TRUMP

Trump doodles on blank paper; photo: White House

YOUR TRUMP QUESTIONS ANSWERED

We’re literally doing better than any other country on COVID-19. Explain why this is so hard to comprehend?

While we’d love to reply with just a bunch of supercuts of Trump denying the severity of COVID-19, his admission to Bob Woodward that he was intentionally playing down the threat of COVID-19, and post a bunch of charts and graphs to put it all in context, we at Ask a Leftist know that Trump’s supporters don’t buy it. So, let’s take a different route.

We’re going to copy and paste the official White House summary of Trump’s COVID-19 response. You can see it for yourself here.

We’ll parse out each claim in italics. And then at the end we’ll have a slide show. Not really.


“My Administration will stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable.”

President Donald J. Trump


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Took early action to cut off travel from China

  • Built the world’s leading testing system from nothing

  • Enacted mitigation measures to slow the spread

  • Mobilized public and private sectors to secure needed supplies

  • Took action to protect vulnerable Americans

  • Launched effort to deliver a vaccine and therapeutics in record time

  • Provided support to workers and businesses

  • Paved way for reopening to get America working again

  • Surged resources to hot spots as they arose

  • Confronted China as origin of the virus while Democrats and media cowered


At the outset, President Trump took action to stop travel from China to stem the spread to the United States as long as possible.

  • While Democrats were focused on their impeachment sham, President Trump took swift and decisive action to stop travel from China in January and enhanced airport screenings to help stop cases from coming into the United States as long as possible.


Trump started with the Level-4: Do Not Travel advisory on travel to Hubei Province - and ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. personnel and their families on January 23, 2020. The travel ban from China took effect January 31, 2020. Trump’s impeachment concluded with his acquittal on February 5, 2020.

Trump took action...relying on universal consensus from the health professionals within the Department of Health and Human Services - not as a rogue, independent actor as he often claims.

He was also kind of late to the game, since most major airlines had already decided to suspend flights between the U.S. and China . This coincided with Trump’s announcement of the travel ban, but airlines had come to this decision independently. Perhaps more importantly, on January 13 and January 15, two travelers entered the US from Wuhan carrying the virus, traveling to Chicago and Seattle, respectively. Airport screenings began after these travelers had already entered. Chicago and Atlanta screenings began on January 21, and Seattle-Tacoma screenings began January 28.

The man and woman who entered the US on the 13th and 15th had both reported symptoms by January 24th.

Travel restrictions were limited to foreign nationals and exempted immediate family members of US citizens and permanent residents. Those returning to the states were screened at select entry ports upon entry and for two weeks after arrival.

This is just China, mind you. The European travel ban wouldn’t come until March 12, 2020.


  • In his February 4th State of the Union address, President Trump pledged to “take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from the virus,” while the Democrats’ response made not a single mention of the virus or even the threat of China.


As always, we’re more than willing to criticize Democrats. They are equally complicit in the failings of the government response to COVID-19. They chased impeachment because it seems like that’s where they were headed with their opposition to Trump since his inauguration, and we concur with Trump that this 1) likely distracted Trump, and 2) left Democrats blind to the threat as well.

And listen. For what it’s worth, we knew as soon as Adam Schiff paraphrased Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy that the Democrats were entering into a shitshow. Anyway.

But again, let’s note the timing - Trump’s February 4th State of the Union address featured his pledge to “take all necessary steps” while the European travel ban wouldn’t take effect for another month (March 12). The virus was already spreading in Europe (and here in the US since at least January 13).

One way to interpret this is: doing the best with all available information. Yet another way to interpret it is: without the travel bans we would have had an even deadlier first wave. And yet a third interpretation: this just wasn’t enough. We could have taken ‘not enough’ and run with it once we saw cases and deaths increasing. We could have patted ourselves on the backs for taking action, acknowledged that we needed to do more, and then done more. Hindsight is 20/20, right? But it’s also self-aware. We did [x], here we are, time to do [y].

It’s also worth noting that the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 a global health emergency on January 30, 2020.


President Trump built the world’s leading testing system from nothing, based on a virus we have never faced before.

  • In order to accurately trace and combat this virus, President Trump set out to build the world’s best testing system, and that’s exactly what he did.


Well. Germany had developed a SARS-CoV-2 test that became available for public use on January 13, 2020. The US’s testing method was made public January 28, and testing was limited to: 1) people who had traveled to certain countries, 2) people with respiratory illnesses that had caused hospitalization, and 3) people who had been in contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19.

One month later (well, February 27), the US had conducted less than 4,000 tests. Vice President Pence acknowledged on March 5, 2020 that the US didn’t have enough tests to meet the predicted future demand. By March 11, the US had tested fewer than 10,000 people.

Of course, the CDC sent out faulty tests. Research hospitals and universities were prohibited from using their in-house developed tests until February 29, 2020.

On March 13, Trump announced that we’d be testing people in retail store parking lots around the nation. That didn’t really happen. Target never came through, Google wasn’t involved, Walmart opened 2 testing sites in Arkansas, Walgreens opened 2 in Chicago, and CVS opened 4 sites.

Now, by March 30, more than a million people had been tested. Admittedly, from 10,000 to 1-million in 19 days, that’s pretty impressive.

But by April 6 hospitals were reporting shortages in PPE and testing supplies. US testing simply never matched the needed level of testing to adequately monitor, catch, and contain COVID-19.


  • We have already conducted more than 65 million tests, far outpacing any other country.


The White House needs to update this page. We reached 186-million tests by November 26, 2020.

But on this issue of testing. Since we’re here. Trump said numerous times that we wouldn’t have so many cases if we simply didn’t test so much.

Now, we’re not going to take this at face value, because that sounds like Trump is saying that tests cause COVID-19. We know that’s not what he means. He means that the more testing you do, the more cases you find. The worse it looks. But that is misleading. We’re not statisticians, but…

Let’s talk positivity rate. Because that’s not hard to understand.

If Trump’s premise is true, that more tests just naturally means more discovered cases, then we would see our positivity rates decrease as a percentage the more we test...if our testing and mitigation strategies work. Small numbers here:

If we’re running a 1% positivity rate, that’s 1/100 cases resulting in a positive test.

If we’re curbing infection and ramping up testing, maybe we get 1 positive test out of 200. That’s a 0.5% positivity rate. That’s great.

If we’re doing average, if we’re not aggressively targeting the virus’ spread, you’d see a constant 1% positivity rate. 1/100, 2/200, 3/300, etc. You can ramp up testing to 1,000,000 and still wind up with 10,000 positives. The infection is just there.

That’s bad. It’s worse if you increase testing and see the positivity rate increase. So, 1/100 (1%), 3/200 (1.5%), 5/300 (1.7%), 7/400 (1.8%)

That means the infection is spreading. And in the US, the infection is spreading. The crazy thing is, we have gone from an all-time high of 21% infection rate to an all-time low of 4%...but we’re currently at 9.7%. And we have been everywhere in between and back again. Up, down, all around. We’re doing more daily tests than ever, and the infection rate is on an upward trend again.

By all metrics, viral spread is out of control.


As soon as cases began to rise, President Trump released guidance to slow the spread.

  • President Trump released guidance recommending mitigation measures critical to slowing the spread of the virus, and the American people stepped up to do their part.


Masks. Lockdowns.


  • Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have attested to the fact that President Trump took action as soon as the data was presented to him.


Masks. Lockdowns.

For everyone saying that this is America and Americans have freedoms and the states should do what’s best and the American people can use common sense...no, clearly we can’t.

