A man may unsuccessfully attempt a robbery or murder, yet one would rightly see him as a wrongdoer. The failure to achieve an evil end does not absolve those so attempting from moral culpability. SeeAttempts.
So it is with Trump, now: his attempts to subvert the election through lies and (baseless) lawsuits are no less wrong for their ineptitude. Trump tried and failed at worse – through force against civilians – at Lafayette Square and Portland. Perhaps, in desperation, Trump may yet again order force against civilians.
Giuliani has also told Trump and associates that his ambition is to pressure GOP lawmakers and officials across the political map to stall the vote certification in an effort to have Republican lawmakers pick electors and disrupt the electoral college when it convenes next month — and Trump is encouraging of that plan, according to two senior Republicans who have conferred with Giuliani and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.
Trump is what those of us in opposition have said he was. One might have hoped for better conduct; if so, it was always a faint hope.
It’s tempting for some to believe that the worst is now behind us. Temptations like that are easily ignored: the worst will be behind us when we put it behind us, not when we wish it to be behind us.
Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of sixty-four. Sunrise is 6:53 AM and sunset 4:27 PM, for 9h 34m 10s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 23.4% of its visible disk illuminated.
Before William Barr became President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Justice, he represented Caterpillar Inc, a Fortune 100 company, in a federal criminal investigation by the department.
Much was at stake for Caterpillar: Since 2018, the Internal Revenue Service has been demanding $2.3 billion in payments from the company in connection with the tax matters under criminal investigation. The company is contesting that finding.
A week after Barr was nominated for the job of attorney general, Justice officials in Washington told the investigative team in the active criminal probe of Caterpillar to take “no further action” in the case, according to an email written by one of the agents and reviewed by Reuters.
The decision, the email said, came from the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the office of the deputy attorney general, who was then Rod Rosenstein.
“I was instructed on December 13, 2018,” wrote the agent, Jason LeBeau, “that the Tax Division and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General jointly came to the decision that no further action was to be taken on the matter until further notice.” LeBeau, an inspector general agent at the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, declined interview requests from Reuters.
Since then, a source close to the case says, the investigation has “stalled.” The order to freeze the Caterpillar investigation has not been previously reported.
For the analysis here, we further restrict our definition to individuals aged 25-54, what economists often call “prime age.” We do this as a crude control for dynamics around age and income – specifically as these dynamics differ between racial groups.
AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS IS NOW FAR MORE DIVERSE
Below we show the racial composition of the middle class in 1979 compared to 2019. Information on race is somewhat limited in earlier years of the Current Population Survey.For example, “Asian or Pacific Islander” was not an option until 1988. In order to compare trends over time, then, we are restricted to the categorization of earlier survey years.
Four decades ago, the vast majority of the middle class was white. In 1979, the middle class was 84 percent white, nine percent Black, five percent Hispanic, and two percent “other.” Over time, the middle class has become much more race–plural. In 2019, the middle class was 59 percent white, 12 percent Black, 18 percent Hispanic, and ten percent “other.”
Filmed across the country this past year by a production team headed by Mike Shum and Blair Woodbury, “American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil” captures the diverse perspectives of a number of people — a pastor, a barber, a doctor, an activist and more — as they deal with COVID-19 in their communities, respond to George Floyd’s killing, and experience the 2020 election and its aftermath as COVID cases and deaths mount once again.
Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of forty-six. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 4:28 PM, for 9h 36m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 14.5% of its visible disk illuminated.
Whitewater’s Parks and Recreation Board meets via audiovisual conferencing at 5:30 PM.
On this day in 1928, the animated short Steamboat Williepremieres as the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, featuring the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
President Trump on Tuesday fired a top Department of Homeland Security official who led the agency’s efforts to help secure the election and was vocal about tamping down unfounded claims of ballot fraud.
In a tweet, Trump fired Christopher Krebs, who headed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at DHS and led successful efforts to help state and local election offices protect their systems and to rebut misinformation.
Earlier Tuesday, Krebs in a tweet refuted allegations that election systems were manipulated, saying that “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’
Krebs’s statement amounted to a debunking of Trump’s central claim that the November election was stolen.
Krebs’s dismissal was not unexpected, as he told associates last week that he was expecting to be fired. His latest tweet about the security of the election, which followed similar earlier assessments by his agency, including on its Rumor Control Web page, angered the president, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.
