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Ex-Republican explains why he foresees a 'decade of Democratic dominance'

October 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Over the years, veteran conservative columnist George F. Will has had plenty of criticisms of liberals and progressives — and contrary to what many of President Donald Trump’s far-right supporters have claimed, Will is still politically right-wing. But there is no question that Will, who left the Republican Party and is now supporting former Vice President Joe Biden, has been a blistering critic of Trump. And this week in his Washington Post column, Will not only predicts that Biden will defeat Trump on November 3 — he predicts that the election will be so devastating for Republicans that Democrats will dominate the federal government for at least a decade.

“By a circuitous route to a predictable destination,” Will predicts, “the 2020 presidential selection process seems almost certain to end Tuesday with a fumigation election. A presidency that began with dark words about ‘American carnage’ probably will receive what it has earned: repudiation.”

As Will sees it, Trump has been so toxic for the GOP and the conservative movement that his presidency needs as vehement a “repudiation” as possible. And like members of the Lincoln Project — a right-wing anti-Trump group that has been airing pro-Biden ads — Will believes that a Democratic landslide on November 3 will encourage the reset that American conservatism needs.

Will writes, “In defeat, Trump… will probably say that if not for the pandemic, Americans would have voted their pocketbooks — which would have been bulging because of economic growth — and reelected him. Americans, however, are more complicated and civic-minded than one-dimensional economy voters.”

Trump has claimed that he inherited a broken economy from his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, and brought about an economic miracle. But truth be told, the Great Recession was long gone by the time Obama left office in January 2017. Trump inherited an economy that was already in recovery.

Will explains, “The 4% growth Trump promised as a candidate and the 3% he promised as president became, pre-pandemic, 2.5 % during his first three years — a negligible improvement over the 2.4% of the last three Barack Obama years. This growth was partly fueled by increased deficit spending, from 4.4% of gross domestic product to 6.3%, by the International Monetary Fund’s calculation.”

Will goes on to slam Trump for tariffs before segueing into a discussion of demographics — which, the 79-year-old columnist warns, will not work in favor of Republicans …read more


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What Trump doesn't understand about suburbia

October 28, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation

by Ernest B. McGowen III, University of Richmond

President Donald Trump has tweeted up a storm about how his Democratic challenger Joe Biden wants to “abolish suburbs” and institute programs that would bring impoverished criminals into the suburbs, where they will destroy the “suburban lifestyle dream.”

In the final stages of his campaign, Trump has made an explicit appeal to suburban women: “So can I ask you to do me a favor? Suburban women, will you please like me? I saved your damn neighborhood,” the president said at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in mid-October.

I am a political scientist who studies race in America’s suburbs; my book “African Americans in White Suburbia: Social Networks and Political Behavior” was published in 2017. I contend that Trump’s tweets are not about the actual suburbs.

Instead, they are meant to evoke an archetypal identity for a place historically rooted in the maintenance of racial segregation and white supremacy.

Trump’s image of the suburbs is filled with white people; his tweets are aimed at getting them to vote for him. But there is another contingent of suburban residents – African Americans – who may experience his tweets as provocation to participate in the election in a different direction.

My research indicates that Trump’s appeals may spark an unintended countermobilization. Half of African Americans in the U.S. live in the suburbs. These voters, typically of higher socioeconomic status when compared with their white neighbors, are more likely to mobilize others who – in the face of Trump’s unsubtle racist signals – may now be motivated to vote for Democrats, particularly in races lower down on the ballot.

What is a suburb?

Ask an American to describe the suburbs and they will likely paint a picture of single-family houses, manicured lawns and minivans. They may also speak of the suburbs as a symbol of socioeconomic achievement.

Those things constitute the mythology of the suburbs. They’re not the empirical measurements that social scientists use to measure life in the suburbs. Those include income levels, crime rates and racial makeup.

In practice, the federal government’s definition of a suburb is any place surrounding an urban area that is neither urban nor rural. For instance, the Census Bureau’s Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area includes the urban centers of those cities and a suburban area between them that crosses three …read more


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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Their Biggest Heists

October 28, 2020 in History

By Greg Daugherty

Did the famed bank and train robbers bury any of their loot?

From his early days as a cattle rustler to his later career as a bank and train robber, Butch Cassidy was a desperado with a difference.

Unlike many of his grizzled, gun-happy counterparts, Cassidy (born Robert LeRoy Parker) cultivated an image as a latter-day showed them charging the Bolivians in a final blaze of suicidal glory, the reality was darker. From the way the bodies were found, it appeared Cassidy had shot Longabaugh in the head, then turned the gun on himself.

READ MORE: 6 Daring Train Robberies

But Was His Death Just a Hoax?

Butch Cassidy, c. 1894

Historians generally accept that version of events. Even so, numerous witnesses claimed to have seen Cassidy years, sometimes decades, after his supposed death. Those witnesses included his own sister, Lula Parker Betenson, who maintained until her death in 1980 that he had visited her in 1925 and died, under an assumed name, in 1937. A widely published 1938 newspaper story made a similar claim, based on an interview with a Wyoming rancher who said Cassidy had died the year before in Spokane, Washington, where he went by the name of Bill Phillips. Complicating matters, Phillips seems to have encouraged the speculation that he was actually Cassidy.

