A chronicle of lies, misinformation and stupidity about Covid 19 from Trump

Donald Trump has been comprehensively misinforming the public about the coronavirus. 

Trump has littered his public remarks on the life-and-death subject with false, misleading and dubious claims. And he has been joined, on occasion, by senior members of his administration.

We’ve counted 28 different ways Trump and his team have been inaccurate. Here is a chronological list, which may be updated as additional misinformation comes to our attention.

February 10: Trump says without evidence that the coronavirus “dies with the hotter weather”

Trump said on Fox Business: “You know in April, supposedly, it dies with the hotter weather.” He told state governors: “You know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.” And he said at a campaign rally: “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that’s true.”

Facts First: Experts were not saying this. They were saying, rather, that it was too soon to know how the coronavirus would respond to changing weather. “It would be reckless to assume that things will quiet down in spring and summer,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, told CNN. “We don’t really understand the basis of seasonality, and of course we know we absolutely nothing about this particular virus.” You can read a longer analysis here.

February 24: Trump baselessly claims the situation is “under control”

Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”

Facts First: “Under control” is subjective, but by any reasonable definition, the coronavirus was not under control in the US — and there was no way for the government to fully understand how dire the problem was given how few Americans were being tested. There were 53 confirmed cases and no deaths on the day of Trump’s tweet; as of March 11, there were more than 1,000 cases and 31 deaths.

February 25: A senior White House official falsely claims the virus has been “contained”

White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said, “We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight.” Kudlow said again on March 6 that the coronavirus “is contained” in the US. Counselor to Trump Kellyanne Conway made similar though less definitive comments the same day, saying the virus “is being contained.”

Facts First: Experts said the US has not come close to containing the coronavirus. They also said the small number of tests conducted in the United States had prevented the government from getting an accurate picture of how widespread the virus truly is.

“In the US it is the opposite of contained,” said Harvard University epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch, director of Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “It is spreading so efficiently in so many places that it may be difficult to stop.”

February 25: Trump falsely claims Ebola mortality was “a virtual 100%”

In comments to journalists on both February 25 and February 26, Trump contrasted the fatality rate for the coronavirus with the fatality rate for the Ebola outbreak of 2014 to 2016, saying “in the other case (Ebola), it was a virtual 100%” and that “with Ebola — we were talking about it before — you disintegrated. If you got Ebola, that was it.”

Facts First: While the Ebola outbreak of 2014 to 2016 certainly had a much higher death rate than the coronavirus, the Ebola rate was never “virtually 100%”; for the entire epidemic, it was about 40% overall in the three African countries at the center of the situation. It was higher in the early stages of the outbreak, but it was never true that every infected person “disintegrated.”

There were 28,616 “suspected, probable, and confirmed cases” and 11,310 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of mid-September 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) researchers reported that there was an estimated fatality rate of 70.8%. But the rate “fell later in the epidemic with lessons learned in improving treatment,” said Julie Fischer, associate research professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University and director of the Elizabeth R. Griffin Program. Still, even at 70.8%, death was never guaranteed for infected people, as Trump suggested.

“It was never 100%. That is just patently untrue,” Fischer said.

February 25: Trump falsely claims “nobody had ever even heard of Ebola” in 2014

Comparing the coronavirus outbreak with the Ebola situation of 2014, Trump said, “At that time, nobody had ever even heard of Ebola.”

Facts First: Some Americans certainly didn’t know a whole lot about Ebola before 2014, but the claims that “nobody” had ever even heard of Ebola and that “nobody” knew anything about it are absurd. Ebola was discovered in 1976. It had been the subject of considerable media coverage in the next three decades, not to mention scientific study.

February 26: Trump wrongly says the coronavirus “is a flu”

Trump, contrasting the coronavirus with Ebola, said: “This is a flu. This is like a flu.”

Facts First: While Trump may have simply meant that the coronavirus has a fatality rate more like the flu than like Ebola, experts have emphasized that the coronavirus is, simply, not the flu. They are different viruses with different characteristics, though they share symptoms, and the coronavirus has a higher mortality rate.

