The worst of 2020

A quick check of my Trump-related bookmarks as we prepared to kick 2020 to the curb.

Trump pardoned former congressmen convicted of federal crimes – The Washington Post

Drain the swamp!


All the people Trump has pardoned since the election – The Washington Post

They’re not all terrible. Some are actually pretty good. Some are ridiculous.



Is Trump Trying to Stage a Coup? – The Atlantic

Our system is broken, and someone might be better at taking advantage of it.


Trump Is Losing His Mind – The Atlantic

“This is where Trump’s crippling psychological condition—his complete inability to face unpleasant facts, his toxic narcissism, and his utter lack of empathy—became lethal.”


Opinion | The moral hypocrisy of conservative leaders is stunning – The Washington Post

“Explanation No. 2: Maybe these conservative leaders were always committed to the triumph of their views, but not to the values of democracy. Perhaps their main concern was the achievement of certain outcomes — the appointment of conservative judges, restrictions on abortion — and not the application of democratic procedures. If a democratic leader achieves their moral goals, that is fine with them. If it takes a soft authoritarian, that is fine as well.”


Opinion | When it comes to prosecuting Trump, let’s be selective – The Washington Post

Several good points — in some cases, just review and change the law so future presidents can’t get away with this.


Advisers urge Trump to prepare for defeat ? but maybe without a concession speech – The Washington Post

Part George III, part toddler


How ‘America First’ Became America Alone – The Atlantic

A nuanced take, showing Trump with a few laudable interests like nuclear disarmament but the lack of attention to the details that would be needed to make it happen. And he blundered by withdrawing from important agreements that gave us soft power vs. China. (No mention of Kurds here.)


Coronavirus has slammed the door shut on highly skilled work visas – Axios

Which may force companies to go overseas.


Presidents are expected to set the national tone. What we got with Trump has been catastrophic. – The Washington Post

“There was a time, during the election year of 2016, when it was still possible — barely — to suppose that actual possession of the presidency, and its awesome responsibility, might temper Mr. Trump. That is obviously false now. “


Another Prominent Christian Musician Walks Away from the Faith | by Dan Foster | Backyard Church | Medium

“My observation is that Steingard was never given permission to entertain the idea that his faith need not be dependent on holding to a literal view of Scripture. “


Former top Trump officials are betting he’ll lose – POLITICO

“Anybody who has an IQ of over 100 and has worked for Donald Trump, with the exception of Steve Bannon, is not voting for him.””


Republican convention delivers whirlwind of lies great and small | Republican national convention 2020 | The Guardian

“Even having to point that out somehow plays into the liars’ hands, like agreeing to a debate with a creationist or a flat-earther. Such is the current landscape of partisan cable news and wild west social media.”


‘He’s Destroyed Conservatism’: The Republican Case Against Trump’s GOP – POLITICO

“You know, it really struck me when I read the memoir by [the late German Chancellor] Franz von Papen, it’s exactly the same message you hear today. In 1953, he was still trying to justify Hitler: “You have to understand, the Bolsheviks were a threat, we had to counter them.” Of all the books I read to write my book, the Franz von Papen thing haunts me the most. It’s not to say that what happened in Germany is going to happen here. But the idea that you can’t talk about that—well, I think you have to talk about that. The parallel is so striking.”


Michelle Obama makes a moral case against Donald Trump – CNNPolitics

“America’s children, she said, “see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op. Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation — a nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character.””


Coronavirus: How Trump killed tens of thousands of Americans.

“It’s hard to believe a president could be this callous and corrupt. It’s hard to believe one person could get so many things wrong or do so much damage. But that’s what happened. Trump knew we weren’t ready for a pandemic, but he didn’t prepare. He knew China was hiding the extent of the crisis, but he joined in the cover-up. He knew the virus was spreading in the United States, but he said it was vanishing. He knew we wouldn’t find it without more tests, but he said we didn’t need them. He delayed mitigation. He derided masks. He tried to silence anyone who told the truth. And in the face of multiple warnings, he pushed the country back open, reigniting the spread of the disease.”


This is one of the most unpatriotic moments in Trump’s presidency

CNN on disastrous Axios interview: He simply refuses to listen to intelligence — on Russian bounties, on COVID-19, on anything.


Poverty Grew in One-Third of Counties Despite Strong National Economy | The Pew Charitable Trusts

“Most of the biggest increases were in areas both rural and Southern. Those areas generally had residents who lacked job training and skills and industries that suffered downturns.”


Judge finalizes $25 million settlement in Trump’s fraud case | MSNBC

“The circumstances are nothing short of bizarre: a sitting president of the United States has written a check for $25 million to a group of Americans who credibly claimed that he ripped them off by perpetrating a fraud.”


