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Ben Klayman and Stephen Nellis January 14, 2021, 11:12 PM

(Reuters) – Automakers around the world are shutting assembly lines because of a global shortage of semiconductors that in some cases has been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s actions against key Chinese chip factories, industry officials said.

The shortage, which caught much of the industry off-guard and could continue for many months, is now causing Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp and Toyota Motor Corp to curtail production in the United States.

Automakers affected in other markets include Volkswagen, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The problems stem from a confluence of factors as auto manufacturers compete against the sprawling consumer electronics industry for chip supplies. Consumers have stocked up on laptops, gaming consoles and other electronic products during the pandemic, creating tight chip supplies throughout 2020.

They have also bought more cars than industry officials expected last spring, further straining supplies.

In at least one case, the shortage ties back to President Donald Trump’s policies aimed at curtailing technology transfers to China.

One automaker moved chip production from China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, or SMIC, which was hit with U.S. government restrictions in December, to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co in Taiwan, which in turn was overbooked, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

An auto supplier confirmed TSMC has been unable to keep up with demand.

“The systemic aspect of the crisis is giving us a headache,” said a supplier executive, who asked not to be identified. “In some cases, we find substitution parts that could make us independent from TSMC, only to discover that the alternative wafer manufacturer has no capacity available.”

TSMC and SMIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On an earnings call with investors Thursday, TSMC Chief Executive C.C. Wei said there was a shortage of automotive chips made with “mature technology” and that it is working with customers “to mitigate the shortage impact.”

It only takes the tiniest of chips to throw off production: a Ford plant in Kentucky that makes the Escape sport utility vehicle idled because of a shortage of a chip in the vehicle’s brake system, a union official in the plant said.

Ford also will idle its Focus plant in Saarlouis, Germany, for a month starting next week because of chip shortages.

The situation is unlikely to improve quickly, since all chips, whether bound for a laptop or a Lexus, start life as a silicon wafer that takes about 90 days to process into a chip.

The chipmaking industry has always strained to keep up with sudden demand spikes. The factories that produce wafers cost tens of billions of dollars to build, and expanding their capacity can take up to a year for testing and qualifying complex tools.

“The long and short of it is, demand is up about 50%. And there’s no asset-intensive industry like ours that has 50% capacity lying around,” said Mike Hogan, senior vice president at chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries and head of its automotive unit.

HUAWEI EFFECT

Tight capacity and soaring demand has made it difficult for chip producers to absorb two shocks from the Trump administration.

First, the White House in September banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the Chinese telecommunications giant and a major smartphone maker, from buying chips made with American technology. Huawei stockpiled chips ahead of the ban in order to keep building what products it could after it took effect. And Huawei’s rivals, eyeing a chance to grab market share, started snapping up chips, analysts said.

Second, the U.S. government enacted rules that bar SMIC from using some U.S. tools to make chips, a move that has prompted at least some of SMIC’s customers to look for a different chip factory because of concerns that production could be disrupted.

“There’s a fear of using a Chinese chip factory if the United States is going to put them on an entity list,” said Daniel Goehl, chief business officer of UltraSense Systems, referring to possible further restrictions.

A Commerce Department spokesman declined to comment on the implications of the SMIC and Huawei blacklistings for the auto sector but said that the top priority was “to ensure the Export Administration Regulation protects U.S. national security, economic security, and foreign policy interests.”

Analysts said the automotive chip shortage is likely to persist for as long as six months. An AutoForecast Solutions report estimated the global auto industry had already experienced lost volume of 202,000 vehicles as of Jan. 13.

Executives at automakers and suppliers said they are adapting production schedules to protect chips used in higher-profit vehicles. And companies are weighing sourcing chips from more suppliers and increasing inventory levels in the future.

“It’s four-dimensional chess all day long,” said one auto official, who asked not to be identified.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber & Simon Cameron-

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Kimberley Richards·Trends Reporter, HuffPostWed, January 6, 2021, 4:19 PM

The NAACP called out President Donald Trump over his yearslong attack on Colin Kaepernick for peacefully protesting racism, after Trump supporters stormed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

The Capitol went on lockdown as pro-Trump rioters breached the building, banging on the main entrance of the House chamber and shattering glass windows. Photos and videos posted online show the insurrectionists breaching legislative offices.

Trump, who has often derided Kaepernick’s peaceful protests against racial injustice as unpatriotic, initially responded to the riots by tweeting, “stay peaceful.” He did not tell his supporters to stop rioting in that tweet.

“And you thought ‘Taking A Knee’ was too much!?!” the official Twitter account for the NAACP tweeted.

The civil rights organization has also since called for Trump’s impeachment.

