Insights from Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: While Americans Sleep, Our Corporate Overlords Make Progress Impossible

Posted on  by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

By Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate and the author of “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future” (2012). His new book is, “Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All” (2020, co-authored with Mark Green).Originally published at Common Dreams

“Polarization” is the word most associated with the positions of the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The mass media and the commentators never tire of this focus, in part because such clashes create the flashes conducive to daily coverage.

Politicians from both parties exploit voters who don’t do their homework on voting records and let the lawmakers use the people’s sovereign power (remember the Constitution’s “We the People”) against them on behalf of the big corporate bosses.

The quiet harmony between the two parties created by the omnipresent power of Big Business and other powerful single-issue lobbyists is often the status quo. That’s why there are so few changes in this country’s politics.

In many cases, the similarities of both major parties are tied to the fundamental concentration of power by the few over the many. In short, the two parties regularly agree on anti-democratic abuses of power. Granted, there are always a few exceptions among the rank & file. Here are some areas of Republican and Democrat concurrence:

1. The Duopoly shares the same stage on a militaristic, imperial foreign policy and massive unaudited military budgets. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Pentagon budget was voted out of a House committee by the Democrats and the GOP with $24 billion MORE than what President Biden asked for from Congress. Neither party does much of anything to curtail the huge waste, fraud, and abuse of corporate military contractors, or the Pentagon’s violation of federal law since 1992 requiring annual auditable data on DOD spending be provided to Congress, the president, and the public.

2. Both Parties allow unconstitutional wars violating federal laws and international treaties that we signed onto long ago, including restrictions on the use of force under the United Nations Charter.

3. Both Parties ignore the burgeoning corporate welfare subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and bailouts turning oceans of inefficient, mismanaged, and coddled profit-glutted companies into tenured corporate welfare Kings.

4. Both Parties decline to crack down on the nationwide corporate crime spree. They don’t even like to use the phrase “corporate crime” or “corporate crime wave.” They prefer to delicately allude to “white-collar crime.”

Trillions of dollars are at stake every year, yet neither party holds corporate crime hearings nor proposes an update of the obsolete, weak federal corporate criminal laws.

In some instances, there is no criminal penalty at all for willful and knowing violations of safety regulatory laws (e.g., the auto safety and aviation safety laws). Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is trying to find just one Republican Senator to co-sponsor the “Hide No Harm Act” that would make it a crime for a corporate officer to knowingly conceal information about a corporate action or product that poses the danger of death or serious physical injury to consumers or workers.

5. Both Parties allow Wall Street’s inexhaustibly greedy CEOs to prey on innocents, including small investors. They also do nothing to curb hundreds of billions of dollars in computerized billing fraud, especially in the health care industry. (See, License to Steal by Malcolm K. Sparrow and a GAO Report about thirty years ago).

6. The third leading cause of death in the U.S. is fatalities from preventable problems in hospitals and clinics. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study in 2015, a conservative estimate is that 250,000 people yearly are dying from preventable conditions. Neither Congress nor the Executive Branch has an effort remotely up to the scale required to reduce this staggering level of mortality and morbidity. Nor is the American Medical Association (AMA) engaging with this avoidable epidemic.

7. Both Parties sped bailout of over $50 billion to the airline industry during Covid-19, after the companies had spent about $45 billion on unproductive stock buybacks over the last few years to raise the metrics used to boost executive pay.

8. Both Parties starve corporate law enforcement budgets in the Justice Department, the regulatory agencies, and such departments as Labor, Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, and Health and Human Services. The Duopoly’s view is that there be no additional federal cops on the corporate crime beat.

9. Both Parties prostrate themselves before the bank-funded Federal Reserve. There are no congressional audits, no congressional oversight of the Fed’s secret, murky operations, and massive printing of money to juice up Wall Street, while keeping interest rates near zero for trillions of dollars held by over one hundred million small to midsize savers in America.

10. Both Parties are wedded to constant and huge bailouts of the risky declining, uncompetitive (with solar and wind energy) nuclear power industry. This is corporate socialism at its worst. Without your taxpayer and ratepayer dollars, nuclear plants would be closing down faster than is now the case. Bipartisan proposals for more nukes come with large subsidies and guarantees by Uncle Sam.

11. Both Parties hate Third Parties and engage in the political bigotry of obstructing their ballot access (See: Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News), with hurdles, harassing lawsuits, and exclusions from public debates. The goal of both parties is to stop a competitive democracy.

12. Both Parties overwhelmingly rubber-stamp whatever the Israeli government wants in the latest U.S. military weaponry, the suppression of Palestinians and illegal occupation of the remaining Palestinian lands, and the periodic slaughter of Gazans with U.S. weapons. The Duopoly also supports the use of the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to insulate Israel from UN sanctions.

13. Continuing Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich’s debilitating internal deforms of congressional infrastructures, the Democrats have gone along with the GOP’s shrinking of committee and staff budgets, abolition of the crucial Office of Technology Assessment’s (OTA) budget, and concentration of excessive power in the hands of the Speaker and Senate leader. This little noticed immolation reduces further the legislature’s ability to oversee the huge sprawling Executive Branch. The erosion of congressional power is furthered by the three-day work week Congress has reserved for itself.

14. Even on what might seem to be healthy partisan differences, the Democrats and the GOP agree not to replace or ease out Trump’s Director of the Internal Revenue Service, a former corporate loophole tax lawyer, or the head of the U.S. Postal Service, a former profiteer off the Post Office who will shortly curtail service even more than he did in 2020 (See: First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threat, by Christopher W Shaw).

Right now, both Parties are readying to give over $50 billion of your tax money to the very profitable under-taxed computer chip industry companies like Intel and Nvidia, so they can make more profit-building plants in the U.S. These companies are loaded with cash. They should invest their own money and stop the stock buyback craze. Isn’t that what capitalism is all about?

Both Parties vote as if the American middle-class taxpayer is a sleeping sucker. Politicians from both parties exploit voters who don’t do their homework on voting records and let the lawmakers use the people’s sovereign power (remember the Constitution’s “We the People”) against them on behalf of the big corporate bosses.

Sleep on America, you have nothing to lose but your dreams.

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This entry was posted in Banana republicGuest PostIncome disparityLegalPoliticsRegulations and regulatorsRidiculously obvious scamsThe destruction of the middle class on  by Jerri-Lynn Scofield.

Vaccines Save Lives. (Duh.)

This graph from today’s NYT shows why.

Disturbing Racist Clauses Found in Early NCA Constitutions & Bylaws

By Guy Brandenburg

Recently, while preparing to give a talk at this year’s Stellafane telescope-makers’ convention, I was disappointed to discover that the National Capital Astronomers (NCA), which I’ve belonged to for about 30 years, specifically excluded Black members for nearly 3 decades: from about 1940 all the way up to1969.

But NCA didn’t start out being overtly racist. Our original 1937 founding document has no such language. It reads, in part,

“The particular business and objects of [the NCA] shall be the education and mutual improvement of its members in the science of Astronomy and the encouragement of an interest in this science among others. (…) The activities of this Association are designed for the enjoyment and cultural profit of all interested in astronomy, whether the member be a beginner, an advanced student, or one whose pursuit of the science is necessarily desultory.”

