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Hometown: America's Finest City
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Member since: 2001
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Trump's unhinged Twitter meltdown shows Michelle Obama drew blood

President Trump unleashed a torrent of rage tweets about Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention that was spectacularly cringeworthy even by his standards — but it only underscored how effectively the former first lady made the case against him, in ways that are significant but not immediately apparent.

The strength of her scorching indictment of Trump — delivered on Monday night — resides in the fact that everyone, or at least a majority, knows it is true. As Trump’s meltdown shows, his only available response is to swap in an entirely invented tale, one hermetically sealed off from reality in just about every conceivable way.

Her case, boiled down, is that Trump inherited a country that, for all its deep problems and lingering inequalities, was on the mend following another previous crisis. Trump proceeded to utterly wreck the place through his incompetence, malevolence, corruption, and depraved conviction that stoking as much civil conflict and racial incitement as possible helps him.

Trump’s substitute tale, reflected in a series of tweets, runs as follows: Trump only won the White House as a reaction to Barack Obama’s failures — to “the job done by your husband,” as he sneered. Trump then built the “greatest economy” in the known universe, then voluntarily “turned off” that economy in a benevolent and responsible effort to save “millions of lives.”


Trump, the Mail and the Unbinding of America

The Postal Service facilitates citizen inclusion. That’s why Trump hates it.

In June the independent website Factcheck.org made a dig at Joe Biden, publishing a post titled “Biden Floats Baseless Election Conspiracy.” Biden, you see, had suggested that Donald Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.” There was, said the post, no evidence that Trump’s “stance toward the U.S. postal system is related to the presidential election.”

A few days ago Factcheck.org conceded that Biden had, in fact, been right. The confirmation? Trump’s own statements.

Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back from summer recess to consider legislation on the issue, and for good reason: There are not one but two possible constitutional crises looming. In one, millions of votes never get counted. In the other, delays in the counting of mail-in votes lead Trump to claim victory in an election he actually lost.

These November nightmares are the reason we need to act urgently to secure the integrity of America’s mail. But there’s also a larger, longer-term aspect to the assault on the postal system. It’s part of a broader attack on the institutions that bind us together as a nation.


Kim Jong Un orders pet dogs to be confiscated in North Korean capital

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered pet dogs to be confiscated in the country’s capital, saying the pooches represent Western “decadence’’ — but their owners fear Fido is really headed for someone’s dinner table.

Kim issued the directive in July to round up the pets, claiming they were part of “a ‘tainted’ trend by bourgeouis ideology,’’ a source told the English edition of Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper.

“Ordinary people raise pigs and livestock on their porches, but high-ranking officials and the wealthy own pet dogs, which stoked some resentment’’ among the lower classes, the source said.

“Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down.’’


A harsh new anti-Trump ad shows how Democrats view 2020

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, observers have wondered what might finally loosen Trump’s grip on the aging, rural, exurban, blue-collar and evangelical voters who make up his core constituencies.

While Republicans did see support among Trump constituencies erode in the 2018 elections, many polls showed Trump’s support largely undiminished with them. It became a cliche for reporters to venture into Trump country and find that the latest outrage hadn’t landed. Full-blown corruption? Pardoning cronies? Caging migrant children? Subverting national security policy to his reelection needs? Nope, nope, nope and nope.

But it needs to be asked whether the coronavirus crisis is beginning to do what these other things have thus far largely failed to do.

Some Democratic strategists believe this is in the process of happening, and a new ad from the super PAC American Bridge provides an occasion to look at this growing belief among Democrats.


Trump's appointees are working hard to maximize the damage in the time they have left

President Trump has never had much interest in the nuts and bolts of governing. Upon taking office, he was surprised to learn that running the U.S. government was actually harder than managing a midsize brand-licensing firm, and his inability to concentrate on the novel coronavirus can now be measured in 5.4 million infections and nearly 170,000 deaths, not to mention the resulting economic cataclysm.

Now, with just two and a half months to Election Day, he may never have had less concern for the actual work of the presidency. But don’t mistake Trump’s personal distraction for his administration falling down on the job. Because while he whiles away the hours tweeting about Fox News, the people who work for him are as industrious as ever, doing all they can to leave us with a country that is harsher, less just, more unequal and dirtier than when they found it.

If they have only a few months left, they’re going to make the most of it. When it comes to laying waste to America, these people are going to run through the tape.

Consider the latest of the administration’s efforts to despoil the environment and accelerate climate change:

• The Trump administration finalized plans Monday to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, a move that will auction off oil and gas rights in the heart of one of the nation’s most iconic wild places. Achieving a goal Republicans have sought for 40 years, it marks a capstone for an administration that has ignored calls to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the face of climate change.

