Thanksgiving Day – November 26, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Some of us are thankful that the election is behind us. We’re all thankful that 2020 is almost over, that a vaccine is on the way, and that the Dow is up. We’re thankful that democracy has survived to fight another day. It has been a trying year.

Wrongo is thankful to all who read the Wrongologist. We’ve been at this same pop stand since 2011, and some of you have been with us the entire time. Special thanks to long haulers Monty B, Fred VK, David P, Pat M, and Terry Mck, among others.

Here are two facts about the 2020 presidential race that may have been overlooked: Dominating on social media was supposed to be all-important to winning the presidency this year. But Donald Trump has 15 million fewer votes than Twitter followers. While Joe Biden has 60 million more votes than Twitter followers.

Another crucial thing: The election of Democratic governors, lieutenant governors, attorneys-general and secretaries of state in 2018 in PA, MI and WI had a huge impact in deciding the 2020 election. They helped people vote, they fought frivolous lawsuits, and made sure that votes were counted and certified.

This is another reason why voting in state and local races is so important.

This Thanksgiving may not have as many people around the dinner table as usual. But it isn’t the first time our Thanksgiving is shrouded in tragedy. When old people like Wrongo sat down to a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner in November, 1963, we were mourning the death of JFK. Twenty years before that, Wrongo’s parents were celebrating while a continent apart, while my mother was pregnant with me, during WWII.

We are truly thankful to those who came before us, and to our family members and friends who we can’t be with today.

We’re thankful to those who are today on the front lines in the military service, or at home in our hospitals, schools, firehouses, and police stations.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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2020 Election Shows Our Economic Divide Worse Than Our Political Divide

The Daily Escape:

Faery Falls near Mt. Shasta CA – November 2020 photo by Gary German

(There will be zero to light posting for the rest of the week. We all need a break from the Turkey of an administration that we’ve endured for the past four years, and this Turkey of a Year.)

The presidential transition is officially underway, nearly three weeks after the election. Despite all of our anxious uncertainty, with almost all the votes counted, it’s safe to say the Biden vs. Trump contest wasn’t close. The Electoral College appears to be holding at: Biden 306 vs. Trump 232, a 57% to 43% win.

There are apparently still about 1.3 million votes to count, mostly in NY. Imagine the drama if NY was the state that winning the election hinged on – we’d all be too drunk to carve the turkey!

If we extrapolate the current margins to the votes that remain, it will look like this: The total Biden vote: 80.6 million; the total Trump vote: 74.4 million; the total minor party vote: 3 million, and the total national vote: 158 million. That means nationally, turnout was about 66%, up from 59% in 2016 and that Biden’s popular vote margin will be 51% to 47%.

There was a more interesting margin of victory: Brookings Metro, part of the Brookings Institution, graphed the roughly 500 counties Biden won against the roughly 2,500 counties Trump won, comparing them by economic output. Here is their map of America’s voting, shown as a chart of relative economic output:

This is pictured as a typical Red vs. Blue breakdown, but it’s not about voting. It’s about that portion of the US economy that voted for the two candidates. Seventy percent of America’s economy is generated in the 500 counties Biden won; the 2,500 counties won by Trump produce just 29%.

Back in 2016, Brookings found that the 2,584 counties Trump won generated 36% of the country’s economic output, while the 472 counties won by Hillary Clinton were about 64% of the nation’s economy.

So there are two conclusions: First, the concentration of economic power has increased significantly in the past four years. Second, a real polarization in America is between its two economies.

Blue and Red Americas reflect two very different economies: The Blue one is oriented towards diverse, often college-educated workers in professional and digital services occupations, while the Red leans whiter, less-educated, and more dependent on “traditional” industries, such as mining, manufacturing and farming.

From Brookings Metro: (brackets and emphasis by Wrongo)

“…notably, Biden flipped seven of the nation’s 100 highest-output counties, strengthening the link between these core economic hubs and the Democratic Party. More specifically, Biden flipped half of the 10 most economically significant counties [that] Trump won in 2016, including Phoenix’s Maricopa County; Dallas-Fort Worth’s Tarrant County; Jacksonville, Fla.’s Duval County; Morris County in New Jersey; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.’s Pinellas County.”

Still, Trump’s winning of 74 million votes suggests that 47% of us continue to feel little connection to the nation’s core economic future. This may also help explain why Democrats lost all of the 27 toss-up races in the House and Senate.

If this pattern of one Party attempting to confront the social and economic challenges of a majority of Americans while the other Party stokes the hostility and indignation of a significant minority being left behind, we’ll continue to have not just gridlock, but sustained harm for people and towns throughout America.

