The Dems Govern, the GOP Attacks

Voters can replace a party that knows how to fight with one that knows how to govern

The Democratic party is basically a governing party, organized around developing and implementing public policies. The Republican party has become an attack party, organized around developing and implementing political vitriol. Democrats legislate. Republicans fulminate.

In theory, politics requires both capacities – to govern, but also to fight to attain and retain power. The dysfunction today is that Republicans can’t govern and Democrats can’t fight.

Donald Trump is the culmination of a half-century of Republican belligerence. Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks” were followed by Republican operative Lee Atwater’s smear tactics, Newt Gingrich’s take-no-prisoners reign as House speaker, the “Swift-boating” of John Kerry, and the Republicans’ increasingly blatant uses of racism and xenophobia to build an overwhelmingly white, rural base.

Lincoln

 
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Dementia in High Places

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The End of Reality

Tom T

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Insecure President

Double, Double, Trump’s Toil, Our Trouble

Demon sperm meets alien D.N.A., as President Trump teeters.

By Maureen Dowd/ New York Times/ August 1, 2020

devil

WASHINGTON — Macbeth has his doubts.

But his wife taunts him about his manliness until he bloodies his country.

It’s hard to believe, four centuries after Shakespeare, that the fear of being unmanned is still so potent that it could wreck a country.

But it is. And it has.

Donald Trump’s warped view of masculinity has warped this nation’s response to a deadly pandemic. And Trump doesn’t even have a diabolical Lady MacTrump whispering in his ear, goading him about being a man. He goads himself, fueled by ghostly memories of his autocratic father.

As the Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt writes: “The tyrant, Macbeth and other plays suggest, is driven by a range of sexual anxieties: a compulsive need to prove his manhood, dread of impotence, a nagging apprehension that he will not be found sufficiently attractive or powerful, a fear of failure. Hence the penchant for bullying, the vicious misogyny, and the explosive violence. Hence, too, the vulnerability to taunts. Especially those bearing a latent or explicit sexual charge.”

Trump’s fear of emasculation led to his de-mask-ulation. Instead of cleaving to science and reason, he stuck with the old, corny Gordon Gekko routine, putting concern for the stock market above all else.

Like Macbeth, the president made tragic errors of judgment and plunged his country into a nightmare. Our trust in government is depleted, and our relationships in the world are tattered. As Fintan O’Toole wrote in The Irish Times, the world has loved, hated and envied the United States. But never before has it pitied us. Until now.

 Trump has always said that the whole world is laughing at us because it’s taking advantage of us. That sound you’re hearing is not laughter.

 

“He could be on his way to re-election now if he had done what many of the governors did and followed science and public health advice and if he had leveled with people about what the requirements were and why,’’ says David Axelrod, the former Obama strategist. “If he had done those things, the country would have responded and been in a much better place.

“But he didn’t have the emotional capacity to do it. At a minimum, it’s Shakespearean. It’s almost biblical.”

Now the president is threatening another crisis, tweeting that we might have to delay the election because there could be mail-in voting fraud.

In his view, either he wins or the election is rigged. He’s trying to make mail-in ballots socially unacceptable the same way he made masks socially unacceptable for the first five months of the plague.

The Washington Post reports that backlogs at the U.S. Postal Service are causing some employees there to worry that the Trump lackey in charge, a top donor, is intentionally gumming up the works just in time for the election. It is astounding the corrupt lengths the administration seems willing to go to — destroying the Postal Service to win the election. Ben Franklin would be incensed.

As Axelrod notes, “Whatever happened back in the Bush v. Gore recount days will seem like the Garden of Innocence compared to what’s going to happen now. Trump is not going to walk to the rostrum and say, ‘The people have spoken and I accept their verdict.’’’

Even Trump’s closest allies in Congress, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, couldn’t stomach the idea of postponing the election, and both have swallowed a lot over the last three years. Trump’s little trial balloon blew up like the Hindenburg.