And today’s NCA home page reads, “All are welcome to join. Everyone who looks up to the sky with wonder is an astronomer and welcomed by NCA. You do not have to own a telescope, but if you do own one that is fine, too. You do not have to be deeply knowledgeable in astronomy, but if you are knowledgeable in astronomy that is fine, too. You do not have to have a degree, but if you do that is fine, too. WE ARE THE MOST DIVERSE local ASTRONOMY CLUB anywhere. Come to our meetings and you will find this out. WE REALLY MEAN THIS!”

But in the 1940’s, the original open-minded and scientific NCA membership policy changed. The January 1946 Star Dust listed a number of changes to be voted on by the membership in the club’s founding documents. (See https://capitalastronomers.org/SD_year/1946/StarDust_1946_01.pdf ) The organization voted to change article III of its constitution as follows:

From:

“only Caucasians over 16 years old are eligible for membership.

To this:

“to include all ages (see by-laws), exclude only the Black race.”

While it may be shocking that a scientific organization like NCA had such a policy, people often forget how racist a nation the USA used to be, and for how long. If you look up actual pages of DC area newspapers from the 1950s, you will note that the classified advertisements were largely segregated both by race and by gender – want ads would very often specify male or female, single or married, White-only or Colored-only jobs, apartments, and so on.

Schools in DC, MD, and Virginia were mostly segregated, either by law or in practice, up until the late 1960s or early 1970s. The 1954 Brown v Board decision had very little real impact in most areas until much, much later. Queens (NYC), PG County (MD) and Boston (MA) had violent movements against integrating schools in the 1970s. I know because I attended demonstrations against those racists and have some scars to prove it.

While the Federal and DC governments offices were integrated immediately after the Civil War, that changed for the worse when Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1912.

Many scientists in the USA and in Europe believed the pseudo-scientific ideas of racial superiority and eugenics that arose around 1900 and were still widespread 50 years ago – and even today, as recent events have sadly shown.

In The War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, Edwin Black explains how august scientific institutions like the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW), the American Natural History Museum in New York, and a number of eminent statisticians and biologists for many decades supported the Eugenics Records Office (ERO) at Cold Spring Harbor. So did the fabulously wealthy Rockefeller and Harriman Foundations.

The ERO pushed the concept of the genetic superiority of the ‘Nordic’ race and helped to pass State laws sterilizing the ‘weak’ and forbidding interracial marriage. They were also successful in passing the 1924 Federal immigration law that severely cut back immigration from parts of the world where supposedly ‘inferior’ people lived – e.g. Eastern and Southern Europe. As a result, many Jews who would have loved to escape Hitler’s ovens by crossing the Atlantic never made it.  

Hitler and his acolytes always acknowledged their ideological and procedural debt to American eugenical laws, literature, and propaganda. As we all know, Germany’s Nazis put those ideas to work murdering millions of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and others.

It took more than three decades for the CIW to withdraw their support of the ERO. A CIW committee concluded in 1935 “that the Eugenics Record Office was a worthless endeavor from top to bottom, yielding no real data, and that eugenics itself was not a science but rather a social propaganda campaign with no discernable value to the science of either genetics or human heredity.” (Black, p. 390) The members pointedly compared the work of the ERO to the excesses of Nazi Germany. However, it took four more years for CIW to cut all their ties – shortly after Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, starting World War Two.

I don’t know exactly when the ‘Caucasian’-only policy became part of the NCA rules, but it seems to have been between the club founding in 1937, and October 1943 when volume 1, number 1 of Star Dust was printed. At one point, perhaps around 1940, NCA decided that only ‘Caucasians’ over 16 could join. But as indicated above, in 1946, the racial exclusion policy was narrowed to only exclude Black people. Apparently Jews, Italians, young people, Latin Americans, and Asians were eligible to join NCA from 1946 to 1969. But not African-Americans.

While researching my talk, I found that the NCA held amateur telescope-making classes at a number of all-white DC, MD, and VA high schools, from the 1940s through about 1970, both during the days of de jure segregation and the merely de-facto type: McKinley, Roosevelt, Central, Bladensburg, Falls Church, and McLean high schools are listed. While Star Dust mentions a telescope-making course at (the largely-Black) Howard University in 1946, there is no mention of any assistance for that course from NCA.

I also found no evidence in any issue of Star Dust from that era that anybody at the time raised any vocal objections to racial exclusion. Not in 1946, nor 23 years later when the rule prohibiting Black members was quietly dropped (in 1969) when a new constitution was adopted.

A few current or past NCA members confirmed to me that at some point, they noticed that racist language and privately wondered about it. One person told me that they definitely recalled some now-deceased NCA members who were openly racist and not shy about expressing those views. Others told me that they had never heard any discussion of the subject at all.

 (As one who grew up in DC and Montgomery County, and attended essentially-segregated public schools there, I am sorry that neither I nor my family actively spoke up at the time, even though a farm adjacent to ours in Clarksburg was owned by a Black family [with no school-age children at the time]. Amazing how blind one can be! The racists of those days were not shy about committing violence to achieve their ends. Fear might be one reason for silence.)

One possibility is that some of the early NCA meetings might have been held at private residences; perhaps some of the racist members insisted in preventing non-‘Caucasian’ or ‘Black’ people from attending. It is too bad the other NCA members didn’t take the other route and stay true to the original ideas of the club, and tell the racist members to get lost.

Very ironic: the late George Carruthers, a celebrated Naval Research Labs and NASA scientist, and an instrument-maker for numerous astronomical probes and satellites, gave a talk to the NCA in September of 1970 – not too long after the NCA apparently dropped its racist membership rules (April, 1969). So, a mere year and a half before he gave his talk, he could not have legally joined the organization. Nor could he have done so when he was making his own telescopes from scratch as a teenager in the 1940s. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Robert_Carruthers on the life and work of this great African-American scientist and inventor.

To NCA’s credit, we have done better in the past few decades at encouraging participation in telescope viewing parties, telescope making, and lectures by members of all races and ethnic groups. However, I often find that not very many NCA members bring telescopes to viewing events, or show up to judge science fairs, in mostly-minority neighborhoods. Often, it’s just me. That needs to change. We need to encourage an interest in science, astronomy, and the universe in children and the public no matter their skin color or national origin, and we need to combat the racist twaddle that passes for eugenics.

I anticipate that NCA will have a formal vote repudiating the club’s former unscientific and racist policies and behavior. I hope we will redouble our efforts to promote the study of astronomy to members of all ethnic groups, especially those historically under-represented in science.

We could do well to note the words that Albert Einstein wrote in 1946, after he had been living in the US for a decade, and the same year that NCA confirmed that Black people could not join:

“a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the “Whites” toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes.

The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.

Many a sincere person will answer: “Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability.”

I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.

The ancient Greeks also had slaves. They were not Negroes but white men who had been taken captive in war. There could be no talk of racial differences. And yet Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, declared slaves inferior beings who were justly subdued and deprived of their liberty. It is clear that he was enmeshed in a traditional prejudice from which, despite his extraordinary intellect, he could not free himself.

What, however, can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed, and must watch lest his children become influenced by this racial bias.

I do not believe there is a way in which this deeply entrenched evil can be quickly healed. But until this goal is reached there is no greater satisfaction for a just and well-meaning person than the knowledge that he has devoted his best energies to the service of the good cause.”

