Poor, poor pitiful Trump! He’s finally being fact-checked 

Although Crybaby Donald Trump has used Twitter incessantly to promote himself, he has been furious with the social media outlet this week for fact-checking two of his tweets — so furious that on Thursday, he issued an executive order targeting social media companies and claimed that he did so to “defend free speech.” Twitter hasn’t removed any of Trump’s tweets but has flagged or hidden them as inaccurate or violent. While legal scholars have been asserting that the order cannot withstand legal scrutiny, Media Matters’ Matt Gertz stresses that it serves a useful purpose for Trump nonetheless — and that purpose has been identified by the “notoriously stupid” Fox News host Steve Doocy.

“Donald Trump capped off a multi-day tantrum at Twitter for appending a mild fact-check to one of his false tweets by retaliating with the power of the federal government,” Gertz explains. “The executive order he signed Thursday is slapdash and incoherent, rooted in a false premise, hypocritical and potentially unconstitutional, legally unenforceable yet dangerously authoritarian, with sections that read like a Fox News screed. But to analyze the executive order’s flaws is to miss the point entirely.”

That purpose, according to Gertz, is “raising the cost of defiance until his perceived enemies break” — and the executive order “forces Twitter to expend resources fighting it, but if the company bends to Trump and does what he wants, maybe it will just go away.”

Steve Doocy of all people — the notoriously stupid ‘Fox & Friends’ host who is one of the president’s favorite cable news personalities — (inadvertently) nailed it on Wednesday,” Gertz notes. “Social media companies would face ‘a big headache’ if Trump tried to repeal the section of federal law that the executive order targets, he exclaimed, so ‘they might think twice about putting a footnote on a tweet from”.. Trump

Gertz emphasizes that with his executive order, Trump is “drawing a line between companies that defy him and are punished and those that work to benefit him and receive praise.” Trump, Gertz observes, “lauded Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for criticizing Twitter’s decision to fact-check him.”

Zuckerberg is the poster child for what Trump wants from the head of a social media company,” according to Gertz. “The Republican political operatives he hired to run Facebook’s policy wing have carved out exemptions from the site’s rules for Trump and his media allies. Trump is making clear that it is in the interests of other social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube to adopt that same corporate strategy — and he will continue to raise the temperature until they do.”

From Alternet

 

Donald Trump’s compendium of “full on” crazy

The “very stable genius” looks right at the sun

Donald Trump’s open-mic riff suggesting government health experts explore injecting patients with bleach or household disinfectants to fight covid-19 made for easy parody. “And then I see the disinfectant, that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” he said at Thursday night’s televised news briefing. “Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning.” Because the coronavirus “does a tremendous number on the lungs,” he went on to say, “it would be interesting to check that.” He added his usual disclaimer, “I’m not a doctor,” but assured viewers that “I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”

This prompted warnings from state governments and the makers of Lysol about the serious bodily harm that taking this “I’m-not-a-doctor” advice would cause. But as absurd as Trump’s comments were, they could hardly have been surprising. His “good you-know-what” has led us down this path before. During his three years in office, Trump has regularly expressed confidence that he knows more than the experts. That confidence is matched only by the ignorance he actually displays about a vast array of topics. Repeatedly, he has sent government officials scrambling on foolish missions, leading them to spend time and personal capital persuading him not to follow through on schemes that are invariably wasteful, ineffective, unrealistic, or dangerous.

Consider, for example, some brilliant guidance in 2017: Trump — who has no nautical, military or engineering experience — decided the electromagnetic catapults the Navy planned to install on aircraft carriers to launch airplanes into the sky were technically inferior to the steam catapults used in older-generation ships. “Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out,” Trump said in announcing he would order the Navy to replace the new catapults. Though experts say the move would cost billions of dollars and degrade the carriers’ capabilities, Trump has repeatedly returned to the topic in the years since, forcing Navy officials to put on their best game face in public pronouncements about the Trump’s off-the-wall comments.

A favorite object of Trump’s expertise remains the wall he is attempting to build along the southern border. His outlandish suggestions include proposals to paint it black so it would be too hot to climb, electrify it and cap it with spikes. The New York Times reported that he considered adding a water-filled moat that would be stocked with snakes and alligators, a farcical idea for which aides nonetheless felt compelled to seek a cost estimate. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the Army Corps of Engineers have spent months constructing prototypes and convincing the commander in chief to abandon impractical, expensive and constantly changing demands.

