Global freedom would suffer grievous harm in a second Trump term

Dear All,

This editorial hits a nail on the head. Misses a few such as the destruction of American humanitarian activities, the brutal murder of children who cross the border and the alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Egypt to find reason to war with Iran as the election approaches. Suppressing ballots and the intent to delay, cancel, or disregard the election rate pretty highly as well.
Asher Edelman

Global freedom would suffer grievous harm in a second Trump term

Opinion by the Editorial Board
THE 21st century, like the one that came before it, has seen the emergence of a fateful struggle over the nature of human governance. Regimes founded on democracy and human rights, which 25 years ago appeared to have triumphed, now face a grave challenge from a resurgent authoritarianism, which employs new technologies to refashion the tyranny that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union could not sustain. At stake is not only which nations will dominate global affairs, but also whether individual freedoms — of expression, of assembly, of religious faith — will survive.

A 21st-century victory for democracy, like those that came in World War II and the Cold War, is inconceivable without the leadership of the United States. America must prevail in the race to develop new technologies, rally fellow democracies to counter authoritarian aggression, and reform capitalism and democracy itself to serve a new age. But President Trump cannot deliver that leadership. On the contrary, over the past three years he has done as much as any global actor to advance the cause of authoritarianism and undermine the free world.

Mr. Trump’s most conspicuous aid to tyranny has been his relentless support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who aided Mr. Trump’s 2016 election and whose foreign policy is laser-focused on weakening the United States and dividing it from other democracies in the NATO alliance. Mr. Trump has provided invaluable support for this cause, most recently by ordering a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany. While he has not hesitated to publicly trash NATO and the leaders of Germany, Canada and Britain, Mr. Trump has never uttered a word of criticism of Mr. Putin, even after receiving U.S. intelligence reports indicating that Moscow paid bounties to the Afghan Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers.

Until recently, Mr. Trump offered similar obeisance to Chinese ruler Xi Jinping, calling him a “brilliant leader” and “a great man.” Mr. Trump encouraged Mr. Xi’s cultural genocide against the Uighur population of the Xinjiang region. That campaign has pioneered Beijing’s technologies of comprehensive surveillance and other AI-aided repression — tools that are central to the new model of authoritarianism it is promoting to the rest of the world. Mr. Trump also promised Mr. Xi he would remain silent on the suppression of Hong Kong’s democracy movement while negotiating trade concessions. The administration’s belated reversals on those issues, tied to Mr. Trump’s attempt to shift blame for the more than 177,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths, has predictably altered neither China’s behavior nor the conclusion among many Asians that the United States can no longer be counted on to defend democratic values or resist Chinese aggression.

The Cold War was a grueling conflict waged country by country, often in the far reaches of the developing world. Barring the outbreak of a direct military conflict between the United States and China, the 21st-century counterpart is likely to be similar. China and Russia will peddle their authoritarian solutions while the democracies press for free speech and free elections. That competition is already well underway — and again, Mr. Trump has a record of backing the wrong side.

Aspiring strongmen who are dismantling democratic institutions in their countries have been embraced by Mr. Trump and welcomed to the White House, sometimes rupturing bans imposed by his predecessors. This sordid parade has featured Abdel Fatah al-Sissi of Egypt, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Prayut Chan-ocha of Thailand, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Andrzej Duda of Poland; the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte turned down Mr. Trump’s invitation. At the same time, Mr. Trump has shunned democratic leaders attempting to resist the Russians or Chinese — most notably Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has never received a White House invitation after resisting Mr. Trump’s demand for a politicized investigation of Joe Biden. This month, Mr. Trump has done nothing to help the Belarus democratic movement seeking to overthrow the longtime dictator of a nation Mr. Putin seeks to dominate.

The democratic leaders of South Korea and Japan, the two most important U.S. allies in East Asia, have been whipsawed by Mr. Trump’s insistence on sweeping trade concessions and vast increases in subsidies for U.S. bases on their territories. They watched with dismay as Mr. Trump meanwhile proclaimed his “love” for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a Chinese client, and scaled back U.S. military exercises with South Korea.

