Will The US Become The Next Belarus?

With the US presidential election approaching, US citizens should see the events in Belarus as a warning. As you may know, though the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed to be re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. International observers have declared that the election was neither fair nor free. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Belarussians have continued to march and demonstrate. More worryingly, one of the leading members of the opposition candidate’s campaign has been abducted by masked men and 3 others have vanished.

Think that couldn’t happen in the US? Think again.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has raised concerns about the integrity of the upcoming election. Other international observers have also voiced concerns. Why? Maybe it’s because the GOP has disenfranchised many voters by demanding often difficult to obtain voter IDs. Maybe it’s because Republican-controlled states have closed voting locations and reduced voting hours in Democrat-leaning areas. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have gerrymandered congressional districts to make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win. Maybe it’s because the average waiting time to vote is 51 minutes for minorities and only 6 minutes for whites. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have purged tens of thousands of registered voters.

Maybe it’s because the wannabe dictator incumbent has tried to discredit and undermine vote-by-mail and installed loyalists to the governing board of the US Postal Service with the express purpose of delaying the mail. Maybe it’s because he continues to tell his heavily armed and conspiracy loving supporters that he can only lose if the election is rigged against him!

Or maybe it’s because the incumbent was put in office as a result of election interference by our nation’s greatest rival and, in fact, has solicited foreign interference yet again.

Moreover, increasingly it appears that Trump and his supporters will only accept a Biden win if the vote is overwhelmingly against him. Anything less and Trump is likely to claim the vote is rigged and refuse to accept the results. After all, he already has claimed that Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million margin in the popular vote was only due to voting by undocumented immigrants and Democratic cheating.

So, it’s highly unlikely that Trump will bow out gracefully. He’s far more likely to refuse to leave the White House and to call for his armed supporters to rise up in his defense. We’ve already seen his supporters attack peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We’ve seen anonymous federal forces under his direction abduct protestors. And we’ve seen him order a peaceful demonstration cleared with force so he could have a photo-op with him holding a Bible backwards in front of a church he doesn’t attend.

Vote! Vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

America: From The Age Of Enlightenment To The Age Of Lunacy.

In a 2017 radio interview, the late comedian and “King of Fake News” Paul Horner described how he earned the title. He explained that he was looking for a way to reach more people with his comedy through satirical posts on Facebook. He quickly learned that Democrats, liberals, and progressives immediately recognized the satire or fact-checked his posts. As a result, he received few clicks and, therefore, little money from them. On the other hand, he found that a significant percentage of Republicans and conservatives embraced his posts believing them to be factual and quickly shared them with friends.

So, it’s not entirely surprising that an individual peddling bizarre conspiracy theories could gain traction on social media. Such is the case with Q, the anonymous poster who claims to expose deep state secrets from within the government.

Q began with an October 2017 post on the white supremacist website 4chan which stated: “HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s [Military] will conduct the operation while NG [National Guard] activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.”

Of course, Q’s prediction did not come true. In fact, few, if any, have. Nevertheless, Q quickly gained a following of millions and continues to “drop” information from within the “deep state.” Moreover, Q has convinced followers to believe that Donald Trump is a “Messiah” who has been chosen to quietly lead a revolution against the deep state. They are told that they must protect Trump at all costs. Even more bizarrely, the QAnon cult has come to believe that Trump will expose and imprison those involved a secret worldwide child sex trafficking ring run by a satanic cabal consisting of leaders of the Democratic Party, A-list celebrities, and Pope Francis.

They actually believe that, in addition to their sexual lust, members of the cabal kill children in order to harvest and consume their blood for its life-extending properties. In other words, Q followers are completely and hopelessly delusional.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t dangerous.

In 2018, an armed Q follower drove an armored vehicle onto a bridge spanning the Hoover Dam and blocked traffic. He demanded that the government “release the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] report,” a report that Q claims will expose the deep state. In 2019, another Q follower murdered a leader of the Gambino crime family believing him to be an enemy of Trump. And earlier this year, a Q follower was arrested for threatening to kill Joe Biden.

These nutcases are encouraged by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists. And the cult recently gained traction when six unabashed QAnon followers ran for national office as Republicans. Even more worrisome, at least three of them won their Republican primaries!

