Heather Cox Richardson

Either Americans are even weirder than I can imagine, or my imagination is just not up to the task. But either way, I cannot grasp it.

I looked up what happened during the Hong Kong flu in both Germany’s. In Berlin, they had to use the subway tunnels to store the dead. I spoke to people who remember. Life just went on, mostly as usual, they said.
But I still cannot understand why it would need even more to demand, in massive numbers, on the streets, that Trump resigns. I can’t. Not with that blatantly displayed contempt for everything the US were proud of, with the notable exceptiins of money and power.


Right? That hit me upside the head too.

I guess a lot of people still see Trump as a successful billionaire, and therefore as someone who can run the economy (they’ve probably heard and then forgotten about his multiple bankruptcies and failed businesses). Biden is "just a lifelong politician, " and thus a person who’s seen as out of touch with the real world, and thus unable to run a business. And untrustworthy to boot.

That it all means for so many that running a country should be like running business, instead of leading like, a caring cooperative society, is depressing to me.


And @subextraordinaire, it’s insane, isn’t it, that people seem unable to make the connection between Trump’s policies, which were already slowing the growth that began during the obama administration (in part because things were already pretty shitty when obama took office), and the very real problems of the economy, which are not just covid related, I’d argue. I think what tends to happen is Democratic presidents tend to have policies which are more likely to benefit average Americans, meaning they can function (not always, of course), and that when Republicans inherit that growth, they take full credit for it, and people often believe them. Anything they fuck up with their tax breaks or deregulation has to be cleaned up by the next administration, which if it’s a democratic one, gets the blame. Rinse and repeat!


And @LutherBlisset and @milliefink

I wonder if the one thing would be actual bank statements, loan applications and tax records that shows Trump is basically broke? I think all the Trumps are living on borrowed money. I think they have very little assets and a boatload of liability. Maybe if someone publicly called in all the loans?

Who am I kidding? His base would think it’s noble that he’s broke. Just like Jesus.


I’m betting that’s what the Deutsche Bank documents show…

Probably… I think his base responses to the trappings of wealth power, though, not the reality of it.

YES! Even if it did not convert one of his base, this SHOULD happen.

Yep, but still. It should all come out.


And apathy. Since the hunger, homelessness, systemic racism and bigotry, police brutality, pandemic deaths, and political dumpster fires haven’t directly affected them, they’re safe, so why stir off the couch?



And I think the U.S. cult of individualism actually breeds that apathy, especially among those who enjoy various forms of privilege. Those aren’t MY problems.




I finally had a chance (three minutes) to do this. It’s over here:


That is probably the biggest factor. Complacency until it smacks them on the face, then shock that such a thing could possibly happen. Despite certain knowledge that it is happening all the time, just not to you (or people who look like you.)


FAKE NEWS! Deep State Conspiracy!


August 17, 2020 (Monday)

Today’s big news was the opening of the Democratic National Convention. Before it happened, though, Trump set up exactly what he stands for. Between him and the Democrats, the messaging for the upcoming election is clear.

Yesterday, Trump raised eyebrows when he retweeted an account that said: “Leave Democrat cities. Let them rot…. [Walk Away] from the radical left. And do it quickly.” His retweet sparked outrage, with British journalist Mehdi Hasan noting “If Obama had retweeted someone saying ‘leave Republican states. Let them rot’ it would have been a multi-week, multi-month political scandal requiring clarifications and apologies from every top Dem. With Trump, it won’t even register in today’s headlines.”

On a campaign swing in Minnesota, Trump made clear his message for the election. He repeatedly insisted that Biden “is the puppet of leftwing extremists,” who will “replace American freedom with leftwing fascism.” He harped again and again on the words “leftwing” and “fascist.” He warned that America would face “crime, chaos, corruption and economic collapse” if he is not reelected, although of course that is precisely where we are now. It is a difficult argument for an incumbent to make under these circumstances.

Trump continues to signal to his base, today by slashing business regulations. This was more to signal his values than to make changes, since today’s actions are not actually widely sought by business leaders. He overturned an Obama-era regulation on methane emissions, aimed at finding and plugging the methane leaks that annually produce about 13 million metric tons of the gas that is a primary contributor to climate change. Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil had all supported the regulations, but Trump’s new rules will stop measuring the leaks.