Experts say the mortality rate for the coronavirus is much higher than the approximately 0.1% rate for the seasonal flu, though the exact rate for the coronavirus is not yet known. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress on March 11 that it is “10 times” that of the flu’s 0.1%.

As World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said March 3, the coronavirus “causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza. While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.”

Also, the behavior of the flu over the course of a year is pretty well-understood, while the behavior of the coronavirus over time is not yet known. And while there are flu vaccines available, there is no vaccine available for the coronavirus (and no proven treatment).

February 26: Trump baselessly predicts the number of US cases is “going very substantially down” to “close to zero”

Trump said: “I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” And he said: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

Facts First: Clearly, the number of US cases and deaths was going up, not down. As the New York Times noted in its own fact check, both Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said at the same press conference that they expected “more cases.”

There were 60 total cases in the US on the day Trump spoke here. The “15 people” referred to the cases that did not involve people who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship or who had been repatriated from China.

February 26: Trump wrongly says the flu death rate is “much higher” than Dr. Sanjay Gupta said

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, told Trump, “… you talked about the flu and then in comparison to the coronavirus. The flu has a fatality ratio of about 0.1%.” Trump said, “Correct.” But Trump later disputed the figure, saying, “And the flu is higher than that. The flu is much higher than that.” — February 26 coronavirus press conference

Facts First: Gupta was right, Trump was wrong. Even if Trump meant that the flu has a “much higher” fatality rate than 0.1% — rather than meaning that the flu’s mortality rate is “much higher” than that of the novel coronavirus — he was wrong, according to Fauci, other experts and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

February 27: Trump baselessly hints at a “miracle”

Trump said: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is, the greatest experts — I’ve spoken to them all. Nobody really knows.” He made similar comments later in the outbreak, saying on March 10, “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Facts First: There was no apparent basis for Trump’s claim that the virus will miraculously “disappear.” (He did immediately soften the claim by saying “nobody really knows,” but still.)

February 28: Trump baselessly hints at an immigration link to the virus

Trump said: “The Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and well-being of all Americans. Now you see it with the coronavirus, you see it. You see it with the coronavirus.”

Facts First: Prominent Democrats do not support “open borders,” literally unrestricted migration. Aside from that, though, there was no evidence from the coronavirus situation that Democrats’ preferred immigration policies would be harmful to Americans’ health. There was no known US case in which someone brought the virus to the US while immigrating or making an asylum claim.

February 29: Trump exaggerates Tim Cook’s comments about Apple and China

Trump said: “And if you read, Tim Cook of Apple said that they are now in full operation again in China.” Trump also said: “You probably saw that — as I mentioned, Tim just came out and he said Apple is back to normal in terms of production in their facilities in China. They’ve made a lot of progress.”

Facts First: Trump was overstating what Cook told Fox Business. Cook had not said Apple’s production in China was “back to normal” or that plants in China were in “full operation.” Rather, he said that plants in China were “getting back to normal.”

“When you look at the parts that are done in China, we have reopened factories, so the factories were able to work through the conditions to reopen. They’re reopening. They’re also in ramp, and so I think of this as sort of the third phase of getting back to normal. And we’re in phase three of the ramp mode,” Cook said.

March 1: Azar wrongly says 3,600 people have been tested

Azar said: “In terms of testing kits, we’ve already tested over 3,600 people for the virus.”

Facts First: Politico reported: “Two days later, CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat told the Senate health committee that her agency had tested more than 3,000 specimens taken from roughly 500 people — a fraction of what Azar claimed.” Politico reported that a Health and Human Services spokesperson explained that Azar had meant to say that the CDC had processed more than 3,600 tests, not that it had tested more than 3,600 people.

March 2: Trump falsely claims “nobody knew” the number of US flu deaths

Trump said: “You know, three, four weeks ago, I said, ‘Well, how many people die a year from the flu?’ And, in this country, I think last year was 36- or 37,000 people. And I’m saying, ‘Wow, nobody knew that information.'” He said at a campaign rally: “So when you lose 27,000 people a year, nobody knew that. I didn’t know that.”