Some of the most notable targets of Q followers are the Clintons, President Obama, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Robert Mueller, George Soros, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Trudeau, Senator Scott Wiener, John Legend & Chrissy Teigen, the Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, Wayfair, and Disney.

QAnon followers have been led to believe that they are victims of chemtrails and vaccines. They think the world is controlled by the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the mainstream media. They are convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G cell towers are designed to kill them. They believe that ordering an armoire from Wayfair is code for “send me a child to abuse.” And, despite the debunking of pizzagate, they still believe that Comet Ping Pong, a popular Washington DC pizzeria, is a cover for the trafficking of children. In case you’ve forgotten, in 2016 a young father from North Carolina who had been convinced that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex ring out of the pizzeria’s basement burst into the restaurant with an AR15 demanding to be shown to the pizzeria’s basement. After scaring the bejeezus out of the restaurant’s patrons, he discovered the pizzeria had no basement and he was arrested by police.

Of course, none of these fantasies should come as a surprise when you consider that QAnon followers see Trump as a savior and great president.

The GOP’s War On Democracy.

The dismantling of the US Postal Service by Trump’s campaign donor and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has garnered deserved attention from the media and a large cross-section of Americans. Certainly, the impact on mail-in and absentee voting by slowing down the mail will disenfranchise tens of thousands of American voters. But we must keep in mind that it’s not the only GOP attempts to prevent large segments of Americans, especially black and Native Americans, from voting.

Over the past five decades, Republicans have instituted extreme gerrymandering in the states where they control the governorship and legislature. For example, Austin, Texas is the state capital and the state’s 11th largest city. It is also a bastion of liberalism. Yet the state has been so gerrymandered its residents have no representation in the state’s legislature or the US Congress.

Other states like North Carolina and Wisconsin have also resorted to such extreme gerrymandering to guarantee that Democrats cannot easily obtain majorities in their legislatures. And they have taken matters a step further. When the two states elected Democratic governors, the Republican majority legislatures and the lame-duck Republican governors signed into law measures that would take away much of the new governors’ powers.

There is more.

Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws to require voter IDs. Then they made it difficult for the poor to obtain the IDs by specifying they could only be obtained at certain DMV locations. Those locations are often located far away. And they have limited hours which forces the poor to take time off from work to obtain them.

Moreover, Republicans have closed many polling places in Democratic-leaning districts, reduced early voting periods, and limited voting hours forcing voters to stand in line for hours. They have purged tens of thousands of voters from registration lists for not voting in the past two general elections. They have passed laws to prevent college students from voting in the districts where their colleges are located forcing them to drive or fly back to the districts where their parents live in order to vote. And they have passed laws that make it illegal for felons to vote, even after they have served their sentences and paid their debt to society. And when a voter referendum restoring felons’ voting rights passed in Florida, the Republican legislature passed a law requiring the felons to pay court and legal costs for their trials. The same state famously prevented thousands of registered voters from voting in the 2000 elections because they had the same, or similar, names as felons.

Many Republican-controlled states adopted untested and unreliable electronic voting machines, some of which can be easily hacked. As a result, many voters have reported that the machines actually changed their votes when they pressed the button to record their votes. And because many of the machines have no paper trail, the voter theft is impossible to uncover. Many believe the 2004 presidential election was stolen from Senator John Kerry when Diebold voting machines recorded votes for Kerry as votes for George W. Bush.

And, despite Trump’s statements that absentee ballots are safer than other mail-in ballots, there is little evidence of voter fraud involving votes by mail. Indeed, the only examples involve Republicans. A GOP operative in North Carolina was charged following the 2018 election. And an investigation by an independent consortium into the 2000 Florida presidential election uncovered hundreds of absentee ballots counted for Bush – enough to sway the election results – that sported the same signature.

As if all of this isn’t enough, the Trump campaign solicited and embraced election interference from Russia during the run-up to the 2016 election. If you doubt that, I refer you to Section One of the Mueller Report. Though Trump’s Attorney General characterized the report as an exoneration, the campaign’s blatant cooperation with Russia was clearly documented by the Mueller investigation. That didn’t seem to matter to Republican senators. Even when Trump was impeached for his illegal attempt to coerce Ukraine into providing election help in exchange for US foreign aid, they refused to remove him from office saying they believed Trump had learned his lesson. Yet, afterward, far from being cowed by his impeachment, Trump openly solicited election help from Russia, Ukraine and China during the 2020 campaign.

