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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,605

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The whiny core of Trumpism

Opinion by James Downie

Few Trump White House members have survived the administration’s tumult as well as Peter Navarro. The economics professor and failed California political candidate is officially the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy; unofficially, he has elbowed his way into the government’s coronavirus response. As The Post reported earlier this month, two coronavirus-related contracts Navarro championed are under internal scrutiny, yet his position appears to remain secure because of “his one true ally: President Trump.” That should be no surprise: When you strip away the glitz that inherited money can buy, Navarro embodies the whiny core of Trumpism.

From the moment Navarro appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, it was clear he hadn’t agreed to this question-and-answer session to actually answer questions. When host Jake Tapper opened by inquiring about the administration’s response to the West Coast wildfires, Navarro had other priorities in mind. “Before we get started ... I would really like to congratulate President Trump on being nominated for the peace prize, the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said, before rattling off a list of the president’s groundbreaking work like “relative stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Tapper steered the interview back to the fires, and specifically their relationship to climate change. It was an obvious question, since as Tapper pointed out, Navarro co-wrote a paper 20 years ago that called climate change “one of the most important environmental problems of our time.” So, asked Tapper, “is anyone at the White House listening to you on this issue?” Navarro stammered, “Look, I’m not — that’s not my expertise, Jake. And, really, I came here to talk about a lot of things. … That was the last on my list.” Yes, the wildfires that have burned millions of acres of land and killed 33 people at last count were the last thing this White House wanted to discuss.

Instead, Navarro urged Tapper turn to the revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book, a request the host was only too happy to oblige. Tapper played two clips, the first a recording of Trump telling Woodward on Feb. 7 that the coronavirus is far deadlier than the flu, the second a video of the president then saying the opposite to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta later that month. “He was misleading the American people, why?” asked Tapper. First, Navarro tried to change the subject to giving the president credit for the China travel ban, claiming Trump was “called a xenophobe and a racist by Joe Biden … who later had to apologize.” When Tapper jumped in to point out neither of those allegations were true, Navarro replied, “Well, you’re wrong.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/13/whiny-core-trumpism/

Gawd I'm so sick of these liars.

How One Man Conned the Beltway

The billion-dollar “Black Budget” demands secrecy. That made it a perfect target.

The spy was recruiting for his secret task force. Scattered about the Beltway in grim brick and glass monoliths was a small army of gung-ho companies hoping to turn their patriotic ardor, technological inventiveness and commercial know-how into moneymaking national security contracts.

Starting in 2014 and continuing for over a year, the spy approached dozens of these companies with his recruitment pitch: the chance to join a covert government program, the knowledge of whose existence, he warned, could cost some lives, but it was also a group, he promised, that could save some lives, too. And in return for assisting the C.I.A. by providing him and his security operative — “The Twins,” people cleared for the op would call the pair — with salaries and commercial cover, the grateful agency would ensure that a trove of government contracts would come their way.

The spy called this top-secret enterprise Alpha214. It was approved, he claimed, by the president and by the director of national intelligence. Its clandestine activities were routinely discussed in surveillance-proof Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, SCIFs for short, with an all-star cast of intelligence officials.

A two-star general who commanded the 25th Air Force in worldwide intelligence and reconnaissance was briefed on the enterprise. It distributed to task force participants letters that appeared to be from the attorney general promising immunity and, on two occasions, $12 million payments. Its commercial backbone ultimately grew to include about a dozen tech companies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/09/opinion/sunday/garrison-courtney-spies-contracts.html

The audaciousness of this scheme and its success points to some serious flaws in how companies that apply for classified programs are vetted. Very disturbing.

The stock market is detached from economic reality. A reckoning is coming.

Wealthy investors and the Fed have been propping up large companies. It can’t last.

By Heather Boushey

When the stock market surged early this month, President Trump was quick to tweet, “The Dow Jones Industrial just closed above 29,000!” The picture changed a bit after the Dow slid more than 800 points a few days later. But the stock market is a continuing obsession of Trump’s. “We have the strongest . . . economy in the world,” he said last month, boasting of market gains in the midst of the deep recession caused by the coronavirus.