Listen, we’d love to sit here and get into a whole thing about this - protests and rallies and not living under fascist rule, but these are not interesting arguments. Not in the least. Quarantine, lockdowns, and strict social measures must be utilized to control viral spread. Americans don’t like it? I’m an American. I don’t like it. I don’t like being an essential worker. But I sucked it up, took every precaution just hoping - HOPING - that Americans could also suck it up with me and hold out. And for a while it worked. Remember when cases went from 30k a day to around 15k? That was great. But then everyone got all itchy. We were not in a great place, and instead of using our collective power to push for more stimulus measures, we ventured to state capitol buildings with rifles demanding we be released from quarantine hell.

Mainstream media didn’t help by running quarantine fatigue articles - the kinds of reading that galvanizes public thought around the unpleasantness of dealing with a pandemic, rather than the unpleasantness of the pandemic itself.

So, let me ask you something...what was the point of me getting up every morning, getting my temperature taken and adjusting every aspect of my daily work life, spraying my car and my clothes with virucide every day, donning homemade cloth masks and nitrile gloves before there was wide consensus on doing so simply because, when you think about it, those things are kind of obvious - what was the actual point of all those precautions, all that risk of exposure, if instead of toughing it out and demanding continued federal stimulus, if instead of all that we just said “we’re done!”

As far as I’m concerned, those who came out with their rifles and their rage, their cries against fascism, their doubts about the validity of everything from masks to lockdowns to social distancing, all of them ignorantly and willfully and selfishly let essential workers risk exposure day in and day out and refused to do their part and tough it out just like all the essential workers did. They wasted our time, cost some of us our health, and then because of their ridiculous sense of self-righteousness they call “freedom”, they went out into the world ignoring all scientific data and consensus and now we have uncontrolled, unmitigated spread. They have mocked us by telling us we were essential and then negated all progress by refusing to do the bare minimum to reduce viral spread.

And the refrain now? It isn’t that bad. Everyone is going to get it. It has low mortality. We’re doing great. Trump led by example - mocking masks, mocking doctors, mocking all of us who showed concern. So, did he do everything he could? Perhaps, for Trump, he did the only thing he could do, which was lie and create an environment of willful negligence.


In order to secure the supplies needed to confront the surge in coronavirus we faced, President Trump led the largest mobilization of public and private sector resources since WWII.

  • The President directed his Administration to secure and distribute needed medical supplies to states in need – resulting in billions of PPE delivered so far.


By seizing PPE from states, who had been left to secure PPE for themselves.


  • At the President’s urging, private companies shifted production to supplying masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer, testing supplies, and more.


Urging, mind you. Companies voluntarily did this. That Trump urged it - that’s pointless.

President Trump has acted under the Defense Production Act more than 30 times to ensure we have the supplies we need.

Listen - the government regularly invokes the DPA - from manufacturing bullet proof vests to obtaining materials for weapons. The US uses the DPA thousands of times a year. Trump was on and off with using the DPA for coronavirus. There’s also a difference between acting under the act and invoking the act and using its full power. This statement is also curious, because it doesn’t say anything specifically about coronavirus, only that the DPA was used more than 30 time to ensure we had supplies. That could mean anything.


  • When we faced a potentially catastrophic shortage of ventilators, President Trump took action to produce 100,000 ventilators and ensure no patient who needs one goes without a ventilator.


This is true.


President Trump moved swiftly to protect vulnerable communities.

  • The Administration quickly established guidelines for nursing homes and expanded telehealth opportunities to protect our vulnerable seniors.


You want to know something fun? Trump had previously pushed for deregulation of nursing homes - allowing for less oversight and lower fines for compliance issues. Trump has also pushed for liability protection for nursing homes that don’t do enough to protect their residents. They also experimented with hydroxychloroquine on senior living patients. You know, the thing everyone said would work but didn’t. Obama had established increased guidelines for nursing homes, Trump rolled them back, then had to undo his screw-up. Thanks, Obama.


  • The President took action to ensure that uninsured Americans are able to get the COVID-19 care and testing they need.

Too bad they weren’t aware.


  • President Trump directed Secretary Carson to focus the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council on underserved communities impacted by COVID-19.


Ah, yes. The Opportunity Zones with tax breaks for investors and businesses that don’t actually help the areas’ underserved citizens.


  • The Administration is investing approximately $2 billion in community health centers, helping their 28 million patients in medically underserved areas receive the care and testing they need.


This is true.


Early in the fight against the virus, President Trump launched a historic effort to develop a vaccine and therapeutics in record time.


  • President Trump understood early on that in order to defeat this virus once and for all and protect Americans, we need a vaccine and therapeutics.


Everyone understood that early on. Are you serious?


  • President Trump revolutionized the clinical trial process to ensure Americans get a safe vaccine as quickly as possible, by providing unprecedented investments in leading vaccine candidates to simultaneously produce them as they are tested and developed.

Well, I mean, he blocked FDA vaccine guidelines to ensure safe and effective treatment. That’s not really revolutionary, but whatever.


  • Thanks to President Trump’s efforts, coronavirus vaccine trials have progressed at record speeds, with multiple candidates already in or near the final stage of clinical trials.


We just want to take this space to bring up Pfizer, first to announce their vaccine, which had nothing to do with Trump.


President Trump responded to the devastating toll the virus took on our businesses and workers and secured unprecedented financial support.


  • The President negotiated and launched the Paycheck Protection Program – helping save 51 million American jobs.

22 million jobs were lost.


  • President Trump secured direct payments to help the countless Americans who are hurting due to the pandemic.


We’ve had one round of stimulus checks. 8 months ago.


  • President Trump took executive action to give tax relief to workers, ensure unemployment benefits for those out of work, prevent families from losing their homes to eviction or foreclosure, and provide student debt relief for Americans already hurting due to the virus.


We’re going to sound like a broken record, but all of these protections are about to expire with no extension in sight. People are going hungry, they’re facing eviction, unemployment benefits are poofing away. He did those things, and now those things are going away. And people are hurting. So. Do more.

Understanding the harmful toll a never-ending shutdown would have on our Nation, President Trump provided support to help states safely reopen as soon as they were able.


  • As we built out our critical medical supplies, flattened the curve, and rapidly expanded testing, states across the country were able to safely move towards reopening.

No. See my rant earlier.


  • President Trump ensured they had the data and resources to reopen on the correct timeframe.

No. See my rant earlier.


As hot spots have emerged, President Trump has surged resources to impacted areas while enabling us to prevent another nationwide shutdown.


  • The President has provided support to states facing new emergences of the virus, including surging testing sites, deploying medical personnel, and advising on mitigation strategies.

The entire country is a hotspot and the president has been chasing election fraud claims with virtually no guidance on COVID-19.


While the media and Democrats refuse to do so, President Trump has called out China for its actions to ensure we prevent a similar threat from arising again.


  • President Trump has rightly called out China’s handling of the virus for refusing to be transparent and failing to contain the virus before it spread.


Hey, you know what? This isn’t China’s problem any more. It’s ours. And you still want to talk about China.


  • The President held the WHO accountable for its egregious bias towards China that jeopardizes the safety of Americans.


Let’s be clear: there is a lot of nuance that goes into international relations whether or not Trump, Republicans, or Trump-Republicans want to admit or acknowledge it. Trump’s withdrawal from the WHO came from the organization’s refusal to throw itself into a political dispute, as they saw it, between two member organizations. Now, we can say we agree with this interpretation. We can say that we also see WHO as somewhat capitulating to China regarding its relationship with Taiwan, which is not a WHO member but which the Trump administration requested the WHO consult with on its coronavirus handling.