In an effort to intimidate voters, particularly in minority areas, the GOP has recruited up to 50,000 “poll watchers” for election day. So when you arrive at the polls, you will likely be greeted by armed members of rightwing militias and the “alt-right” who may be spoiling for a confrontation. And, of course, we can’t forget that the GOP called upon the conservative majority Supreme Court to undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1964 allowing the most racist states to, once again, engage in a variety of tactics to prevent people of color from voting.

Given all of this, one has to ask: Do Republicans believe in democracy? Obviously, the answer is a resounding “No!” It’s clear that we now have less to fear from foreign rivals than we do from one of our two largest political parties.

Once Again, The GOP Plays Politics With The Economy And People’s Lives.

Following the breakdown in negotiations over a second pandemic relief bill between the Senate, the House and the White House, many media reported the story as if it was a serious negotiation.

It wasn’t.

The House passed its $3 trillion HEROES Act in May showing that the majority understood the extent of pain being incurred by the public during the pandemic. That bill extended an additional $600 unemployment benefit for those unable to work. It extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for a year. It guaranteed $13 per hour hazard pay for essential workers. It provided $900 billion to states to compensate for lost revenue and increased expenses during the pandemic. And it repealed the $135 billion giveaway to millionaires that was part of the first relief bill.

Unfortunately, the majority leader in GOP-controlled Senate refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote. Instead, Moscow Mitch delayed any discussion of a relief bill until the previous until the benefits of the original CARES Act were about to expire.

Then, operating under a self-imposed deadline, the Senate managed to cobble together a $1 trillion bill that reduced the expanded unemployment benefit to $200 per month and offered no eviction moratorium for renters. It did, however, include items unrelated to the pandemic, such as tax deductions for 3-martini lunches, funds for F-35 fighter jets, and an astonishing $33 million (that’s right, $33 million) for remodeling the West Wing of the White House.

When the Senate stated that its bill was non-negotiable, the House attempted to negotiate with the White House, offering to meet Republicans in the middle with a $2 trillion relief bill. When the White House refused to accept a compromise, the talks broke down and the GOP senators left town!

Rather than a failure of negotiations, I believe the outcome was pre-determined – a political trick. The Senate and the White House never intended to negotiate in good faith. By refusing to compromise, they saw an opportunity to boost the president’s re-election chances by setting him up to “save the day” with yet another unconstitutional executive order that would raise his approval ratings with voters whose support was wavering over his failure to address the pandemic: “See! The Democrats let you down by refusing to accept our offer. But I will help you.”

It’s not unlike the Treasury Department holding up the first round of stimulus checks in order to print Trump’s name on them.

Here’s the thing: Trump’s order and accompanying memos are not only unconstitutional – the responsibility for federal spending lies with Congress – the order relies on states to pay half the cost of the additional unemployment benefit and most states are so struggling financially that they are already considering the probability of lay-offs and cut-backs to essential services. Like the federal government, state governments are receiving less revenue from taxes. But, unlike the federal government, they can’t print more money.

So where do we go from here?

If the White House and Senate refuse to negotiate a new relief bill, House Democrats will be faced, once again, with filing lawsuits to protect the constitutional power of Congress and preventing the Executive branch from further consolidating power. Of course, that will give the false impression that they don’t care about the plight of ordinary working Americans. And, if they fail to negotiate a bill that will provide necessary aid to the unemployed, there is a very real possibility that the nation will fall into an economic depression. More than 50 million Americans have already filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. And we have already experienced the greatest drop in GDP in our nation’s history.

If so, the fault will not lie with Democrats. It will have been caused by a Republican president who called the pandemic a hoax, who botched the response by abdicating all responsibility to governors, who has tried to create a race war to distract from his failures, and who continues to claim that that the pandemic will just miraculously disappear.

The Many Dilemmas That Will Face A Biden Administration.