In recent weeks Trump has made repeated, unproved charges of voter and ballot fraud, and his campaign is challenging election results in several states — so far with little success.
Krebs’s agency has asserted its independence in recent days, on Thursday issuing a statement thatcontradicted Trump’s allegations of fraud.
Philadelphia election officials did not improperly block Donald Trump’s campaign from observing the counting of mail-in ballots, the Pennsylvania supreme court ruled on Tuesday, a major blow to the president’s alreadyflailing legal efforts.
The decision is significant because one of the Trump campaign’s loudest claims since the election has been that they were improperly blocked from observing the counting of ballots in Philadelphia.
Even the two Republican justices who dissented from the majority opinion disagreed with the idea, advanced by the Trump campaign, that legitimate votes should be rejected because of improper observation practices.
“Short of demonstrated fraud, the notion that presumptively valid ballots cast by the Pennsylvania electorate would be disregarded based on isolated procedural irregularities that have been redressed – thus disenfranchising potentially thousands of voters – is misguided,” wrote chief justice Thomas Saylor in his dissenting opinion.
“Accordingly, to the degree that there is a concern with protecting or legitimizing the will of the Philadelphians who cast their votes while candidate representatives were unnecessarily restrained at the convention center, I fail to see that there is any real issue.”
While Biden has won an absolute majority of the popular vote, he’s also won that majority from counties significantly more productive than the counties Trump won. A stark difference between counties that went for Biden and those that went for Trump is the significantly higher share of gross domestic product in Biden-supporting counties. (The gap is even greater than it was four years ago between Trump and Clinton counties.) Mark Muro, Eli Byerly Duke, Yang You, and Robert Maxim write Biden-voting counties equal 70% of America’s economy. What does this mean for the nation’s political-economic divide?
Even with a new president and political party soon in charge of the White House, the nation’s economic standoff continues. Notwithstanding President-elect Joe Biden’s solid popular vote victory, last week’s election failed to deliver the kind of transformative reorientation of the nation’s political-economic map that Democrats (and some Republicans) had hoped for. The data confirms that the election sharpened the striking geographic divide between red and blue America, instead of dispelling it.
Most notably, the stark economic rift that Brookings Metro documented after Donald Trump’s shocking 2016 victory has grown even wider. In 2016, we wrote that the 2,584 counties that Trump won generated just 36% of the country’s economic output, whereas the 472 counties Hillary Clinton carried equated to almost two-thirds of the nation’s aggregate economy.
A similar analysis for last week’s election shows these trends continuing, albeit with a different political outcome. This time, Biden’s winning base in 477 counties encompasses fully 70% of America’s economic activity, while Trump’s losing base of 2,497 counties represents just 29% of the economy. (Votes are still outstanding in 110 mostly low-output counties, and this piece will be updated as new data is reported.)
There’s a self-serving – but false – notion among Trump supporters that they’re more productive than others. The opposite is true: the aggregate annual production of Biden-supporting counties is significantly higher by proportion (even beyond Biden’s popular vote majority).
It’s next-to-impossible that there’s a single explanation for this gap, but whatever the causes it’s more pronounced now than when Trump was first elected.
Trumpism may outlast Trump, but it has been – and shows every sign of remaining – an ideology that is stronger among local economies that are the weaker.
Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of thirty-eight. Sunrise is 6:51 AM and sunset 4:29 PM, for 9h 38m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 7.3% of its visible disk illuminated.
The Whitewater Common Council meets via audiovisual conferencing at 6:30 PM.
On this day in 1989, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia begins when riot police quell a student demonstration in Prague, leading to an uprising aimed at overthrowing the communist government (that succeeds on December 29).
Emily Murphy, head of the GSA, recently sent that message to an associate inquiring about employment opportunities in 2021, a move that some in Washington interpreted as at least tacitly acknowledging that the current administration soon will be gone.
Murphy has the power to decide — or “ascertain” — when election results are evident enough to trigger a transition of power, allowing the winning team access to career staff at federal agencies and internal government information including national security matters and plans for administering a COVID-19 vaccine.
Donald Trump appointed Murphy in 2017, and she’s so far refused to certify Biden as the election’s winner as Trump attempts to overturn the election result in court.
A White House spokesperson referred ABC News to the GSA when reached for comment.