Mr. Trump has campaigned for democracy only in nations where he has other political interests, such as Venezuela, whose Cuba-allied regime is despised by many Florida voters. Even there his advocacy has been feckless. After an attempted uprising by a U.S.-backed opposition leader failed last year, Mr. Trump wrote him off, and he has recently expressed interest in meeting dictator Nicolás Maduro.

For all this, the greatest damage Mr. Trump has done to the cause of democracy has come at home. His assaults on the U.S. media and courts, attempts to politicize Justice Department investigations, and bald efforts to manipulate voting in November’s election threaten to degrade what has been the world’s strongest democracy while offering a model for budding authoritarians around the world. His disregard for science and restrictions on immigration have weakened the chances that the United States will win the race to develop new technologies. His incessant lying has helped to create a political culture in which wild conspiracy theories flourish and there is no consensus on basic facts, making informed legislative debate and compromise all but impossible.

Though damaged, U.S. democracy and the global cause of freedom so far have survived Mr. Trump’s term in office, in large part because they have the determined support of millions of citizens. Yet there should be no question that in a second Trump term, they would suffer grievous and perhaps irreversible harm. If the 21st century is to be a time in which human societies are grounded in individual freedoms, rather than dominated by an all-powerful state, Mr. Trump must be defeated.


The Prosecutor Trump Fears Most



The Prosecutor Trump Fears Most

by Timothy Egan

Opinion | The New York Times

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, our case today is against the most powerful man in the world. And using the most powerful weapon of government by the people, you can hold this man accountable for the first time in his life, when you pass judgment on Nov. 3.

We will show that President Trump has made a mockery of the Constitution, has lied to you more than 20,000 times and is currently trying to sabotage the Postal Service in a desperate bid to cling to power. But worse than any of that, he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans during his willful mismanagement of the pandemic. The case against him is “open-and-shut,” as your prosecutor said Wednesday, and factually incontrovertible.

That prosecutor, Senator Kamala Harris, is a woman who has spent most of her professional life going after criminals. And since that prosecutor will occupy a space inside Trump’s head for the next three months, he should grant her the decency of properly pronouncing her name. It’s not Ca-mall-uhas he has said. It’s Comma-la.

Let the record show that she has already called him what he is. “I know predators, and we have a predator living in the White House,” she said last year. “The thing you must importantly know, predators are cowards.”

So, to the case: Let’s begin with the loss of more than 165,000 lives from Covid-19 in the United States, on Trump’s watch, and maybe as many as 200,000. Each of them had a story, a life, people they loved and were loved by. Now gone before their time. Their voices cry out from the grave.

You’ve already heard that the United States, with barely 4 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the coronavirus cases. And that the U.S. leads the world in total number of Covid-19 deaths, with a fatality rate five times as high as the global average. Remember that the next time the president praises himself.

But just consider a single day, Tuesday, when Joe Biden announced Harris as his pick. Covid-19 took the lives of 1,450 people in the United States on that one day. For Canada, it was four.

Trump owns this failure. We are a pariah nation, shunned and pitied, unable to travel outside our borders, prisoners of his fatal malfeasance.

Some of you have excused this president’s incompetence, his quackery, his buffoonery, his vile character, his consistent insults of women, minorities, the free press, the courts — so long as it was just the daily respiration of a narcissist. But we know now, and you must never forget, that his ignorance is lethal.

Other countries in the world — the places where people are watching sports in stadiums, where kids are going to school without fear, where businesses have been saved — had a national plan. Trump has never had one. Instead, he tweeted conspiracy nonsense from an ex-game show host and promoted ingesting household disinfectants.

The presidency, as Biden says, “is a duty to care.” This president has failed at the primary duty to keep you safe. Every day, he’s finding new ways to make your life miserable. He is actively working to take away health care from millions, through his assault on Obamacare. His attack on the Postal Service, if successful, is not just an attempt to break this democracy, but could also deprive many of you from getting your lifesaving meds on time.