Should former VP Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump, he will likely inherit a nation so damaged that its very future is at risk. The problems are extensive both in their breadth and depth. Let’s look at them individually:

The pandemic – Even if, as some claim, there will be an effective vaccine for Covid-19 before the inauguration, there are legitimate questions of its availability. Will it be available in sufficient quantities for all Americans? Will it be affordable? Will it reach all American communities, including undocumented immigrants? How effective will it be? Will it effectively block infections for a year? Or for longer?

The economy – The pandemic has caused unemployment to skyrocket. As of this writing, more than 50 million Americans are unemployed. How many of those lost jobs will not come back? Many industries had already been replacing workers with automation before the pandemic. Will they use the relief funds provided by Congress to accelerate automation?

Already, there are plans for self-driving trucks to haul cargo between Phoenix and Tucson beginning in 2021. How quickly will the use of self-driving vehicles expand? Before the pandemic there were approximately 10 million professional drivers in the US. Likely, all of those jobs will be at risk. And that’s only the beginning. Within the next few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace legal aids and paralegals in law offices, film and video editors in Hollywood, medical workers, clerical workers, retail workers…virtually no industry will be unscathed.

Automation aside, the pandemic and worldwide disgust toward the Trump administration has devastated travel and tourism, as well as restaurants and other aspects of the hospitality industry. Will they quickly return to pre-pandemic levels? Or have those industries forever been changed?

The food chain – The pandemic exposed the weaknesses in the food industry as never before. Most of our food comes from a very few, large growers and suppliers, shipped by increasingly fewer transportation companies, and distributed by ever-fewer distribution companies. The Covid-19 outbreaks among those who pick our vegetables and process our meat also exposed the industry’s reliance on lowly paid immigrants and undocumented who are called “essential.” But are more accurately described as “expendable.”

Many of our restaurants and food services also rely on recent immigrants to prepare and serve our food. Given the Trump administration’s attack on all immigrants of color, what will be the future of the food industry once it begins to return to some form of normalcy. Will independently owned restaurants find enough workers? Will they be able to afford them?

The same questions apply to the many other industries – hospitality, senior care, etc. – that rely on recent immigrants.

Healthcare – Approximately 50 million American citizens do not have access to healthcare. And that number continues to increase as more Americans have lose their employer-provided insurance when they lose their jobs. Additionally, the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in real jeopardy as the result of the Trump administration’s challenges to its constitutionality. What if the Supreme Court sides with the administration? With no replacement currently under consideration, what will happen to those with pre-existing conditions? How many more will find themselves without access?

Attacks on the ACA are not the only issues the industry faces. The pandemic exposed numerous flaws within the healthcare “system” such as the hospitals’ refusal to inventory necessary materials and equipment. When faced with the pandemic, few hospitals had access to enough Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to meet demand. There were not enough ventilators, enough ICU beds, enough ICU personnel, etc. Moreover, the pandemic has taken a physical and mental toll on Emergency Room and ICU personnel. Many have died. Many more intend to retire when the pandemic ends. What then?

US Postal Service – Libertarians and right-wingers have long wanted to privatize the Post Office. To that end, Republicans in Congress have starved it of funds and created obstacles for its operation. The pandemic has only made matters worse by reducing the number of advertising flyers the USPS needs for revenue. But the real damage to the institution is the result of politics. Trump installed a Postmaster General who is clearly unqualified for the position. And he has given his lackey orders to slow down the mail in preparation for the election in which many more people plan to vote by mail. The idea is to create enough chaos to throw the election results into question. So, if he loses, Trump can claim the election was “rigged.”

The environment – No administration has been more hostile to the environment than Trump’s. From reducing the size of national monuments to auctioning oil and mineral leases to streamlining permits for offshore drilling to repealing the Obama administration’s clear water regulations, the Trump administration has placed us all in danger. Indeed, it has place many of the world’s species in danger.

Climate change – In the very first days of his administration, Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accords. And everything he has done since has only exacerbated the problem. Scientists tell us that we now have less than a decade to act in order to avoid a worst-case scenario.

National debt – The Trump administration has added trillions to the national debt. And, if there is any hope of avoiding an economic depression worse than that of the 1930s, it will have to commit to trillions more in economic relief for businesses and individuals. The resulting debt will take many years to pay down. Of course, Republicans will want to do that at the expense of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and other safety net programs, which will only make our economy worse.

