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Archives for Donald Trump (page 2 / 4)

Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate

Mike Pence was supposed to be one of the good, solid, Christian conservatives who would surround Donald Trump and give him wise advice. Today, the only thing that distinguishes Mike Pence from Donald Trump is his calm demeanor. He sold his soul and jettisoned every principle that he once professed in order to gain the power of the Vice Presidency.

Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate

by Susan Glasser, for the New Yorker.

Both Harris and Pence are younger and far more articulate politicians than their running mates, fully capable of holding their own in a televised argument that cleared the low bar of not degenerating into a food fight at a senior-citizens’ center. The debate seemed sort of normal—at least, after Trump’s frenetic performance of a week earlier. But the more I listened to Pence the more I realized that the Vice-President of 2020 is no longer the deeply conventional, if fervently right-wing, evangelical of four years ago. Or even the oleaginous Trump suck-up he has been for much of the Administration’s tenure. He has been changed, and radically so, by his association with the President, and Wednesday night showed something both new and disturbing: Pence has come to resemble a lower-decibel Trump, lying with a fluency and brazenness that might have shocked his former moralistic self.

Once presented as the acceptable public front for Trumpism to those who might be offended by the President’s grosser displays of ego and misogyny, this new Pence was ruder and cruder, and he spent much of the evening interrupting the two women with whom he shared the stage, refusing to listen when the moderator implored him to follow the rules, and simply seizing extra time to rebut Harris whether Page offered it or not. This Pence was not the Middle American cleanup man of this spring’s anxious coronavirus press conferences; he was nasty, an elbow-thrower who dropped snide references to Biden as a plagiarist, inserted random media-bashing into long-winded soliloquies, and peddled a pet Trump conspiracy theory about the 2016 campaign. Like the boss, he repeated falsehoods about the Democratic platform with abandon—they are going to raise your taxes “on day one” and “abolish” fossil fuels and eliminate fracking and allow taxpayer-funded abortions “up to the moment of birth”—all of which was not only untrue but so exaggerated beyond the actual Democratic platform that it was hard to imagine anyone but the most diehard Republican believing it. This sounded like Donald Trump talking, not Mike Pence. A quieter, less bombastic Donald Trump, to be sure, but Trump nonetheless.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump President2020

For Trump, a Pattern of Denial, From the Virus to Russia to Climate Change

Donald Trump believes that any and all bad news makes him look bad. So he denies everything bad, ignores everything bad, and carries on as normal while the world burns around him. This is not a President that surrounds himself with good people, who help him to make good decisions. Because if there are good people around him, they are being ignored daily. If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trump writes self-congratulatory tweets while America burns.

For Trump, a Pattern of Denial, From the Virus to Russia to Climate Change

by David Sanger, for the New York Times

his presidency has in many ways been defined by his dismissal of many of the biggest threats facing the United States. His preoccupation with demonstrating strength or rearranging facts to reinforce his worldview has led him, time and again, to downplay, ignore or mock everything from climate change to Russian interference in the American political process.

Mr. Trump’s own Pentagon declared in a report last year that a warming climate was a major “national security issue” that could spur future instability around the globe, but to Mr. Trump it remains a theory, something to be stricken from government reports and explained away when the West erupted in wildfires.

His intelligence agencies have assessed that North Korea’s nuclear stockpile has expanded significantly on Mr. Trump’s watch. But to the president, that arsenal — which he said in 2017 might force him to take military action leading to “fire and fury like the world has never seen” — is hardly worth mention today. Asked about it, he invariably turns the conversation to his relationship with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

The unremitting stream of cyberattacks by Russia, many aimed at the heart of the American political process, has preoccupied intelligence and military officials determined to keep Vladimir V. Putin from interfering in another election. But not Mr. Trump, who has said he has no reason to disbelieve the Russian leader’s denials that Moscow was involved.

On virtually every front, said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Trump has embraced “denialism,” as if wishing problems away was a substitute for policy and action.

“The denialism is a pattern,” said Mr. Haass, who served several Republican presidents at the National Security Council and the State Department. “It is pervasive. And the fear among friends and allies is that all this is not limited to Trump but reflects how this country has not just changed, but changed for the worse.”

“They have put their security in our hands,” said Mr. Haass, the author of “The World: A Brief Introduction,” “and they are questioning that wisdom, at the same moment that our adversaries see us as divided and distracted.”