Trump has a few ideas about the weather, too. During meetings to discuss hurricane response, Trump has asked why the government doesn’t just drop a nuclear bomb on hurricanes before they make landfall. Despite the fact that nuking a hurricane would be banned by treaty, would spread radioactive fallout along the hurricane’s path and would do nothing to actually stop the storm, an administration official reportedly told Trump, “Sir, we’ll look into that.”

Trump’s “knowledge” of chemistry and physics are joined by an interest in geography. Last August, he repeatedly pushed advisers to consider whether the United States could purchase Greenland from the government of Denmark. When news of his plan leaked and the Danish prime minister publicly responded that Greenland was not for sale, Trump publicly pouted by abruptly canceling a planned meeting with her.

It is tempting to laugh off the Donald’s most ridiculous ideas as comic relief that will never be implemented because cooler and wiser heads in the government will ultimately prevail. Indeed, Trump’s defenders often try to defend his wackiest suggestions by declaring him an innovative thinker, usually just before he hangs them out to dry by denying he said the thing he clearly said or by pretending he was joking, as he did with his comments on disinfectants. “I was asking a question sarcastically,” he said Friday.

But these journeys deep into the abyss of the Trump mind have real effects on the workings of government and the behavior of individual Americans. Officials spend time and resources that should be directed toward addressing actual problems instead of studying Trump’s worst ideas and convincing him to back down. For example, Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, has been forced to intervene repeatedly with Trump over policies that Fauci says would compromise public health.

Other officials burn their own hard-earned credibility by publicly defending Trump’s delusions. When Trump initially made his disinfectant recommendation, he paired it with this suggestion: “Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.”

The look of obvious discomfort on the face of Deborah Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, made her an Internet sensation. A day later, she defended Trump on Fox News by arguing, “when he gets new information, he likes to talk that through, out loud,” a head-scratching explanation that also contradicted Trump’s remark that he was being sarcastic.

When Trump says he was being ‘sarcastic,’ it’s just part of his gaslighting

Some of Trump’s silliest ideas actually make it into policy. Just as customs agents can’t catch every vehicle smuggling drugs through the border, government officials can’t prevent every Trumpian musing from being turned into reality. We now have a Space Force, a new branch of the armed services that cost billions to establish and serves no discernible purpose that wasn’t already being handled elsewhere. Trump’s obsession with the trappings of military pomp eventually got him the Fourth of July gathering he’d long sought, even if the tanks he wanted to parade down the Mall ended up merely parked there instead. He seems intent on recalling a thousand cadets to the U.S. Military Academy so he can deliver a graduation speech, despite the public health risks it will cause.

Beyond Washington, some Trump loyalists have trouble discerning which of his ideas stray from mere quirkiness into the realm of personal danger. When the Donald repeatedly pushed chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game-changer” in the treatment of patients with covid-19, despite an absence of scientific evidence, Americans responded by hoarding and consuming the drugs, sometimes at their own peril. Maryland’s emergency hotline received over 100 calls about disinfectants after Trump’s latest comments. New York City’s poison control center reported a spike in cases of exposure to disinfectants, including Lysol.

But most concerning is the obvious issues these flights of fancy raise about Trump himself and his fitness for public office of any kind, let alone the presidency. Those questions have been apparent throughout his term, as when he claimed that windmills cause cancer (they don’t) or that the F-35 stealth fighter is literally invisible (it’s not). Donald J. Trump has trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality. He believes he knows more than anyone in the room when in fact he knows less. He can’t admit a mistake, even when doing so would be the smartest way out of the holes he invariably digs for himself.

Those traits were harmful enough when the country was riding high on relative peace and prosperity. During a global pandemic and a disastrous economic downturn, they can prove catastrophic. As Trump’s presumed election opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, tweeted, “I can’t believe I have to say this but don’t drink bleach.” The warning was specific to Trump’s foray into disinfectants, but it serves as an apt metaphor for his entire reign terror and stupidity.