Facts First: Trump might not have known the number of annual flu deaths in the US, but that doesn’t mean “nobody” else did. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes annual estimates on its website.

The CDC estimates that between 12,000 and 61,000 people have died in the US in each flu season between 2010-2011 and 2018-2019; its preliminary figure for 2018-2019 is 34,157 deaths.

March 2: Trump says a vaccine is coming “relatively soon”

Trump said: “We had a great meeting today with a lot of the great companies and they’re going to have vaccines, I think relatively soon. And they’re going to have something that makes you better and that’s going to actually take place, we think, even sooner.”

Facts First: “Relatively soon” is too vague a phrase to call this claim false, but Trump did not mention that Fauci had told him earlier that day that a vaccine was “a year to a year and a half” away. Fauci similarly told the Senate the next day that the process of getting a vaccine ready to deploy “will take at least a year and a year and a half.”

March 4: Trump falsely claims Obama impeded testing

Trump claimed he had reversed a decision by President Barack Obama’s administration that had impeded testing for the coronavirus, saying that “the Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing. And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion. That was a decision we disagreed with.” He said on March 5: “They made some decisions which were not good decisions…We undid some of the regulations that were made that made it very difficult, but I’m not blaming anybody.”

Facts First: There is no Obama-era decision or rule that impeded coronavirus testing. The Obama administration did put forward a draft proposal related to lab testing, but it was never implemented.

When asked what Obama administration decision Trump might be referring to, Peter Kyriacopolous, chief policy officer at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said: “We aren’t sure what rule is being referenced.”

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, who was principal deputy commissioner of the FDA under Obama and is now professor of the practice at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, “There wasn’t a policy that was put into place that inhibited them. There was no Obama policy they were reversing.”

March 4: Trump wrongly says as many as 100,000 people died of the flu in 1990

Speaking about deaths from the flu, Trump said on March 4: “I think we went as high as 100,000 people died in 1990, if you can believe that.” He said on March 6 that as many as 77,000 people might die in a given year, then added: “And I guess they said, in 1990, that was in particular very bad; it was higher than that.”

Facts First: While the 1989-1990 flu season was considered bad at the time — the CDC declared that it was an epidemic — Trump greatly overstated the number of deaths. A CDC analysis in 2010 estimated that there were 26,582 deaths from the seasonal flu in 1989-1990. (The same analysis found that this number of deaths was exceeded in nine of the 17 subsequent flu seasons through 2006-2007.)

March 4: Trump says “the borders are automatically shut down”

Trump said during a meeting with airline chief executives: “And we’re talking about the effects of the virus on air travel and what they see. In a certain way, you could say that the borders are automatically shut down, without having to say ‘shut down.’ I mean, they’re, to a certain extent, automatically shut down.”

Facts First: Trump did not explain what he meant by “the borders are automatically shut down.” Trump’s travel restrictions on China do not constitute a complete border closure even on China in particular.

Trump’s China policy prohibits entry into the US by non-Americans who have been in China within 14 days — but it makes exceptions for immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents. And American citizens themselves are free to go back and forth.

Returning citizens who have been in Hubei Province in the previous 14 days are subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine, while citizens who have been in the rest of mainland China in the previous 14 days “will undergo proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry and up to 14 days of monitored self-quarantine,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. Still, this is not a shutdown.

March 4: Trump says he believes there was a coronavirus death in New York, though there hadn’t been one

Trump said: “And then when you do have a death, like you have had in the state of Washington like you had one in California — I believe you had one in New York…”

Facts First: There had not been any New York deaths attributed to the coronavirus at the time. (There still had not been any as of the morning of March 11, seven days later.)

March 4: Trump falsely claims the Obama administration “didn’t do anything” about H1N1

Trump said of H1N1, also known as swine flu: “And they didn’t do anything about it.”