“The pattern of President Trump’s misconduct is unmistakable and has proven time and time again that it is a grave threat and harm to the fragile fabric of our country,” a statement from NAACP President Derrick Johnson read in part.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-4&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1346916733915955205&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.yahoo.com%2Fsports%2Fheat-celtics-players-stage-protest-kneel-in-response-to-attack-on-us-capitol-jacob-blake-decision-004735929.html&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, famously led peaceful protests against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games. The league has been widely accused of blackballing the activist, who has remained unsigned by any team since he became a free agent after the 2016 season.

Trump has often used Twitter as a medium to complain about NFL protests. In September 2017, he encouraged fans to protest the league to get players to stop kneeling.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” he tweeted. “Fire or suspend!”

Trump also called NFL players who peacefully protested sons of bitches during a stump speech for former Sen. Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama, that same month.

In May, the president tweeted a threat that people protesting the police killing of George Floyd would have been met with the “most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” if they had breached the White House fence.

Many people on social media Wednesday called out the Trump administration’s response to the rioters at the Capitol, saying that the police response would have been profoundly different if they had been Black Lives Matter protesters.


Congresswoman Marie Newman@RepMarieNewman·The Trump Admin’s response to a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in D.C. vs. The Trump Admin’s response to violent domestic terrorists breaching and vandalizing our nation’s Capitol. Remind me again how there aren’t two criminal justice systems in America?

🤔

Trump has, for months, spread false claims about widespread voter fraud. He had urged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol during a rally earlier on Wednesday, and since November, has repeatedly lied that the election was somehow stolen.

The president eventually told supporters in a video message tweeted later on Wednesday to “go home,” but he again falsely claimed that the election was stolen.

The Twitter account for the NAACP later responded to a tweet by The Grio’s White House correspondent April D. Ryan describing efforts to remove Trump from office. “Get him out of OUR office”!

NAACP@NAACP·Get him out of OUR office!Quote Tweet

AprilDRyan@AprilDRyan · 13hCongressional leaders are in the undisclosed location and focusing on the 25th Amendment to get @realDonaldTrump out of office!

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Ken Catalino Comic Strip for January 05, 2021
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The current ongoing budget talks marathon is a repeat of many others through the years. It appears that the GOP’s position is conservative spending no matter the effect on the neediest Americans. The Dems seem to working in the opposite direction. Sometimes there is middle ground and a deal is struck. In all of this there is never a delay or stoppage of the Congressional paychecks. There is never an interruption of health care or the threat of eviction. This may never be changed except by the insistence of voters. We can send messages that we are not happy with their work. but as long as we vote by rote, uninformed or underinformed , there will always be poor to awful representation in Congress. This is where our (the voters) will is done. Current members talk one way when running for the office and quickly fall into the
“insiders” trap once seated. It is odd that we never investigate the activities of those we elect until some news article appears which could or could not be factual, offers some detail about an action or behavior. Where we need to be active is asking questions of the people we voted in and keep asking until we receive satisfactory answers. There is and always will be folks who decide to run for office whose beliefs and morality do not allow them to carry out the legal and correct duties of their office for the benefit of ALL voters no matter the party or subset thereof. When we the people do not do our due diligence in vetting aspirants for political office then we get the types of representation we currently have and allow the rise of “depot wannabe’s” such as Donald J. Trump aka “TOTUS”.

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Apparently the party’s quest for power overshadowed common sense and now the misstep returns to bite them. MA

Amanda Marcotte  17 hrs ago


Trump’s call for $2K checks puts squeeze on Georgia GOP senatorsThe One Place You Really Shouldn’t Go Now, Says Dr. FauciRepublicans enabled Trump for four years — of course he’s betraying them in the 11th hour

Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell are posing for a picture: Donald Trump; Mitch McConnell© Provided by Salon Donald Trump; Mitch McConnell

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images

Let’s get one thing straight: Donald Trump does not care about the American people. Whatever Trump may say, he is not threatening to blow up the coronavirus stimulus bill Senate Republicans finally agreed to pass because the bill isn’t generous enough. Trump could not care less if all Americans starve to death, and he certainly isn’t breaking a sweat trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine out to the public. He was not defending working Americans when he released a video calling the GOP-endorsed coronavirus bill a “disgrace” and pushing for a Democrat-friendly plan to send out $2,000 checks instead of the $600 ones Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to. 

No, what’s likely going on is that Trump, the self-identified master negotiator, is turning to the only negotiation tactic he’s ever really known: Extortion.

