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Why This Pro-Life Conservative Is Voting for Biden

The most consistent reason that I’ve heard for supporting Donald Trump is abortion. The claim is that we must overlook every fault, allow Mr. Trump to be guilty of any crime, as long as he’s pro-life. We Christians can never allow a Democratic “baby killer” to be elected. I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with this argument. It permits a multitude of sins—lying, cheating, bullying, objectifying, defrauding; hate, racism, vindictiveness—as long as one, very specific line isn’t crossed.

But it is possible to be both pro-life and to vote for a Democrat.

Why This Pro-Life Conservative Is Voting for Biden

Mona Charen for The Bulwark.

Since I announced publicly that I will be voting for Joe Biden in November, I’ve received a few communications from puzzled readers. “How can you, a supposedly pro-life woman, support someone who believes in killing babies?” Others say, “What do you not like about Trump’s record? The tax cuts? The record jobs numbers? The conservative judges?” One reader summed things up with “I used to like you.”

I understand. I feel the same way about many people myself.

I will try to respond for the sake of those who, like me, find themselves alienated from the Republican Party despite some policy agreements with the Trump administration.

Let’s start with abortion. I have been pro-life my entire adult life. I haven’t changed. I continue to find the practice abhorrent, and will persist in trying to persuade others. But I’ve noticed a tendency among pro-life conservatives to forgive absolutely everything else if a politician expresses the right views on abortion. This is a mirror image of the left, as we saw when Bill Clinton was accused of sexual misconduct. Many liberals were willing to overlook his gross behavior toward women in the name of preserving abortion rights. Call it “abortion washing.” Both sides do it.

Abortion washing shuts down moral reflection. Rather than do the work of analyzing how one good thing weighs in the balance against other considerations, abortion washing permits the brain to snap shut, the conscience to put its feet up.

[…] I’ve never believed that electing presidents who agree with me will lead to dramatic changes in abortion law, nor is the law itself the only way to discourage abortion. The number of abortions has been declining steadily since 1981. It dropped during Republican presidencies and during Democratic presidencies, and now stands below the rate in 1973, when Roe _v. Wade_ was decided and when abortion was illegal in 44 states.

The Supreme Court, despite Republican appointments, has side-stepped many opportunities to reverse Roe. As David French noted, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter were harsh critics of the decision, but chose, on the bench, to vote for continuity. So if the logic is to support presidents based on the kind of Supreme Court nominees they will choose, the chances that any particular appointment will have the effect of changing the law seem remote.

It has always been my hope to change people’s hearts, so that this cruel practice—like slavery, torture, and mutilation—can be put (mostly) behind us.

Being pro-life is part of an overall approach to ethical questions. It’s wrong to take innocent life. But other things are immoral too. It’s also wrong to swindle people, to degrade and demonize, to incite violence, to bully, and while we’re at it, to steal, to bear false witness, to commit adultery, and to covet. I don’t think Trump has committed murder, and he seems to have honored his parents (though perhaps in the wrong way). But as for the other eight of the 10 commandments, Donald Trump has flagrantly, even proudly violated them all, and encouraged his followers to regard his absence of conscience as strength.

Donald Trump is a daily, even hourly, assault on the very idea of morality, even as he obliterates truth. His influence is like sulphuric acid on our civic bonds. His cruelty is contagious. Remember how he mocked a handicapped reporter in 2016? His defenders either denied the obvious facts, or insisted that, while Trump himself might be “politically incorrect,” his supporters wouldn’t be influenced by that aspect of his character.

Alas, they are. Consider the incredibly moving moment during the Democratic National Convention when young Braydon Harrington, who struggles with stuttering, introduced Joe Biden. That night, an Atlantic editor with the same affliction tweeted “This is what stutterers face every day. I’m in awe of Braydon’s courage and resolve.” But Austin Ruse, author of The Catholic Case for Trump, tweeted his doubts that Biden ever stuttered, and replied to another comment with, “W-w-w-w-w-w-what?”

This entry was tagged. Abortion Christianity Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

I'm Billy Graham's granddaughter. Evangelical support for Donald Trump insults his legacy.

This member of the Graham family says exactly what I’ve been feeling for the past 2 or 3 years. Donald Trump is hurting the church in ways that will last far longer than his Presidency. Millions of people will forever turn away from God, because of the marriage between this man and American evangelicalism.

I'm Billy Graham's granddaughter. Evangelical support for Donald Trump insults his legacy.

Jerushah Duford, writing for the Associated Press

As a proud granddaughter of the man largely credited for beginning the evangelical movement, the late Billy Graham, the past few years have led me to reflect on how much has changed within that movement in America.

I have spent my entire life in the church, with every big decision guided by my faith. But now I feel homeless. Like so many others, I feel disoriented as I watch the church I have always served turn its eyes away from everything it teaches. I hear from Christian women on a daily basis who all describe the same thing: a tug at their spirit.

Most of these women walked into a voting booth in 2016 believing they were choosing between two difficult options. They held their breath, closed their eyes and cast a vote for Donald Trump, whom many of us then believed to be “the lesser of two evils,” all the while feeling that tug.

I feel it every time our president talks about government housing having no place in America’s suburbs. Jesus said repeatedly to defend the poor and show kindness and compassion to those in need. Our president continues to perpetuate an us-versus-them narrative, yet almost all of our church leaders say nothing.

I feel this tug every time our president or his followers speak about the wall, designed to keep out the very people Scripture tells us to welcome. In Trump’s America, refugees are not treated as “native born,” as Scripture encourages. Instead, families are separated, held in inconceivable conditions and cast aside as less than.

Trump has gone so far as to brag about his plans, accomplishments and unholy actions toward the marginalized communities I saw my grandfather love and serve. I now see, through the silence of church leaders, that these communities are no longer valued by individuals claiming to uphold the values my grandfather taught.