Facts First: The Obama administration did respond to H1N1. On April 26, 2009, less than two weeks after the first US cases of H1N1 were confirmed, the Obama administration declared a public health emergency. Two days later, the Obama administration made an initial $1.5 billion funding request to Congress. (Congress ultimately allocated $7.7 billion). In October 2009, Obama declared a national emergency to allow hospitals more flexibility for a possible flood of H1N1 patients.

The Obama administration did face criticism over the pace of the government’s vaccination effort, but “they didn’t do anything” is clearly false.

March 5: Trump misleadingly describes a Gallup poll

Trump tweeted: “Gallup just gave us the highest rating ever for the way we are handling the CoronaVirus situation.” Pointing to the Gallup poll again at a Fox News town hall the same day, he said the administration got “tremendous marks” in the poll “for the way we’ve handled it.”

Facts First: The Gallup poll was positive for Trump, as 77% percent of respondents did say they had confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle a coronavirus outbreak. But it was not a poll about how the administration had handled the situation: the poll asked about confidence in the federal government’s future acts, not about its actual work to date. Critically, it was conducted from February 3-16, when there were far fewer reported cases and reported US deaths; Trump was still, at minimum, 10 days away from appointing Vice President Mike Pence as his point man on the response.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted March 5-8 found that 43% of registered voters approved of the way Trump was handling the coronavirus response, 49% disapproved. When the poll asked about confidence in “the federal government” to handle the response, 53% said they had confidence, 43% said they didn’t.

March 5: Trump wrongly claims the virus only hit the US “three weeks ago”

Trump said, “We got hit with the virus really three weeks ago if you think about it, I guess. That’s when we first started really to see some possible effects.”

Facts First: The US had its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on January 21, more than six weeks before Trump spoke here.

March 6: Azar wrongly claims there is no test shortage

Azar said: “There is no testing kit shortage, nor has there ever been.”

Facts First: Vice President Mike Pence had said the day prior: “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.” Doctors, health authorities and elected officials in various locations around the country indeed said they did not have enough tests.

March 6: As the number of cases and deaths in Italy rises, Trump says the number is “getting much better”

Trump said: “…I hear the numbers are getting much better in Italy.”

Facts First: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in Italy was continuing to increase at the time Trump made this comment. As of Saturday, March 7, the day after Trump spoke here, Italy had 5,883 confirmed cases and 233 deaths; as of Monday, March 9, there were 9,172 cases and 463 deaths. (The Italian government announced a national lockdown on Monday.)

March 6: Trump falsely claims anybody can get tested if they want

Trump said: “Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is.”

Facts First: That wasn’t true. There were an insufficient number of tests available, as Pence said the day prior, and Americans could not get tested simply because they wanted to get tested. “You may not get a test unless a doctor or public health official prescribes a test,” Azar said the day after Trump’s remark. (Azar claimed Trump was using “shorthand” for the fact that “we as regulators, or as those shipping the test, are not restricting who can get tested.”)

March 6: Trump exaggerates the number of people on the Grand Princess cruise ship

Trump said, of the Grand Princess cruise ship being kept in limbo over coronavirus concerns, “We do have a situation where we have this massive ship with 5,000 people and we have to make a decision.” He later amended the claim slightly, “It’s close to 5,000 people.”

Facts First: Trump was overstating the numbers. There were 3,533 people aboard the Grand Princess: 2,422 guests and 1,111 crew members.

March 6: Trump falsely says US coronavirus numbers “are lower than just about anybody”

Trump said that “we have very low numbers compared to major countries throughout the world. Our numbers “are lower than just about anybody.”

Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. The US did have fewer confirmed coronavirus cases than some countries, including China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France and Germany. But it had more confirmed cases than big-population countries like India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia and Nigeria, plus neighbors Mexico and Canada, plus many other high-income countries.

In addition, the number of confirmed cases is dependent on how many people are tested. The US was conducting fewer tests than some countries with much smaller populations.

March 6: Trump baselessly muses that “maybe” the coronavirus improved US jobs numbers

Trump touted the jobs report for February, which showed a gain of 273,000 jobs. He then said that, instead of traveling abroad, “I think, you know, a lot of people are staying here and they’re going to be doing their business here.” He continued, “And maybe that’s one of the reasons the job numbers are so good. We’ve had a lot of travel inside the USA.”