The Brookings map shows that wealth and power are not only concentrated, but that the concentration is continuing to grow.

If we fail to build an economy for all, it’s possible that at some point the inequality will reach an extreme. What plays out after that is anyone’s guess.

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Monday Wake Up Call, Oppressed Majority Edition – November 23, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Taylor Creek, South Lake Tahoe, CA – November 2020 iPhone 7 photo by Julien21012101

Millennials joke about how Fox News did to their parents what the parents believed video games would do to their kids. Apparently, that’s true: A new survey from PRRI (the Public Religion Research Institute) found that Fox News watching Republicans, the 40% of Republicans who trust Fox News as their primary source of television news, believe they are the most discriminated-against Americans.

The researchers broke Republican respondents into Fox News watchers, and non-Fox News watchers, and then compared their answers to those of all Americans.

Compared to the nation as a whole, Fox News watching Republicans are whiter (81% vs. 63% for all Americans), more likely to be male (57% vs. 48% of all Americans), and older (32% are over age 65 vs. 21% of all Americans). Fox News Republicans are more likely than all Americans to identify as white evangelical Protestants (36% vs. 13%), and more likely to say they attend religious services at least once a week (46% vs. 27%). Fox News watching Republicans are more likely than non-Fox News Republicans to identify as conservatives (77% vs. 59% of non-Fox News Republicans).

The truly stunning finding is what’s said when both groups were asked if there’s “a lot of discrimination” against Christians and Whites:

Nearly 75% of the Fox-watchers feel Christians are discriminated against. They also think White people have it rough (58%), but only 36% say the same about Black people. Imagine how delusional you have to be to think White Christians have it worse than everybody else.

These people actively think the people who have the fewest hurdles to overcome in our society are at the greatest disadvantage. It seems safe to say their answers are mind-bendingly wrong.

Fox-watching Christians: Your religion is shared by between 70%-75% of Americans. Your churches are tax-exempt under federal law and are effectively subsidized by taxpayers. Somehow, despite these advantages many of you somehow see yourselves as the most oppressed group in America?

Is it even possible to be an OPPRESSED MAJORITY?

This view is held by some members of the religion that refuse to respect the constitutional separation of Church and State by claiming that your freedom to worship as you see fit is being crushed under the heel of godless secularism. Disliking those “who would ban God from the public square” doesn’t make what you are feeling persecution.

Fox News has supported Trump more strongly than any other news outlet. For decades, Fox has played a prominent role in shaping the Conservative policy agenda and supporting Republican partisan politics.

Over the last four years, Trump has used Fox as a personal platform, appearing on air hundreds of times during his presidency. Currently, the 15% of Americans who cite Fox News as their most trusted television news source, is roughly equal to the combined influence of NBC, ABC, and CBS (16%), and larger than that of local television news (12%), or CNN (11%).

Biden’s aspiration is to try to heal the divisions in the US during his term in office. But, tens of millions of Republicans support Trump retaining power by any means necessary. With America possibly facing a coup, is Biden’s hope even realistic?

Healing requires coming to a shared vision of the future. It requires some form of forgiveness and repentance by both sides for real and imagined insults. But, when we see exactly how much grievance and entitlement there is among these old, White Fox-watchers, it seems very doubtful that we can meet in the middle, understand each other, and change our behavior.

It’s not gonna happen. Take a look at this chart from Media Matters:

This covers the period starting four days after the presidential election, until 14 days post-election. It’s one thing to champion free speech, but this kind of prolonged propaganda attack will surely kill our democracy. If you doubt that take another look at how it’s Fox-watchers who believe that they are the most oppressed group in America.

Time to wake up America! How can reality be normalized when there’s no effort to ditch the propaganda? And it’s not just the old White Foxers. Nearly 74 million people voted to keep Trump in office.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 22, 2020

There are a few fine Republican governors out there. Vermont Governor Phil Scott is one. Earlier this week at a press conference, he spoke to the COVID skeptics, and to those who refuse to wear masks or follow Vermont’s social distancing mandates. Scott said that “they can do what they want”, but added:

“Don’t call it patriotic. Don’t pretend it’s about freedom. Because real patriots serve and sacrifice for all, whether they agree with them or not. Patriots also stand up and fight when our nation’s health and security is threatened. And right now, our country and way of life is being attacked by this virus — not the protections we put in place.”

Scott was recently re-elected by a wide margin by the voters in his very blue state. Bravo!

Could a campaign work that characterized those mask refusers as cowards who won’t stand up and fight, who won’t serve and sacrifice for the good of the country? Would it change a few minds? Nothing else has: not science, not facts, not cajoling, not even mandates. Maybe trying shame is overdue. On to cartoons.

