A NEW LIFE OF MALCOLM X BRIMMING WITH DETAIL, INSIGHT AND FEELING ~ NYT

THE DEAD ARE ARISING 
The Life of Malcolm X 
By Les Payne and Tamara Payne

Les Payne’s “The Dead Are Arising” arrives in late 2020, bequeathed to an America choked by racism and lawlessness. The book’s subject, Malcolm X, knows this place well, though he died in 1965. Readers may pick up this biography hoping for a celebration of Black pride and resilience in the midst of madness. Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who devoted nearly 30 years to the book before his death in 2018, meets these needs intermittently, but that is not his primary goal. Malcolm’s presence is beautifully rendered, but “The Dead Are Arising,” which was ultimately completed by Payne’s daughter and principal researcher, Tamara Payne, is not a tribute or enshrinement of achievements. Instead, it reconstructs the conditions and key moments of Malcolm’s life, thanks to hundreds of original interviews with his family, friends, colleagues and adversaries. Nobody has written a more poetic account.

This book reveals more of Malcolm’s childhood than we have ever seen. The Paynes’ research elucidates a family history of American racial terror that preceded his birth in 1925. Malcolm’s middle-class parents moved several times, often into neighborhoods they knew were hostile, confronting the Ku Klux Klan, local officials and bigoted employers. His father, Earl Little, died when Malcolm (born Malcolm Little) was 6, the victim of a streetcar accident that Malcolm later suspected was a cover-up for the work of a racist mob.

His mother, Louise, kept the family together as long as she could, but eventually succumbed to poverty and mental illness. Malcolm, then 13, and his seven siblings were scattered into foster care and other arrangements. Still, the influence of his parents, who were steeped in the teachings of Marcus Garvey, cannot be overstated. They could not nurture Malcolm through childhood, but they steeled him with the truth: He owed white people nothing. Not deference, or trust, or gratitude for whatever comfort he might find in life. Malcolm’s character and beliefs changed over the years. Defiance of white supremacy was his essence.

Les Payne wrote “The Dead Are Arising” in part to correct the record in Malcolm X’s autobiography, as is evident in his treatment of Malcolm’s troubled adolescence. Malcolm’s time as a hustler is subject to debate. The historian Manning Marable’s award-winning biography, published in 2011, argues that Malcolm’s autobiography embellishes his early crimes to dramatize his later redemption. “The Dead Are Arising” does not directly engage Marable, but it refutes his interpretation and fills in gaps in Malcolm’s own account. Though he was rarely violent, Malcolm was embedded in a social network of thieves, drug dealers, racketeers and prostitutes as he split his late teenage years between Boston and New York City. His tragic and frequently despicable behavior marked him for early imprisonment, if not death.

Incarceration at 20 was the pivot of Malcolm’s life. He accepted the teachings of the Nation of Islam while behind bars, thanks to evangelizing correspondence from his brothers Philbert and Reginald. Upon his release, Malcolm dedicated himself to his new religion and its captivating and duplicitous leader, Elijah Muhammad. He quickly became the group’s most effective and recognizable spokesman, with fierce criticism of white America and a gospel of Black self-respect. Malcolm’s political celebrity and unapologetic approach ultimately turned the leadership of the Nation of Islam against him, and Muhammad gave the assassination order that led to Malcolm’s killing.

One possible criticism is that Payne does not provide an exhaustive account of Malcolm’s political philosophy. The book contains little analysis of Malcolm’s most celebrated speeches, debates or interviews. Instead, Payne most fully presents Malcolm’s ideas in contrast to those of both Muhammad and Martin Luther King Jr.

This discussion unfolds in one of the book’s strongest sections, a retelling of a bizarre arranged meeting between Malcolm and the leadership of the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta in 1961. Muhammad sent Malcolm and his colleague Jeremiah X to attend the meeting on behalf of the Nation of Islam, and Malcolm never forgave him. Payne puts readers in the room, and Malcolm’s disgust at being forced to negotiate with terrorists is palpable. But Payne also shows how enthralling it was to watch Malcolm improvise and argue. In this scene and others, we are exposed to Malcolm’s teachings within the rhythm of Payne’s masterly storytelling.

The portion of the book that may receive the most attention is Payne’s account of Malcolm’s assassination at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. The details of the killing have never been totally clear, but Payne’s narrative is exacting. He spotlights key figures and examines the possible involvement of the F.B.I. and New York City police. But I found myself less intrigued by the loose ends of Malcolm’s assassination than devastated by the indignity and simplicity of the killing. Malcolm knew he was in danger and did little to protect himself. He had broken from the Nation of Islam, dedicated himself to Sunni Islam and begun experimenting with new tools for a global, human-rights-based movement for Black liberation. He was forceful, fine and weary, but not finished. And then three men rushed the stage, bullets ripped through Malcolm’s flesh and he bled to death on the floor. We lost him, again.

It is hard not to want Malcolm back, because his charisma is undeniable. His heroism grew from his courage, but also from his delight in his Blackness and his cause. Whenever I see footage of Malcolm, he seems on the verge of smiling, no matter how fiery his words or powerful his enemies. He can’t help laughing at white America’s hypocrisy, and mocking the calls to bargain with a government that wanted him silenced. There was an amused confidence that attracted his followers, along with his rhetorical genius and love for Black people.

But Malcolm’s power was more than embodied charm, and he need not rise from the dead. His diagnosis of calamity is enough to guide us. America has never been a nation of laws for Black people, he said. A country that is conditionally lawful is not lawful at all. It is weak, and will eventually be exposed, no matter how much wealth and military power it amasses. And in such a country, he wondered, what good is it for Black people to ask for trim legal solutions to police violence, electoral theft, segregation and poverty?