Alexander Burns wrote in The New York Times that Trump was too pathetic to be a tyrant: “Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.”

Talk about unfair: The one thing holding the country together has been the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits that has allowed millions to pay the rent and fill the fridge. Republicans, though, are so convinced that the few extra hundred dollars in jobless pay is keeping people from work that they are loath to renew it. Unless Congress gets it together soon and finds a way to extend the aid, the country is going to be facing a catastrophe of homelessness and need that makes these past few months look pleasant.

After the president began doing the coronavirus briefings again, he tried a “new” tone, saying he was getting used to masks — “Think about patriotism. Maybe it helps. It helps” — then face-planting by offering good wishes to a past party pal and accused pedophile enabler, Ghislaine Maxwell. But then things got really crazy as he defended a retweet of a doctor who has promoted hydroxychloroquine as well as declaimed on the existence of alien D.N.A. and demon sperm.

“I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her,’’ he told reporters. (As he told Barstool sports: “It’s the retweets that get you in trouble.”) He fell into more self-pity, complaining about his ratings compared to those of Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”

It has been clear for some time that Trump’s Panglossian attitude toward the virus was turning him into a public health menace.

But this week, the culture war over masks crystallized with the death of Herman Cain. The former Republican presidential candidate, who dissed masks and Covid restrictions, proudly tweeted a picture from the Trump rally in Tulsa, surrounded by his fellow mask-less friends. “Having a fantastic time,” he wrote. Nine days later, he tested positive for corona. As we have learned, this virus often has the final say.

Right away, White House officials knew that this death would be laid at Trump’s feet. They began warning reporters that they should not politicize Cain’s death.

At the Friday White House briefing, asked if officials were concerned that the 74-year-old Cain may have contracted the virus at the rally, Kayleigh McEnany replied, “We’ll never know,” and sanctimoniously added, “I will not politicize Herman Cain’s passing.’’

But it is undeniable that Trump politicized masks and set a lethal example.

As Jeremy Peters wrote in The Times, Republican officials all over the country “have adopted a similar tone of skepticism and defiance, rejecting the advice of public health officials and deferring instead to principles they said were equally important: conservative values of economic freedom and personal liberty.”

So conservatives are willing to embrace a new ethos? Give me liberty. And death.

mouse

 

 

 

 

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Donald Trump Is a Broken Man

LEON NEAL / GETTY

The most revealing answer from Donald Trump’s interview with Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace came in response not to the toughest question posed by Wallace, but to the easiest.

At the conclusion of the interview, Wallace asked Trump how he will regard his years as president.

“I think I was very unfairly treated,” Trump responded. “From before I even won, I was under investigation by a bunch of thieves, crooks. It was an illegal investigation.”

When Wallace interrupted, trying to get Trump to focus on the positive achievements of his presidency—“What about the good parts, sir?”—Trump brushed the question aside, responding, “Russia, Russia, Russia.” The president then complained about the Flynn investigation, the “Russia hoax,” the “Mueller scam,” and the recusal by his then–attorney general, Jeff Sessions. (“Now I feel good because he lost overwhelmingly in the great state of Alabama,” Trump said about the first senator to endorse him in the 2016 Republican primary.)

Donald Trump is a psychologically broken, embittered, and deeply unhappy man. He is so gripped by his grievances, such a prisoner of his resentments, that even the most benevolent question from an interviewer—what good parts of your presidency would you like to be remembered for?—triggered a gusher of discontent.

But the president still wasn’t done. “Here’s the bottom line,” he said. “I’ve been very unfairly treated, and I don’t say that as paranoid. I’ve been very—everybody says it. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. But there was tremendous evidence right now as to how unfairly treated I was. President Obama and Biden spied on my campaign. It’s never happened in history. If it were the other way around, the people would be in jail for 50 years right now.”