It’s understandable that the president wants to use the markets as a measure of the economy’s health, even as unemployment hovers at 8.4 percent and many businesses remain crippled. Since the start of the year, the S&P 500 — even following the recent drop — is up 2.5 percent, and the Dow is down a mere 4 percent. If stocks were the sole measure of economic health, you might think the economy was on the mend, perhaps even poised for a breakout.

The president and his supporters are ignoring what former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen forcefully explained recently: “The stock market isn’t the economy. The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector.” How have stocks remained so resilient in the face of such a severe shock? In part, it’s because of inequality. Stocks are overwhelmingly owned by the top 1 percent, which means speculation has been able to continue even as more people have lost their jobs than at any time since the Great Depression.

What’s more, measures such as the Dow and the S&P 500 reflect only the very largest U.S. companies, which can weather steep slumps in demand in a way that Main Street enterprises can’t — while the relief packages Congress passed this spring were better at shielding large companies from economic harm than smaller ones. Given how troubling the underlying economic data are, the immunity of the markets can’t continue (as this past week’s decline may suggest).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/stock-market-unemployment-disconnect/2020/09/09/087374ca-f306-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html

Trump Agrees to Be Interviewed for New Book by Joe Biden

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a decision that surprised many political insiders, Donald J. Trump has agreed to be interviewed for a new book by Joe Biden.

According to Biden, the book will be “an in-depth examination of the Trump Presidency, with special emphasis on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his comments about the military.”

Trump said that, when Biden approached him about the book project, “I moved on it very strongly.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me, quite frankly,” Trump said. “It’s going to be a major book, and I think Joe is going to make me look really good in it.”

Asked about the logistics of the interview, Trump said, “Joe told me to call him up late at night and just start rambling. This is the kind of thing I’m really, really good at, because I’m very smart.”

Biden’s book, titled “Don’t Vote for Donald Trump,” is set to go on sale a week before the election.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/trump-agrees-to-be-interviewed-for-new-book-by-joe-biden

Woodward's 'Rage' is a damning account of Trump's cowering sycophants and enablers

What new insights does Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Rage,” offer? We learn that President Trump is not the sharpest tool in the shed; members of his Cabinet consider him a narcissistic fool, devoid of empathy and incapable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood. Trump blithely minimizes the lethality of the coronavirus because he doesn’t want to look bad. He takes no responsibility for anything, boasts repeatedly about his wealth and genius, and shows nothing but contempt for those who happen to get in his way.

But we knew all this already, didn’t we? We already knew that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s former secretary of state, told colleagues that the president was “a moron” and that John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, often referred to him as an “idiot.” We knew that other senior officials have decried Trump’s “amorality” and “erratic behavior,” and that Jim Mattis, his former secretary of defense, was “angry and appalled” by what he saw as Trumpian behavior that made “a mockery of our Constitution.” We knew about Trump’s repeated assurances that the coronavirus would soon “disappear . . . like a miracle” and about his “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to his impeachment. We even knew that Trump considers America’s war dead “losers” and “suckers.”

The Age of Trump has been characterized by “shocking revelation” after “shocking revelation,” with the occasional “stunning revelation” thrown in for variety. Each new revelation is claimed to be the one that will end Trump’s presidency; each time, Trump blithely skips away from accountability, and his base remains loyal as ever.

Viewed in this context, “Rage” offers some fresh details and confirmation of old assumptions, but little that is likely to surprise anyone or change any minds. These incidents have lost their power to shock. What makes the book noteworthy is Woodward’s sad and subtle documentation of the ego, cowardice and self-delusion that, over and over, lead intelligent people to remain silent in the face of Trumpian outrages.