But the WHO doesn’t owe the Trump administration a pat on the back for restricting travel - something that the WHO has historically emphasized does not cut back on viral spread and which damages the economy - though the WHO later reversed course on this stance. This is a catch-22. Arguably, restricting travel between countries to control a virus is a common-sense approach - similar to the logic behind lock-downs. Reduce movement, reduce spread. Though it comes at a cost that the United States is all too familiar with - the threat of economic collapse. That the WHO would advocate against travel restrictions in favor of economic stability is curious, to say the least. We would be unnecessarily closed-minded to say that Trump was entirely wrong about travel restrictions. But the follow-up was indeed detrimental. He restricted travel into the country but not throughout the country. And yet our economy still suffered. Still is suffering. Almost as if a global pandemic has economic consequences beyond human control.

That the WHO capitulates to China in not acknowledging Taiwan’s sovereignty seems to be a detriment to health in deference to politics. The WHO cannot be a political middleman, certainly, but by the same token the WHO is not, in any real sense, constrained from working with Taiwan in at least some capacity, especially if we might be able to glean some kind of guidance from them. Their pandemic response was, in contrast to the United States, one of the best in the world.

Indeed, Trump could be viewed as being open to acknowledging Taiwan’s independence from China, but Trump’s list of demands for the WHO suggests that Trump is less a proponent of Taiwan and more a proponent of himself, seeking recognition from the WHO for, in Trump’s view, his adminstration’s world-class pandemic response. To the rest of the world, such recognition would be theater and nothing more. Other countries have followed WHO guidelines, acted with more precision and sobriety, and have been able to keep efforts apolitical. It is not a secret that Trump found himself facing a once-in-a-century crisis in an election year, and it is not a stretch to suggest that, his efforts bringing little success and indeed constant record-shattering infections and death, he wanted WHO approval as if to say, “See, the WHO thinks I did a great job.” Instead, the WHO simply didn’t go along, and Trump responded, “We don’t need the WHO, we’re doing a great job.”

One wonders if a Trump administration would have been more amenable to working with the WHO had they played ball. Though, this thought is a non-starter, a madman should not be entertained. Perhaps especially in crisis.

Make no mistake, Trump’s “holding the WHO accountable” exists only in Trump’s mind. The rest of the world saw something else. They saw Trump exert pressure on the WHO and the WHO, in turn, remained frustratingly neutral even in light of China’s exposed deceptions. That steadfast neutrality might be nuanced, it might be seen as low-key complicity in China’s malfeasance, it might be that other nations also harbor some unexpressed resentment towards China, and it might be that the WHO is simply unwilling to step outside of its role as the issuer of guidelines in general to endorse and praise one of the few countries not to follow its COVID-19 guidelines in particular.

It is another critique entirely - with perhaps less nuance - to question the WHO’s willingness to adopt equally indigenous, folk, or traditional Chinese medicine alongside modern medicine. It is curious, indeed, how at the insistence of Chinese officials the WHO has included these alternative medicines, and why the WHO seems not to be interested in pursuing the very real obfuscation of information by China when COVID-19 emerged. But it is not curious as to why Trump wanted to either receive the WHO’s praise or burn it to the ground, as it were. He needed some kind of clout for his election prospects. This is one interpretation, and it is mine.

So at the end of all this - when looking at the pandemic in terms of today (December 2, 2020) - it’s hard to see why so many are satisfied with Trump’s mishandling of COVID-19. Though it is not hard to see why its persistence has resulted in deep denialism about its transmission, lethality, or even its existence. To admit any of these things is to acknowledge that perhaps he didn’t do as well as he says he did.

With a hundred thousand new cases a day, and with thousands of new deaths a day, it seems the COVID-19 hardliners, those who perhaps saw it as just another strain of flu and nothing more, dig in deeper each day. It is easier to claim that the rest of us are overreacting than to admit you have been led into a cesspool of disease. And perhaps you don’t need to admit such a thing. I certainly don’t want you to repent and admit and shame yourself. But to cling to this notion that those who have died have fit squarely in the “underlying health issues” category is reckless. Perfectly healthy people have died. And patients with underlying health issues have survived. Some people get no symptoms, and some wind up on ventilators. To claim that one reality (relative harmlessness of a novel virus) is more true than another (the physiological destruction it causes in severe cases) is no claim of reality at all. No one likes how our lives have been changed because of this virus. No one likes restricting their movement. No one likes feeling not free. But that’s coronavirus. It is relatively easy to defeat. Easier than, say, winning a global war or removing all the plastic in the oceans. The danger is in the virus’ unpredictability and its fatality rate (2% in the US, compared to the flu’s 0.1%).

Comparing the flu to coronavirus is an incredibly deadly mistake. There is no comparison. But here are some numbers:


2017-18 Flu:

  • 45-million cases

  • 61,000 deaths


2018-19 Flu:

  • 35-million cases

  • 34,157 deaths


COVID-19:

  • 13.8-million cases

  • 272,552 deaths

(accurate as of Dec. 2, 2020)


You might look at those numbers and think - something just isn’t right. And you’d be correct. It isn’t overreaction, it isn’t Bill Gates, and it isn’t a global conspiracy to establish a new world order. It is the virus itself. It is dangerous. It is here and circulating unchecked. People won’t stop worrying about it, talking about it, and taking measures against it until it’s under control or, better, gone.

That’s it. That’s all there is. We don’t take a lot at face value, but we know people who have gotten COVID. We know people who’ve died from it, and we know people who got it and never had any symptoms. We know some COVID long-haulers and we know some folks who ignore all safety guidelines. And that’s frustrating for the rest of us, because the very American thing to do would be to go all-in on curbing spread, something akin to the all-hands effort of WWII perhaps. But that’s not what we got. We have been surpassed by literally the rest of the world in this regard, and maybe that’s what seems not right about the whole thing - we simply refused to rise to the occasion.

But there is another aspect that, admittedly, I have only now considered. Let’s entertain the skepticism for just a minute. If there is a conspiracy - if Bill Gates wants to put trackers in our bodies via vaccines, if the WEF plans to use this pandemic to reset the world, if we are simply overreacting to a benign virus - then where exactly is the harm in staying home, restricting movement, wearing masks, and in general taking all the passive steps required to quash and minimize its spread? If we let the virus die out, if we starved it, if it was engineered in a lab to spread unchecked, then why, exactly, are we so deadset on interacting with it and proliferating its spread. Starving it into submission, eradicating it by preventing its spread, would be the exact thing a sane person would do to avoid all the things we’re afraid of. Bill Gates’ vaccine and trackers? Pointless when you get rid of the virus requiring a vaccine. Same with The Great Reset - there would be nothing to reset if the virus were simply gone, if we starved it and went back to normal life. If it was engineered in a lab and could be gotten rid of simply by not spreading it, then our power is in our willingness to prevent spread.

It’s a curious logic we’ve arrived at, where guaranteeing the need for a vaccine and allowing for the proliferation of a virus are seen as the solution to the malevolent forces who wish to achieve exactly what we’re doing.


“A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions.”

Albert Camus - The Plague


Humanism, to Camus, is an expression of dignity, freedom, and respect for one’s self and others. This does not intone freedom as the right to do as one wishes, but the willingness to share responsibility for others. One can be a humanist, aligned with others through solidarity, and be completely at odds with the rest of society. We can choose to unite for others, one kind of humanism, or we can choose to unite against another, a different kind of humanism. Those who refuse to see their actions as affecting the common good, who refuse to acknowledge their duty to the common good, who refuse to take precautions, are humanists devoid of virtue - whose freedoms deny the truth of our human bonds.