Trump likely thinks he’s blackmailing McConnell into stealing the election for him. While we have no direct proof this is an extortion scheme, the circumstantial evidence is abundant and compelling. Here’s what we know: 

Trump really does believe that Republicans know some super secret method for nullifying the election he just lost, and that they’re just not revealing it to him for some reason. In reality, Republicans probably would help him steal the election if they could, but they can’t. But Trump refuses to accept this so he is constantly wheedling GOP officials to do more and whining publicly that they’re holding out on him. He’s even considering canceling a Mar-A-Lago trip and staying in D.C. for Christmas, probably because he’s talked himself into believing he can strike a “deal” to nullify the election. 

Trump is particularly incensed at McConnell right now for not doing more to make Trump’s failed coup successful. On Monday, Trump’s office sent out emails to congressional Republicans in which Trump took credit (falsely) for McConnell’s successful re-election, and implied that McConnell should show his gratitude by doing more to steal the presidential election for Trump. Trump believes that Congress will have an opportunity to overturn the election on January 6, by refusing to certify the Electoral College vote. We know he believes this, even though it’s false because he’s been scheming with House Republicans on how to do it. We also know — because Trump keeps tweeting about it — that Trump believes Senate Republicans are, for whatever reason, not doing enough to help him and need so more threats to get motivated to back his coup.

McConnell believes that this $900 billion coronavirus bill is needed to help Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Georgia Republicans trying to retain their Senate seats in the January 5 run-offs. McConnell told Senate Republicans last week that “Kelly and David are getting hammered” by their Democratic opponents for not passing a bill. This $900 billion package, which is only a fraction of the spending Democrats in the House passed months ago, is the smallest bill McConnell can get away with while still saving those two Senate seats he needs to keep his majority. Trump’s most ardent supporters have singled out the Republicans’ desire to win in Georgia as a leverage point, and keep threatening to tank that race if Republicans don’t do more to help Trump steal the election

To be clear, this isn’t 11th level chess. It’s actually Trump employing junior high school bully logic: McConnell wants a thing (this paltry coronavirus relief bill), and so Trump is threatening to take it away unless Trump gets what he wants (a successful coup). Trump, being very dumb, has not considered the possibility that McConnell couldn’t give in to the extortion if he tried because there’s actually no secret file in McConnell’s office labeled “How To Steal Any Election.” Nor has Trump apparently given much consideration to how Democrats might react to him threatening McConnell by pretending that he wants a more generous bill. 

Democrats have called Trump’s bluff.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1341557535732604935&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.salon.com%2F2020%2F12%2F23%2Frepublicans-enabled-trump-for-four-years–of-course-hes-betraying-them-in-the-11th-hour%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550pxhttps://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1341599067516907520&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.salon.com%2F2020%2F12%2F23%2Frepublicans-enabled-trump-for-four-years–of-course-hes-betraying-them-in-the-11th-hour%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis confirmed that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is planning the unanimous consent vote Christmas Eve, which will force Republicans to go on the record against mailing $2,000 checks to Americans. Considering that McConnell is hoping $600 checks will be enough to buy off Georgia voters on January 5, a vote against a more generous bill is clearly something Republican politicians likely hope to avoid. 

In no way does this theory require believing Trump is crafty, clever, or heaven forbid, intelligent. Trump is a moron who is employing what he thinks is a clever Roy Cohn-style scheme to blackmail McConnell. It is, however, an idiotic misfire, because he’s trying to extort something McConnell simply doesn’t have, that is some deeply buried secret method to steal the election. 

The best part about this is that Democrats handed Republicans a chance to get rid of Trump a year ago, when the Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump for, yep, another one of Trump’s many extortion schemes to keep himself in office. (As a refresher, Trump threatened to withdraw military aid from Ukraine if the Ukrainian president didn’t help him cheat in the 2020 election.) But rather than accept this golden opportunity to rid themselves of an erratic and disloyal narcissist in favor of a more easily controlled President Mike Pence, Senate Republicans chose to acquit Trump and keep him around. 

To thank them, Trump is now blowing up their spot on this coronavirus bill. Because Trump is loyal to no one and can only be failed. To him, you’re only as good as the last illegal or unethical thing you did to help him. 

And boy, it’s hard not to wonder if McConnell isn’t regretting his choice to acquit Trump. Because if he’d just taken the chance Democrats gave him back then, he’d have President Pence happily just doing what he’s told. But no, like so many discarded lawyers, staffers, and other Trump enablers, McConnell made the mistake of thinking he could somehow protect and enable Trump without Trump screwing him over. But Trump will always betray his allies in the end. It’s like the moral of the story Trump loved telling at campaign rallies: Republicans knew Trump was a snake when they picked him up. 

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The New York Times

Is this the real reason TOTUS keeps his name in the headlines? MA.

Shane Goldmacher and Maggie HabermanFri, December 18, 2020, 1:51 PM CST

Election workers during the Fulton County ballot recount in Atlanta on Nov. 14, 2020. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)
Election workers during the Fulton County ballot recount in Atlanta on Nov. 14, 2020. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)

Donald J. Trump will exit the White House as a private citizen next month perched atop a pile of campaign cash unheard-of for an outgoing president, and with few legal limits on how he can spend it.

Deflated by a loss he has yet to acknowledge, Trump has cushioned the blow by coaxing huge sums of money from his loyal supporters — often under dubious pretenses — raising roughly $250 million since Election Day along with the national party.

More than $60 million of that sum has gone to a new political action committee, according to people familiar with the matter, which Trump will control after he leaves office. Those funds, which far exceed what previous outgoing presidents had at their disposal, provide him with tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions: He could use the money to quell rebel factions within the party, reward loyalists, fund his travels and rallies, hire staff, pay legal bills and even lay the groundwork for a far-from-certain 2024 run.

The postelection blitz of fundraising has cemented Trump’s position as an unrivaled force and the preeminent fundraiser of the Republican Party, even in defeat. His largest single day for online donations actually came after Election Day — raising almost $750,000 per hour Nov. 6. So did his second-biggest day. And his third.

“Right now, he is the Republican Party,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who worked on Trump’s reelection campaign. “The party knows that virtually every dollar they’ve raised in the last four years, it’s because of Donald Trump.”

Trump has long acted with few inhibitions when it comes to spending other people’s money, and he has spent millions of campaign dollars on his own family businesses in the last five years. But new records show an even more intricate intermingling of Trump’s political and familial interests than was previously known.

Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior campaign adviser, served on the board — and was named on drafts of the incorporation papers — of a limited liability company through which the Trump political operation spent more than $700 million since 2019, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The arrangement has never been disclosed. One of the other board members and signatories in the draft papers of the LLC, American Made Media Consultants, was John Pence, the nephew of Vice President Mike Pence and a senior Trump adviser. The LLC has been criticized for purposefully obscuring the ultimate destination of hundreds of millions of dollars of spending.

Lara Trump and John Pence were originally listed as president and vice president on the incorporation papers, documents reviewed by the Times showed. Sean Dollman, the campaign chief financial officer, was the AMMC treasurer.

“Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the AMMC board in October 2019 to focus solely on their campaign activities; however, there was never any ethical or legal reason why they could not serve on the board in the first place,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for Trump. “John and Lara were not compensated by AMMC for their service as board members.” Murtaugh also said the two were not compensated for other positions they were listed as holding.

For Trump, the quarter-billion dollars he and the party raised over six weeks is enough to pay off all of his remaining campaign bills and to fund his fruitless legal challenges and still leave tens of millions of dollars.

Trump’s plans, however, remain extremely fluid. His refusal to accept Joe Biden’s victory has stunted internal political planning, aides say, with some advisers in his shrinking circle of confidants hesitant to even approach him about setting a course of action for 2021 and beyond.

Those who have spoken with Trump say he appears shrunken, and over his job; this detachment is reflected in a Twitter feed that remains stubbornly more focused on unfounded allegations of fraud than on the death toll from the raging pandemic.

Trump has talked about running again in 2024 — but he also may not. He has created this new PAC, but a different political entity could still be in the works, people involved in the discussions said. Talk of counterprogramming Biden’s inauguration with a splashy event or an announcement of his own is currently on hold.

Trump had been tentatively planning to go to Georgia on Saturday, according to a senior Republican official, to support the two Republicans in Senate runoff races there. But he is still angry at the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state for accepting the election result and simply doesn’t want to make the trip. There is some discussion about him going after the Christmas holiday, but it’s not clear he will be in a more magnanimous mood by then.

But even as he displays indifference toward the Georgia races, the Trump political apparatus has taken advantage of the grassroots energy and excitement over the two runoffs to juice its own fundraising. Email and text solicitations have pitched Trump supporters to give to a “Georgia Election Fund,” even though no funds go directly to either Republican senator on the ballot, irritating some Senate GOP strategists.

Instead, the fine print shows 75% of the donations to the Georgia fund go to Trump’s new PAC, called Save America, with 25% to the Republican National Committee.

After weeks of shouting “FRAUD” to supporters in emails and asking them to back an “Election Defense Fund” (which also sent 75% of donations to his new PAC), the Trump operation has subtly shifted its tone and focus, returning to more sustainable preelection themes, like hawking signed hats and opposing socialism.

Trump and the RNC did spend about $15 million combined in legal costs and other spending related to disputing the election between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, according to federal records.

Besides a $3 million payment to Wisconsin to fund a partial recount in the state, Trump’s largest recount-related payment did not go to attorney fees but to American Made Media Consultants, the Trump-linked LLC on which Lara Trump was listed an original signatory. The firm received $2.2 million Nov. 12 in two payments labeled “SMS advertising,” better known as text messaging.