• The move will allow leasing on the 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, the center of a nearly pristine wilderness home to migrating caribou and waterfowl as well as polar bears and foxes that live there year-round. It marks a major step toward reviving fossil fuel development in an area that has been untouched for three decades.

The ANWR was an issue you may have forgotten about; it’s hardly high up on the conservative agenda anymore. But Trump’s appointees didn’t forget. This follows an announcement last week that the administration would scrap limits on methane leaks, leaving it up to oil and gas companies to decide how much of the potent greenhouse gas they’d like to let seep from pipelines, wells and storage tanks.


Trump's argument: Look how awful things are -- now reelect me

President Trump has this bizarre notion that if he can show how chaotic, dysfunctional and dangerous things have become, Americans will reelect him. He sent federal law enforcement into Portland, Ore., seemingly with the purpose of stoking violent confrontations with protesters that could be used to create ad footage for his campaign. He is the only thing standing between you and carnage! Well, except that he caused it. This is on his watch. It is evidence of his inability to maintain order.

If there are assaults on federal property (statues, for example), if the president is forced to retreat to a bunker and if certain crimes have increased in locations around the country, then one has to ask how Trump took a peaceful country with declining crime rates and turned it (in his own telling) into a dystopian nightmare. Law-and-order presidents (or as Trump likes to tweet, LAW & ORDER!) do not preside over crime and disorder. His handiwork is proof that we need someone new.

So it is with the U.S. Postal Service. Trump has been attempting to discredit voting by mail and, to that end, seems intent on wrecking the most popular federal agency. In doing so, he sows fear in voters (especially his own) about casting ballots by mail. But recent mail slowdowns caused by policies enacted by the new USPS head — a major Trump donor — can mean disrupted delivery of medicine to veterans and millions who receive prescriptions by mail, unemployment checks to laid-off workers and Social Security checks to retirees. U.S. business owners are not pleased when their invoices do not reach customers and when their customers’ payments are delayed. The bipartisan outcry suggests blowing up the agency that Trump is ultimately responsible for running is not a winning strategy. (His criticism of the USPS as a money-loser is downright strange: Government agencies providing vital services to Americans are not-for-profit operations.)

The presidential sabotaging of the USPS — the one federal agency that touches the lives of virtually every American — fits Trump’s unique ability to wreak havoc on his fellow Americans. The pandemic that exploded and the economy that collapsed on his watch, and a revolt against racial injustice unlike any since the 1960s, provide the rationale for kicking out the incumbent president. Many schools are closed, and civic life has ground to a halt. Through incompetence or deliberate destructiveness, Trump has obliterated the case for giving him four more years. What will be left of America after four more years of Trump-induced devastation?


Even Trump's most die-hard minions struggle to defend him anymore

President Trump has always struggled to avoid saying the quiet part out loud. From lauding “very fine people on both sides” in the Charlottesville clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters in 2017 to admitting that he fired FBI Director James B. Comey over “this Russia thing,” Trump again and again has left his staff scrambling to explain that the president didn’t really mean what he said, that the media set him up or (when all else fails) that he was just “joking.”

One might have expected the pattern to change, though, given that his White House and campaign staffs are more uniformly right-wing die-hards than ever, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who used to chair the tea party-sympathetic Freedom Caucus in the House, and new campaign adviser Steve Cortes, who thinks Trump’s response to Black Lives Matter should have been more “fascist.” But on the Sunday talk shows, these would-be rhetorical bomb-throwers have found themselves stuck defusing just as many land mines as their predecessors.

One walkback involved Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.). On Thursday, Trump falsely suggested that she “doesn’t meet the requirements” to be vice president, referring to a widely denounced op-ed that argued that the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants might not be a citizen by birth. In a news conference Saturday, Trump tried a partial walkback by saying his campaign wouldn’t be “pursuing” the issue, but still declined to state Harris was eligible.

On Sunday, White House representatives blamed the media for the controversy. “Y’all have spent more time on it than anybody in the White House has talking about this,” Meadows told CNN. Cortes insisted on “Fox News Sunday” that “members of the media … are trying to create a controversy that simply doesn’t exist.” But unlike Trump, when asked whether Harris was eligible to be vice president, both simply — and correctly — responded, “Yes.”


People balked at masks in 1918, too. Then the arrests started

We’re repeating many of the mistakes of the flu pandemic 100 years ago, and learning few of the lessons

In October of 1918, with a lethal influenza spreading in San Diego, the health board asked the City Council to pass a law requiring people to wear face masks in public.

