Support for Trump is tearing apart Vietnamese American families

“Many Vietnamese Americans — particularly first-generation, older immigrants with low English proficiency — had become more radically conservative, or were exposed to and sympathetic with these pro-Trump views.

From my reporting on immigrant Asian communities, I found that some Vietnamese immigrants who might not understand the nuances of racism in America felt threatened by the social unrest and looting in cities. A few even became counterprotesters at local Black Lives Matter rallies.”

“many first-generation Vietnamese were already conservative to begin with. Having left behind a communist-led country, they may be averse to liberal politics, deeply religious, and invested in the idea of the American dream. Guided by a tide of Vietnamese- and English-language misinformation, however, these radical right-wing views are now quietly held by a not-so-insignificant minority”

“Some Vietnamese Americans don’t align themselves entirely with other immigrants. Many are wartime refugees who fought against the communist North Vietnamese army alongside American soldiers, my mom explained. They had no choice but to leave their home country.

The way she sees it, Vietnamese people deserve to be here, but America shouldn’t just accept anyone. “A country is like a home,” she told me in Vietnamese. “You can’t just let anyone inside your home.”

But this line of thinking — that they are “good” or “special” immigrants — fails to recognize how Trump’s immigration policy actually hurts some Vietnamese families, especially newer arrivals who are navigating the green card process.

Those who fled Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon tend to remain strongly opposed to big government policies, are suspicious of any socialist-sympathizing politicians, and are blatantly anti-China, haunted by China’s imperialist agenda in Vietnam and the South China Sea. Many are religious, and hail from patriarchal households where the male breadwinner makes all the important family decisions.”

Trump’s pullback of pollution controls is even more hazardous than you think

“The Permian Basin is one of the most prolific oil and gas plays in the world, responsible for more than a third of the United States’ oil and one-sixth of gas production last year.

The formation in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico that has minted fortunes and transformed the country into a global petroleum supplier is also ground zero for the worst oil and gas air pollution in the country.

“You don’t know what you’re breathing,” said Gene Collins, a minister and community activist in Odessa, Texas.

It could get worse.

The US Environmental Protection Agency in August rescinded controls installed by the Obama administration to curb releases of methane, a potent, planet-warming gas leaked during oil and gas production, processing, and transportation.”

“Experts say it could lead to higher emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and hazardous air pollutants — chemicals that cause smog and are linked to cancer, respiratory illnesses, and a growing list of other ailments.”

“The change will likely worsen air pollution and harm people’s health. But the EPA didn’t bother to estimate the potential extent of the damage, despite what’s at stake for people living in communities like Odessa.”

What Trump’s Refusal To Concede Says About American Democracy

“the sitting president’s refusal to acknowledge electoral defeat is worrisome, as it raises the prospect that he will not uphold a core tenet of democracy: Elections determine who is in power, and those who lose surrender power peacefully. The behavior of top Republican Party officials — subtly acknowledging that Trump must leave office on Jan. 20 but not openly rebuking his conduct — in some ways also violates that core value. And the combination of Trump’s and his party’s behavior raises a serious question: Is America’s democracy in trouble?

Maybe. People who study democratic norms and values both in the United States and abroad say that the behavior of Trump and the Republican Party over the past week deeply concerns them. Dartmouth College political scientist Brendan Nyhan says it’s important not to think of democracy in binary terms — that either a nation is or is not a democracy. Instead, Nyhan argues, democracy falls more on a spectrum, and based on how Trump broke with democratic values as president and how he is handling the end of his presidency, America does remain a democracy, but it is somewhat less democratic than it was pre-Trump.”

“Not only is Trump blocking his advisers from helping the incoming Biden administration get ready to deal with the pandemic, but the defeated president has largely disengaged from the COVID-19 crisis himself. In terms of managing the virus, America will be functionally without a president for two months.

We can’t totally rule out the most alarming possibility either — that Trump is going to try to stay in office past Jan. 20. After all, he has mobilized some key parts of the federal government and the Republican Party behind his efforts to question and undermine the election results.”

“It’s hard to know the answers to these questions. Democratic values are almost certain to be upheld this time — that is, the election determined who will be in charge, and the transfer of power will ultimately be peaceful. But it’s not totally clear that these values will be upheld the next time a Trump-like figure emerges. American democracy is likely to survive Trump, but his tenure has raised important questions about the state of America’s democracy and whether it will endure in perpetuity.”

Trump blocks Biden’s incoming staff in unprecedented ways

“For the first time in more than half a century, an outgoing administration is stonewalling an incoming one at every level — with no intention of relenting.”

“There are no briefings being given about coronavirus, troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, or aggression by China and Iran. No background checks being done for job applicants. No security clearances being conducted for potential Biden staffers.
The silence could continue into December, when states must certify their results to Congress, according to several Republicans familiar with the expected plans. Until then, they said, Trump and his team will continue to assert the election was fraudulently stolen from them, using unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud to file lawsuits and recounts challenging the results.

