Debate #2: Less of a Shitshow, But the Race is Unchanged

The Daily Escape:

Fall at North Lake, Bishop, CA – October 2020 photo by pixiprism

The second Trump vs. Biden debate was very conventional by comparison to Debate #1. Once again, Trump seemed to have more speaking time than Biden, which he mostly used to throw BS at Biden, hoping that some would stick.

Each talked to the audiences they wanted to reach, mostly the way they wanted to. Trump did not hurt himself like he did at the first debate, but it’s doubtful that he moved the needle in his favor.

Wrongo thinks that Trump performed substantially better this time, sticking to the script that his handlers provided. We’ve come to expect that when Trump gets frustrated, he starts to lash out. If he doesn’t, then he exceeds expectations.

Depending on your perception, that possibly earned him a tie with Joe. Biden seemed to be rattled by many of Trump’s accusations, with his stutter evident at several points when he was given time to respond to Trump.

Tonight, a tie should be marked down as a win for the guy leading the race, although Biden didn’t do near as well as he did in Debate #1. He was occasionally boring, and missed a few opportunities, particularly about how best to deal with the Coronavirus, when Trump said about Corona, “We’re learning to live with it. We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.” Biden should have leveled him.

Biden scored a few points here and there. Trump pouted whenever he wasn’t speaking.

So, did the needle move enough for Trump? We shouldn’t expect a skunk to lose its smell, or its inclination to spray when confronted. And Trump sprayed in large volumes. Most of Trump’s words sounded like he was selling a rooftop condo that he hasn’t yet built to a Russian with lots of cash.

As expected, Trump tried to inject Hunter Biden and his purported laptops into the air. He also included a few weird tangents about pillows, emails and $3 million in payments from Russia. The Hunter Biden thing was certain to come up, and the moderator, though trying hard, was not able to keep Trump from bringing it up several times.

Trump’s closing question was about what he’d say at his second inaugural to those who didn’t vote for him. Instead, he talked about how Biden would kill the economy if elected.

Biden definitely stuck the landing. He was heartfelt and truthful. He said he would be president of all Americans. This might have played well with people who don’t spend very much time following politics, assuming that any of them were still tuned in.

That coming after Trump went on about how Biden was a socialist, highlighted nicely where Trump’s concerns lie: Americans are simply pawns in his game.

Biden has run a solid campaign. He hasn’t had many gaffes of the type that he’s known for. This is in part because Biden’s few misstatements don’t matter all that much in the face of Trump’s firehose of BS.

In last night’s debate, Biden wasn’t as disciplined as he might have been, but it probably doesn’t matter. He attacked Trump occasionally, and stood back to let Trump punch himself in the face a few times as well.

He’s provided an attractive alternative to anyone still undecided.

If the idea is to give voters a sense of leadership abilities, a better use of time would be to place the candidates in an Escape Room with their VP candidate, and see how they work things out.

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The Closing Arguments

The Daily Escape:

Autumn on Icefields Parkway, Jasper Alberta, CN – September 2020 photo by Argen Elezi Photography

Welcome to the longest 14 days of our lives! The way actual time has blurred between Trump and Covid, November 3 has remained the one date that has stayed fixed in our consciousness. As the calendar days tick off, it gets closer and closer. Now, we’re all sitting in the backseat yelling “Are we there yet”?

The next two weeks will feel like an eternity.

As time winds down to the election, the polls tell us that maybe we’re at least momentarily, a tiny bit less polarized than we were pre-Covid. Many Republicans say they are voting for Biden. Certain groups, the majority of whom supported Trump in 2016, are moving in significant numbers to supporting Biden.

There is growing agreement that controlling Covid and restoring our economy are the top two issues facing the next president and Congress. There is less agreement about what should be done to move us down the path to achieving both.

The big question post-election will be: What do we agree on? Or more accurately, what will the majority of us agree can be done to repair the damage done in the past few years? The next two weeks will have Biden and Trump making their closing arguments on why they deserve our votes.