The gentle tug became an aggressive yank, for me, earlier this year, when our country experienced division in the form of riots, incited in great part by this president’s divisive rhetoric. I watched our president walk through Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., after the tear gassing of peaceful protesters for a photo op.

He held a Bible, something so sacred to all of us, yet he treated that Bible with a callousness that would offend anyone intimately familiar with the words inside it. He believed that action would honor him and only him. However, the church, designed to honor God, said nothing.

It seems that the only evangelical leaders to speak up praised the president, with no mention of his behavior that is antithetical to the Jesus we serve. The entire world has watched the term “evangelical” become synonymous with hypocrisy and disingenuousness.

My faith and my church have become a laughing stock, and any attempt by its members to defend the actions of Trump at this time sound hollow and insincere.

One of my grandfather’s favorite verses was Micah 6:8, in which we are told that the Lord requires of his people to do justly, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly. These are the attributes of our faith we should present to the world. We can no longer allow our church leaders to represent our faith so erroneously.

I have given myself permission to lean into that tug at my spirit and speak out. I may be against the tide, but I am firm in my faith that this step is most consistent with my church and its teachings.

At a recent large family event, I was pulled aside by many female family members thanking me for speaking out against an administration with which they, too, had been uncomfortable. With tears in their eyes, they used a hushed tone, out of fear that they were alone or at risk of undeserved retribution.

How did we get here? How did we, as God-fearing women, find ourselves ignoring the disrespect and misogyny being shown from our president? Why do we feel we must express our discomfort in hushed whispers in quiet corners? Are we not allowed to stand up when it feels everyone else around us is sitting down?

The God we serve empowers us as women to represent Him before our churches. We represent God before we represented any political party or leader. When we fail to remember this, we are minimizing the role He created for us to fill. Jesus loved women; He served women; He valued women. We need to give ourselves permission to stand up to do the same.

This entry was tagged. Christianity Donald Trump President2020 Women

Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters

Think Mr. Trump is a friend of Christians? Think again. He’s just using you for your votes.

Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters

by McKay Coppins, for The Atlantic

One day in 2015, Donald Trump beckoned Michael Cohen, his longtime confidant and personal attorney, into his office. Trump was brandishing a printout of an article about an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor trying to raise $60 million from his flock to buy a private jet. Trump knew the preacher personally—Creflo Dollar had been among a group of evangelical figures who visited him in 2011 while he was first exploring a presidential bid. During the meeting, Trump had reverently bowed his head in prayer while the pastors laid hands on him. Now he was gleefully reciting the impious details of Dollar’s quest for a Gulfstream G650.

Trump seemed delighted by the “scam,” Cohen recalled to me, and eager to highlight that the pastor was “full of shit.”

“They’re all hustlers,” Trump said.

The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain. In speeches and interviews, Trump routinely lavishes praise on conservative Christians, casting himself as their champion. “My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” he declared at a rally for evangelicals earlier this year. It’s a message his campaign will seek to amplify in the coming weeks as Republicans work to confirm Amy Coney Barrett—a devout, conservative Catholic—to the Supreme Court.

But in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.

This entry was tagged. Christianity Donald Trump President2020

Tax Records Reveal How Fame Gave Trump a $427 Million Lifeline

The New York Times has been looking through the tax records that Donald Trump never wanted us to see. They found that he came very close to another bankruptcy in the mid-90s. The surprise success of The Apprentice bailed him out. And he used that success to enrich himself in ways that preyed on poor Americans, desperate for their own rescue.

Tax Records Reveal How Fame Gave Trump a $427 Million Lifeline

by Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig.

With his penchant for using what he called “truthful hyperbole” to play on people’s desires, Mr. Trump had always skated close to the edge of fraud. Soon, he would be accused of crossing the line completely.

In his zeal to squeeze ever more dollars out of Mr. Burnett’s golden goose, Mr. Trump signed on to an array of questionable products and services, including some that claimed to sell insights into his business expertise. The first year of “The Apprentice” was barely over when Mr. Trump pocketed $300,000 to speak at an event in Dayton, Ohio, where attendees paid $2,995 to learn the secrets of instant wealth from a company that was later accused in a lawsuit of running a Ponzi scheme.

In his monologues, he made a virtue of his first round of casino failures, portraying himself as a victim whose grit and intelligence saved the day. People ate it up.

“His presence gives me reassurance,” Lillie Moss, who raided her retirement fund to buy an investment kit at the Dayton event, said of Mr. Trump.

The tax records show that another series of speaking engagements, sponsored by the Learning Annex, paid Mr. Trump $7.3 million for events with titles like “Real Estate Wealth Expo: One Weekend Can Make You a Millionaire.” A book he co-wrote with the Annex’s founder, “Think Big and Kick Ass: In Business and Life,” earned him royalties of $1.4 million.

Unmentioned in the mythologizing were the millions in bailout money from his father or the losses he was reporting to the I.R.S. Nor was there any sense of the gigantic payday — revealed only through an examination of the tax data — that Mr. Trump was enjoying in exchange for lending his imprimatur to an increasingly cynical array of business ventures.

As the years went on, and the success of “The Apprentice” made Mr. Trump a household name far beyond New York, the chasm between truth and hyperbole widened. It was one thing to bray about his late mother — a multimillionaire with a maid and a Rolls-Royce — using All laundry detergent. Now, he was flogging things that could hurt people economically.

In what would be his most lucrative side deal, he teamed up with a multilevel marketing company, ACN, whose clients were told they could make a living from home by selling video phones, satellite television and other services. Investigated in several countries, ACN has left a trail of complaints that people were suckered into spending far more than they earned trying to peddle the company’s products.

Regulators in France concluded that “only 1 percent of people recruited could claim a satisfactory income,” and that the rest lost money or, at most, made about $35 a month, according to court records. Montana officials came to a similar conclusion, finding that the average participant in that state paid ACN about $750 in various fees but got back only $53.