American Made Media Consultants was the subject of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission earlier this year that accused it of “laundering” funds to obscure the ultimate beneficiary of Trump campaign spending. Federal records show the firm had more than $700 million in funds flow through it since 2019. The vast majority of funds were spent before Lara Trump resigned from the board.

For a sense of scale of just how much money Donald Trump will have at his disposal, the new Trump PAC’s $60 million-plus haul — and counting — is about as much money as he spent to win his party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Some campaign finance experts have speculated that Trump might try to use the excess of cash in his new PAC, formally known as a leadership PAC, to pay for his own personal future legal quagmires as he faces investigations once he leaves office. (A senior Trump adviser said they don’t expect the money to be used for personal legal needs.)

“A leadership PAC is a slush fund,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a group that supports increased political transparency. “There are very, very, very few limits on what he can’t spend money on.”

In the last five years, Trump has never shied from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from his contributors on his private businesses, a practice he could continue or expand while out of office.

Just since mid-October, the Trump Victory Committee, a joint account operated with the RNC, has paid more than $710,000 to the Trump Hotel Collection, while his reelection account has continued to pay more than $37,000 per month to rent space in Trump Tower.

It is not clear where his post-presidential operation will be based or who will run it, although several advisers expect it will be in Florida, where he is planning to move.

But as a former president, Trump will be allocated a certain amount of taxpayer money for staff and office space for life after leaving the White House, and he is beginning to have discussions about which aides from the West Wing will accompany him.

His senior political advisers — Bill Stepien, Justin Clark and Jason Miller, among others — are among those who may stay involved with him politically.

While Trump’s post-presidency remains largely shapeless, he has demonstrated his desire to exert his control on national politics, especially among Republicans.

He has already endorsed Ronna McDaniel, a close ally, to serve another term as chair of the RNC. He has floated primary challenges to Republicans, such as Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who have crossed him by rejecting his baseless theories of election fraud. He has even asked aides how he can retain control of the party if he isn’t a candidate.

One person close to Trump said that he has sounded less certain about declaring he’s running in 2024 than he had just two weeks ago. That uncertainty is causing anxiety for a number of advisers and aides to the president, some of whom might join other campaigns but are stuck in limbo until Trump makes up his mind. Announcing for president would trigger tighter rules on Trump’s political spending and added financial disclosures, including of Trump’s personal finances, that simply operating a PAC would not.

Trump’s future ambitions have also created a cloud over who exactly will control some of the most valuable assets from the 2020 campaign, including Trump’s lengthy list of supporters from whom he has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Both the RNC and Trump are entitled to some of this valuable voter data, and efforts at “decoupling” the data are underway but expected to last months.

The RNC has typically stayed out of presidential primaries, but no former president in the modern era has seriously considered running again after losing reelection, putting the party apparatus in uncharted territory. His embrace of McDaniel as an ally in running the party could further complicate matters.

“There’s no bully pulpit as large as the presidency, but nevertheless, President Trump is likely to play a significant role in the future of the Republican Party,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It’s very difficult to imagine him following the same pattern as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other presidents have followed in keeping their mouths shut and letting the new president try to govern.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

Chris Britt Comic Strip for December 18, 2020
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Ryan Cooper Sat, December 12, 2020, 5:30 AM CST

Let’s review two pieces of news from the last week. First, the American coronavirus pandemic is entering its worst stage yet, with cases and deaths skyrocketing across the country. Last Thursday saw over 3,000 deaths — more than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor — and with ICU beds at or near capacity in most of the country, absent serious change it is possible there will be double or even triple that number per day in a matter of weeks. We may yet top the deadliest day in American history, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that killed an estimated 8,000 people, very soon. President Trump is doing precisely nothing about this.

Second, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under investigation for bribery and abuse of office, filed a baldly seditious lawsuit calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and hand their electoral votes to Trump. It was flatly an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, end constitutional government, and install Trump in power. Before the Supreme Court threw the suit out Friday night, 17 other Republican state attorneys general had joined him, along with 126 members of the Republican caucus in the House, while Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has agreed to represent Trump. And this is just one of dozens of attempts that Republicans at all levels of government have concocted to overturn Trump’s loss.

In short, material conditions in this country have not been this bad since 1932 at least, and the political situation has not been this bad since 1860. The logical endgame of the rapidly-accelerating Republican attempt to destroy democracy while the country burns would be civil war — if it weren’t for the high probability that Democratic leaders would be too cowardly to fight.

But it’s worth thinking about what a party seriously committed to preserving democracy would do when faced with a seditious opposition party — namely, cut them out of power and force them to behave. Democrats could declare all traitors ineligible to serve in national office, convene a Patriot Congress composed solely of people who have not committed insurrection against the American government, and use that power to re-entrench democracy.

