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Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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Journal Archives

Trump's Reelection Strategy Is Going To Backfire Spectacularly

Trump is basing his reelection strategy on deeply flawed predictions.


The stock market appears to have largely recovered from the Coronavirus wipeout. After the Trump administration doled out hundreds of billions of dollars to ailing companies on the verge of bankruptcy, investors have once again been reassured that the government is willing to use everything at its disposal to ensure their survival. “It almost feels like today is the first day,” Trump said during a White House meeting last week. “People are starting to go out. They’re opening. They get it.” And thus the great American capitalist machine marches onward. Or will it? If you take a deeper look at America’s so-called recovery, it becomes immediately apparent that all is not well, and Trump should be extremely worried about his reelection chances.

The gamble that almost certainly won’t work

Trump has been busy ignoring the deadly pandemic that has killed over 100,000 Americans so that he can get the economy back up and running, gambling that dead Americans are less important than good stock market numbers. This gamble might be working in the short term (some Democrats are, predictably, panicking over this), but there are good reasons to believe that this success is likely to be short term. Despite some investors and economists predicting a “V-shaped recovery” (a huge dip followed by a huge recovery), the US is more likely about to enter a prolonged depression that has the potential to make the last decade of pain seem like a bountiful paradise. Nouriel Roubini, the remarkably prescient economist who accurately predicted the market meltdown in 2008, has been sounding the alarm again about what is actually happening to the US economy. In an interview with New York Magazine, Roubini warned that contrary to the rosy picture being painted by Trump officials, “we are one step away from food riots”. His reasoning is extremely difficult to disagree with:

Roubini is staking his reputation on an L-shaped depression. The economist (and host of a biweekly economic news broadcast) does expect things to get better before they get worse: He foresees a slow, lackluster (i.e., “U-shaped”) economic rebound in the pandemic’s immediate aftermath. But he insists that this recovery will quickly collapse beneath the weight of the global economy’s accumulated debts. Specifically, Roubini argues that the massive private debts accrued during both the 2008 crash and COVID-19 crisis will durably depress consumption and weaken the short-lived recovery. Meanwhile, the aging of populations across the West will further undermine growth while increasing the fiscal burdens of states already saddled with hazardous debt loads. Although deficit spending is necessary in the present crisis, and will appear benign at the onset of recovery, it is laying the kindling for an inflationary conflagration by mid-decade.

Wall St vs Main St

The $1200 stimulus check may have helped Americans pay the rent for a few weeks, but it isn’t going to pay for a new flat screen TV, family vacation to Florida, or new car. The disconnect between what is happening on Wall St and they everyday experience of working Americans has now reached the point of parody. The unemployment rate in the US has gone from 4 percent to 20 percent in two months (roughly 30 million people), food banks around the country are at breaking point, unemployment benefits are running out, and people are being evicted from their homes because they have exhausted all their savings. Yet the stock market is back up and investor confidence is running high. Trump might think he can run on the stock market alone, but the pain everyday Americans are feeling is going to cost him dearly at the ballot box in November if he does not take dramatic action to ease their suffering. Throwing billions of dollars at giant corporations with few strings attached might help boost the S&P 500, but it isn’t helping blue collar workers in states crucial to his re-election.

Swing State Collapse.........


Trump asks diabetic seniors to repay him w/ votes just hours after Kellyanne Conway insisted insulin

plan not about politics

'I don't use insulin. Should I be?' non-diabetic president asks in latest bizarre comment


President Donald Trump gestures to people in the audience after an event on protecting seniors with diabetes in the Rose Garden White House, Tuesday, May 26, 2020. 'I don’t use insulin. Should I be?' he asked at the event

Donald Trump wants older voters with diabetes to repay him in November for a deal his administration struck to lower their insulin costs, even though a top aide hours earlier said the move was not about politics. "I hope the seniors are going to remember it because Biden is the one who put us in the jam. They were incompetent," he said of former Vice President Joe Biden and his former Obama administration teammates. (Mr Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.)

The president made the remark during an afternoon Rose Garden event during which he announced a deal with insulin producers that will make health plans available to Medicare recipients with capped $35 copay for seniors with diabetes. With the comment, the always politically minded Mr Trump broke with what one of his top counselors, Kellyanne Conway, told reporters on a call earlier in the day.