Facts First: We can’t definitively call this false, but there’s no evidence to back it up. Reports suggest the domestic travel industry is also being hurt by the coronavirus.

In March, US airlines announced they were reducing domestic flights as well as international flights in March, and companies called off US conferences and limiting corporate travel. While industry experts said some particular domestic travel destinations could possibly benefit if the virus causes travelers to opt for local trips rather than international trips, there is no hard evidence for that yet.

March 9: Pence says Trump’s “priority” was getting Americans off the ship

Vice President Mike Pence said “Trump made the priority to get — to get the Americans ashore.”

Facts First: Trump may have eventually been convinced to get the Americans ashore, but he had said three days prior to this Pence claim that he wanted passengers to stay on the ship so that “the numbers” of US coronavirus cases would stay low.

“I have great experts, including our Vice President, who is working 24 hours a day on this stuff. They would like to have the people come off. I’d rather have the people stay, but I’d go with them. I told them to make the final decision. I would rather — because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship,” Trump said on March 6. “That wasn’t our fault, and it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship, either. OK? It wasn’t their fault either. And they’re mostly Americans, so I can live either way with it. I’d rather have them stay on, personally. But I fully understand if they want to take them off. I gave them the authority to make the decision.”

From CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/11/politics/fact-check-trump-administration-coronavirus-28-dishonest/index.html

Trumpies have a festival of hate, and it is spreading nationwide

‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far-Right See Doom Without Trump

“Trumpstock,” is a small festival celebrating Trump in Golden Valley, Arizona. The speakers at Trumpstock included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”

All were welcome, everybody well, except the hated liberals.

“They label us white nationalists, or white supremacists,” volunteered Guy Taiho Decker, who drove from California to attend the event. A right-wing protester, he has previously been arrested on charges of making terrorist threats. “There’s no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there’s no such thing as a unicorn,” Mr. Decker said. “We’re patriots.”

As Mr. Trump’s bid for re-election shifts into higher gear, his campaign hopes to recapture voters who drifted away from the party in 2018 and 2019: independents who embraced moderate Democratic candidates, suburban women tired of Mr. Trump’s personal conduct and working-class voters who haven’t benefited from his economic policies.

But if any group remains singularly loyal to Mr. Trump, it is the small but impassioned number of white voters on the far right, often in rural communities like Golden Valley, who extol him as a cultural champion reclaiming the country from undeserving outsiders.

These voters don’t passively tolerate Mr. Trump’s “build a wall” message or his ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries — they’re what motivates them. They see themselves in his fear-based identity politics, bolstered by conspiratorial rhetoric about caravans of immigrants and Democratic “coups.”

Speaking engagements featuring far-right supporters of Trump, have become part of the political landscape during the Trump era. Islamophobic taunts can be heard at his rallies. Hate speech and conspiracy theories are staples of some far-right websites. If Trumpstock was modest in size, it stood out as a sign of extremist public support for Trump and his cult.

These supporters have electoral muscle in key areas: Mr. Trump outperformed Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, in rural parts of Arizona like Mohave County, where Golden Valley is located. Mr. Trump won 58,282 votes in the county, compared to 47,901 for Mr. Romney, though Mr. Romney carried the state by a much bigger vote margin.

Arizona will be a key battleground state in 2020: Democrats already flipped a Senate seat and a Tucson-based congressional district from red to blue in 2018. For Mr. Trump, big turnout from white voters in areas like Mohave County — and in rural parts of other battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia — could be a lifeline in a tight election.

“We like to call this the ‘Red Wall of Arizona,’” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and Republican campaign official in Mohave County who organizes in support of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Winning the state starts here, with us.”

In interviews, people in the crowd described a white America under threat as racial minorities typified by Mr. Obama, the country’s first black president. They described Mr. Trump as an inspirational figure who is undoing Mr. Obama’s legacy and beating back the perceived threat of Muslim and Latino immigrants, whom they denounced in prejudiced terms.