A GSA spokesperson denied the account that Murphy was actively looking for a job, but noted that it wouldn’t be unusual for someone in government, especially a political appointee, to consider future opportunities.
Matthew Sheffield started his first conservative website in 2000, dedicating it to criticizing the former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, who Mr. Sheffield believed was a partisan liberal and not critical enough of President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Mr. Sheffield then went on to help create NewsBusters, another right-leaning website that criticized the mainstream media for liberal bias. Later, he became the founding online managing editor of the Washington Examiner, another popular outlet for conservative views.
“I basically built the infrastructure for a lot of conservative online people and personally taught a lot of them what they know,” he said.
But Mr. Sheffield, who is 42 and lives in the Los Angeles area, grew disillusioned in recent years. He said facts were treated as an acceptable casualty in the broader political war. “The end justifies the means,” said Mr. Sheffield, who hosts a politics and technology podcast called Theory of Change and is writing a memoir about growing up in a strict Mormon family. He now blames right-wing media for undermining faith in American democracy by spreading unsubstantiated claims by President Trump and others that the election was rigged. Through websites and platforms like Facebook and YouTube, Mr. Sheffield said, right-wing media has created an environment in which a large portion of the population believes in a “different reality.”
Would this be possible without Facebook and social media platforms?
Facebook is the primary protector and enabler of the far right in the United States, without question. The company has sheltered and promoted this content for years. Mark Zuckerberg even now says that Steve Bannon calling for beheadings is not justification to ban him. Zuckerberg was also fine with tolerating Holocaust denial until he was called out for it.
Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-three. Sunrise is 6:49 AM and sunset 4:29 PM, for 9h 40m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 2.5% of its visible disk illuminated.
But across the Atlantic, societies and governments seem eager to turn the page. A recent Morning Consult poll found that news of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory almost immediately boosted the U.S.’s net favorability by more than 20 points in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
During a parliamentary session last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to Trump as the “previous president.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Biden’s election and hoped he would reinvigorate transatlantic ties. The United States and the European Union “must stand together in order to face the great challenges of our time,” Merkel said.
Those challenges include climate change. Biden is expected to return the United States to the Paris climate pact upon his January inauguration. French President Emmanuel Macron said a Biden presidency presented a new chance to “make our planet great again.”
Earlier this week, the Washington Post broke the story that Michael Ellis—a former staffer for Rep. Devin Nunes and current National Security Council (NSC) official—has been selected as general counsel of the National Security Agency. This set off alarm bells among commentators and those familiar with the agency, in part because it comes in the same week in which Trump summarily fired the top civilian leadership of the Department of Defense and installed loyalists and cronies in their places.
The circumstances of Ellis’s selection, however, point to something different—and in some respects worse—than the developments at the Pentagon. The firings at the Defense Department involve political appointees, nearly all of whom will be gone as of Jan. 20. By contrast, selecting Ellis as NSA general counsel appears to be an attempt to improperly politicize an important career position. Relatedly, it appears to be an effort to “burrow,” or improperly convert a political appointee into a career position. And to make matters worse, the ample public record suggests that Ellis is particularly ill-suited to discharge the essential functions of the office.
While important details remain unclear, mediaaccounts include numerous indications of irregularity in the process by which Ellis was selected for the job, including interference by the White House. At a minimum, the evidence of possible violations of civil service rules demand immediate investigation by Congress and the inspectors general of the Department of Defense and NSA.
Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy & windy with a high of thirty-seven. Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 4:30 PM, for 9h 42m 17s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
“We see stronger growth in 2021. But we need a bridge to get there,” said economist Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics. “The outlook is honestly quite dark.”
The backsliding comes after a stronger-than-expected rebound from this spring’s abrupt recession. Slightly more than half of the 22 million Americans who lost their jobs when nonessential businesses closed have returned to work, and the current 6.9 percent unemployment rate is well below the double-digit figures that most Wall Street economists originally had forecast. Output expanded in the third quarter at a record rate.
Yet with more than 11 million still jobless, the United States is in danger of squandering the hard-won progress it has made in rebuilding the economy. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the rampaging virus represented “an emergency of the highest magnitude.” But she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have held no talks on a new rescue package.
In El Paso, local officials have deployed 10 mobile morgue trailers to handle a backlog of corpses. The county’s top elected official this week extended a shutdown of nonessential businesses until Dec. 1, ordering residents to stay home and avoid travel.