An epilogue to “The Dead Are Arising” comments briefly on Malcolm’s legacy, but it doesn’t take a Pulitzer Prize winner to see Malcolm’s inheritance in the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter isn’t asking for anything. Like Malcolm, it demands everything that Black people deserve, by any means necessary. It does not advocate violence, but will not abide the sick moral logic that condemns destruction of property as “too extreme” a response to the police shooting us in the back. And thanks to the leadership of Black women and Black L.G.B.T.Q. people, the imagination of the current movement is even more expansive than its predecessors in the mid-20th century. This is the promise they keep, and the idea that pushed Payne to write until death took the pen: We will exceed even Malcolm’s wildest dreams.

Michael P. Jeffries is the dean of academic affairs and a professor of American studies at Wellesley College. He is the author of three books on race and American culture.

COLORADO’S FIRST-EVER CRIMINAL CHARGES FOLLOWING AN AVALANCHE COULD BE SLIPPERY SLOPE FOR BACKCOUNTRY TRAVELERS ~ THE COLORADO SUN

BACKCOUNTRY USERS BEWARE, ‘THE MAN IS GONNA GET YOU!!!!’ ~ RŌBERT

The two snowboarders talk about snow conditions and route selection as they drop in, one at a time. Gusting wind is blowing snow across the ridge as they wind between reefy rocks.

“Avalanche!” yells Tyler DeWitt as he cranks to a stop below his friend Evan Hannibal. 

The two watch the slide — captured on video by Hannibal’s helmet camera — grow from a small slough of wind-deposited snow into a deep avalanche that buries the service road above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnels with 20 feet of snow. 

“F***, dude that is what I was worried about,” Hannibal says.

“F***, dude that is not good,” DeWitt says. 

“I really hope nobody was on that road,” Hannibal says.And this time, for the first time ever in Colorado, the statements and video given by Hannibal and DeWitt are the basis of criminal charges filed by a prosecutor who is seeking $168,000 from the snowboarders to pay for an avalanche mitigation device destroyed in the March 25 slide. 

“We called the authorities in on ourselves. We handled it in a professional manner and tried to be as professional as we could be when a mistake was made,” said Hannibal, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician in Vail who has been snowboarding in Colorado’s backcountry for more than a decade. “I think the backcountry community should be worried about the repercussions here when you report an avalanche and tell the truth and get charged with a crime.”

Boarders charged with reckless endangerment

The avalanche below the Continental Divide barreled down a chute directly above Interstate 70. It started small — 4- to 6-inches deep — and then stepped down to deeper, weaker layers in the snowpack, eventually scouring the ground. More than 400 feet of the Loop Road above the west portal of the tunnels was buried. 

What began as a small slide of a few inches of fresh snow stepped down to a weak layer and ultimately scoured the ground in the March 25 avalanche. The snowboarders who triggered the slide face reckless endangerment charges and fines to replace a damaged avalanche mitigation system, which is marked by the blue ovals. (Provided by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center)

Bruce Brown, the district attorney for Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, said he studied the video of the accident. He points out that the two snowboarders were aware of the risk of an avalanche and discussed how to avoid that risk.

“We charged them with reckless endangerment because it was foreseeable they were putting other people at risk of serious bodily injury in that they recognized the potential for a slide and they could obviously see, right below their skis, I-70, where 100,000 cars go by each week,” Brown said. “They knew if there was a slide, it could end up on the roadway, endangering the traveling public.”

DeWitt and Hannibal had all the avalanche equipment needed for rescue and the video shows them practicing safety protocol —  discussing safe routes, noting hazards, moving one-at-a-time and stopping in safe zones — as they navigated through avalanche terrain. DeWitt had been riding different chutes in the area the weeks prior, with no incident. The chute the two chose to descend on March 25 had two remote controlled O’bellx avalanche mitigation cannons, which the Colorado Department of Transportation installed in the fall of 2018 to bring down smaller avalanches to minimize the chance of a larger slide burying the interstate.

“The riders assumed that the avalanche mitigation to protect the tunnel infrastructure decreased the avalanche hazard on the slope,” the CAIC report on the avalanche reads, also noting the difference between avalanche mitigation to protect infrastructure, which reduces the potential for large slides, and mitigation at ski areas, which reduces the potential for small, human-triggered slides. “Backcountry travelers who are unaware of the differences often overestimate the hazard reduction from an infrastructure mitigation program.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation, which spent $371,000 in 2018 installing three remote control avalanche mitigation systems above I-70 around the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels and another on Berthoud Pass, had never lost an O’bellx or Gazex avalanche device in a slide. 

The agency and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center use more than a dozen of the remote controlled systems on Loveland and Berthoud passes to reduce avalanche hazards above U.S. 6 and U.S. 40. CDOT has not replaced the O’bellx unit lost in the March avalanche. An agency spokeswoman said CDOT is looking at “alternative plans to ensure the slide path is safe” throughout the 2020-21 season.  

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

In My Mountain Town, We’re Preparing for Dark Times ~ NYT

As the contagion spreads, we look ahead to winter and wonder whom we can safely pull close.

By Christopher Solomon

Mr. Solomon is a contributing editor at Outside.

The North Cascades in Washington, mid-October.Credit…Ian Allen for The New York Times
TWISP, Wash. —

At dawn the deer are as thick as cattle in the valley bottom, feeding on what remains after summer’s final haying. Soon, hunting season’s first shot will scatter them to higher country, where winds shake the aspens’ first golden coins to the ground. There’s not much time. So they eat the stubble without pause, fattening up for the hungry months ahead.

