone's sons."

Ohio-based Katie Paris founded Red, Wine, and Blue, an all-female team of suburbanites working to organize suburban women for Ohio Democrats. The Times describes Paris' political ethos as one part Obama strategist David Plouffe, one part psychological researcher Brené Brown—a combination of clear-eyed data analysis and vulnerable peer conversations. She also specifically feels the pull of white women needing to do their part to turn the country around.

"We can't leave this all on Black voters to carry all the weight in Ohio," said Paris, who is white. "It's going to take all of us."

And while all these women are making an immediate push to oust Trump, many of them also seem committed to a longer haul vision of transforming the country—or at least a sustained change in their own political alignments that could create long-term trouble for Republicans.

"I cannot imagine a Republican candidate that I would rally behind," says Ohioan Hannah Dasgupta, a young mother of two who grew up in a conservative home. "Wow, that's mind-blowing to think about. That's a huge departure."

Trump is collapsing into a ball of self-absorbed spite and destruction

In the last weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump is collapsing in on himself. That's the story his campaign and White House team itself seems to want to push in the scurry to avoid blame themselves. On Sunday, a New York Times piece reported on gloom, grievance, and "backbiting" among Trump's staff as his reelection prospects dim, but more of note is the blame getting directed at the big orange hateburper himself.

"Among some of Mr. Trump's lieutenants," reports the Times, there is "a sense that the best they can do for the final stretch is to keep the president occupied, happy and off Twitter as much as possible, rather than producing a major shift in strategy."

Yes, it is truly a shocking development. In the last weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump is ignoring all advice, doubling down on his most hateful behaviors, and choosing closing themes based solely on his own obsessions, grievances, and malevolence. Whoever could have seen that coming? (Aside from everyone.)

The results speak for themselves—no, are so toxic that they are noticeable even to a four-year-flaccid national press. Trump's propensity to target women, select political enemies for demonization, and his renewed vigor in seemingly attempting to goad supporters into violent acts against them are becoming topics with more public weight than any campaign message the shouting twit threatens to stumble into in these last preelection days. It turns out that Donald Trump, left to himself with campaign staff abandoning any further pretense at controlling him, is hateful, spiteful, anti-democratic, misogynistic, openly racist, paranoid, and self-absorbed to the point of self-destruction.

If there's anyone who has survived through four full years of Trump's attentions and they didn't predict that, among his inner circle, they would have to be burrowed so far up his *** that they can peek out his nostrils.

The problem here is that Trump is only going to get worse in the next few weeks—no matter what. If polls continue to look bleak, his narcissistic bitterness will overwhelm him and his demands of his supporters will get even more extreme. His attacks on Democratic leaders that take pandemic precautions—which he considers to be personal attacks on himself and therefore illegitimate, whether the moves save American lives or not—have been getting more vigorous, but his inner circle continues to support those attacks wholeheartedly. He is already obsessing over the notion of invisible election "fraud" as means of delegitimizing the results—as a malignant narcissist, he will adopt whatever delusion is necessary to protect himself from the notion that his own actions are responsible for his failures, as opposed to widespread conspiracy against him.

And if he wins? God help us. A Trump fully untethered from ever having to face voters again, supported by an attorney general who has been so eagerly crooked in tilting the scales of justice that he may already rank as the worst in history, backed by a party fully purged of any but the most obscene lawmakers hailing from the most hard-right of gerrymandered districts; there would be no institutions left. No government scientists, no statistics gatherers, no oversight, no public services, nothing but a hierarchy of sycophants from Washington down to every office. His "conservative" team is turning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into a Trump-tailored propaganda shop during a worldwide pandemic. There's literally nothing left they would not be craven enough to do.

The good news is it looks like he's losing. Possibly even for real this time. The transparent Russian propaganda, though propped up this time by Republican senators and the clownish Rudy Giuliani, isn't motivating his hard-right base into nearly the froth against his male opponent that near-identical hokum spurred when directed at a woman. The Trump question of what do you have to lose has been clarified to all. The notion of choosing a reality show host as world leader does not have the same appeal as it once might have across generic American suburbia.

Trump's campaign and White House staff seem to know it. Last week saw a Washington Post report of the angst of Trump's phalanx of worst enablers as they fretted over possible career repercussions of 1) endlessly lying to the American people and 2) support a corrupt, cretinous toad of a man in 3) reforming the government into a white nationalist-premised, incompetent kleptocracy while destroying longstanding democratic institutions and premises. Consequences! Can you imagine there being consequences for such things? Truly, conservative pundits are beginning to stammer, it would be the end of democracy as we know it.

