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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
October 31, 2020

Trump should be mediating the dispute over the Nile dam. Instead he is inciting war.

Opinion by Editorial Board

ETHIOPIA, EGYPT and Sudan have been locked in an increasingly tense standoff over an enormous dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile river, upstream from its neighbors. Nearing completion, the $5 billion project is crucial to Ethiopia’s development plans. It would more than double electricity output, transforming the lives of 65 million people who now lack it. But Egypt and Sudan, which also depend on the Nile, fear they will be starved of water as the giant reservoir behind the dam is filled.

This is a dispute that the United States ought to be helping to solve. Egypt and Ethiopia are long-standing U.S. allies and aid recipients, and relations between Washington and Khartoum are rapidly improving. Instead, President Trump is inciting war. Egypt, he proclaimed last week during a phone call with Sudanese officials, “will end up blowing up the dam .?.?. they have to do something.”

Probably, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, whom Mr. Trump has called “my favorite dictator,” won’t heed Mr. Trump. But Mr. Trump’s rash and ignorant remarks underlined how his administration has squandered U.S. leverage and abdicated leadership in Africa and around the world while alienating important allies. The latest example is Ethiopia, a country of 100 million people whose prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea.

The United States initially tried to mediate among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan earlier this year. Most experts believe a solution is possible: The countries must agree on how quickly the reservoir behind the dam is filled and how water supplies will be managed during future droughts. But rather than play honest broker, Mr. Trump sided with Mr. Sissi, a brutal but inept dictator whose regime blames Ethiopia for water shortages that are largely of Egypt’s own making.


October 31, 2020

Why does Trump love playing 'Fortunate Son' at rallies? John Fogerty has a pretty good theory

It seems impossible to miss the message of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 hit “Fortunate Son.” “Some folks are born, made to wave the flag,” John Fogerty sings during its opening salvo against the class divides in the Vietnam War era. “Ooh, they’re red, white and blue / And when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief’ / Ooh, they point the cannon at you.”

It’s a defining single of the protest rock era, aimed right at silver-spoon hypocrites who claim patriotism to shield their privilege.

So why on earth does President Trump, perhaps the most fortunate of sons in American political life (who got a deferment from Vietnam service because of alleged bone spurs), keep playing it at rallies in the closing days of the presidential campaign?

“He’s in his helicopter, hovering over a big crowd. It’s like a scene out of all the Vietnam War movies, and maybe he sees that scene in his head, even if it’s completely cuckoo,“ Fogerty, 75, told The Times on the Friday afternoon before election day.


Trump also loves playing it because it pisses off sane and rational people who recognize the cognitive dissonance it represents.

October 31, 2020

Trump Has Made the Whole World Darker

By Thomas L. Friedman

There is no escaping it: America is on the ballot on Tuesday — the stability and quality of our governing institutions, our alliances, how we treat one another, our basic commitment to scientific principles and the minimum decency that we expect from our leaders. The whole ball of wax is on the ballot.

The good news is that we’ve survived four years of Donald Trump’s abusive presidency with most of our core values still intact. To be sure, the damage has been profound, but, I’d argue, the cancer has not yet metastasized into the bones and lymph nodes of our nation. The harm is still reversible.

The bad news is that if we have to endure four more years of Donald Trump, with him unrestrained by the need to be re-elected, our country will not be the America we grew up with, whose values, norms and institutions we had come to take for granted.

Four more years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a TV network without integrity, and the cancer will be in the bones of every institution that has made America America.


October 31, 2020

Freedom as the Muzzle of a Glock

In western Colorado, the election is about “not having the government think for us, the right to protect ourselves.”

By Roger Cohen

RIFLE, Colo. — At the Shooters Grill, whose waitresses pack heat, I found Gary Nichols enjoying a burger. A man with bright blue eyes and a shock of gray hair, he got right to the point.

“Trump has my vote,” he told me. “I’ll go with whoever supports my beliefs and my freedom.”

For Nichols, an investigator in the sheriff’s office in nearby Moffat County, where he’s worked for more than 35 years, the Second Amendment is “probably top of the lot.” The right to carry a gun “is just a basic freedom,” he argued. “It’s about individual choice, self-thinking, not having the government think for us, the right to protect ourselves.”