Opinion | The Cult of Selfishness Is Killing America – The New York Times

“You see, the modern U.S. right is committed to the proposition that greed is good, that we’re all better off when individuals engage in the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest. In their vision, unrestricted profit maximization by businesses and unregulated consumer choice is the recipe for a good society.

Support for this proposition is, if anything, more emotional than intellectual. I’ve long been struck by the intensity of right-wing anger against relatively trivial regulations, like bans on phosphates in detergent and efficiency standards for light bulbs. It’s the principle of the thing: Many on the right are enraged at any suggestion that their actions should take other people’s welfare into account.”


Mark Milley’s apology is a major escalation in civil-military tensions under Trump.

“Rather than delivering it remotely, as various leaders have done for other military academies, Trump—against the wishes of West Point’s leaders—demanded that the Army cadets return to campus, isolate themselves for two weeks, and then, during the ceremony itself, sit in tight formation, ignoring CDC guidelines on social distancing.”


Opinion | Donald Trump Is Our National Catastrophe – The New York Times

“Until we have a president who can say, as Lincoln did in his first inaugural, “We are not enemies, but friends” — and be believed in the bargain — our national agony will only grow worse.”


The Coronavirus Revealed America’s Failures – The Atlantic

Strongest part here is the look at our three major 21st century crises. The first two had at least some semblance of bipartisan response. This one does not.

“Under our current leadership, nothing will change. If 9/11 and 2008 wore out trust in the old political establishment, 2020 should kill off the idea that anti-politics is our salvation.”


He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus – The New York Times

“Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives”


Trump’s narcissism has taken a new twist. And now he has American blood on his hands | Jonathan Freedland | Opinion | The Guardian

“An imbecile at the head of the US government would always be a problem. But an imbecile so narcissistic that he elevates his own stunted knowledge above the judgment of medicine and science is a calamity.”


Opinion | Trump to New York: Drop Dead – The New York Times

“The rest of the country may regard New York as a black hole of need. But in fact the opposite has always been true; we’re forever sweeping more into the federal till than we receive in services. In 2018, according to the state comptroller’s office, we gave $26.6 billion more to Washington than we got back, ranking us dead last for federal benefits.”


Elections have consequences. The coronavirus reaction shows we’re now living with them. – The Washington Post

“What is happening now is the inevitable result of a party that embraced fear, weaponized xenophobia and regarded facts as dangerous, left-wing landmines that must be avoided.”


Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person – Equality Includes You – Medium

“The concept of Intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others.”


‘Christian left’ is reviving in America, appalled by treatment of migrants

Yes, Bush and Obama deported people. They didn’t veer into abject cruelty and scapegoating.


For the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class – The Washington Post

Sure, we have a great economy. We’ve had it for a while, actually. So what are we getting from it? When you have a big windfall, what do you do? If you have credit-card debt, do you pay it off, or do you incur more? Do you buy a new car while ignoring the hole in your roof?


Full text: Mitt Romney’s remarks on impeachment vote – POLITICO

“The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.”


Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says – The New York Times

“In recent days, some White House officials have described Mr. Bolton as a disgruntled former employee, and have said he took notes that he should have left behind when he departed the administration.”


Impeachment trial: John Barrasso downplays new evidence of Trump’s misconduct – Vox

“You can’t present new evidence.”

Followed by “See, there’s no new evidence!” or “New evidence doesn’t matter.”


Trump Impeachment: Senate Acquittal Will Mean No Appetite for Truth | National Review

“Desperate Republicans have offered strained arguments. They say, with straight faces, that this shakedown was part of Trump’s overall anti-corruption campaign. Really? Like his efforts with Turkey, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Russia? And if Trump were truly concerned about corruption in Ukraine, why did he show no interest in the matter before 2019? Why did his own ambassador to the European Union say, “Trump doesn’t give a s*** about Ukraine. He cares only about the big stuff like the Biden investigation.”?”


Trump administration could roll climate change assessment guidelines back for infrastructure projects

“The proposal to eliminate parts of the NEPA should not simply be viewed as anti-environment or anti-climate change — it should be viewed as anti-conservative. By rolling back essential parts of the law that provide voice to otherwise underserved and underheard communities, the Trump administration would reveal who it truly works for: not the forgotten man and woman, who would once again be silenced without the NEPA available to provide voice against potentially invasive and harmful projects, but rather the fossil fuel industry that is more concerned with making a profit than protecting communities and ecosystems.”


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like 2003 – The Atlantic

Phony terrorism claim, check.

“Greeted as liberators,” check. (Note Iraqi parliament vote)


Republicans know that Americans don’t support their anti-abortion extremism | Danielle Campoamor | Opinion | The Guardian

“In 2019, public support for abortion rights is the highest it has been in 20 years of polling, according to the Pew Research Center. A reported 61% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and only 12% of the public want to see abortion made illegal. A third of Republicans support abortion rights, according to a 2017 Pew Research poll, and in states where lawmakers have attempted to ban abortion entirely, most voters do not support it.”