 

Edited from Washington Post story by Matthew Miller

Miller was director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office from 2009 to 2011.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/04/26/ingest-bleach-trump-coronavirus/

Russia and Ukraine are all one big treasonous scandal

One of the key lines in the House Democrats’ impeachment report distills the Trump-Ukraine scandal to a simple idea: “[T]he impeachment inquiry has found that Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection.”

And in the report’s preface, the Democrats place Trump’s Ukrainian caper within the larger context of foreign intervention in US elections, namely Russia’s covert attack on the 2016 contest, which was mounted in part to help Trump win the White House: “We were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by Trump who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which Trump welcomed and utilized.”

The point was clear. Trump muscling Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to produce political dirt that could influence the 2020 election for Trump’s personal advantage was a continuation of Trump’s behavior in 2016. This contextualization brings back into the spotlight Vladimir Putin’s clandestine assault on American democracy—and how Trump encouraged and exploited that attack. So now, as Trump is under scrutiny for pressing Ukraine to influence the 2020 race, it’s a good time to review all the ways that Trump aided and abetted a foreign adversary’s scheme to subvert a US election the last time the nation was choosing a president.

Signaled to Moscow that its intervention in the election was desirable: On June 9, three top Trump advisers—Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort—held a secret meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian emissary whom they were informed would provide them dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr., who arranged this get-together, much later claimed that this Russian lawyer, who had ties to the Kremlin and Russian security service, provided them no useful information. But this meeting had more significance than what was actually discussed. During the preparation for this event, Trump Jr. had received an email from the middle-man who set it up saying the meeting came out of an offer from Russia’s top prosecutor and was “part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.” This means Trump’s son was informed that Russia was angling to secretly help Trump—and that Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort were fine with that. And by taking the meeting, Trump Jr. and the others were conveying a message to Russia that the Trump campaign didn’t mind—and would welcome—covert assistance from the Russian government. (Trump has claimed that he was unaware of this meeting. But Michael Cohen testified to Congress that he believed Trump was aware of the meeting before it occurred.)

Denied Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee: On June 14, 2016, the Washington Post reported that the DNC had been attacked and penetrated by Russian government hackers who gained access to “all email and chat traffic.” The Kremlin, naturally, denied this. Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s top spokesman said, “I completely rule out a possibility that the [Russian] government or the government bodies have been involved in this.” The next day, Trump’s campaign echoed Moscow’s line. It put out a statement declaring, “We believe is was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader.” That is, there had been no hack; this was all a hoax. The Trump statement accepted and boosted Moscow’s disinformation and its cover-up. Putin and his covert operators must have been pleased.

Denied Russia was attacking Clinton’s campaign: In July, three days before the start of the Democrats’ presidential convention, WikiLeaks dumped tens of thousands of emails and documents the Russian hackers had stolen from the DNC. This was an attempt to disrupt the Democrats’ gathering. Senior Clinton campaign officials publicly contended that their camp was being targeted by Moscow. Team Trump contended that was hogwash. On CNN, Trump Jr. blasted the Democrats for suggesting Russian involvement: “It just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean they’ll say anything to be able to win this. This is time and time again, lie after lie. It’s disgusting. It’s so phony.” And on the same network Manafort dismissed the Democrats’ claim, saying, “It’s just absurd…it is crazy,” Yet the previous month, they and Kushner had met with the Russian emissary whom they were told was part of a secret Kremlin effort to assist the Trump campaign. Once again, the Trump campaign was reinforcing Putin’s we-didn’t-do-it stance—which, no doubt, was heartening for Moscow.

Encouraged Russia to hack Clinton: The denials of Russia’s involvement from Trump’s top advisers could well have been read by Moscow’s operators as a green light from the Trump campaign. But Trump made it explicit at a press conference on July 27, while the Democratic convention was still underway in Philadelphia. He repeated his campaign’s denial—”Nobody knows who it is”—and then went further: “I will tell you this—Russia if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the thirty thousand [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump was essentially encouraging another government to hack his political rival. He was openly requesting foreign intervention in the US election. And within five hours of Trump’s statement, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, Russian government hackers did try to break into email accounts associated with Clinton and her personal office. This shows the Russians were paying attention to what Trump was saying.

