Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 10/7/2020 – Both Sides Now

Today I’m covering the stories you may have missed in the slurry of Covid-19 news but I want to address last week’s debate. The reaction I saw from independents and moderate conservatives was largely the same – this is awful and both candidates are awful.

Argumentum ad temperantiam. It’s one of the basic logical fallacies you learn when you study such things. There are several names and it’s related to several other fallacies, but essentially it’s the argument that when presented with two opposing ideas, the truth is in the middle of them. If two people argue the location of the US capital, with one person saying DC and another saying Los Angeles, surely the answer must be somewhere in the midwest. This tendency of us to average viewpoints is so strong it’s used in marketing – offer three options when you want to increase demand for the middle option. You will sell more than if you only offered that one option.

You see this everywhere in politics, especially in political journalism. It’s what leads to the “both parties are basically the same mindset.”

And it’s absolutely, demonstrably wrong.

Trump was at his most unhinged during the debate. He lied constantly. He delved into multiple conspiracy theories. He showed absolutely no understanding of the issues or even what a president does. He remains ignorant and incompetent, just as he has been his entire life. Biden made one factual error that I’ve seen, which was a trade statistic that was true in 2019. He had supported stances, which are fleshed out on his website. There was absolutely no comparison between the two. But our brains want to insist things are normal. So when they see Trump’s blathering insanity, we rationalize it by assuming both candidates are this way.

They are not. Trump is vile and cruel. Biden is one of the most empathetic candidates in history. Trump remains woefully unqualified for his office. Biden, like Clinton before him, was eminently qualified.

Enough with the “both sides” talk. You aren’t choosing between two sides of the same coin. You’re choosing between a monster and a good man.

News has nearly 24-7 been focused on Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis so here are some stories you may have missed over the last week:

The Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who lied about his resume specifically regarding intelligence experience, is declassifying documents about Clinton and the Russia investigation. The argument here is that Hillary Clinton blamed Russia for hacking her and working with Trump which led to the entire Russia investigation. The source in one of the releases we’ve seen so far? Russian intelligence. Our own intelligence community rejected this obviously fake information as obviously fake information. But Republicans are running with it, saying there would have been no investigation were it not for Clinton’s scheming. It is not possible to understate how ridiculous this is. While I don’t think this will play any factor at all in the election, the Republican Party is spreading KNOWN Russia disinformation to attack Hillary Clinton four years after she lost the election. Vote accordingly.

The White House was pressuring the CDC to downplay the risks of sending children to school during the pandemic. There have been numerous stories confirming the White House has been interfering with the scientific conclusions of the CDC. Dr. William Foege, a previous CDC director, privately wrote current CDC Director Robert Redfield urging him to resign due to his lack of pushback against Trump’s anti-science views.

Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is allegedly cooperating with an investigation into the campaign’s finances. Parscale himself has been accused of embezzlement and domestic violence.

Federal law enforcement officers were directed to speak sympathetically of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of murdering two people at a protest.

Trump’s former National Security Adviser General McMaster has said the president is aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts to undermine the election.

Michael Flynn’s lawyer retweeted someone saying Trump was intentionally infected with the coronavirus in response to Justice Ginsburg’s death.

Trump said he has declassified all of the documents related to the Russia investigation. He did the exact same thing two years ago. After the first declaration, journalists requested the documents which they have a legal right to. The Department of Justice argued that the president tweeting he had declassified a document did not mean that the president had declassified a document. Undoubtedly, that will happen again. When Trump says he has declassified these documents, he is lying.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 9/28/2020

A federal judge recently ordered that the census could not move their deadline for collecting data from October 31 to September 30. Response rates are still low, exacerbated by the pandemic. Commerce Secretary Ross wanted to end collection efforts at the end of this month, despite the fact that we know a large number of people have not yet responded. Today the Census Bureau announced they want to stop collecting on October 5. There is a technicality here the Commerce Department may be relying on in that the original order merely undid moving the deadline to September 30. The judge ordered the Commerce Department to explain what happened here and one government lawyer said there was no paper trail and the tweet announcing the change was the only thing written about the new policy. It’s unlikely the judge finds this acceptable, but watch this space.

The defense team for Michael Flynn submitted documents which were altered. The documents in question were memos from Peter Strzok and they had handwritten dates that were added and/or changed. (Strzok produced the original documents for comparison.) Flynn’s lawyers may not be the ones who changed the memos, but they were definitely altered by someone.

Twitter has added yet another disclaimer to one of the president’s tweets attacking mail-in voting. He said that mail-in ballots cannot accurately be counted. This is a lie. There are multiple states where mail-in ballots are the ONLY way to vote and they have been conducting their elections without issue for years. The primary source for attacking the integrity of the US election is the president.

CDC Director Redfield was overheard on the phone saying of White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas, “everything he says is false.” Redfield admitted to the statement. Dr. Atlas, who has zero experience in virology, epidemiology, or public health, has largely replaced Drs. Fauci and Birx at meetings and in public appearances of the task force. Atlas has pushed for removing Covid-19 restrictions and using herd immunity to stop the spread of the virus instead. Waiting for herd immunity will result in millions of deaths. Atlas has falsely claimed that children are not affected by the virus, among other lies.

The Trump campaign and its surrogates accused Hunter Biden of receiving $3.5 million from Yelena Baturina, the wife of former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Hunter Biden’s connection to the company is in dispute (a Biden lawyer said Hunter had nothing to do with the company’s founding) but regardless of that, there’s an issue that keeps coming up in the Trump smears of Hunter Biden. The COMPANY received $3.5 billion. Hunter Biden did not. When there isn’t a pandemic, I work for a large multi-billion dollar corporation. When that company receives money, an entire zero dollars of that goes to me personally. (I’ve been looking into changing that but so far the board has not expressed interest.) As every accusation Donald Trump makes about someone turns out to actually be something he’s done, Trump tried to develop properties in Moscow working with Luzhkov in the 90s. This is yet another business relationship Trump was pursuing in Russia without disclosing anything about it.

Channel 4 News in the UK (a publicly owned station separate from the BBC) got ahold of a database from the 2016 Trump campaign. 3.5 million African American voters are labeled as “deterrence.” (The label was not solely used for black voters.) Brad Parscale, who ran the 2016 digital operation, testified before congress that the campaign never targeted African Americans. That appears to have been a lie. Ads ran to discourage black voter turnout.

The New York Times has received several years’ worth of the president’s taxes. I want to note that almost immediately, right wingers began circulating that publishing this data or even possessing it is a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. This isn’t true. The act criminalizing releasing certain private records. That only applies to a government agent releasing the records. The article does not identify the source – it may be any number of people from outside the government. Even if this did come directly from someone at the IRS, that employee committed a crime, but the New York Times has not. Issues like this have long since been settled law thanks to The Pentagon Papers case.

As to the meat of the article, it reveals several details about the president’s financial situation:

  • In 11 out of 18 years, the president paid zero federal income tax. In two of those years, he paid $750. Trump in the past has attacked Romney and Obama for their effective tax rates which we now know are orders of magnitude higher than Trump’s.
  • Nearly every business the president owns is losing a gargantuan amount of money.
  • The president is receiving a large amount of money from foreign sources, including foreign governments.
  • He has roughly half a billion in personally backed loans coming due in the next two years. His income stream does not support any ability to pay these loans. Every commercial bank but Deutsche Bank has refused to loan Trump any money for some time now. The commercial division at DB flagged him as a risk and stopped giving him loans. The personal division at DB flagged him as a risk but continued to loan him money, despite his default on a $600+ million loan from the bank. We do not currently know why DB overrode their own internal process saying not to loan money to Trump. The bank has recently been found guilty of laundering $20 billion for sanctioned Russian entities.
  • Trump used numerous questionable and outright illegal deductions. He deducted $750,000 in consulting fees paid to Ivanka while she was an employee of the company. He deducted the legal expenses incurred by Donald Trump Jr during the Mueller investigation. (Jr’s role in the Mueller investigation was solely related to his campaign activities and therefore cannot be deducted.)

In summation, the president typically pays almost nothing in federal income taxes, is likely using illegal deductions, has large business entanglements with foreign countries, and is massively in debt with no revenue to repay those debts and no banks willing to refinance it.

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Trump Daily 9/12/2020 – Woodward Again

When Bob Woodward published his first book on the incompetence of Donald Trump, the president was upset his staff kept him from being interviewed as he thought he would come across very well had Woodward spoken to him. For the soon-to-be-published second book, Woodward interviewed Trump 17 times and recorded the conversations. In early February, Trump told Woodward the coronavirus was more deadly than the flu and that he wanted to publicly downplay the risk posed by the pandemic. Trump lied to the public about the dangers of the virus and the White House is now spinning this as preventing panic, with Trump comparing himself to Winston Churchill during WW2. (Churchill notably never lied about the Nazi threat.) The book has several other more minor revelations – that DNI Coats warned Trump Devin Nunes was feeding him disinformation and that “his generals” were “pussies” for caring more about American alliances than trade deals.

In a series of court losses, a court is blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to end census collection efforts earlier than scheduled while a different court is blocking Trump’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census.

The Department of Justice is seeking to take over Trump’s defense in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against Trump. Carroll is suing the president for calling her a liar when she said he raped her. This echoes the civil suit brought by Summer Zervos against Trump. DoJ is arguing that Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he said Carroll was “not my type.” (This is absurd.) The express purpose of DoJ taking over the case is to have it dismissed due to sovereign immunity. You may sue Donald Trump for defamation, but not the US government. In summation, the federal government is trying to protect the president in a case hinging on whether or not he raped a woman.

A DHS whistleblower has filed a complaint alleging they were ordered to suppress or change intelligence regarding Russian election interference in order to avoid making the president look bad. Additionally, they say then DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen repeatedly lied about terrorists apprehended at the border while Ken Cuccinelli had them alter data on Central American countries to make them appear safe so as to avoid awarding asylum status to immigrants from those countries. Both Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf had them alter data to downplay the threat of white supremacist groups while inflating the danger from left wing groups such as antifa. Along these lines, Miles Taylor, an ex-DHS official, says that after a top intelligence official testified that Russia had worked to help elect Trump, Trump tried to have that official fired.

Michael Caputo is a Twitter troll who previously worked for The Kremlin and then a Russian PR firm where he worked on improving Putin’s image. He makes a short appearance in the Mueller report, arranging a meeting between Roger Stone and a man promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. In short, Caputo is shady as hell. He’s now the Public Affairs Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. Not only has Caputo been trying to muffle Dr. Anthony Fauci, but he has been directing the alteration of CDC data on the virus in order to support the president. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports have had an impeccable reputation for accuracy until now. The Trump administration is now changing scientific reports in order to downplay the threat of the pandemic.

The US Treasury Department announced sanctions against Ukrainian Andriy Derkach for his interference in the election. Derkach is the primary source for Senator Ron Johnson’s sham investigation into the company Hunter Biden worked for and met with Rudy Giulani about the Bidens. Derkach is a key element in Putin’s disinformation campaign.

The third-party judge appointed in the Michael Flynn case to render an opinion on how to move forward has done so. Judge John Gleeson determined that the Department of Justice effort to have the Flynn cased dismissed is not only full of error, but nothing more than a pressure campaign from the government to help the president. He openly called AG Barr’s efforts to dismiss the case corrupt.

Colorado, just tonight, won a restraining order against the US Postal Service. The USPS is sending out postcards to every home and PO Box in the nation with instructions on voting by mail. But they’re sending the SAME instructions to every state despite a wide variance in the process. While the cards are accurate in some states, they are incredibly wrong in several states. The cards contain instructions on how to request a mail ballot – which isn’t even possible in every state. Several Secretaries of State asked Postmaster Dejoy to review the cards before mailing. He refused and now the Postal Service is sending incorrect voting information to millions of voters.

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Trump Daily 8/2/2020

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Trump Daily 5/31/2020

I want to acknowledge again the turmoil the country is in right now in response to George Floyd’s murder. There has been an overwhelming amount of news from the past few days, some of which I’ve covered on my personal social media. But I don’t feel this format is the best for identifying those stories, so this blog will focus on the president’s statements and actions regarding what’s happening instead of individual stories. I’d urge you to seek those stories out on your own.

  • The president said he spoke with Indian Prime Minister Modi about the border tensions between India and China. He lied. He hadn’t spoken to Modi at all. This is not the first time the president has invented a call between himself and Modi.
  • Some of the transcripts between former NSA Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak have been released. They confirm everything that has been said about them. Flynn was speaking to the Russian government about Obama’s sanctions and asking them to go easy when retaliating because Trump wanted to have a gentler response upon taking office. Flynn lied about this conversation to FBI investigators. Vice President Pence publicly said it didn’t take place. The intelligence community knew Flynn was lying, but more importantly, they knew the Russians knew Flynn was lying which compromised him. At the time he was in one of the most sensitive intelligence jobs in the country. What still isn’t clear is WHY Flynn lied to the FBI. As NSA and the former director of the DIA, Flynn would have known his call to Kislyak was being monitored.
  • DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari claims to have a PhD in philosophy on his resume. His PhD was in management, but that doesn’t matter because it was from a diploma mill. The school was an unaccredited diploma mill. Situations like this are usually caught by the White House Presidential Personnel Management. The current director there in charge of vetting appointees, John McEntee, is a 30 year old who previously worked as a low level aide to Trump. He resigned over gambling debts but was rehired to a position where he screens people over ethical conflicts like gambling debts. (Cuffari was hired before McEntee was in the position. McEntee replaced Joe Paulsen, Trump’s golf partner).
  • The president announced he is designating Antifa has a terrorist organization. There are two huge issues with this. Firstly, Antifa is not an organization. There is no leadership structure, organization, rules, or defined membership. It is a collection of political philosophies and protest strategies. Secondly, the law does not allow for the government to define a domestic organization as a terrorist group. We currently have two terrorist designations under the law – both only apply to foreign groups. Barr has announced law enforcement will be proceeding with treating antifa “members” as terrorists regardless. By doing this, it will be easier for the Trump administration to strip rights from dissenters and protesters. As there isn’t any definition or membership to antifa, they can simply accuse anyone they arrest of being a member and therefore a terrorist.
  • The United States is sending 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to Brazil to treat Covid-19. Trump and the right wing media still tout the drug as a treatment for the disease. The CDC, FDA, and multiple studies have warned that the drug has not shown any benefit in treating coronavirus and may pose a lethal danger when taken.
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Trump Daily 5/3/2020

  • Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic this week and refused to comply with their mandatory mask policy. Karen Pence lied and said Pence was not informed of the policy beforehand. A reporter published the guidelines he received from Pence’s office regarding the visit, including the mask policy. The vice-president’s office has now threatened to retaliate against that reporter. Pence defended his action saying he wanted to look patients “in the eye.” Fun fact – medical masks do not prevent the wearer from seeing.
  • Larry Kudlow is still defending his February 25 claim that the virus was contained by nonsensically saying it was true “at the time.”
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Trump Daily 3/13/2020

  • The president was instituting a change that would remove food stamp access from 700,000 families. The White House said they would be proceeding with this change in April regardless of the coronavirus outbreak. A judge has blocked this from going into effect.
  • I don’t want to summarize this Washington Post article on the administration’s response to the outbreak. You should read the entire thing here.
  • After massive customs delays at international terminals in US airports, the governor of Illinois took to Twitter to shame the federal government into providing more agents to handle the influx, which was exacerbated by the botched rollout of the European travel ban. The governor heard from the White House, but it wasn’t to work on they problem. They yelled at him over the phone for criticizing them publicly.
  • In the middle of the outbreak, President Trump took to Twitter today to attack “fake news” (twice), post a story about Hillary Clinton’s emails, attack Chuck Schumer, attack the FBI while floating a pardon for Michael Flynn, shift the blame for the coronavirus mistakes to the states, and call the debate “boring.” In particular, he attacked the media for their accurate story covering his lie about the website being worked on by a Google sister company. He said no one called Google about it. Dozens of reporters did. He lied.
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