The reasoning here is very simple. All members of Congress swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which establishes a republican form of government. The whole point of a republic is that contests for power are conducted through a framework of rules and democratic elections, where all parties agree to respect the result whether they lose or win. Moreover, the premise of this lawsuit was completely preposterous — arguing in effect that states should not be allowed to set their own election rules if that means more Democrats can vote — and provides no evidence whatsoever for false allegations of tens of thousands of instances of voter fraud. Indeed, several of the representatives who support the lawsuit were themselves just elected by the very votes they now say are fraudulent. The proposed remedy — having Republican-dominated legislatures in only the four states that gave Biden his margin of victory select Trump electors — would be straight-up election theft.

In other words, this lawsuit, even though it didn’t succeed, is a flagrant attempt to overturn the constitutional system and impose through authoritarian means the rule of a corrupt criminal whose doltish incompetence has gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed. It is a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” as the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin jointly wrote in their response to Texas trying to steal their elections.

The Constitution, as goofy and jerry-rigged as it is, stipulates that insurrectionists who violate their oath are not allowed to serve in Congress. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, written to exclude Confederate Civil War traitors, says that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who … having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same[.]” How the Supreme Court ruled, or whether Republicans actually believe their lunatic claims, is irrelevant. It’s still insurrection even if it doesn’t work out.

Democrats would have every right, both under the Constitution and under the principle of popular sovereignty outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to convene a traitor-free Congress (also including similar acts committed by Republican senators like Lindsey GrahamDavid Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and others), and pass such laws as would be necessary to preserve the American republic. That might include a national popular vote to decide the presidency, ironclad voting rights protections, a ban on gerrymandering either national or state district boundaries, full representation for the citizens of D.C. and Puerto Rico, regulations on internet platforms that are inflaming violent political extremism, a clear legal framework for the transfer of power that ends the lame duck period, and so on. States would be forced to agree to these measures before they can replace their traitorous representatives and senators. If the Supreme Court objects, more pro-democracy justices can be added.

This wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened, either. Immediately after the Civil War, the Radical Republican Congress refused to seat delegations from the former rebellious states until they were satisfied with the progress of Reconstruction. Southern states were forced to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments — which guaranteed due process and universal male suffrage — before their congressional delegations would be seated. (As a consequence, those delegations included numerous Black representatives, until Reconstruction was overthrown.)

It is virtually impossible to imagine the ancient, timid fossils that run the Democratic Party even considering this kind of thing (though remarkably, Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has) because it would require courage, vision, and honestly reckoning with the parlous state of the nation. It would not be illegal, but it would be a step beyond narrow legal proceduralism and into the uncharted waters of aggressive political innovation and raw will-to-power. It could conceivably touch off armed unrest in several states.

But it’s not hard to see where the current conservative trajectory is headed. While elected Republicans have tried to overturn the election using increasingly blatant methods, top conservative pundits are mulling the idea of secession, as their treasonous fire-eater forebears did 160 years ago. The lie that Biden stole the election is now official GOP dogma. By the same token, it is not a coincidence that the Republican Party is ignoring the deadly pandemic (if not actively spreading the virus) while they try to overturn the Constitution. They feel they can safely ignore the welfare of the American people, because they are not accountable to them.

Unless this escalating conservative extremism halts from the inside somehow — which is not remotely in sight anywhere — this can only end eventually in a violent confrontation, or (much more likely) Democrats will simply give up and let themselves be defeated. Still, this country was founded by people who thought it was worth putting their lives at hazard to throw off tyrannical rule. Perhaps some of that spirit can once again be found.

7 criminally funny cartoons about Trump’s potential pardon spree

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When did we fall asleep at the switch? This past 4 years of Trumpism has clouded the eyes of many. This clouding has allowed the Conservative GOP and the right side of religion to ascend in ways that serve them selves, not the voters. This election kerfuffle has sucked all of rationality out of ordinary events and allowed “Botch” McConnel to jump on it with both feet. He and his miscreants are busily withholding the tax payers funds from the pandemic and economic relief. Their reasons for dragging their feet have ranged from the future financial burden on our grandchildren to people not wanting to go to work if they receive benefits from the government. If anyone could be accused of not going to work, it would be the Congress! I can assure you that not one of the 535 plus members of the Congress has lost a minutes pay, healthcare or a place to lay their heads during this pandemic yet they are creating a nation of indigents while continuing to lie about their actions. How many millions are they spending to fight a legal election because TOTUS wants it. Once Donald J. Trump is out of office, will they all of a sudden start doing their jobs? If you are paying attention please listen to what these neer do wells are saying and pay close attention to what they are doing. The wake up call is now as we have put too much trust in 500 plus people of whom a third of them are actually doing their jobs. A simple line I coined is: The two middle letters in politician is “LI” pronounced “lie”.