Lord help us, we are almost there. Only to Election Day, mind you: After that, even under the best-case scenario of American voters delivering a thumping to Trump so severe that not even his scandal-mongers can discredit the results, we still face an embittered Trump and Republican Party willing to dynamite the country into oblivion rather than let it pass unscathed into non-Republican hands.

For now, let's take some comfort in Dear Orange Leader apparently beginning to realize that he is in deep, deep trouble. Hopefully it will unhinge him mostly in ways that harm only himself and his malevolent aides, allies, and hangers-on. If we're lucky he'll demand William Barr arrest himself, or will turn on Rudy Giuliani for failing to sell the Moist Laptop Of Secret Crimes story with enough vim.

Is the Republican Party over?

The theme of the day was the palpable sense of rats leaving a sinking ship as Republicans, administration officials, and administration-adjacent people distanced themselves from the president.

There was a foreshadowing of that exodus on Wednesday, when Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) let loose about the president in a telephone call with constituents. Sasse was an early critic of Trump but toned down his opposition significantly in the early part of the administration. On Wednesday, he reverted to his earlier position, saying he had "never been on the Trump train." He complained about the way Trump "kisses dictators' butts," and went on: "The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor…. [He] mocks evangelicals behind closed doors…has treated the presidency like a business opportunity" and has "flirted with white supremacists." He said: "What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?"The theme of abandoning the administration became apparent yesterday, when officials leaked the story that intelligence officials had warned Trump against listening to his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. This was a high-level leak, and suggests that more and more staffers are starting to look for a way off the S.S. Trump.

The audience numbers for last night's town halls was also revealing, as Biden attracted 700,000 more viewers on just one ABC outlet than Trump did on the three NBC outlets that carried his event. Biden's town hall was the most watched event since the Oscars in February. It appears that people are simply tired of watching the president and are eager for calm and reason.

Today, a group called "43 Alumni for Biden" released an ad called "Team 46." It says that they are all lifelong Republicans, but because they recognize the qualities of leadership—including empathy– everyone "on this team" is voting for Biden. "Let's put Joe Biden in the White House." The ad features a number of pictures of President George W. Bush, the forty-third president, and is narrated by someone whose voice sounds like his. Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance notes, "This looks awfully close to an endorsement of Biden from George W. Bush."


Also today, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Committee, Jennifer Horn, urged "my fellow Republicans" not to vote for Trump's reelection. In a piece in USA Today, Horn reminded Republicans of "the overwhelming sorrow and grief that this president" has inflicted on the country. Citing Covid-19 deaths, "cultural divides, racial unrest, economic disparity and constitutional abuses," all of which "are just tools to be used to feed his narcissism, advance his political ambitions and line his pockets," Horn indicted both Trump and the Republican Party that enables him.

"This election poses a unique challenge," she wrote. "It will test not Republican vs. Democrat or Trump vs. Biden, but rather, "We the People." It is our role in this constitutional republic, our leadership, and our dedication to the promise of America that is being tested. Trump or America," she wrote. "We cannot have both."

Under pressure, Trump changed course today and approved the emergency declaration for California that he denied yesterday. Such a reconsideration would normally have taken until after the election, but this one happened fast. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted: "People are fleeing California. Taxes too high, Crime too high, Brownouts too many, Lockdowns too severe. VOTE FOR TRUMP, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE!!!"

Today CNN began teasers for a special on Sunday that will explain how former senior Trump officials believe Trump is unfit for the presidency. According to former White House Chief of Staff, retired Marine General John Kelly, "The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it's more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life."

Also today, Caroline Giuliani, the daughter of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, urged people to end Trump's "reign of terror" by voting for "a compassionate and decent president," Joe Biden. "[C]orruption starts with 'yes-men' and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power," she wrote in a piece for Vanity Fair. "We've seen this ad nauseam with Trump and his cadre of high-level sycophants (the ones who weren't convicted, anyway)." Giuliani cheered Biden's choice of Kamala Harris for his running mate, and wrote, "in Joe Biden, we'll have a leader who prioritizes common ground and civility over alienation, bullying, and scorched-earth tactics." "[T]ogether," she said, "we can vote this toxic administration out of office."

And yet another story from the day: a third career prosecutor from the Department of Justice resigned after publicly attacking Attorney General William Barr for abusing his power to get Trump reelected. "After 36 years, I'm fleeing what was the U.S. Department of Justice," Phillip Halpern wrote. "[T]he department's past leaders were dedicated to the rule of law and the guiding principle that justice is blind. That is a bygone era, but it should not be forgotten." Noting that "Barr has never actually investigated, charged or tried a case," Halpern expressed deep concern over Barr's "slavish obedience to Donald Trump's will." "This career bureaucrat seems determined to turn our democracy into an autocracy," he warned.

Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler, who worked as a federal prosecutor under Barr when he was George H. W. Bush's Attorney General, told Katie Benner of the New York Times that such criticism is "unprecedented," and reflects Trump's pressure on the AG. "I have never seen sitting prosecutors go on the record with concerns about the attorney general," he said.

And yet, Barr's willingness to bend the Justice Department to Trump's personal will may, in the end, not be enough to keep Trump's favor. Angry that Barr did not produce a report attacking the Russia investigation before the election, Trump just yesterday said he wasn't happy with Barr's performance, and might not keep him on as AG if he wins a second term.

There are signs people in the administration are preparing for Trump to lose the election. His cabinet is rushing to change regulations to lock in Trump's goal of giving more scope to businessmen to act as they see fit. Normally, changes in regulations require setting aside time for public comment on the changes, but the administration is shortening or eliminating those periods over changes in, for example, rules allowing railroads to move highly flammable liquefied natural gas on freight trains, what constitutes "contract" work, how much pollution factories can emit, and who can immigrate to America.

Russell Vought, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement: "President Trump has worked quickly from the beginning of his term to grow the economy by removing the mountain of Obama-Biden job-killing regulations," and that the current push simply continues that effort. But no one is missing the quiet distancing going on in Washington as Republican lawmakers are shifting away from public support for the president.

Meanwhile, at his rally tonight in Georgia, Trump told the crowd "You should… lock up the Bidens, lock up Hillary." The crowd then began to chant "Lock them up." But one thing about a bully: when people finally start to turn on him, there is a stampede for the exits.

Tonight, at his Georgia rally, Trump outlined all the ways in which he was being unfairly treated, then mused: "Could you imagine if I lose?… I'm not going to feel so good. Maybe I'll have to leave the country, I don't know."

We are pleased to be presenting daily posts from Heather Cox Richardson's "Letters From an American" email newsletter. You can sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Trump and the right share a Darwinist 'herd mentality' — and preference for sacrificing the weak to capitalism

Donald Trump's promise in an ABC News town hall last month that the United States would soon achieve herd immunity for the coronavirus, and conflating that with herd mentality, may be explained because Trump is counting on the latter to rescue his second term. It's otherwise impossible to imagine a campaign whose endgame is to recover the lost loyalty of voters over 65 selecting as its closing argument, "Not enough of you have died yet."

It's a safe bet that none of his 2016 Republican primary challengers would have embraced the idea that the solution to the pandemic was more American casualties than the Civil War and World War II combined. But many of Trump's Republican comrades-in-arms have embraced, often eagerly, a default preference for herd immunity — harkening back to the harsh social Darwinism that underlies much of modern conservatism. Early on in the pandemic there were Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana and radio host Glenn Beck, all of whom argued that the loss of more American lives was preferable to scaling back the economy. Then, when the issue became wearing masks, some opponents argued "if I'm going to get COVID and die from it, so be it …" Of course they really meant, "If you are going to get COVID ..." Wearing masks was a deprivation of freedom — although this argument seems never to have been extended by Republicans to the prohibition on public nudity.

As the pandemic surged again, by October Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was referring to "unjustified hysteria" about covid, and asked, after he became infected, ""Why do we think we actually can stop the progression of a contagious disease?" (The obvious answer is that we have been doing so, with increasing success, since the 1854 cholera pump moment. That is rejected by many on the right, because stopping a pandemic may require the government to prevent citizens from endangering others.)

Herd immunity can sometimes reduce mortality from a disease, but over the centuries has failed to end the curse of influenza, tuberculosis, smallpox, polio, rabies or dengue fever. It fits neatly, however, into a social Darwinist framework. Those who die are the "weak" — the poorest, the youngest and the oldest young — or can at any rate be classified as weak and deserving to die, because they died. Survival of the fittest requires discarding the weak. Remember the "let them die" hecklers who populated some of the 2011 Republican debates on health care.

This underlying value distortion — my personal freedom extends to my right to endanger you — spreads out across a range of other issues. Today's Republican reluctance to curb pollution even when it is demonstrably is killing a power plant's neighbors, to keep pesticides that kill farm workers out of the fields or to do anything at all about the climate crisis, which conservatives have privately conceded for years was real and caused by carbon pollution, are all illustrations of how the toxin of social Darwinism still contaminates much of the right's thinking about freedom.

So Trump's response to the COVID crisis — and the willingness of the Republican congressional establishment to enable it — illustrates a deep-rooted flaw in the American right. In a world in which we are, like it or not, all bound together, a tolerable conservatism is one that is willing to protect me from irresponsible neighbors, whether those are COVID-risking teenagers, irresponsible gun owners or multinational chemical companies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Texas Tribune reports of this process:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Bud McClure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are in very big trouble.

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

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