But the economy, he will say. It was the best ever until the pandemic. Not true. With his tax cuts for the rich that blew a trillion dollar hole in the federal budget, he promised economic growth of up to 6 percent. It never got to even half that high in the first three years of his presidency. Unemployment now is at Depression-era levels.

“He inherited the largest economic expansion in history,” as your prosecutor said. “And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground.”

What has this president done to protect his base of working-class whites, many of them deemed “essential” workers? Nothing. As we speak, he’s trying to take away the rights of workers to sue an employer in an unsafe workplace.

He will distract you by trying to tie the Democratic ticket to the intolerant, mob-ruled far left, epitomized by the Jacobins on the Seattle City Council who recently hounded out the city’s first female African-American police chief.

But those who rule by bullhorn and bullying have nothing in common with your prosecutor and her running mate. As she has said, “No good public policy ends with an exclamation point.”

He will even say that Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic who regularly attends church, is “against God.” The last time Trump went to church he used chemical irritants against peaceful protesters to get there, for a photo op.

Most of you have made up your mind. For those who haven’t, the prosecutor will close with what she opened with. The United States is “in tatters.” Look around at the shuttered businesses, the hospitals stuffed with those struggling to breathe, Americans at each other’s throats. This president offers you no way out. You alone can show him the door.


34 Health Experts Warn New Data Rules Left Hospitals ‘Scrambling’ and Could Mar Data Integrity


Trump cabinet

The New York Times

Experts warn that new U.S. rules on virus data collection are creating problems for hospitals and data integrity.

Nearly three dozen current and former members of a federal health advisory committee — including some appointed or reappointed by Health Secretary Alex M. Azar — are warning that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”

The advisers, all current or former members of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, issued their warning in a previously unpublished letter obtained by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times.

The administration last month ordered hospitals to send daily reports about virus cases to a central database in Washington — controlled by Mr. Azar’s department — instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such reports include information about current patients, the number of available beds and ventilators, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic. The order raised alarm that the data could be politicized or withheld from the public.

The transition left hospitals “scrambling to determine how to meet daily reporting requirements,” the authors of the letter wrote. They urged that the C.D.C.’s data experts “be allowed to continue their important and trusted work” of gathering, analyzing and disseminating the daily reports, which help the government track the pandemic and guide crucial health care decisions, including how to allocate scarce supplies and drugs like remdesivir, the only drug that has federal approval to treat Covid-19.

“The U.S. cannot lose their decades of expertise in interpreting and analyzing crucial data,” wrote the authors, who include current co-chairs of the panel reappointed by Mr. Azar, Dr. Lisa Maragakis of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dr. Hilary Babcock of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

The 34 signatories are “the elite of the infection control personnel from hospitals all over the country,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Emory University who is not affiliated with the group.

The letter amounts to a sharp rebuke to Mr. Azar. It should be taken “very seriously,” said another expert, Michael T. Osterholm of the University of Minnesota.

Hospital officials around the country questioned the wisdom of switching systems in the middle of a pandemic, and said that the shift in reporting requirements has been time-consuming and difficult. And because the metrics are different, it is hard to compare current data to information collected earlier in the pandemic.

The C.D.C. referred questions to its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, run by Mr. Azar.

A  spokesman for Mr. Azar, Michael Caputo, said the C.D.C.’s health care network “was unable to keep up with the fast-paced data collection demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.” And while the C.D.C. no longer collects the data, Mr. Caputo said, the agency has “access to all the data it once had and more.


The risks of a broken American election


Demonstrators defend mail-in voting, which President Donald Trump describes as ‘fraudulent’

Trump’s assault on absentee voting amid coronavirus is a dark omen


The editorial board


It has long been clear that the only restraints on Donald Trump’s actions are the courts and the American people. Republicans have largely failed to act as a check on the US president, even when he is traducing the principles they claim to hold dear. One of these is the US constitution’s provision for a presidential election every four years.

