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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,632

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Defiant, Now Infected: Trump Is a Morality Tale

The president has the coronavirus. Let’s learn from that.

By Frank Bruni

It’s a measure of the cynicism that has infected American politics — and, yes, me — that among my initial reactions to the news that President Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus was: Are we sure? Can we trust that? A man who so frequently and flamboyantly plays the victim, and who has been prophylactically compiling ways to explain away or dispute a projected election loss to Joe Biden, is now being forced off the campaign trail, which will be a monster of an excuse.

I couldn’t help thinking that.

I couldn’t help thinking, too, about karma, and I immediately felt and still feel petty for that. Trump has spent much of the past six months, during which more than 200,000 Americans died of causes related to the coronavirus, downplaying the pandemic, flinging out false reassurances and refusing to abide by the very public health guidelines that officials in his own government were fervently promoting.

He didn’t wear a mask. He encouraged large gatherings — including the Tulsa, Okla., rally that Herman Cain attended before falling sick with the coronavirus and dying, and his big convention speech, at which hundreds and even thousands of people, many without any facial covering, packed in tight. At the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, he mocked Biden for so often wearing a mask, suggesting that it was a sign of … what? Timidity? Weakness? Vogueishness? Moral vanity?

With Trump it can be hard to know, and it’s hard to know whether his own defiance was a kind of wishful thinking about the coronavirus’s true prevalence, a reflection of his belief in his own physical invincibility, some combination of the two or none of the above.

But it’s easy to identify the morals of this story.


How do we save a democracy on the brink?

Opinion by Joe Scarborough

Reaction to the first presidential debate was swift and fierce, and the fallout from President Trump’s performance was a fitting conclusion to a month that will likely cost him reelection.

September began with Trump buffeted by reports that he denigrated dead military heroes while attacking America’s top generals. Then audio recordings were released exposing the president’s lies about a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans. Soon after, a New York Times investigation showed the president to be both an astonishingly bad businessman and a possible tax cheat.

Then came the commander in chief’s historic meltdown in front of 73 million Americans.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham declared Trump’s behavior on the Cleveland debate stage “the lowest moment in the history of the presidency since Andrew Johnson’s racist state papers”; author and Post associate editor Bob Woodward accused Trump of “assassinating the presidency”; historian Michael Beschloss lamented that “democracy was trashed”; and, in the unkindest cut of all, actor Mark Hamill slammed the debate as “the worst thing I’ve ever seen & I was in The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

History will reveal soon enough whether Trump is Washington’s Darth Vader or Jar Jar Binks. But voters learned again Tuesday that the former reality TV star can simultaneously be both predictable and shocking. Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, observed that just because one is familiar with Trump’s corrosive character does not make it any “less shocking when it is on full, savage display.”


To the Fox News reporter who's 'tired of it': Clean up your own house

John Roberts, Fox News’s chief White House correspondent, grew frustrated with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday when she would not give a definitive statement that President Trump denounces white supremacists after he refused to do so in the presidential debate Tuesday. He later lost patience, saying: “Stop deflecting. Stop blaming the media,” Roberts declared. “I’m tired of it!” Really?

Let’s stipulate that Roberts is not akin to the “Fox & Friends” hosts or Fox’s evening lineup of Trump sycophants when it comes to distorting reality and cheerleading Trump. (Disclosure: I am an MSNBC contributor.) However, the White House has been deflecting like this for nearly four years. It has refused to answer all sorts of questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin, about Trump’s finances, about Trump’s embrace of racists and about any topic that would reveal Trump to be clueless or malicious. McEnany is just the most egregious practitioner of the non-response or the out-and-out falsehood. Roberts cannot possibly have just figured this out.

Roberts should look closer to home, if he’s “tired of it.” It is his network that allows Trump on air to spin bizarre conspiracy theories and blatant lies about his opponent. It is Fox News that has become a cesspool of anti-democratic (small “d”) and racist tropes. It is Fox News that tries to avoid — or to borrow a word, “deflects” — topics injurious to Trump, such as the New York Times bombshell about his taxes. It is his network that followed Trump’s anti-mask sneering. It is Fox News that has denigrated Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, and defended Trump’s covid-19 inanities — until he declares he was joking or being sarcastic. Even its “straight news” anchor Bret Baier went on air before the presidential debate to treat wild conspiracy theories about former vice president Joe Biden cheating at the debate as a serious story. It is Fox News that repeats Russian propaganda debunked by our intelligence community and the Senate Intelligence Committee concerning Ukraine.