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POLITICS 12/02/2020 03:20 pm ET

It is worth noting that these supporters are the same people who do not believe in women’s reproductive rights and are against abortion no matter what. MA

By Carol Kuruvilla- Huffpost.

It’s more than just loyalty to the Republican Party, experts say. A “parallel culture” and prophecies play into evangelicals’ not accepting Joe Biden’s win.

Even as his position grows increasingly isolated, President Donald Trump is not walking alone in his suspended state of disbelief about the results of the 2020 election. He is being propped up, as he has for years, by his loyal evangelical Christian fans.

While some evangelical leaders and institutions have congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his win, there is a large segment of the group that is staying mum on the issue ― or clinging to the Trump campaign’s unproven claims of widespread fraud.

The president’s closest evangelical advisers are split between those who are actively promoting the election fraud narrative, those who are subtly suggesting to their followers that there was fraud, and those who are silent, according to John Fea, a history professor at Messiah University who has been blogging about these Trump allies.

Fea told HuffPost he doesn’t know of any of these “court evangelicals” ― his label for the modern equivalent of the religious courtiers who once surrounded kings ― who have openly rejected the voter fraud claims. The ally who got the closest to publicly acknowledging the election results was Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress. In a Nov. 7 Fox News op-ed, Jeffress wrote that Biden “appears” to be the president-elect, unless Trump wins his legal challenges. That op-ed made headlines and, after it became clear that Jeffress’ stance was not shared by his peers, the pastor tweeted a condemnation of “false media reports” that he’d broken with the president. Over the last few weeks, Jeffress, who spent the past four years vigorously defending some of Trump’s most controversial policies, has been largely silent about the election on Twitter.

Some of Trump’s close evangelical allies have suggested they are waiting for the “truth” to be made known about the election ― including Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham; Paula White, Trump’s spiritual adviser; and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

“In other words, they are giving credence to this whole election fraud narrative by virtue of their silence and carefully worded tweets that suggest there might be fraud,” Fea told HuffPost.

Other evangelical figures have been eager to be part of the vanguard pursuing Trump’s claims of fraud. Much of this advocacy has come from Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, which counts Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis and right-wing activist Charlie Kirk among its fellows. Another fellow, Christian author Eric Metaxas, has been alleging on Twitter that the election was stolen ― at one point comparing alleged election fraud to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“I’d be happy to die in this fight,” Metaxas told Trump on his radio show on Monday. “This is a fight for everything. God is with us.”

This support has stayed strong even as nearly three dozen election-related lawsuits filed by Trump’s campaign have been thrown out or withdrawn. Two more key states ― Wisconsin and Arizona ― certified Biden’s victory on Monday. The campaign’s claims have even been rebuked by Attorney General William Barr, who told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

Evangelical leaders’ refusal to acknowledge the election results could be a product of their allegiance to the GOP. White evangelicals, in particular, are the most solidly Republican major religious group in the country. They could be simply following the example set by many Republican politicians who have refused to accept Biden’s win.

The “alternate reality” embraced by some evangelicals could also stem from a “parallel culture” that the religious group has built in recent decades, according to Randall Stephens, a historian at the University of Oslo who has studied American evangelicalism. Evangelicals have established their own homeschooling curricula, higher education institutions and accreditation bodies. They’ve created a separate world of entertainment and consumer culture. They have their own alternative experts and fields of knowledge that are largely cut off from the wider academic and intellectual community in the U.S., Stephens said.

“This parallel culture certainly now seems like it was primed for a figure like Trump to play a leading role in it,” he told HuffPost in an email. “Like so many believers, Trump was also skeptical of mainstream knowledge, climate science, vaccines, or the national origins of America’s first black president.”

For some conservative Christians, it seems nearly impossible that Trump could actually have lost the election, Stephens said. “They might ask themselves why this could possibly happen. Surely, many are thinking, it must be by some malevolent design on the part of Democrats,” Stephens said. “To think that the election was rigged and stolen is a way for them to frame this without completely losing face.”

Religious beliefs about Trump could also be at play. In the eyes of some Christians, his time at the White House has been touched with divine significance. At a moment when conservative Christians felt as if they were losing the culture wars, Trump was seen as a champion hand-selected by God. He may have been an outsider to the evangelical world, but his personal moral failings could be forgiven because of how he fought for causes dear to evangelicals. His actions evoked comparisons to kings in the Bible who, although they didn’t share the Jewish faith, treated the Jewish people with benevolence.