At the river, the water is skinny but runs cold again with the return of freezing nights. The trout feel the change and are voracious. This makes them reckless, and the fishing is good in the squinting hours around sunrise. I tie on an October caddis and skate the fly over the water in the blue morning. Big trout lunge after it, detonating the quiet.
It is autumn again in the mountains of the West, and what is not gracefully dying is desperate to live.

I live in the lap of tall peaks in Washington’s North Cascades, where the turn from summer to fall always mixes beauty with melancholy. October’s yellow afternoons smell of winter at the edges. The soft ovation of the cottonwoods sends another round of leaves adrift on the water. Everything lovely harbingers an ending. Nothing gold can stay, as Frost wrote.

Even in the lovely moments, a franticness belies the season here, the underlying rhythm of life in hard places. The black bear roots for the last frost-shriveled berries. The fish lurches to the fly. The woodcutter’s saw screams in the quiet forest, as she piles the rounds that will warm her family. All of us in our fashion rush to lay in the things we need before winter descends.

I stand in the river, ice water girdling my hips, and I cast, and cast again. I am as ravenous as the trout. I, too, need something to sustain me. But what, exactly?

This autumn feels different than those of the past. The wistfulness of the season is stronger, and the pace of the days feels more urgent. All spring and summer, as places such as New York suffered terribly because of the pandemic, we enjoyed our relative isolation and the lack of outbreaks. Our valley wants for many things, but we do not lack for elbow room. When the news, and the numbers, grew ever more awful, we simply headed outside, alone or together, as we sought the solace of open spaces, as Gretel Ehrlich put it.

The other asset that makes this place special is its sense of community. Late each autumn the already-small population of the valley shrinks smaller still, as avalanches close one of the few roads to Seattle and the snowbirds migrate south. People who have scattered to the woods and peaks and fields all summer now return, and the community knits itself together again for the cold winter months, buried in snow.

There are Tuesday night science talks at the Red Barn, and pickup hockey at the rink on Wednesdays, and costume parties at the Grange Hall. Friends crowd into snug, stove-lighted places, and they share meals featuring the tomatoes they canned the previous summer. We are the rancher’s cattle pushed down from summer range by first snow to gather together closely for the winter, warmer together.

The turn from summer to fall always mixes beauty with melancholy
The turn from summer to fall always mixes beauty with melancholyCredit…Ian Allen for The New York Times

In an era of contagion, though, closeness is treacherous. We are told to stay out of one another’s homes. We are advised to avoid gatherings. What makes us human — the need for connection, for human touch — is now suspect.

And so my friends and I fish too long when we should be picking the last frost-sweetened plums. We put our hands on the still-warm granite of the climbing pitch rather than cook down the applesauce. We take ridgeline hikes among larch the color of struck matches when we should be at the work desk. We run for hours through the mountains without thought of tomorrow’s soreness, or the firewood left uncut.

We tear at the days immoderately, like animals, and we wolf them down, hoping to fill a hole we see yawning ahead. There’s not much time. The forecast calls for snow up high this week — “termination dust,” the locals call it.

And so we also grab at the invitations to dinner outside with others — invitations that once felt casual but that now feel urgent. We sit on the patio drinking summer drinks long after summer is gone, ignoring the shivering night. We look for more human connections to make, wondering who we can safely pull close, whose friendship will keep us both warm. We are laying by memories for winter, as the bear puts on fat, in hopes what we have will be enough for the long, dark times to come.

FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF TELLS FRIENDS THAT TRUMP ‘IS THE MOST FLAWED PERSON’ HE’S EVER MET ~ CNN Sunday night special

(CNN) — Former White House chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, has told friends that President Donald Trump “is the most flawed person” he’s ever known.

“The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” the retired Marine general has told friends, CNN has learned.The reporting comes from a new CNN special scheduled to air Sunday night, “The Insiders: A Warning from Former Trump Officials,” in which former senior administration officials — including former national security adviser John Bolton, former Health and Human Services scientist Rick Bright and former Department of Homeland Security general counsel John Mitnick — explain why they think the President is unfit for office. 

Kelly’s sentiments about the President’s transactional nature and dishonesty have been shared by other former members of the Trump administration who also appear in the special. Olivia Troye, a former top adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, has said the President knew about the impact the coronavirus pandemic would have on the US by mid-February, but that “he didn’t want to hear it, because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year.” Miles Taylor, a former DHS chief of staff who now serves as a CNN contributor, has assertedTrump essentially calls individuals within the federal government who disagree with him “deep state.” 

Elizabeth Neumann, another former DHS official, had criticized Trump for not condemning White supremacy after the first presidential debate in September.

“The fact that he continues to not be able to just point-blank say, ‘I condemn White supremacy.’ It boggles the mind,” she told CNN at the time.

Trump did say on Thursday during a town hall on NBC that he condemned White supremacy. “I denounce White supremacy, OK?,” Trump told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. “I’ve denounced White supremacy for years.” 

The President sometimes is successfully cajoled to condemn White supremacists, but often — such as in the first presidential debate — seems reluctant do so, perhaps so as to not alienate any potential votes.Kelly, who left the White House under contentious circumstances in January 2019, has occasionally voiced criticisms of the Trump administration since leaving his post.In June, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police and Trump’s response to the subsequent protests and calls for racial justice, Kelly said he agreed with former Secretary of Defense Gen. Jim Mattis’ stark warning that Trump is “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people.” Kelly said he would have cautioned Trump against the idea of using law enforcement to clear Lafayette Square of protesters ahead of the President’s now infamous photo op in front of a nearby church. Kelly also defended retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for raising concerns about the President’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — the call at the heart of the President’s impeachment. And Kelly has said he believes Bolton’s allegation that Trump conditioned US security aid to Ukraine on an investigation into political rivals. Kelly has said that before he left the White House, he cautioned Trump: “Don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth. … Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.” 