Look, Nichols said, “this is how we started. People came here, out to the West. They worked hard, helped their neighbor. America was not about government interference. It was about doing the right thing. Biden and Harris are way to the left of what I consider good for America. They’re always putting America down. I believe in this country.”

There you have it. The soul of America is on the ballot Tuesday, any way you look at it. For Joe Biden and the Democrats, the election is about rescuing American democracy and restoring decency in a nation dragged into the mire by President Trump’s lies, self-obsession, racism and creeping autocracy. It’s about firing a corrupt charlatan who has sullied the Oval Office and sown the violence that could well erupt after the vote.

For the Trump Party, still known for some reason as the Republican Party, it’s about preserving American self-reliance — the God-fearing, straight-talking and gun-toting heart of the frontier — against Biden’s politically correct socialist takeover. It’s about the unbridled spirit of the land of the free, where no pandemic should shutter business.


October 31, 2020

Yes, Trump has an agenda for a second term. It's all about him.

Opinion by Fred Hiatt

It’s not true that President Trump has failed to outline his goals for a second term.

Sure, the Republicans failed to adopt a platform at their nominating convention, accelerating their slide from party to cult.

And, true, if you look on Trump’s campaign website, you will find a great deal of boasting about (largely imaginary) accomplishments — and no plans for a second term.

But to an extraordinary degree, Trump’s actions in the closing days of his first presidential term tip us off to how he hopes to reign — yes, reign — in a second. If we return him to office, we won’t be able to say we didn’t see it coming.

And what is “it”? Not any particular ideology, philosophy or program.

No, what Trump is openly showing us is his intention to reshape the U.S. government from an institution designed to serve the nation and its people to one that caters to one man’s whims, prejudices, grudges, vanity and profit.


October 31, 2020

Most Conservative Christians Support Trump. Will They Help Him Win Again?

White evangelicals have time and again offered uncompromising support for President Trump when he needed it the most.

Heather Way, who home-schools her three children in Waterville, Maine, said President Trump had proved to be “a man of his word.”

Michael Poe, who works in the hazardous waste department of Gilbert, Ariz., said Mr. Trump aligned with his values, from economic to anti-abortion policy.

Jonathan Thorne, a Southern Baptist youth pastor in Fayetteville, N.C., said Mr. Trump defended Christians, whose “rights are always being taken away.”

All three are evangelical Christians. All say their support for Mr. Trump has grown even stronger since they voted for him four years ago. And all represent the white, Christian core of Mr. Trump’s base that he needs to hold in order to win on Tuesday, just as they pushed him to a surprise victory in 2016.

October 30, 2020

Shaming? Absolution? Jail? How to treat those complicit in Trump's wrongdoing


Among the glories of democratic government, the historian Jill Lepore wrote recently, are that after an election “the loser concedes without violence, and the winner accepts without vengeance.”

Lepore was right in her observation, but wrong in assessing its current implications for the U.S. She was arguing against a reckoning of Trump administration wrongdoing that takes the form of either a South Africa-style “truth and reconciliation commission” or criminal prosecutions.

Either option would inevitably become an instrument of partisanship, Lepore argues. She approvingly quotes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as warning that criminal prosecutions of Trump officials would be “probably not very ... good for democracy.”

“In the trade-off between prosecution and stability, Biden chooses stability,” Lepore writes. “Much of the left does not.” Her conclusion: Let history judge.


October 30, 2020

The Day After Election Day

Current and former Trump administration officials are worried about what might happen on Nov. 4.

By Ron Suskind

There will of course be an Election Day — and it could be one of tumult, banners colliding, incidents at the polls and attempted hacks galore. More likely than not, it will end without a winner named or at least generally accepted.

America will probably awaken on Nov. 4 into uncertainty. Whatever else happens, there is no doubt that President Trump is ready for it.