READ MORE: The Mysterious Deaths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Many of these tales involved Cassidy returning to reclaim loot he’d hidden away during his outlaw years. In 1968, a traveling cigarette salesman came forward with evidence that he said showed Cassidy died in 1953 “after decades of fruitless hunting in the mountains of Wyoming for a buried strongbox of gold he and a bandit friend reportedly robbed from a stagecoach in 1897.”

Biographer Patterson recounts a local legend that Cassidy buried money in an iron pot near Lander, Wyoming, marking the nearby trees with mule shoes. Unfortunately, the trees later caught fire and burned down. Bill Phillips, the Cassidy lookalike who some insisted was the real thing, appears to have taken that story seriously. He visited an Indian Reservation in Lander in 1934 but seems to have left empty handed. He might have had better luck in Colorado or Utah, where Cassidy was said to have hidden other caches.

For decades, those rumors have inspired treasure hunters to go looking for Cassidy’s loot, but so far no one has …read more


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Top election official immediately debunks Trump's attacks on counting ballots

October 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

Countering President Donald Trump’s false suggestion Tuesday that tallying votes after Election Day is unlawful, a top official at the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that in fact “counting ballots—all of ‘em—is the appropriate, proper, and very legal way to determine who won.”

“An election is not a reality show with a big reveal at the end,” Ellen Weintraub, an election attorney and a Democratic commissioner at the FEC, tweeted in response to Trump’s insistence that a winner be officially declared on the night of November 3.

“All we get on Election Night are projections from TV networks,” Weintraub noted. “We never have official results on Election Night.”

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Why beating Trump is just the beginning

October 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton

After seeing the spectacle this week of a Supreme Court justice installed just before an election for the express purpose of tilting the result in Donald Trump’s favor — and watching Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s evil threat of “what goes around comes around” take shape — it’s clear that the political battles we’ve been fighting for these past few years won’t be over once the election is decided even if Trump is defeated. The fight is just going to continue on new terrain.

The question then, is how the left and the Democrats will respond. After all, they’ve just spent the last four years focusing their energy on taking back the Congress in 2018 and then removing Donald Trump from office in 2020. The entire center-left, and a fair amount of the center-right, has unified behind this common purpose and it’s brought some impressive results. We’ll soon see whether that streak continues.

The grassroots organizing in this cycle is remarkable. For instance, according to The Connector Newsletter on democracy, organizing, movements and tech, Get Out the Vote activism since August dwarfs even that of the 2018 election — and that was unprecedented. “Resistance” groups, operating outside the Democratic party apparatus, have been active all over the country.

The question, of course, is what happens to all that if they win. You’ll recall that there was a ton of grassroots energy in the center left organized around Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, which was promptly squelched by a combination of top-down direction from the administration and a foolish belief among many of the faithful that their work was done and they could just trust Obama. That’s the natural consequence of a “movement” that’s based upon a charismatic leader.

That’s not going to be an issue this time. Joe Biden is not a charismatic leader, and while people are enthusiastic about ousting the worst president in American history, they are also primed for change in a substantive way. Trump and the Republicans have exposed the rot in our system in a way nothing else could have done.

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir wrote a thoughtful piece this week about political engagement in which he makes the case that merely voting is a tepid form of activism anyway, particularly in America, where it often becomes “a bizarre form of symbolic theater or public therapy.” He suggests …read more


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Justice Anthony Kennedy’s son helped Trump get Deutsche Bank loans: report

October 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

During Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 31 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, liberals and progressives had a love/hate relationship with the Reagan appointee — praising him for his rulings on gay rights and abortion rights while slamming his economic rulings as beneficial to unchecked corporate power. And those who viewed Kennedy as being too quick to side with big business are likely to have similar views on his son, Justin Kennedy, who according to the New York Times, has been very close to Trumpworld and helped Donald Trump secure almost $700 million in loans for a real estate project in Chicago.

In an article published this week, Times journalists David Enrich, Russ Buettner, Mike McIntire and Susanne Craig report that the financial crash of September 2008 “was in full swing” when Trump visited Chicago “to mark the near-completion of his 92-floor skyscraper.” But the project did not go smoothly.

“How Mr. Trump found trouble in Chicago and maneuvered his way out of it is a case study in doing business the Trump way,” the Times reporters explain. “When the project encountered problems, he tried to walk away from his huge debts. For most individuals or businesses, that would have been a recipe for ruin. But tax-return data, other records and interviews show that rather than warring with a notoriously litigious and headline-seeking client, lenders cut Mr. Trump slack — exactly what he seemed to have been counting on.”

According to the Times, Trump went to Deutsche Bank to borrow “the bulk of the money” he would need for the skyscraper project — and he “assured Deutsche Bank officials, including Justin Kennedy, the son of the now-retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, that the Chicago development was a guaranteed moneymaker. In a sign of the Trump family’s commitment to the project, Mr. Trump told his bankers that his daughter Ivanka would be in charge.”

In an article published in Law & Crime following the Times’ article, reporter Jerry Lambe examines the relationship between Justin Kennedy and Trumpworld. Lambe points out that Justin Kennedy was close to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner — both of whom are now White House senior advisers in Trump’s administration — and “was willing to overlook Trump’s shoddy history as a debtor.”

Lambe notes, “Justin Kennedy’s role in helping to breathe life into Trump’s business empire before he was president …read more