“I don’t have a problem with Muslims,” said Angus Smith, an Arizona resident who attended the festival, “but can they take the rag off their head out of respect for our country?”

At Mr. Trump’s official rallies, including a recent one in Florida, Trump has referred to Mr. Obama by stressing his middle name, Hussein, and said Democrats were “trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you.”

The Trumpstock speakers pushed even further, tying Mr. Obama’s middle name to a false belief that he is a foreign-born Muslim.

And Democrats were portrayed as not just political opponents, but avatars of doom for Mr. Trump’s predominantly white voter base and for the country.

“There is no difference between the democratic socialists and the National Socialists,” said Evan Sayet, a conservative writer who spoke at the event, referencing Nazi Germany. Democrats, he said, “are the heirs to Adolf Hitler.”

Speakers at Trumpstock said their cultural fears had been exacerbated by their state’s own changing nature: Arizona is on the front lines of undocumented border crossings from Mexico and racial minorities are expected to outnumber white people in the state in the next decade.

They point to regions like Northern Arizona as places to find, as Mr. Trump wrote in a recent tweet, “the Angry Majority.”  “We have the greatest base in the history of politics,” he said at a recent rally in Florida.

In Arizona, the most prominent pro-Trump, anti-immigrant groups are AZ Patriots and Patriot Movement AZ, which have held tight to the themes of white nationalism. In September, after repeated clashes, some members of the groups agreed to a court order to stop harassing migrants and church volunteers who help them.

Earlier this year, the groups and their allies organized a “Patriotism over Socialism” event in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix, that included speeches from Representative Andy Biggs, the area’s congressman, and Kelli Ward, the state’s Republican Party chair. They appeared alongside more fringe figures: Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, which has promoted figures associated with anti-L.G.B.T. conversion therapy, and Laura Loomer, the far-right activist and Arizona native who was banned by Twitter and some other platforms after making anti-Muslim comments.

This blend of insider and outsider, of mainstream and conspiracy, is a feature of how Mr. Trump has reshaped the Republican Party in his image, and the core of his origin story. Before Mr. Trump announced any firm plans to seek office, he was the national face of the “birther” conspiracy, which thrived in the Tea Party movement and had a significant amount of support from the Republican base, polls showed.

Stacey Goodman, a former police officer from New York who retired to Arizona and attended Trumpstock, said her distrust of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate had led her to Mr. Trump.

“If you’re Muslim, just tell us you’re Muslim,” she said of Mr. Obama. “It’s not that I didn’t believe him, I’m just not qualified to answer that question. I’ve seen information on both sides that’s compelling.”

Mona Fishman, a singer from the Las Vegas area who performed at the event, has written Trump-themed songs with titles like “Fake News” and “Smells like Soros,” which accuses liberal megadonor George Soros of running a shadow government, a trope widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

In the White House, Mr. Trump has relied on similar unfounded conspiracy theories and promoted people who have perpetuated them. He pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, a hero of Arizona’s right wing and a leader of the “birther” movement, who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his aggressive efforts to detain undocumented immigrants.

On Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, likely the most-watched in the world, he has promoted white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that top Democrats are worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking.

Even mainstream conservative media figures have embraced QAnon as a way to dismiss Mr. Trump’s political enemies. The Fox News host Jesse Watters, during a recent segment dedicated to the conspiracy, linked it to Mr. Trump’s Washington enemies. “Isn’t it also about the Trump fight with the deep state in terms of the illegal surveillance of the campaign, the inside hit jobs that he’s sustained?” he asked.

They love his over the top tweets “Please never stop tweeting,” Ms. Fishman sings in one of her songs, titled “Thank You President Trump.” “I can hardly wait to see what I’ll be reading.”

 ‘I don’t believe in violence, but…’

Events like Trumpstock are not limited to Arizona. Its organizer, Laurie Bezick, recruited speakers from around the country through social media, tapping into a network of pro-Trump voices only a click away.