Since Kelly’s departure, the White House and the President have maintained that the former general wasn’t cut out for his job in the West Wing. 

“When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head,” Trump tweeted in February. “Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut.”

Heather Cox Richardson ~ Letters From an American

October 16, 2020

The theme of the day was the palpable sense of rats leaving a sinking ship as Republicans, administration officials, and administration-adjacent people distanced themselves from the president. 

There was a foreshadowing of that exodus on Wednesday, when Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) let loose about the president in a telephone call with constituents. Sasse was an early critic of Trump but toned down his opposition significantly in the early part of the administration. On Wednesday, he reverted to his earlier position, saying he had “never been on the Trump train.” He complained about the way Trump “kisses dictators’ butts,” and went on: “The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor…. [He] mocks evangelicals behind closed doors…has treated the presidency like a business opportunity” and has “flirted with white supremacists.” He said: “What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?”

The theme of abandoning the administration became apparent yesterday, when officials leaked the story that intelligence officials had warned Trump against listening to his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. This was a high-level leak, and suggests that more and more staffers are starting to look for a way off the S.S. Trump.

The audience numbers for last night’s town halls was also revealing, as Biden attracted 700,000 more viewers on just one ABC outlet than Trump did on the three NBC outlets that carried his event. Biden’s town hall was the most watched event since the Oscars in February. It appears that people are simply tired of watching the president and are eager for calm and reason.

Today, a group called “43 Alumni for Biden” released an ad called “Team 46.” It says that they are all lifelong Republicans, but because they recognize the qualities of leadership—including empathy– everyone “on this team” is voting for Biden. “Let’s put Joe Biden in the White House.” The ad features a number of pictures of President George W. Bush, the forty-third president, and is narrated by someone whose voice sounds like his. Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance notes, “This looks awfully close to an endorsement of Biden from George W. Bush.”

Also today, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Committee, Jennifer Horn, urged “my fellow Republicans” not to vote for Trump’s reelection. In a piece in USA Today, Horn reminded Republicans of “the overwhelming sorrow and grief that this president” has inflicted on the country. Citing Covid-19 deaths, “cultural divides, racial unrest, economic disparity and constitutional abuses,” all of which “are just tools to be used to feed his narcissism, advance his political ambitions and line his pockets,” Horn indicted both Trump and the Republican Party that enables him. 

“This election poses a unique challenge,” she wrote. “It will test not Republican vs. Democrat or Trump vs. Biden, but rather, “We the People.” It is our role in this constitutional republic, our leadership, and our dedication to the promise of America that is being tested. Trump or America,” she wrote. “We cannot have both.”

Under pressure, Trump changed course today and approved the emergency declaration for California that he denied yesterday. Such a reconsideration would normally have taken until after the election, but this one happened fast. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted: “People are fleeing California. Taxes too high, Crime too high, Brownouts too many, Lockdowns too severe. VOTE FOR TRUMP, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE!!!”

Today CNN began teasers for a special on Sunday that will explain how former senior Trump officials believe Trump is unfit for the presidency. According to former White House Chief of Staff, retired Marine General John Kelly, “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”

Also today, Caroline Giuliani, the daughter of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, urged people to end Trump’s “reign of terror” by voting for “a compassionate and decent president,” Joe Biden. “[C]orruption starts with ‘yes-men’ and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power,” she wrote in a piece for Vanity Fair. “We’ve seen this ad nauseam with Trump and his cadre of high-level sycophants (the ones who weren’t convicted, anyway).” Giuliani cheered Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris for his running mate, and wrote, “in Joe Biden, we’ll have a leader who prioritizes common ground and civility over alienation, bullying, and scorched-earth tactics.” “[T]ogether,” she said, “we can vote this toxic administration out of office.”

And yet another story from the day: a third career prosecutor from the Department of Justice resigned after publicly attacking Attorney General William Barr for abusing his power to get Trump reelected. “After 36 years, I’m fleeing what was the U.S. Department of Justice,” Phillip Halpern wrote. “[T]he department’s past leaders were dedicated to the rule of law and the guiding principle that justice is blind. That is a bygone era, but it should not be forgotten.” Noting that “Barr has never actually investigated, charged or tried a case,” Halpern expressed deep concern over Barr’s “slavish obedience to Donald Trump’s will.” “This career bureaucrat seems determined to turn our democracy into an autocracy,” he warned.

Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler, who worked as a federal prosecutor under Barr when he was George H. W. Bush’s Attorney General, told Katie Benner of the New York Times that such criticism is “unprecedented,” and reflects Trump’s pressure on the AG. “I have never seen sitting prosecutors go on the record with concerns about the attorney general,” he said. 

And yet, Barr’s willingness to bend the Justice Department to Trump’s personal will may, in the end, not be enough to keep Trump’s favor. Angry that Barr did not produce a report attacking the Russia investigation before the election, Trump just yesterday said he wasn’t happy with Barr’s performance, and might not keep him on as AG if he wins a second term.