Made secret contact with the Kremlin: Throughout the summer of 2016, the Trump campaign tried to set up a secret connection with Putin’s government. The campaign did this after cybersecurity experts had identified Russia as the culprit in the DNC hacking and after news reports had noted that US intelligence agencies had reached the same conclusion. A little-noticed portion of the statement of offense in Muller’s case against George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, lays this out. (Papadopoulos’ April 2016 conversation with a suspected Russian asset who said Moscow possessed Clinton’s emails later triggered the FBI’s Russia investigation.) The legal filing notes that Papadopoulos “from mid-June through mid-August 2016…pursued an ‘off the record’ meeting between one or more Campaign representatives and ‘members of president Putin’s office’” and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Papadopoulos’ effort, according to the document, was no rogue action; other campaign officials knew about it, and one even encouraged him to travel to Russia to meet with Russian officials to make this contact “if it is feasible.” (Papadopoulos did not take such a trip.) The Trump campaign was attempting to establish a backdoor channel with Putin, even as Putin was attacking the 2016 election. This overture was probably seen by the Kremlin as yet another sign that the Trump campaign accepted—and welcomed—Moscow’s intervention in the US election. (Also, in early August, Manafort met with a former business associate who was a suspected Russian intelligence asset, and Manafort shared internal campaign polling data with him and discussed a pro-Putin peace plan for Ukraine. This, too, could have been seen by Moscow as a signal that the Trump campaign was willing to play ball with Russia, as Russia was trying to subvert the election.)

Embraced Moscow disinformation: In mid-August, Trump, as the Republican nominee, received a briefing from the US intelligence community that included the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia was behind the DNC hack. Nevertheless, in the following weeks, Trump repeatedly denied Russia was the perp. During his first debate with Clinton, Trump declared, “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC… I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke into DNC.” At the second debate—days after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that “the Russian Government directed” the hacks of the DNC and other Democratic targets—Trump, referring to Clinton, exclaimed, “She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.” (He added, “I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don’t deal there. I have no businesses there.” Trump neglected to mention that earlier in the year he had tried to develop a massive tower project in Moscow and his company had sought help for the project from Putin’s office.) With these remarks, Trump was parroting Putin’s false claims. Such comments likely emboldened Russia. (Looking to stay in sync with Trump and his comments, Republican congressional leaders, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, avoided joining with the Obama administration to forcefully oppose Putin’s intervention in the election.) And after WikiLeaks in October 2016, as part of the Russian scheme to help Trump, began its daily release of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta by Russian hackers, Trump repeatedly proclaimed he loved WikiLeaks—embracing this foreign intervention in the election.

Again and again, during the 2016 campaign, Trump and his aides denied Russia was intervening in the election, but they also praised this interference and sought to secretly hook up with the foreign adversary that was waging information warfare against the United States. (The recent trial of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone showed that Trump and his advisers sought to use Stone as contact with WikiLeaks.) This part of the Trump-Russia affair has never received the attention it warrants, in part because much of the scandal came to be defined by the question of whether Trump directly colluded with Moscow. But he didn’t have to in order for the Russians to mount the operation that succeeded in helping Trump become president.

All of these actions detailed above—which may not have been criminal—deserved full congressional investigation and could be part of an impeachment case against Trump (as could the report that Trump, once elected, told Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting that he didn’t care about Russia’s attack on the election). But the House Democrats have not followed through on their promise to revive the Trump-Russia investigation. Instead, they relied on Mueller’s report—which was limited—and generally concluded after Mueller’s lackluster appearance on Capitol Hill that the Russia scandal was kaput. They then trained their impeachment sights on the narrow Ukraine caper. Still, Democrats have recently been noting that there is a strong tie between the two scandals—”All roads lead to Putin,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week—and that Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine episode follows his pattern of accepting, welcoming, and requesting foreign intervention during the last presidential election. Trump did escape accountability for what he did in 2016, but the Ukraine scandal shows that he has been on a spree. He was elected because of foreign interference he encouraged. As president, he sought additional intervention from overseas to boost his reelection prospects. It’s a straight line, and his critics are right to wonder what Trump—if (or when) he survives impeachment—might try to pull next to hold on to the presidency.