It’s a situation without parallel since at least 1963, when a federal law implemented modern presidential transition procedures, mandating the sharing of office space and the spending of money for the process.

The posture threatens to leave Biden’s team unprepared in January when it takes over a millions-strong federal workforce, according to officials who worked for Republican and Democratic presidents and lawmakers of both parties. And, they added, it sends a message to the world that the United States, generally a model across the globe, is vulnerable and unable to administer a seamless transition of power.”

Transition delay leads to awkward gap between Biden and Harris in intel access

“Biden..will not be allowed access to classified information or any members of the intelligence community until the General Services Administration officially “ascertains” him as the president-elect — a formality that has traditionally taken place within 24 hours of election day but is being held up by Trump as he continues to challenge the election results.

Biden was given classified briefings as a candidate but those stopped once he became president-elect, and his status as a former vice president and former senator does not afford him access now.”

Trump’s Crazy and Confoundingly Successful Conspiracy Theory

“Trump is not making a narrow, surgical, legally feasible case to enhance his chances to still be living in the White House come January 21. (That’s … improbable.) He’s not doing this, either, to win the argument. (It’s almost mathematically impossible.) He’s doing it, say political strategists, longtime Trump watchers and experts on authoritarian tactics, to sow doubt, save face and strengthen even in defeat his lifeblood of a bond with his political base.

And it’s … working. Seven in 10 Republicans, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll earlier this week, believe the election was stolen from their candidate.

It is overall for Trump both a culmination and a continuation: a grand finale of sorts of the past five-plus years, in which he’s relied so much on so much unreality—and also a runway, a kind of topspin toward what’s to come once he leaves Washington, D.C., and presumably decamps to Mar-a-Lago to initiate a post-presidency that is all but assured to be unlike any other. The stakes are sky-high, and the collateral damage to America’s democracy could be lasting and profound, but Trump is doing what Trump has always done. He’s spinning a myth to serve his own interest. He’s doing what he believes he needs to do to put at least himself in the best possible position for the future after yet another failure.”

Trump exploited a broken press. Here’s how to fix it.

“Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was confronted by a CBS reporter as he stepped off a plane. “What is your response to the New York Post story about your son, sir?”

To his credit, Biden dismissed the question, but that’s not really the point. The story the reporter was referencing, which was peddled to the Post by Rudy Giuliani, is absolute bullshit. The staff journalist who wrote the story even reportedly refused to put his name on the byline out of concerns that it was bogus and unreliable.”

“the goal of people like Giuliani was to get the press to cover a story not in order to convince people that it’s true, but to amplify a false narrative and divert attention — and maybe drive the public to exhaustion. It’s a strategy that Steve Bannon colorfully dubbed “flooding the zone with shit.””

The Feds Have Doled Out Record Farm Subsidies To Save Trump’s Campaign

“The New York Times details the “gush of funds” Trump has promised U.S. farmers—with more on the way. Some say total farm subsidies could top $40 billion this year. The Times says the figure may be as high as $46 billion. Either figure would be a record.”

“Critics have seized on the manner in which the Trump administration is subsidizing farmers—mostly outside of the traditional (though also lousy) programs funded under the five-year Farm Bill.
“[T]he bulk of USDA payments to farmers since 2017 have flowed through stop-gap programs created by the Trump administration, with payment limits far larger than those that apply to the traditional farm program,” Successful Farming reported in August.

The combination of farm subsidies included in the current Farm Bill and subsidies doled out under Trump’s executive order means, the Times reports, that two out of every five dollars American farmers receive this year will come directly from taxpayers.

Critics, including many Democrats, argue the funds are being doled out as political favors. They appear to have a point. Last month, for example, during an election rally in Wisconsin, Trump announced additional payments to farmers totaling $13 billion.

Non-partisan observers have also labeled them political handouts. “The Government Accountability Office found last month that $14.5 billion of farm aid in 2019 had been handed out with politics in mind,” The Week reports. The Times, citing the same GAO report, also highlighted by some Democrats, shows farm subsidies last year appeared to be directed to “big farms in the Midwest and southern states,” mirroring at least some segments of Trump’s farm base.

That same base has been hit hard by tariffs championed by Trump. In 2018, I predicted (as did many others) that Trump’s international trade tariffs would spur retaliatory tariffs and harm U.S. farmers and consumers in the process. They did just that.

But because Trump’s tariffs hurt U.S. farmers, and because he wants them to vote for him again, he’s sending them cash. That cash even has a name. Last year, one farmer NPR food-policy writer Dan Charles spoke with says he and his fellow farmers have taken to referring to the tariff-induced subsidies as “Trump money.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture simply sent [the farmer] a check to compensate him for the low prices resulting from the trade war,” Charles explains.

Most of Trump’s subsidies have gone to large producers.

“Despite the record amount of farm welfare payments doled out by this administration, the smaller struggling family farmers get next to nothing while wealthy landowners and massive, highly profitable agribusiness hoover up most of the federal dollars,” says Don Carr, a senior advisor with the Environmental Working Group, in an email to me this week. “I’m old enough to remember when a Minnesota millionaire qualifying for a puny food stamp benefit was a scandal, yet few feathers get ruffled when rich land barons collect million-dollar government welfare checks.””