Source: http://www.kganu.net/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/alberteinsteinonthenegroquestion-1946.pdf

I am indebted to Morgan Aronson, Nancy Byrd, Richard Byrd, Geoff Chester, Jeff Guerber, Jay Miller, Jeffrey Norman, Rachel Poe, Todd Supple, Wayne Warren, Elizabeth Warner, and Harold Williams for documents, memories, and/or technical support.

Don’t Give Employers a COVID Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card!

This is by David Sirota and Julia Rock, published in The Guardian.

“Support from Democratic lawmakers for the liability shield legislation comes after the same healthcare lobby group that drafted New York’s law has poured more than $11m into House and Senate Democratic Super PACs.

“The party, though, doesn’t seem to want its own voters to know the details of the deal it is cutting with the Republican party: in a comically on-the-nose attempt at a bait-and-switch, the Democratic senator Joe Manchin touted the legislation as only financial aid for communities – leaving out the fact that it includes a liability shield for corporations.

“US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the few Democratic lawmakers to spotlight what’s really going on. Last week, she tweeted: “If you want to know why Covid-19 relief is tied up in Congress, one key reason is that Republicans are demanding legal immunity for corporations so they can expose their workers to Covid without repercussions.”

“The bipartisan initiative aims to obscure its Dr Evil level of depravity by superficially depicting the liability shield as merely temporary. But that seems like a ruse, as indicated by private equity mogul and senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who said the federal Covid-19 liability shield provision “provides a temporary suspension of any liability-related lawsuits, state or federal level associated with Covid-19, giving states enough time to put in place their own protections”.

“Though full legislative language has not been released, the goal seems clear: to give state legislatures more time to permanently prevent workers from suing employers who endanger them, and to permanently block their families from mounting such lawsuits when the workers die.”

Notably, lawmakers announcing the proposal did not point to a spate of frivolous wrongful death lawsuits that corporations have been warning about as a rationale for the liability shield. Instead, as the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense recently noted, “of more than 4,100 Covid-19 related lawsuits filed, only 75 are for wrongful death or injury as a result of getting sick at work. Two-thirds fall into three categories – insurance disputes, prison cases and civil rights cases, including challenging shelter-in-place orders.”

Liability shields, laundered as a necessary Covid-19 salve, are really designed to permanently remove the last remaining deterrent to corporate abuse

“The liability shield legislation is not some standalone cause – it should be understood as the culmination of a much larger, long-term campaign to remove countervailing force and give capital supreme power over labor.

“Over the last few decades, the government – through legislation and court rulings – has weakened unions, which have used collective bargaining to protect workers rights; limited class action lawsuits and punitive damages, which are designed to punish corporate misbehavior; and gutted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is supposed to enforce the weak workplace safety laws still on the books.”

How Will We Pay For This?

This question is never really asked about all the extremely expensive surveillance spyware and high-tech munitions. It’s only asked about things that will HELP people and the planet, such as the Green New Deal.

The following essay, from Forbes, argues that ‘we’ can pay for all of the suggested GND infrastructure improvements the old fashioned way: printing money. And that no, it won’t lead to inflation – in fact, we have now had 40 years of DEflation, which is much worse.

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90,142 views|Jan 16, 2019,07:15pm EST

The Green New Deal: How We Will Pay For It Isn’t ‘A Thing’ – And Inflation Isn’t Either

Robert Hockett

Robert HockettContributor

Markets

I cover law, justice, money, finance and economics.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s announcement of an ambitious new Green New Deal Initiative in Congress has brought predictable – and predictably silly – callouts from conservative pundits and scared politicians. ‘How will we pay for it?,’ they ask with pretend-incredulity, and ‘what about debt?’ ‘Won’t we have to raise taxes, and will that not crowd-out the job creators?’

Representative Ocasio-Cortez already has given the best answer possible to such queries, most of which seem to be raised in bad faith. Why is it, she retorts, that these questions arise only in connection with useful ideas, not wasteful ideas? Where were the ‘pay-fors’ for Bush’s $5 trillion wars and tax cuts, or for last year’s $2 trillion tax giveaway to billionaires? Why wasn’t financing those massive throwaways as scary as financing the rescue of our planet and middle class now seems to be to these naysayers?

The short answer to ‘how we will pay for’ the Green New Deal is easy. We’ll pay for it just as we pay for all else: Congress will authorize necessary spending, and Treasury will spend. This is how we do it – always has been, always will be.

The money that’s spent, for its part, is never ‘raised’ first. To the contrary, federal spending is what brings that money into existence.

If years of bad or no economic education make that ring counterintuitive to you, you’re not alone: politicians and pundits who ought to know better are with you. But the problem is readily remedied: just take a look at a dollar (or five dollar, or ten dollar, or … dollar) bill. The face you see is George Washington’s – a public official’s – not yours or some other private sector person’s. The signatures you’ll find, for their part, are those of the Treasurer and the Treasury Secretary, not yours or some other private sector person’s. And the inscription you’ll read across the top is ‘Federal Reserve Note,’ not ‘Private Sector Sally’s Note.’

‘Note’ here, note carefully, means ‘promissory note.’ Money betokens a promise. Hence money’s relation to credit. We’ll come back to this later. The money that Treasury spends is, in any event, jointly Fed- and Treasury-issued, not privately issued. That is to say it’s the citizenry’s issuance, not some single citizen’s issuance. It’s like a promise we make to each other. Hence the term ‘full faith and credit’ you’ll hear about when asking what ‘backs’ our currency and our Treasury securities.

This fact of public finance bears real consequences. Chief among them for present purposes is that ‘raising the money’ is never the relevant question for federal spending, any more than ‘finding the promises’ is a question for people who make and keep promises to one another. The relevant question, rather, is what limits, if any, there are on the promises we can make and fulfill. How many promissory notes, in other words, can Fed and Treasury issue without ‘over-promising’?

This is, effectively, the question of inflation – the question of promises’ outstripping capacity to redeem promises and hence losing credibility as promises. (The ‘cred’ of ‘credibility’ is the ‘cred’ of ‘credit,’ not to mention of ‘credo’ – or ‘faith.’) This is precisely why lawyers, accountants, and economists schooled in the simple mechanics of public finance always tell you the relevant constraint upon spending is not some non-existent ‘fundraising constraint,’ but ‘the inflation constraint,’ also known as ‘the resource constraint.’

The truth of the resource constraint is that money usually can be publicly issued and spent only at a rate commensurate with new goods and services supply. If the money supply grows too rapidly for goods and services to keep up, you get the old problem of ‘too many dollars chasing too few goods’ – inflation. If the money supply grows too slowly to keep up with productive capacity, you get the opposite problem – deflation, a far more serious threat, as we’ve seen since the crash of ‘08.

Over the past four decades or so, inflation in consumer goods markets – so-called ‘Consumer Price Inflation,’ or ‘CPI’ – has been by and large nonexistent in the ‘developed’ world. Our problem has been just the opposite – deflation. That is what slow, ‘anemic,’ and even ‘negative’ growth rates across the ‘mature’ economies in recent decades have been about. What inflation we’ve had has been concentrated in financial markets, where the ever-more rich in our ever-more unequal societies gamble their winnings. Meanwhile those below the top have had to spend less and borrow more, bringing deflation and, worse still, debt-deflations after the financial crashes inevitably brought on by asset price hyperinflations in our financial markets.