Crucially the same NYT/Siena College poll referenced above says that Americans see Biden as more capable of uniting the country by nearly 20 points.

Both candidates’ arguments may become clearer after Thursday night’s debate, but as of now, Trump’s closing argument is: Covid doesn’t matter, people are tired of hearing about it. He said on Tuesday that “People aren’t buying it” as America’s biggest problem.

It’s worth noting that despite Trump’s boredom with the virus, there were more than 64,000 new cases just yesterday. And the death toll passed 220k. So, maybe people actually are buying that it’s a big deal.

Trump’s second argument is that he has grievances: Against Fauci, the media, and Joe and Hunter Biden. When Trump talks about his personal grievances, few voters outside the Trump/GOP bubble agree that these are problems that need the time and attention of the next president.

Biden’s closing argument is likely to be “Let’s end the chaos”. That’s totally an anti-Trump argument. But to Biden’s point, we’ve never had a President wage war on America during a national crisis by actively working to undermine the country’s health and well-being.

According to a recent Cornell University study, Trump represents the “the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid” in the world.

Over the weekend Twitter took down a tweet posted by Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who is the latest Trump coronavirus guru, when he linked to an article that claimed wearing a mask does not help slow the spread of the virus. The article also referred to the virus as “some seasonal flu.”

Biden is also likely to say in closing, as he did in his Gettysburg speech on October 6, that some semblance of bipartisanship is necessary to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild a battered economy. He also said then that the country must “decide to cooperate” toward the necessary recovery of our public health, and our economy.

Wrongo is reminded of this, written by Jan Flynn in June:

“We now live in a nation where tolerance of our differences is no longer an assumption in the social contract. Hate and judgment are normalized, but no less destructive than they’ve ever been. We retreat further and further into our ideological bunkers, from which we lob fearful words, memes, posts, rocks, bottles, rubber bullets, or actual bullets at our countrymen on the other side.”

How will we build tolerance for our differences? In the real world, we can’t unfriend or turn off the comments of Facebook friends we disagree with.

If Trump wins, the lobbing of words, memes, rubber bullets and actual bullets will continue, and likely get worse.

If Biden wins, he has a massive job ahead of trying to find a coalition of voters and politicians who will work cooperatively, helping bind up our self-inflicted wounds, and moving the nation forward.

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How Republican Use of the Term “Freedom” Hurts Our Coronavirus Response

The Daily Escape:

Fall turning towards winter, Capitol Peak near Aspen, CO – October 2020 photo by campsG

Following up on yesterday’s column on our failing response to Covid, we know that many on the right refuse to wear a mask to help their towns and states stop the growth in coronavirus cases. They say it’s their right to refuse to wear a mask, because the mask requirement impinges on their personal freedom.

They are wrong. Refusing to wear a mask doesn’t mean you are free. It means you are limiting the rights of your fellow citizens to be safe and secure. Axios reported on Monday that Coronavirus hospitalizations are increasing in 39 states, and are at or near their all-time peak in 16 of the 39.

We’re not at a panic point, but rising hospitalization rates are a sign that we’re losing control, and things are getting worse.

Michael Tomasky wrote an interesting op-ed for the NYT on how the right in America seemingly own the use of the term freedom. He quotes Mike Pence at the Amy Coney Barrett coming out party:

“We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people…”

Tomasky also quoted John Stuart Mill: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“In ‘On Liberty,’ he wrote that liberty (or freedom) means ‘doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow, without impediment from our fellow creatures, as long as what we do does not harm them even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse or wrong.’ ”

Tomasky points out that freedom doesn’t include the freedom to make someone else sick. It does not include the freedom to refuse to wear a mask in the grocery store, or sneeze on someone in the produce section. How is that freedom for the person who is sneezed upon?

For the sneezee, the sneezer’s “freedom” potentially leads to illness, and in a few cases, even to death. Society has lost its social cohesion if that action is part of the definition of freedom.