The pandemic has driven roughly 300 companies out of business in the border community, according to David Jerome, the president of the local chamber of commerce. An additional 300 companies — restaurants, hair salons and retail shops — have only enough cash on hand to survive for less than a month.
“We’re hitting a bit of a tipping point,” Jerome said. “People are getting to the point where they’re pretty stretched. People are vulnerable.”
Eight months into a historic crisis, the United States appears to be suspended in a sort of economic purgatory. The labor market is slowly healing, with initial unemployment claims falling for four straight weeks. But the virus outlook is grim and getting grimmer.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said that one of his first priorities will be rolling back his predecessor’s restrictive immigration policies. To do it, he may have to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security, which has been bent to President Trump’s will over the past four years.
After agents were videotaped hauling demonstrators off the streets of Portland, Ore., into unmarked vans, department critics called for systemic changes to the agency, or even its dismantlement. But the incoming administration is intent on keeping the department intact.
Still, change is coming.
Interviews with 16 current and former homeland security officials and advisers involved with Mr. Biden’s transition, and a review of his platform, suggest an agenda that aims to incorporate climate change in department policy, fill vacant posts and bolster responsibilities that Mr. Trump neglected, including disaster response and cybersecurity.
Saturday in Whitewater will see light afternoon showers with a high of forty-nine. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 4:31 PM, for 9h 44m 25s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.6% of its visible disk illuminated.
On Wednesday, 31 states were at the highest seven-day averages of new coronavirus cases they had seen since the pandemic erupted this year. Twenty-two states were reporting more hospitalizations than at any previous point. Ten states saw their highest seven-day averages of deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
We are in the middle of the third coronavirus surge the country has seen over 2020. The first ended in early April after the number of new cases confirmed each day reached 31,000. The second began in early June, just as Vice President Pence was writing that the country was not undergoing a second wave of infections. By July 22, the country was seeing 67,000 new cases a day before the surge receded.
The current surge, the third, began Sept. 12. It is ongoing, with the country exceeding 127,000 new cases Wednesday — as many cases that day as were added in total from the beginning of the pandemic through March 28.
The White House has repeatedly touted the fact that a smaller percentage of those who contract the virus are dying than earlier in the pandemic, which is true. It is also true both that the ratio of new cases to deaths has been fairly steady since early July and that the current surge in cases threatens to fill hospitals with coronavirus patients, reducing hospital capacity for any type of patient, covid-19-related or not. The point of “flattening the curve” this year wasn’t just to limit the spread of the virus; it was to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. In some states, they already are.
Almost every flu pandemic since the eighteenth century has come with a second wave; the fall of 1918 was far deadlier than the spring. Today, as the Northern Hemisphere steps deeper into autumn and more activity moves indoors, the spread of the coronavirus is, predictably, accelerating. America is again following Europe’s lead. In the last week of October, the U.S. recorded more new coronavirus cases than it has at any point during the pandemic; there have been days in November on which more than a hundred and thirty thousand people have been found to be newly infected. A few states—Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa—have among the highest per-capita infection rates in the world. The new surge has no epicenter. Infection records are being set in more than half of U.S. counties, and large swaths of the Midwest and mountain West are struggling with skyrocketing hospitalizations. On many days, more than a thousand Americans are now dying of covid-19—a number that is certain to rise, since deaths lag behind infections by several weeks.
The mortality rate for the virus has fallen substantially since the start of the pandemic, probably because of improvements in care and a shift in viral demographics: many of the newly infected are young. But a lower death rate combined with a vast rise in infections will still create profound suffering. One model predicts that, by the end of the year, two thousand Americans could be dying from covid-19 each day. The American death toll could reach four hundred thousand by January.
But in a video posted on Facebook on 7 November and viewed more than 16.5m times since, NewsMax host and former Trump administration official Carl Higbie spends three minutes spewing a laundry list of false and debunked claimscasting doubt on the outcome of the presidential election.
“I believe it’s time to hold the line,” said Higbie, who resigned from his government post over an extensive track record of racist, homophobic and bigoted remarks, to the Trump faithful. “I’m highly skeptical and you should be too.”
The video, which has been shared more than 350,000 times on Facebook, is just one star in a constellation of pro-Trump misinformation that is leading millions of Americans to doubt or reject the results of the presidential election. Fully 70% of Republicans believe that the election was not “free and fair”, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted since election day. Among those doubters, large majorities believe two of Trump’s most brazen lies: that mail-in voting leads to fraud and that ballots were tampered with.