Woodward offers a detailed portrait of the president and some of his top aides. He tells us, for instance, that Mattis viewed Trump as “dangerous” and “unfit” for office, and ultimately resigned when he thought that Trump’s directives had shifted from merely stupid to “felony stupid.” For his part, Trump told White House trade adviser Peter Navarro that he considered his “fucking generals” to be “a bunch of pussies.” Meanwhile, Woodward reveals, former director of national intelligence Dan Coats took seriously the possibility that Trump was “in Putin’s pocket” and “suspected the worst” of the president. Trump, Coats reportedly told Mattis, “doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was no more complimentary, commenting privately that Trump’s “attention span is like a minus number.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/woodwards-rage-is-a-damning-account-of-trumps-cowering-sycophants-and-enablers/2020/09/10/dab8917a-f2d6-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html

A new McCarthyism finds a champion in Donald Trump

By Larry Tye

Joseph McCarthy’s name long ago became an “ism”— a synonym for reckless accusation, fear-mongering and the obliteration of one’s opponents by any means necessary. With the presidential election less than two months away, we’re seeing Donald Trump take up those tactics.

By now, probably every American has heard the charge that President Trump has denigrated fallen American soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” What people may not know is that McCarthy, the Red-baiting senator from Wisconsin, did something strikingly similar 70 years ago — inexplicably putting the U.S. military in his cross-hairs. While he had gotten away with baselessly accusing the State Department, the Voice of America and other federal agencies of sheltering communists, the Army proved it was too big to bully.

McCarthy’s wartime diaries show that he hated the military command going back to his World War II days as a tail gunner in the South Pacific. He resented officers’ supposed sugarcoating of Allied wins and enemy losses, writing, “Who the hell do those mental midgets think they’re fooling & why?” Most irritating to him were the inter-service rivalries: “Sometimes wonder if we are fighting the same war as the Navy & Army.”

Later, as a senator, McCarthy placed several Army generals who were venerated by the public — from George Marshall, orchestrator of the Allied victory, to Telford Taylor, head of American code breakers at England’s Bletchley Park — at the center of what he claimed was a vast Communist conspiracy inside the federal government. McCarthy’s manufactured rage reached a flash point in the fall of 1953 when he charged that Ft. Monmouth in New Jersey was filled with Commie moles. For good measure, he belittled Eisenhower, the war hero president, as a Johnny-come-lately to the Cold War.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-09-10/donald-trump-joseph-mccarthy-military-opposition

Trump to cities: Drop dead

Opinion by Max Boot

I had a nice, quiet Labor Day weekend. My family spent a day with friends at the Jersey Shore, but the rest of the time we were in New York City, where I live. We played tennis in Central Park; ate delicious Laotian food at a trendy restaurant in Tribeca and equally delicious Israeli food at a restaurant on the Upper West Side; bought bagels and lox from Zabar’s, the venerable Jewish grocery; and drank iced lattes from Irving Farm, a hip coffee shop. As I walked around, I noted the normal bustle of the city — the only discordant element being the masks that everyone wears to stay safe.

I mention this only because if you listen to President Trump, what I did would scarcely have been possible. According to the president, city dwellers must be cowering in fear from black-clad antifa thugs who are turning our neighborhoods into “anarchist jurisdictions.” The way Trump talks, I should probably be awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom just for daring to step foot out of my front door.

Last week, this White House issued one of the more absurd pronouncements ever to come from any White House — sinister and ludicrous in equal measure. It began: “Unfortunately, anarchy has recently beset some of our States and cities. For the past few months, several State and local governments have contributed to the violence and destruction in their jurisdictions by failing to enforce the law, disempowering and significantly defunding their police departments, and refusing to accept offers of Federal law enforcement assistance. As a result of these State and local government policies, persistent and outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued unabated in many of America’s cities, such as Portland, Seattle, and New York.” It ended with a threat to cut federal funding for these “anarchist jurisdictions.”

This executive order has a convoluted bureaucratic title. It really should be headlined: “Trump to cities: Drop dead.”