It would be hard to find one entity on the planet more responsible than John Roberts’s employer for enabling Trump, keeping his base in line, misleading the public about Trump’s corruption, excusing his culpability and giving him a sense of invincibility. It is not the only one, but it certainly leads the pack of Pravda-like outlets whose job is to defend Trump by deceiving viewers and readers if need be.


Trump says insulin is now so cheap, it's 'like water.' It isn't

There was much to dislike in this week’s presidential debate — the lies, the rudeness, the inability of the White House incumbent to rise above the level of a cranky kindergartner.

For me, the low point came not when President Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, and not when he tore into the sons of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, but when he once again sought to convince the American people that he had single-handedly lowered the cost of prescription drugs.

Trump claimed that drug prices “will be coming down 80% or 90%” thanks to him.

He claimed that a series of executive orders have forced pharmaceutical companies to slash prices.

And the one that floored me: Trump claimed that the cost of insulin is now so low, it’s practically free.

“I’m getting it for so cheap, it’s like water,” he said. “You want to know the truth? So cheap.”

Like water.


Will California have enough electricity for all its EVs? Yes -- but it will take work

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order banning the sale of new gasoline vehicles in California by 2035 marked an audacious attempt to hasten the state’s transition toward climate-friendlier policies.

But the state’s likely shift toward millions more electric cars and trucks underscored a question that energy planners have been grappling with for several years: Will California have enough electricity to power all those vehicles?

The short answer is yes.

“There’s no technical or economic reason why the grid can’t support the full electrification of vehicles,” Chris Nelder, head of the EV-Grid Integration initiative at the Rocky Mountain Institute, told me.

The long answer is more complicated. California’s electrical capacity today wouldn’t be sufficient to provide power for 26 million EV cars and light trucks if all the vehicles in the state transitioned away from gasoline by 2035. “You’ll need to beef up the grid,” Nelder says.


4.9 earthquake near Salton Sea produces light shaking in San Diego County

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake erupted near the Salton Sea, not far from the southern San Andreas fault, at 5:31 p.m. on Wednesday, producing a swarm of smaller temblors, according to the US Geological Survey.

The mainshock began about 2 miles north-northwest of Brawley, at a depth of 7.2 miles, which is common in Southern California.

Some of the seismic energy was felt in San Diego County, including in Oceanside, Fallbrook, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Chula Vista and San Diego, the USGS said. The epicenter was about 95 miles east-northeast of San Diego.

“This was in the Brawley seismic zone which has produced a lot of swarms over the years,” said Tom Rockwell, a seismologist at San Diego State University. “The question always is: Will it set off the southern San Andreas? No one knows.”

The Brawley zone links the southern San Andreas and the Imperial fault systems. It’s located in one of the most seismically active regions of California and has long been a concern because it could help set off a catastrophic quake on the southern San Andreas fault, seismologists say.


A Debate That Can't Be Ignored

Americans need to face the man who is their president.

All Americans, whatever their political inclinations, should make time to watch Tuesday night’s presidential debate, and every minute of the two forthcoming debates.

President Trump’s performance on the debate stage was a national disgrace. His refusal to condemn white supremacists, or to pledge that he will accept the results of the election, betrayed the people who entrusted him with the highest office in the land. Every American has a responsibility to look and listen and take the full measure of the man. Ignorance can no longer be a tenable excuse. Conservatives in pursuit of long-cherished policy goals can no longer avoid the reality that Mr. Trump is vandalizing the principles and integrity of our democracy.

It’s a tired frame, but consider how Americans would judge a foreign election where the incumbent president scorned the democratic process as a fraud and called on an armed, violent, white supremacist group to “stand by” to engage with his political rivals.

The debate was excruciating to watch for anyone who loves this country, because of the mirror it held up to the United States in 2020: a nation unmoored from whatever was left of its civil political traditions, awash in conspiratorial disinformation, incapable of agreeing on what is true and what are lies, paralyzed by the horror of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and beholden to a political system that doesn’t reflect the majority of the country.

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