There are signs people in the administration are preparing for Trump to lose the election. His cabinet is rushing to change regulations to lock in Trump’s goal of giving more scope to businessmen to act as they see fit. Normally, changes in regulations require setting aside time for public comment on the changes, but the administration is shortening or eliminating those periods over changes in, for example, rules allowing railroads to move highly flammable liquefied natural gas on freight trains, what constitutes “contract” work, how much pollution factories can emit, and who can immigrate to America.

Russell Vought, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement: “President Trump has worked quickly from the beginning of his term to grow the economy by removing the mountain of Obama-Biden job-killing regulations,” and that the current push simply continues that effort. But no one is missing the quiet distancing going on in Washington as Republican lawmakers are shifting away from public support for the president.

Meanwhile, at his rally tonight in Georgia, Trump told the crowd “You should… lock up the Bidens, lock up Hillary.” The crowd then began to chant “Lock them up.” But one thing about a bully: when people finally start to turn on him, there is a stampede for the exits. 

Tonight, at his Georgia rally, Trump outlined all the ways in which he was being unfairly treated, then mused: “Could you imagine if I lose?… I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”

Trump Is Scared ~ The Atlantic

He seemed as if he might be delirious. He blasted out bewildering tweets in all caps. Sick and infectious, he circled the perimeter of the hospital in an armored SUV, waving to supporters. He demanded the arrest of his opponents.

After doctors treated Donald Trump with a steroid last week, following his COVID-19 diagnosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, other Trump critics, and national-security experts questioned whether the drug had warped his judgment. “Roid rage” started trending on Twitter. His condition revived talk about invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. A Stanford University law professor who had taken the same drug tweeted that she couldn’t be “president of my cat” when under its influence.

Those suspicions miss the point: Trump is belligerent when sick, just as he’s hostile when well. He sees plots when he’s dosed with dexamethasone and conspiracies when he’s gulping Diet Coke behind the Resolute desk. Days have passed since he apparently stopped taking the drug, and he sounds every bit as unmoored.

What’s been driving him in the final stretch of the campaign isn’t a medication that messes with his mood. It’s dread, people who’ve worked with him throughout the years told me. There are less than three weeks to go in a campaign that appears to be heading the wrong way. “He’s down and he’s likely to lose,” a former White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, told me. “This is fear.”

It’s hard to gauge whether Trump’s thinking was impaired. One measure that doctors use to spot changes in a patient’s behavior is deviations from the baseline. But Trump’s ordinary conduct is, “let’s say, charitably, unusual,” Robert Wachter, the chairman of the department of medicine at UC San Francisco, told me. Or, in the nonclinical and wholly unscientific assessment of the ex–White House official: “There’s no way to put lipstick on this pig. The guy is nuts.”

In fundamental ways, Trump’s recent behavior isn’t all that different from his conduct in other moments of personal stress; the stakes are just massively higher. In his book Trumped, Jack O’Donnell, a former Trump hotel-casino executive, describes how his boss lashed out about the installation of a new VIP lounge at one of his hotels in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the late 1980s. Trump liked high ceilings, but this one was set low to leave room for the pipes connected to hot tubs in the suites above. Inspecting the space one day, Trump swore, jumped up, and “punched his fist through the tile,” leaving one of his top executives feeling shaken and humiliated, O’Donnell writes.

Watching the news after Trump’s hospitalization, O’Donnell told me, he questioned the “people who supposedly know him who were acting like this behavior is a result of the steroids. While I think it’s ratcheted up a little bit, this is classic Donald Trump that you’re seeing.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, was struck by a moment in 2009 when Trump berated his eldest son, Donald Jr. He describes the scene in his book, Disloyal. Donald Trump was about to appear at a World Wrestling Entertainment event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, when his namesake asked him if he was nervous. “I’m going in front of millions of people. What kind of stupid fucking question is that? Get out of here,” Trump snapped, according to Cohen. (The White House has assailed Cohen’s credibility, along with his book.)

Right now, the pressure Trump may be “feeling, knowing that he’s going to lose the election, is intensifying everything that we’re seeing and putting him in a hyper-agitated state,” Cohen told me.

After all, Trump has pumped out baseless attacks before, sent unfathomable tweets before, accused opponents of criminal acts before. Speaking to Fox Business yesterday morning, Trump sprayed attacks with all the precision of 52 playing cards flung into the wind. He slammed Pelosi (“she’s got a lot of mental problems”), Joe Biden (“he’s mentally shot”), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (“incompetent”), antifa (“scum”), former FBI Director James Comey (“a corrupt person”), and the news media (“the enemy of our people”). Referring to Gretchen Whitmer not by name but by “she,” he said that the Democratic governor wants “to be a dictator in Michigan.”

“The people can’t stand her,” he added, just days after the FBI revealed that Whitmer was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot.

None of this behavior especially surprises those who’ve heard Oval Office rants dating back to the start of Trump’s presidency. “In terms of his current behavior, to me it looks like just another day at the office,” John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, told me. “He doesn’t need steroids to behave this way.”

In Oval Office meetings, John Kelly, the president’s ex–chief of staff, would clear the room of lower-level aides when Trump grew irate. “His face would get contorted and red, and you could see spit flying out of his mouth because he would get so mad about something,” Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, told me. “Sometimes he’d get mad about something that wasn’t even the topic of the meeting.”

Taylor remembers an instance when Trump berated him for taking notes at a meeting. “What the fuck are you doing? Are you fucking taking notes?” Trump looked at him and said, Taylor recalled. “And then he waited and he just stopped, and I closed my notebook.”

“I don’t think the so-called roid rage was all that remarkable,” added Taylor, who’s become an outspoken Trump critic.