Trump himself is the largest source of election misinformation; the president has barely addressed the public since Tuesday except to share lies and misinformation about the election. But his message attacking the electoral process is being amplified by a host of rightwing media outlets and pundits who appear to be jockeying to replace Fox News as the outlet of choice for Trumpists – and metastasizing on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Since election day, 16 of the top 20 public Facebook posts that include the word “election” feature false or misleading information casting doubt on the election in favor of Trump, according to a Guardian analysis of posts with the most interactions using CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics tool.
Hours after President Trump repeateda baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” he was directly contradicted by a group of federal, state and local election officials, who issued a statement on Thursday declaring flatly that the election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised.
The statement was distributed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is responsible for helping states secure the voting process. Coming directly from one of Mr. Trump’s own cabinet agencies, it further isolated the president in his false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election.
When a burglar walks through a neighborhood, and tries doorknob after doorknob to see which one might be unlocked, no reasonable person would say that his attempts to enter are innocent acts. On the contrary, he’d rightly been seen as dangerous.
In the same way, when Trump challenges election results through lies, his attempts to undermine legitimacy aren’t innocent acts. They’re much closer to the probing and testing of a burglar, looking to see which houses might be vulnerable to his predation.
Let’s try that exercise now. Imagine that a president of another country lost an election and refused to concede defeat. Instead, he lied about the vote count. He then filed lawsuits to have ballots thrown out, put pressure on other officials to back him up and used the power of government to prevent a transition of power from starting.
How would you describe this behavior? It’s certainly anti-democratic. It is an attempt to overrule the will of the people, ignore a country’s laws and illegitimately grab political power.
President Trump’s efforts will probably fail, but they are unlike anything that living Americans have experienced. “What we have seen in the last week from the president more closely resembles the tactics of the kind of authoritarian leaders we follow,” Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, which tracks democracy, told The Times. “I never would have imagined seeing something like this in America.”
Trump will try as many doors as he can, and will walk through any left open.
Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of fifty-one. Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 4:33 PM, for 9h 48m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 10.7% of its visible disk illuminated.
There is little indication that Mr. Trump can overcome the laws and institutions that ensure the verdict of American voters will carry the day. The country has a free press, a strong and independent judiciary, election officials dedicated to an honest counting of the votes and a strong political opposition, none of which exists in Belarus or Russia.
Still, the United States has never before had to force an incumbent to concede a fair defeat at the polls. And merely by raising the possibility that he would have to be forced out of office, Mr. Trump has shattered the bedrock democratic tradition of a seamless transition.
The damage already done by Mr. Trump’s obduracy could be lasting. Ivan Krastev, an expert on East and Central Europe at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, said Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede would “create a new model” for like-minded populists in Europe and elsewhere.
“When Trump won in 2016 the lesson was that they could trust democracy,” he said. “Now, they won’t trust democracy, and will do everything and anything to stay in power.” In what he called “the Lukashenko scenario,” leaders will still want to hold elections but “never lose.” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been doing that for two decades.
Among the anti-democratic tactics Mr. Trump has adopted are some that were commonly employed by leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia — refusing to concede defeat and hurling unfounded accusations of electoral fraud. The tactics also include undermining confidence in democratic institutions and the courts, attacking the press and vilifying opponents.
Like Mr. Trump, those leaders feared that accepting defeat would expose them to prosecution once they left office. Mr. Trump does not have to worry about being charged with war crimes and genocide, as Mr. Milosevic was, but he does face a tangle of legal problems.
Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, described the president’s “refusal to accept the results of the election” as “his parting gift to autocrats around the world.
On Wednesday, President Trump’s campaign asked a federal judge to take a drastic step: block the state of Michigan from certifying the results of its presidential election. President-elect Joe Biden now leads Trump by about 148,000 votes there.
To back up that lawsuit, Trump’s campaign had promised “shocking” evidence of misconduct.
Instead, the campaign produced 238 pages of affidavits from Republican poll watchers across Michigan containing no evidence of significant fraud but rather allegations about ballot-counting procedures that state workers have already debunked — and in some cases, complaints about rude behavior or unpleasant looks from poll workers or Democratic poll watchers.