Ralph Nader, who wrote “Unsafe at Any Speed”, the book that launched America’s national seat belt law, says this about the anti-maskers:

“The same people who don’t want to do social distancing and face masks get in their car and put their seat belt on….Nice irony, huh?”

Nader thinks mask wearing will just take time. Tomasky says that politicians on the right have appropriated “freedom”:

“Freedom belongs almost wholly to the right. They talk about it incessantly and insist on a link between economic freedom and political freedom, positing that the latter is impossible without the former. This was an animating principle of conservative economists in the 20th century like Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.”

That linkage ignores that other western economies, like the Scandinavian countries, would have had limited economic success instead of their realities of great economies. These countries all have state-controlled economies, but still enjoy political freedom.

If Von Mises, Hayek and Friedman were correct, advanced democratic countries that had state-controlled economies would experience bad economies, along with little political freedom. There are no examples of this outside of the former Soviet Union. China has a robust state-planned economy, while lacking political freedoms.

So why do Democrats let Republicans own freedom as a concept? Why do they allow Republicans to use the concept to defend spreading the Coronavirus, potentially killing other citizens? A last thought from Tomasky:

“Democrats….aren’t very good at defending their positions on the level of philosophical principle…..they’ve been on the philosophical defensive since Ronald Reagan….Well, it’s high time they played some philosophical offense, especially on an issue, wearing masks, on which every poll shows broad majorities supporting their view….Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up.”

Biden has been pretty good at showing the alternative viewpoint on personal freedom. At his Miami town hall, he said:

“I view wearing this mask not so much protecting me, but as a patriotic responsibility. All the tough guys say, ‘Oh, I’m not wearing a mask, I’m not afraid.’ Well, be afraid for your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, your neighbor, your co-worker. That’s who you’re protecting having this mask on, and it should be viewed as a patriotic duty, to protect those around you.”

Without social cohesion we’re doomed as a society. Coronavirus should be helping bring us together, but Trump keeps using it to drive a wedge deeply into our social fabric.

Just 14 days remain until the election. Help heal America by voting!

Let’s end Trump’s tired act.

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Monday Wake Up Call – October 19, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Price Lake Blue Ridge Mountains – October 2020 photo by Muhammad Sumon

For decades, people around the world have thought the US was “exceptional” in most things. Covid has shown that not only is America unexceptional when it comes to pulling together to beat the virus, we’re close to chaotic.

We do remain exceptional in Covid cases and deaths, leading the world in sheer numbers of each. We’re now back to more than 70,000 reported cases a day, and our current response seems mostly to be indifference.

Wrongo and Ms. Right are in our temporary bubble in Truro on Cape Cod, where almost everyone is still masking, and attempting to achieve sufficient physical distance. But across America, a whole lot of people seem to just be done with Covid. They are moving on.

Only a few states are still taking new infections seriously enough to try to do anything at all to stop the spread. Those states with strong mask requirements still have them, but most states seem to have given up trying to control their citizens.

The persistent growth in new cases is above all, a social cohesion problem. People aren’t willing to forego any comfort, or engage in social distancing unless it helps them personally. So, bad behavior has made the number of Americans sick with Covid much worse than it had to be.

Not enough people are willing to follow rules. Too many believe that putting others at risk is an inalienable personal right. While health professionals and politicians say that “compliance is key”, no one has offered any new ideas on how to bring about more adherence with mask wearing and physical distancing.

Covid is also a leadership problem. Trump has prioritized the health of the economy over the health of our citizens. He only put up a fight against the virus when he got sick, but not while it ravaged the rest of us. And once he got better, he’s spread even more pernicious disinformation about Covid.

We need to do better, but it’s unclear what a Biden presidency can do to make it better.

A national lockdown doesn’t seem legal, and would lead to dissipating a large amount of Biden’s political capital. That could put in jeopardy whatever changes to our economy and politics he might be able to accomplish, if Democrats hold the House, Senate and the White House.