Racists posing as “antifa” make Twitter and Facebook take action

You wouldn’t expect bigots and fascists to be above misinformation campaigns, would you?

Fortunately, Twitter and Facebook have spotted these campaigns. Give them some credit.

Twitter has phony “antifa” accounts urging protesters to fulfill white supremacists’ fantasies of violence.

On Facebook, these dirtbags are playing Palpatine and trying to stir things up from both sides, posing as “antifa” on one hand and asking counter-protesters to show up with guns.

If only we didn’t have so many suckers who believe this crap.

Being “triggered” is an act of courage, not cowardice

Dear Donald Trump Jr. (and Boris Johnson … for that matter, and Vladimir Putin),

On behalf of “liberals,” “progressives” and former Republicans, I would like to say the following …

You’re damn right we’re “triggered.”

We’re triggered because we’ve seen a rise in violent racist hate crimes and other signs of emboldened racism, including a fatal rally in Charlottesville that its own organizer said “wouldn’t have occurred without Trump.” (No, the recent action that’s supposed to help fight the rise in anti-Semitism won’t help.

We’re triggered because we know separating kids from their parents and keeping people in inhumane conditions because they’re seeking the same opportunities our grandfathers sought is incompatible with any sort of morality, secular or religious. And it’s even taking a toll on the economy.

We’re triggered because we know the bill will come due for the corporate debt and federal debt we’re using to prop up the economy while people like you are afraid to steer us toward *long-term* prosperity. (Yes, Obama ran up deficits, but only to bail out the last Republican president, and it worked. When the economy recovered, so did the budget.)

We’re triggered because we know we’re also passing the bill for climate change to our kids and grandkids. We don’t all buy into the worst-case scenario of impending extinction, but we know we’re going to be spending a lot of money to relocate and renovate farms, put up seawalls (got $46 billion?) or simply move cities inland, and repair all the damage from stronger storms and fires.

We’re triggered because we’re the developed world’s biggest hotbed of gun violence, and yet a minority of people who insist it’s somehow not about guns has managed to intimidate people like you.

We’re triggered because Puerto Rico is part of the United States and shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get aid after a hurricane.

We’re triggered because we think 25-year-olds who are diagnosed with cancer while they’re working entry-level jobs without insurance shouldn’t have to declare bankruptcy to get the care they need. (They’re just part of the hundreds of thousands of people who do so each year.)

We’re triggered because younger generations are racking up massive debt just to go to college, something other countries have managed to make accessible to all.

We’re triggered because we’re the world’s laughingstock. (OK, that’s not really directed at Putin.)

We’re triggered because we believe women shouldn’t be sexually assaulted. (No, we haven’t forgotten. Nor have we forgotten that he said it was OK.)

We’re triggered because we believe our gay and transgender friends and family should have the same rights we have.

You’ve convinced farmers you’re on their side, even as your tariffs ruin them.

You’ve convinced hard-working people that they can keep their coal and manufacturing jobs rather than working to train them for the future, and they’re already losing out in industry and agriculture — thanks in part to Trump’s tariffs.

You’ve convinced evangelicals to support you despite your obvious lack of morality because they think you’ll get abortion banned. Let’s not even debate the thorny biological and theological questions there. Let’s tell the truth. If you or one of your buddies knocks up your mistress, you have the means to push her onto a plane to fly somewhere abortion will still be legal, and you can pay for the procedure while slipping her a bit of hush money. You know abortion will only be banned for poor people.

You’ve convinced people on Wall Street that it’s OK to buy into your short-term thinking and keep their party rolling.

You haven’t convinced us.

And it’s telling that you’re not even trying. Your book isn’t called “Persuaded.” You don’t even care.

We do.

We care about other people, and we will never be ashamed of it.

We will never stop fighting for them.

You will be defeated.

The good news is that a lot of us still believe in repentance. Your path back is clear.

Donate your royalties to causes that will help undo everything you’ve done.

Then come back and work with us instead of treating us as the enemy. We’re good people. You’ll feel good about it.

I’m really writing this for you.

The person who has read this far.

You can stop this. You can stop buying into the propaganda. You can join us in fighting for others.

You can vote with a conscience.

“Triggering” is easy. It’s not an accomplishment.

You can have the courage to care. To fight back.

To be positive. (Yes, it’s OK to live a happy life. We’re not just negative nannies. We want to encourage people to share the joy we get from pursuing the good life without stomping on those in need and future generations.)

Besides, we have all the good bands. All the people who make good TV shows and movies. All the good writers. We even have all the good preachers.

So come join us. We’ll have fun. ALL of us. Not just those who were born with all the advantages the world can offer and chose not to use them for anything but self-gratification.