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US Renew News: Where Facts Make a Difference (Check Out Our News Coverage Below)

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Latest USRENEW Blog Posts

 

Will the Governor be Recalled?

Brief #1—California Dispatch
By Patrick Dwire
The vote for the recall of Gavin Newsom as the governor of California is now a political certainty, with a Special Recall Election to be scheduled later this year. If a simple majority of voters decide Newsom should be removed from office, then the highest vote –getter on the ballot, even if less than 50 percent of the total number of votes cast becomes the next governor of California. If the 2003 recall election in California is any kind of historic guide, scores of colorful candidates from all walks of life can to be expected to get qualified for the ballot. 

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Power for Power’s Sake: The Motto of the Modern Republican Party

Brief USRN Blog
By Sean Gray
The Republican Party is disdainful of democracy. In 2021 it has become an authoritarian personality cult led by disgraced former President Donald Trump.. It’s members have  embraced blatant electoral untruths and stoked cultural wars in a a cynical political game. 30 state legislatures are controlled by the GOP. Voter suppression and cracking down on dissent are on the docket in many of them.

Stolen elections and burning cities received a disproportional amount of election coverage in the last few years. Neither represented an accurate portrayal of the 2020 election or the widespread well founded  Black Lives Matter Protests. Nevertheless, as spurred on by Trump, the GOP and their chums in conservative media have spent a fair amount of time inciting their base over election fraud and antifa terrorists. The phony hysteria sounding these issues serves as a pernicious pretext to cripple democratic institutions. Self-governance and freedom to assemble and criticize said government is a bedrock of a free society. Those tenets are under assault in Republican-led state houses.

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Defendant Trump: A Review of Outstanding Charges

Brief #2—US Renew News Blog
By Sean Gray
Post-presidential life promises little relief from the civil, and potentially criminal litigation. Whilst occupying the White House, Trump was able to weaponize the Justice Department to insulate him from trouble. Those protections are gone, and many chickens may be coming home to roost.The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel holds that indicting a sitting president would unconstitutionally undermine his ability to execute his duties. That is no longer at issue, and private citizen Trump has no further pretense for refusing to comply with the subpoenas.

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The War On Government

US Resist Blog
By Anand Giridharadas
Forty Januaries ago, Ronald Reagan, upon assuming the most powerful governmental office in the history of civilization, declared in his inaugural address that “in this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” To show he meant it, Reagan soon proposed a budget that gutted social programs and cut taxes. The idea was that, down the road, it would be harder to restore such programs and still profess yourself dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Some years later, an incisive observer of American politics reflected on that pivotal moment in 1981: “The Reagan tax cuts have ended growth of the social agenda; it’s all come to a screeching halt.” The observer was a young senator named Joe Biden. He had voted for the Reagan budget. Now, like many of his Democratic colleagues, he would have to live in the political and moral — and narrative — universe it created.

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Fishing Boat Dispatch

USRN Environment Blog
By Katherine Cart
The Gulf of Alaska last summer was warm. The edge of wind was warm. The water in Yakutat Bay, when I jumped from the boat to swim, was warm. When the July storms came, waves swamped decks. The entirety of our horizon would be green water and foam for days. At night deck lights showed rain and rime flying laterally, our flags ironed straight out, as though the wind would carry what it caught until land’s mountains put up a wall.

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Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene 

Us Resist News Blog
By Sean Gray
Last week’s vote to remove freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee posts didn’t end the GOP’s problem with her, but underscored it. Many Republicans were no doubt hoping for a return to normalcy after four years of Donald Trump’s chaotic leadership. This was always a pipe dream and the representative from Georgia’s 14th district illustrates that Trump’s presidency may have been unprecedented,  and the political movement he inspired has staying power. Greene has no experience in government. She is a half-hearted businesswoman with more bombast than sense. She gained political recognition through the creation and dissemination of absurd conspiracy theories. Sound familiar? If Donald Trump was a symptom rather than the disease, Greene is a next-gen mutation. She can’t inflict the damage Trump did from the Oval Office. But her presence in Congress is a troubling commentary on the state of American politics. And her Republicans colleagues know it.

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Trump Issues Pardons and Creates Nuisances for the Biden/Harris Team on his Way Out the Door 

Brief #2—US Resist Blog
By Sean Gray
Trump’s last days were marked by chaos, scandal and general ineptitude. Donald Trump’s swan song as a one term president has been unlike any before him. Self dealing and empty bombast have been the cornerstone of Trump’s political brand. With his tenure at an end, those chickens have come home to roost. Trump faces a second impeachment trial for his inciting role in the siege at the Capital.

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Will the Governor be Recalled?

Will the Governor be Recalled?

California Dispatch

A new USRENEW NEWS blog post on the policies and p0liticas in America’s most populated and economically productive state.

# 1 Will the Governor be Recalled?

By Patrick Dwrire

May 15,2021

The vote for the recall of Gavin Newsom as the governor of California is now a political certainty, with a Special Recall Election to be scheduled later this year. If a simple majority of voters decide Newsom should be removed from office, then the highest vote –getter on the ballot, even if less than 50 percent of the total number of votes cast becomes the next governor of California. If the 2003 recall election in California is any kind of historic guide, scores of colorful candidates from all walks of life can to be expected to get qualified for the ballot.

More than 1.7 million registered voters signed petitions to recall Governor Newsom, signatures recently verified as valid by election officials, exceeding the number required to trigger the election by more than 200,000 signatures. The number of required signatures is specified by law to be no fewer than 12 per cent of the total number of votes cast in the last election for the office that is targeted by the recall. The 1.7 million signatures represent about 13.8 per cent of 2018 electorate.

According to most Newsom supporters commenting on the recall, those 13.8 per cent of voters who signed the petitions basically signed up the balance of 86.2 per cent of California voters for a three ring political circus that promises all manner of sideshows and carnival barkers across the state for the next several months. According to estimates reported in the Los Angeles Times, this political circus could cost California tax payers as much as $400 million.

A carnival atmosphere was recently released into the media-stream by John Cox, a multi-millionaire real estate investor who lost in a landslide to Newsom in the 2018 governor’s race, but  is running again in the hope Newsom is recalled. Cox rented the services of a tame, 1,000 pound Kodiak bear named Tag for his campaign mascot. Cox filmed a commercial with Tag lumbering alongside him, saying “Gavin’s mismanagement of California is inexcusable. We need big beastly changes in Sacramento. I’ll make ’em.”  Cox also had Tag available live to kick off his “Meet the Beast” campaign tour in Sacramento.

Couple this with the May 5th soft ball interview of Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic athlete-turned-media darling transsexual spokesperson -turned Republican candidate for governor, by Fox news host Sean Hannity, and It’s  hard not to notice the reality show contestant aesthetic of spectacle.

“Learn more about the people behind this,” Newsom urged state firefighters at a May 4th press conference with California Professional Firefighters union officials in attendance, who are strong Newsom supporters. “Why is the Republican National Committee behind this? Why is Newt Gingrich behind this? Why is there a whole [TV] network putting their energy and attention to covering this? Is it because they have the backs of Californians? Take a look at their agenda and contrast that with ours. I think the majority of Californians support our agenda.”

The cost of this recall election seems to be the price of hyper-partisan politics. California Republicans find themselves in a clear and diminishing minority in both houses of the state legislature as well as in the overall electorate, with only 24 per cent of voters registered as Republican statewide.