For some Christians, the narratives about Trump being chosen for such a time as this weren’t just stories ― they were prophecies from God, waiting to be tested. According to André Gagné, a theological studies professor at Concordia University and an expert on the Christian right, the belief that God has restored the role of the prophet in modern times is most common among evangelicals from the “neo-charismatic” wave of Pentecostalism, which emerged in the 1980s. Neo-charismatic Pentecostals are a minority within American Christianity ― it’s more of a movement than a specific denomination. As a result, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many Americans currently believe prophecies about God wanting Trump to be a two-term president, Gagné said. However, he added, Trump-supporting prophets have amassed substantial followings. They spread their ideas by working with well-established professional networks of like-minded preachers, Gagné said. And now, they are using their platforms to spread theories about election fraud and encourage their audiences to wait just a little longer for the truth to triumph.

“People need to realize that these movements in evangelicalism are not fringe,” Gagné told HuffPost. “These people are really active and they’re successful.”

Lance Wallnau, an evangelical author who has enjoyed access to the White House under the Trump administration, claims that God revealed to him before the 2016 election that Trump would become president and act as a “King Cyrus” ― one of those biblical kings that evangelicals see as benevolent to God’s people. As of this week, Wallnau is still insisting that Trump won the 2020 election by a “landslide.” He has been speculating about election fraud in a series of Facebook live videos for his more than 500,000 followers.

“You’re the smartest audience out there,” Wallnau told his Facebook followers on Monday. “You are the sharpest, you’re the ones that are informed ― you realize that America’s future and the lawlessness that could be released on America is contingent upon this president actually being able to stand in the place that God called him to. And as I believe, God called him to stand longer than what the enemy is trying to do right now.”

Mark Taylor, a retired Florida firefighter, says that God told him in 2011 that Trump would be a two-term president. Taylor’s story inspired a Liberty University-affiliated film, “The Trump Prophecy,” that was released in over 1,000 U.S. theaters. Last week Taylor insisted on his YouTube channel that Trump would be declared president again and that faithful believers just have to be patient and continue praying.

Another prophet, Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church in Redding, California, initially apologized for predicting that Trump would win the election. But he later took that apology down, saying he had decided to “wait until the official vote count is complete.”

Pat Robertson, the 90-year-old founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, is perhaps the prophet with the loudest microphone. His show, “The 700 Club,” reaches about 650,000 U.S. households every day, according to the network, and has over 2.8 million followers on Facebook. A longtime Trump fan, Robertson told his audience in October that God revealed to him that Trump would win the election “without question.” Last week, Robertson said that Trump still had several paths to victory and that there had been election fraud. On Tuesday, he continued to insist that Trump had “probably” won but turned his ire toward the president’s legal team, claiming they had “screwed up” by waiting too long to start challenging the results of the election.

“They just didn’t think it was necessary, they thought it was an honest election, we’ll just go down and take the results, but they should have known,” Robertson said.

Ultimately, Gagné thinks these prophets will have to grapple with the fact that their predictions didn’t come true. At that point, they may turn to their global networks to try to influence politics in other nations with a strong evangelical presence, such as Brazil. But before doing so, members of the movement will likely rely on “loopholes” to explain the failed predictions, he said ― by claiming that the prophets made a mistake or that God wanted Trump to win but decided not to let it happen to teach the American church a lesson.

“So you either blame the prophet, saying he misheard, or you blame the church or Christians, because they didn’t do what they had to do,” Gagné said.

Donald Trump and then-wife Ivana Trump attend a 90th birthday party for Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (far right) at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on May 26, 1988.

Although he’s the figure at the center of all these prophecies, Trump hasn’t indicated that he is a charismatic Christian who believes in supernatural gifts granted by the Holy Spirit. The religious figure often cited as most influential for Trump was Norman Vincent Peale, a Christian minister who wrote the best-selling book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Trump’s parents joined Peale’s New York City church in the 1970s, and Peale presided at Trump’s wedding to Ivana Trump.

A forefather of the self-help movement, Peale encouraged people to visualize their success and to “never think of yourself as failing.” Negative thoughts would lead to negative outcomes, the minister suggested.

In his 2004 book, “How to Get Rich,” Trump called “The Power of Positive Thinking” one of his favorite books. “Some people may think it’s old-fashioned, but what Peale has written will always be true. He advocates faith over fear. Faith can overcome the paralysis that fear brings with it,” Trump wrote.

Both Gagné and Stephens said they see Peale’s influence in Trump’s inability to admit defeat.

Trump’s approach to the election results is similar to how he has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephens said ― dismissing its severity at every opportunity and admonishing his supporters to not let it dominate their lives.

In “How to Get Rich,” the future president asserted, “To me, germs are just another kind of negativity.” “That flippant attitude, shocking to many, speaks volumes about how Trump conceives of reality,” Stephens said.

Carol Kuruvilla

Religion Reporter, HuffPost

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