We bring this up not out of moralistic duty, but to emphasize that what one feels is right to the self, what expresses as self-freedom, may be in opposition to the rights and freedoms of others. It is a perspective more than a moral argument - we’re not much interested in moral arguments - but Camus offers a unique perspective. His novel, The Plague, wrestles with the idea of lockdown and quarantine during an outbreak of bubonic plague in the Algerian city of Orban, which results in its residents searching for meaning within the confines of the city - no longer allowed to leave, no longer in control of their fate. It is a powerless feeling, one we understand thanks to the spread of COVID-19, and it is entirely pertinent to the calls for re-opening and the stand against draconian measures. It is wholly human to rebel against restriction, but this is how the virus exploits us. It is how we have come to assert some control over something completely out of our control.

Trump has even said: don’t let it dominate you. Don’t let it dominate your lives. We can sympathize with this sentiment - it is exactly what we wish to be true: that by living our lives as normal we can overcome the dread of disease. But this is a false battle - the more we rebel, the more the virus spreads, and the stricter our confines feel. We see this as existential thrashing - we refuse to be dominated and yet, predictably, we face deeper threats to our existence as cases and deaths rise. It is seen as weakness to close ourselves off from our daily lives - to live as exiles in our own home - but the death toll rises as direct consequence of our rebellion. It puts the rest of us, our freedoms and our rights, in jeopardy. It negates our efforts and asks us to accept something that we don’t accept: the notion that inaction is just. Our freedom is in our ability to do good, not harm. This is not a moral stance, we don’t think, but it is a practical stance - we indeed have the ability to control our destinies, but it doesn’t come from sacrificing public health for convenience. It comes from our precautions - mental and physical - allowing us to respond to a crisis swiftly and practically. When we acknowledge the threat, we should recognize that there are steps to take, universal steps, that are good for you, me, and everyone we know.

REFERENDUM ON FASCISM - Trump has lost re-election. We know what you're thinking...

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ 2020 electoral victory is problematic. We on the far Left do not admit this as much as we assert it.

You can read a nuanced account of the 1994 Crime Bill here, you can also read the full transcript of the 1993 Biden/Hatch Crime Bill speech here, and you can read about some other horrible things that haunt Biden here.

And you can get an idea of why Harris-as-running-mate is also problematic here, and you can get an idea of why her being problematic is somewhat complicated here.

This is a long-story-saved-for-another-day kind of introduction, because we’re not really here to talk about Biden/Harris and all their baggage. There’s plenty of time to go into all that later. We’re here to talk about Trump.

We at Ask a Leftist also assert that Trump’s nationalism, and indeed his presidency, was merely a lifting of the veil on the US’s steady descent into fascism. This isn’t a recent development. From our colonial history, this state collective has been defined by imperialism and oppression. Always taking away rights, land, and humanity from those weaker than the State. Genocide is part of our history. Human rights abuses are standard domestic and foreign policy. Trump did not invent this. Nor did he invent the language of fascism. But he did use the language of fascism.

Trump supporters did regularly chant to lock up his political opponents, and while we Left-of-Center can be dismissed for not being able to take a joke, they did it with enough frequency that the joke stopped being funny and sounded more like Trump was assembling a Justice Department, and angry mobs, meant to serve his bloated ego. Oh, there was also the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot where Trump then doubled down on his attacks.

Trump did call the media the enemy of the people. Not his personal enemy, but the enemy of all Americans. Trump did not divest himself of his business interests and the American people paid Trump businesses large sums of money over the course of his scant 4 years in office. Trump did shirk his duties to play golf a whopping total of 285 days out of his term, costing US taxpayers a whole lot more than we’ve spent at Trump properties. Trump did as fascists do: stoke fears and grift his people.

Within the Left, there is cynicism - all our presidents have been secret fascists, tools of the ruling class. This is true. As CEO of this nation, Trump revealed that true fascism lies at the heart of capitalism. We knew it in our hearts, we have seen its shadows and its fingerprints, but now we have seen its true face, we have heard its true voice. Sorry, we have heard its true voice.

Scholarly discussions on Trump’s fascist tendencies hover along this border: Trump is the symptom, not the cause. This is indeed true. Trump’s ultra-nationalism, his rule by executive order, his disinformation and propaganda campaigns are all built into this nation’s functioning. Anyone holding the office of the president can exploit them, but we are told there is a gentleman’s agreement not to do so. Trump is no gentleman, so we can now see how grotesque this office is. It was out of sight before but now we are made to reckon with it. Scholarly discussions of an entrenched problem: this is how we’ve come to argue on the nature of fascism on American soil.

At Ask a Leftist, we maintain that this argument, while valid, has the unintended consequence of pardoning Trump as an opportunist and a buffoon too incompetent to maintain power and fully exploit the powers of his office. All of these things are true, but so is the rise of extremist groups and their inclusion into the national discourse. It is remarkable that hate symbols appear along Trump’s periphery: MAGA hats at Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. It is alarming that open followers of conspiracy theories have run for office and seen success, and that optics are merely disregarded and explained away. It is true, we are merely observing a truth that has previously been hiding in plain sight or just below the surface.

We can call Trump a patsy or useful idiot, but that seriously understates Trump’s role in the normalization of hate. While simplistic, we at Ask a Leftist use a standard metric for determining the danger of a political ideology: Who protects hate groups?

This is where scholarship collides with practical form. We agree: the US government is an intrinsic hate group: war-mongering, imperialist, brutalist, nationalist. One could argue that any American who proudly waves our flag is supporting one giant hate group. But we also maintain that centrists who can be swayed between voting Republican or Democrat simply don’t extract this conclusion. The visible rise of hate groups on the Right doesn’t require scholarship or complete rewiring of the American psyche. The rhetoric used by Trump: when the looting starts, the shooting starts, calling immigrants rapists, good bloodlines, is appalling to those who recognize it as the language of hate. Good people reject hate, but they can be blind to embedded hate: hence the cognitive dissonance in rejecting abject racism while asserting that “all lives matter,” or their willingness to dismiss the legitimacy of protests because of looting. It also speaks to a bleak truth, tens of millions of Americans recognized the hate dripping from Trump’s lips and were okay with it.

And this is where Trump comes in. We have not, in my lifetime, had a president like Donald Trump, whose populist rhetoric echoes that of dictators past while at the same time signaling to hate groups that their platforms are valid. Weak rebukes of hate and fringe groups, and the immediate retraction of those rebukes, signal passive acceptance of extremist ideas. While likely strategic - a vote is a vote - hate groups have been emboldened and found a safe haven within the Republican establishment. More than this, they have voices and hold sway within the State with no consequence, no rejection from their party. Stephen Miller’s Breitbart emails, which SPLC does a great job parsing, championing white supremacist writings from American Renaissance should have been a hard line for all Americans. It deserved Miller’s expulsion and collective disgust from Republicans. We had none of that, and Miller’s guidance on immigration can only be viewed as an extension of his supremacist beliefs. Trump's brutalist policies were seen as sober and serious solutions to immigration, while in practice they were human rights abuses, plain and simple. Policies enacted by the Obama administration were worsened by Trump’s cabinet. We had the opportunity to reject brutality, but we chose to dig in our heels instead. And then, because this is America, we blamed it on the guy who built the cages.