We can expect the CDC to once again provide leadership on how to deal with the virus while we wait for effective vaccines to become widely available. But at this point, it seems too late to re-lock down, and start over.

Luckily, Covid isn’t particularly deadly for a highly contagious virus. We know that it’s terrible for those with preexisting conditions. We’re learning that there are serious long-term health problems for some people who get the disease, the so-called “long haulers”.

We all know these things, but we need to do a better job of thinking through what could change the minds of people who simply won’t comply with the basic rules. They know they can get it, but they don’t think they will die from it. So they figure they’ll be OK, and maybe as Trump says, become immune after having something that’s perceived as not much worse than the seasonal flu.

This is mostly true for America’s White population. It’s far less true for America’s Black and Latino populations. This is how racial privilege works in the US. Possibly, if we experience more cases than right now, there may be the stomach for another lockdown. That’s if it’s accompanied by additional government financial support for those who will suffer financially from any lockdown.

Another idea is to employ rolling lockdowns that impact only the hot spots. The governor of Connecticut is doing this in our few hot spots, and it seems to be reasonably well-supported by citizens. The logic is: “We let you do it your way, now you need to do it our way”. Not all will comply, but most will understand that what they did didn’t work; so it’s time to try something different.

Massachusetts has Covid color codes by town, with red designating towns with more than eight cases per 100k. Reports say that it has changed policies in many places, as people who have a choice try to avoid the hottest Covid spots.

There are lots of possibilities for what may happen going forward, but we need to be smarter about how we deal with Covid. Our policy can’t just be: “we all die of something”.

There’s a lot of value in putting off death for as long as possible.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 18, 2020

If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett’s first major case on the Supreme Court could be Trump’s plan to remove undocumented immigrants from the Census count. This will cost states like California, Illinois and New York multiple Congressional seats, and billions in federal funding:

“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will review President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants when calculating how congressional seats are apportioned among the states.”

A three-judge panel in New York said that Trump’s July 21 memorandum on the matter was “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to” him by Congress. It blocked the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau from including internally generated information about the number of undocumented immigrants in their reports to the president after this year’s census is completed.

The census does not ask a citizenship question, so how the Census Bureau would come up with the immigration status of people counted is as a practical matter, suspect.

The Supremes put the case on a fast-track, saying that they will hold a hearing Nov. 30. By then, it will likely again be a nine-member court, assuming Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. It’s unclear how the case will divide the court. But the Census is yet another issue that has been transformed from a largely bureaucratic exercise into a partisan battle.

The decision to hear the case follows the Supreme Court’s earlier decision that the Trump administration could stop the Census count of Americans immediately, instead of on October 31.

This newest controversy involves the Constitutional mandate that apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives be based on the “whole number of persons in each State.” That has been interpreted to mean every resident, regardless of immigration status. But this summer, Trump issued a memorandum that said: “It is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”

Trump directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to provide him with two sets of numbers, one that includes unauthorized immigrants and one that does not, “to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with the discretion delegated to the executive branch.”

Thus, the need for a decision about the Constitutionality of counting every person. We’ll see what happens. On to cartoons:

Coney Barrett says she’s a neutral arbiter of the law. Tell that to the Elephant:

Amy Coney Barrett keeps her opinions close to the robe:

It’s a felony to intimidate voters or obstruct voting. Coney Barrett says she can’t say if that’s illegal. The Constitution states that Congress shall determine the date of the election. Coney Barrett says she can’t say whether or not a president could unilaterally postpone an election.

A competent judge should have acknowledged explicit text in federal statutes and the Constitution itself, while reserving the right to apply it to a specific set of facts that might be presented to her.

