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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,731

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The GOP's agenda under Trump: Voter suppression, pandemic denial and a personality cult

Opinion by Michael Gerson

One of the most symbolic moments of campaign 2020 was when the apparatus of the Republican Party strained and groaned to produce a platform reading, “RESOLVED, That the Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention.”

It was, in its own content-free, witless way, an assertion of power. The party that had produced a platform every four years since 1856 had become, well, anything President Trump wished at the moment. It was a declaration and recognition of personal rule.

After nearly four years, it is fair to ask: With the GOP as putty in Trump’s hand, what form has it taken? What are the large, organizing commitments of the GOP during the Trump captivity?

One would have to be voter suppression. What began, for some, as an effort to ensure ballot security has become a campaign to control the content of the electorate by limiting its size.


It's the GOP's turn: Florida's early voting awash in conservative wave

The start of in-person voting today is expected to trigger a conservative wave that will build over the next two weeks and crest on Election Day.

A record-breaking surge of mail-voting Democrats in Florida has handed Joe Biden a massive lead over President Donald Trump in his must-win home state.

But here come the Republicans.

The start of in-person voting Monday is expected to trigger a conservative wave that will build over the next two weeks and crest on Election Day. Around two-thirds of participating Florida GOP voters are likely to cast a ballot in person this fall, raising the question of whether Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, will be able to hold off a Trump comeback by the time the polls close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

“Our voters have said they would like to vote in person,” said Susie Wiles, the operative leading Trump’s Florida campaign. “And our expectation is that’s what they’ll do, whether it’s early or on Election Day.”


I worked for Joe Biden when he dealt with the anthrax attack

When letters laced with anthrax were mailed to U.S. senators, I was his chief scientist and watched his smart response.

By Peter D. Zimmerman

Nineteen years ago a terrorist mailed anthrax-laced letters to American journalists and to U.S. senators. The first man to die was Boca Raton photographer Bob Smith. My boss at the time, Sen. Joe Biden, demonstrated his cool leadership both on 9/11 and then, barely a week later, during the first biological terrorist attack. I had joined Biden’s staff as chief scientist just a couple of weeks before hell broke loose.

On Sept. 18, 2001, a rolling catastrophe began. Five envelopes laced with anthrax spores were mailed in Princeton, N.J. The first one landed in the offices of the National Enquirer in Boca Raton, where the first hint of trouble emerged when Enquirer photographer Bob Smith came down with a high fever, confusion and vomiting on Sept. 30. By Oct. 3 it was clear that Smith had inhalational anthrax, something usually only seen in sheep ranchers and veterinarians. No precautions were taken, and the incident was viewed as isolated foul play. Smith died on Oct. 5.

In the next few days reports of additional envelopes with white or tan powders landing at the New York Post, Tom Brokaw’s office at NBC, at ABC, and elsewhere flowed in.

On Oct. 9 the U.S. Senate was anthraxed, with letters going to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. The Daschle letter was opened in a mail room and the white powder inside spread through the room and then throughout the Hart Senate Office Building. It also got into the air conditioning system that served both the Hart and Dirksen office buildings. Senate aides clamored for tests to make certain we were not exposed. Sen. Biden and others prevailed on the Capitol physician’s office to offer tests to anybody who was worried.


I'm Joe Biden and, Floridians, here's my plan

We can get through this pandemic together. Here’s how — and what we can do to prosper afterward — writes the Democratic presidential nominee.

Earlier this month in Florida, I met Esther Segura, a nurse who spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve as an operating room technician. She’s spent this year juggling raising two teenage daughters as a single mom and working on the front lines fighting against this pandemic.

Esther loves helping people — she says it’s in her blood. And she loves our country. But she’s worried about it, because she believes our president doesn’t respect people like her.

She’s seen first-hand how he has failed to protect the workers on the front lines of a pandemic that disproportionately impacts Black and brown Americans — who are 3 times as likely to be infected, and are dying at twice the rate of white Americans.

In his own words, President Donald Trump knew that COVID-19 was a dangerous and communicable disease. It’s on tape. But he did nothing. He claims that he hid this life-saving information from the American people because he didn’t want us to panic — but the truth is, he panicked, with tragic results. He failed to protect Americans.


How Mormons Fed Up With Trump Could Help Lift Biden in Arizona

Loyalty to the Republican Party is ingrained in the Latter-day Saints religion. But in Arizona, some find the president’s behavior at odds with their values and are shifting to Joe Biden.

For the better part of a century, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have made their political home under the Republican Party’s tent, motivated by conservative beliefs rooted in the family values, personal liberty and economic frugality of their faith.

But some church members now find themselves in a political quandary: They’re still Republicans, but they no longer fit in with the party as exemplified by President Trump, who for them represents a hard departure from the church’s teachings on sex, crude language, empathy and humility.

In Arizona — the only state up for grabs that has a significant Latter-day Saint population — a growing number are finding refuge in Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I think the White House should be worried about L.D.S. voters, especially in Arizona,” said Quin Monson, a Utah-based pollster, political scientist and author of a book about the politics of the religion.


Fear and loathing in The Villages

We were somewhere around Brooksville, near The Villages, when the acid reflux began to take hold. I was prepared. My wife, Thia, riding shotgun beside me, always carried my drug stash in her purse: my Pepcid, edema pills, blood thinners just in case. I swallowed a couple of Pepcid, felt the relief course through me. At my advanced age, I would need my full health and wits about me on this perilous mission to the savage heart of Trump territory.