San Francisco had just adopted such a measure, the first in the country, as the death toll from the so-called Spanish Flu climbed. A half-dozen other cities — Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis, Pasadena, Oakland, Sacramento — soon followed.

But the council here balked. Some members doubted masks would help. Others said they would interfere with “the fresh air and sunshine” so crucial to a healthy lifestyle. They worried citizens would be harassed by overzealous police officers.

The council voted instead to make masks optional and ignored pleas to re-consider from the city’s health officer, who said the epidemic here — about 550 cases had been reported, including 20 deaths — could be corralled if everyone covered their faces.


The South won't give up on college football. Even if it kills us.

What happens when an unstoppable viral force meets an immovable cultural object?

The Big Ten and the Pac-12 will not play ball this fall. The Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Mountain West and Ivy League conferences won’t, either. But the states of the Old Confederacy have responded to the obvious dangers of playing a contact sport in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic with a collective, “Surrender, hell!”

President Trump and his fellow Republicans — especially in the South, and especially here in Florida, key to his reelection prospects — love college football. Lots of us Southern progressives love it, too: I’ve been going to Florida State games since I was 9 years old. I can tell you everything that’s wrong with the game, from the misogyny to the subconcussive hits that can cause degenerative brain disease in players to the troubling glorification of violence and militarism to the way often poor young men never get a piece of the vast sums of money they earn for the NCAA and their universities; still, I can’t help myself. I’m a lifer. I wish they could play. The players (most of them) want to play. College town restaurants, hotels and bars, purveyors of branded merchandise and the Walt Disney Co., owner of ESPN, want them to play. But I don’t see how, even in the South, where the cliche about the game being a religion happens to be true, college football can go ahead nearly as normal.

Yet the Big 12, the ACC and the Southeastern Conference, made up of mostly Southern universities (with a sprinkling of schools from the Midwest and Northeast) insist they’re ready to hit the gridiron. This is a political decision, and, to some extent, a cultural one. Trump is egging them on, tweeting “Play College Football!” Members of Congress have weighed in, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has his own troubled history with college athletics, and declared, “America needs college football.” Appearing on Fox News’s “Ingraham Angle,” former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz invoked football’s favorite exaggerated equivalent — war — to compare playing the game to taking the beaches on D-Day: “There’s no way in this world that you can do anything in this world without a risk,” Holtz said. “People stormed Normandy … they knew there were going to be casualties, they knew there were going to be risks, but it was a way of life.”

The Allies suffered 226,000 casualties during the Normandy campaign, but you’ll never get the College Football Industrial Complex to stop using battle metaphors, even though this year young men could actually die playing the game. In the South, college football has long been a sort of do-over for the Civil War: renowned sportswriter Grantland Rice (grandson of a Confederate officer) constantly compared games to the battle of Gettysburg. When Southern California beat the scrappy Tennessee Volunteers in the 1940 Rose Bowl, Rice rhapsodized, “It was a magnificent charge in a lost cause. It was Pickett at Gettysburg.”

Football always references war, and patriotism: Your side takes the other side’s territory and tries to stop them from taking yours. And just like in war, football is also about traditional masculinity. Many Americans, especially in red states, love the vision of society college football presents: Boys are big, strong and appropriately violent, while girls are small and pretty, faithfully cheering on their menfolk from the sidelines, even if the team loses by 40 points. There’s no blurring of gender roles in this retro-America, and the racial roles are pretty stark, too: Older White men are in charge (85 percent of Power Five coaches are White) while young men of color — 55 to 60 percent of Power Five football teams — perform the labor. Small wonder civil rights historian Taylor Branch famously detected “a whiff of the plantation” around college football.


Kamala Harris exposes the GOP's radicalism

It has been quite a show as President Trump and the Republicans moved feverishly — and at times hysterically — from one attack line against Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) to another.

In one instant, former vice president Joe Biden’s running mate is a dangerous left-winger. Then, suddenly, she’s a “top cop” and an unprincipled sellout to the progressive cause. She is, as all women who oppose Trump are eventually labeled, “nasty.”

And it was only a matter of time before we were treated to another round of tired, old, libelous birtherism. Hey, the U.S.-born Harris is the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, so in the Trumpian worldview, there must be something wrong. The greatest hits of racism and nativism keep on coming.

But this manic incoherence speaks to a larger problem for a radicalized Republican Party: They have moved so far to the right that they see even moderation as socialist radicalism.

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