Our Election Day fear:

Voting no longer takes just a few minutes:

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Saturday Soother – October 17, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Hiram, ME – October 2020 photo by alexishowardphoto

Wrongo and Ms. Right are camped out on Cape Cod for a week. We’re trying to stave off the approaching cold and dark that will be soon be upon us. Also, we wanted to smell the salt air for a few days at least, in our Covid-filled 2020.

And every single person we’ve had to make small talk with in the past two weeks has said this exact sentence: “It gets dark so early now”.

The two things that dominated the week were the Amy Coney Barrett hearings and the continued growth in Covid cases as we run up to the election. Starting with the Barrett hearings, how is it believable that we have a process where aspirants to hold a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court pretend to have never given any thought to fundamental questions that absolutely every American adult has an opinion about?

She’ll be confirmed, and then we’ll move on to some fresh new Republican outrage.

Wrongo has said for months that this is the Covid election. No one wants to see more cases, but with incompetent presidential leadership, this is where we are with 17 days left until the election:

According to the NYT, over the past two weeks, new cases have increased in 43 states, plus DC and Guam. Deaths are increasing in 23 states. But Trump wants us to talk about whether Twitter is burying a story about Hunter Biden.

He’s bet his re-election on saying the pandemic is no big deal. Sadly for Americans, he’s wrong (again).

If the reaction by the anti-maskers (mostly Republicans) stay as they are currently, with some states encouraging residents to go maskless, then the projected number of deaths by February could be close to 400,000.

But if everybody stopped being stupid and wore masks and skipped large gatherings and kept a safe distance from others, then we could see the number of deaths be closer to 300,000.

Finally, a reason for hope: The Democratic candidate fundraising platform ActBlue just reported its most successful fundraising quarter in history. They raised $1.5 billion in three months from individual donors. That total includes some of Wrongo’s and Ms. Right’s money:

“From July through September, 6.8 million donors made 31.4 million contributions through ActBlue, the Democratic Party’s favored online donation platform, averaging $47 per donation. More than 14,223 campaigns and organizations benefited from the surge in donations, the largest single quarter in the platform’s 15-year history, according to figures shared first with POLITICO.”

In September alone, ActBlue processed $758 million. This doesn’t mean that the fight against Citizens United shouldn’t continue, but it does mean that energized voters can compete with the Big Money when it really counts.

Two years ago, no one thought Democrats had much of a chance of flipping the Senate. Now, with competitive races in North Carolina, Georgia (two), South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Arizona, Maine, Iowa, and Colorado, there is better than 50% chance of turning the Senate blue. Since Democrat Doug Jones will almost certainly lose in Alabama, if the Dems can flip five red seats, they will have the Senate to go with the House and the White House.

Voting can change the world. Those over 45 years old made our current, crumbling world. People younger than 45 have the power to remake it, if they turn out by November 3.

On to the weekend. After another rock ’em sock ’em week, you definitely need some Saturday Soother time! Let’s start by brewing up a cup of Colombia Hacienda Casablanca, ($20/12oz.), said to be bright, juicy, and cocoa-rich. It comes to us from Toronto’s Stereo Coffee Roasters.

Now settle back and listen to a classic played in a different way. Here is Debussy’s “Clair de lune” played on solo Harp by Mali Llywelyn. Here, she’s playing at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London in November 2017:

This will both relax and inspire you.

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Ending Republican Hypocrisy Regarding the Courts

The Daily Escape:

Sleepy Hollow Farm, Woodstock VT – October 2020 photo by Kyle Seymour Photography

The Senate started its confirmation hearings on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on Monday. There is little doubt that she will be confirmed on a Party-line vote by Republicans sometime before the presidential election on November 3.

There are legitimate questions to ask about the ideological balance on the Court, which will be 6-3 in favor of the conservatives, a ratio that is likely to last for a decade or more. The WSJ had a piece asking “Is the Supreme Court Too Catholic?” The religion of individual justices is of supreme indifference to Wrongo, but after Barrett is confirmed, the Court will have six Catholics, two Jews and one Anglican.