He also approved a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. In 2017, Congress required the Interior Department to begin to open up the region. The new land would be a game changer, except that oil companies are doing so well in the middle of the country—Texas, North Dakota and so on—that they have little interest in undertaking expensive exploratory actions. “We may not need those resources today but we will eventually,” said Dan Eberhart, an oil executive and major Republican donor.

And Trump is focusing on culture wars. Over the course of the day, the Republicans announced some of the people who would participate in the Republican National Convention. Their numbers include Nick Sandmann, the smirking young man in a MAGA hat who faced off against a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips, outside the Lincoln Memorial in January 2019; and the St. Louis couple, Patricia and Mark McCloskey, who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in July 2020.

Trump also announced that he will give the speech accepting his renomination at the White House, breaking norms and probably breaking ethics laws. Likely to distract from the Democratic convention, he announced that he’s “doing a pardon tomorrow on somebody that’s very very important.” The White House press secretary says it’s not his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn or Edward Snowden, who leaked highly classified information, and who has now fled for refuge to Russia. We’ll see.

But things are not going Trump’s way. While he exacerbates divisions in our society, more than 165,000 Americans have died of coronavirus. And while he has pressured schools to reopen, even willing administrators are finding his wishes cannot override reality. After great pressure to open up, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, this afternoon sent its undergraduates home after the university saw four hot spots of at least 177 positive cases.

In the past two days, important voices have deserted Trump. Yesterday, William H. McRaven, former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011-2014, warned that “President Trump is actively working to undermine every major institution in this country. He has planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of many Americans that our institutions aren’t functioning properly. And, if the president doesn’t trust the intelligence community, law enforcement, the press, the military, the Supreme Court, the medical professionals, election officials and the postal workers, then why should we? And if Americans stop believing in the system of institutions, then what is left but chaos and who can bring order out of chaos: only Trump. It is the theme of every autocrat who ever seized power or tried to hold onto it.”

Today, Miles Taylor, a member of the leadership team of the Department of Homeland Security from 2017-2019, published an op-ed in the Washington Post warning that the president governs “by whim, political calculation, and self-interest.” He has tried to turn the DHS into a political tool to serve his interests, calling, for example, for DHS to pull migrant families apart deliberately as a deterrent from asking for asylum. Trump’s “inappropriate and often absurd” requests, “at all hours of the day and night,” diverted DHS from “dealing with genuine security threats.” The president, he says, has made America “profoundly less safe.”

Adding a voice to the mounting opposition to the president, today “Anonymous,” who has occasionally written critiques of the administration, allegedly from within it, wrote that Trump is destroying our rules and regulations, and that we must get him and his ilk out of our politics.

That was a theme embraced by the Democratic National Convention, which began tonight. Held on-line because of the coronavirus, it marked a new kind of political engagement by entering the virtual world to which we have increasingly moved in the past twenty or more years. Without hoopla or crowds, the convention was intimate and interesting. There were a variety of backgrounds and people, and no interminable speeches punctuated with dutiful applause. The speeches felt more personal and less political than normal, a feeling that will serve the Democrats well after four years when absolutely everything is political and most of us are tired of it.

The DNC programming was designed to feel inclusive. The theme was “We the People,” and the evening began with the voices and pictures of young Americans from all walks of life singing. Soon they were replaced by a video of Americans working together, set to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising.” The evening’s events focused on America’s youth and its people of color.

Their line-up tried to include everyone opposing Trump, from Ohio Governor John Kasich, who remains a Republican even though he is supporting Biden, through the political spectrum to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, billionaire executive Meg Whitman, and former Representative Susan Molinari all talked about their support for Joe Biden. They were invited to speak both to give teeth to arguments the opposition to Trump is bipartisan, and to give an off ramp to Republicans who need to have some big Republican names to follow off the Republican ticket this year.