David Corn Mother Jones

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/12/trumps-sordid-history-of-accepting-requesting-and-encouraging-foreign-interference-in-us-elections/

 

A very discouraging sign as Trump’s China trade war has a global climate impact

Around the world last year, coal power started to decline:

More plants were closed than were built and the globe’s coal power capacity went down by 2.8 gigawatts.

But that’s about to change!
In a break with the global trend, China added 25.5 gigawatts to its coal capacity last year. And it’s due to ramp that up, as the world’s biggest energy consumer ignores global pressure to rein in carbon emissions in its bid to boost a slowing economy caused in part as a reaction to Trump’s trade war.

That’s according to a report from Global Energy Monitor, a nonprofit group that monitors coal stations. The current capacity of the entire European Union coal fleet is 149 gigawatts. While the rest of the world has been largely reducing coal-powered capacity over the past two years, China is building so much coal power that it more than offsets the decline elsewhere.

Ted Nace, head of Global Energy Monitor, says the new coal plants will have a significant impact on China’s already-increasing carbon emissions.

“What is being built in China is single-handedly turning what would be the beginning of the decline of coal into the continued growth of coal,” he says, adding that China was “swamping” global progress in bringing down emissions.

Concerns over air pollution and overinvestment in coal prompted China to suspend the construction of hundreds of coal stations in 2016. But many have since been restarted, as Beijing seeks to stimulate an economy growing at its slowest pace since the early 1990s.

Pressure has been increasing on China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to reduce emissions, which have been creeping up since 2016, and hit a record high last year.

China has pledged to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 as part of the Paris climate agreement. However, a number of countries including the EU, have been urging China to move that date forward.

The report shows the pace of new construction starts of Chinese coal stations rose 5 percent in the first half of 2019, against the same period last year. About 121 gigawatts of coal power is actively under construction in China, slightly lower than the same point a year ago.

The renewed push into coal has been driven by Chinese energy companies desperate to gain market share and by local governments that view coal plants as a source of jobs and investment. While electricity demand in China rose 8.5 percent last year, the current grid is already oversupplied and coal stations are used only about half the time.

“The utilization of coal-fired power plants will reach a record low this year, so there is no justification to build these coal plants,” says Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a think tank. “But that is not the logic that investment follows in China.… There is little regard for the long-term economics of the investments that are being made.”

 

From:
Leslie Hook of OZY & U.K.’s Financial Times

Scam artist Trump and the Climate disaster will bankrupt the US

Climate crisis disasters are happening at the rate of one a week, the UN has warned. Seen here is the damage left by Cyclone Kenneth in a village north of Pemba, Mozambique: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

 

For decades Donald Trump has been losing millions and driving normally profitable businesses into the ground. Now, this idiot is poised to do this on an international scale.

Climate- and weather-related events have directly cost the US more than $500 billion over the past five years, according to a Federal Reserve official.

In addition to causing damage to natural resources and infrastructure, the Climate Crisis is expected to disrupt business operations and economic activity in the coming years.

In January, top economists from both sides of the aisle signed a letter that said climate change was “a serious problem calling for immediate national action.”

The Climate Crisis and its weather-related events have directly cost the US more than $500 billion over the past five years, according to Kevin Stiroh, an executive vice president at the New York Fed who is responsible for bank regulation.

“Climate change has significant consequences for the US economy and financial sector through slowing productivity growth, asset revaluations and sectoral reallocations of business activity,” Stiroh said at the GARP Global Risk Forum in New York on Thursday.

In addition to causing severe damage to natural resource and infrastructure damage, global warming is expected to disrupt business operations and economic activity in the coming years. Stiroh said climate-related changes raised the potential for losses related to policy changes, consumer sentiment, and how technological innovations affect the value of certain assets and liabilities.

“These effects will be felt across business sectors and asset classes, and on the strategies, operations and balance sheets of financial firms,” Stiroh said.

Fed Chairman Jay Powell told Congress this year that while addressing climate change fell under the direction of other agencies, the central bank would “use its authorities and tools to prepare financial institutions for severe weather events.” Others in Washington have issued similar warnings.

In a more than 1,500-page report released in late 2018, scientists from 13 federal agencies predicted that climate change would slash gross domestic product …..if steps weren’t taken to reduce the carbon emissions that warm the planet.