Can a 12 or 13 or 14 per cent minority of voters be the tail that wags dog of the entire state. Especially when that minority receives a good deal of funding from outside the state, and gets plenty of attention from national conservative media. The result is a highly charged atmosphere of a recall vote for a Democratic governor who was quite popular for his first two years or so in office, before the COVID pandemic, before the wildfires, and before Trump lost the election.

Although subsequently trying to walk back some of his remarks, California Democratic Party chairperson Rusty Hicks was blunt in his initial assessment of the certification of signatures for the recall, saying, “This recall effort, which realty ought to be called ‘the California coup,’ is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions.”

After trouncing Republican candidate John Cox with just shy of 62 percent of the vote in the 2018 governor’s race, in which Cox ran with then-President Trump’s endorsement, Newsom’s popularity has no doubt diminished.  This can be attributed to  a very difficult year of stop and start pandemic shut-downs, disastrous wildfires, a major meltdown in the State’s unemployment payment system in the face of spiking demand during the shutdowns,  the state getting successfully scammed into sending unemployment checks to inmates, and Newsom’s  widely publicized hypocrisy of ignoring his own Covid restrictions at a high-priced dinner party with a lobbyist at a five-star gourmet restaurant in Napa.

But has dissatisfaction with Newsom’s performance risen to the level that a majority of voters will vote to remove him from office, and then suffer the paralysis that is likely to ensue for a year because. No matter what the result of the recall, either Newsom or his replacement will need to begin running for re-election soon after the recall vote in anticipation of the 2022 election.

This is the question to be answered by the voters in this special election expected in the fall, in which Republican organizers are obviously hoping, again with history a guide, that off-year special elections typically have a much smaller and more conservative voter turn-out than regular elections.

But for most California political observers and campaign consultants, a successful recall of Newsom seems doubtful in this deeply blue state that voted 63.48 percent for Biden/Harris only six months ago; a state in which even most Independent voters seem to have a deep aversion to Trumpism. But the possibility for a recall exists, and history shows the politics of resentment toward a sitting governor can run strong in California.

Several opinion writers and California electoral historians have pointed out that Gavin Newsom in 2021 is no Gray Davis in 2003, who was never exceedingly popular and was beleaguered by Enron-produced energy shortages. Nor is Caitlyn Jenner or John Cox for  anywhere close to an Arnold Schwarzenegger in their ability to unite disparate voting groups and present a viable alternative to the governor getting recalled.

According to a March survey by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California, only 40 percent of likely voters said they would vote yes on removing Newsom, while 56 percent would vote no, with five percent unsure. Responses break heavily along party lines, with fully 79 per cent of Republicans supporting the recall, while 42 per cent of Independents and only 15 per cent of Democrats say they would vote to recall Newsom.

Patrick Dwire is a freelance writer living in Santa Cruz, CA . He can be reached at paddyd385@gmail.com.

Power for Power’s Sake: The Motto of the Modern Republican Party

Power for Power’s Sake: The Motto of the Modern Republican Party

USRENEW NEWS BLOG POST

Power for Power’s Sake: The Motto of the Modern Republican Party

By Sean Gray

May 10, 2021

The Republican Party is disdainful of democracy. In 2021 it has become an authoritarian personality cult led by disgraced former President Donald Trump.. It’s members have  embraced blatant electoral untruths and stoked cultural wars in a a cynical political game. 30 state legislatures are controlled by the GOP. Voter suppression and cracking down on dissent are on the docket in many of them.

Stolen elections and burning cities received a disproportional amount of election coverage in the last few years. Neither represented an accurate portrayal of the 2020 election or the widespread well founded  Black Lives Matter Protests. Nevertheless, as spurred on by Trump, the GOP and their chums in conservative media have spent a fair amount of time inciting their base over election fraud and antifa terrorists. The phony hysteria sounding these issues serves as a pernicious pretext to cripple democratic institutions. Self-governance and freedom to assemble and criticize said government is a bedrock of a free society. Those tenets are under assault in Republican-led state houses.

70% of Republican voters believe last year’s presidential was illegitimate. They have no reason to. The election was certified by Governors in all 50 states and was been acknowledged as secure by the FBI, DHS, election experts and prolific Trump stooge, William Barr. But, Donald Trump predictably cried foul upon his electoral defeat and had his claims echoed repeatedly by blind loyalists.

Expansions of mail-in and early voting contributed to a 2020 record election turnout, which did not sit well the GOP. Hence the real impetus behind the groundswell of bills (over 300 in 47 states) that would restrict access to the ballot box. Georgia, Arizona and Texas are the greatest violators, in terms of multitude of proposals. The first two are formerly reliably red states. Each went for Biden in 2020, and their Senate contests were won by Democrats. Texas  has grown purple in recent years, resulting in closely contested races in the last three election cycles.

Restricting access to voting under the guise of election integrity has proven a popular countermeasure. Georgia’s recent election bill throws needless hurdles aimed primarily at voters who may vote against Republicans. Drop boxes that contributed to a record turnout in 2020 will be severely limited. The amount of time to request an absentee ballot has been cut in half. It is now unlawful to provide food or water to voters waiting in line, even in deliberately long lines in the sweltering Georgia sun.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger came under intense fire for his unwillingness to accede to Donald Trump’s request to alter the vote count. A new more willing Secretary of State may find that more doable in the future as the bill also allows the state to wrest control from county election officials they deem to be ‘’performing poorly.” If the motivation for this provision seems nebulous, the bill is from the same side of the state legislature that peddled Trump’s Big Lie and attempted to call an emergency session to award the state’s electoral votes to the ex-president.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis had previously hailed the security of his state’s 2020 election. Curious then, that he recently  felt compelled to sign into law a bill to ‘’increase election integrity’’. The Sunshine state’s bill features many similar provisions as that of their northern neighbor. It also doubles the amount of work necessary to receive a mail-in ballot, prohibits anyone from dropping off more than one ballot and imposes limits on the times of day in which drop-boxes may be used.

Addressing violent protests is another pressing bit of business for Republican legislatures at the state level. It needn’t be. The Armed Conflict and Event Data project studies violent confrontations in war zones and domestic protest all over the world. Between May 4th and August 22nd it identified 2,400 demonstrations associated with Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. 220, less than 10% resulted in violence (defined as clashes between protestors and police officers). Additionally the group found the majority of the clashes were conditioned upon escalatory tactics of local, state, and federal law enforcement. Similar conclusions were drawn from a study by Princeton University.

Vandalism and looting were an unfortunate byproduct of the demonstrations, as they are bound to be in any mass gathering, particularly one inspired by a racially charged cultural issue. But, a slim majority of demonstrators exceeded the freedoms afforded them by the first amendment. That last summer’s protests were mostly peaceful isn’t some misguided liberal talking point, the numbers bear it out.

Still measures in many Republican led states address the constitutional right of Americans to peacefully protest. Florida is again at the forefront of the suppression of freedoms. On the day closing argument began in Derek Chauvin’s trial began, Gov. DeSantis signed into law H.B. 1. which takes targeted aim at dissent..  While some of the more draconian provisions of its original incarnations have been repealed, it still serves to dissuade one who might take to the street from doing so. Vague language provides law enforcement great latitude in determining who is a demonstrator and who is a rioter. Those considered to be rioters can  be held without bail until such time as a court date is available. The hypothetical ‘’rioter’’ in question need not even commit an offense, but may be arrested as a result of their association with others. The no-bail and guilt-by association provisions serve no other purpose that to deter dissent in violation of the first amendment. It enhances to a felony level any criminal offense committed during the loosely defined ‘’riot’’.

The bill also makes municipalities liable for damages incurred to property during demonstrations, thereby incentivizing police to intervene in disturbances unnecessarily. This, said DeSantis, was in response to ‘’local governments telling police to stand down while cities burned.’’ A blatant untruth, like the overwhelming majority of right-wing messaging on the BLM protests. And now it is codified into law.

On the subject of stoking culture wars, the bill originally included immunity for drivers who drive through protestors (reminiscent of Charlottesville), but was subsequently altered to only include some ambiguous civil protections. However governors in Oklahoma and Tennessee saw fit to sign these same  regulations into law in the context of similar legislation.

Power for power’s sake is the objective of the modern GOP leaders . In lieu of any legitimate policy aspirations, it is their intent to inflame grievances, spread falsehoods, and  limit the ability to vote and right to protest by those who would oppose them.

Defendant Trump: A Review of Outstanding Charges

Defendant Trump: A Review of Outstanding Charges

USRENEW NEWS BLOG POST

Defendant Trump: A Review of Outstanding Charges

 By Sean Gray

 April 25,2021

Donald Trump has been a defendant in some 3,500 lawsuits

Post-presidential life promises little relief from the civil, and potentially criminal litigation. Whilst occupying the White House, Trump was able to weaponize the Justice Department to insulate him from trouble. Those protections are gone, and many chickens may be coming home to roost.The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel holds that indicting a sitting president would unconstitutionally undermine his ability to execute his duties. That is no longer at issue, and private citizen Trump has no further pretense for refusing to comply with the subpoenas.

Jan. 6th’s failed coup is indeed a day that will live in infamy. It may cost Trump a day in court. That the then-sitting president incited the mob and did nothing meaningful to discourage the mayhem, there can be not doubt. Whether he is civilly responsible for the ensuing fallout will be determined in a Washington federal court. Capitol police officers, Sidney Hemby and James Blassingame, are each seeking in excess of $75,000 in compensatory damages from Trump for his role in the insurrection. The complaint outlines the public timeline of Trump’s behavior on 1/6 through the context of the pair’s ordeal. Both were assaulted repeatedly by rioters spurred on by ‘’The Big Lie’’. Blassingame sustained head and neck injuries and is said to experience symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Hemby suffered similar injuries and is currently undergoing physical therapy three days a week. Both are on medical leave from their posts. In tying the president to the conduct of his supporters, the lawsuit notes that while Blassingame was under attack by a violent mob, one of his assailants informed him ‘’we were invited by the president.’’ Additionally, 40% of phones tracked near the national mall (the site of Trump’s pre-riot speech), were also found at the capitol at the time it was under siege. Those people heard Trump’s unambiguous call to action, and took him up on it.  The 35-page complaint draws a compelling line between Trump’s conduct and the misfortunate the befall the two officers.

Trump has a long history of defaulting of debts owed. His presidential campaign has proved no exception, owing over a million dollars to a dozen American cities where he held rallies. The expenses mostly stem from additional securities and use of municipal facilities for campaign events. Though no binding agreements were signed, it is generally understood that the cost of political rallies will not be passed on to the taxpayers of the host city. Chalk it up to another norm ignored. The mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico announced on Thursday that the city has sent the $211,000 bill the campaign owes the city to a collection agency. Cities have been deterred from pursuing the matter in court as a favorable judgement would likely be exceeded in the cost to obtain one.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr attempted to substitute the US government in Trump’s place as a defendant in a defamation suit from former Elle magazine columnist, E. Jean Carroll. He failed, and now the lawsuit is slated to proceed. Carroll alleges Trump raped her in a New York City Department store in the mid-1990’s. In denying the allegation, Trump insulted her appearance, character and called her a liar. Carroll was subsequently inundated with hate mail which she claims led to her firing from a position she had held for nearly thirty years. The statute of limitations on the assault has expired. Carroll is seeking damages for defamation and a retraction by Trump. A preponderance of evidence will be a difficult bar to clear. Apart from convincing a jury that her rape allegation is factual, Carroll must demonstrate that it led to her removal from her post.

Trump faces an eerily similar lawsuit from former Apprentice contestant, Summer Zervos. All told, over two dozen women have come forth with claims of sexual impropriety against the former president. The  number of disclosures could prove damaging to Trump’s already less than sterling public image.

Fraud has always been an internal part of Trump’s business dealings. Targeting vulnerable investors in a pyramid scheme is par for the course. It is the crux of a lawsuit against Trump for promoting ‘’multi-level marketing company’’ (MLM). Per the FTC, ‘’99% of individuals who invest in MLM’s lose money. That did not prevent Trump from accepting hefty sums and lending his full throated endorsement to the company, its products and its business model. While Trump was merely a spokesperson for the rouse, his appearances coincided with his time hosting The Apprentice; his name was near synonymous with opulence and prosperity. This, the four psedonounymous plaintiffs allege in the class-action suit, is what motivated them to invest money they could ill-afford to lose.

Donald Trump has also likely civil and committed criminal violations related to his business for which he could stand trial. Michael Cohen, in testimony before Congress, outlined various instances of illegal business  activity during his decade of employment in the Trump organization.  Trump’s tax returns are a key piece of evidence in the prosecution of several ongoing cases.  The battle between Trump and the Manhattan DA’s office over his taxes has dragged on for years. A landmark Supreme Court decision cleared the way for the release of Trump’s taxes and other documents related to his business dealings as a private citizen. Former Trump lawyer,

A charge of solicitation to commit election fraud is a possibility for Trump  in Georgia. As part of his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, Trump enlisted the aid of Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger. In an hour long phone call (publicly available), Trump is heard pressuring the state official to ‘’find the 11,780 votes’’ that cost him the Peach State. Per federal statute, it was clearly an attempt to solicit election fraud.

Donald Trump is a scofflaw who has seldom been made to face serious consequences. His post-presidential life threatens to put that streak to the test. The mountain of legal woes he faces would be insurmountable for most, but his considerable resources and influence make him a formidable opponent to all challengers.

The War On Government

The War On Government

Forty Januaries ago, Ronald Reagan, upon assuming the most powerful governmental office in the history of civilization, declared in his inaugural address that “in this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” To show he meant it, Reagan soon proposed a budget that gutted social programs and cut taxes. The idea was that, down the road, it would be harder to restore such programs and still profess yourself dedicated to fiscal responsibility.

Some years later, an incisive observer of American politics reflected on that pivotal moment in 1981: “The Reagan tax cuts have ended growth of the social agenda; it’s all come to a screeching halt.” The observer was a young senator named Joe Biden. He had voted for the Reagan budget. Now, like many of his Democratic colleagues, he would have to live in the political and moral — and narrative — universe it created.

In a remarkable swerve of history, forty years later, Biden, now president of the United States, has a chance, should he choose to embrace it, to break us all out of that universe. The war on government bankrupted itself spiritually and materially a long time ago. What dances on the horizon is the prospect of a war for government.

First came the American Rescue Plan, which was far from everything progressives wanted and far from everything the country needed, and yet, with that longer 40-year view in mind, a departure from the hegemony of the government-is-the-problem caucus. Now comes word of Biden’s plans for the second phase of his policy rollout, dealing with more chronic ailments, having already targeted the most acute crises.

According to a new report in The New York Times, President Biden’s economic advisers are preparing to recommend spending as much as $3 trillion on a sweeping set of efforts aimed at boosting the economy, reducing carbon emissions and narrowing economic inequality, beginning with a giant infrastructure plan that may be financed in part through tax increases on corporations and the rich.

Included in the package, which advisers told The Times might be broken into pieces, are “the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, electric vehicle charging stations and improvements to the electric grid,” plus “free community college, universal pre-K education, a national paid leave program and efforts to reduce child care costs,” plus plans to “make permanent two temporary provisions of Mr. Biden’s recent relief bill: expanded subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans to buy health insurance and tax credits aimed at cutting poverty, particularly for children.”

Now, I have my own preferred policy rollout list, and I’m sure you have yours, and many of my priorities, including, say, Medicare for All or all public college being free, aren’t anywhere on this list. But while we can, and should, get into the particular policies, there seems to be something more elemental and fundamental to say about this moment. With this proposed $3 trillion in spending, over and above the $1.9 trillion of the rescue plan, and with the philosophy animating the spending more importantly, Biden has become an unlikely deserter of the war on government.

More than former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who, unlike Biden, were not fixtures of Washington in the Reagan years and didn’t vote for any of his agenda. We don’t yet know if Biden has the stomach to make as strident a case for government-as-solution as Reagan made against the state. But it would be foolish not to observe that, thanks in part to the agitations of those who have shown the war on government to be an epic disaster (and who have fought Biden oftentimes), something new is happening. The proof that it is happening is that a moderate like Biden is on board.

In the coming weeks, there will be the familiar haggling and begging and bully pulpiting and Manchining as these proposals run through the congressional grinder. But it would be a mistake to treat this as a purely legislative challenge. Think back to Reagan. First there was the argument against government; then there was the dismantling of it. In the coming months, I long to hear an equal and opposite case for government, one unlike any I’ve heard in my gray, elder-millennial lifetime.

I heard the faintest hint of it some days ago when, in celebrating the passage of the American Rescue Plan, President Biden said these words: “We need to remember, the government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it’s us, all of us, we the people.” In the United States of America, this is a more radical statement than it ought to be. I threw out all my bingo cards in 2020, but I will say that I didn’t have Joe Biden making the case that the government is us.

I don’t think Biden had a religious awakening. I think the five intersecting crises of the past year made it impossible for anyone in his position to attempt to be anything but transformational and go down in history as a serious person. There was Covid, of course, and the more chronically unhealthy country it found. There was the economic crisis it unleashed, and, again, the more chronically precarious and hard-up econony that crisis exacerbated. There was the racial crisis put front and center by Black Lives Matter and, more generally, a growing recognition of the need to reckon with things long overdue and make the society safe and healthy and dignified for people of all marginalized backgrounds. There was the democratic crisis revealed by the fact that, for a while there, we weren’t sure about a peaceful transfer of power. And there was climate, the question that refuses to go away, even in plagues, with coronatime perhaps serving as a test drive for what it looks like for the world to rally together.

There are no personal solutions to problems like these. There are no corporate solutions to them. There are no nonprofit solutions to them. As Carol Hanisch once taught us, there are only political solutions to shared political problems like these. The strange gift President Biden inherited was a network of problems so deep-rooted, so far-reaching, so long-in-the-making, so gnarled in their intersections, that they provide the best cover and ammunition in years to advocate for government.

Again, by this I don’t just mean introduce governmental solutions and spend money, which Biden is already doing. I mean adding to that a militant case for government that is every bit as emotive and powerful as the forty-year case against, which was so compelling that it persuaded millions of people to vote for their own subjugation.

I’m talking about truly educating Americans about what the government does — not just the famous parts of it that we hear about on the news and argue about without end. But the uncelebrated and obscure and dull parts of it that keep our food safe and roads clean and Social Security checks printing and markets open and schools teaching and medical research coming, that give us things like the internet.

Some of this advovacy is the work of people in government itself. But we in the media have a role to play. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t make himself an entrepreneur-hero-king (before he became a fallen emperor). We made him that. We put him on magazine covers. We covered his thoughts as if they reflected thinking. We built him up into something more than yet another guy running an ad-based business without scruples.

Well, it’s going to take many of us in media, in Hollywood, in music, in the culture more generally to reflect on how we have been captured by Reagan’s story, however we may think we despise it. Captured by the basic narrative that what we do alone matters more than what we do together, that denigrates or just overlooks the commons. And we ought to find ways to tell other stories. Stories of solidarity and collective adventure and shared purpose and systemic answers. Stories of unsung heroes. Stories of kind and decent structures rather than just kind and decent individuals.

I don’t know if those who can, will choose to take advantage of this moment in this way. But I believe they have a window of opportunity to end a whole damned age.

Fishing Boat Dispatch

Fishing Boat Dispatch

Changing Tides: A new blog post on the marine environment written by USRESIST NEWS Reporter Katherine Cart

# 1 Fishing Boat Dispatch

February 22, 2021

The Gulf of Alaska last summer was warm. The edge of wind was warm. The water in Yakutat Bay, when I jumped from the boat to swim, was warm. When the July storms came, waves swamped decks. The entirety of our horizon would be green water and foam for days. At night deck lights showed rain and rime flying laterally, our flags ironed straight out, as though the wind would carry what it caught until land’s mountains put up a wall.

That storms at sea are swelling, budding like an unquittable pathogen is not news. It is the failure of fishing that felt everyday, every hour, like a hard slap to the face, and like something very old that has come very suddenly to the end of itself. In the Gulf of Alaska last summer, we dragged for spiny perch and dusky rockfish, for yellowfin sole and flathead. More than once, what the captain hauled onto deck was more black mud than fish. Deckhands with hoses broke apart mud balls the size of cars; the few fish we had caught drowned in silt and air.

We were not alone in the bad fishing. Often, on deck or from the captain’s wheelhouse, I could see many other boats on the horizon, like little floating castles, pulling up bags as empty as ours. The fleet moved generally en masse; one boat struck fish on her own, word would get out, the rest of us would follow. You can imagine us like children running between tidal pools, collecting limpets. The pools are not infinite, nor are the limpets.

It is the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA) that provides most regulation for fishing U.S. Federal Waters. The MSA has been through several iterations since its passing in 1976, when Alaskan fishing grounds were booming and the Aleutian Basin’s “Donut Hole” had not yet been fished clean of pollock. Denoted in the MSA is regional management of waters, which specifies quota of target and bycatch species. In the Gulf, on Amendment 80 vessels (large, factory trawlers generally targeting flatfish and rockfish), there is now very little allowance for blackcod (sablefish) and no allowance for halibut bycatch. These species, however, live in the same areas as targeted flat and rockfish. Often, captains play obscure balancing acts: should I risk catching ten tons of blackcod for fifty tons of flathead sole? Or should I move, once again, and risk catching nothing? By the end of the desperate summer, my captain was opting for the first. Again and again, we hauled bags filthy with bycatch, corals, rock, mud. And, because part of my job was to document for NOAA the biodiversity of catch, I spent many hours of many days watching on a conveyor belt in the gut of boat tens of tons at a time of blackcod, sculpin, dogfish, skates be shipped overboard. These fish do not live; they have been hauled to the deck from many fathoms, suffocate in holding tanks, and, by the time they are propelled off the boat, are mangled and bleeding internally. On another boat that was targeting pollock in the Bering Sea, several years earlier, I once saw 120 tons of red rockfish floating in our teal wake. The factory on that boat could not process the fish’s spiny bodies, nor did they have a buyer lined up on shore. The captain is not autonomous, but an employee of a mega-corporation; in 2018, commercial fishing in Alaska was valued at nearly $5 billion. This is big business. We are strip mining the sea.

Our nonrelationship with food supply is the problem. The luxury of selectivity that is the modern consumer’s is the problem. The imbecilic notion that the state and federal government can predict and regulate fisheries stocks uninfluenced by lobbyists is the problem. At the fish counter, there are no records indicating the heinous waste necessitated for one fillet of yellowfin sole. A cod choking on offal is not a marketable scene. At the nice restaurant, you will choose from such a miniscule range of products that it would seem there are perhaps only five or ten species in the ocean, and all of them fat, flavorful. It is no fault of the consumer that the global food supply is teetering. Nor is it the captain’s, investor’s, conglomerate CEO’s. Solid land’s free market, in which the consumer can choose the overfished blackcod over the relatively more abundant (but still overfished) yellowfin sole, forces a snarl of regulation in fisheries. Some vessels, like longliners, can specifically target blackcod. Longliners would rather not compete with the mammoth codends of trawler vessels who can, in a few hours, sweep tons of marine meat from the benthos. This competition would drive prices down, depleting the resource further.

That Amendment 80 trawl boats have quotas at times necessitating abhorrent waste is one byproduct of the attempt to regulate the molestation of an ecosystem. To expect to find a sustainable way to pull millions of tons of matter from a marine environment is absurd, and yet – year over year – because fishermen must work and companies must oblige investors and restaurants must run and stores must stock shelves and we must eat the choicest fillets, we subscribe to shoddy regulatory dogma. Innovations of industry and market are abiotic forces, with no inherent capacity for morality or logic. Though I would like to believe that we would step away before the seas are exhausted, muddied pools, I cannot help but remember the words of my captain this summer: “I’ve fished here, right here, for forty years. Never seen storms like these. Never seen fishing so bad.”

Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene 

Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene 

USRESIST NEWS Blog

 

The Republicans   A new USRESIST NEWS Blog Post series intended to report on the activities of  the Republican Party and Its Members in a Post Trump Era

Post # 1: Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene 

By Sean Gray 

February 12, 2021

Last week’s vote to remove freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee posts didn’t end the GOP’s problem with her, but underscored it. Many Republicans were no doubt hoping for a return to normalcy after four years of Donald Trump’s chaotic leadership. This was always a pipe dream and the representative from Georgia’s 14th district illustrates that Trump’s presidency may have been unprecedented,  and the political movement he inspired has staying power. Greene has no experience in government. She is a half-hearted businesswoman with more bombast than sense. She gained political recognition through the creation and dissemination of absurd conspiracy theories. Sound familiar? If Donald Trump was a symptom rather than the disease, Greene is a next-gen mutation. She can’t inflict the damage Trump did from the Oval Office. But her presence in Congress is a troubling commentary on the state of American politics. And her Republicans colleagues know it.

Trump displayed  combination of dishonesty and disconnection from reality whenever he found facts disagreeable. Marjorie Taylor Greene has gladly accepted the torch of fantasy. She came to prominence as the ‘’Qanon candidate on the campaign trail.” Her views somehow got more reprehensible following her election. Greene is a full throated conspiracy theorist on subjects too numerous to list comprehensively in this space. She has cast doubt on the Parkland School Shooting, the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon and that lasers from a George Soros-owned company were responsible for California’s devastating 2018 Camp Fire. Her support for such insidious doggerel extends beyond a tip-of-the-cap bit of political opportunism. Prior to her election she authored 59 articles in the now defunct American Truth Seekers. Her 2A zeal goes beyond the usual rhetoric and harassing survivors of school massacres. Greene has also advocated for the executions of political opponents. There is no hope of sane and reasonable discourse with someone like this. She is deluded, race-baiting and as committed to Trumpian bluster as the ex-president. Yet she now commands $180K to shape legislation through the prism of her badly skewed worldview.

Trump may be gone, but he still looms large in Republican political calculus. By aligning herself so closely with the MAGA crowd, Greene has put her Republican colleagues in a tight spot. Many likely believe her to be a disgraceful albatross. But she is for all intents and purposes a Trump surrogate – which makes a formal repudiation of her dangerous nonsense unpalatable. Accordingly, when Democrats took a procedural vote to remove her from two committees just 11 Republican House members crossed the aisle against her. Trump pulled the party away from reason and reality. Greene has blindly followed suit. Her colleagues refuse to acknowledge the obvious pulls the entire party further away from reason and reality.

The dilemma posed by Greene’s activity is a serious problem for the party. For the most devoted Trumpophiles, Greene’s rhetoric is a selling point. They are not numerous enough to win contested elections. Furthermore the more outrageous of her positions (for instance, advocating the execution of the Speaker of the House) are antithetical to democracy and a turn-off to a plethora of voters. Trump’s personality in conjunction with his office made his political brand work. His allies could claim he had the mandate of the voters while working to further his agenda and tactlessly avoiding uncomfortable questions about the his behavior. Greene carries his water from much further down the trough. She occupies one of 538 House seats. Unlike Trump, whose lofty perch and cult-like following enabled him to browbeat Congress like subordinates, Greene is a liability. Her practice of Trump speak makes it much more difficult for her to actually accomplish anything. It also complicates any effort on the part of the GOP to move past four unsustainably chaotic years. Trump never had the support of approval of more than 50% of the American public. Those numbers dipped to around 33% in the aftermath of the Capitol riots. A less effective imitation is not what the doctor ordered.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is a problem for the nation, and not just those who lean right. Her landslide election based on a semi-comprehensible platform speaks to the erosion of political discourse in this country. She is a thorn in the side of many Republicans. However her presence in Congress is a pernicious threat to America as a whole. Last month’s coup attempt didn’t occur in a vacuum. It was the predictable result of a disaffected and propagandized group of people incited to violence by the man at the center of the lie they were fed. Opportunities exist for repeat performances. Right-wing extremism in general saw a sharp uptick during Trump’s tenure. To some extent, a sympathetic ear in the legislative branch legitimizes those kinds of beliefs. In a nation as polarized as this one, this bodes poorly beyond political prospects. Trump routinely fanned the flames of these divisions to his own end. An unscrupulous acolyte is likely to follow suit. Marjorie Taylor Greene represents the worst in American politics. She is a thorn in the side of Republicans and a blight on the US with far-reaching consequences.

Trump Issues Pardons and Creates Nuisances for the Biden/Harris Team on his Way Out the Door 

Trump Issues Pardons and Creates Nuisances for the Biden/Harris Team on his Way Out the Door 

USRESIST NEWS Blog

The Trump Watch:  A new USRESIST NEWS Blog Post series intended to report on the activities of President Trump at the end of his Presidency and after he leaves the White House.

# 2 Trump Issues Pardons and Creates Nuisances for the Biden/Harris Team on his Way Out the Door 

By Sean Gray

Trump’s last days were marked by chaos, scandal and general ineptitude. Donald Trump’s swan song as a one term president has been unlike any before him. Self dealing and empty bombast have been the cornerstone of Trump’s political brand. With his tenure at an end, those chickens have come home to roost. Trump faces a second impeachment trial for his inciting role in the siege at the Capital. His use of pardons is coming under close scrutiny. And though he mostly abdicated governing since failing to acknowledge his November election loss, he took care to try to impede the Biden administration before it begins.

Donald Trump was as likely to be impeached twice as any president ever will be. For all the partisan bickering over his conduct in office, he was seldom held to account in any meaningful way. There existed more appetite for doing so in the final hours of his term. Organizing and instigating the insurrection at the Capital building was apparently a bridge too far in the eyes of his Republican allies. So much so that 10 GOP House members, along with the entirety of the Democratic caucus voted for the Articles of Impeachment against him. That prospect was unthinkable last time around.

With his term of office ended, a potential Senate trial serves as more of a referendum on Trump as a political  more than anything else. When a trial begins, it will be after Trump is already out of office. Also different than the previous Senate trial, when the jury was publicly and vocally in the bag, most of Trump’s GOP confederates have been quite open in their condemnation of his behavior. If convicted by a 2/3 majority after exiting office, Trump would lose his presidential pension and a host of related perks. Soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, rather than whipping votes has told his Republican colleagues that their vote is ‘’one of conscience’’. No greater testament exists to how far Trump’s political star has fallen since his abortive coup on January 6th. Of most consequence in a post-presidency Senate trial would be a vote following conviction to bar Trump from holding office again, which would require only a simple majority. A vote to end Trump’s 2024 bid before it starts would serve as a thorough repudiation of him, at the risk of alienating an intensely loyal voting bloc.

Presidential pardon power is near absolute. Trump hasn’t shied from using it on felons in his orbit, as in the cases of Roger Stone or Paul Manafort. Once again he has demonstrated that norms are worthless if they’re ignored without consequence. Trump has treated his entire presidency transactionally on a personal level. His last few days have proven no exception. According to The New York Times, wealthy felons have spent good money to bend the outgoing president’s ear as he reviews the clemency process. Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor brought in to assist in the process has allegedly collected tens of thousands of dollars from deep-pocketed convicts looking to lobby Trump. He’s advocated on behalf of an imprisoned son of an Arkansas state senator, a Manhattan socialite who pled guilty in a fraud case, and Silk Road founder Russ Ulbricht. The lawyer brought in to assist this president with pardons and commutations monetizing the process is perhaps the most spot-on characterization of the Trump administration.

Former and current Trump attorneys John Down and Rudy Giuliani are also reportedly active in the pardon-lobby racket. Giuliani, who Trump has refused to pay for his recent legal work in relation to overturning the 2020 election, has taken the pay-for play scheme to audacious levels. Rather than mere ‘’access fees’’, Giuliani has taken an interest in the case of former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Kiriakou was convicted in 2012 for revealing the identity of a fellow CIA officer involved in torture overseas. Giuliani reportedly told Kiriakou a pardon would cost him $2 million, a price tag at which the latter balked. An associate of the former CIA officer informed the FBI of the conversation.

Such lobbying efforts appear to have been effective. A great many recipients of last minute pardons were wealthy, well-connected individuals; a fitting commentary on Trump’s political priorities from the beginning.

Steve Bannon, alt-right provocateur and Trump’s 2016 campaign manager was facing federal fraud charges related to swindling donors in the private financing of a southern border wall.

Eliot Brody, once-convicted fraudster and former head of the Republican National Convention pled guilty in October 2020 of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. He lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of the Chinese and Malaysian governments.

Each is off scot free and with seemingly little reason other than an intimate connection to Donald Trump. No other pardonees were as close to the seat of power, but convictions and accusations of fraud are the most prevailing trends among the other beneficiaries. A man awaiting sentencing in the Varsity Blues scandal received a pardon. As did the former husband of Fox News host, Jeannine Pirro, who had been convicted of tax evasion. Over a dozen pardons were issued to politicians of either party engaged in various acts of self-enriching misconduct. Some of the pardons issued did go towards more traditional and deserving recipients, such as those who’d served time, and shown a degree of contrition. But by and large, most of the issuances by Trump were a nod to the swamp he pledged to drain four years ago.

Unscrupulous as it may appear, neither Trump nor associates have run afoul of the law. Pardons are intended to ease punishment of offenders who’ve shown contrition, though it is not a hard-and-fast rule. The usual channel runs through a dedicated office within the Department of Justice. Dowd, Giuliani and Tolman are involved in what amounts to legal bribery. Their conduct violates the spirit of, but not the actual letter of the law. These ethical considerations provide ample food for thought without even mentioning an attempt by Trump to pardon himself.

Trump has still yet to and probably won’t acknowledge Biden as the legitimate president. As a parting gift to the incoming ‘’election, Trump has attempted to plant a few landmines for the Biden/Harris team.

In a letter to Congress, Trump has sought to freeze $27.5 billion in funding to key cabinet agencies. A provision in the 1974 Budget Impoundment and Control Act allows him to request freeze and rescind budget authority in specific areas. The proposed cuts, among them to the Environmental Protection Agency, mostly coincide with the ones rejected in Trump’s 2021 budget. With Democrats in control of all three branches of government, the move is unlikely to stick, or do anything more than delay inevitable funding to federal programs. Still, Trump’s attempt at forced austerity on his successor (after a term in which he ballooned the national debt) signal his intentions loud and clear.

With less than 72 hours left in his term, Trump nominated a political ally for the role of General Counsel at the National Security Agency. Michael Ellis is a former GOP operative and White House aide who also worked for blind Trump loyalist, Rep. Devin Nunes. He was involved in covering-up the call which led to Trump’s impeachment and fed disinformation to Nunes, which he used in an attempt to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation. Such a partisan actor in what is supposed to be a strictly apolitical role would be problematic at anytime. For Trump to do so with less than three days remaining in his term is irregular and irresponsible. Politicizing intelligence helped Trump discredit information unflattering to him, and amplify intelligence he found agreeable, regardless of veracity. It also weakened national security and sowed confusion. Appointing a political hack to the top legal position in the NSA can only reinforce dangerous precedents. It also creates another headache for the incoming administration to contend with.

Trump’s budget maneuver is likely to be little more than a nuisance. Ellis’ appointment (to a civil service, not a political role) may be more difficult to undo. Notes of pettiness and sabotage may be detected in both. Each case was among several reported fires the Trump administration has started on the way out. It begs the question of what other nasty surprises await Biden/Harris upon assuming office.

With 2 Weeks To Go Trump Incites Followers to Storm the Capital

With 2 Weeks To Go Trump Incites Followers to Storm the Capital

USRESIST NEWS Blog

The Trump Watch:  A new USRESIST NEWS Blog Post series intended to report on the

activities of President Trump at the end of his Presidency and after he leaves the White House.

# 1 With 2 Weeks To Go Trump Incites Followers to Storm the Capital 

By Sean Gray

Wednesday’s grotesque spectacle at the Capitol building was an appalling affront without precedent in American history. Trump supporters formed a raucous mob and sought to prevent the certification of electoral college results. Five peoples have been reported dead with dozens more injured and arrested. Authorities continue to pursue those responsible for the melee. Bearing as much individual responsibility is President Donald Trump. Since the deadly Charlottesville rally of 2017, Trump has habitually encouraged the worst instincts of his cultish following. The scene at the nation’s capital was indeed nightmarish, but predicted  by numerous pundits. It was in fact the logical progression of a would-be authoritarian in his desperate bid to retain power.