"We're talking about policy today at the White House, not politics," Ms Conway said on a call previewing the insulin price announcement. "The timing really is geared toward open enrollment," and not the 2020 election, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Director Seema Verma said on the same briefing call with reporters.

Lower drug prices, especially for older Americans, long has been one of bipartisan agreement, though congressional Republicans and the White House have been unable to strike a deal with Democrats. They did come to terms on 2018 legislation that Mr Trump signed into law aimed at helping patients obtain information to cheaper drug options from their pharmacist.


The Malignant Cruelty of Donald Trump (The Atlantic article that made Rump go into red rage)

The president is defaming the memory of a woman who died nearly 20 years ago—and inflicting pain upon her family today.


“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him—the memory of my dead wife—and perverted it for perceived political gain.” There may be a more damning thing that’s been said about an American president, but none immediately comes to mind. This sentence is from a heartbreaking May 21 letter written by Timothy Klausutis to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, asking Dorsey to delete a series of tweets by Donald Trump. Klausutis is the widower of Lori Kaye Klausutis, who died nearly 20 years ago. (Timothy Klausutis, who never remarried, still lives in the house he shared with his wife.) The autopsy conducted at the time of Lori’s death confirmed that it was an accident; she had fainted as the result of a heart condition, hitting her head on a desk. There’s not a thimble of evidence of foul play. But here’s where things go from being tragic to being twisted. When Lori Klausutis died, she worked for then–Republican Representative Joe Scarborough. Today, Scarborough is a fierce critic of the president from his perch at MSNBC, where he co-hosts Morning Joe. That is why the president has been peddling a cruel and baseless conspiracy theory that Scarborough had Klausutis murdered. This is a topic most journalists are inherently reluctant to cover, given the danger that it will draw more attention to a vile lie.

But with the president and his son Don Jr., who between them have more than 85 million Twitter followers, sending out lunatic tweets and calling for “the opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough,” human decency requires a response. That Donald Trump would resort to conspiracy theories to attack his perceived enemies is hardly a revelation. After all, Trump employed a racist conspiracy theory against Barack Obama, which helped him gain political prominence in the Republican Party, and later claimed that President Obama had wiretapped his phones. During the 2016 primary, Trump linked Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and retweeted a supporter who claimed that Marco Rubio was ineligible to run because his parents were not natural-born U.S. citizens. Trump suggested that the suicide of Vince Foster, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, and the death of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were murders; that childhood vaccines cause autism; and that windmills cause cancer. He’s claimed that climate change is “a total and very expensive hoax” by China’s government, that a cybersecurity company framed Russia for election interference, that Ukraine was hiding Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and that voter fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016. (Business Insider provided a useful summary of more than two dozen of Trump’s conspiracy theories in October.)

Conspiracy theories have long been evidence of Trump’s twisted psychology. He has always traveled quite easily from the real world to the twilight zone, depending on which reality suits his needs at the moment. And when someone holds him accountable—when someone calls him out for his incompetence and ethical wrongdoing—conspiracy theories often become his weapon of choice. At such moments, conspiracy theories are fine, but conspiracy theories with the added element of cruelty are even better. Which brings us back to the heartbreaking letter from Timothy Klausutis. Donald Trump doesn’t merely want to criticize his opponents; he takes a depraved delight in inflicting pain on others, even if there’s collateral damage in the process, as is the case with the Klausutis family. There’s something quite sick about it all. A lot of human casualties result from the cruelty of malignant narcissists like Donald Trump—casualties, it should be said, that his supporters in the Republican Party, on various pro-Trump websites and news outlets, and on talk radio are willing to tolerate or even defend. Their philosophy seems to be that you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet. If putting up with Trump’s indecency is the price of maintaining power, so be it.