This was the the day Vice President Mike Pence was slated to visit The Villages, Florida’s huge 130,000-person senior residential community, Manhattan-sized, “America’s Friendliest Hometown.” We’d decided to take a little day trip, leaving our high-rise abode in Tampa, where we practice safe distancing, and where, like so many of you, we’ve been trying not to go utterly out of our minds.

The months of Trump/COVID-era breaking news, bombshell after bombshell out of Washington, the viciousness of the national discourse, the tensions of the election — never mind my stomach, my psyche’s near shot.

As we roll toward The Villages, a virus-stricken Trump is currently on steroids. In the past week alone, he King Konged his way out of Walter Reed Hospital, switched to Tony the Tiger, “I feel g-r-r-reat!,” then boarded the Marine One helicopter, banked off the Washington Monument, landed on the White House lawn, ascended the balcony, ripped off his mask, Evita!


Trump's enablers can't escape the consequences of their choices

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

Assuming President Trump loses his reelection bid in a few weeks, the soon-to-be alumni of the Trump administration, who were warned that association with Trump would mar their careers and corrode their character, are now "hoping the Trump presidency isn’t a disqualifying blemish on their resumes or Google footprint as the door revolves the other way and they seek to land, once again, in the private sector,” The Post reports.

They should think more about atoning for the betrayal of their country than trying to escape the consequences of enabling a liar, racist and wannabe authoritarian. There are practical reasons for employers outside the right-wing bubble to reject not only those who were the face of the administration but also those who labored behind the scenes.

First, members of this administration probably acquired bad habits (ignoring gross misconduct, lying for their boss, etc.), practiced a great deal of willful ignorance and rationalized unethical conduct. The administration, aside from its corruption and moral rot, was also grossly incompetent in its day-to-day operations. Staffers coming out of Trump’s orbit would likely have to unlearn misconceptions about how functional workplaces operate.

Second, those seen as ethically obtuse and tolerant of racism pose a business risk. Clients and customers might not want to be associated with a firm that features someone who just months ago promoted their boss’s ludicrous lies or remained silent as he winked at QAnon conspiracy theories. Alumni of the Trump administration do not suffer from a political association but rather from their willingness to enable someone who betrayed his country’s highest ideals.


The reckoning

The country can’t recover from Trump’s presidency unless he’s held accountable

By Sam Tanenhaus

Some Americans entertain a fantasy that goes like this: President Trump is voted out of office, finally faces justice for his serial misconduct and shuffles off to prison. A wearier, probably larger population looks forward to scrubbing the nation’s memory of these past four years and returning to pre-Trump life. A third sizable group shows unwavering loyalty to Trump.

One lesson of American history is that the country’s worst injuries are those we’ve caused ourselves. This history is not uplifting, but it is edifying, and it haunts. Failing to perform the necessary diagnostic surgery after a time of collective wrongdoing has costs. The steepest is this: Subsequent generations inherit a weakened democracy. Today it is imperative to confront the facts of the Trump era. We elected as president a homegrown insurrectionist. He rose to the highest position in our democracy and damaged it. Even now, he continues to assault our laws and institutions, our independent judiciary, our national security, our health, and our constitutional system of checks and balances. It’s unimaginable, ludicrous even, to contemplate doing nothing about Donald Trump.

No single course for a post-Trump reckoning will satisfy, let alone reconcile, the country’s divergent constituencies. And some damage can’t easily be undone — harm to America’s standing in the world, for example, and the fatally negligent response to the coronavirus pandemic. But in the search for accountability there are middle-path options that fall between prosecuting this singular president and prosecuting his broader legacy. One is to begin with a problem that Americans across the ideological spectrum agree needs fixing: our elections.

Elections are the place to start because so much of Trump’s misconduct relates to them. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election resulted in three dozen indictments or guilty pleas and five prison sentences, all related to Trump campaign actions during that election and afterward, when the president and others tried to cover up what they had done. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, have both done time. The Senate Intelligence Committee — led by Republicans — produced a nearly 1,000-page report detailing the Trump team’s misdeeds, most pertaining to the 2016 election. Prosecutors in New York, meanwhile, are digging further into Trump’s payment of hush money to a porn star ahead of the vote. And of course, in his impeachment, Trump was charged with misusing his office to try to get help from Ukraine in his reelection campaign — in violation of election law and of the framers’ fear that a president might, in James Madison’s words, “betray his trust to foreign powers.”


Mountain lion spotted in the neighborhood

Looks pretty healthy.

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter to serve sentence at West Texas prison camp

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter will serve his 11-month sentence for conspiring to misuse campaign funds at a West Texas prison camp, his attorney said Friday.

Hunter is due to report to Federal Correctional Institute La Tuna on Jan. 4. The prison is in the El Paso suburb of Anthony, on the Texas-New Mexico state line. He will serve in its adjacent minimum-security satellite camp, according to CQ Roll Call.

Hunter’s attorney, Devin Burstein, on Friday confirmed the report that Hunter had been assigned to the facility.

Hunter fought a 60-count indictment for more than a year before pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge in December.

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