Make no mistake, the detention and deportation policies of Obama were no better than the torture program of the Bush administration, which was no better than the mass incarceration program of the Clinton era (see: Biden is problematic), which was no better than the Gulf War, which was no better than trickle down policy, which was no better than segregation, race riots, Japanese internment, the Tulsa massacre, Jim Crow laws, slavery. We have been going down this road since the birth of this nation and before. It is a relic of British imperialism and subjugation. But we elected and engaged a man who believed we should be more cruel and more dismissive of human rights. We did not choose the lesser of two evils, we did not choose the more evil of two evils, we chose evil outright. One could argue that this is always the case, but in Trump something is different.

Trump said the quiet part loud and built a platform on it. Supporters excuse it because no public figure could possibly mean what we think he means. We must not be understanding what he’s really saying. He must not be a great public speaker. His messaging must be off because he’s not a politician and he speaks like the average American. For four years, we were told in real time that Trump wasn’t saying what he was saying. Take it from a southern white guy who dresses like a conservative and is privy to the things white conservative men say comfortably around other white conservative men: Trump says what we think he says, and he means what we think he means. If you want to make the case that Trump himself doesn’t think that way or doesn’t espouse those same values, I will entertain it. For those who hear him speak falsely of his claim to innocence, his statements resonate and their beliefs have the authority of the president behind them. That is a dark path.

Whether exaggerated or understated, we saw Trump not as a policy maker or champion of the working class but as a grifter who exploited our national coziness with racism and provided cover for right-wing extremists. Again, our simplistic litmus test: who protects hate groups and who stands against them? It doesn’t go away with a new administration, the quiet part is merely said quiet again.

Realistically, this is far more complex than distilling the Right to little more than a vessel of hate. In the wake of the 2020 election we have witnessed what many predicted: that political moderates would essentially abandon their allegiance to grassroots movements bringing attention, reckoning, and solutions to America’s embedded racism. We have seen an immediate about-face from centrist Democrats in blaming progressives for their anemic performance in the House and Senate elections. We have seen, predictably, the insouciance of the moderate to serious policy. We herald the rebuke of a moral deficit and the return to net-zero, no better than we were four years ago. We have been steered back onto a downhill path after having momentarily found ourselves in a ditch.

Did we solve fascism, racism, brutalism, and Trumpism by electing Biden?

No. A Biden/Harris administration is, again, problematic.

Did we vote in record numbers not so much for Biden as against Trump?

Yes.

We know, every election the Democrats say this is the most important election of our lifetimes. We know. And we usually roll our eyes and vote 3rd party because voting. For those who don't see the 2020 election as consequential, we may never convince you. But we can at least agree on one thing:

Biden doesn’t solve anything. It’s time for Democrats to step up to the plate.

Why can’t you just admit Trump has done more in 4 years than Biden has done in 40? (4,500 words)

I want to answer this starting at the core of this question, which I interpret as:

Democrats have their heads so far up their asses they refuse to acknowledge Trump’s accomplishments because they’re still sore about Hillary losing.

Maybe that’s a bit simplistic, but I do believe the fundamental perspective of Left v. Right is the refusal of each party to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other. Fair enough, let’s dive in.

Let’s start on the Problem side of this question - if Trump has done more in 4 years than Biden has done in 40, what problems has Trump addressed and were they problems to begin with?

Trump was right (gasp) in many of his complaints about US foreign policy:

  • China had been allowed too much too quickly - access to the world stage without being subject to the same standards/norms as the rest of the free-world - human rights abuses, brutalist dictatorship disguised as capitalistic communism (or whatever Xi is trying to sell it as).

  • We were involved in too many military conflicts, occupations, and babysitting operations in too many countries, endangering too many armed service members for seemingly no reason, and in general being taken advantage of by allies - monetary contributions weighed heavily against the US, and allies making trade deals with countries the US was in active conflict with.

  • The Iran nuclear deal didn’t prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons (Obama asserted this in a letter to Jarrold Nadler, 20 August 2015).

  • North Korea continued a reign of terror on its own people and testing weapons without reprise.

  • Americans were losing jobs to poorer countries.

  • European allies were placing high tariffs on American produce while America was paying for their defense.

  • The American economy is directly tied with its international power, and both had been on a shaky trajectory since, say, 1950.


So there you go, a Leftist acknowledging that Trump was right about all these things. What about domestic policy?

  • Obamacare? Not great.

  • Immigration? Total mess.

  • Education? Ugh.

  • Economy? Better than 2008 at least?


So, when you say Trump has accomplished more in 4 years…

Trump’s accomplishments (these are taken directly from Farah Stockman’s extensive NYT article, though they have been condensed):

  • Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act

  • Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act

  • National Defense Authorization Act of 2019

(these three bills benefit Native peoples and are the result of bipartisan efforts!)

  • Space Force

  • Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act

(also bipartisan!)

  • Overall reduction in violent crime

(this has been dropping steadily since 1999, there was an uptick in 2015 and 2016, but then down again)

  • Legalized CBD and Hemp

(bipartisan support in 2018 Farm Bill)

  • $100-million to Flint, MI to fix water infrastructure

(Obama began this project before Trump took office, Trump didn’t stop it)

  • US is largest global produce of crude oil, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia

(Technically we should be contributing this to George W. Bush, though Obama takes credit for it, and Trump is like “Hey look at this thing that’s happening!”)

  • Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA)

    • Includes the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA)

(great job, Republicans!)

  • Friendly Airports for Mothers Act of 2017

(bipartisan support for breastfeeding in airports!)

  • Low-wage workers are seeing an increase in income from higher minimum wages and increasing entry level pay

(this happened during Trump’s presidency, not because of it)

  • John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019

(effectively a useless bill because of this and this)

  • Save our Seas Act

(bipartisan!)

  • Prescription drug price reduction, healthcare cost disclosure/transparency

(well, Trump and the White House claim that drug prices are going down for a number of reasons, but fact-checkers can’t actually confirm that, and the healthcare cost disclosures were a provision under Obamacare but Trump for some reason signed an executive order to enact it?)

  • Veterans’ Affairs - created a 24/7 VA hotline to assist veterans, VA employees are held to a higher level of accountability (they’re being fired for some reason so sure?), and has required the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life.

  • Increased federal employee pay by 3.1%, the highest rate of increase in 10 years!!

(after Trump enacted a 3-year pay freeze, womp)

  • All federal workers get 12 weeks parental leave

(cool…)

  • Free HIV prevention drugs to 200,000 uninsured patients for 11 years

  • Small business clusters to get better insurance pricing

(womp)

  • Preventing Maternal Deaths Act

(bipartisan!)

  • First Step Act (criminal justice reform)

(bipartisan!)

  • Expanded judicial discretion

  • Reformed mandatory minimums

  • 90% of beneficiaries of retroactive sentencing reductions are Black Americans

  • Rehabilitative programs for inmates

  • Increased funding for HBCUs and Hurricane Katrina debt forgiveness to HBCUs

  • Received Bipartisan Justice Award

(don’t look directly into the dumpster fire…)

  • Overall poverty rates down for 17-year low and poverty rates for African- and Hispanic-Americans lower than ever in recorded history...and then the pandemic hit.

  • USDA committed $124-million to rebuild rural water infrastructure

(That means there’s $799,824,000,000 left in his proposed-but-never-pursued infrastructure budget)

  • Consumer confidence and small business confidence at all time high

(except it’s not, the all-time Consumer Confidence Index high-score was recorded in January and May of 2000, at 144.7, CCI is 101.8 (29 September 2020), up from 86.3 in August 2020)

  • More than 7 million jobs created since the 2016 election, more Americans employed than ever, more manufacturing jobs, we have the best jobs!!