Which takes us to the Green New Deal. Representative Ocasio-Cortez, whose educational background is in economics, understands as few leaders seem to do that our problems of late have been problems of deflation, not inflation. She also knows well that both inequality and the loss of our middle class have both caused and been worsened by these deflationary trends, along with their mirror images in the financial markets: our asset price hyperinflations – ‘bubbles’ – and busts. Her Green New Deal aims to do nothing short of reversing this slow-motion national suicide – and end our ongoing ‘planet-cide’ in the process.

Because the Green New Deal aims at reversing undeniable long-term deflationary trends in our national economy, there is reason already to deem inflation fears, sure to be stoked by conservative pundits and scared politicians, a silly canard. But we can go further than this. We can catalogue theoretical, empirical, and policy instrument reasons to laugh such fears off.

The theoretical case against inflation worries is straightforward and comes in two parts. Recall the popular ‘too much money chasing too few goods’ adage above. What this slogan captures is that inflation is always a relational matter. It’s about money supply in relation to goods and services supply.

The Green New Deal aims to stoke massive production of a vast array of new products, from solar panels to windmills to new battery and charging station technologies to green power grids and hydroelectric power generation facilities. The new production and new productivity that renewed infrastructure will bring will be virtually unprecedented in our nation’s history. This will be more than enough to absorb all new money spent into our economy. It will also distinguish the Green New Deal starkly from pseudo-stimulus plans of the recent past, none of which flowed to production or infrastructure and nearly all of which simply inflated financial markets.

The second theoretical reason not to fret about Green New Deal inflation is related to but distinct from the first. It is that our economy now is operating at far below capacity even as is, before the Green New Deal adds to capacity. Labor force participation rates still languish at historic lows, and wages and salaries have yet to catch up even to such little growth as we’ve had since our crash of ten years ago. Indeed they have stagnated for decades. These are classic indicators of slack – slack which by definition is opportunity-squandering, and which the Green New Deal now aims to ‘take up.’

The empirical case against inflation worries corroborates the theoretical case, and can also be made from a number of angles. Note first that billions of dollars in tax cuts flowed into the economy during the Reagan years, while multiple trillions more in both tax cuts and war spending flowed during the George W. Bush years. The tax cuts of December 2017 pumped yet more trillions – two of them – into the economy just a bit over a year ago. And still we have seen nothing – nothing – in the way of undesired price inflation in consumer goods and services markets. Indeed no ‘developed’ economy has seen significant CPI inflation for some forty years. Why do inflation ‘Chicken Littles’ think ‘this time [or place] is different?’

My referring to ‘undesired’ price inflation just now hints at another empirical reason to scoff at inflation scolds. Since 2012, the Fed has formally aimed at a 2% inflation target that it has informally targeted even longer. Yet in only a few quarters during all of these years has

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., stand together on the House... [+] floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, on the first day of the 116th Congress with Democrats holding the majority. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., stand together on the House… [+]

 ASSOCIATED PRESS

it managed, just barely, to reach it. If the Fed with its massive balance sheet cannot get our inflation rate up to its very low 2% target even while trying to do so, why does Chicken Little think things will grow scary even should the Fed seek one day to tamp prices down?

The final empirical reason to dismiss the inflation Scaredy Cats comes from investors themselves. For years now the Treasury Department has issued ‘inflation-protected’ securities along with traditional ones. The ‘spread’ between prices of the former and prices of the latter is effectively a measure of investors’ inflationary expectations: if they are willing to pay substantially more for inflation-protected than for ordinary Treasurys, they have substantial inflation fears; otherwise not. So what is that spread? It is virtually nil, and has been for years.

But what if the Green New Deal works so well that inflation comes anyway, Chicken Little now asks, notwithstanding all the theoretical and empirical reasons to discount such worries? Here we find even more reasons for comfort. For the ‘toolbox’ of counter-inflationary policy instruments is filled to near overflowing. Let’s consider a few of them.

We can begin with the familiar. Targeted taxes and bond sales, long familiar to most of us, have long been employed to absorb ‘excess money’ during times of high growth. This is precisely what they are for. Because money is issued by citizenrys rather than citizens as noted above, sovereign taxes and bond sales are never about ‘raising money,’ but about ‘lowering money aggregates.’ If inflation should one day emerge, we shall use them accordingly. Once again: always have, always will.

We should note also that such tools can be targeted at specific sources of inflation. A financial transaction tax such as that favored by Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, would operate on financial market inflation – asset price ‘bubbles’ – of the sort that have plagued us in recent years. A ‘value added tax’ – a ‘VAT’ – on particular items that become objects of speculation would work similarly. Such are the real aims of taxation – to act on incentives and press down on price pressures – not to ‘raise money’ we already issue. We know how to use them, and can use them again should it ever prove necessary.

Similar truths hold of the other familiar anti-inflationary policy instrument just mentioned – sovereign bond sales. Treasury already offers a variety of these instruments, classified by time-to-maturity and yield. Such classification offers the option of soaking up money from different sectors of society, from those seeking short-term yield to those seeking longer-term yield. These sales are swaps of unspendable instruments for spendable instruments – dollars, a.k.a. ‘legal tender.’ The New York Fed trading desk does this daily to fine-tune the money supply – we call its activities ‘open market operations.’ It would do likewise, save in the opposite direction, were inflation ever again to become ‘a thing.’

Turning now to less familiar policy instruments, note next that much of financial regulation both can be and should be deployed in the cause of what I call money modulation – that is, inflation- and deflation-prevention. Banks ‘create’ – they generate – money by lending; any banker will tell you that. So do most other financial institutions – especially those of the so-called ‘shadow banking’ sector. This is the sense in which credit is money, or what smart economists call ‘credit-money.’

Regulations that we impose upon credit-extension are accordingly regulations on money-creation. Require banks to raise more equity capital per dollar’s worth of credit that they extend, and you effectively lessen the amount of dollar-denominated credit, hence money, that they can generate. Place greater limits on what kinds of lending or investing they can do, and you do likewise.

We call these things ‘capital’ (or ‘leverage’) and ‘portfolio’ regulation, respectively. And though we initially developed them to protect individual institutions and their depositors or investors, we now use them also to modulate credit aggregates economy-wide. It’s called ‘macroprudential regulation,’ and its rediscovery post-crash in the last decade is one of the signal achievements of the post-crisis era. But its importance for Green New Deal purposes is that it’s a powerful anti-inflationary as well as anti-deflationary tool, all thanks to money’s relation to credit.

As if these tools were not enough, there are yet others we could use but don’t use as yet, presumably because we’ve not needed to yet. I’ve proposed these in other work. One is for the New York Fed trading desk to buy or sell not only Treasury securities of varying maturities and yields, but also other financial instruments – in order to target specific prices of broad economic significance when they grow too low or too high (what I call ‘systemically important prices’).

During the Fed’s experiments with ‘quantitative easing’ (‘QE’), for example, commodity prices ended up rising in ways that harmed lower income Americans. I therefore proposed the Fed ‘short’ commodities in its open market operations to put downward pressure on their prices. Though I worked at the Fed at the time, the central bank didn’t take me up on my suggestion. But it could have done so. And it can in the future, in as narrowly targeted a manner as necessary, if ever inflation emerges. And with a balance sheet of its size, it can influence prices quite massively.