Will Trump’s white evangelical supporters—Franklin Graham Jr., Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas, Mike Huckabee, Ralph Reed—defend his behavior as the perfect embodiment of the New Testament ethic, the credo of Jesus, the message from the Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the brutal, for they shall inherit the Earth.” Some people will argue that Trump’s promotion of this conspiracy theory is just his latest distraction, a shiny object to pull our focus away from the human and economic cost of COVID-19. Maybe. But I’m not at all convinced that this will help Trump politically. Remember, Trump’s approval rating was often well under 50 percent even when the economy was doing well and America was at relative peace abroad. There’s plenty of evidence, including the 2018 midterm elections, that Trump’s dehumanizing tactics erode his support, especially among white suburban women. And I rather doubt that people will have forgotten Trump’s reckless handling of the pandemic by November; defaming the memory of a woman who died nearly two decades ago and causing renewed grief for her family isn’t likely to help him with most voters, either. But whatever the political ramifications of this current lie being promulgated by the president, the rest of us need to name it, and to make Trump supporters own it. They are his, and he is theirs.


instead of a blue exclamation mark, Twitter needs to use this to signal a fact check of a Rump lie


People Like Amy Cooper Are Why I Left New York City

When I moved to a white neighborhood, my life became a series of incidents like the one in Central Park.



In 2016, I was coming back to my apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, after a long afternoon of playing basketball with old friends. I was about to head upstairs, but I saw a missed call that I figured I’d return outside rather than annoy my roommates through the thin walls. A few minutes later, I looked up and saw that two NYPD officers had cornered me. They wanted to see my ID, which I didn’t have. They asked if I lived in the building. They said someone had complained about someone loitering in front of their apartment. I assured them that I too lived there, and had every right to be there taking a phone call. They insisted that I prove it to them by opening the lock with my key. Sure officer, no problem.

I chose to live in Greenpoint because I really like the G train, which connects Queens and North Brooklyn with other Brooklyn neighborhoods to the south. I hadn’t once considered that there are a lot of white people who live there, and that I, an Arab-American, might stand out. I had lived in that apartment for about half a year. I went out of my way to present myself as friendly. Maybe it was the sweaty basketball shorts, or maybe the white woman on the bottom floor had gotten tired of me locking my bike to the handrail and wanted to send a message. There was no way to be sure. But I held on to that paranoia. I had always been afraid of the police. I had experienced enough of those “random” searches to catch on to the fact that they’re hardly random. As early as 14, I had my backpack emptied out on my way to school by a police officer who said I fit a profile, and that kind of extra attention became routine. They told me they needed to be sure. I learned to see the police as a threat.

It wasn’t until I moved to New York City in 2013 that I began extending that fear to my white neighbors. I first noticed it in myself. I assumed that white people would see me as threatening, so I’d try to disarm them and do little things to assure my innocence. Sometimes, it’s as innocuous as a wide smile at a gas station. Other times, it’d be more deliberate, like crossing the street when someone white was in my trajectory. I didn’t want to spook anyone, so I didn’t give them a chance to be spooked. In Central Park on Monday morning, a white woman named Amy Cooper was filmed by a black man who was there bird watching. He asked her to leash her dog, and she responded by calling 911 and lying to the operator that she was being threatened by “an African American male.” She emphasized his race many times.

There’s no doubt that she was aware how many NYPD officers handle encounters with black men. Cooper was pleading to the police to show up guns blazing because she didn’t like that a black man told her to put her dog on a leash. Both Cooper and the man in the video were gone when the police arrived. That’s lucky. I didn’t have to confront a white woman in the park to experience situations like this. Once I was put in handcuffs for being on a subway platform standing on my skateboard because someone told a police officer they felt unsafe. Another time I was in a car with other brown men, and we were asked to exit the vehicle so the officers could pat us down and search the car; it wasn’t clear if someone had complained, or if the officers were just making sure we knew we were being watched. Sometimes it was more mundane. Once I was at a bar and was confronted by a bouncer after putting down my empty glass on a table just past a huddle of white women. This all took a toll. I was anxious and suspicious of my neighbors all the time, because I had no idea who might see me as a threat. Eventually I couldn’t do it anymore.


Jonathan Pie - The Tale of Dominic Cummings

Italy Plans to Reopen to Travelers on June 3--but Not to Americans

The Italian government will lift quarantine restrictions and reopen its borders after a lengthy coronavirus lockdown, but only to its European neighbors.