Just in case his bitterness wasn’t coming through clearly enough, the president added this: “That would be Comey, that would be Brennan, that would be all of this—the two lovers, Strzok and Page, they would be in jail now for many, many years. They would be in jail; it would’ve started two years ago, and they’d be there for 50 years. The fact is, they illegally spied on my campaign. Let’s see what happens. Despite that, I did more than any president in history in the first three and a half years.”

With that, the interview ended.

Such a disposition in almost anyone else—a teacher, a tax accountant, a CEO, a cab driver, a reality-television star—would be unfortunate enough. After all, people who obsess about being wronged are just plain unpleasant to be around: perpetually ungrateful, short-tempered, self-absorbed, never at peace, never at rest.

But Donald Trump isn’t a teacher, a tax accountant, or (any longer) a reality-television star; he is, by virtue of the office he holds, in possession of unmatched power. The fact that he is devoid of any moral sensibilities or admirable human qualities—self-discipline, compassion, empathy, responsibility, courage, honesty, loyalty, prudence, temperance, a desire for justice—means he has no internal moral check; the question Is this the right thing to do? never enters his mind. As a result, he not only nurses his grievances; he acts on them. He lives to exact revenge, to watch his opponents suffer, to inflict pain on those who don’t bend before him. Even former war heroes who have died can’t escape his wrath.

So Donald Trump is a vindictive man who also happens to be commander in chief and head of the executive branch, which includes the Justice Department, and there is no one around the president who will stand up to him. He has surrounded himself with lapdogs.

But the problem doesn’t end there. In a single term, Trump has reshaped the Republican Party through and through, and his dispositional imprint on the GOP is as great as any in modern history, including Ronald Reagan’s.

I say that as a person who was deeply shaped by Reagan and his presidency. My first job in government was working for the Reagan administration, when I was in my 20s. The conservative movement in the 1980s, although hardly flawless, was intellectually serious and politically optimistic. And Reagan himself was a man of personal decency, grace, and class. While often the target of nasty attacks, he maintained a remarkably charitable view of his political adversaries. “Remember, we have no enemies, only opponents,” the former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who worked for Reagan, quotes him as admonishing his staff.

In his farewell address to the nation, Reagan offered an evocative description of America. “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it,” he said. “But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

A city tall and proud, its people living in harmony and peace, surrounded by walls with open doors; that was Ronald Reagan’s image of America, and Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party.

When Reagan died in 2004, the conservative columnist George Will wrote a moving tribute to his friend, saying of America’s 40th president, “He traveled far, had a grand time all the way, and his cheerfulness was contagious.” Reagan had a “talent for happiness,” according to Will. And he added this: “Reagan in his presidential role made vivid the values, particularly hopefulness and friendliness, that give cohesion and dynamism to this continental nation.”

There were certainly ugly elements on the American right during the Reagan presidency, and Reagan himself was not without flaws. But as president, he set the tone, and the tone was optimism, courtliness and elegance, joie de vivre.

He has since been replaced by the crudest and cruelest man ever to be president. But not just that. One senses in Donald Trump no joy, no delight, no laughter. All the emotions that drive him are negative. There is something repugnant about Trump, yes, but there is also something quite sad about the man. He is a damaged soul.

In another time, in a different circumstance, there would perhaps be room to pity such a person. But for now, it is best for the pity to wait. There are other things to which to attend. The American public faces one great and morally urgent task above all others between now and November: to do everything in its power to remove from the presidency a self-pitying man who is shattering the nation and doesn’t even care.

PETER WEHNER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.
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Helpful Info From Our Government

Gestapo

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Do We Need Our Congressman?

Letter to the Editor, Monterey County Herald, July 23

Cut the military budget

Progressive Democrats in Congress recently tried to get a 10% cut in the $740.5 billion 2021 military budget so the savings could be used to pay for housing, health care and education for millions of struggling Americans. But every Republican and all but 93 pro-peace Democratic representatives voted to keep the military budget as it is.