A few Republican heads made rare appearances above the parapet recently after Mr Trump mused about delaying the November election. That was encouraging. He has no authority to postpone an event that has taken place without fail, including in the throes of the US civil war and two world wars. Yet they are willing accomplices in Mr Trump’s backdoor efforts to make it as hard as possible for Americans to exercise their right to vote. A suppressed turnout could prove as bad as a delayed election.

Of these, the most worrisome is Mr Trump’s assault on mail-in balloting, which he repeatedly describes without evidence as “fraudulent”. Amid a pandemic it is critical that voters be given an alternative to standing in long queues for crowded polling stations. Without a well-functioning US postal service, votes may not be cast, or arrive too late to be counted. Yet Louis DeJoy, the recently appointed postmaster general, who runs the USPS, is taking steps to make postal voting harder.

He has tripled the fee on mail-in ballots, eliminated overtime for USPS deliverers, which has slowed service across the country, and removed from their positions 23 senior executives last Friday. Unlike Mr DeJoy – a generous Trump donor with no experience in the service – the ousted executives are career USPS managers. Moreover, Republicans are blocking a congressional relief bill that would increase funding to the cash-strapped USPS and help to ensure timely ballot deliveries in November.

The risk to the integrity of the US presidential election cannot be overstated. Beneath the radar are a thousand other efforts to make voting, and counting the votes, harder. Among these are state and local measures that would prevent ballots that arrive after polling day from being counted. Legislatures are denying funding for the tens of thousands of officials who need to be trained in how to count absentee ballots. They are also making it easier to reject ballots as fraudulent. Florida’s notorious battle of the “hanging chads” in 2000 could look like child’s play compared to the legal challenges that are being drafted across the US.

The net effect is likely to be widespread confusion. Ballots could take days or weeks to count. Should the election be close, it might take until Thanksgiving or beyond to know the result. And that assumes that efforts to stop the counting would fail in the courts, which is not assured.

Can America avoid an electoral train wreck? In the absence of a landslide for Joe Biden or Mr Trump, the chances are high that the outcome would be murky. That would benefit Mr Trump, who has the vast powers of incumbency. At this late stage it is hard to see how the country’s panoply of state, county and municipal election systems can agree on a roughly common treatment of mail-in ballots, let alone universal postal balloting. Just five states provide for that.

There is no mystery as to why this is happening. Polls show Mr Trump heading for defeat. He is thus casting doubt on the election – deeming it in advance the most “fraudulent” in US history and a “coup” in the making. His efforts to muddy the waters and invalidate absentee ballots are deeply un-American. They should be repugnant to any who call themselves conservative.





Dear Friends,

Many of you have expressed curiosity or puzzlement about the apparent disconnect of equity markets from the reality of the economic outlook. In fact, the conversation has become an active topic here. It is time to put this unique puzzle to bed. Some of you (my wealthy readers who play in the equity markets) will be delighted with the details. Some of you (my less wealthy readers) will be concerned with the genesis of the disconnect. Why? Because though you are all paying for this bull market – you are not all benefiting – another transfer of wealth from the average family to the wealthy investor. Yes, the market is assisted, almost daily, with taxpayer and deficit creating funding.




The Plunge Protection Plan


The Plunge Protection Plan and Team. Created by President Reagan by executive order in 1988 (order 12631) in response to the October 1987 stock market crash, the working group which was to include, and still may, the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Chairman of the SEC, and the Chairman of the Commodities Trading Commission. It should be noted the President can include or reject any of these members of the team.


Functionally, subject to the availability of funds, the Treasury provides, at request (command) of the President, unlimited funds to acquire equity securities and futures. The purchase orders are executed through major banks (usually restricted to two banks, one guesses today Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase). As part of the Reagan order there are no minutes kept and the PPT is not accountable to congress but acts in secrecy.


The present administration has used strength in the stock market as a surrogate for economic success. From the beginning of the Trump administration the economic growth of the nation has not met his promises. He has continually pointed to the market as a great Trump economic success. The activities of the PPP are evident from the early morning futures trades and throughout the day. It is unlikely we will ever know how much taxpayer money fueled this apparently disconnected equity market. No minutes are kept! Perhaps the banks executing orders will open up one day though I doubt they will be permitted to. It’s all a black box at the expense of the American Taxpayer.