It might all get worse. As Election Day nears, Trump’s dread may only grow, and his outbursts may only become more desperate. He may step up attacks in hopes of staving off a loss that he’d see as an intolerable rebuke. For someone who craves adulation and can’t ever seem to get enough, defeat could leave a hole that no treatment can remedy.

Colorado reports ‘bonkers’ increase of 2,400 percent in early voting ~ The Hill

More than 300,000 Colorado voters have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 elections, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Thursday. 

Griswold announced the news in a tweet, adding that this number was “24 times more than at this point in 2016.”

The data, calculated based on ballots sent in by Wednesday evening, came with 20 days left before the general elections. At this time in 2016, just 12,141 people had voted, a spokeswoman for Griswold told the Denver Post

In Colorado, which mails a ballot to every registered voter, the new voting numbers mark a 2,377 percent increase in early turnout this year compared with 2016, a rise Democratic political consultant Craig Hughes called “bonkers,” according to the Post. 

“It’s great for democracy to see so many Coloradans making their voices heard,” Griswold told the news outlet. “Even with ballots still being mailed this week to registered voters, turnout is 24 times higher than at this point in 2016.”

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

The Final Season of the Trump Show ~ The Atlantic

Last night’s dueling town halls made clear why the president’s campaign is flailing.

David FrumStaff writer at The Atlantic

In a nightmare alternate universe, Americans find hope by viewing films from a different dimension, where life unfolds as normal. That’s the plot of the Amazon science-fiction series The Man in the High Castle. It was also the experience many Americans had as they flipped back and forth between two town halls last night, one on NBC with President Donald Trump, the other on ABC with former Vice President Joe Biden.

Professionals often watch political debates with the sound off. Because of the bizarre format of the evening, I watched last night’s with the sound on, on two screens at once, sometimes focusing on one dialogue, sometimes on the other. The most striking contrast was how much louder the Trump event was than the Biden event. Trump shouts. Biden talks. Toggling between the two was like switching from heavy metal to midnight jazz.

Other differences became apparent too. When Trump has to deal with something he doesn’t like—such as Savannah Guthrie’s questions about his debts—he blusters great clouds of defensive words. The words do not form sentences, do not cohere into ideas, do not contain truthful information. But they do form a defensive wall of noise against unwelcome inquiry. When Biden got a challenging question—for example, whether Trump deserved some credit for peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates—he used the bullfighter method: Let the charge advance far enough to dissipate some of its energy, and only then strike back. So Biden allowed that Trump did deserve “a little” credit, but “not much.” And then, rather than arguing the point, he offered a different frame for thinking about foreign-policy success: trust by allies, acceptance of America’s standing in the world.

The most important difference, though, was starkly highlighted by the side-by-side presentations. For Trump, the supposed businessman, everything is a war, every question an attack, and every attack demands a counterpunch. Biden, the career politician, treated each encounter as a sale. When he was challenged—on fracking and the Green New Deal, for example—he did not counterpunch. He made a counteroffer.

Trump needs enemies. After the debate, his campaign released this statement: “President Trump soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate. President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie’s attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room.” The Biden campaign was not so quick to offer its own release, in part because Biden lingered afterward in the hall, talking and taking questions face-to-face, but perhaps also because it did not feel the need to identify a target for hate and rage.

At the end of the scheduled time, each candidate was invited to address a broader question. Guthrie asked Trump what he would say to uncertain voters. A questioner from the audience asked Biden what he would do to unite the country in the event that he lost the election in November. Trump answered by saying that he would tell the undecided voter what a great job he was doing as president. Biden answered that if he lost, he would have to accept that he had failed as a candidate—but that he would never accept that the divisions in the country are as real as Donald Trump wants them to be.

The contrast was striking and poignant. Even more striking: Trump failed to use his open opportunity effectively. He said nothing to that hypothetical undecided voter that was as forceful as his opening quasi-apology for QAnon, which he praised as a movement strongly opposed to pedophilia. That will be Trump’s most quoted statement of the evening. Biden, by contrast, contemplating defeat, delivered his best case for victory: a statement of faith in the country as something bigger than himself.

One of Trump’s spokespeople derided the Biden event as “an episode of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood.” (In authentic Trump style, she misspelled the name.) If this was meant to suggest that the evening was all smiles and saccharine—well, it only showed that the spokesperson had never watched the classic children’s program hosted by Fred Rogers.

Rogers well understood the darkness in the world. The maker of a documentary about him explained: “What he’s doing is not just providing joy for children but really trying to allay fear.” But of course, in Trump world, allaying fear is the last thing you want to do. What you want to do in Trump world is incite fear, stoke fear, manipulate fear, and exploit fear. That can apparently work—at least with some people, and at least for a limited time. But only for some people, and only for a limited time. Rogers’s show ran for decades. The Man in the High Castle ended after four seasons.

Rudy Giuliani Is My Father. Please, Everyone, Vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ~ Vanity Fair

I have a difficult confession—something I usually save for at least the second date. My father is Rudy Giuliani. We are multiverses apart, politically and otherwise. I’ve spent a lifetime forging an identity in the arts separate from my last name, so publicly declaring myself as a “Giuliani” feels counterintuitive, but I’ve come to realize that none of us can afford to be silent right now. The stakes are too high. I accept that most people will start reading this piece because you saw the headline with my father’s name. But now that you’re here, I’d like to tell you how urgent I think this moment is.