Not surprisingly, our local congressman Jimmy Panetta voted to keep the Defense budget intact. Apparently Rep. Panetta is satisfied with the bloated military budget (more than the next 10 countries combined) and less concerned with desperately needed programs to help disadvantaged people in our communities. Perhaps we need a far-sighted progressive Democrat representing our district rather than the unimaginative moderate we currently have.

— Arlen Grossman, Del Rey Oaks

jimmy P                                                          Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)

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AOC Rips Apart Insensitive Republican

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The Cult Inside the GOP

This scares me….and should scare everyone……….

The bizarre and otherworldly QAnon cult—the conspiracist Donald Trump fanatics who believe that liberal Democrats and their allies have been secretly operating a global pedophilia ring that is going to end in mass arrests called “The Storm”—has not only been spreading farther and deeper into mainstream conservative politics, but the entire Republican Party appears on the verge of being completely consumed by it.

Trump himself retweets QAnoners’ authoritarian paeans to his presidency and its attacks on his critics. His former national security adviser posted video of himself and a group of friends taking the “QAnon Oath.” Trump’s son Eric tweets out open support of the “Q” conspiracy theories. Trump’s favorite cable-news channel features reporters who openly embrace the theories. Dozens of Republican candidates openly spout QAnon claims and rhetoric, and GOP organizations have used their Facebook accounts to promote QAnon theories.  

The fantastic aspects of this conspiracism—particularly the obdurate insistence by the growing hordes of True Believers that “Q has always been right” in the face of the mounting reality that not one of the theories’ predictions or claims has yet proven accurate—make it difficult in many ways to take it seriously. In an ordinary world, it would be dismissed as a joke.

But the up-is-down belief system inherent in conspiracist worldviews like QAnon has spread so far that it not only has infected democratic discourse with garbage disinformation, but its underlying nature is profoundly violent—which presents the very real threat (one we’ve already seen playing out) of unhinged QAnon believers acting out and wreaking potentially significant levels of harm.

After all, there is a reason the FBI warned last year that QAnon was a likely vector for fueling domestic terrorism: “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.”

Yet it continues to seep into mainstream Republican politics with almost nary a raised eyebrow. Oregon’s QAnon-loving GOP Senate nominee, Jo Rae Perkins, can even call for the imposition of martial law in her home state (to battle “antifa”) without any notable pushback. The Republican Party has resolutely—and silently—refused to withdraw its support for a single one of the 64 GOP candidates with QAnon connections.

Media Matters’ Alex Kaplan compiled a complete list of QAnon candidates:

  • Thirteen candidates have secured a spot on the ballot in November by competing in primary elections.
  • Of those 13 candidates, five are from California, two are from Illinois, and there is one each from Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, Georgia, Ohio, and Texas.
  • One candidate in Florida is running as an independent, who is also on the ballot in November.
  • One candidate, in Georgia, is heading to an upcoming primary runoff.
  • One candidate in New York is running as a Republican write-in.
  • In total, 59 of the candidates are Republicans, two are Democrats, one is a Libertarian, and two are independents.

“They’ve done absolutely nothing to discourage QAnon followers from believing as they do,” QAnon researcher Travis View told Politico, adding that this only stokes the community’s fervor. “I mean, QAnon is premised on the idea that there is a secret plan to save the world, so they take the silence more as part of that secrecy.”

 

QA

QAnon cultists lined up to see Donald Trump at a 2018 rally in Johnson City, Tennessee.

The White House and its allies have offered disingenuous retorts that verge on ballsy dishonesty when asked about the friendliness of Trump and his allies. When Flynn posted his 53-second clip to Twitter on the Fourth of July, he was participating in a ritual already being shared widely that week as video posts by the QAnon community (Perkins among them) under the hashtag #TakeTheOath (which in fact is the same loyalty oath taken by members of Congress). The trend was in fact inspired by a personusing the Q identity on the message board 8kun to “symbolically take the oath on social media platforms.” At the video’s end, Flynn recited the QAnon slogan: “Where we go one, we go all!”

Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell told the Washington Examiner that there was no intent on Flynn’s part to embrace QAnon conspiracy theories—rather, she claimed, Flynn only “wanted to encourage people to think about being a citizen.” She claimed the phrase “Where we go one, we go all” was first engraved on a bell on one of President John F. Kennedy’s sailboats—which in fact is a falsehood first propagated by the Q persona in a message-board post. Powell also told CNN that “implying anything wrong with words long ago inscribed on a bell to encourage the unity of the human race is malevolent and just plain wrong. There is nothing more to the story.”

Experts laughed at Flynn’s denial. “This is absolutely pro-QAnon,” researcher/author Mike Rothschild told CNN. Moreover, Flynn’s public embrace was a major validation for the cult’s True Believers, he explained.

“The Q community is really excited by all of this. Flynn is a hugely important figure to them, seen as a warrior who infiltrated the deep state by pretending to plead guilty,” Rothschild said. “The video of Flynn actually taking the oath is, to them, total validation that they were right, that Flynn is a warrior who fights for them, and that they can be digital soldiers on his level.”

This underlying vision—of being a heroic warrior for truth battling against the vilest of evils—is what attracts so many followers to QAnon, and simultaneously creates permission in their minds for committing the most atrocious acts of violence one can imagine. We’ve already seen this playing out in domestic-terrorism incidents that, fortunately, did not reach fruition:

  • A QAnon fanatic armed with an AR-15 and an armored truck blocked traffic on the Hoover Dam and demanded the inspector general’s report on the government investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices in June 2018.
  • A California man arrested in December 2018 with bomb-making materials in his car told investigators he intended to use them to “blow up a satanic temple monument” in the Springfield, Illinois Capitol rotunda. His larger intentions, he said, were “make Americans aware of Pizzagate and the New World Order, who were dismantling society.”
  • An Illinois woman who became a fanatical QAnon devotee livestreamed herself on a cross-country trip, armed with a collection of illegal knives, to New York City, where she hoped to “take out” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. NYPD officers arrested her there.
  • The young man who murdered Gambino mob boss Frank Cali, who gorged himself on QAnon theories online, told investigators he committed the crime because he believed that Cali was part of the “Deep State” operation to sabotage Trump’s presidency.
  • The Los Angeles locomotive engineer, also a QAnon fan, who drove his engine at high speed off the tracks near the docks where the US Naval Ship Mercy was stationed as part of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic—it halted about 800 yards away from the ship—told arresting officers he was hoping to ram the ship because he believed the claims (primarily from QAnon theorists) that the patients were going to be secretly carted off to Guantanamo: “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. … I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”

The QAnon cult has always had this violent idea of heroism at its dark heart, even among the once-respectable Republicans who have been consumed by it. One of the most prominent of these is Michael Scheuer, the former CIA analyst, college lecturer, and onetime Fox News regular whose career as a pundit metastasized from virulent Islamophobia to unapologetic anti-Obama “Birtherism.”

Nowadays, Scheuer can be found penning lengthy defenses of QAnon and its nonsense, claiming that dire consequences lay just around the corner for the usual laundry list of Trump critics and journalists who dared question the regime: “Maybe all of the following, gallows-headed traitors will write a Q on their palm and claim innocence by insanity?” he mused last December after Trump’s impeachment.

The supposed “Storm” arrests are only the beginnings of Scheuer’s fantasies, however. Another essay, penned a year before the QAnon screed, laid out his vision of a citizens’ uprising—replete with lynchings and domestic terrorism—in response to the “treason” of attacking Donald Trump:

American patriots have so far, praise God, been remarkably disciplined in not responding to tyranny and violence with violence. For now they must remain so, armed but steady. But the time for such patience is fast slipping away; indeed, that patience is quickly becoming an obviously rank and self-destructive foolishness. If Trump does not act soon to erase the above noted tyranny and tyrants, the armed citizenry must step in and eliminate them.