A final way we might combat inflation, should it ever emerge, is by use of a new infrastructure that I’ve proposed elsewhere. Suppose, for a moment, that the Fed offered what I call interest-bearing ‘Citizen Accounts’ for all citizens, instead of just offering ‘reserve accounts’ to privileged banks as it does now. Were it to do so, we’d not only eliminate our nation’s ‘financial inclusion’ problem in one swoop, we’d also gain a most powerful money modulation tool.

During deflations like that after 2008, for example, the Fed could drop debt-free ‘helicopter money’ directly into Citizen Accounts rather than giving it to banks in the hope that they’ll lend (which they didn’t – hence the notorious ‘pushing on a string’ problem of the post-2008 period). And were inflation ever to emerge, the Fed could likewise simply raise interest rates on Citizen Accounts, thereby inducing more saving and less spending.

I believe that the ‘fintech’ revolution renders something like what I’m proposing here all but inevitable. The point for present purposes, though, is simply that once this thing happens we’ll have yet another quite powerful anti-inflationary and anti-deflationary policy tool – and therefore yet more reason not to be timid about moving ahead energetically with the Green New Deal.

Have I succeeded, then? Have I convinced you both that there isn’t a ‘pay for’ challenge and that there isn’t, thanks to a multitude of theoretical, empirical, and policy lever reasons, an ‘inflation’ challenge either? If you are bold, know finance, and care about our future, you probably didn’t need much convincing. If instead you are frightened, financially untutored, or cavalier about our economy or our planet, please buck up, wise up, and suit up. It is time to say game on for the Green New Deal.

Robert Hockett

Robert Hockett

I teach legal, financial and some philosophical subjects at Cornell University in New York, where I am the Edward Cornell Professor of Law and a Professor of Public Policy. I also am Senior Counsel at Westwood Capital, a socially responsible investment bank in midtown Manhattan, and a Fellow of The Century Foundation, a think tank near Battery Park in lower Manhattan. My principal research, writing, and practical concerns are with the legal and institutional prerequisites to a just, prosperous, and sustainable economic order. I have worked at the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and continue to serve in a consultative capacity for a number of U.S. federal, state, and local legislators and regulators. I grew up mainly in New Orleans, America’s most wonderful city (sorry, New York), and return to it often. I was educated at Yale, Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and the University of Kansas.

 

Suggestions on what to do about the Supreme Court nominee, redux

Remember the list of suggestions by Bill Svelmoe for what to do about Amy Coney Barrett’s illegitimate nomination to the US Supreme Court?

The list went viral, as you may be able to read below.

I hope that Harris and other senators are taking those suggestions seriously.

COVID daily deaths around the world

Please bookmark this page: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

It gives all sorts of data on infections, recoveries, testing, deaths, and so on from all over the world. If you look at it, you will see that none of MangoMussolini’s boasts are correct, and that some nations seem to have ‘beaten’ the virus — at least for now.

(Yes, I know, all data is somewhat suspect, and some countries are probably low-balling their numbers. But this is all the data we have.)

I will share some graphs I copied from that source, so you can see which nations appear to be doing a good job at shutting down the current pandemic. I will first show the world, then the USA, then about a dozen nations, arranged alphabetically. You will see that the US is very, very obviously not one of the countries whose leadership has been able to defeat this disease.

I will also share the number of deaths per million people.

0. THE WORLD:

This is for the entire world, and it’s deaths per day, as of today, August 4, 2020. Deaths are not going down. Worldwide, we have lost 90 people per million to this disease so far.
  1. THE UNITED STATES:
The vertical scale is obviously different from the one for the world. As you can see, deaths from COVID in the US are now about 1000 per day, and rising. The US has lost 481 people per million so far.

2. BRAZIL:

Brazil’s deaths never declined. They have lost 446 people per million.

3. CHINA:

That big spike in the middle is when the Chinese regime discovered they had left out a lot of COVID deaths. Since that time, they have had very, very few. They have lost 3 (yes, THREE) people per million so far.

4. FRANCE:

Another country that successfully beat back the pandemic. They have lost 464 people per million so far.

5. GERMANY:

As did Germany. Their total dead work out to 110 per million people so far.

6. INDIA:

India, on the other hand, has not been successful. Deaths are increasing steadily; also, it would not be surprising if a lot of them are not even being counted. They report 28 people dead per million so far.

7. ITALY:

Italy was hit hard, and hit early. However, its daily death rates appear to be going in the right direction: down. Their toll is 582 dead per million.

8. MEXICO:

Mexico’s death rates do not appear to be going down. One might wonder if all of the COVID-19 deaths are even being counted. Their death total stands at 372 per million.

9. RUSSIA:

These figures are not going in the right direction. Plus, there are protests in Russia because folks in their Far East have evidence of serious undercounting. Their toll is 98 dead per million.

10. SOUTH AFRICA:

Not going in the right direction. Their toll is 144 per million.

11. SPAIN:

Like Italy, Spain was hit hard and early, but the daily death tolls now are approaching zero. Their death toll is 609 per million, one of the highest in the world.

12. SWEDEN:

Unlike the rest of Scandinavia, Sweden decided not to lock down at all. While the death rates are going down, they are doing so much more slowly than in most other European (and Scandinavian) nations.

Their death toll is 569 per million, one of the highest anywhere.

13: UNITED KINGDOM (BRITAIN)

The United Kingdom (aka Great Britain) was hit early, and its daily death toll is going down much more slowly than in other European nations.

Their death toll is 680 per million, which is, again, one of the highest anywhere.

===============================================================

I don’t think you will guess the nation with the highest total COVID death rate per million, so I’ll just tell you: it’s tiny San Marino at 1238. Next come Belgium (with 850) and the UK (with 680).

Here is a table listing the top 17 nations. Being in this group is not a good thing.

RankNationDeaths per million
1San Marino1,238
2Belgium850
3UK680
4Andorra673
5Spain609
6Peru600
7Italy582
8Sweden569
9Chile507
10USA481
11France464
12Brazil446
13Sint Maarten373
14Mexico372
15Netherlands359
16Ireland357
17Panama346

How to decide if anybody should listen to your ideas on how and whether to re-open schools, or maybe you should just hush.

Peter Greene has provided a nice flow chart to let you decide whether you should open your mouth with your ideas on how and whether to re-open the public schools, or whether you should just be quiet and listen.

So, should you just hush, or do you have something valuable to contribute to this subject?

My wife and I each taught for 30 years or so, and so we would be in the ‘speak right up’ category, but I don’t really know how the USA can get public education to work next year, especially since the danger is not going away, but apparently once more growing at an exponential clip.

Nobody should be listening to billionaires or their bought-and-paid-for policy wonks who once spent a whole two years in a classroom.

A few quotes from Greene’s column. (He is a much better writer than me, and much more original as well.)

==================================

To everyone who was never a classroom teacher but who has some ideas about how school should be reopened in the fall:

Hush.

Just hush.

There are some special categories of life experiences. Divorce. Parenthood. Deafness. Living as a Black person in the US. Classroom teacher. They are very different experiences, but they all have on thing in common.

You can read about these things. But if you haven’t lived it, you don’t know. You can study up, read up, talk to people. And in some rare cases that brings you close enough to knowing that your insights might actually be useful.

But mostly, you are a Dunning-Krueger case study just waiting to be written up.