To anyone who feels overwhelmed or apathetic about this election, there is nothing I relate to more than desperation to escape corrosive political discourse. As a child, I saw firsthand the kind of cruel, selfish politics that Donald Trump has now inflicted on our country. It made me want to run as far away from them as possible. But trust me when I tell you: Running away does not solve the problem. We have to stand and fight. The only way to end this nightmare is to vote. There is hope on the horizon, but we’ll only grasp it if we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Around the age of 12, I would occasionally get into debates with my father, probably before I was emotionally equipped to handle such carnage. It was disheartening to feel how little power I had to change his mind, no matter how logical and above-my-pay-grade my arguments were. He always found a way to justify his party line, whatever it was at the time. Even though he was considered socially moderate for a Republican back in the day, we still often butted heads. When I tried to explain my belief that you don’t get to be considered benevolent on LGBTQ+ rights just because you have gay friends but don’t support gay marriage, I distinctly remember him firing back with an intensity fit for an opposing politican rather than one’s child. To be clear, I’m not sharing this anecdote to complain or criticize. I had an extremely privileged childhood and am grateful for everything I was given, including real-world lessons and complicated experiences like these. The point is to illustrate one of the many reasons I have a fraught relationship with politics, like so many of us do.

Even when there was an occasional flash of connection in these disagreements with my dad, it felt like nothing changed for the better, so I would retreat again until another issue I couldn’t stay silent on surfaced. Over the years other subjects like racial sensitivity (or lack thereof), sexism, policing, and the social safety net have all risen to this boiling point in me. It felt important to speak my mind, and I’m glad we at least managed to communicate at all. But the chasm was painful nonetheless, and has gotten exponentially more so in Trump’s era of chest-thumping partisan tribalism. I imagine many Americans can relate to the helpless feeling this confrontation cycle created in me, but we are not helpless. I may not be able to change my father’s mind, but together, we can vote this toxic administration out of office.

Trump and his enablers have used his presidency to stoke the injustice that already permeated our society, taking it to dramatically new, Bond-villain heights. I am a filmmaker in the LGBTQ+ community who tells stories about mental health, sexuality, and other stigmatized issues, and my goal is to humanize people and foster empathy. So I hope you’ll believe me when I say that another Trump term (a term, itself, that makes me cringe) will irrevocably harm the LGBTQ+ community, among many others. His administration asked the Supreme Court to let businesses fire people for being gay or trans, pushed a regulation to let health care providers refuse services to people who are LGTBQ+, and banned trans people from serving their country in the military.

Women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people of color are all also under attack by Trump’s inhumane policies—and by his judicial appointments, including, probably, Amy Coney Barrett. Trump’s administration has torn families apart in more ways than I even imagined were possible, from ripping children from their parents at the border to mishandling the coronavirus, which has resulted in over 215,000 in the U.S. dying, many thousands of them without their loved ones near. Faced with preventable deaths during a pandemic that Trump downplayed and ignored, rhetoric that has fed deep-seated, systemic racism, and chaos in the White House, it’s no surprise that so many Americans feel as hopeless and overwhelmed as I did growing up. But if we refuse to face our political reality, we don’t stand a chance of changing it.

In 2016, I realized I needed to speak out in a more substantial way than just debating my dad in private (especially since I wasn’t getting anywhere with that), so I publicly supported Hillary Clinton and began canvassing for congressional candidates. If the unrelenting deluge of devastating news makes you think I’m crazy for having hope, please remember that making us feel powerless is a tactic politicians use to make us think our voices and votes don’t matter. But they do. It’s taken persistence and nerve to find my voice in politics, and I’m using it now to ask you to stand with me in the fight to end Donald Trump’s reign of terror.From the Archive: Donald Trump’s Enablers

If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with “yes-men” and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power. We’ve seen this ad nauseam with Trump and his cadre of high-level sycophants (the ones who weren’t convicted, anyway).

What inspires me most about Vice President Biden is that he is not afraid to surround himself with people who disagree with him. Choosing Senator Harris, who challenged him in the primary, speaks volumes about what an inclusive president he will be. Biden is willing to incorporate the views of progressive-movement leaders like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on issues like universal health care, student debt relief, prison reform, and police reform. And he is capable of reaching across the aisle to find moments of bipartisanship. The very notion of “bipartisanship” may seem painfully ludicrous right now, but we need a path out of impenetrable gridlock and vicious sniping. In Joe Biden, we’ll have a leader who prioritizes common ground and civility over alienation, bullying, and scorched-earth tactics.

Speaking of scorched earth, I know many people feel paralyzed by climate despair. I do too, but something still can and must be done. As climate change begins to encroach on our everyday lives, it is clear that our planet cannot survive four more years of this administration’s environmental assault. This monumental challenge requires scientifically literate leadership and immediate action. Joe Biden has laid out an aggressive series of plans to restore the environmental regulations that Trump gutted on behalf of his corporate polluting friends. Biden has a transformational clean-energy policy that he will bring to Congress within his first 100 days in office, and perhaps most crucially, he brings a desire and capability to reunite the major nations of the world in forging a path toward a global green future.

I fully understand that some of you want a nominee who is more progressive. For others the idea of voting for a Democrat of any kind may be a hurdle. Now I have another confession to make. Biden wasn’t my first choice when the primaries started. But I know what is at stake, and Joe Biden will be everyone’s president if elected. If you are planning to cast a symbolic vote or abstain from voting altogether, please reconsider. It is more important than ever to avoid complacency. This election is far from over, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen.

We are hanging by a single, slipping finger on a cliff’s edge, and the fall will be fatal. If we remove ourselves from the fight, our country will be in freefall. Alternatively, we can hang on, elect a compassionate and decent president, and claw our way back onto the ledge. If I, after decades of despair over politics, can engage in our democracy to meet this critical moment, I know you can too.