International relations – A recent international study found that, instead of admiring the US as “that shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan once described, the residents of other countries now view us with disgust, and maybe even worse, pity. Trump has endangered our relationships with allies and adversaries alike. It may be generations before they trust us again.

Racial justice – The killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Aubrey, and far too many other black Americans to mention has finally led us to a point where we absolutely must address systemic racism. Though the Trump administration has tried to deny the problems by provoking violence between the peaceful demonstrators and federal agents, there is no turning back. Unfortunately, there are those who refuse to understand the problems or refuse to give up their white privilege, especially the white nationalist groups who believe they will benefit from an all-out race war.

Domestic division – Thanks to Trump and his legions of Trumpanzees, our nation is more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Through propaganda, Trump has created a cult that excuses and forgives his many faults. They are almost universally racist, many are armed, and they seem willing to defend him no matter how unconstitutional, illogical, and cruel his actions become. And because they are uniquely resistant to logic and real news, we must consider what they may do if Trump loses both the popular and electoral vote. Will they refuse to acknowledge the new president? Will they resort to violence?

All of these problems and questions will be waiting for President Biden when he is sworn in. And there are certain to be more. Thankfully, having helped President Obama pull us out of an economic canyon following the mortgage crisis of 2008, no one is better able to deal with them. Certainly not the con man from Queens who is responsible for creating them.

Dear Trump Supporters: What Will It Take?

I understand that you chose to support The Donald because you wanted change. You were angry. You felt the economy was rigged. That you would be left behind. He promised to shake up the government and end business as usual.

He most certainly has done the that.

You’ve continued to support him despite abundant evidence that he colluded with Russian agents to rig the election and obstructed justice. You’ve supported him despite an avalanche of thousands of lies as documented by independent fact-checkers. You ignored his lies about an extramarital affair with a porn star. You’ve given him credit for his predecessor’s work in rescuing and expanding the economy. You’ve continued to support him as he alienated our longstanding allies and weakened NATO. You supported him as he took Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies headed by Trump appointees.

You cried “fake news” at reports of his filling the “swamp” with an astounding menagerie of swamp monsters. You ignored the evidence showing that Trump, his family, and many of his cabinet appointees used their positions to line their bank vaults with taxpayer money. You seem not to care that he dismantled ethics offices and fired inspectors general whose job it is to investigate and expose the corruption. You seemed to take satisfaction in watching him take revenge on whistleblowers. You applauded his stonewalling of congressional oversight and his demands that administration officials ignore subpoenas. You’ve seen him dismiss investigative reporters whose job it is to expose government corruption by calling them “enemies of the people.”

You turned your backs on reports that the administration ordered children to be ripped from the arms of their refugee parents. You claimed not to see videos of those children confined in cages with only a foil blanket. You ignored the obvious racism of his calling Mexicans rapists and murders, of describing Latin and African nations as “shithole countries,” of referring to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “good people.”

You continued to support him despite all of that. (Maybe because of it?)

You stood by your con man as dozens of former administration and government officials spoke up about his incompetence and his unfitness for office. You ignored the outrage of Republican leaders and strategists who have been repulsed by his actions. You watched as he corrupted the judicial system. You seemed not to care that he continues to hide his income taxes despite legitimate claims of money-laundering and tax evasion.

You cheered when the Senate refused to remove him from office as a result of his impeachment despite overwhelming evidence that he had broken the law by demanding the Ukraine to interfere in the upcoming election in exchange for congressionally-approved financial and military aid.

And what did you do when his incompetence led to the now 140,000 American deaths from the coronavirus? You blamed it on China and claimed his failed response was due to distractions caused by the impeachment. Following his example, you have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus by ignoring the pleas of scientists to practice social distancing and to wear masks. Not even Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the pandemic has shaken your support. Nor has the addition of roughly $4 trillion to the national debt. And when his failures led to an economic collapse, you gave him a pass, blaming it on the CDC, the WHO, Dr. Fauci, and the media, instead.

Even when it became clear that Trump ignored reports that Russia offered payments to the Taliban for killing US military personnel, you have seemingly refused to blame him or even his buddy Putin.