In four years at the helm Donald Trump has shown a consistent disdain for democratic processes. He has insulted the US’ longstanding democratic allies and fawned over brutal authoritarians. He has disregarded checks and balances, and  operated with lawless abandon. Freedom of the press has been under consistent assault since Trump began his political ascendancy. He has kept a stranglehold on his party through deceit and divisive rhetoric echoed through social media. Trump has utilized every dictatorial tactic common to favorite strongmen.

Criminal charges, civil suits and staggering personal debt likely await him on the other side of his presidency. Trump was always going to attempt every conceivable gambit to stay in power, just as every aspiring despot would.

As soon as the Associated Press called the election in Biden’s favor, Trump unleashed a baseless stream of voter fraud conspiracy accusations to his 80 million Twitter followers and conservative media echo chamber that has served him so well. He hurled a gaggle of lawsuits (some so flimsy they didn’t even allege actual fraud) against the wall to see what would stick. 59 of 60 (some heard by Trump-appointed judges) were dismissed. It seems the president’s flunkies were less comfortable making empty claims of a rigged election under penalty of perjury.

The meeting of the electoral college put a serious dent in Trump’s subversive designs. However he repeated his various claims of voter fraud and irregularities with such effectiveness that a large chunk of the electorate came to believe him. A fact not lost on the collective GOP, who have spent the less four years kowtowing to Trump for fear of political retribution. By the time Congress was set to convene and certify the 2020 election results, some 13 Republican Senators and over 100 House members were prepared to challenge the results, without a shred of evidence to support their objections.

Overshadowed by Wednesday’s hubbub is the call between Trump and much-maligned Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, on the preceding Saturday. In said call, the president revealed himself to be still very much immersed in his alternate reality in which he rightfully won the state. Astonishingly, he asked Raffensperger to ‘’find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” The number in question is the approximate margin of defeat Trump suffered in the Peach State. Over the course of an hour, Trump (with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows) harangued the Georgia Secretary incessantly, peddled his tired delusions and insisted that the state and its 16 electoral votes had been stolen from him. To his credit, Raffensperger resisted the pressure, contradicted Trump and reported the call. Had it not been for the events of Wednesday, the possibility of Trump standing trial for solicitation of election fraud would have received more media coverage this week.

Vice President Mike Pence has been loyal to Trump to the point of obsequiousness in their time in office together. As President of the Senate he presided over the certification of the election results. Trump, on Twitter and in person, pressured his right-hand man to reject the results, sending them back to the states, an unconstitutional move which Pence had no authority to make.

Which brings us to January 6th, 2021, a day that will be remembered among the ugliest in American history. The President of the United States called a rally of his supporters on the White House grounds. Primed with the stolen election rhetoric he’d been offering up for months, Trump whipped his supporters into a frenzy (not sparing his VP in the process), told them they needed to fight hard for the country, directed their attention to the ‘‘scene of the steal’’ and told them to walk on down. What ensued was the final lawless crescendo of a unhinged president, emboldened to do as he pleases. As MAGA-loving insurrectionists burst into the seat of government, Trump sat in radio silence. The siege was reminiscent of military coups in Argentina or Chile.

Wednesday’s debacle was hard to watch and represented a serious hit to American prestige. But it should not honestly elicit shock and awe from the viewing public. Conditions in American government have been trending in this direction for at least the last four years. Trump’s bellicosity and disregard for the rule of law is a volatile mixture which culminated in failed coup in D.C. this week. And it was the logical progression of his unlawful bid to undo his election loss.

Successfully putting down the insurrection was a positive, but hardly a lasting victory. If the United States is to remain a beacon of democracy the world over, the conditions that preceded Wednesday’s deadly events need be better combatted. American ideals of freedom and democracy are only of value if the public has faith in them. Based on what transpired at the capitol building, a troubling number of our fellow citizens do not, or worse, are so blinded by propaganda that they believe themselves to be fighting for these values. Depending on one’s philosophical vantage point, the riots at the Capitol building could be viewed as a successful stress test of American democracy or a harrowing bellwether of what the future holds. Regardless, it should serve as a reminder to all, that it can happen here.

A Look at the Trump Administration’s Response to the Coronavirus

A Look at the Trump Administration’s Response to the Coronavirus

Transition of Power

A new blog post by USRESIST Reporters on the transition of Presidential Power from the Trump to the Biden administration  

Brief # 7 A Look at the Trump Administration’s Response to the Coronavirus

By Sean Gray

December 18,, 2020

With the first Covid-19 vaccines being administered in the US, a light is beginning to emerge at the end of the pandemic’s tunnel. President Trump is taking a curious victory lap. Boasting about the success of Operation Warp Speed has represented his only break from incessant election fraud conspiracy. While his administration undoubtedly played a role in the record-setting vaccine, it belies the fact that every step of the way, Trump himself exacerbated the pandemic, largely by viewing it through a politically transactional lens.

Trump’s misleading, revisionist history in relation to the pandemic is apt; He has consistently misled and confused Americans about the coronavirus. News of the incoming pandemic was reportedly in his daily brief around the turn of the year, 2020. Only in mid-March did he begrudgingly acknowledge the ugly reality. In the intervening time he dismissed the obvious dangers and suggested it was his political opponent’s ‘’new hoax’’. At the mid-March press conference, he said without irony ‘’I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic’’. This type of self-serving double-talk would categorize the federal government’s Covid-19 response.

Worse than that was his effort to distort facts and silence medical experts that might reflectepoorly on him. Trump supporters have demonstrated an uncanny willingness to swallow whole whatever cockamamie he offers up. Placing him alongside experts in infectious disease, like Dr. Fauci, in the pandemic’s early days, lent undue credibility to his dangerous spit balling. From his pulpit he suggested injecting disinfectants, or direct sunlight could prove a miraculous cure for the mysterious virus. He vigorously promoted the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, even after quality research suggested it had no meaningful benefit and serious side effects. Medical experts willing to debase themselves for attention took to conservative media to echo the president’s reckless claims, thereby legitimizing misinformation from the commander-in-chief.

No instance of Trumpian ineptitude would be complete without a touch of graft, which was focus of the whistleblower complaint filed by former government scientist, Rick Bright. Bright claimed he awarded contracts to the companies connected to the administration, including a drug company linked to a friend of Jared Kushner’s. In his report, Bright called for an inspector general investigation into the ‘’cottage industry’’ of  political influence which determined to whom contracts were awarded.  His concerns about the administration’s Covid response mostly fell on deaf ears, but found an unlikely ally in Trump economic advisor, Peter Navarro, to whom Bright advocated creating a ‘’Manhattan Project’’ for coronavirus. That idea would eventually become, Operation Warp Speed, well after it was initially proposed and the pandemic had grown in severity.

FDA head, Stephen Hahn had a major role in the ultimate success of the vaccine endeavor. His role, by necessity, is a nonpartisan one. That didn’t deter Trump from making a political pawn out of him. In August, Trump announced the emergency approval of convalescent plasma for treatment of Covid patients. Hahn endorsed the decision publicly, despite the fact that the National Health Institute had serious concerns that its efficacy had not been demonstrated. The move came as a direct result of Trump leaning on the FDA, accusing them of slowing approval for political reasons. Hahn was the subject of widespread criticism from the scientific community, which led to a rare apology and admission of fault out of the Trump administration.

Even with the finish line in sight, Trump doubled-down on his political meddling by tweeting out that Hahn ought to ‘’stop playing games’’ and ‘’start saving lives. In doing so, he implied that bureaucratic red tape was delaying the approval and fanning the flames of his ‘’deep state saboteur’’ rhetoric. The end result is a significant decrease of public confidence in the nation’s public health institutions from a man with no expertise in the subject.

Claiming to fight for the forgotten working class while serving the interests of the incredibly wealthy has been a staple of Trump’s political brand. His own Covid-19 experience illustrates the contradiction well. After months of deceiving the American public about the scope and severity of the pandemic, Trump came down with the virus himself. He was airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center (roughly 14 miles from the White House) and treated nonstop with experimental remedies at no personal expense. Then, as if tooprove he was right all along, took an ill-advised limo ride (presumably while still infected) in a sealed vehicle full of Secret Service agents. Trump followed up the plague-spreading publicity stunt with an odd appearance on the White House balcony, walking under his own power. In the aftermath he seemed to use the incident to support the notion that the whole thing had been blown out of proportion, to damage him politically. This dangerous bit of deception ignores obvious realities. Trump and every member of Congress are covered by top-top-notch medical coverage at taxpayer expense. The Covid-19 experience of Donald Trump (or Rep. Louie Gohmert or Sen. Ted Cruz) bares little resemblance to that of the average citizen. Most are independently wealthy on top of their six-figure salaries. Independent of the helicopter ride, the estimated cost of Trump’s medical treatment was $183K, and completely inaccessible to the general public. Contracting a virus about which he has been habitually dishonest, and escaping its worse consequences because of privilege, is as on-brand Trump as it gets. It also likely reinforced the positions of his Covid-skeptic supporters, whose own experience might be considerably more fraught.

A coronavirus vaccine in record time is a win for the nation across party lines. Trump’s attempt to take an outsized amount of credit does not detract from the unprecedented accomplishment. But true to form it does represent a distortion of reality. Trump may have signed off on Warp Speed, but it is difficult to make a good faith argument that he aided the process more than he impeded it.

Kamala Harris Forges History-Making Path to the Vice Presidency

Kamala Harris Forges History-Making Path to the Vice Presidency

Transition of Power

A new blog post by USRESIST Reporters on the transition of Presidential Power from the Trump to the Biden administration 

Brief # 6 Kamala Harris Forges History-Making Path to the Vice Presidency

By Linda F. Hersey

December 7, 2020

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a woman of firsts.

As the highest-ranking female official elected in U.S. history, Harris will be sworn into office as vice president on Jan. 20, 2021, immediately before Joe Biden takes the pledge as president.

Indeed, the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris is an important historical marker achieved by the Oakland-born daughter of immigrant parents whose life epitomizes the American story: After graduating law school in California, she rose to District Attorney in San Francisco and served as California’s 32nd Attorney General before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2017.

Now she is poised to make history as:

  • The first woman vice president of the United States;
  • The first African American to be U.S. vice president, and
  • The first Asian American to hold the office of U.S. vice president.

Harris, 56, grew up in a family that values education and civic contributions. Her late mother, who was from India, served as a cancer researcher with a Ph.D. whose work helped to advance the treatment of breast cancer. Her Jamaican-born father is a retired Stanford economist who holds a doctorate degree.

Her parents met during the civil rights movement, while studying at the University of California at Berkeley.

Harris spent her middle and high school years in Canada, after her parents divorced and her mother accepted a teaching and research post at McGill University. After graduating from high school, Harris earned her undergraduate degree at Howard University, the historically black university in Washington, D.C., where she was active on the debate team and landed an internship with California U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston. The experience made an impression, as she would set her sights on a political career.

Harris returned to California for law school where she earned her JD at Hastings College of Law, at the University of California. After graduating in 1989, she launched her legal career in California and has yet to slow down. Her success has helped to redefine expectations  U.S. women in politics can achieve.

District Attorney in San Francisco

Harris went on to serve as District Attorney in San Francisco, having a hand in increasing conviction rates, which brought both praise and criticism. The criticism was largely from leaders in the black community who felt her zealous approach to prosecutions unnecessarily targeted black men, who are arrested at a higher rate than other population groups.

Harris’ office lso was criticized for its aggressive prosecutions of marijuana offenses, she did not pursue jail time for people who were convicted. Her successor ended up wiping clean all of San Francisco’s marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, with the state as a whole legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Harris received praise and media attention for her activism and support of teens and young adults who are LGBQ. A hate crimes task force she assembled as San Francisco’s District Attorney focused on prosecuting crimes against members of the LGBQ community.

In 2010, Harris made history as an elective female official in California, becoming the first woman, the first African American and the first South Asian American elected Attorney General in that state. Her tenure as AG was distinguished by aggressive prosecutions of fraud and abuse in the mortgage and healthcare industries, with her office recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in excess state Medi-Cal and federal Medicare payments.

‘Creating a Path for Those Who Will Come After Us’

In 2017, Harris sought a U.S. Senate seat – and won — becoming the second African-American woman and the first South Asian woman to hold the office.

‘’My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,'” Harris recalled, during a speech at Spelman College. “That’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”

Harris is hardly alone among California women breaking barriers in higher office.

  • S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California has been the highest-ranking woman in line for the presidency as Speaker of the House, a post she has held since 2019 and previously served in, from 2007-2011. That distinction will change on Inauguration Day, when Harris becomes Vice President.
  • Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco has served in the U.S. Senate since 1992, making history when she was first elected. She and Barbara Boxer, now retired, were California’s first female U.S. senators.

The achievements of women elected to Congress, even in 2020, cannot be overstated, with only a quarter of the U.S. Senate seats currently held by women. In the U.S. House, women only hold 23 percent of the seats. California has sent more women to Congress than any other state. Now one of their own is about to be Vice President. 

First Second Gentleman Making History, Too

In 2021, Harris will enter office with the nation’s first Second Gentleman – her husband and fellow lawyer, Doug Emhoff. “I’m humbled, I’m honored to have put it all on hold — my career, family life, everything — to help Kamala on this campaign and really help Joe,” Emhoff said in a Glamour Magazine interview.

“Kamala learned the kind of character it requires to stand up to the powerful and resolved to spend her life advocating for those who could not defend themselves,” according to the bio on her Senate office website.

Outgoing and friendly, Harris has the uncanny ability to open doors with ease that previously were double-locked — to women and minorities.

On the campaign trail with Biden, she was candid in her criticism of Donald Trump and his administration: “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be,” she said in the weeks prior to the election.

As is characteristic of her candor, Harris’ views on racial injustice are clear.

In an essay for Cosmopolitan magazine, Harris wrote: “Let’s speak the truth: People are protesting because Black people have been treated as less than human in America. Because our country has never fully addressed the systemic racism that has plagued our country since its earliest days, it is the duty of every American to fix this.”

Given the inclusive style of President-elect Biden, Harris is likely to be an activist Vice President, outlining her own agenda and mindful that she will be much more than a footnote in history.

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