SLAMMING TRUMP, G.O.P. SENATOR WARNS OF A ‘REPUBLICAN BLOOD BATH’ ~ NYT

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a scathing takedown of President Trump during a telephone town hall with constituents, saying he cozied up to dictators and white supremacists.

Senator Ben Sasse’s critique played out over a few short minutes after someone on the call asked the senator about his previous criticisms of the president.
Senator Ben Sasse’s critique played out over a few short minutes after someone on the call asked the senator about his previous criticisms of the president.Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

By Nicholas Fandos

  • Oct. 15, 2020

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, castigated President Trump in a telephone town hall with constituents on Wednesday, accusing the president of bungling the response to the coronavirus pandemic, cozying up to dictators and white supremacists, and offending voters so broadly that he might cause a “Republican blood bath” in the Senate.

In a dire, nine-minute indictment of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy and what Mr. Sasse called his “deficient” values, the senator said the president had mistreated women and alienated important allies around the globe, been a profligate spender, ignored human rights and treated the pandemic like a “P.R. crisis.” He predicted that a loss by Mr. Trump on Election Day, less than three weeks away, “looks likely,” and said that Republicans would face steep repercussions for having backed him so staunchly over four tumultuous years.

“The debate is not going to be, ‘Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?’” Mr. Sasse said, according to audio obtained by The Washington Examiner and authenticated by The New York Times. “It’s going to be, ‘What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?’”

“We are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami,” he added.

Mr. Sasse also hinted at more drastic consequences: a “Venezuela style” Supreme Court with dozens of justices installed by ascendant Democrats; an empowered China ruling the Pacific because of Mr. Trump’s “weak” policies; and American allies doubting whether they can “trust in U.S. strength and U.S. will.”

Mr. Sasse, who is up for re-election on Nov. 3, went public with his concerns at a time when Republicans are increasingly worried that Mr. Trump is careening toward a devastating loss in November’s elections that could also cost them the Senate, handing Democrats, who already hold the House, unified control. After years of tolerating the president’s Twitter bullying and disregard for party orthodoxy and basic American norms, their patience appears to be wearing thin.

He spoke to constituents on Wednesday around the same time that senators on the Judiciary Committee were concluding their questioning of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Mr. Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill. Mr. Sasse, a member of the panel, had lavished praise on Judge Barrett, a favorite of conservatives who would tilt the court decidedly to the right.

Rarely has a split screen better encapsulated the trade-offs congressional Republicans have accepted over four years of Mr. Trump’s presidency than a Republican senator exulting over his conservative Supreme Court nominee in one moment and lamenting his norm-shattering behavior — and his party’s willingness to quietly tolerate it — in the next.

Mr. Sasse did not exactly try to keep his criticism quiet. James Wegmann, a spokesman who confirmed his comments, said 17,000 Nebraskans had been invited to participate in the call, though it does not appear to have been open to the general public. Mr. Sasse’s critique played out after someone on the call asked the senator about his previous criticisms of Mr. Trump.

“Like a lot of Nebraskans, I am trying to understand your relationship with the president,” the woman said. “Why do you have to criticize him so much?”

Mr. Sasse, a former university president with a doctorate in American history from Yale who styles himself as a principled conservative, has never made a secret of his distaste for Mr. Trump. During the 2016 campaign, he compared Mr. Trump to David Duke and refused to vote for him. In office, he called Mr. Trump’s signature trade war with China “nuts.”

But he had toned down his criticism in recent years, earning a crucial endorsement from the president he once savaged.

The remarks on Wednesday were far more scathing than any others he has made recently, and particularly notable given the tight hold Mr. Trump has taken over the Republican Party in his four years as president.

Mr. Sasse, 48, began by saying that he had worked hard to develop a “working relationship” with Mr. Trump, and even prayed for the president because he is one of “our leaders.” He said he was pleased when Mr. Trump adopted traditionally conservative policy stances and nominated conservative judges. And, he added, he understood that some Nebraska voters were “frustrated” with his criticisms of the president.

But the compliments stopped there.

“I’m not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican but for an American,” Mr. Sasse said.

He argued that Mr. Trump had “careened from curb to curb” as he sought to respond to a pandemic that has claimed more than 217,000 American lives this year.

“He refused to treat it seriously,” Mr. Sasse said. “For months, he treated it like a news-cycle-by-news-cycle P.R. crisis.”

He added that he did not think Mr. Trump’s leadership through the crisis had been “reasonable or responsible, or right.”

The “deficiencies” added up from there.

“The way he kisses dictators’ butts,” Mr. Sasse said, listing his reservations about Mr. Trump. “I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers.”

He continued: “The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor.”

Mr. Trump “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors,” he added. “His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists.”

Each of these things, Mr. Sasse predicted, would have consequences, for Republicans and the nation. He sounded particularly alarmed about the potential damage Mr. Trump, who supported Democrats for decades as a businessman, could do to the conservative cause in the long term by driving the country “to the left.”

Young people, he said, could “become permanent Democrats because they’ve just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics.” Women, who have abandoned the party in droves, could decide “they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future.”

“I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican blood bath in the Senate, and that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump train,” he said. “It’s why I didn’t agree to be on his re-election committee, and it’s why I’m not campaigning for him.”

In a statement, Mr. Wegmann did not comment on Mr. Sasse’s remarks. He said the senator would remain focused on Senate races.

“I don’t know how many more times we can shout this,” Mr. Wegmann said. “Even though the Beltway is obsessing exclusively about the presidential race, control of the Senate is 10 times more important.”