Asher Edelman


P.S. Questions and comments are welcomed. Over the next few weeks we will be exploring the massive transfer of wealth and income from the average American to the wealthy. We are not anti-wealth but doubt the economy can function with 30,000,000 Americans going hungry and 100,000,000 Americans unable to afford housing, food, education, and medical care.


Almost 30 Million in U.S. Didn’t Have Enough to Eat Last Week

Dear Friends,

The richest nation in the world, 10% of its population struggling to eat, moving towards starvation. Helpless parents who watch their children suffer while Trump throws away money on useless border walls and the take down of the FBI building across from his hotel.
You can help these families that are rejected by the administration and its cronies.
In every city, every town, rural areas there are volunteer groups organized to feed the starving . Give these noble organizations of yourselves, financial support, food, labor. You can make a difference. Please do it.


Almost 30 Million in U.S. Didn’t Have Enough to Eat Last Week

by Maeve sheehey

Bloomberg, July 29, 2020

Food insecurity for U.S. households last week reached its highest reported level since the Census Bureau started tracking the data in May, with almost 30 million Americans reporting that they’d not had enough to eat at some point in the seven days through July 21.

In the bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, roughly 23.9 million of 249 million respondents indicated they had “sometimes not enough to eat” for the week ended July 21, while about 5.42 million indicated they had “often not enough to eat.” The survey, which began with the week ended May 5, was published Wednesday.

The number of respondents who sometimes had insufficient food was at its highest point in the survey’s 12 weeks. The number who often experienced food insufficiency was at its highest since the week ended May 26.


This follows deep recession resulting from the pandemic, which put millions of Americans out of work. Unemployed Americans have been receiving an extra $600 per week benefit, which is set to expire at the end of July as Congress debates a new relief package.

Other high-frequency data, including Household Pulse jobs numbers, indicate that the U.S. economic recovery may be stalling out at virus cases spike around the country and states roll back their reopening plans.


‘That’s Ridiculous.’ How America’s Coronavirus Response Looks Abroad. (Video)

From lockdowns to testing, we showed people around the world the facts and figures on how the U.S. has handled the pandemic.

Video by Brendan Miller and 

The New York Times

The United States leads the world in Covid-19 deaths, nearing 150,000 lost lives. The unemployment figures brought on by the pandemic are mind-boggling. The Trump administration’s slow and haphazard response has been widely criticized. But what does it look like to young people around the world, whose governments moved quickly and aggressively to contain the coronavirus?

We wanted to know, so we reached out to quite a few and showed them charts, facts, photos and videos illustrating the U.S. response. Spoiler: They were not impressed.

Many advanced economies, from Germany to Singapore, directly supplemented salaries to save jobs. Other nations with fewer resources started mass testing at the first sign of an outbreak. Many countries mandated universal lockdowns — and successfully flattened the curve. In some parts of Europe, you could be fined for straying too far from your home. And Vietnam, a nation of 95 million people, has not seen a single Covid-19 death.

This Opinion video is a follow-up to a popular video we produced last year, which asked young Europeans to respond to American policies such as health care and parental leave. Many comments suggested we produce a sequel. Well, here it is — the Covid-19 edition.




Dr. Anthony Fauci:


“Chickenpox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don’t think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you’re older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don’t just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it’s been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.


Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they’re going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you’re going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don’t just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it’s been around for years, and been studied medically for years.


HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.


Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.


So far the symptoms may include:


Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Liver damage
Kidney damage
COVID toes (weird, right?)


People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.


Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.


This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.


For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity:
How dare you?


How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as “getting it over with”, when literally no one knows who will be the lucky “mild symptoms” case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30-year-olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.


How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don’t yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:


Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces


The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren’t immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.


I reject the notion that it’s “just a virus” and we’ll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.”