So, I ask: What will it take for you to finally admit that you made a mistake by voting for a con man who has placed us all in danger? A president who operates more like a mob boss than a principled public servant? A man who is intellectually, ethically, and morally unfit to hold office? A man who has done more to serve Russia than the United States?

The Death Cult Of Donald Trump.

In the US, we like to think of our nation as the world leader. We cling to the notion of “American Exceptionalism” based on the belief that America is where dreams can come true. Where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

It’s not true. And it never has been.

Yes, our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain stated, “All men are created equal.” Unfortunately, our Founders did not believe that equality applied to women. And they certainly didn’t believe it applied to people with a different color pigment in their skin. Our Caucasian ancestors enslaved them, stole their heritage, separated their families, and stole their land.

We’re still dealing with the aftermath of that inequity, resulting in discrimination along with inequalities in wealth, income and opportunity. True, the US did become the world’s lone superpower and we do print the world’s universal currency. But we no longer use that power to defend democracy and human rights around the world. Instead, under Republican leadership, we are seeing voter suppression, human rights violations, and a disregard for rule of law in our own country.

That’s not even the worst aspect of Republican leadership. Trump and his supporters are literally trying to kill you. The GOP has become a death cult. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the fact that 56 million Americans currently lack access to affordable healthcare. And, in the middle of a pandemic, the administration is asking the courts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will take healthcare away from millions more.

A disproportionate number of those unable to afford healthcare are descendants of slaves and the nation’s original inhabitants who, along with recent immigrants, are unable to earn a living wage. Yet these people make up the largest portion of those who are considered essential workers during the pandemic. They are meatpacking workers, retail workers, farmers, and truckers. They work in grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, and nursing homes. They prepare our food and clean our buildings. But even though they are called essential, to the GOP, they are expendable as evidenced by Trump’s White House advisor, Kevin Hassert, referring to them “human capital stock.”

And, of course, that perfectly describes how the administration is treating them. Despite large outbreaks of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants, they are forced to continue to work. Like other essential workers they are told that they will receive no unemployment benefits as long as their workplace is open. And, if they get sick as a result, they are limited to 5 days of paid sick leave. Is it any wonder then that the US leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases (nearly 3.5 million) despite woefully inadequate availability of testing?

The US now has experienced more than 137,000 deaths due to Covid-19, roughly a quarter of all of the deaths in the world.

Taiwan, on the other hand, despite its proximity to China where the coronavirus is said to have originated, and despite receiving millions of Chinese visitors, has experienced just seven deaths. You read that right…seven deaths out of a population of 24 million! That means Taiwan’s death toll is .00005 percent of the US’s though it has roughly 14 percent of the US population!

Now Trump is campaigning to win re-election by trying to create fear of China and others as he did in 2016. But, clearly, the thing Americans should fear most is another four years of Trump.

Long-Term Consequences Of Trump’s Failed Coronavirus Response.

When China first reported the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the Trump administration had an opportunity to prevent, or at least to minimize, its impact on the US as previous administrations had done several times before. Instead, Trump dismissed the threat, telling us that China had everything under control. Then, when it did arrive on our shores, Trump called it a “Democratic hoax.” Apparently, he did not want to anger Xi Jinping. In fact, as we recently learned, instead of worrying about the coronavirus, he was trying to enlist China’s help for his re-election campaign.

When Covid-19 evolved into a full pandemic, Trump told us that it was only because of failed Democratic governors. Instead of leadership, he offered us false promises. And, instead of utilizing his emergency powers to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), he created a bidding war between states and the federal government, prioritizing the needs of Republican-controlled states.

When the stock markets crashed and the economy stalled, he delayed emergency funds for the unemployed in order to have his name printed on the checks. Further, though he signed a second congressional bill to provide loans and more emergency funds, his administration refused to reveal the recipients, which has led Congress to suspect that Trump’s family businesses have benefited. And, instead of worrying about public health, he was laser-focused on pushing states to reopen their economies in order to improve his chances of re-election.

The short-term consequences have been devastating with now more than 2.6 million cases despite limited testing and nearly 129,000 deaths. Still, he refuses to show any real leadership by ordering the manufacture of more PPE and by ordering all Americans to wear masks to limit the spread of Covid-19. In fact, contrary to scientific advice, he held two rallies that will likely further spread the virus.