Of the current crop of Catholics on the Court, only Justice Sotomayor was appointed by a Democratic president. It is assumed by Republicans that the justices’ Catholicism is a proxy for their presumed (or long hoped-for) willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Another legitimate question is how Democrats should deal with the hypocrisy shown by the Republicans’ about-face on whether a new justice could be confirmed in the last months of a president’s incumbency. Four years ago, the Republican narrative was that Obama was picking a fight by moving to fill a Supreme Court vacancy after Justice Scalia died in February that year.

With a Republican now in the White House, it has become acceptable to jam through a Supreme Court justice nomination within days of the election. While that process conforms to the Constitution, it wasn’t what Republicans did when Obama was president.

Many Democrats are talking about expanding the Court, adding an even number of additional justices to help restore some ideological balance. The Republicans call this “court packing”. It’s worth remembering that FDR’s attempt to pack the court in 1937 was a political disaster for his Party. So Biden and Harris have been unwilling to say much on the subject.

Eric Boehlert points out that much of the mainstream press has picked up on calling it court packing, and are asking Biden to weigh in on the subject:

  • “Biden and Harris Need an Answer on Court Packing” (The Atlantic)
  • “Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Revives Talk of Court Packing” (New York Times)
  • “How Democrats Could Pack the Supreme Court in 2021” (Politico)
  • “Harris Dodges Questions on Support for Supreme Court Packing at Debate” (CBS News)

More from Boehlert:

“For conservatives, “packing the courts” is an attack line — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said it would “destroy one of the pillars” of the Constitution, while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) compared it to a “suicide bombing.”….”Expanding the courts” is a more accurate description of what might take place during the next Democratic administration.”

Eric Scholl at Medium points out that Justice Clarence Thomas has suggested recently that the Court should loosen up on one of its guiding principles: that of stare decisis, which means “to stand by things already decided”. To Thomas, it’s high time the Court starts overturning decisions that were previously approved. In part, because there’s now an opportunity to do it.

That’s rank politics, but it’s not new. In 2013, Sen John Cornyn (R-TX) had referred to President Obama’s appointments to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals as an “attempt to pack” the court. In October 2016, when Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls, National Review ran an article arguing that:

“The Senate should decline to confirm any nominee, regardless of who is elected. More than that, it is time to shrink the size of the Supreme Court.”

Instead, Republicans ask Biden if he’s for adding additional Court justices, hoping he falls in a trap, 21 days before the election. Tim Alberta tweeted:

The answer to court-packing Q is “Look, that isn’t our decision to make. Congress would need to pass legislation to expand the Supreme Court, and there’s no use speculating on that possibility when we’ll face immediate challenges on day one of a Biden administration.”

Not hard.

Not a bad answer. It’s good to remember that two Republican governors expanded their State Supreme Courts in 2016:

  • Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal’s three judge expansion shifted the balance of power on Georgia’s Supreme Court. He also added two new judges to the Court of Appeals.
  • Arizona’s Republican governor Doug Ducey added two justices to what was previously a five-judge panel.

So, as if you didn’t know, hypocrisy is alive and well in the Republican Party.

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Monday Wake Up Call – COVID Edition, October 12, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Camelback Lake, PA – photo by Craig Conklin

Yesterday, Wrongo said Covid is the biggest issue of the 2020 election. Today let’s talk about the death cult that Republicans seem to be when it comes to Covid. They won’t mask up, and they are unwilling to observe social distance in public. Some won’t even self-isolate when they are infected.

If you think this is an exaggeration by Wrongo for political purposes, you would be incorrect.

America is experiencing the long-predicted fall surge in Covid cases, and the surge is concentrated in states that are either Republican-run or are Republican by sentiment. Dan Goodspeed is a blogger who has made an interactive chart that shows the growth in Covid cases since June 1. He chose June 1 because it was about then that countries worldwide had the opportunity to beat back the number of cases with proven preventative measures.