It is, of course, far better if Trump does so, and I pray and believe he will. That said, the sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic.

The QAnoners’ fantasies, like everything dreamed up on the far right, are certain to remain unrealized. But the likelihood that many, many people are going to be hurt in their looming attempt to make them manifest is also just as certain.

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THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS A DEATH CULT

By Thom Hartmann/ thomhartmann.com/ July 14, 2020

They revel in their efforts to end Obamacare and cut millions of Americans off healthcare.

They celebrate last night’s resumption of federal executions.

They enthusiastically authorize the use of formerly banned pesticides that cause cancer and neurological damage to children.

Trump’s first official action was to allow coal and oil companies to dump more waste in our rivers, poisoning people downstream.

As children were being slaughtered in classrooms across America, trump doubled down on supporting the NRA.

As Black people across America continue to be regularly murdered by police, Trump calls those asking for change “terrorists” and “thugs.” He refers to Nazis as “very fine people” and retweets calls for “white power.”

Over international objections and in violation of US law, they’re selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to continue bombing civilians in Yemen.

Numerous children have died in their detention facilities, yet they continue to give millions of dollars to Trump’s contributor corporations to continue holding these children in deplorable, disgusting conditions.

They’re fighting all efforts to extend more unemployment relief to American families, further stressing out people in ways that inevitably, history tells us, lead to domestic violence and suicide.

The simple fact is that Donald Trump and the people he has surrounded himself with, like chief racist Steven Miller, appear to love causing other people pain.

Trump even encouraged police to rough up people who have not yet been convicted of a crime, and told his followers that if they injured protesters he would pay their legal expenses.

But the coronavirus is their crowning achievement.

Simply by discouraging people from wearing masks or social distancing and raising doubts about science, Trump and his buddies have caused the deaths of over a hundred thousand Americans, with more dead bodies to come if they continue on this path.

Trump goes to states with massive Covid outbreaks and holds indoor rallies, knowing that it will lead to the death of many of the people attending. What is he thinking as he is looking out on his little crowds, knowing that some of those people will be dead in a matter of weeks because of his desperate need for adulation?

Trump refuses to use the Defense Production Act to build up our stockpiles of testing equipment and PPE, making the situation for people in states where the virus is exploding right now a death-dealing crisis.

Betsy DeVos, who has spent her lifetime trying to destroy public schooling, is joining with Trump in trying to punish public school teachers and families who send their kids to public school by bringing disease and death into their homes.

And none of this had to happen.

All over the world, country after country have responded to the coronavirus in ways that have defeated it.

New Zealand hasn’t had a new case in weeks, and normalcy has largely returned to that nation.

Taiwan, similarly, has mostly beat the virus and recently had a baseball game with over 10,000 people in attendance.

All over Europe, countries have kept their unemployment rates well below 10% by aggressive government actions, and have beaten the virus through extensive testing and contact tracing, and mandating masks and social distancing.

Over at the New York Times, Economist Paul Krugman asks a simple question:

“At its most severe, the lockdown seems to have reduced G.D.P. by a little over 10 percent.

During World War II, America spent more than 30 percent of G.D.P. on defense, for more than three years. Why couldn’t we absorb a much smaller cost for a few months?”

The answer, of course, is that Donald Trump has no interest in saving American lives. He and his Republican buddies just want average Americans back at work to make their billionaire friends and donors even richer, no matter how many workers die in the process.

Trump appears to delight in knowing that because he and his Party have opposed expanding America’s social safety net for decades, there’s an almost endless supply of poor and low-income people desperate enough for a paycheck that they’ll take their lives in their hands to feed their families.

The Trump administration is a death cult. The Republican Party is a death cult.

And Americans and their children are, overwhelmingly, not enthusiastic about dying.

Will November bring the kind of change necessary to put an end to unnecessary death as a routine part of the American way of life?

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