The last thirty-seven-ish years of education have been marked by one major feature– a whole lot of people who just don’t know, throwing their weight around and trying to set the conditions under which the people who actually do the work will have to try to actually do the work. Policy wonks, privateers, Teach for America pass-throughs, guys who wanted to run for President, folks walking by on the street who happen to be filthy rich, amateurs who believe their ignorance is a qualification– everyone has stuck their oar in to try to reshape US education. And in ordinary times, as much as I argue against these folks, I would not wave my magic wand to silence them, because 1) educators are just as susceptible as anyone to becoming too insular and entrenched and convinced of their own eternal rightness and 2) it is a teacher’s job to serve all those amateurs, so it behooves the education world to listen, even if what they hear is 98% bosh.

But that’s in ordinary times, and these are not ordinary times.

There’s a whole lot of discussion about the issues involved in starting up school this fall. The discussion is made difficult by the fact that all options stink. It is further complicated by the loud voices of people who literally do not know what they are talking about.

100 Reasons to Conclude DJT is Unfit to be President

This is from something called Bulwark. But they left out a lot! Here is the article:

Part of the mad genius of Donald J. Trump is that he never runs from scandals. He just creates more of them. So many more that anyone attempting to track them all risks becoming numb as a survival mechanism.

A collective amnesia sets in. We ask ourselves, “Do you remember that time when Trump got impeached, said that super-racist thing, cozied up to dictators, threatened our elections, or oh, whatever that was?”

Well, we at The Bulwark do. Yes, it can be hard to keep up. We all need reminders. So, lest anyone forget or require convincing, here’s a non-exhaustive list of 100 reasons Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

1  1985-1994

Reported $1.17 billion in business losses over the decade. Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer,” according to the New York Times.

2  May 1, 1989

Took out $85,000-worth of full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five—whose convictions were later vacated after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Trump never apologized.

3  1990s

Contrary to his story of being a self-made billionaire, Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real-estate empire, much of it transferred through suspect tax-dodging schemes.

4  1991-2009

Declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy for his various businesses six times.

5  2005

Bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” in a conversation with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush picked up on a hot mic.

6  2011-2016

Promoted birtherism against President Barack Obama—the false claim that Obama was not born in the United States, that his birth certificate was fraudulent, and that therefore he was constitutionally ineligible for the presidency.

7  2015-2016

Attacked in sexist and demeaning ways women who raised critical questions about his character. See: Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton.

8  2015-present

Denies accusations of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted kissing to rape, by calling the women “liars” and not “his type.”

9  June 16, 2015

Announced his presidential campaign by describing America as “a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.” Mexicans coming to America, he said, were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

10  July 18, 2015

Said Vietnam POW John McCain is “not a war hero” and “I like people who weren’t captured.”

11  November 22, 2015

Claimed that “thousands and thousands” of people in New Jersey’s Arab communities cheered on 9/11.

12  2016 campaign season

Encouraged violence. Said that he’d like to punch a protester “in the face”; that his supporters should “knock the hell” out of protesters—“I promise you, I’ll pay the legal bills”; and that the police should not protect suspects’ heads when loading them into squad cars.

13  May 11, 2016

Refused to release his tax returns for public inspection after having previously promised to do so. On other occasions, he falsely claimed he could not release them because he was under audit. When, in 2019, Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to comply—kicking off cases that went to the Supreme Court.

14  May-June 2016

Said Judge Gonzalo Curiel is unfit to rule on a lawsuit filed by Trump University students because “he’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American citizen born in Indiana). Trump would later settle the lawsuit for $25 million.

15  July 27, 2016

Called on Russia to hack and release Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.

16  July 30, 2016

Denigrated the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq, after Khan’s father delivered remarks at the Democratic National Convention.

17  July 30, 2016

Broke with U.S. policy of supporting Ukraine over Russia’s invasion of Crimea, saying: “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

18  Fall 2016

Before Election Day, repeatedly hyped unfounded fears of a “rigged” election. Then, after Election Day, he stated, without any evidence, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

January 20, 2017

Trump inaugurated, becomes the 45th president of the United States.

19  January 21, 2017

As one of his first official acts as president, deployed White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to lie about the size of his inauguration crowds.

20  January 21, 2017

Blasted the news media and bragged about the size of his inauguration crowds—as well as his intellect—in front of the CIA’s wall of stars memorializing agents who died in service to the country.

21  January 27, 2017

Enacted the “Muslim ban” that, through executive order, prevented foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days; the order was quickly contested in the courts, and its enforcement was blocked.

22  April 29, 2017

Told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who had sanctioned the extrajudicial killing of drug suspects, that he was doing an “unbelievable job” of cracking down on his country’s drug problem.

23  May 9, 2017

Fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey later said that Trump had told him during a private January 2017 dinner that “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”

24  May 11, 2017

Created a federal commission to investigate voter fraud that failed to find any examples of voter fraud.

25  May 16, 2017

Remained silent when security forces working for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

26  July 9, 2017

Considered creating a joint cyber security task force with Russia, despite the fact that Russia has been responsible for a host of cyber attacks against the United States. He tweeted, “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.” Putin confirmed in a 2018 event that he had discussed the idea with Trump.

27  August 15, 2017

Said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the alt-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

28  August 25, 2017

Pardoned Joe Arapaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who had been convicted of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial-profiling case.

29  October 11, 2017

Tweeted a suggestion that “fake news” networks, such as NBC, should have their broadcast licenses “challenge[d].”

30  October 24, 2017

Asked then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a conspiracy theorist who believes that Russia didn’t hack emails from the Democratic National Committee computers during the 2016 campaign, but that the DNC itself leaked them.

31  November 26, 2017

Stood by Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore amid credible accusations that Moore had committed acts of sexual misconduct.

32  January 2, 2018

Escalated nuclear tensions with North Korea by tweeting, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

33  January 11, 2018

During an Oval Office meeting about immigration, asked lawmakers “Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?”

34  February 5, 2018

Said Democrats who declined to applaud his State of the Union speech were “treasonous,” a charge that he would go on to level at other political opponents as well.

35  February 21, 2018

Required a handwritten reminder to appear empathetic when he met with students and parents affected by school shootings.

36  March 3, 2018

Congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on eliminating term limits. “I think it’s great,” Trump said. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

37  April 5, 2018

Denied any knowledge of the $130,000 hush-money payment his lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her silent during the 2016 election. A book by Daniels laying out the details of her alleged 2006 affair with the married Trump was published later in 2018.

38  April 6, 2018

Instituted a “zero tolerance” policy at the border requiring the forced separation of families; it was rescinded weeks later, after more than 2,300 children had been separated from their parents.

39  May 2018

Overruled objections from national security officials to give son-in-law Jared Kushner a security clearance.

40  May 2018

Accepted a memo from President Erdoğan of Turkey that claimed innocence for a Turkish firm under investigation by the Southern District of New York. According to John Bolton’s 2020 memoir of his time as Trump’s national security advisor, Trump “told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people.” (On June 20, 2020, he did fire the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Geoffrey Berman, who not only had indicted the Turkish-owned firm but had reportedly opened an inquiry into Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.)

41  June 2018-present

Makes a habit of questioning the intelligence and mental stability of his black critics—such as Rep. Maxine Waters, CNN host Don Lemon, and NBA star LeBron James.

42  July 12, 2018

Threatened that the United States might “go our own way”—interpreted as a signal that he wanted to pull out of NATO—throwing a summit with world leaders into turmoil. He had repeatedly called NATO “obsolete” during the 2016 campaign, then “not so obsolete” once he was in office.