Goodspeed also contrasted the case data with states’ political affiliations, using the Cook Partisan Voting Index. The results suggest that there is a strong correlation between a state’s political leanings and its ability to slow the spread of COVID:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the top 25 states that had increasing Covid cases since June, 23 of them are Republican. Remember, that the data show cases per million of population, making direct comparisons possible.

If you view this graph at Goodspeed’s site, the bars quickly progress in total cases from June until October. That progression clearly shows what can happen when one Party politicizes a public health emergency. Or when its citizens cherry-pick what facts they’ll believe based on their politics and ideology.

It turns out that red states have done a particularly poor job of dealing with the pandemic, most likely because their citizens have been the most resistant to taking basic precautions, such as wearing face masks, physically distancing and self-isolating.

Yes, it seems that the preventative measures prescribed by infectious disease professionals actually DO work.

If Americans had uniformly accepted that these simple rules at the outset of the pandemic were a smart way to protect public health, the country’s outcome would be different. Instead, more than 214,000 Americans have already died. And the outlook is worsening. Thirty-two states have more new cases this week than last week, according to Johns Hopkins data. Covid is nowhere under control.

Trump stood on a White House balcony Saturday, claiming the coronavirus is “disappearing” while hundreds of people watched from below. Although 2,000 invitations had been sent out, the crowd on Saturday was only a few hundred. The White House said that Trump would speak for 30 minutes, but he spoke for just 18 minutes, instead of the usual 90 minutes or more. Many in the crowd were maskless.

It’s clear that contracting Covid has taught him nothing, and he will continue to endanger Americans until Election Day. He’s planning at least three campaign rallies next week in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa. CNN reports that he said:

“We are starting very, very big with our rallies and with our everything”

Since January, Trump has questioned the science. In some cases he’s undermined the scientific authorities who have tried to get the true information out about what we know, and what we should be doing about it.

Trump isn’t going to change. That puts the onus on those around him to do the right thing, and stop enabling his antics. First on the list right now must be his personal physician, Dr. Conley, who has said that Trump poses no threat to others. If that is true, where’s the evidence of Trump’s string of negative Covid tests?

Conley in particular has surrendered his credibility in order to enable Trump’s recklessness. Ultimately, he will become another administration official on the growing list of Trump enablers who can’t justify their colossal misjudgment.

Time to wake up, America! Republicans have become a death cult. Republicans refuse to believe that Covid is dangerous, they refuse to trust the scientists, and they seem willing to get sick for Trump’s sake. Beware what they might do if Trump returns to power for another four years.

If you are one of the few remaining undecided voters, the fact that 23 of the 25 states with the most new cases since June are Republican ought to tell you all you need to know about how Trump will protect America.

Trump’s insisting that his followers vote in person 3 weeks from now. And most of them will happily do it.

If you live in a red state, maybe you should think twice about that.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 11, 2020

For Republicans, life begins at conception, and ends when the government requires you to wear a mask.

Wrongo thinks that this election is really about one thing: COVID-19. You may think differently, but you should watch the video linked below. It’s a timeline of Trump’s response to the pandemic. As things stand now, 215,000 (and growing) Americans have died. The argument that if Trump hadn’t played down the seriousness of a pandemic that he KNEW to be serious, untold thousands would still be alive today. This should be convincing to all but the most fanatic Trumpers.

If you are on the fence, this video makes a pretty damning case. The only defense Trump ever uses is that he stopped flights from China on February 2. But even that is untrue. According to a report in The NYT, at least 430,000 people arrived in the US on direct flights from China after the outbreak was reported on the last day of 2019. This included nearly 40,000 in the two months after the February restrictions were put in place.

Here’s the roughly 10 minute video produced by a UK group, Led by Donkeys:

https://twitter.com/ByDonkeys/status/1313830983007973376

On to cartoons.

Trump’s message from the White House on Saturday was “you can beat this”:

How is a virtual debate different from what the rest of us have been doing?