The scientists said extreme weather would wreak havoc on growth through adverse effects on the healthcare system, infrastructure, supply chains, labor productivity, agriculture, tourism, power generation, and electricity costs.

“With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product of many US states,” the report said.

In January, top economists from both sides of the aisle signed a letter that said climate change was “a serious problem calling for immediate national action” and called for a national tax on carbon.

But Climate denying Trump has steadily taken steps in the opposite direction. Over the past several years, the White House has taken steps to loosen environmental rules and shrugged off a series of landmark reports on climate change.

Edited From a story in Business Insider

S. Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas have canceled their Republican primaries because Trump is so scared

A frightened Trump flees stage at a campaign rally

We don’t like or even respect these three Republicans but in this instance, they are on the right side of history. They rightly see doom for their party if this continues.

Mark Sanford was governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011. Joe Walsh represented Illinois’s 8th Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013. Bill Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. All three are seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Here is their opinion piece from the Washington Post:

The three of us are running for the Republican nomination for president in a race that will inevitably highlight differences among us on matters of policy, style and background. But we are brought together not by what divides us but by what unites us: a shared conviction that the United States needs a strong center-right party guided by basic values that are rooted in the best of the American spirit.

A president always defines his or her party, and today the Republican Party has taken a wrong turn, led by a serial self-promoter who has abandoned the bedrock principles of the GOP. In the Trump era, personal responsibility, fiscal sanity and rule of law have been overtaken by a preference for alienating our allies while embracing terrorists and dictators, attacking the free press and pitting everyday Americans against one another.

No surprise, then, that the latest disgrace, courtesy of Team Trump, is an effort to eliminate any threats to the president’s political power in 2020. Republicans have long held primaries and caucuses to bring out the best our party has to offer. Our political system assumes an incumbent president will make his case in front of voters to prove that he or she deserves to be nominated for a second term. But now, the Republican parties of four states — Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina — have canceled their nominating contests. By this design, the incumbent will be crowned the winner of these states’ primary delegates. There is little confusion about who has been pushing for this outcome.

What does this say about the Republican Party? If a party stands for nothing but reelection, it indeed stands for nothing. Our next nominee must compete in the marketplace of ideas, values and leadership. Each of us believes we can best lead the party. So does the incumbent. Let us each take our case to the public. The saying “may the best man win” is a quintessential value that the Republican Party must honor if we are to command the respect of the American people. Cowards run from fights. Warriors stand and fight for what they believe. The United States respects warriors. Only the weak fear competition.

Across the aisle, the Democratic primary challengers are still engaged in a heated competition of debates, caucuses and primaries to give their voters in every corner of our country a chance to select the best nominee. Do Republicans really want to be the party with a nominating process that more resembles Russia or China than our American tradition? Under this president, the meaning of truth has been challenged as never before. Under this president, the federal deficit has topped the $1 trillion mark. Do we as Republicans accept all this as inevitable? Are we to leave it to the Democrats to make the case for principles and values that, a few years ago, every Republican would have agreed formed the foundations of our party?

It would be a critical mistake to allow the Democratic Party to dominate the national conversation during the primary and caucus season. Millions of voters looking for a conservative alternative to the status quo deserve a chance to hear alternate ideas aired on the national stage. Let us argue over the best way to maximize opportunities in our communities for everyday Americans while the Democrats debate the merits of government intervention. Let us spend the next six months attempting to draw new voters to our party instead of demanding fealty to a preordained choice. If we believe our party represents the best hope for the United States’ future, let us take our message to the public and prove we are right.

Trump loyalists in the four states that have canceled their primaries and caucuses claim that President Trump will win by a landslide and that it is, therefore, a waste of money to invest in holding primaries or caucuses. But since when do we use poll numbers as our basis for deciding whether to give voters an opportunity to choose their leaders, much less their presidents? Answer: We don’t.

Besides, the litigation costs these four state parties will likely be forced to take on in defending legal challenges to the cancellations will almost certainly exceed the cost of holding the primaries and caucuses themselves.

In the United States, citizens choose their leaders. The primary nomination process is the only opportunity for Republicans to have a voice in deciding who will represent our party. Let those voices be heard.

By Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld