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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,732

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Trump, the self-pitying president

The president denied the truth and now faces the consequences.

“Nobody likes me.” — Donald Trump

“Truth or Consequences” is the name of a town in New Mexico, and of a game show dating from the 1940s. But it’s also one of the primal laws of existence. Where an important truth is denied, consequences follow.

So none of us can be surprised at the state of the union after seven months of Donald Trump’s lies, alibis and magical thinking in the face of one of the worst public health crises in history. More than 150,000 of us are dead, the U.S. economy just endured its worst quarter on record and there is no sign the disaster is going to abate any time soon. To the contrary, the federal government is adding to the list of “red zone” states — that is, states where the COVID-19 infection rate continues to climb. Twenty-one states — nearly half the country — now make the list, including Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi.

And it should be lost on none of us that the “red zone” states are also mostly red states. Nineteen of the 21 — California and Nevada are the outliers — went for Trump in 2016. Red states, not to put too fine a point on it, are those we’d expect to be most susceptible to his lies, alibis and magical thinking — and most resistant to masks and social distancing.

Again, this is no surprise. As has been noted repeatedly in this space, truth doesn’t care about your feelings. Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t care about truth, so on behalf of 330 million of us, he chose consequences instead. And this country will be years in recovering, if it ever does.


Trump Forecasts His Own Fraud

In the president’s world, he is never to blame for failure.

This election is in danger of being stolen. By Donald Trump.

Trump is a win-at-all-costs kind of operator. For him, the rules are like rubber, not fixed but bendable. All structures — laws, conventions, norms — exist for others, those not slick and sly enough to evade them, those not craven enough to break them.

Trump is showing anyone who is willing to see it, in every way possible, that he is willing to do anything to win re-election, and will cry foul if he doesn’t, a scenario that could cause an unprecedented national crisis.

Trump has been on a rampage over voting by mail. Last week he tweeted:

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Setting aside the fact that Trump has no power to delay the election, he is clearly seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the outcome should he lose. If he wins, he’ll say he did so in spite of fraud, and if he loses, he’ll claim he did so because of it.


The GOP's stimulus disaster starts with the president

With each passing day, Republicans’ approach to extending economic aid looks lazier. From the day President Trump signed the Cares Act into law, politicians had months to craft a follow-up for that bill’s expiration. That time was sorely needed: In Washington, neither intraparty debates nor Democrat-Republican negotiations are quick. But while Democrats settled on their bill by mid-May, more than two months ago, Republicans dawdled right up to the deadline. The GOP’s sloth screams disinterest in the hard work of governing — and that disinterest starts at the top.

The result is now the spectacle of Republicans trying to shame Democrats for blocking something Republicans oppose. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “if you have unemployed people that have lost their enhanced unemployment, they need to call their Democrat senators and House members because they are the ones that are standing in the way of having those extended right now.” He left out that said extension would be only for one week, that Democrats opposed the one-week extension because they wanted it to be far longer and that Republicans ultimately want to slash that “enhanced unemployment” — a weekly payment above traditional unemployment coverage that was part of the Cares Act — from $600 to $200 a week. But that’s the pretzel logic the GOP is stuck with because it put off the policy work.

In fact, Republicans haven’t even hashed out the divides in their own caucus. When CBS’s John Dickerson asked about “heartburn” over another round of pandemic relief among some deficit-conscious Republicans, Meadows could only manage a feeble “yeah” before pivoting back to the temporary benefit extension. And when ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to react to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments that 15 to 20 GOP senators still won’t vote for any coronavirus deal, Mnuchin lamely assured viewers that “Mark Meadows and I have been updating the president regularly.”

Had Republicans gotten to work months ago, this disastrous lapse in relief could have been avoided. But when the party’s leader has as much interest in policy details as a dog has in vegetables, why should we expect anything different?


The CFPB once defended consumers. Thanks to Trump, it now helps companies prey on them instead.

For two days this week, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger testified to Congress about protecting consumers during the coronavirus pandemic, first in the Senate and then in the House. It went about as well as could be expected, which is not particularly well at all. Kraninger, a thoroughly unqualified Trump appointee, has shown little interest in doing her purported job, which is protecting Americans from the financial services industry. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said she lacked empathy, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) demanded she resign.

Kraninger’s main accomplishment since the start of the covid-19 pandemic has been the loosening of regulations on payday loans. Previously, regulations stopped people who couldn’t afford to repay the loans from taking them on, because borrowers seeking short-term relief instead often found themselves trapped in a cycle of quickly rising debt. Annual interest on payday loans can run above 500 percent.

When queried as to why she loosened regulations on payday loans, Kraninger said that consumers are showing a lot of interest in them. That’s quite possibly true, given that at least 1 million people have filed for unemployment every week since mid-March, but hardly the point of Kraninger’s critics, who believe payday loans are exploitative products that prey on the financially desperate.

Then there is the fact that, since the beginning of the shutdowns, tens of thousands of consumer complaints have poured into the CFPB about mortgage issues, inaccurate credit reports, hassles with debt collectors, you name it. Kraninger says she’s addressing them but her critics — such as Warren — disagree.


Trump's push to spoil the census -- and make Democrats disappear

President Trump cannot make the coronavirus disappear by curtailing testing, despite his bizarre suggestions otherwise. But he can make Democrats disappear, politically speaking, by spoiling the decennial census — the all-important and heretofore nonpartisan tally of the U.S. population that determines which states get how much political representation and where billions in federal money flow. The Supreme Court blocked his first effort to skew the count. Now the White House is trying other means, even as Census Bureau officials struggle to complete a massive enumeration during a pandemic.

Recently, Mr. Trump issued an executive order declaring that only legal residents should count when census information is used to apportion House seats to the states. Though possibly illegal and potentially impossible, given the kind of data the census collects, the president’s dictum may nevertheless heighten concerns that Census Bureau enumerators seek information on immigrants, documented or undocumented, to harass them, which could lead to reduced participation in the count.

Now, NPR reports that the Census Bureau plans to roll back the date by which it concludes its on-the-ground counting, from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30. What was supposed to be a 10-week, door-to-door process involving half a million enumerators could be cut by several weeks, with statistical imputation used to make educated guesses about how many people live in hard-to-count areas. Experts warn that imputation has been used in the past to characterize perhaps 1 percent of the population, but a shortened census might require experts to guess at perhaps 10 or 15 percent of the population in some places.

The Census Bureau had a plan to avoid this, asking Congress, in light of delays caused by covid-19, to extend the final deadline to deliver its results by four months, which would have allowed for door-knocking until the end of October. House Democrats included the deadline extension in their most recent coronavirus relief package. But Senate Republicans did not include it in theirs, and the New York Times reported Tuesday that White House and Commerce Department officials have been asking Census Bureau officials about imposing a shorter deadline. Given this administration’s willingness to politicize and corrupt virtually any process, it is not hard to see why: A flawed count would almost certainly help Republicans, because poor, minority and young Americans tend to be those undercounted.


Cheating is a Republican SOP.

Voting by Mail Is Crucial for Democracy

Especially amid the pandemic, it’s the surest path to a more inclusive, more accurate and more secure election.

For a man who votes by mail himself, Donald Trump is strangely obsessed with the idea that it is the most dangerous method of casting a ballot.

The president was at it again this week. “Rigged Election,” he tweeted of New York’s well-publicized struggles with counting mail-in votes. “Same thing would happen, but on massive scale, with USA.”

Voting by mail is a “catastrophic disaster,” he later said, “an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race.” Any election conducted by mail would be “INACCURATE AND FRAUDULENT.”

Finally, the hammer: “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

In a word, Mr. President: No.


A warning from Wisconsin

Wisconsin sells more paper, employs more people and has more paper mills than any other state. The industry was already in decline, but the coronavirus delivered a death blow.

Darrell Fox checked his email at the paper mill on a summer morning in June and immediately texted his wife at home: “Call me if you’re up.”

He didn’t want to tell her by text that the mill was closing.

They had met at the plant long ago, married and worked there together. Now they were losing their jobs together.

The massive paper mill has churned relentlessly since it began feeding off the energy of the Wisconsin River more than a century ago, forming the cornerstone of a city’s economy and producing glossy paper coveted by publishers during the heyday of U.S. magazines.

But the novel coronavirus pandemic has sped up a long-term trend — the waning need for the paper used in magazines and printed advertising — and Verso Corp.’s Wisconsin Rapids Mill will finally fall silent at the end of the month. The shutdown, announced June 9, will knock some 900 people out of work and has sent tremors across the region’s economy, reaching from the plant’s gates through town and deep into the Wisconsin forests that supply wood pulp to make paper.


Our economy has yet to feel the effects of Covid and the consequences of Trump's ignorance and Republican inaction.

Couple accused of hate crimes after attack on vehicle in Torrance is caught on video

A married couple were arrested and charged with hate crimes Friday for allegedly using a shovel to smash the vehicle of another couple, with the wife heard on video saying,"White lives matter,” and her husband seen performing a Nazi salute during the incident, authorities said.

Gregory Howell of Carson and his wife, Rachel Howell of Seal Beach, both 29, were allegedly caught on video during the incident about 10:30 p.m. on July 22, according to the Torrance Police Department.

In the video circulated on social media, the two suspects — who appear to be a white man and white woman — are seen outside of their white pickup at a stoplight near Artesia Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, according to Torrance police Sgt. Alexander Martinez.

In the video, recorded from inside the vehicle that was attacked, the woman says, “White lives matter,” and, “Only white lives matter,” adding expletives. The man is seen giving a Nazi salute and saying, “White power.”


Trump didn't like rulings on DACA. So he's defying them.

JOHN G. ROBERTS JR., chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, may rightly be regarded as a powerful man. So it may strike him and other Americans as odd to know that the Trump administration regards compliance with federal court orders as optional, even those arising from his own written opinions.

In separate cases, the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court have ruled that the Trump administration was unjustified in ending an Obama-era program that grants work permits and temporarily halts deportations for hundreds of thousands of “dreamers,” young undocumented immigrants who grew up in this country. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the high court’s opinion, in June.

Citing those rulings, a federal district court judge in July ordered the administration to restore the protections and benefits it tried to abolish when it rescinded the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in 2017. The administration has refused to comply.

Instead, it has declined new applications for DACA, maintaining a three-year-old freeze. It has done so even though hundreds of thousands of dreamers remain eligible, some having never applied in the first place, others having turned 15, the minimum age of eligibility. And it has cut work permits for roughly 640,000 dreamers currently enrolled in DACA to last only one year instead of two.


The moment impeachment managers realized how corrupt Trump's defense was

The White House claimed it hadn’t been given rights it had refused to use.

As soon as Pat Philbin, the deputy White House counsel, uttered the lie, my head shot up from my note-taking. “In the Judiciary Committee,” he said to every member of the U.S. Senate assembled for his boss’s impeachment trial, “. . . there were no rights for the president.”

It was just past 10 p.m. on Jan. 21 — the first day of President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. I was sitting near the head of the narrow, curved House managers table across from committee Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). They, too, looked astonished.

I had come to know, and like, the man with the slightly nasal drawl now peddling Trump’s falsehoods. Philbin was recognized for his integrity: The erudite former George W. Bush administration official had famously rushed (along with Jim Comey) to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. They were trying to block the White House from taking advantage of Ashcroft’s illness to extend a domestic surveillance program. Philbin’s insistence on principle had cost him career advancement. Later, as co-impeachment counsels for the House Judiciary Committee, Barry Berke and I had spent much of the past year negotiating subpoenas and legal issues with Philbin, an erudite former Bush administration official.

Among those negotiations was a call on Dec. 5, when we reaffirmed all of the rights for Trump that Philbin was now claiming we had withheld: “The president had no opportunity to present his defense, no opportunity to present witnesses, no opportunity to be represented by counsel and no opportunity to present evidence whatsoever in three rounds of hearings,” he told the Senate. Which certainly wasn’t true of our committee.

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