(listen...the US has lost between 10-million and 20-million jobs due to the pandemic)

  • 5 GAY AMBASSADORS AND DECRIMINALIZING HOMOSEXUALITY!!

  • Federal law enforcement more than doubled convictions of human traffickers

(Nope. 439 convictions during Obama’s last year, 499 convictions during Trump’s first, 526 convictions in 2018, 475 convictions in 2019, but don’t take my word for it, the US Dept. of State will tell you the same thing)

  • *More on trafficking - sting against Backpage, new anti-trafficking guidance, ICE Homeland Security Investigation have arrested 1,588 criminal associated with human trafficking; National Human Trafficking Hotline, DOJ grants to organizations serving trafficking victims (9,000 cases to 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018), hiring of victim assistance specialists

Okay, listen

  • **Trump really wants school choice legislation - in 2018 he increased school choice funding by $42-million

  • Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows families to use college savings 529 account to pay for secondary and elementary education

(that’s cool for me but most people don’t have these accounts - I’ll take it as a win, sure)

  • ISIS has lost its territory and been dismantled

(we’ve been attacking them since 2014 and then in 2018 Trump said they were defeated)

  • ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed

(Obama got bin Laden, Trump got al-Baghdadi, why can’t both sides just shut up)

  • Perkins CTE reauthorization provides $1-billion for vocational and career education programs

  • Executive Order to expand apprenticeship opportunities

(bipartisan!)

  • Executive Order prohibiting the US government from discriminating against Christians or punishing expressions of faith

(I see what you did there...that’s for all religions, not just Christians. You’re sneaky.)

  • Executive Order allowing the government to withhold money from anti-Semitic college campuses

(ACLU has criticized because this may punish free-speech?)

  • Stopped tax money going to international organizations that fund or perform abortions

(if that’s your thing, man)

  • Sanctions on brutal Venezuelan government

(we’ve been sanctioning the shit out of Venezuela for a while, I don’t know that it’s helping)

  • Revised version of US-Korea Free Trade Agreement

(“Revised”)

  • Withdrew from “job-killing” Trans-Pacific Partnership

(Here’s a typically liberal publication explaining that, yes, the TPP is a job-killer)

  • Secured $250-billion in trade/investment deals in China, $12-billion in Vietnam

  • Struck deal with EU to increase US energy exports to Europe

(true and worth reading)

  • Approved $12-billion in farmer aid due to trade retaliation

(He’s approved like $50-billion+ to farmers...is he...are you...being modest?! But also, that’s trade retaliation because of Trump’s trade policies, just sayin’)

  • Freed over a dozen US hostages, including ones Obama couldn’t get freed.

(Yes, really).

  • Music Modernization Act

(but you remember how the Republican Party is the party of free-trade and limited government oversight?)

  • Billions for the Border Wall

(stealing doesn’t count)

  • DOJ/Board of Prison “Ready to Work Initiative”

  • Opportunity Zone Initiatives

  • 8,764 Opportunity Zone designees

  • Opportunity Zones expected to spur $100-billion in long term capital investment in economically distressed communities

(Ohhhh this is gentrification on a national scale, got it)

  • Trump to Education Secretary: “End Common Core”

  • 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

(bipartisan!)

  • Funded suicide prevention programs for Veterans

  • TCJA has brought back over $1-trillion from overseas

  • Manufacturing jobs are growing at the fastest rate in more than 30 years

  • Record-high Stock Market!

(also record lows..thanks, COVID)

  • Median household income highest ever

  • African-, Hispanic-, Asian-American, Women’s, Youth unemployment at all-time low

(Sigh, COVID)

  • Lowest unemployment EVER

(Except in the 1950s)

  • Pledge to America’s Workers to train more than 4 million Americans

(well, at least they pledged)

  • 95% of US manufacturers optimistic about the future

(it was….now it’s 34% thanks to COVID)

  • Thanks to TCJA, small businesses have the lowest marginal tax rate in more than 80 years

(28% in the 1980s, 29.6% today)

  • Small business regulations scrapped at record rates!

(if you’re a Republican, you’ll love this! But remember the Music Modernization Act was basically a handful of industry regulations)

  • ***Welfare reform - able bodied adults without children need to get to work, or look for work!

(I’m going to keep this in the accomplishments column, but you won’t be happy about it)

  • FDA approved for affordable generic drugs than ever before in history!

  • Medicare reform to stop hospitals from overcharging seniors on drugs

  • Right to Try - terminally ill patients get to test out experimental drugs!

  • ****$6-billion in funding to fight opioid epidemic

(Oh, I’m coming back to this one)

  • VA Choice, VA Accountability, VA Telehealth, walk-in clinics, same-day urgent primary and mental health care

(bipartisan!)

  • US oil production at all-time high

(yes, we know…)

  • US is now a net natural gas exporter

  • NATO allies have increased defense spending

  • *****Withdrew from “job-killing” Paris Climate Accord

  • Confirmed a whole bunch of judges and justices

(Yeah, he did - but I wonder if Senate Republicans could have kept those seats open for 4 years if Hillary had won…)

  • ******Moved US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

(I’m not going to pretend to care - no, I get it, I totally get it. I promise I understand the...fine. I’ll come back to it.)

  • New trade deal with Mexico and Canada

  • Breakthrough agreement with EU to increase US exports

  • China tariffs!

  • Legislation to improve National Suicide Hotline

(bipartisan!)

  • The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act

(bipartisan!)

  • TCJA doubled maximum child tax credits

(and they expire in 2025!)

  • TCJA also create new tax credit for other dependents

(again, until 2025!)

  • $2.4-billion increase for Child Care and Development Fund

(bipartisan!)

  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, flexible spending accounts, etc….

(This is a whole lot of stuff that existed before Trump but I guess he saw it and was like: “This is mine now.”)

  • Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act

(bipartisan!)

  • Lupus funding over $60-million

(bipartisan!)

  • Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act

(bipartisan!)

  • Stock market always hitting the high-water mark

(oof COVID)


WHEW! That’s a lot of stuff! What was the question?

Oh, yeah!

Why can’t you just admit that Trump has done more in 4 years than Biden has done in 40?

I didn’t count all the stuff that Trump has done, but here’s 348 pieces of legislation that Biden has backed that became law. And here’s a more breezy list of stuff that Biden has done in his life and while holding public office. And here’s a high-falutin article about the significance of Biden’s vice presidency.


So, back to that question:

  1. I want you to seriously think about the content of that claim: The president has done more in 4 years than a man who’s never been president. I mean...

  2. I’ve put a lot of asterisks and marked up a lot of Trump’s claims to accomplishments, so that’s probably not gonna be good.

  3. By all metrics, Biden has been engaged in policy making for nearly half a century. It’s easy to claim he hasn’t done anything when you don’t know what he’s done, or when you highlight the not-so-great things that he’s done (ahem, 1994 Violent Crime Bill).

  4. I have no problem highlighting that Trump has done good things. I want Trump to do good things. Objectively stating that Trump has done good things does not mean Leftists like Trump.

  5. Objectively stating that Biden has done numerous things over the course of his career does not mean that Leftists like Biden.


I’ll knock out the (bipartisan!) designations first.

I don’t want to assume your stance on Trump, but what I’ve noticed in the last few years is that Trump supporters believe Trump is an all-powerful uber-businessman who makes things happen.


So, let’s roll with that.


According to the Left and Right, bipartisanship is practically dead. The Senate won’t negotiate with Congress, Americans are bleeding Red and Blue, and the only way to get anything done is to just bulldoze your way to progress.