But their speeches were less effective than testimonials from ordinary Americans who have lost family members to Covid-19, or who have been on the front lines fighting the disease, delivered from their homes. Most of Biden’s rivals for the nomination spoke on his behalf, too. Emphasizing that the new Democratic Party wants to include everyone, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke in front of a wall of stacked wood to say that he would “work with liberals, moderates, and yes, conservatives” to protect democracy.

(Seeing Sanders in front of a woodpile, Charles Pierce tweeted: “Bernie is the candidate who took himself to the woodshed.”)

Michele Obama delivered tonight’s keynote address. She emphasized justice and empathy and the power of words to heal or destroy in a speech so powerful even the Fox News Channel had to applaud it. Her best framing for the election, though, was her sad dismissal of Trump not for any of the combative actions that his base loves so much, but rather for lack of ability. “Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country…. He is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

The evening ended with guitarist Stephen Stills playing his famous protest song “For What It’s Worth,” with young African American singer Billy Porter singing the words. It was a vignette of the passing of the torch from one generation to another.

Conservative commentator Bill Kristol said: “I figured they’d be savvy enough to do no harm. But that was an impressive, even compelling, couple of hours."

Biden got very little airtime on this, the convention’s first night, although there were retrospectives of his life and explorations of his support for his colleagues as well as ordinary Americans. But what he did say was important: “We are the United States of America. There’s not a single thing we cannot do if we do it together.”


Hardly necessary. Trump already had the asshole vote locked up.


That’s about all he has, so he pretty much has to go with it.


The quality of asshole is seriously declining. Is this the best they could do?


Yeah… understatement, professor! To say the least! :grin: But what’s scary is that his base seems to believe he’s improved the economy, which is fucking crazy to think…



To be fair, the bar for doing that in the era of Trump is incredibly low at this point…


Jeez! Is he going to drive onstage in the Dodge Charger that was used to kill Heather Heyer?!


No, just into the oval office, while waving around cans of Goya products…


August 18, 2020 (Tuesday)

Trump today celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, protecting women’s right to vote, by announcing that he would pardon suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested in 1872 for the “crime” of voting. Scholars of suffrage note that Anthony would not want a pardon. “Anthony WANTED to be arrested and convicted and hoped to take her case all the way to the Supreme Court,” wrote historian Marjorie Spruill, “claiming that as a citizen, her right to vote was established by the 14th Amendment. However, because a well wisher paid her fine without consulting her, her case was closed and she was not able to proceed further through the court system. She was furious!”

Deborah L. Hughes, president and CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House added that Anthony would oppose a pardon because it would give validity to a case she believed invalid. Hughes told Washington Post reporter Samantha Schmidt that the White House did not consult with the museum before deciding on the pardon.

That oversight might be because highlighting Anthony was designed to please a different audience than scholars and those excited about women’s participation in politics. Anti-abortion forces incorrectly see Anthony as one of their own, and claim her despite a lack of evidence she cared much about the issue at all. After appearing at Tuesday’s event at the White House, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List appeared at Tuesday’s event, then celebrated the “sweet moment,” because Anthony “fought for the rights of all, including the unborn.”

At the suffrage event, reporters asked Trump for his reaction to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s address last night at the Democratic National Convention, a speech widely seen as particularly strong. Trump’s response was a weird self-own that showed the degree to which he focuses exclusively on media and what will make him look best in a particular moment, with no longer strategy. He said, “Well she’s in over her head, and frankly, she should’ve made the speech live, which she didn’t do. She taped it. And it was not only taped, it was taped a long time ago, because she had the wrong deaths….” Trump meant that Mrs. Obama had cited the number of Americans dead from Covid-19 as 150,000, when the number is actually now more than 170,000. Not something one would think he wants to highlight.

Today Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist and mega-donor who imposed new rules on the USPS shortly after he took office in June, was forced to announce that he will postpone his overhaul of the USPS until after the election. Americans have been outraged over mail delays and the president’s announcement that his administration’s squeeze on the USPS was designed to hurt the Democrats in November by undercutting mail-in voting. DeJoy is facing Senate hearings on Friday, and House hearings on Monday. Lawmakers will undoubtedly want to hear why the Department of Veterans Affairs has had to go to private companies like FedEx and UPS to get medication to their patients, when previously, the USPS handled about 90% of all VA mail-order prescriptions.