It is a distinctive pattern that began in the Trump administration’s first hours, when the new president bristled at photographs released by the National Park Service that suggested the crowds at his inauguration paled when compared with the turnouts for the swearing-in of some past presidents, including Barack Obama. Then came his search for three million fraudulent votes — all in the service of denying that he had lost the popular vote, even while winning the Electoral College.

Some of the moments were laughable, like the Sharpie used to alter National Weather Service maps of the course of Hurricane Dorian last year, all to justify Mr. Trump’s erroneous declaration that the storm was headed to Alabama.

It was great fodder for late-night comedians. Then, in March, as the virus emptied out offices and began to strike American cities, denialism went from deadly serious to simply deadly.

Mr. Trump’s own Department of Health and Human Services, with the help of the White House staff, had prepared for an influenza pandemic that many experts had viewed as inevitable. They had even run a monthslong exercise, code-named “Crimson Contagion,” that mapped out how the government needed to respond if a virus — somewhat different from the coronavirus — that originated in China came to American shores aboard direct flights, borne by tourists, students, business executives and returning Americans.

But the tabletop exercise missed one key element: a president who made it clear he didn’t want to hear news that imperiled economic expansion, especially in an election year.

“Nobody ever thought of numbers like this,” Mr. Trump said in mid-March, as his early story that the virus was under control began to collapse around him.

In fact, they had — it was simply that Mr. Trump did not want to acknowledge those numbers. He kept downplaying the casualties, saying he was sure that deaths would top out below 60,000 and creating a White House culture where mask-wearing was equated with weakness, rather than the pandemic equivalent of strapping on seatbelts.

Mr. Trump has also seemed incapable, or at least unwilling, to acknowledge the cost of denying reality. He continues to insist the economy will have a “V shaped” recovery, even though the Federal Reserve chairman he appointed, Jerome Powell, said on Tuesday that Americans should brace for a “longer-than-expected slog back to full recovery.”

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

Why Republicans Should Vote For Joe Biden — He Has More Republican Values Than Trump

Why Republicans Should Vote For Joe Biden — He Has More Republican Values Than Trump

by Rob May

This post is for people with values, particularly the core values Republicans used to have, who think some things are more important than party loyalty, and those Republicans who feel like I do — that Trump may have crossed too many lines and that protecting those lines he crossed are more important than making sure the Republican party wins in November.

For example, I believe character matters for someone aspiring to be President. I was critical of Bill Clinton’s character for his personal behaviors, and I remain consistent in my values by being critical of Donald Trump’s character for similar behaviors. I believe that people with poor character should be voted out of office even if it means my party and my other ideas lose for 4 years — because my core value that “character matters for the role of President” goes beyond party loyalty. If you don’t have any values that supersede party loyalty, don’t waste your time reading this.

Warning: some of what you will read below will surprise you. Why? Because Trump is a master marketer — he’s world class at it. He has pulled the wool over the eyes of so many Republicans, and controlled the story to make sure things are in his favor. When I have shared some of the links, facts, and data that I cover below with Republican friends, they have been shocked. Manyhad no idea that some of Trump’s actions had led to such things.

My argument, in summary, is that I believe President Trump hasn’t made America great again. Instead he has taken steps to weaken America in economic and foreign policy which I will outline below. He has moved America towards Socialism.

I will also provide evidence that Trump isn’t for free trade, he isn’t religious, he doesn’t believe in limited government, he doesn’t support individual liberty, he is pro-choice, and he doesn’t have strong moral character, or any of the other core things Republicans have claimed (until 2016) to value. Rather than argue about core left vs right issues in this piece, I want to make the point that Biden is actually a better fit with core Republican values (1980–2016 Republican values). I will argue that Trump doesn’t care about you, only himself. And I will argue that the future of the Republican party is at stake and Trump is taking the party in a direction that will cause it to lose for a very long time, and that 2020 is the time to change course. Voting Trump out is best for the Republican party. Biden will be a weak one term President and the Republicans will win again in 2024.

There is a massive wave building of prominent Republicans who aren’t just denouncing Trump, they are voting for Biden. If you only watch Fox News, you probably haven’t seen this because they haven’t mentioned it. But it’s real, and I will write more about it below so that those of you wondering what you should do on election day will realize that if you choose to vote Democratic for the first time in your life, you aren’t alone. There are others, many others, who believe this has to happen to save the United States and the Republican Party.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines

Donald Trump wants to use his own medical expertise to certify when a coronavirus vaccine is ready. He wants to play the hero before election day, regardless of how many lives are put at risk by an unproven, poorly tested vaccine.

