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Trump and the right wing share a social Darwinist 'herd mentality' — it leads to widespread death

Donald Trump's promise in an ABC News town hall last month that the United States would soon achieve herd immunity for the coronavirus, and conflating that with herd mentality, may be explained because Trump is counting on the latter to rescue his second term. It's otherwise impossible to imagine a campaign whose endgame is to recover the lost loyalty of voters over 65 selecting as its closing argument, "Not enough of you have died yet."

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How the US Chamber of Commerce wrecked the economy — and made the pandemic worse

As hospital intensive care units overflow again, and delays in COVID-19 testing reports reach record levels in many cities, a conversation I recently with Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, reminded me that I had forgotten something utterly critical: Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally disarm America in the face of the coronavirus invasion was urged upon him by an ostensible defender of American business: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.When the pandemic reached America, we weren't ready — any more than we were ready when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. But Trump had the tools to do what the U.S. has often done: make up for lack of preparedness. The crucial gaps to fill in March were supplies for testing to limit the spread of the virus, and medical equipment to treat those who got sick — testing kits, swabs, reagents, masks, gowns and gloves — by the billions. Government health agencies estimated that if the pandemic took hold, the country would need, for example, 3.5 billion N95 medical masks. We had 12 million.

Presidents have available, and have routinely used, the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to overcome such critical supply shortages — not just in wartime, but also to ensure adequate relief supplies after natural disasters. DPA can be used to put emergency purchases at the head of a supply chain, but also to require factories to convert their output to provide needed equipment in adequate volumes. Members of Congress urged Trump to appoint a military official as DPA czar to coordinate production and distribution of essential pandemic-related medical supplies, as was done in the Korean War.

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This disaster belongs to Trump — but the Tea Party's nihilistic hatred of government is what got us here

The catastrophic failure of the United States to prepare itself for the COVID-19 pandemic, and its equally catastrophic failure to mount the kind of "too late but effective" response to a crisis that has often characterized American history — World War II, most spectacularly — has deep roots in recent political and cultural trends.

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Trump's radical attempt to sabotage auto emissions rules is even worse than you think

President Trump's proposed drastic relaxation of future auto emissions standards has been widely blasted as a repeal of "the government's biggest effort to combat climate change." Careful readers have also noted that the Trump proposal would kill 300 Americans every year and cost every driver about $2,100 in higher costs by wasting about 80 billion gallons of gasoline.

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Believe it or not, good news: Trump's counterattack against clean energy is collapsing

For two years the cabal of fossil fools surrounding Donald Trump have  leveraged an impulsive president's loathing of his predecessor, tapped their reactionary right-wing networks, mobilized coal and oil lobbies and political donations, and thrown themselves vigorously into two missions:

  1.  Bring back the coal industry and stop the “Stalinist” threat of wind and solar power.
  2. Freeze the transition from oil-powered cars and trucks to electricity by reversing Obama-era plans to encourage cleaner, more efficient vehicle fleets.

In the last several weeks, the futility of both these efforts to strangle the future have become clear.

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Trump's norm-smashing has an upside: There's an opening for reform so no president can do this again

As the Trump administration lurches from usurpation to usurpation, shattering foundational practices of American democracy, the Democrats have yet to craft a coherent response. One possibility lies in the fact that among the public there appears to be consensus on three key norms: Power should be divided and accountable; all public officials, including the president, are subject to the rule of law; and government service is a public trust, not a private opportunity.

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Checkmate: The shutdown is an impeachable offense if Trump vetoes a bill to reopen the government

One of Washington’s favorite parlor games of late has been debating what constitutes an “impeachable” offense, and whether President Trump has committed one. An obvious candidate has gone unnoticed: the government shutdown itself.

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Here's how Trump inadvertently exposed his allegiance to the petro-tyrants of Russia and Saudi Arabia

Like Dorothy’s dog Toto at the end of "The Wizard of Oz,” Donald Trump just pulled down the curtain and exposed the ugly reality of climate-change denial: It is driven neither by intellectual skepticism nor ideological disagreement but by pure greed, the greed of those who own -- or are retained by those who own -- oil, coal and natural gas. Climate denial is simply a cynical strategy to perpetuate inflated monopoly prices on fossil fuels.This article was originally published at SalonIn Katowice, Poland, for the first time, the global climate denial bloc linked arms publicly. The U.S. and Russia joined Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in cynically dismissing the latest scientific alarm bells. Not over its science: As Trump climate adviser Wells Griffith proclaimed, “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.” In other words, oil powers are entitled to their profits, at whatever cost to the rest of us.

What does this fearsome threesome have in common? (Kuwait is really just a fellow-traveler to the Saudi monarchy.) Only one thing; oil. Two are petro-states, obsessed with  keeping the price of oil sky-high. The U.S. still imports oil, but Trump has bet his party’s political future on America joining the petro-club. (And perhaps also on adopting the authoritarian political system that, Norway aside, characterizes most oil-dependent countries.)

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These are some of the disturbing lessons America is refusing to learn from Jamal Khashoggi's murder

We’re not connecting the dots. We ought to be holding our breath – the fallout from the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi could easily have plunged the world into economic chaos. Even if we slide through this time, the pattern is clear – a world which cannot survive even a temporary  disruption of Saudi Arabia’s desire or capacity to pump 10 million barrels of oil every day is a world at risk.

This article was originally published at Salon

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While California burns, Trump tweets nonsense

The Dust Bowl made its way into American culture through the songs of Woodie Guthrie, the novels of John Steinbeck, and most recently Timothy Egan’s magisterial, The Worst Hard Time. But its hold on our historic imagination was triggered by millions of “dust bowl” refugees who clogged the entrance stations to California for months, altered the demography of the nation, and emptied counties throughout the South-Central United States of their farming populations.

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