But DeJoy’s statement did not address that, according to an internal USPS planning document obtained by CNN, 95% of the mail sorting machines marked for removal should already be gone.

Today the Senate Intelligence Committee released the fifth and final volume from its investigation of “Russian Active Measure, Campaigns, and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election.” The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee is currently chaired by Republican Marco Rubio (R-FL), although most of the work in the report was done under Republican Richard Burr (R-NC), who stepped down as chair amid allegations of insider trading over information received in a classified briefing over coronavirus. This is a committee run by Republicans.

It concluded that there were extensive connections between Russian operatives and Trump campaign officials in 2016 that “represented a grave counterintelligence threat." Campaign chair Paul Manafort repeatedly communicated over encrypted channels with Konstantin Kilimnik, his Ukraine business partner who was also, the report establishes, a “Russian intelligence officer.” Manafort shared the campaign’s sensitive polling data with Kilimnik. The report also notes that Manafort consistently lied about his interactions with Kilimnik, and was willing to go to jail rather than tell the truth about them.

The report also established that the White House “significantly hampered” the committee’s investigation and coordinated stories before witnesses talked to the committee, and that there was “significant evidence” that WikiLeaks, which dropped emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee, was “knowingly collaborating with Russian government officials.” Document drops were timed to protect Trump from bad news stories, most obviously the tape of him boasting of sexual assault.

Despite their awareness of this material, Republican Senators refused to hear witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial, and voted not to convict him.

In any normal year, the big news of the day would have been that today was the second day of the Democratic National Convention, held tonight with actress Tracee Ellis Ross as emcee.

Tonight was the business portion of the convention, and the business at hand was for Democratic delegates to nominate former Vice President Joe Biden for president. First, delegates entered into consideration two candidates: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden (delegates for the other candidates have been allocated to either Sanders or Biden according to a complicated formula). There was much consternation when progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) seconded the nomination of Sanders instead of Biden, but only among those who have not dealt with conventions: his delegate count required a nomination and it was an honor to hold a nominating slot. AOC explained with her usual style: “If you were confused, no worries! Convention rules require roll call & nominations for every candidate that passes the delegate threshold. I was asked to 2nd the nom for Sen. Sanders for roll call. I extend my deepest congratulations to [Joe Biden] - let’s go win in November.”

The DNC managed the nomination process virtually in clever videos from each state and territory that served as reminders that the theme of this convention is “We the People.” Delegates stood in front of iconic scenes from their states and told a little of their own history in a process that clipped along much faster than an in-person convention. The virtual trip around the country started in Selma, Alabama with a tribute to the late Representative John Lewis, then traveled around the country until Biden’s home state of Delaware claimed the honor of putting Biden over the top for the nomination at about 10:19 p.m. The new system was so well-received it would surprise me if it doesn’t become the norm.

The theme of the night was leadership. The first item on the list was health care. Progressive activist Ady Barkan, who is grappling with ALS and who first endorsed Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and then Sanders, recorded a powerful spot for Biden. Then former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, all endorsed Biden’s foreign policy chops.

The convention also highlighted rising Democratic leaders, and emphasized working across differences to build coalitions. To that end, Arizona Senator John McCain’s widow, Cindy, narrated a video recalling the friendship between Biden and McCain (R-AZ), implying that it was McCain’s friendship for Biden that led to McCain’s historic vote to buck Trump and save the Affordable Care Act.

Once again, though, it was the keynote that anchored the evening. Jill Biden’s earnest recounting of individual stories of community and love were a signal moment in U.S. history. They were a direct contrast to the vignettes of individuals crushed by the government that Ronald Reagan deployed in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” the speech that launched his national political career. Reagan’s vision of the world ushered in a world of toxic individualism; the vision of Dr. Biden, a teacher, offers to reclaim community and social responsibility.

Dr. Biden used the story of her life with Biden, surviving tragedy and rebuilding, as a metaphor for the country. She highlighted the good in Americans, and reminded that “we need leadership worthy of our nation.”



That reaching across the aisle bs during Obama’s first term struck me as such a naive waste of time.