43  July 13, 2018

Lifted a ban preventing the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with U.S. companies. ZTE was widely considered to be a threat to U.S. national security; without Trump’s intervention, it likely would have gone bankrupt.

44  July 16, 2018

Sided with Russian president Vladimir Putin in rejecting the findings of the U.S. intelligence community about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

45  July 22, 2018

Used Twitter to issue an all-caps threat to Iran.

46  August 15, 2018

Revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance in retaliation for his criticism of the president.

47  September 13, 2018

Denied that 3,000 Puerto Ricans died in hurricane Maria and Irma and blamed Democrats for manipulating the numbers to make him look bad.

48  September 25, 2018

Claimed at the U.N. General Assembly that his administration had accomplished more in two years than “almost any administration in the history of our country”—a boast that immediately elicited the laughter of world leaders.

49  September 29, 2018

Talked affectionately of his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un: “We fell in love, okay?”

50  October 29, 2018

Just days after Trump fanatic Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending pipe bombs to CNN offices and to prominent Trump critics, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media the true Enemy of the People.”

51  November 7, 2018

Fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president’s chief grudge against Sessions? The fact that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Sessions was legally obligated to do so as a participant of Trump’s campaign.)

52  December 6, 2018

The New York Times reported that the Trump Organization employed undocumented workers at his New Jersey golf course.

53  December 12, 2018

Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison.

54  December 19, 2018

Ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, abandoning America’s Kurdish allies, which led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

55  December 22, 2018-January 25, 2019

Caused the longest government shutdown in American history, because he could not persuade Congress to fund the border wall he wanted to build.

56  February 15, 2019

Declared a “national emergency concerning the southern border of the United States”—a move that allowed him to shift funding from the Pentagon budget to help pay for the border wall. (As of 2020, the sections of the wall that have been built have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $30 million per mile. Mexico has not paid for the wall as Trump promised it would.)

57  February 25, 2019

Falsely credited his daughter Ivanka with creating “millions of jobs.” (In 2016, he had said that his children would have no role in the White House; instead, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were given large advisory portfolios.)

58  March 13, 2019

Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after being convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

59  March 24, 2019

Attorney General William Barr released a misleading four-page summary of the long-anticipated Mueller Report. Three days later, Mueller wrote that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

60  April 24, 2019

Recalled U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after Trump’s lawyer Rudy Guiliani and his associates led a smear campaign against her. (Seven months later, he would attack her while she testified before Congress.)

61  May 20, 2019

Blocked former White House counsel and Mueller Report key witness Don McGahn from testifying before Congress—one of numerous witnesses the White House refused to let testify.

62  May 24, 2019

Circumvented Congress by declaring an “emergency” over Iran so he could sell arms to Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

63  June 19, 2019

Began pushing aides to block military aid to Ukraine, an action that was carried out later and that the Government Accountability Office said broke the law. This same day, he also falsely implied in a TV interview that Ukraine, not Russia, was somehow linked to the hacking of the DNC emails during the 2016 campaign.

64  June 28-29, 2019

Lauded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and declined questions about the brutal killing of Washington Post writer and legal U.S resident Jamal Khashoggi, whom the CIA concluded the prince had ordered dead.

65  June 28-29, 2019

Asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected, according to then-National Security Advisor John Bolton’s later account: During the G-20 meeting, Trump “stunningly . . . turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. . . . He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.” Bolton also reports that Trump told Xi he supports his building of concentration camps that hold an estimated one million Uighurs.

66  July 14, 2019

Said of a trio of freshman minority Democratic congresswomen, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

67  July 23, 2019

Attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the eve of his testimony before Congress.

68  July 25, 2019

Asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden—the action that led to President Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 2019 and trial in the Senate in January and February 2020.

69  August 20, 2019

Said that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats are guilty of “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

70  August-September 2019

Invited the Taliban to Camp David.

71  September 2019

Canceled GOP presidential caucuses and primaries in four states.

72  September 4, 2019

Displayed an official National Weather Service map in the Oval Office that was falsified with a Sharpie to make it seem as if government forecasters had during the previous week projected that Hurricane Dorian might strike Alabama, as he had erroneously claimed.

73  October 1, 2019

Reports surfaced that Trump had suggested soldiers shoot migrants illegally crossing into the United States. He reportedly also inquired about putting a “water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators” at the border, “prompting aides to seek a cost estimate.”

74  October 23, 2019

Described NeverTrump Republicans as “human scum.”

75  October 27, 2019

Claimed that he had predicted Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 attack.

76  November 2019

Intervened in the case of Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, following his trial for war crimes. Upon Trump’s order, Gallagher’s demotion was undone and he was allowed to keep his Navy SEAL Trident insignia, which he was about to be stripped of. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired for opposing the president’s intervention.

77  November 7, 2019

Ordered to pay $2 million in damages to settle claims brought by the New York state government that the Trump Foundation had misused funds. (The foundation was already being dissolved because of what New York officials called a “shocking pattern of illegality . . . including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.” Much of this story was first unearthed by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold.)

78  November 19, 2019

Smeared Alexander Vindman, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel detailed to the National Security Council, after Vindman testified in the House impeachment investigation.

79  February 7, 2020

Fired impeachment witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. (Also fired Alex Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, also a National Security Council staffer.)

80 February 20, 2020

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to more than three years in prison after his conviction on seven felony charges, including lying under oath to Congress and obstructing the investigation into the 2016 election.

81  February 26, 2020

Said that “within a couple days” the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States—there were then 15 confirmed cases—was “going to be down to close to zero.” (See also the Bulwark timeline “The Ten Weeks That Lost the War.”)

82  February 28, 2020

Said that Democrats “are politicizing the coronavirus” and that “this is their new hoax.”

83  March-May 2020

Repeatedly touted the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19, despite the lack of high-quality evidence regarding either their effectiveness or their potential harmful side effects. On April 20, the administration demoted a top government virologist who questioned the scientific merits of these drugs for treating COVID-19. On May 18, Trump claimed that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine pills himself, although a note released that evening by the White House physician did not confirm the claim. By June, with the president’s attention elsewhere, both the NIH and the FDA cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19.

84  March 11, 2020

Botched European travel ban forced thousands of Americans to scramble to get home, taking unnecessary coronavirus flight risks along the way.

85  April 3, 2020

Fired the intelligence community inspector general in retaliation for delivering the whistleblower complaint that triggered impeachment.

86  April 4, 2020

Blasted Navy Capt. Brett Crozier for writing a letter informing Navy leaders about the outbreak of coronavirus among sailors aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

87  April 7, 2020

Said that “mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters.” But President Trump had himself voted absentee by mail the previous month, and the vice president, the attorney general, several cabinet members, and numerous White House staffers had voted by mail as well.

88  April 23, 2020

Suggested that light or disinfectants could be applied to the human body to treat coronavirus: “Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. . . . supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting. . . . And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

89  May 12, 2020

Promoted a conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough of murder.

90  May 2020

Pushed a new conspiracy theory, “OBAMAGATE,” that alleges that his predecessor used the final days of his presidency to lead a coup against the incoming Trump presidency—a scandal that would, in Trump’s words, be “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” Trump later said, without evidence, that Obama had committed “treason.”