That kind of narrative is undermined when the President signs and enacts bipartisan legislation - legislation that is presented to him as the work of caucuses and committees and cross-party coordination. Instead of President Trump demanding things get done, things got done on their own and he agreed to sign off on them. So, for starters, bipartisanship isn’t dead. And second, Trump just kind of happened to be in office when these things were ready to be signed. So, unless you’re saying that Trump owned the Libs by working with them...a lot of the good things he did would have been accomplished without Trump.


Now, the asterisks.


*More on trafficking - sting against Backpage, new anti-trafficking guidance, ICE Homeland Security Investigation have arrested 1,588 criminal associated with human trafficking; National Human Trafficking Hotline, DOJ grants to organizations serving trafficking victims (9,000 cases to 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018), hiring of victim assistance specialists.


Here’s the problem with this whole human trafficking thing: immigration. The numbers cited for convictions and cases are all accurate, so great! But there is a very real problem with the Trump Administration’s immigration policy as it relates to these human trafficking cases. Because of the extreme measures taken against immigrants both at the border and within the country, we may be complicit in human trafficking on the whole. If you want to count human trafficking as a win against all else (if we’re going to cancel out the children in cages thing because Obama did it, okay), then we need to consider the very real findings of the Alliance To End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST):


The U.S. government must strengthen, rather than erode, protections for immigrants, including immigrant survivors of human trafficking.

Needed reform areas include:

  • DOJ limits on asylum and immigration courts

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies that restrict access to immigration relief, increase abuse and exploitation of immigrants, and clearly demonstrate a failure of the U.S. to comply with international and U.S. standards for the protection of victims

  • Increased barriers to obtaining T Visas in the form of increasingly frequent requests for evidence (RFEs), denials that contravene legal standards, and delays in adjudications

  • Obstacles to securing immigration relief through increased denials of fee waivers and revisions for adjudicating requests for fee waivers

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) Public Charge policy, which harms human trafficking survivors

  • DHS mass detention of immigrants, which harms immigrants overall, including human trafficking survivors

  • The U.S. government’s continuing failure to provide automatic Continued Presence status to human trafficking survivors

  • DHS complicity in labor trafficking, including forced labor, of immigrants inside private detention facilities

  • The under-regulated U.S. Guest Worker Visa Programs, which, as designed, allow labor trafficking to thrive

The U.S. government must strengthen protections for survivors with disabilities

The U.S. government has taken several actions to remove protections for LGBTQ individuals

The U.S. has a weak social safety net, which exacerbates trafficking vulnerability and creates the potential for survivor re-trafficking.


Now, one of the other things that I think I share with Trump and Trump supporters is this idea of American Exceptionalism - basically the idea that Americans can do anything better than anyone else. Human trafficking is an issue that speaks to the very real American spirit of stepping in where no one else will or can, and my take on it is that 1,500 arrests and 9,000 cases is a lot, but I wonder how many we’ve missed.


The follow-up problem is that, well, of course we’re going to miss trafficking victims. Not because of a law of averages or anything, but because when Trump speaks of immigrants he does not acknowledge that hidden among the, uh, “rapists and murderers”, there are also women and children who fear asking for help and are afraid for their lives, human beings who are literally being bought and sold.


The thing is, we can have solid immigration policies without being cruel to immigrants. I can’t really “admit” that Trump has done a good thing with human trafficking when our border policies have likely permitted more cases of human trafficking than they have prevented. I can’t get behind that, man.


NEXT!


**Trump really wants school choice legislation - in 2018 he increased school choice funding by $42-million


Trump’s tax credits for school-choice are temporary, the cash influxes are, as far as anyone can tell, a one-time deal. The numbers for both - a $10,000 tax credit for private education and $42-million for school-choice - seem to just be randomly generated numbers, and they are small numbers. Less than $1-million per state makes getting funding 1) ultra-competitive or 2) pointless. And writing off $10,000 in private education is great if you pay $10,000 for your kid’s education. It’s not that great if you 1) have more than 1 kid or 2) live in an area with higher than average private education costs (though the $10,000 tracks with the average cost).


But the problems go beyond numbers, the problem with school-choice is existential. The vague and broadly acknowledged problem is that Public Education is suffering. The radical solution is to instead fund private, charter, or Christian schools.


Notice that this solution doesn’t address the actual problem. We haven’t solved the Public Education problem but have created an entirely new program that requires some level of management, funding, and oversight.


But it’s a leg up for minorities and a boon to communities, it provides safer spaces for kids and gets kids out of less effective inner-city schools!


Great! But it doesn’t make any provision for all the children who don’t get selected to attend those preferred schools. Inner-city schools will still exist, minority children and their communities are at risk right now, and they will still be at risk even when some of those kids get to attend better schools. Parents should not have to choose an alternative education for their kids because the one offered is inadequate. The provided education option for all children - inner-city, rural, minority, gifted, disabled - should be robustly funded and integral to the community.


This is the whole reason we pursued public education at the beginning of the 20th Century, because no matter what the parents’ decisions, finances, or beliefs, their children deserve free access to high quality education because the world is advancing and progressing at a pace that requires a base-level of generalized knowledge. Since then, we have been actively trying to make public education go away.


But you can’t make the system fair for everyone!


Bullshit. We know how to identify at-risk youth and we know that tutoring, mentoring, and extracurricular activities help mitigate those risks. We know that teacher training, student advocacy, infrastructure upgrades, and community engagement (charity, arts, university partnerships) make schools more effective, safer, and better able to retain high-quality staff. We know how to make the public school system work and we know how to make the system fair for everyone without making students compete for spaces at better schools.


But that isn’t the government’s job!


Then abandon your entire school-choice platform, funding options, and tax credits. If the government has no obligation to childhood education then it certainly has no obligation to subsidize parents for education expenses. Close public schools, abandon the Department of Education, and let the Free-Market do its job. If we're moving away from funding and maintaining a robust public education option to a private option, then the government's hand should be removed from it entirely.


Now you’re just being cynical and throwing a fit - that’s a slippery slope argument!


Not really. Public tax dollars shouldn't be funding private education or religious based education. Public funds should be funding publicly accessible education available to everyone.


Public education is an either/or proposition. Either the government provides the same level of standard education to every single kid in this country or it provides zero education or assistance to all kids. Arguing between the two extremes for decades just allows generation after generation of children to receive poor educations and become poorly educated adults - which, based on our current anti-science, anti-professional attitudes, is exactly what’s happened.


That said, education is a fundamental human right. <- See the period at the end of that sentence?


Well you’re just being overly simplistic and this is a very complex issue - there’s a lot of gray area and it can’t just be black/white.


I’d argue that maintaining a society where zero public education is provided is much more complex than bickering about vouchers. I’d also argue that pursuing a high standard for free public education is less complex than morally justifying the public/private rift because we don't want to put money into improving our schools.


I can’t give Trump a win on funding school-choice, even though, yes, he did it. His Department of Education is not serving the interests of America’s children.


NEXT!


***Welfare reform - able bodied adults without children need to get to work, or look for work!


Yeah, you’re not going to like this.


First, let’s start with the basics. If you want to lift people out of poverty but don’t want to go to the trouble of doing anything to help them, what can you do?


You can simply lower the poverty line. By setting a lower income threshold for citizens, you can miraculously boost them out of poverty by doing nothing at all!


Next - say you got a bunch of Medicaid freeloaders and you want them to earn their healthcare by getting a job but you can’t make jobs appear out of nowhere, what do?