On Saturday, May 16, Italy’s government announced that it would open its borders in early June, ending one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns. It hopes to revive the country’s tourism industry, which contributes some 13 percent of gross domestic product. Starting June 3, the government will eliminate the 14-day quarantine for people arriving from abroad and will open both regional and international borders.

But before you start celebrating, these new regulations don’t apply to residents of the United States. According to the government decree, these new rules only apply to people arriving from member countries of the European Union, countries within the Schengen Zone, as well as the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and the microstates and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican.

The government decree also says those who test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with people with the virus will still be subjected to mandatory quarantine measures. (Officials did not provide details on how exactly they would be checking or confirming travelers’ contacts.) As coronavirus cases continue to fall within Italy, the government also retains the right to institute “more restrictive measures” to and from certain regions in the event of worsening epidemiological data.

The earliest the European Commission is considering allowing nonessential travel into the European Union from outside member states is June 15, 2020. Since Italy went into lockdown in the second week of March, travel into the country and between its regions has been strictly limited. Airports and railway stations remained open only to allow those with proven work needs or other urgent or health-related reasons to travel with a form verifying their purpose. Italian citizens were also allowed to return home from abroad and foreign tourists could leave the country.


Foodie Culture as We Know It Is Over

A wave of culinary experts is responding to the pandemic with an accessible and empathetic approach to home cooking—and audiences can’t get enough.


In recent weeks, you may have seen YouTube clips of the Bon Appétit chefs fancifying boxed mac and cheese. Or a viral recipe for an easy shallot-pasta dish. Or Ina Garten getting real on Instagram about what her freezer looks like. Food media during the pandemic have, sometimes surreally, seemed to abandon elitism in favor of a less ostentatious approach to cooking. These cultural products don’t just emphasize accessible ingredients and techniques. They also present an inclusive vision of foodie culture that’s refreshing all on its own, especially at a moment when audiences are craving programming that cares about their daily realities.

The seeds of this new ethos were planted before the coronavirus crisis arrived. For years, The Great British Baking Show comforted viewers with its friendly, low-stakes competition—the spirit of which was captured by the Season 6 winner, Nadiya Hussain. Now the culinary champion is among those bringing that attitude afresh to American TV, via her Netflix cooking series, Nadiya’s Time to Eat. With good humor and charm, she visits “time poor” households and shares speedy recipes, celebrating food without sacrificing pragmatism.

The series is an engaging watch in large part because—like many other recent shows, YouTube channels, books, and blogs—it seeks to democratize the often-elitist landscape of food media. When Kim, an overworked mother of two, says she’s embarrassed by how haphazard her family’s meals have become, the host shakes her head. “This is real life,” says Hussain, herself a mother of three. “It’s hard juggling the cooking and trying to spend time with each other.” She then shares one of her quickest go-to recipes: a jazzed-up ramen that can be stored in the fridge the night before serving it. The dish is no panacea and can’t alleviate all of Kim’s frustrations, but the tasty, replicable meal acknowledges a daily quandary for many Americans.

Nadiya’s Time to Eat, which first aired on the BBC last year, wasn’t filmed with the prospect of a worldwide pandemic in mind. But as Hussain visits families, she speaks with candor and compassion about the profound, if mundane, stresses that many people face. This sensitivity to the concerns of everyday people—and to how those concerns inform the kinds of cooking they’re willing or able to do—feels timely. It’s common to see articles recommending lengthy baking projects and time-consuming individual dishes, which may be most appealing for those who can work from home or aren’t caring for young children. (Hussain’s fellow Baking Show finalist, the anesthesiologist Tamal Ray, recently wrote about how baking calms him after long shifts at the hospital.) But these kinds of diversions are often impossible for parents, especially mothers, whose schedules are even more congested now during the coronavirus crisis.


The End of Hong Kong

China has moved to take away the city’s autonomy, one of several aggressive actions by Beijing across the region.


Over the course of April and throughout May, while much of the world’s attention was trained on the coronavirus’s spiraling death toll, hardly a day passed in Hong Kong without news of arrested activists, scuffles among lawmakers, or bombastic proclamations from mainland officials. Long-standing norms were done away with at dizzying speed.