No empathy for you:

Why are we not surprised:

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Saturday Soother – Domestic Terrorism Edition, October 10, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Mt. Moran, Jackson, WY – October 2020 photo by campsG.  The snow is said to resemble an electric guitar.

The plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is truly disturbing. According to the FBI, who foiled the plot, the conspirators intended to move her across state lines to Wisconsin where she would be tried by a kangaroo court for “treason.”

Let’s wander back in time to April in Michigan. On April 15, there was a drive by “Operation Gridlock” protest in Lansing. The organizer of that rally received financial assistance from the DeVos family. You know, the one that includes Trump’s Secretary of Education. Then on April 17, Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

Then came April 30 when a bunch of armed right-wingers showed up and took control inside the state Capitol building, intimidating people with their semi-automatic rifles. One of them had a Whitmer doll with a noose around its neck.

That was followed on May 6 by a lawsuit by Republicans against Whitmer: “Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer. And on October 6, the Michigan Supreme Court decided in a 4-3 ruling along partisan lines, that Whitmer did not have the authority to issue COVID-related executive orders after April 30, 2020.

Now we learn that the would-be kidnappers, who called themselves the “Wolverine Watchmen” according to FBI documents filed in court, wanted to create a “self-sufficient” society free from what they called unconstitutional state governments. They discussed plans to storm the Capitol and take hostages, and planned Whitmer’s kidnapping. They allegedly began meeting in June.

These guys were well organized and very well armed. They planned to set off explosives under a bridge to distract authorities while they carried out Whitmer’s kidnapping at her weekend home. At least two of the men arrested Thursday, were also present in the takeover of the state Capitol building.

So the political discord, division, unrest, and violence in this country, fomented by the maskless president has come to this. From David Neiwert at the Daily Kos: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“This remains the indelible lesson from these arrests: Trump’s profoundly irresponsible rhetoric has concocted a cauldron of hatred that the nation will be dealing with long after he has departed the scene, resulting in an army of authoritarian followers eager to mete out terroristic violence against any politician or person who opposes thema sociopolitical plague that could come to rival the COVID-19 virus in lethality. It certainly seems unlikely to subside anytime soon…”

Trump set the tone for this by refusing to help Whitmer when she asked for federal assistance. He refused to allow Pence, as COVID-19 Task Force chair, to speak to Whitmer, and he encouraged violence with his “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” tweet after the first protest against Whitmer’s orders.

Even after learning of the arrests of the kidnapping conspirators, Trump attacked Whitmer via tweet, saying:

“…I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

By the way, despite all the Republican whining about opening bars and not wearing masks, Whitmer’s early stay-home orders and restrictions on businesses crushed the virus in Michigan, with cases plunging from a daily high of 1,878 on April 3, to just 56 cases by June 15.

Cases have risen again, largely because of Republican pressure to reopen the economy. There were 1,230 new cases on Wednesday, but deaths have stayed low: From 232 on April 21 to just 8 on Wednesday. Neiwert said in the same article:

“…Trump’s rhetoric and policies have unleashed a second pandemic in the form of far-right domestic terrorism.”

What will Trump’s tweets spawn next as we head into the second wave of COVID-19?

Wrongo knows how difficult it is to relax at times like these, so no coffee for you. Instead take a few moments to remember John Lennon, who was born 80 years ago (10/9/1940) and died at age 40.

His tune, “Imagine” was released on October 8, 1971, itself 49 years ago. And the world has been running from its message ever since.

It’s hard to imagine that Lennon’s been gone for as long as he was alive. Could he have imagined the world in our triple header of a social, political, economic crisis, along with a global pandemic topping it off? Take a break, and think an impossible thought or two on this Saturday. This video starts with a slow walk by John and Yoko, but ultimately, it shows John singing with Yoko by his side.

Never cared much for Yoko, but seeing her looking at John is this video changed my mind:

Imagine a world where people understand and tolerate each other.

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