Impose a $500 monthly premium! Now, if you’re not working you can’t afford the premium so you don’t get healthcare! Though, even if you are working and you have $500 extra dollars a month then...well, let’s put it like this:

  • The current poverty level for a single adult (the able-bodied kind who needs to get to work!) is $12,760.

  • If I pay $6,000 a year in premiums and $6,000 a year in rent (go ahead and find $500/month living arrangements, I’ll wait), then I have $760 a year to pay for transportation, clothing, and food.

  • It’s probably better if I just don’t get insurance, which is what you really wanted the whole time. It doesn’t lift me out of poverty, it doesn’t get me a job, it doesn’t provide me any more incentive to do anything, and it makes it very dangerous to my health if I get sick or injured.

  • BONUS: If the poverty threshold drops to, say, $10,000 a year for a childless adult, that means you could disqualify EVEN MORE PEOPLE from getting Medicaid because they aren't really poor!


But it’s not the government’s job to take care of people or pay for their healthcare!


So...we’re doing them a favor by making access to it increasingly harder?

They should be thankful for the option even if they can’t get it?

Sorry, let’s go back to the education conundrum. If you want to bicker back and forth about who deserves what level of healthcare based on merit (jobs that don’t exist) or metrics that you can change to fit your needs (poverty threshold), then just stop screwing around with people and totally eliminate public health options altogether.


Or, you know, public healthcare for all like the rest of the modern world. Because when you travel abroad and meet people who don’t have to choose between food and prescriptions it makes you feel really, really uncomfortable about your petty “socialist healthcare” arguments. Free people aren’t free if they’re pointlessly burdened by manageable illnesses.


SO YOU WANT DOCTORS TO WORK FOR FREE?!

No...


****$6-billion in funding to fight the opioid epidemic.


You remember that time during the first 2020 presidential debate when Trump mocked Joe Biden’s son for having a drug problem? Do you think $6-billion is a fair amount of money to pay for the right to mock people with addiction problems? Also, now that we’re mocking people with drug addiction, $6-billion seems like a lot of money to spend on people who aren’t worth the investment.

So, no, I’m not going to give Trump that one. Addiction is a mental health issue often vilified as self-inflicted harm. I’ve been sober 2 years as of this writing - it'd be great if we celebrated sobriety instead of mocking addiction.


*****Withdrew from “job killing” Paris Climate Accord


I don’t know how the party of innovation and free markets is totally ignorant to the fact that you can make a killing generating natural energy and selling it. You can make a killing manufacturing awesome electric cars. You can make a killing retrofitting infrastructure, buildings, and homes to utilize alternative energy. You can make a killing by killing oil.


We should be asking why Trump, master businessman and real estate mogul, doesn’t understand untapped markets, first-in strategies, or the billions to be realized in infrastructure projects. The fact is, if Trump was serious about economic strategy, it would be gloves-off, Wild West investment in renewables and new jobs.


******Moved US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

I'm sure you're aware of all the nuanced foreign policy involved with, and have a robust defense of, Trump's decision to move the embassy. Right?

Bonus: Maybe we're being harsh, but Trump's racist dog-whistling overshadows whatever middling accomplishments he's made during his tenure.

Why can’t you just admit Trump has done more in 4 years than Biden has done in 40? TL;DR

Trump campaigned on legitimate domestic and foreign issues, and he's signed a large number of Executive Orders and bipartisan bills. Unfortunately, his lack of state-craft has resulted in legal turnover and a lot of his 'accomplishments' have negative flip-sides. He's also flailing with this whole COVID-19 thing, and his inability to cope with his election loss is...I mean, is this really what winning looks like to him?

While Leftists may be ideologically opposed to the Right, we are not opposed to bipartisan legislation and win-win accomplishments. We want the president to succeed in those areas. We want the president to do good things.

At this point in 2020 (November), we are done listening to people say "Trump did [x] so at least give him that." We've given him his credit, and yet here he is sending Giuliani out into the world to air he fever-dream grievances before the courts in an attempt to somehow make up millions of votes he never got. We're simply done with this whole administration.

That said, this is not an endorsement of Biden.

As of this writing, America has experienced day after day of record-high COVID-19 cases (83,000 on the day of this article's rough draft, 99,500 by Oct. 30, 195,000 by Nov. 22). We have been warned that we were heading into a dark winter, and yet Trump repeatedly claims that we have rounded the corner, insists on spreading misinformation, and has been more focused on his election loss than the health and safety of US citizens. There is no greater present threat to American lives than Donald Trump.

Also, Trump's rhetoric appeals to and protects racists, so that kind of makes the whole "accomplishments" argument garbage from the start.

Do you think we should expand the Supreme Court? Why?

Not yes, but hell yes. On the issue of appointing federal judges, and SCOTUS judges specifically, Republicans have acted in bad faith by blocking Democratic Party nominees and leaving seats open indefinitely in order to fill them with conservative judges. They refute this in a number of ways, the most disingenuous is Mitch McConnell's (and the rest of the Republican Party's) assertion that eight months away from an election, holding confirmation hearings for Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, would be a disservice to Americans. Americans, they argued, should not have a lifetime appointee confirmed in an election year as it would be representative of the outgoing administration's attempt to establish policy permanence. Americans, they argued, would be best served if the newly elected president nominated a judge to represent the prevailing interests of voters.

Okay, principled enough.

And then came Amy Coney Barrett.

With weeks - weeks - to go before the 2020 election, the Republican Senate rushed to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's SCOTUS seat with Barrett, whose court rulings ostensibly rely on ultra-conservative interpretations of law and revisionist interpretations of legal precedent. SCOTUS is not, we are told, committed to any political party, yet nominees are chosen by the parties of their era to rule on court cases for decades. As a vehicle for preserving political values well into the future, SCOTUS is a perfect proxy for minority rule.

And then there's the absolute coconuts case where Barrett upheld the decision that, because rape is not part of an employee's official duties, an employer cannot be held liable when an employee commits rape while on the job, even though Barrett had previously ruled otherwise.

But Barrett is a straw(wo)man. Her appointment is meant to be be divisive and distracting.

Trump famously touts that Obama hadn't done his job and left judgeships open, so he is right to fill them with all the conservative appointees he wants. And he is regularly, famously refuted in that the Republican Senate simply refused to confirm many of Obama's nominees.

And now we come back to the Republican Party's principled stance on court packing. It would be unjust, unfair, underhanded, and improper to expand the Supreme Court and pack it with left-leaning judges. It would be akin to, say, refusing to confirm the nominees of the opposing party, reversing course on election year confirmations, and abusing the powers of a Senate majority. For the Democratic Party to undo a decade of obstruction would be to undermine the will of the people. Except the people are not adequately represented in the courts, and the fear of the Republican Party is that in losing a court majority their principles will be exposed as pointlessly cruel and out of touch. Packing the courts would also go the extra step of proving that the conservative minority does not have a stranglehold on power, and that their aggressive tactics were so short-sighted that they forced a rapid change to more progressive politics.

Did Hillary’s private email server compromise national security?

Probably. She’s kind of terrible. But don’t go around chanting “lock her up” unless you’re willing to go full tilt and hold all politicians accountable for their crimes - including Trump's violations of the Hatch Act - or, better yet, unless you think ratifying the Rome Statute binding us to ICC jurisdiction is a good prescription for international accountability (we think it is). So, please have the confidence of your convictions instead of just chanting mindlessly for the incarceration of people you don’t like. Politicians commit crimes, they’re corrupt, they pursue endless war. There’s a lot of prosecution to be had here.