Long-shot congressional candidates touting an “America First” agenda came from places like Iowa and Maryland. Leaders of fledgling political groups with names like JEXIT: Jews Exit The Democratic Party, Latinos for Trump and Deplorable Pride, a right-wing L.G.B.T. organization, told the overwhelmingly white audience they were not anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, homophobic or racist. In fact, the speakers insisted, people who used those terms were more guilty of bigotry than the people they accused.

To applause, the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez, read the pledge he took when he became a naturalized citizen and renounced his Mexican homeland. Nitemare, a pro-Trump rapper who refused to give his legal name, invoked QAnon and called Mr. Obama a racist slur in his set.

Brian Talbert, the founder of Deplorable Pride, was contacted by the White House after he was barred from the L.G.B.T. pride parade in Charlotte, N.C. At Trumpstock, Mr. Talbert, who has a history of expressing anti-Muslim beliefs on social media, gave voice to hatred of Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Mr. Trump’s 2016 opponent.

“I think she should be hanging at the end of a rope for treason,” he said of Mrs. Clinton.

Members of groups like these at once make up a critical portion of Arizona’s conservative base, and espouse derogatory rhetoric that must repeatedly be repudiated, creating political difficulties for the state’s Republican lawmakers. After a photograph emerged last April of members of Patriot Movement AZ posing with Gov. Doug Ducey, he said he had never heard of the group. “I absolutely denounce their behavior,” he added.

Trumpstock attendees say they are used to being denounced, another quality they feel they share with Trump It’s part of why they are protective of him, to the point that they refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a Trump loss in 2020.

Mark Villalta said he had been stockpiling firearms, in case Mr. Trump’s re-election is not successful.

“Nothing less than a civil war would happen,” Mr. Villalta said, his right hand reaching for a holstered handgun. “I don’t believe in violence, but I’ll do what I got to do.”

 

This post was edited from New York Times story by Astead W. Herndon 

 

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

Join the real battle to reverse the climate disaster….that doesn’t kill birds

Locally, latecomers to the climate crisis battle are crying over the ill-conceived profit-making venture to put wind turbines on Bear River Ridge an important site to the Wiyot people and many kinds of wildlife. The real battle is being fought in court. If you want to take a stand against the climate disaster then boycott GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and the other automakers siding with Trump.

The State of California on Friday ramped up its efforts to block the Trump administration from taking away its authority to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel economy standards for cars and trucks.

California was joined by 22 other states, the District of Columbia and two cities in suing Trump’s compromised Environmental Protection Agency, building on a similar lawsuit it filed last September.

This legal action challenges the Trump EPA’s attempt to revoke part of a waiver granted California in 2013 permitting the state to impose its greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle standards. The action asks the court to rule that California’s rules are protected under the federal Clean Air Act.

The coming court battle will help mold a major aspect of the nation’s climate policy because 13 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s standards.

Federal law generally sets the rules for how much vehicles can pollute. But California has been allowed to impose tougher rules since the 1970s because it has the most cars and problems meeting air quality standards.

The EPA said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (Wife of Mitch McConnel)  said in September that the stricter rules were making vehicles more expensive and less safe because consumers had difficulty buying newer, safer vehicles.

“California’s Clean Car Standards are achievable. not only do they work, but many other states around the country have chosen to adopt them,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The filing also asks the court to review NHTSA’s September decision.

Joining California in the lawsuit are attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York.

And now, in an escalation of the battle California announced it won’t buy cars from GM, Toyota, others opposing tough tailpipe standards this bold decision to buy only from carmakers that have agreed to follow its clean car rules may well cost GM’s Chevrolet tens of millions of dollars.

Starting immediately, California state agencies will no longer buy gas-powered sedans, officials said Friday. And starting in January, the state will stop purchasing vehicles from carmakers that haven’t agreed to follow California’s clean car rules.

The decision affects General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and multiple other automakers that sided with the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over tailpipe pollution rules. The policy will hit General Motors particularly hard; California spent more than $27 million on passenger vehicles from GM-owned Chevrolet in 2018.

It’s the latest volley in the fight over climate-changing pollution from cars and trucks. “It certainly sends a strong message to the automakers that have come out on the other side of California in this litigation,” said Julia Stein, supervising attorney at UCLA’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic. “It’s taking steps to encourage automakers to be on what it views as the right side of that dispute.”

Now California’s Department of General Services is crafting policy that will prohibit state purchases from carmakers that haven’t signed on to its clean car deal — and manufacturers could stand to lose millions in sales to the state. In addition to the $27 million in purchases from Chevrolet, the state also spent more than $11 million on Fiat Chrysler brands, and more than $3.6 million on Toyota. Toyota, well-known for its environmentally-friendly Prius, is also facing public backlash for its alliance with the Trump administration.

“In court, and in the marketplace, California is standing up to those who put short-term profits ahead of our health and our future.”

News sources Wall Street Journal, AP, and CalMatters

 

Facebook lets Trump lie at will

Facebook lets Trump lie at will

Trump and Facebook

Facebook has denied a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove a false video advertisement posted by President Trump’s campaign. The refusal comes weeks after Facebook changed its policies and decided to allow advertisements pushing misinformation from Trump and other political figures.

According to The New York Times, Biden’s campaign sent a request to Facebook asking the company to remove a Trump campaign advertisement that falsely suggested the vice president had offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid to fire a prosecutor investigating a company tied to his son. On Tuesday, Facebook refused to take the ad down, responding, “Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression” and “respect for the democratic process.”

In September, Facebook changed its policies to no longer prohibit ads that include “deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or methods.” Additionally, Facebook said that “ads from political candidates are ineligible for fact-checking.”

Even before the policy tweak, the Trump campaign had repeatedly posted false and misleading Facebook ads, along with ads using “invasion” rhetoric invoked by white nationalists, even though Facebook’s policies prohibit “violent” or “dehumanizing” attacks against a group of people based on immigration status.

Along with the issue of misinformation proliferating in its ads, the platform continues to struggle with detecting and removing propaganda and other misinformationincluding from foreign actors such as Russia. These current challenges add to Facebook’s history of problems with privacy, fake news, civil rights, and more.

https://www.mediamatters.org/facebook/facebook-refused-take-down-false-trump-ad-after-request-bidens-campaign

 

How Trump’s International Collusion Threatens American Democracy

It’s been our position for quite a while now that this crime family needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

If you share our position, here is a great resource when you’re debating with people or talking with your friends about this despicable con man.

Through diligent research, Seth Abramson exposes a story that U.S. media has largely missed: a pre-election geopolitical conspiracy involving Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Russia that sought to put Trump in the White House―and succeeded.

In late 2015, a convicted pedophile, international dealmaker, and a cooperating witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation George Nader convened a secret meeting aboard a massive luxury yacht in the Red Sea. Nader pitched Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other Middle Eastern leaders a plan for a new pro-U.S., a pro-Israel alliance of Arab nations that would fundamentally alter the geopolitics of the Middle East while marginalizing Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. To succeed, the plan would need a highly placed American politician willing to drop sanctions on Russia so that Vladimir Putin would, in turn, agree to end his support for Iran. They agreed the perfect American partner was Donald Trump, who had benefited immensely from his Saudi, Emirati, and Russian dealings for many years, and who, in 2015, became the only U.S. presidential candidate to argue for a unilateral end to Russian sanctions and a far more hostile approach to Iran.

So begins New York Times bestselling author Seth Abramson’s explosive new book Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Threatens American Democracy, a story of international intrigue whose massive cast of characters includes Israeli intelligence operatives, Russian oligarchs, Saudi death squads, American mercenary companies, Trump’s innermost circle, and several members of the Trump family as well as Trump himself―all part of a clandestine multinational narrative that takes us from Washington, D.C. and Moscow to the Middle Eastern capitals of Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem, Cairo, Tehran, and Doha. Proof of Conspiracy is a chilling and unforgettable depiction of the dangers America and the world now face.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250256712?tag=macsupaduinstalpa-20