91  May 15, 2020

Fired the inspector general of the Department of State at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom the IG was investigating.

92  May 20, 2020

Threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan and Nevada if officials go forward with plans to mail absentee ballots or applications to voters.

93  May 26, 2020

Tweeted misinformation about mail-in ballots, forcing Twitter to label Trump’s tweet with a fact-check.

94  May 29, 2020

As of this date, according to a database compiled by the Washington Post, President Trump had told over 19,000 lies since he assumed office.

95  May 29, 2020

Called Minneapolis protesters “THUGS” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter flagged the tweet as violating the platform’s rules against glorifying violence.

96  June 1, 2020

Ordered the dispersal of peaceful protesters—by law-enforcement officers who attacked them with flash grenades, smoke grenades, rubber-ball grenades, pepper spray (a kind of tear gas), and pepper balls—so that he could walk from the White House across Lafayette Square for a photo op in front of St. John’s Church. In the days that followed, representatives from the White House, the Trump campaign, and various law-enforcement agencies denied that tear gas was used during the incident, although they later walked back their denials. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later apologized for his presence at the scene. The incident also led former secretary of defense James Mattis to condemn the president: “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square.”

97  June 9, 2020

Speculated that a 75-year-old Black Lives Matter protester who was hospitalized after being shoved on June 4 by Buffalo police is an “ANTIFA provocateur.”

98  June 20, 2020

Held an indoor campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—without requiring the masks and social distancing recommended by government health authorities. Told the crowd that he believed too many cases of coronavirus were being logged and that he had instructed “my people” to “slow the testing down.” (After initial speculation that this was a joke, he later said that it was not, and that he really had ordered a slowdown in testing.) Two Secret Service agents present at the Tulsa rally later tested positive for COVID-19, a fact that then resulted in dozens of Secret Service personnel having to quarantine themselves. Eight staffers from Trump’s campaign staff also tested positive, so all campaign staffers who attended the rally reportedly had to quarantine themselves.

99  June 21, 2020

Said that he delayed sanctions against Chinese officials involved in running concentration camps because he thought it would hurt his trade deal with the country.

100  June 26, 2020

As of this date:

The national debt stands at more than $26 trillion, having increased by at least $5.2 trillion since President Trump assumed office.

The most recent estimate for the monthly unemployment rate was 13.3 percent.

More than 124,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Is it venal treason for Trump’s personal profit? Or sheer stupidity? You decide

Short version of the story:

Putin goon squad promises and delivers bonus payments to Afghan Taliban to kill American, Allied, and government soldiers, according to American intelligence. The latter informs the US National Security Council, which includes, by law, Cheeto45, VP Pence, heads of Cabinet, some important Congressmen and Senators, big brass from the Pentagon, and others. They know about all this. They are on record as discussing this. Trump decides to not only do nothing, but to continue to encourage Putin.

Some of the frustrated members of the NSC leak the information, finally, to WaPo and NYT. We know that Trump has personal financial interests with Russian oligarchs and mobsters.

This example of either complete cluelessness and idiocy by #45, or else out-and-out treason for his own personal benefit, comes on top of all the hundreds of misdeeds committed by those tiny, fat hands and the thousands of lies that have spewed out of his fat, heavily made-up mouth. And on his deadly mishandling of coronavirus, police brutality, racism, and health care.

This maneuver was obviously clever on Putin’s part. However: for Trump and his gang to have full knowledge of this apparently successful scheme to promote the death of American service members and their allies, and then to decide not only to do nothing about it but to then improve ties with Putin, either sounds like treason for the personal profit of Cheeto45, or else they are ALL completely stupid at realpolitik. Not sure which. But to his now-shrinking base, MangoMussolini and his entire corrupt coven of billionaire swamp spawn can do no wrong.

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June 26, 2020 (Friday)Today the United States registered 44,702 new coronavirus cases, a single-day record. Six states– Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and Utah– also set new single-day highs. In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, officials in Florida and Texas, where governors have been aggressive about reopening, have both reversed course, announcing that bars must close immediately.Incredibly, that’s not the day’s biggest story. This evening, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both broke extraordinary news. Months ago, American intelligence officials concluded that during peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence group offered to Taliban-linked fighters bounties for killing American troops. They paid up, too, although it is unclear which of the twenty U.S. deaths happened under the deal. The military intelligence unit officials judge to be behind this program, the G.R.U., is the same one that is engaged in a so-called “hybrid war” against America and other western countries, destabilizing them through disinformation, cyberattacks, and covert military operations and assassinations. Urging deadly attacks on American and other NATO troops is a significant escalation of that hostility. New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz tweeted “it’s hard to overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia. Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing. Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something entirely new.”

According to the New York Times, the National Security Council discussed the intelligence finding in late March and came up with a range of responses, none of which has been deployed. The NSC can include a number of different officials, but by law it includes the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. It usually also includes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and Director of National Intelligence, who in March was acting DNI Richard Grenell (it is now John Ratcliffe).

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) took to Twitter to note that Congress had not been informed of the information. “Congress should have been told,” he said. “And not just leadership or the Intel Committee.”

Instead of addressing this extraordinary intelligence, Trump strengthened U.S. ties to Russia, which have been rocky since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. In response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on the country. After Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election, the U.S. government expanded those sanctions. The eagerness of Russian leaders, especially President Vladimir Putin, to have the sanctions lifted was key to Russian support for Trump in the 2016 election.Just after the NSC discussed the intelligence findings, on April 1, a Russian plane brought ventilators and other medical supplies to the United States. The shipment was such a propaganda coup for Russia that the state television channel RT carried the plane’s arrival in New York live. Not only was it a show of strength for Russia to provide aid to the U.S., but also the equipment Russia sent was produced by a state-run company that is under U.S. sanctions. This was evidently intended to be a demonstration that sanctions did not mix well with a global pandemic. Just days before, Putin had publicly called for ending sanctions to enable the world to combat the coronavirus more effectively. On April 25, 2020, Trump raised eyebrows by issuing a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin commemorating the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between American and Soviet troops on the bridge of the Elbe River in Germany that signaled the final defeat of the Nazis. Their statement said “The “Spirit of the Elbe” is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause.” On May 3, Trump called Putin and talked for an hour and a half, a discussion Trump called “very positive.” He tweeted: “Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone else is a good thing, not a bad thing.”On May 21, the U.S. sent a humanitarian aid package worth $5.6 million to Moscow to help fight coronavirus there. The shipment included 50 ventilators, with another 150 promised for the next week. On June 1, Trump called Putin and talked about including Russia in the G7, the international organization of seven major countries with the largest advanced economies in the world. Russia had become part of the organization in 1998 despite its smaller economy– making the group the G8– but was expelled in 2014 after it invaded Ukraine. Trump told reporters Russia should be in the group “because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” and the old organization was “outdated” and doesn’t represent “what’s going on in the world.” On June 15, news broke that Trump has ordered the removal of 9,500 troops from Germany, where they support NATO against Russian aggression. The removal leaves 25,000 troops there. All of these friendly overtures to Russia were alarming enough when all we knew was that Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election and is doing so again in 2020. But it is far worse that those overtures took place when the administration knew that Russia had actively targeted American soldiers. This news is bad, bad enough that it apparently prompted worried intelligence officials to give up their hope that the administration would respond to the crisis, and instead to leak the story to two major newspapers.

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