The president is campaigning for reelection by declaring war on America’s metropolitan areas — although 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, and 85 percent of gross domestic product is generated by large cities. This would seem to be, on its face, a suicidal strategy, but Trump is trying to divide cities from their suburbs, warning with characteristic dishonesty that “Joe Biden and the Radical Left want to Abolish Police, Abolish ICE, Abolish Bail, Abolish Suburbs, Abolish the 2nd Amendment — and Abolish the American Way of Life. No one will be SAFE in Joe Biden’s America!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/08/trump-cities-drop-dead/

Hysteria is no substitute for a coherent Trump message

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

President Trump’s campaign has spent too much and delivered too little, in keeping with the pattern of failed business propositions that dot Trump’s career, including multiple casino bankruptcies. “Mr. Trump’s financial supremacy has evaporated. Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent,” the New York Times reports. “Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter.”

Trump is frantic to convince donors that he is as committed to spending his own money as they have been. His donors should be wary of his promise to spend and wait for any of his checks to clear before forking over any more money to his campaign. We still do not know what he raised in August, but you better believe if it was anything close to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s $365 million haul, we would have heard about it by now.

The fundraising shortage reflects a familiar pattern for Trump. For a guy who pitches low-quality products to the unwary (Trump University! Trump steaks!), he is an easy mark himself. Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager, spent wildly on himself, among others. Parscale and others also indulged Trump with foolish expenditures to soothe him (e.g., TV ads in D.C.). The bottom line: Trump is a rotten CEO of his own campaign, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars without moving the polls.

The more fundamental problem with Trump’s campaign is that we do not know what it is about. A second-term agenda? He has failed to answer multiple questions about what that might include. He simply wants to be president for four more years. The criticism against Biden ranges from “He’s a socialist” to “He’s controlled by socialists” to “All the violence under my presidency is Joe Biden’s America” to “Sleepy Joe.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/09/trump-has-no-idea-how-run-against-biden-still/

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Lends Her Impeccable Reputation for Honesty to Defending Trump

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Refuting reports that her former boss disparaged fallen soldiers, Sarah Huckabee Sanders has lent her impeccable reputation for honesty and credibility to defending Donald J. Trump.

White House officials breathed a deep sigh of relief after Sanders, widely considered one of the most trustworthy and sincere figures in the nation, called the allegations “malicious lies.”

“If the comments attributed to the President have alarmed any voters, Sarah’s vouching for him should put an end to that,” one aide said. “When it comes to truth-telling, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the gold standard.”

The aide said that Sanders’s candid and straight-shooting performances at the White House podium made her legendary as “one of the most honest people ever to work in this building.”

“People talk about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders has to be in that conversation, too,” he said.

The aide said he hoped that Sanders’s repudiation of the damning claims will encourage other beacons of truth to come forward to defend Trump. “If Kellyanne Conway speaks out, we’re golden,” he said.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/sarah-huckabee-sanders-lends-her-impeccable-reputation-for-honesty-and-credibility-to-defending-trump

We must stop helping our enemies undermine our democracy

Opinion by Susan M. Gordon

Susan M. Gordon spent 31 years as a U.S. intelligence officer and was the principal deputy director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019.

As you read this, foreign adversaries and competitors are actively seeking to manipulate the outcome of our elections.

There is zero doubt about this.

But the elections are the battlefield, not the war. The objective of these attacks varies by actor; in aggregate their intent is to disrupt our institutions, erode our internal and external power base, and undermine the most fundamental strength of our nation — our belief in ourselves and our system of government.

Let’s stop helping them.

We — the government, business leaders, and most importantly, individual citizens — must be better educated about the threats we are facing. When we turn on ourselves rather than seek accountability, when we tear down our own institutions rather than insist on better performance, and when we turn real social issues into divisive rhetoric rather than work for change, we are doing exactly what our rivals hope.

Until we understand the intent of our adversaries and shine a light on their activities as part of a concerted effort to defeat them, foreign governments will continue to use the digital public square — and our elections — as the vehicle to sow instability among us in order to further their nefarious intentions.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/08/we-must-stop-helping-our-enemies-undermine-our-democracy/

"Republicans must stop helping our enemies undermine our democracy" would be a more accurate title.
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