ACN, which has never admitted wrongdoing while settling legal actions by state regulators, claims its business model is misunderstood; on its website, it once posted a page helpfully titled “The Difference in ACN and a Pyramid Scheme.” A class-action lawsuit pending against Mr. Trump and his family asserts that the Trump brand became central to ACN’s business strategy, citing one plaintiff who signed up after she “watched clips of ACN appearing on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”

ACN sold DVDs of Mr. Trump promoting its products, and devoted part of its website to its “Trump partnership,” featuring photos of him appearing at ACN events and his glowing testimonial: “ACN has a reputation for success. Success that’s really synonymous with the Trump name and other successful names, and you can be part of it.”

By the time Mr. Trump featured ACN’s video phone on “The Apprentice” in 2011, the technology was close to obsolete, and yet he played it up, saying, “I think the ACN video phone is amazing.”

His tax returns reveal just how much the company was paying him for the happy talk: $8.8 million over 10 years, including $1 million in 2009 — the nadir of the Great Recession, when desperate people were drawn to promises of a fast payday. In fact, Mr. Trump actively capitalized on the economic anxiety.

In a separate deal he struck that same year, this one to promote the multilevel marketing of vitamins by a company that was rebranded the Trump Network, he gave speeches that persuaded some people to spend almost $500 for a starter kit and try to recruit friends and relatives. Mr. Trump said in a video that people “need a new dream.”

“The Trump Network wants to give millions of people renewed hope, and with an exciting plan to opt out of the recession,” he said.

Within a couple of years, the company behind the Trump Network, Ideal Health, was sold, and its owners declared bankruptcy. Still, it was long enough for Mr. Trump to make $2.6 million selling hope in a vitamin bottle, according to his tax records.

In 2016, he agreed to pay $25 million to settle litigation over Trump University, an unaccredited seminar that persuaded people to pay as much as $35,000 to learn the real estate trade. But that legal reckoning was the exception in a decade-long run by Mr. Trump and his company, described in the class-action suit, filed in 2018, as a “large and complex enterprise with a singular goal: to enrich themselves by systematically defrauding economically marginalized people looking to invest in their educations, start their own small businesses and pursue the American Dream.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Taxes Wealth President2020

Former Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge: I'm voting for Joe Biden

Tom Ridge was the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during President Bush’s administration. Before that, he was the Republican governor of Pennsylvania. He knows something about national leadership during times of crisis. And he’s seen enough of Donald Trump. He took the to the Philadelphia Inquirer to explain himself.

Former Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge: I'm voting for Joe Biden

Many of us remember when President George W. Bush, with megaphone in hand, stood on the rubble in lower Manhattan and told his fellow citizens and the world that those responsible for the brutal carnage of 9/11 would be held accountable. His remarks unified the country and his appearance on the mound at Yankee Stadium days later put an exclamation point on the message that America was resilient and would overcome.

Compare and contrast that with the crisis of today. Imagine the impact of President Trump traveling to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back in February, and talking plainly about the challenge Mother Nature intended to throw at us, and how this country, working together, public and private sector, would confront it with all the fortitude and resources we could bring to bear. Then imagine him meeting with journalists the next day, appearing with a face mask, and calmly walking through the steps that his fellow citizens could and should take to do their part to combat this new challenge. Imagine the difference in attitude and outcomes. Perhaps I have more trust in Americans being able to handle the truth than the president.

Donald Trump has proven over these last four years he is incapable of such leadership. It is not within him. He lacks the empathy, integrity, intellect and maturity to lead. He sows division along political, racial and religious lines. And he routinely dismisses the opinions of experts who know far more about the subject at hand than he does – intelligence, military, and public health. Our country has paid dearly in lives lost, social unrest, economic hardship and our standing in the world.

With just about one month until Election Day, President Trump continues to claim the only way he can possibly be defeated is a rigged election. Can you imagine the hubris? Can you imagine any other president in our lifetime — or ever — saying something so dangerous and un-American? We are in the midst of a health crisis, when we should be doing all we can to help citizens vote safely, yet he continues to cast doubt on the sanctity of the vote. He’s done so multiple times here in Pennsylvania. It’s deplorable, yet utterly consistent with past reprehensible behavior.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

The Russian Trolls Have a Simpler Job Today. Quote Trump

Russia benefits internationally when America is divided and distrustful. If Americans believe that the result of the upcoming Presidential election is illegitimate—no matter the victor—Russia will have an easier time doing as they like in the rest of the world. And Donald Trump is doing everything that he possibly can to make Americans distrust the results of the upcoming Presidential election.

The Russian Trolls Have a Simpler Job Today. Quote Trump

by David E. Sanger and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, for the New York Times.

In interviews, a range of officials and private analysts said that Mr. Trump was feeding many of the disinformation campaigns they were struggling to halt. And rather than travel the back roads of America searching for divisive issues — as three Russians from the Internet Research Agency did in 2016 — they are staying home, grabbing screenshots of Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts, or quoting his misleading statements and then amplifying those messages.

That campaign is at the heart of the disinformation efforts that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, warned Congress last week was meant “to both sow divisiveness and discord” and “to denigrate” former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee. Mr. Trump chastised him for his comments on Twitter.

“But Chris, you don’t see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia,” he said. He went on to repeat the kind of statements the Russians have been exploiting, writing that the two countries would take advantage of “our totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam.”

[…] Much of the Russian traffic echoes Mr. Trump’s effort to establish an argument for rejecting the election results if he loses in states that are mailing ballots to all voters for the first time. But of the states doing so for the first time this election, only Nevada is seriously in contention.

No sooner did Mr. Trump begin to contend that the system was ridden with fraud than Russian trolls, bots and news sites joined in. In late May, the state-backed Russian website RT was quick to publish an article claiming that such ballots “are the easiest route to a RIGGED ELECTION.”