The long-term consequences could be even more devastating.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has written that the administration’s response and GOP policies are all but certain to lead to a “lost generation” of workers. He points to the 14 percent of the US population that is on food stamps and the projected 30 percent unemployment rate. “The numbers turning to food banks are just enormous and beyond the capacity of them to supply. It is like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working,” says Stiglitz.

He goes on to state, “If you leave it to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, we will have a Great Depression. If we had the right policy structure in place we could avoid it easily.”

The economy and staggering unemployment rate are only part of the problem. The trillions of dollars in additional debt will reduce our ability to fund other needs, such as infrastructure, safety nets, and national defense.

Trump’s failure to stem the pandemic has already led to a loss of US standing in the world, leaving those in other nations flabbergasted at our incompetence. That will have long-term impacts on tourism, trade, and alliances. The failure will also impact our already stressed and inadequate healthcare system. The pandemic has ended most elective surgeries and other procedures causing some clinics and hospitals to close. That will lead to even less access to healthcare, especially for the poor. And Trump’s defunding of the World Health Organization will only leave us more vulnerable to future viruses, some of which have already been identified in other parts of the world.

The Trump-ordered ban on work visas will create a brain drain for our research institutions and technology companies that can’t be fully replaced by our own residents. Americans are unlikely to quickly embrace sports, concerts and other large gatherings resulting in billions of losses annually. And since the Trump administration prioritized rescue funds for large corporations, we’re likely to see a further consolidation of brands and services.

The pandemic has already affected human rights in this country by leaving some of the poorest populations vulnerable as “essential workers” in nursing homes, groceries, and meat-packing plants. Worse, it has exposed those seeking refuge in this country who are being held in detention facilities. And it has caused others to be deported back to their countries of origin to be raped or murdered. Moreover, the GOP’s response to the pandemic will lead to further voter suppression which will most impact the poor and people of color, forcing them to risk infection in order to exercise their constitutional right.

Last, but certainly not least, the financial consequences of the pandemic, while temporarily stemming carbon emissions, will make it more difficult for the US to invest in renewable fuels to address the climate crisis.

The only conceivable answer to all of these crises can be summarized in one word: Biden. Or, if you prefer, two: Bye Don.

What If They All Wrote Tell All Books?

Given the revelations detailed in the book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton, I began to wonder: What would we learn if all the high-level members of the Trump administration who were dismissed or resigned wrote books detailing their tenure? But after some research, I discovered that the books would make up an entire library. After all, nearly 300 cabinet-level officials have been fired or abandoned ship since Trump took office.

Allow me to repeat that. Approximately 300 high-level officials have left the Trump administration in just 3-1/2 years! That would be an astounding turnover rate for a McDonalds. Hell, it would be an astonishing rate for sewer workers.

So far, the number of officials who have resigned or have been shown the door includes 3 White House Chiefs of Staff, 8 Deputy Chiefs of Staff, and at least 16 Special Assistants to the President. It also includes 3 Secretaries of State, a Secretary of the Treasury, 2 Secretaries of Energy, 3 Secretaries of Health and Human Services, a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a Secretary of the Interior, 2 Attorneys General, 2 Solicitors General, 2 Directors of the FBI, a Director of the Secret Service, 3 Secretaries of Labor, a Secretary of Education, 4 Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, an Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and dozens upon dozens of Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Senior Advisors, and other high-ranking officials.

Given the current pandemic, it’s alarming to note that the turnover has also included 2 Directors of the CDC and 3 Commissioners of Food and Drug Administration, as well as untold numbers of scientists.

More alarming still is the fact that 4 Secretaries of Defense, 4 Secretaries of Homeland Security, 3 National Security Advisors, 25 ranking members of the National Security Council, 3 Directors of National Intelligence, a Director of the CIA, 2 Secretaries of the Air Force, 3 Secretaries of the Army, and 2 Secretaries of the Navy have been fired, retired or resigned. (And, of course, Trump’s first National Security Advisor has spent the last several years in jail.)

In addition, 24 Deputy Secretaries of Defense and other high-ranking defense officials have left their posts.

If, as Trump promised, he was only going to hire “the very best people,” you have to wonder about the quality of those who remain. Are they even better than those who left? Or are they merely the only ones who are so morally and ethically compromised that they have chosen to remain loyal to a divisive, cruel, lying, racist, misogynistic, pussy-grabbing, human rights-violating, conman who only obtained office by conspiring to rig our elections with a foreign rival?

“Mississippi With Snow.”

During television coverage of the recent protests in Minneapolis, the head of the NAACP referred to Minnesota as “Mississippi with snow.” As a proud resident of Minnesota who has long tried to address the racism in our state, that was still difficult to hear. But it is an alarmingly accurate description. Despite the economic success of Minnesota (it’s home to numerous Fortune 500 headquarters) and our widely acclaimed creativity (in music, theater, advertising, graphic arts, culinary arts and more), the primary differences between the two states are that we have a harsher climate, fewer people of color and a different accent.

Once a bastion of Scandinavian-style liberalism and tolerance, Minnesota changed under the leadership of GOP governor Tim Pawlenty. It cut taxes and passed laws that rewarded the wealthiest Minnesotans while punishing the poorest. That punishment was felt most by Minnesotans of color.

In 2008, the population of Minnesota was just 4.6 percent black compared to 12.8 percent for the US as a whole. Similarly, the Latino population in Minnesota was just 4.1 percent versus 15.4 percent for the US. Yet, black people living in Minneapolis (there are precious few outside the Twin Cities) are nearly 6 times more likely to be poor than their white counterparts. A black college graduate in the state, on average, makes less than a white high school dropout.

In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans was 22.5 percent compared to 15.5 percent for Latinos and just 7.1 percent for whites. Again, in 2010, Minnesota ranked second in the nation for racial disparity in the jobless rate behind only Mississippi. Even in 2018, before the pandemic, when black unemployment was at a record low of 6.8 percent, black unemployment in Minnesota was nearly double the US average.

Nationally, for every $1.00 of income white households receive, Latino households receive 72 cents, and black households earn just 59 cents. For every $1.00 of wealth held by white families, Latino families have 12 cents, and black families have 10 cents! And one-third of black children live in poverty, compared to 12 percent of white children.

Police in Minnesota and elsewhere kill blacks at an alarming rate compared to whites. Each killing leads to mental health issues for most of the black population. And it’s not just police killing black people. Discrimination is literally killing blacks because they are less likely to be able to afford healthcare. (A fact that has been especially apparent with the impact of the pandemic on people of color.)

Moreover, people of color not only suffer from disparities in employment, income, wealth, healthcare, and opportunity. They suffer from disparities in education, policing, and voting.

In Minnesota schools are some of the most segregated in the US. Why? Because Minnesota was an early adopter of charter schools. And Minnesota law exempts charter schools from desegregation. Public schools are also highly segregated with many predominately black schools underfunded, which has resulted in a large achievement gap between blacks and whites.

Minnesota is not alone. The US spends $23 billion more on schools that serve predominately white students versus schools that serve predominately black and Latino students. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans are expelled from schools at a higher rate than whites for the same transgressions. Too often, that leads to participation in the “justice” system and eventually to incarceration. Once they’re in the system, they find it hard to escape.

Per capita, blacks are 2.8 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. And believe it or not, Native Americans fair even worse. They are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than whites. Native Americans make up 0.8 percent of the population. But they experience 1.9 percent of all police killings. Many Native Americans live in poverty with no access to clean water. And many of their children are sent to outdate, mold-infested schools. Moreover, in an age of technology, many Native Americans have none. They not only lack high-speed Internet (a growing requirement for education). Many lack phone service.

And, if you think people of color can create change by voting, think again. A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that black voters stand in lines 45 percent longer than white people. Latinos wait 46 percent longer than whites. And many Native Americans are unable to vote at all because some states require a street address, which most reservations lack. As a result of GOP voter suppression tactics, the situation is getting worse as evidenced in Georgia. Is it any wonder then that there are only 3 US senators who are black?

Now, following the murder of George Floyd, Minnesota has a real opportunity to make systemic change. As it has in many other ways, it can lead the nation. It can create an environment of justice and equal treatment for people of all colors and backgrounds. It can make its immodest slogan “Minnesota Nice” truly mean something.