In that time, Beijing was undertaking aggressive actions across Asia. A Chinese ship rammed a Vietnamese vessel in the contested waters of the South China Sea, sinking it. Off the coast of Malaysia, in the country’s exclusive economic zone, a Chinese research vessel, accompanied by coast-guard and fishing ships—likely part of China’s maritime militia, civilian vessels marshaled by Beijing in times of need—began survey work near a Malaysian oil rig. The standoff that followed drew warships from the United States and Australia, as well as China. Beijing then declared that it had created two administrative units on islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by Vietnam. Chinese officials have reacted, too, with predictable rage to Taiwan, whose handling of the pandemic has won plaudits and begun a push for more international recognition.

The moves were capped this week when China’s National People’s Congress announced that it would force wide-ranging national-security laws on Hong Kong in response to last year’s prodemocracy protests. In doing so, Beijing circumvented the city’s autonomous legislative process and began dismantling the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong is governed, setting up what will likely be a fundamental shift in the territory’s freedoms, its laws, and how it is recognized internationally. The announcement late Thursday evening stunned prodemocracy lawmakers, diplomats, and many of the city’s 7.4 million residents, who awoke Friday questioning Hong Kong’s future. The stock market plunged, interest in VPNs shot up, and Hong Kongers wondered whether 2047, the year in which China was set to take back full control of the city, had arrived more than two decades early. “I’m heartbroken,” Tanya Chan, the convener of the prodemocracy camp in the city’s legislature, told me. “Last night was a complete setback.”

Though much of the world has come to a standstill as a result of the pandemic, China’s regional ambitions and grudge settling clearly have not. Beijing has offered provocations—with a dash of propaganda and medical diplomacy—pushing forward its agenda despite the unfolding public-health crisis. “This is business as usual—in the South China Sea, towards Taiwan—it’s all the same,” Greg Poling, a senior fellow with the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., told me. “Business as usual during a pandemic that people partially blame on you—it is more scandalous.”


WaPo: Klobuchar, amid Biden VP search, scrambles to fix relations with black community


Just before February's South Carolina primary, Amy Klobuchar landed a coveted chance to address African American leaders. When the black activist and journalist Roland Martin learned about it, he was outraged. Martin fired off a text to Al Sharpton, the longtime civil rights leader hosting the event: How could he offer such a valuable platform to Klobuchar, who he felt had ignored the black community and brushed off his interview requests? Sharpton let the senator from Minnesota speak, but when she was done he instructed her to talk to Martin, pointing him out from the stage. "Y'all need to talk to the black press," he told her as the audience looked on.

The unusual public scolding underlined a chief weakness in Klobuchar's current drive to be Joe Biden's running mate: her strained relations with African Americans. The tensions, rooted in part in her record as a Minneapolis-area prosecutor, hurt her presidential aspirations and have come storming back into the spotlight now that she is increasingly seen as a top candidate to join the ticket. In response, Klobuchar is urgently courting the black community. In recent weeks she has aggressively reached out to African American groups, introduced a voting rights bill, joined an NAACP town hall, worked with black leaders and granted interviews to African American journalists.

But some say it's too late to improve her standing after decades of friction. "In the next two weeks? I don't know what that would look like," said Rashad Robinson, executive director of the Color of Change, a racial justice nonprofit. As a county prosecutor, Klobuchar was too harsh toward nonwhite defendants, particularly African Americans, critics say, and as a U.S. senator she's done little to help the black community. In seriously considering Klobuchar, Biden's camp is making "a dangerous and reckless choice," said Aimee Allison, a leading activist for women of color. Biden has strong support from African American voters, but many of his allies in the black community warn him not to take it for granted. On Friday, Biden told an African American radio host during a discussion of black issues, "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black."

After a furor, the Biden campaign rejiggered a conference call with black business leaders, having the candidate personally call in to the meeting instead of just staff as planned. "Perhaps I was much too cavalier," Biden told them. "I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African American vote for granted. But nothing could be further from the truth." The radio host — Lenard Larry McKelvey, who goes by Charlamagne Tha God on the show — told The Washington Post that Biden should definitely not pick Klobuchar, especially after Friday's remark. "I think that would be suicide for Joe Biden's campaign," he said. "If he did that, especially at this moment, after the comments that he made. . . . He would be a fool not to put a black woman as his running mate."

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