By early August, the Strategic Culture Foundation — an online journal that the State Department declared recently “is directed by Russian Foreign Intelligence Service” — had picked up on the same theme, according to analysts at Recorded Future, a group based in Somerville, Mass., that analyzes cyberactivity by foreign governments.

An article appearing on the Strategic Culture website concludes: “President Trump has several times claimed that the expected surge in mail-in voting could result in ‘the most corrupt vote in our nation’s history.’ Trump is often wrong when he speaks or tweets spontaneously, but this time he just might be right.”

And this month, the Russian government news site, Sputnik, published an article headlined, “Trump Again Claims Biden May Be Using Drugs to Enhance His Debate Performances,” repeating comments the president made on Fox News. That piece was republished by the right-wing website Infowars, disseminating it more widely in the United States, and readers shared it on social media. That allowed the article to spread without running the risk that it would be removed because it was an “inauthentic” post by a Russian troll in St. Petersburg pretending to be American.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections Notitia President2020

Up is down: Trump lies that Biden would 'destroy' Obamacare's protections for pre-existing condition

Donald Trump is straight up lying at his campaign rallies about what a President Joe Biden would do. What’s amazing isn’t that this man lies. We’ve known he was a liar for most of his career. What’s amazing is the sheer shamelessness of repeatedly telling a lie that’s so easily disproven. And the confidence he has this his supporters will swallow it whole.

Up is down: Trump lies that Biden would 'destroy' Obamacare's protections for pre-existing condition

Daniel Dale, CNNs fact checker extraordinaire.

President Donald Trump told one of the most absurd lies of his relentlessly dishonest reelection campaign on Thursday.

At a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan, Trump claimed his opponent, Joe Biden, "will destroy your protections for pre-existing conditions." Trump went on to say that he would himself preserve these protections.

Facts First: This is not only false but a complete reversal of reality. The protections for people with pre-existing conditions were created by the very Obama administration in which Biden served as vice president — as part of Obamacare, the 2010 law Biden has vowed to preserve and strengthen if elected President. Trump, conversely, has tried repeatedly to get bills passed that would have weakened these protections. He is now trying_ to get the entirety of Obamacare struck down by the courts.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Fact Check Healthcare Policy Joe Biden President2020

Trump has lost patience with CDC head after series of mixed messages

While we’re in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, Donald Trump is busy demoralizing our top disease experts, because they’ve dared to contradict his view of the world. We’ll all be worse off if he succeeds in driving away Drs. Redfield and Birx. We need better leadership. It’d really help if we had a President that was willing to see the world as it is, rather than raging at everyone who doesn’t see it his way.

Trump has lost patience with CDC head after series of mixed messages - CNNPolitics

By Jeremy Diamond, Nick Valencia and Sara Murray, for CNN.

President Donald Trump has lost patience with the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, as well as with the other public health experts on his coronavirus team because their sober messaging on the future of the pandemic clashes with his rosy assessments.

Trump believes that breakthroughs are not coming swiftly enough, according to people familiar with the President's thinking. Trump's frustrations have caused some to question whether Redfield is on the chopping block, but a Trump adviser said they did not expect the President to make major staffing changes before the election.

The ever-looming threat, Trump's public undermining of the CDC chief and Redfield's tendency to fold to the White House are taking a toll on CDC staff, from top to bottom, employees say. Some have questioned whether their work is making a difference and others have even considered resigning -- and whether the sagging spirits may be hampering pandemic response.

Eight current and former public health officials described for CNN a crushing environment at the agencies charged with the coronavirus response brought on by a President intent on contradicting critical public health messaging and downplaying the threat of the virus, politically motivated pressure from the White House and baseless allegations from political appointees that government scientists are part of a disloyal "deep state."

"The morale is as low as I've ever seen it and we have no confidence in our leadership," a CDC official said. "People are miserable and it's a shame because this pandemic is still flying away and we still need a robust public health response."

Inside the White House, Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci have struggled to compete with the growing influence of Trump's new favorite coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no public health or infectious disease expertise whose views are wildly out of step with leading public health experts. Birx has told people around her she is "distressed" with the direction of the task force and is uncertain how much longer she can continue to serve as the coronavirus task force coordinator.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

Barr gives false recounting of Texas voter fraud case in effort to cast doubt on mail-in voting

Donald Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General is lying about a ballot fraud case in Texas. He falsely claimed that someone tried to submit 1,700 fake ballots. It was actually a case one person trying to get his hands on other people’s ballots. And Texas law enforcement was all over it, proving that we do have safeguards to detect and prevent fraud.

Barr gives false recounting of Texas voter fraud case in effort to cast doubt on mail-in voting

Alexander Mallin, for ABC News.

Twenty-eight-year-old Miguel Hernandez was eventually found guilty in the investigation for forging a voter's signature on a mail-in ballot he returned. Chatham described Hernandez as the "fall guy" in the scam, being paid by a still-unknown consultant to contact individuals who had received mail-in ballots and return them so they could potentially be tampered with.

"He violated the law but not for voting, it was for procuring mail-in ballots under false pretenses," Chatham said. "The other thing that Barr got very wrong about the case is that we knew about this thing before it even happened, and prevented any potentially fraudulent ballots from being cast."

"It was a tremendous success story for the office," Chatham added.

Barr's false description of the case comes as officials in the intelligence community are warning Russia is seeking to "amplify" concerns over the integrity of U.S. elections by promoting allegations that mail-in voting will result in rampant fraud.

Analysts with the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence arm issued a bulletin to federal and state law enforcement partners Thursday after finding with “high confidence” that “Russian malign influence actors” have targeted the absentee voting process “by spreading disinformation” since at least March.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections Fact Check Voting President2020

Analysis of mail-in ballots finds just 0.0025% rate of possible voter fraud

Despite evidence to the contrary, Mr. Trump continues to claim, on an almost daily basis, the mail-in ballots are are an invitation to fraud. He continually assets that 2020 will be the most fraudulent election ever, and that the only way America can trust the election results is to get rid of all of the mail-in ballots. He’s either lying about that or he’s ignorant. This 2-month old Washington Post analysis shows that mail-in ballot fraud is practically non-existent. Thanks to COVID-19, millions of ballots will be cast by mail this year—including my own. And we can be completely confident that the results reported will be accurate.

Analysis of mail-in ballots finds just 0.0025% rate of possible voter fraud

Elise Viebeck, for the Washington Post.

But a Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.

The figure reflects cases referred to law enforcement agencies in five elections held in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where all voters proactively receive ballots in the mail for every election.

The minuscule rate of potentially fraudulent ballots in those states adds support to assertions by election officials nationwide that with the right safeguards, mail voting is a secure method for conducting elections this year amid the threat of the novel coronavirus — undercutting the president’s claims.

Until now, the polarized debate about ballot fraud has largely featured individual anecdotes from around the country of attempts to vote illegally. The voting figures from the three states examined by The Post provide a robust data set to measure the prevalence of possible fraud.

Current and former election officials in the three states said allegations that mail voting fosters widespread cheating are not only defied by the data, but also do not acknowledge the sophisticated and tightly controlled ways that voting operates in their jurisdictions, which have layers of security designed specifically to root out fraud and build confidence in the system.

“When I have the opportunity to give a tour of our facility to a skeptic of vote-by-mail or a skeptic of the process — someone concerned about fraud or security — they turn into believers,” said Julie Wise, elections director in King County, Wash., which includes Seattle and has operated a fully vote-by-mail system since 2009.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections Fact Check Voting President2020

Trump administration rescinded Courage Award for woman who criticized Trump

Donald Trump is incredibly petty. The State Department wanted to give a Finnish journalist an award for her courageous reports on Russian propaganda, including her criticisms of “President” Putin. Then they rescinded the award after discovering that she had also criticized Mr. Trump. So much for admiring courageous criticism of powerful people. And, of course, his government lied about what they had done and why.

Trump administration rescinded Courage Award for woman who criticized Trump

John Hudson, for the Washington Post.

The Trump administration rescinded an award recognizing the work of a journalist from Finland last year after discovering she had criticized President Trump in social media posts, then gave a false explanation for withdrawing the honor, according to a report by the State Department’s internal watchdog.

The report tracks how the discovery of the journalist’s remarks worried senior U.S. officials and prompted a decision to withdraw the honor to avoid a possible public relations debacle.

… According to the report, the journalist, Jessikka Aro, was selected for the State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards for her reporting on Russian propaganda activities dating back to 2014. Aro endured death threats and cyberattacks for her work, which helped expose Russian troll factories.

After she was informed of her selection and offered flight options, State Department interns discovered her Facebook and Twitter posts, including one from September 2018 in which she noted that “Trump constantly labels journalists as ‘enemy’ and ‘fake news,’ ” said the report. In another tweet, she noted that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet in Helsinki, where “Finnish people can protest them both. Sweet.”

… But the inspector general ultimately found that the decision to give her the award was not a mistake and was included in a memo approved by [Secretary of State] Pompeo.

The report also noted that the decision to withdraw the award stemmed from the discovery of the social media posts, despite public claims otherwise. “Every person OIG interviewed in connection with this matter acknowledged” that had her social media posts not been flagged, “Ms. Aro would have received the IWOC Award,” the report said.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Foreign Policy Pride Rush Limbaugh President2020

How Trump is undermining his own vaccine race

Donald Trump keeps promising that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available before the election. When the medical community promises to take the time to ensure that the vaccine is safe, he claims that he is being attacked and sabotaged. The more Mr. Trump promises to rush the vaccine, the more he scares everyone else. Now, nearly half of Americans say that they won’t take the vaccine, because they don’t believe that it will be safe.

We need better leadership.

How Trump is undermining his own vaccine race - POLITICO

by Adam Cancryn

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn spent weeks preparing a proposal to set more stringent standards for emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine, hoping to boost public trust in the government’s biggest public health decision in decades.

“Science will guide our decisions,” he pledged to a Senate panel on Wednesday. “FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that.”

Hours later, President Donald Trump sought to do just that. Incensed over the prospect the new guidelines could slow the process, Trump blew up the FDA’s carefully laid plans – vowing to have final say over his administration’s procedures for authorizing a long-sought Covid-19 vaccine. The White House has since demanded that Hahn submit a fuller justification of his bid to set stricter standards, two administration officials said, a directive that could halt the proposal indefinitely.

Almost since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Trump has promised a vaccine is just around the corner, repeatedly contradicting his own experts on the timeline and the standards necessary for approval. The goal, he’s made clear, is a viable vaccine just before Election Day – the centerpiece of his own claims that the administration deserves an “A-plus” for its response to Covid-19.

But that single-minded pursuit has left a string of damaging episodes in its wake and hopelessly intertwined the delicate drug development process with Trump’s political aims, according to interviews with a dozen public health experts both inside and outside the administration.

“We shouldn’t even be having this discussion,” a former senior HHS official said of the struggle for control over the vaccine process. “There are experienced career scientists at FDA who make these judgments every day for public health. This shouldn’t even be a White House issue.”

The broader public’s faith in any eventual coronavirus vaccine, meanwhile, is in tatters. Just over half of Americans now say they would take a vaccine if it were available today, polling shows, a 21-point drop from earlier this year. That’s alarming from a public health point of view, since having fewer people take the vaccine dilutes its effectiveness.

Now, even as Trump’s top health advisers scramble to erect new safeguards, those involved in the process say they fear the damage is already done: Trump’s constant drumbeat for a vaccine by Nov. 3 has drowned out months of careful scientific work, reducing perhaps the most ambitious vaccine hunt in history to yet another presidential litmus test.

“It would help if Donald Trump stopped talking,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the outside panel FDA has pledged to consult before authorizing a vaccine. “Every time he opens his mouth, most reasonable people feel they’re being sold something.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump Healthcare Policy President2020

Trump's use of false content is often defended as humor. But his supporters aren't always in on the joke

Mr. Trump’s campaign continually posts doctored videos to lie about Mr. Biden. When caught, they sound like idiotic teenagers: “Can’t you take a joke, man?” And when Facebook or Twitter flag the videos as misleading, they use it as an opportunity to claim that everyone is biased against them. Lie, deflect, sow mistrust—it’s the Trump way.

Trump's use of false content is often defended as humor. But his supporters aren't always in on the joke

Donie O’Sullivan, for CNN.

The video — which appears to show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sleeping as a TV news anchor repeats, "Wake up!" — was shared on Twitter by White House social media director Dan Scavino.

But the video was fake.

It was achieved by splicing together real footage of a 2011 interview between journalist Leyla Santiago, now of CNN, and entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte with footage of Biden looking down, his eyes appearing at least partially closed, to make it appear as if he were snoozing. An audio track of loud snoring was placed on the video to complete the effect.

When the video was fact-checked by news outlets, including CNN, and eventually labeled as "manipulated media" by Twitter, prominent Trump supporters complained that it was an obvious joke and a meme.

…The joke was lost on Chris, the Trump supporter in Bemidji, who apparently believed the video was real footage. He acknowledged, "I missed that one," when he was shown how the video had been manipulated.

…The dissemination of misleading videos about Biden by the Trump campaign in an effort to make the Democratic presidential nominee seem confused or senile has happened repeatedly.

On Tuesday, the campaign posted an eight-second video on Facebook that it titled "Joe Biden completely botches the Pledge of Allegiance." But Biden was not trying to recite the entire Pledge of Allegiance as the full version of the video shows. Facebook did not take any action against the video.

…Last week, Trump retweeted a video that was manipulated to make it appear as if Biden was dancing to the NWA song "F**k tha Police." He wasn't.

When false claims and doctored videos are fact-checked by Facebook or labeled as manipulated by Twitter, it is possible that they have already been viewed and shared for days.

And many of the Trump supporters who spoke to CNN in Bemidji said they simply do not trust the fact-checks that are deployed by Facebook.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

Trump Promises Drug Discount Cards as an Expensive Pre-election Gift

Yesterday, Mr. Trump promised to send seniors $6.6 billion dollars using an existing program in an illegal way, paid for with funds that don’t exist. This is part of a healthcare plan that involves stealing credit from President Obama did and signing pointless, symbolic executive orders. The executive orders allow him to lie and claim that he’s actually done something, as long as you agree not to look behind the curtain. Another day, more proof that we elected a con man as President.

Trump Promises Drug Discount Cards as an Expensive Pre-election Gift

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Margot Sanger-Katz, for the New York Times.

President Trump vowed on Thursday to send $200 discount cards for prescription drugs to 33 million older Americans, a $6.6 billion election-eve promise with dubious legal authority that he announced as part of a speech billed as presenting a long-awaited health care plan.

Mr. Trump made the announcement before an audience of health professionals in Charlotte, N.C., where he laid out what the White House called the America First health care plan. Though senior administration officials had previewed the speech, they had not mentioned the drug discount cards.

Mr. Trump’s broader plan is short on specifics, and its two core provisions are largely symbolic. The first is an executive order aimed at protecting people with pre-existing conditions — a provision already in the Affordable Care Act, which Mr. Trump is trying to overturn. The second — a push to end surprise medical billing — would require congressional action.

That left the drug discount cards as the major advance in Mr. Trump’s speech. It was not clear where the money for the cards would come from or whether the White House could legally issue them. But they amounted to a gift to a key constituency, offered weeks before Election Day.

A senior administration official said the discount cards would be authorized under a waiver program that allowed Medicare to test certain new policy ideas. The money would come from savings gleaned from the president’s directive this month that required Medicare to pay no more for prescription drugs than in other developed nations, the official said.

But that program has not yet been devised or enacted.

“Is the plan to borrow from potential future savings from a program that does not yet exist?” asked Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, who studies prescription drug policy.

The announcement came as a surprise because the White House had tried last month to strike a deal with the pharmaceutical industry on a broad effort to lower drug prices. But that deal collapsed after Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, insisted that the industry pay for such cards. The companies balked, fearing that they would be footing the bill for the “Trump cards” aimed at older American voters.

… Mr. Trump has been promising since he ran for president in 2016 that he would put together a plan to lower costs, expand coverage and protect people with pre-existing conditions — the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans cannot seem to agree on a replacement.

In laying out his broader plan, the president promised to lower costs and offer “true health security for you and your loved ones.” Instead, that plan was mostly a laundry list of steps he had already taken to lower health care premiums and reduce the price of prescription drugs.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Healthcare Policy President2020

Why Zoom School Is So Awful for Parents and Kids

COVID-19 has completely disrupted life. We can't get back to normal until we actually do the long-term planning now to make life better 2 months from now. As a nation, we keep refusing to do that planning. And life continues to be awful. We need better leadership.

Why Zoom School Is So Awful for Parents and Kids

Dan Sinker, for Esquire:

The lesson we refuse to learn with COVID-19 is that decisions we make today have no bearing on right now, but have a huge effect in a few months. That’s why locking down in March reduced the number of deaths in May. Why opening bars in May brought deaths right back up in July. Why parties on Memorial Day left us with COVID numbers nearly twice as high on Labor Day, and why reopening in-person school in September will likely do exactly what you’d expect come November. The delay between action and reaction means we keep half assing our way through a pandemic that kicks our asses in return.

Making school work in September required vision, action, funding, and resolve on the part of people far above your teacher or school board member in the spring when everything shut down. None of it came. The entire point of the shutdowns was to buy time, to make plans, to lay a foundation for a return that would work. All that time got flushed away by a president more obsessed with hyping miracle cures than doing the hard, thankless work of grinding out a workable plan with scientists and educators and then funding it at a level that could make it actually feasible. That’s what happened in pretty much every other country on the planet. None of them are foolproof, but they've done better than just the state of Florida alone, which had more than 10,000 kids under 18 test positive since their aggressive push for schools to reopen last month.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump

Funding promised by Trump for Kenosha can't be used to rebuild

Another story showing that Donald Trump is a con-man. He loves to promise largesse. It buffs his image and feeds his ego. But it often turns out to be a mirage. Either he doesn’t follow through or we later discover that his promise was just taking credit for something that he had nothing to do with. This story has a bit of both.

Funding promised by Trump for Kenosha can't be used to rebuild

None of the more than $40 million in federal help promised by President Donald Trump when he visited Kenosha earlier this month can actually be used to rebuild the community, according to Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

And all but $1 million was already coming to the state, regardless of the damage done during protests that followed the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer, the officials wrote Trump.

But Baldwin and Evers wrote Thursday in a letter to the president that the $4 million for small businesses was already earmarked by the federal relief bill known as the CARES Act for coronavirus pandemic-related losses, and can’t be used for other purposes.

“It cannot be used for damages tied to the unrest,” Baldwin and Evers wrote.

Of the remaining federal funding allocated for Wisconsin, according to Baldwin’s office:

  • $30.6 million is for the state’s crime victims fund in fiscal 2020, grants announced in April.
  • $10.5 million comes from U.S. Department of Justice grants announced earlier this year to pay for costs associated with implementing body cameras, drug treatment, prosecutions, reducing violent crime, Operation Legend, and other programs.
  • $1 million in new public safety funding has been allocated for the City of Kenosha, in a joint application with Kenosha County, for expenses incurred during the period of civil unrest. This funding is new but private businesses cannot use it to rebuild.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Spending Wisconsin President2020

Trump’s businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million

It sure is nice when you can use the Presidency to enrich yourself. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold shares their latest data on how the Trump Organization is using the Secret Service to pad their own bottom line.

Trump’s businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million, including for rooms in club shuttered for pandemic

President Trump’s luxury properties have charged the U.S. government more than $1.1 million in private transactions since Trump took office — including for room rentals at his Bedminster, N.J., club this spring while it was closed for the coronavirus pandemic, new documents show.

The documents, including receipts and invoices from Trump’s businesses, were released by the Secret Service after The Washington Post filed a public-records lawsuit. They added $188,000 in previously unknown charges to The Post’s running total of payments to Trump’s properties related to the presence of Secret Service agents.

In Bedminster this spring, the records show, Trump’s club charged the Secret Service more than $21,800 to rent a cottage and other rooms while the club was closed and otherwise off-limits to guests. The documents don’t give a reason for these rentals. Trump didn’t visit the club while it was closed, but his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her family reportedly visited at least once.

In case you’re new to this entire story. And, note, it doesn’t need to be this way. The Trump Organization could easily provide rooms to the Secret Service at no-cost or a truly nominal cost. But they don’t. And that’s a deliberate decision to siphon money from the taxpayers to Donald Trump’s own pockets.

When Trump and his family members visit Trump properties, aides and Secret Service agents follow. When those federal employees rent rooms, Trump’s businesses get the revenue. Taxpayers foot the bill.

The bills are usually paid in private, with no public disclosure. The government has not disclosed how much it has paid the Trump Organization in total. Instead, The Post has tried to create an accounting of these payments, one receipt at a time, using public-records requests and lawsuits.

“The waste inherent in this is appalling,” Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president at the watchdog group Public Citizen, said of the Trump Organization’s charges. Gilbert said the costs were especially galling during a pandemic that has brought economic ruin and stretched federal budgets. “They’re nickel-and-diming the American people. At a moment when every penny counts.”

The White House and the Secret Service both declined to comment for this story. The Trump Organization did not respond to emailed questions.

Before he took office, Trump said he would be “completely isolating” himself from his business interests. He didn’t. Instead, Trump has visited his properties 274 times, according to a Post tally, in addition to promoting those properties on Twitter, encouraging his vice president visit them and briefly choosing one of them to host a summit of world leaders.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Donald Trump Greed President2020

Trump’s $647 Million Ventilator Deal

This must be some of that endless winning and good dealmaking that Donald Trump promised us. Agreeing to buy ventilators for 4x the list price—a ventilator design that the U.S. government funded a decade ago as a low-cost option.

The Trump Administration Is Backing Out of a $647 Million Ventilator Deal After ProPublica Investigated The Price

The federal government is backing out of a controversial $646.7 million deal to buy ventilators from Royal Philips N.V., acting before the company had delivered a third of the order.

This week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy announced it is expanding its probe to look at other coronavirus-related deals negotiated by Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser, who served as the point man on the Philips deal.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw the Philips contract, confirmed that the deal is the subject of an internal investigation and legal review.

The congressional investigation determined that the deal would have resulted in the U.S. overpaying for the ventilators by as much as $500 million, thanks to “inept contract management and incompetent negotiating by the Trump Administration.”

ProPublica first wrote about the U.S. government’s relationship with Philips in March, detailing how a decade ago government planners had paid Philips millions of dollars to develop a low-cost ventilator that could be stockpiled and deployed if ever there were a pandemic. The U.S. ordered 10,000 once the company received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration.

But when COVID-19 cases overwhelmed hospitals in New York in the spring, Philips hadn’t delivered any. Instead, ProPublica found, Philips was selling a commercial version of that ventilator — manufactured at its Pennsylvania factory — overseas at far higher prices.

Rather than force production of low-cost ventilators, a White House team led by Navarro cut a new deal for more ventilators, agreeing to pay more than four times the price.

ProPublica in April revealed that this new deal boosted the price of what appeared to be similar ventilators from $3,280 each under the Obama administration deal to $15,000 under the Trump administration. Neither Philips nor HHS would explain how the two models were different.

In its investigation of the deal, the House subcommittee asked Philips to turn over a trove of records and discovered that the more expensive ventilators were “functionally identical” to the cheaper ones.

Navarro and his team “appeared gullible” and there was no evidence that they even tried to negotiate a lower price, the House investigators found.

The U.S. government paid the highest price for the ventilators among American buyers, the investigators found. The company’s records show that Philips had sold more than 5,000 of that model at far lower prices before May 27.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, there is not a single Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator — developed with government funds — in the U.S. stockpile. Meanwhile, Royal Philips N.V. has sold higher-priced versions to clients around the world.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump Government Efficiency President2020

Trump is the anti-vaccine candidate

Trump is the anti-vaccine candidate →

Michael Hiltzik, a business columnist at the Los Angeles Times, documents how Trump recently tried to make himself look better by accusing Joe Biden of doing what Trump himself frequently does. Here, Trump displayed his own narcissism, lying, and ignorance.

Donald Trump’s habit of projecting his own failings onto his adversaries reached a new level of absurdity on Labor Day, when he attacked the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for “reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric” and accused them of a position that “undermines science.”

As for “reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric,” that defines Trump, too. For more than a decade, Trump has promoted the long-debunked and fraudulent claim that vaccines cause autism. He has advocated stretching out the schedule of childhood vaccinations, a practice condemned by creditable pediatric experts.

Trump has made common cause with anti-vaccine cranks such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and even lent credence to Andrew Wakefield. He’s the notorious perpetrator of the myth linking autism with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, a stance that got Wakefield’s medical license revoked in Britain and that has caused needless disease and suffering in Britain, across Europe and in the U.S.

Now to Trump’s anti-vaccine rhetoric.

As ably documented by quackery watchdog David Gorski, it dates back at least to 2007. At a press conference that year, Trump said, “When I was growing up, autism wasn’t really a factor. And now all of a sudden, it’s an epidemic.... My theory, and I study it because I have young children, my theory is the shots. We’ve giving these massive injections at one time, and I really think it does something to the children.”

“When a little baby that weighs 20 pounds and 30 pounds gets pumped with 10 and 20 shots at one time, with one injection that’s a giant injection, I personally think that has something to do with it. Now there’s a group that agrees with that and there’s a group that doesn’t agree with that.”

Trump repeated his “theory” on “Fox and Friends” in 2012: “It’s also very controversial to even say. But I couldn’t care less. I’ve seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations and a month later the child is no longer healthy.”

He repeated it again during a Republican presidential debate in September 2015: “Just the other day, 2 years old, 2 and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”

Accusing President Trump

Accusing President Trump →

In an election, I normally look for a candidate that I can vote for, rather than just voting against candidates. This Presidential election is not normal. In this election, I am absolutely voting against Donald Trump. Morally, he is our worst President since Richard Nixon. He may be the worst President since Andrew Johnson succeeded Abraham Lincoln.

But you don't have to take my word for it. David Roberts, writing for Vox, put together a damning indictment, as part of a larger article.

Trump has made no secret of his feelings toward protests and law enforcement generally. He once told Breitbart, “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

He has advocated for the failed and racist “stop and frisk” policy to be expanded to new cities and called Democrats “anti-police.” He removed Obama-imposed limits on military equipment sold to police, encouraged police brutality, told states to “dominate” protesters, threatened protesters with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” and tweeted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a prominent segregationist rallying cry from the civil rights era. He wanted to deploy 10,000 active-duty American soldiers to US cities to quell domestic protests and considered firing his secretary of defense, Mark Esper, when Esper resisted.

All this comes in the context of a long history of lurching authoritarianism. The first thing Trump did on entering office is flout the longstanding US tradition of presidents separating from their personal financial interests while in office. His business interests are still mixed up in affairs of state in ways no one fully understands, and his administration is openly deferential toward sectors of the economy that pledge loyalty to him.

He has completely shut down congressional oversight and is currently engaged in a purge of inspectors general, the independent watchdogs within government agencies. One of those IGs, at the State Department, was in the final stages of an investigation into whether some of Trump’s arms deals with the Saudis were legal.

He has pushed for loyalty tests at the FBI, the State Department, and the Department of the Interior, put immigrant kids in cages, used state power to force international allies to launch bogus investigations of his political opponents, and flouted impeachment despite compelling evidence of his guilt. He voiced support for the armed mob of right-wing protesters that stormed the Michigan legislature.

He has waged relentless war on independent journalism, called journalists enemies of the people, threatened to sue journalists, and denounced or threatened any media platform that fact-checks him.

Throughout it all, he lies, lies, lies — 18,000 times during his presidency, as of April. There is no discernible set of principles or governing philosophy at work, only Trump’s day-to-day impulses as he watches Fox News, stews in the residency, and tweets.

Trumpism, if there is such a thing, is a shameless disregard for norms and laws in service of a will to power. It runs on demands for loyalty, disregard of oversight, and devotion to dominating and humiliating opponents.

Yet the GOP has supported him, enabled him, and protected him from accountability, right up to voting him free of impeachment, covering for his disastrous coronavirus response, and echoing his calls for state violence. The party has followed his every impulse.

This November, I will be voting for Democrats across the board. As far as I can remember, this will be the first time that I've ever voted for Democrats. But, as Mr. Reagan said, "I didn't leave the Republican party, the Republican Party left me." As long as the Republican Party is the party of Trump, authoritarianism, bullying, and lying, I cannot vote for a single member of the party.