The Federal Death Penalty Returns

“Prior to 2020, the last federal death row inmate to be executed was Louis Jones Jr., put to death by lethal injection in 2003. Only three federal prisoners were executed under GOP President George W. Bush, among them Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. None were executed under Democratic President Barack Obama.

Seventeen years after Jones’ execution, on July 14, the United States government executed Daniel Lewis Lee. Just two days later, the feds executed Wesley Ira Purkey. The next day, the feds executed Dustin Lee Honken. On August 26, they executed Lezmond Mitchell. The Trump administration has now executed more death row inmates than any president since Dwight Eisenhower.”

“When Barr made his announcement, he said that the Justice Department and the federal government “owe it to their victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

But in Lee’s case, the family of the victims had opposed his execution for years.”

“Barr’s move is a significant reversal of a broad trend away from capital punishment. State-level executions have been on the decline since 2000. Since 1973, 170 inmates on death row have been exonerated, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Three have been freed just this year. There’s a very real possibility that if federal executions continue, Barr will be sending innocent men to their deaths.”

How Trump Sold Failure to 70 Million People

“On Wednesday, the U.S. shattered the world record for daily coronavirus cases by topping 100,000 for the first time—only to break the record again each subsequent day until a Saturday high of 128,000. Field hospitals and makeshift morgues are appearing around the country. Daily death counts have risen to more than 1,000.”

“The president has variously lied by his own admission, denied the severity of the disease, and promised false cures, all as the death toll shot into the hundreds of thousands.”

“Biden won decisively, but more than 70 million Americans still voted for Trump. That’s more than those who voted for him in the 2016 election”

“One exit poll found that the virus was the most important issue guiding more than 40 percent of voters. But somehow, 80 percent of Republican voters said they believe that the virus is at least “somewhat under control” in the same week that cases reached record numbers. The virus alone clearly did not scare an overwhelming number of people away from voting for Trump.”

“Trump’s vacuous promises about the virus were more than self-serving, disingenuous, and deadly; they were also convincing and appealing to many people. Understanding why will be crucial to America’s pandemic response even after Trump is out of office.

The narratives and tactics Trump used to persuade people to trust him as a sole beacon of truth—amid a sea of corrupt, lying scientists and doctors—draw on those of cult leaders, self-proclaimed healers, and wellness charlatans as much as those of authoritarian demagogues. They have proved effective over centuries. In 1927, the British physician A. J. Clark lamented the proliferation of “quackery” in the medical profession. The term was once simply synonymous with fraud. “The fact that this term has come to signify, in popular usage, a pretender to medical knowledge indicates very clearly that there is something about the cure of disease that particularly attracts both delusion and imposture,” Clark wrote. That is, when we are sick or threatened by disease, we seem to be uniquely susceptible to scams.”

“Sellers depend on information asymmetry, wherein it’s hard for consumers to know if a product is effective, but very easy to believe that it is. If someone tries to sell you a car that doesn’t have wheels, you know it. If someone tries to sell you a secret vitamin that’s going to prolong your life, you just have to trust him (or not).

The same holds if someone tells you that an invisible virus is going to disappear. Trump’s primary approach to the pandemic has been to tell people what they would like to be true. He has promised, repeatedly: Everything will go back to normal; everyone will have amazing treatments; there will be a vaccine very soon; the disease isn’t that serious, anyway. The fact that these are conflicting claims—not to mention patently false—can only partly detract from their allure. To avoid scrutiny, quacks use misdirection. In textbook form, Trump consistently pointed to another threat that, by comparison, made the actual threat (the virus) seem smaller: Stopping the coronavirus would kill jobs. This is a false dichotomy. The two issues are conjoined. Economies collapse when going outside is dangerous; they thrive when people not only feel safe, but actually are safe.

Like any competent quack, Trump focuses on a winning vibe, not a factual case. He positions himself as an alternative to “the scientists” and “the doctors” such that followers have to choose between trusting them or him. This process, in extreme forms, leads to what some psychologists refer to as identity fusion. William Swann, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, coined the term in 2009 while studying theories of individual identity. Once fused with a group or leader, he noticed, followers seem tied to them in such a way that things are true because the leader said them. Dystopian as that may seem, it can be a coping mechanism: Orienting your sense of truth around a person can be more comforting than doing so around a nebulous, uncertain, or otherwise threatening reality. Fusion is not appealing because it makes sense; it is appealing because it alleviates the cognitive and emotional burden of thinking.”

“The freedom from scrutiny Trump now enjoys from many of his followers is reflected in an ignorance even of where he stands on the pandemic. In the survey of 4,000 Americans, 81 percent of Trump voters who believed that masks should be required also believed that Trump agrees. He has not supported a mask mandate, and has barely even endorsed their voluntary use.”

“There are ways to serve as a confident, optimistic leader without making up nonsensical promises.”