I’ve spent the last month interviewing some two dozen officials and aides, several of whom are still serving in the Trump administration. The central sources in this story are or were senior officials, mainly in jobs that require Senate confirmation. They have had regular access to the president and to briefings at the highest level. As a rule, they asked for anonymity because they were taking a significant professional and, in some cases, personal risk in speaking out in a way that Mr. Trump will see as disloyal, an offense for which he has promised to make offenders pay.

Several of them are in current posts in intelligence, law enforcement or national security and are focused on the concurrent activities of violent, far-right and white supremacy groups that have been encouraged by the president’s words and actions. They are worried that the president could use the power of the government — the one they all serve or served within — to keep himself in office or to create favorable terms for negotiating his exit from the White House. Like many other experts inside and outside the government, they are also concerned about foreign adversaries using the internet to sow chaos, exacerbate divisions and undermine our democratic process.


Prepare to be unnerved if you read this entire article.
October 30, 2020

We have to destroy the Republican Party in order to save it

Opinion by Max Boot

“We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” That famous, if probably apocryphal, quote from the Vietnam War describes how I feel about the Republican Party. We have to destroy the party in order to save it.

As a lifelong Republican until Nov. 9, 2016 — and as a foreign policy adviser to three Republican presidential candidates — it gives me no joy to write those words. It’s true that the party had long-standing problems — conspiracy-mongering, racism, hostility toward science — that Donald Trump was able to exploit. But he has also exacerbated all of those maladies, just as he made the coronavirus outbreak much worse than it needed to be.

I have watched with incredulity the GOP’s descent into collective madness. Many Republicans I know began by holding their noses and voting for Trump because of judges and taxes and their hatred of Hillary Clinton. Now the whole Republican Party seems to inhabit the Fox News Cinematic Universe, an alternative reality where President Barack Obama spied on Trump and Joe Biden is a socialist who will let “anarchists” and “arsonists” run riot.

The party has even become infected by the lunatic QAnon cult, whose followers believe Trump’s opponents are blood-drinking, Satan-worshipping pedophiles. In one recent poll, half of Trump supporters said top Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking. Georgia’s Senate primary offers a disturbing snapshot of the state of the party: Rep. Douglas A. Collins promotes his endorsement from two convicted felons (former Trump advisers Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos) while Sen. Kelly Loeffler touts her support from Marjorie Taylor Greene, a soon-to-be House member who questioned whether the Pentagon was really attacked on 9/11.


I'm OK with just destroying the Republican Party.

October 30, 2020

It's up to the people to foil Trump's plot against democracy

Opinion by Robert Kagan

As American democracy hurtles toward what could be its final crisis, we continue to hope that someone will ultimately rise up to save us, that somehow our institutions will protect us, that people in positions of authority will finally do the right thing. This faith in the resilience of democracy is endearing, but unfortunately all it has done these past four years is blind and paralyze us. Believing that the only problem was President Trump and his authoritarian inclinations, we have looked to those around him — in the White House, in the Justice Department, in Congress and in the courts — to control and contain him, presumably out of some innate love of democracy.

It did not occur to us that men and women with respectable résumés might be just as willing to subvert the democratic system as Trump himself, as if U.S. officials alone were immune from the temptations of power. The consequence of this self-delusion is that we have now almost run out of chances to stop them.

Trump and his supporters have told us exactly how they plan to hold onto power regardless of the election outcome. The president began declaring the election “” even before early voting began, and he has yet to say that he will respect a result that does not favor him. Republicans in hotly contested states are already planning to bring lawsuits alleging fraud, miscounts, tainted ballots and other irregularities.

Our Democracy in Peril: A series on the damage Trump has caused — and the danger he would pose in a second term
The national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, has set the predicate for charges of foreign interference by overhyping alleged Iranian manipulation before the election. When Ratcliffe finds evidence of Iranian and other foreign interference, as he surely will, Attorney General William P. Barr will call for an investigation. Anyone in the intelligence community who disputes Ratcliffe’s claims will either be silenced or fired. Trump officials are already leaking that FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper might be removed after the election. The claims of Republican state legislatures and the results of the “investigation” into foreign meddling will then come before the Supreme Court, which, with a solid 6-to-3 conservative majority, will put its stamp of legitimacy on the stolen election.


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