White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines

by Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, for the New York Times

Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process.

… The struggle over the guidelines is part of a monthslong tug of war between the White House and federal agencies on the front lines of the pandemic response. White House officials have repeatedly intervened to shape decisions and public announcements in ways that paint the administration’s response to the pandemic in a positive light.

That pattern has dismayed a growing number of career officials and political appointees involved in the administration’s fight against a virus that has claimed more than 209,000 lives in the United States.

The vaccine guidelines carry special significance: By refusing to allow the Food and Drug Administration to release them, the White House is undercutting the government’s effort to reassure the public that any vaccine will be safe and effective, health experts fear.

“The public must have full faith in the scientific process and the rigor of F.D.A.’s regulatory oversight if we are to end the pandemic,” the biotech industry’s trade association pleaded on Thursday, in a letter to President Trump’s health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, asking for release of the guidelines.

… A main sticking point has been the recommendation that volunteers who have participated in vaccine clinical trials be followed for a median of two months after the final dose before any authorization is granted, according to a senior administration official and others familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Given where the clinical trials stand, that two-month follow-up period would all but preclude any emergency clearance before Election Day.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

Judges Tell Trump His Officials Are Serving Illegally. He Does Nothing.

If you care about law & order, if you care about the rule of law, you should care about this story. Donald Trump appoints people to lead the government, in positions that require Senate confirmation. The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, indicates that certain appointees are not qualified for the positions that President Trump appointed them to. The President, in violation of the law, ignores that. It is not Republican—it is not conservative—to put people in positions of power when those people are unqualified and cannot gain the support of the President’s own party.

Judges Tell Trump His Officials Are Serving Illegally. He Does Nothing

Lisa Friedman, for the New York Times

Holding a job unlawfully is not a reason to be fired in the Trump administration.

Last month, a Montana judge ruled that the acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, which holds sway over millions of acres of federal land, should be removed from his position because he was performing his duties illegally. The Interior Department’s response? Tweak his title.

Since March, William Perry Pendley is the third high-ranking administration official that the courts have found likely to be working in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a 1998 law governing how a president may appoint temporary officials. Such findings have been bolstered by the Government Accountability Office and other agencies.

In each case the administration has responded with defiance.

… Farther down the leadership chain, the president’s penchant for filling high-level jobs without Senate confirmation was causing confusion long before the coronavirus pandemic.

“Confirmation hearings in the Senate are really important,” said Peter Jenkins, senior counsel for the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

“If they pass and get enough votes, it means they’re mainstream enough to satisfy both sides,” Mr. Jenkins said. By consistently bypassing the law, he said, “You get lower level, unqualified or fringe characters running the bureaus. The employee morale suffers, the performance of the agencies declines and the resources suffer.”

… The Federal Vacancies Reform Act bars acting agency officials from serving for more than 210 days without Senate confirmation. According to the Government Accountability Office, there were six violations of the act during the eight years of the Obama administration and eight so far during the Trump administration’s first term.

The Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal research group, has identified 15 high-ranking Trump administration officials who are currently holding jobs in violation of the vacancies act.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Government President2020

Jewish leaders alarmed by Trump's support of 'racehorse theory'

President Trump really, really likes the eugenics arguments that were popular in the early 1900s. This makes him a racist. There’s no other way to describe someone who believes that one people group has “better genes” than another people group.

Jewish leaders alarmed by Trump's support of 'racehorse theory'

by Seema Mehtastaff, for the Los Angeles Times

President Trump has alarmed Jewish leaders and others with remarks that appeared to endorse “racehorse theory” — the idea that selective breeding can improve a country’s performance, which American eugenicists and German Nazis used in the last century to buttress their goals of racial purity.

“You have good genes, you know that, right?” Trump told a mostly white crowd of supporters in Bemidji, Minn., on Sept. 18. “You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it? Don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”

Rabbi Mark Diamond, a senior lecturer on Jewish studies at Loyola Marymount University, was stunned.

“To hear these remarks said at a rally in an election campaign for the presidency is beyond reprehensible,” said Diamond, the former executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.

“This is at the heart of Nazi ideology… This has brought so much tragedy and destruction to the Jewish people and to others. It’s actually hard to believe in 2020 we have to revisit these very dangerous theories.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump’s remark was not the first time that he has spoken favorably about the racehorse analogy, which has been embraced by white supremacists for decades. But these latest comments come as the country has been roiled over racial injustice and the protests against it. Trump has continued to make inflammatory remarks and his campaign has made blatantly racist appeals.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump President2020 Racism

Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden

Maybe you’re supporting Donald Trump for President because Republicans are better at national security. If so, these Republicans would like to have a word with you.

Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden

We are former national security officials who served during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and/or Donald Trump, or as Republican Members of Congress. We are profoundly concerned about the course of our nation under the leadership of Donald Trump. Through his actions and his rhetoric, Trump has demonstrated that he lacks the character and competence to lead this nation and has engaged in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as President.

For the following reasons, we have concluded that Donald Trump has failed our country and that Vice President Joe Biden should be elected the next President of the United States.

  1. Donald Trump has gravely damaged America’s role as a world leader. Trump has disgraced America’s global reputation and undermined our nation’s moral and diplomatic influence. He has called NATO “obsolete,” branded Europe a “foe,” mocked the leaders of America’s closest friends, and threatened to terminate longstanding US alliances. Other global leaders, friends and foes alike, view him as unreliable, unstable, and unworthy of respect.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Foreign Policy President2020

A new group of evangelical leaders forms in support of Biden

A new group of evangelical leaders forms in support of Biden

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, for The Washington Post

When he was pastor of a prominent megachurch in Orlando, Joel Hunter never told anyone how he voted, but like many White evangelical leaders, he picked Donald Trump in 2016. Trump was friendly with the conservative Christian community, and Hunter thought, “Well, let’s give it a shot.”

“Hillary Clinton never did reach out to the evangelical community,” Hunter said. “So I thought, we’re not going to have much of an influence or impact on policy with her, but we might with Trump.”

On Friday, Hunter will join other evangelicals who represent major Christian institutions to launch a group, Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden, describing the Democrat’s overall agenda as closer to what they call a “biblically balanced agenda,” even though they disagree with Biden on abortion rights.

… The group favoring Biden, set up by longtime evangelical leaders Ron Sider and Rich Mouw, includes several leaders who have since retired from major evangelical institutions. Among them is John Huffman, who was board chair of Christianity Today magazine, a lifelong Republican and former pastor to President Richard Nixon. He is planning to vote for a Democrat for the first time.

Huffman, who did not vote for either Trump or Clinton in 2016, decided to support Biden this time around because he said he has seen how few conservatives are willing to stand up to [Trump].

“I’m coming as an evangelical who is pro-life and prepared to say the Republicans don’t own ‘pro-life’ and they don’t own evangelical,” Huffman said.

Huffman said he knows several leaders of major evangelical institutions who would like to oppose Trump, but they will not because their supporters would pull funding.

“We feel like we are speaking for a lot of evangelical leaders who are as intimidated as senators who have to support the president for reelection,” Huffman said. “This man has demanded a kind of loyalty that is very much cult-like.”

The group for Biden also includes Jerushah Duford, the South Carolina-based granddaughter of late evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, who said that she feels passionately about showing voters who describe themselves as “pro-life” that they can support a Democratic president.

Duford, who took in children through foster care for 10 years and adopted one of the kids she fostered, said she believes that economic policies that support mothers who want to carry a pregnancy to term help to lower the abortion rate.

“There are so many evangelicals who are one-issue voters and abortion is their issue. It is an issue that singlehandedly prevents them from voting for Biden,” she said. “I want to validate that struggle that people are having who care about pro-life issues.”

… Cizik, who advised President Ronald Reagan on his 1983 “Evil Empire” speech in front of evangelicals, said he supported Republican presidents for 32 years until 2016. He said the turning point for his advocacy was reading a quote from director of national intelligence Daniel Coats, who is an evangelical.

“To [Trump], a lie is not a lie,” Coats is quoted as saying in journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage.” “It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

Cizik cast his vote for Clinton in 2016, but he has never openly advocated for a presidential candidate until now.

“I blame my fellow evangelicals for not publicly challenging this man’s arrogance, lies and unconstitutional acts to subvert the election,” Cizik said.

… The group launching Friday said Biden’s policies are more consistent with “a biblically shaped ethic of life” than Trump’s.

“Poverty, lack of accessible health care services, smoking, racism and climate change are all pro-life issues,” the leaders said in a statement. “Therefore, we oppose ‘one issue’ political thinking because it lacks biblical balance.”

This entry was tagged. Christianity Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

Presidential Leadership: Compare and Contrast

President Donald Trump, at the first Presidential debate, on Tuesday, September 29, 2020.

Would-Be-President Joe Biden, at a rally in Michigan, on Friday, October 2, 2020.

Trump team plotted how to bust Biden in the debates

Donald Trump wasn’t rude in the first Presidential debate just because he’s a rude person. He was deliberately rude. He was trying to make Biden so uncomfortable and off balance that Biden would start to stutter. Mr. Biden stuttered as a child and worked very hard to overcome that. And Mr. Trump thinks that stuttering is both hilarious and a sign of mental incompetency. So he wanted to do everything he could to make Mr. Biden stutter during the debate.

No man with that streak of cruelty and maliciousness should ever be President. Shame on us if he wins a second term in office.

Trump team plots how to bust Biden in the debates

Nancy Cook and Gabby Orr, for Politico

The Trump team has been studying Biden’s idiosyncrasies in debates and other venues and preparing tactics for Trump, according to interviews with a dozen campaign aides, White House officials and outside advisers. Some have noticed the way he says, “C’mon, man,” whenever he feels frustrated, and they’re trying to identify words or phrases that trigger him to “reboot,” as one person familiar with the planning described it. Essentially, Trump aides are looking for ways to trip up Biden in an effort to spur an incoherent or unsatisfactory response — bolstering a key Trump argument against Biden built around his age.

[…] Aides have closely watched Biden’s debate against Paul Ryan in 2012 and the campaign speeches he gave when he was stumping for Hillary in 2016 for clues about his tics.

There’s some tension among the president’s advisers over whether it’s wise to try to trip up Biden so he stutters, or to box him in on issues.

One 2016 Trump campaign official said it’s a “calculated risk” to phrase things in such a way that might cause the former vice president to stammer in his response, acknowledging such a strategy could backfire if Trump deliberately appears to be messing with Biden's history of stuttering — an attribute Biden has used to demonstrate his ability to overcome challenges and his empathy for children in similar situations.

This entry was tagged. Debates Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

Facing Grim Polls, Trump Leans Into Playing the Victim - The New York Times

More than a decade ago, Pitt had a football coach nicknamed “Not My Fault Walt” for his blame deflecting post-game interviews. It wasn’t an acceptable strategy for the head coach of a middling football program. And it shouldn’t be an acceptable strategy for a President of the United States.

A leader should be able to recognize his mistakes, learn from them, and do better in the future. Constantly throwing everyone else under the bus only shows the rest of us that you’re a narcissist who is unable to recognize any flaws in himself.

Facing Grim Polls, Trump Leans Into Playing the Victim

Maggie Haberman, for the New York Times

A day earlier, Mr. Trump was insisting, too, that he was being denied his due for his chaotic and widely panned debate performance. At a campaign rally that night in Duluth, Minn., he also complained that he had not received sufficient media coverage for nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“We got nothing!” he told the crowd.

Over nearly four years in office, Mr. Trump has frequently changed his positions on issues, issued conflicting statements and shuffled through a revolving cast of staff.

The one constant has been the president portraying himself as a victim at every turn.

Be it congressional Democrats or Republican foes like the late Senator John McCain, the news media or the standards enforcers at Twitter, the impeachment inquiry or, now, the debate commission, Mr. Trump has repeatedly blamed others for problems and self-inflicted wounds, something he hopes will appeal to a shared sense of grievance among his supporters.

That instinct is now increasingly on display as he faces ominous polling showing him behind in his re-election campaign, a position that aides say is unfathomable for someone who has long staked his personal brand on “winning.” Mr. Trump, some advisers inside and outside the White House say, has telegraphed to them that he is scared of losing — and in particular, scared of losing to Mr. Biden, whom he does not respect.

Mr. Trump has taken to describing shadows on almost every wall: false claims that the election is “rigged” against him, complaints that the coronavirus pandemic was “unfair” to his record on the economy, insistence that people who disagree with him within his own government about policy matters are part of a concerted effort to undermine him.

He has lobbed accusations at Democrats who want more extensive public health measures, and who haven’t agreed to Republican terms on an aid package for people impacted by the coronavirus, usually saying they are trying to harm his re-election prospects.

Even the personal troubles of Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, whom the president has attacked in private for months and whom Mr. Trump demoted over the summer, became a vehicle for assigning blame. When Mr. Trump was told a few days ago that Mr. Parscale had been detained by the police for allegedly threatening to harm to himself, the president ordered aides to write a statement blaming “Democrats” and “Republicans in name only” who had been critical of Mr. Parscale, according to two people familiar with what took place.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump President2020

Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump

As a super spreader of false information about COVID-19, how many deaths is Donald Trump responsible for? It’s undeniable that he is responsible for American deaths. His ridicule of protective face masks alone is responsible for many people refusing to wear them, resulting in the infection and deaths of both themselves and others.

Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Noah Weiland, for the New York Times

Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.

That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.

The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.

“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” said Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

[…] To those who have been watching Mr. Trump’s statements, the idea that he is responsible for spreading or amplifying misinformation might not come as a huge shock. The president has also been feeding disinformation campaigns around the presidential election and mail-in voting that Russian actors have amplified — and his own government has tried to stop.

But in interviews, the Cornell researchers said they expected to find more mentions of conspiracy theories, and not so many articles involving Mr. Trump.

Public health experts know that clear, concise and accurate information is the foundation of an effective response to an outbreak of infectious disease. Misinformation around the pandemic is “one of the major reasons” the United States is not doing as well as other countries in fighting the pandemic, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former principal deputy commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration.

“There is a science of rumors. It’s when there is uncertainty and fear,” said Dr. Sharfstein, who teaches on public health crisis communications. In the absence of treatments or vaccines, he said, honest and consistent messaging is essential.

“This is what we need to save lives,” he said. “If it’s not done well, you get far more infections and deaths.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

Trump’s attack on Hunter Biden only hurts recovering addicts like me - The Washington Post

Once again, someone has to point out that Donald Trump's cruel and callous attacks hurt vulnerable among us. Once again, Donald Trump's words are the opposite of what any Christian should support or want to be associated with.

We are the people who reach out to those who need God the most, welcoming them in spite of their failings and how abhorrent we might find their behavior. We worship the God who forgives, restores, and makes new. Donald Trump is the man who just uses hurting people as a punchline for an attack or a joke.

Trump’s attack on Hunter Biden only hurts recovering addicts like me

Eric Garcia, writing at The Washington Post.

As saccharine as it sounds, the president of the United States is also the president of screw-ups, addicts and hopefuls like me and Hunter Biden. But Trump’s comments made clear that he believes that an addict’s actions can be used against our families to attack their character.

That will make us less willing to talk about our problems and get the help we need. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says explicitly that stigma can make people with substance abuse disorders less willing to seek treatment. And that makes sense. If your addiction is going to be used against you, why try to get better?

Hunter Biden’s problems with alcohol, drugs and women have been well-documented. (News reports show that, contrary to what Trump said Tuesday, Hunter was not dishonorably discharged from the Navy Reserve when he tested positive for cocaine in 2014.) Those demons were enough of an issue that when the former vice president began running last year, the New Yorker published a piece asking whether they would “jeopardize his father’s campaign.” That story ran a few days before I finally hit bottom myself.

The Biden family doesn’t need to be investigated. The Trump family does.

I don’t know Hunter Biden, but I do know that worrying that your own actions could hurt the people you love is one of the things that tears an addict up inside. I knew I was miserable, but I also knew my actions contradicted all the good things my family had taught me, which is why I never told them the truth. The lies didn’t fix anything, though; I just felt even guiltier, which of course made me drink more and go back to strip clubs. I felt like I didn’t deserve my family, and I feared any bad thing that happened to them would be God’s retribution for me running so astray.

When my mom finally confronted me, she thought I was deceiving her because I thought lying was fun. It was the opposite; I knew my actions were wrong. I couldn’t bear to make her think that she had failed as a parent, and I didn’t want the people at her church to associate her with my filth (when, in fact, they were the ones who told her not to give up on me).

Trump’s attempts to dismiss the late Beau Biden’s good work Tuesday by returning to Hunter Biden’s failings (“I don’t know Beau. I know Hunter”) also hit home for me because I always worried that my sister — who along with being my best friend is the best daughter, wife and teacher I know — would have her reputation dragged down because of me.

I don’t know the inner dynamics of the Biden family. But I am sure the things Hunter did must have broken his father’s heart. I am sure they had conversations like the ones my mom had with me. So Joe Biden could have, rightly, brushed off Trump with another “will you shut up” or refocused the conversation on Beau, whose death he’s still so publicly grieving.

But instead, he met the moment head-on. “My son, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,” he said — before saying that Hunter has fixed them, and then uttering the words every recovering addict wants to hear: “I am proud of my son.”

Addictions require shame the same way fires require matches. We tell ourselves that nobody would want anything to do with us if they knew the truth. By trying to hit Biden with his son’s problems, Trump took a blowtorch to countless addicts’ shame, igniting our worst fears that we could harm those we love.

This entry was tagged. Christianity Donald Trump Drugs President2020

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