Maybe shame won’t be enough:

Keep it simple for The Donald. Just go away:

Mitch won’t ever help:

This certainly will happen:

Even turkeys know how to beat COVID:

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Saturday Soother – Attempted Coup Edition, November 21, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Bryce Canyon NP, UT – November 2020 photo by cookdog1117

We’ve come to a point where the future of our democracy depends on a few Republicans doing the right thing.

Wrongo has never written a scarier sentence, but it’s true. The success or failure of the slow-rolling Trump coup will be decided by a small group of Republicans who have the job of certifying the election in key swing states. The WaPo says it all:

“…Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics decried Thursday as an unprecedented subversion of democracy.”

We became aware of Trump’s plan when he called a Republican member of Michigan’s Wayne County Board of Canvassers (who had earlier voted to certify the County’s vote) to persuade her to change her vote. After speaking to Trump, she unsuccessfully tried to rescind her certification of Biden’s win in what is the state’s largest county.

Not giving up, on Friday, Trump summoned two Michigan GOP leaders to the White House ahead of next Monday’s state canvassing board meeting to certify Michigan’s results for Biden. After the meeting, they said they were “not yet aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election” in Michigan. They also vowed not to interfere with the certification process.

Trump’s efforts threaten our system of democratic presidential elections: If state officials start claiming the right to overturn elections because of unsubstantiated claims about “election fraud,” our democratic system will die.

What Trump is doing is election tampering. He risks criminal charges for directly intervening to change the votes for certification by the Wayne County Board members, and the minds of the two Michigan legislators. When does his criminal attempt to influence the Michigan election people become actionable?

If Michigan’s board becomes deadlocked, it is possible that Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature could ignore Biden’s popular-vote win and seat Trump electors. But, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has the power to fire members of the canvassing board and appoint interim replacements without legislative approval.

The Georgia recount is finished and Biden won. Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the statewide result on Friday, as required by law. The certification now sits with Gov. Brian Kemp (R). His signature is required by law on Saturday. But Trump has been publicly badgering Kemp to intervene in the recount to reject ballots and “flip” the result. The WaPo reports that Trump has told advisers he is furious with the governor for not doing more to help Trump take Georgia.

Trump’s coup would also need to succeed in Arizona, along with Michigan and Georgia, to change the election’s outcome.

Despite the voting, the counting, the re-counting and absolutely zero evidence of fraud, America needs a few Republicans to put country over Party, or the coup may succeed. Inadvertently, Trump’s effort to grab power has made the most persuasive argument yet for doing away with the Electoral College. What we’ve learned the hard way is that America lacks the proper checks and balances in our government to stop a tyrant. It’s very clear that Trump is free to subvert the very democracy he was elected to lead.

This is a lesson that must be learned. We must make sure this doesn’t happen again. We need to assure that no future tyrant like Trump is allowed to be the final judge in his or her own cause.

It’s difficult to divorce our thinking from the possible wreckage of our democracy, but let’s try to move away from it for a few minutes on this Saturday, while calming down to the extent we can.

Nearly all of the leaves are down on the fields of Wrong, and our thoughts turn to the holidays. This year, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be smaller, but surely as nice as bigger ones in the past. Scaling back for a year should be seen as an act of generosity, part of our community’s effort to avoid spreading the Coronavirus.

It’s frighteningly clear that the rampant growth in cases of Coronavirus show that society is failing the “marshmallow test”, because the “libertarian” way of life in red States means “I only do the things that I want to do, how that effects the rest of you be damned”.

Let’s relax with a piece by Franz Liszt, “Un Sospiro”, the third of three Concert Études he wrote between 1845-1849. An etude is a study in crossing hands on the piano, playing a simple melody while alternating hands with increasing complexity. This étude has been considered by many pianists as one of the most beautiful piano pieces. Here it is played by Dubravka Tomsic:

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The Weak Roadmap For Trump’s Coup

The Daily Escape:

View from interior of Tower Arch, Arches NP, UT – November 2020 photo by wisemufin

In a few years, maybe we’ll be calling this spot “Trump’s Anus”.

It’s two weeks since the presidential election, and no, Trump hasn’t conceded. It’s time to stop the attempted coup. Just like there’s “long Covid”, there’s “long Trump”. If we fail to force him, he will stay forever. Nothing about humoring him will work. We can’t simply wait out the lawsuits, he’ll just file another one. And the Trumpist politicians in the House and Senate will continue to say “what’s wrong with letting the process play out?”

They will play this gambit until one of the deadlines outlined below ends it. For the first three, Trump has a plan in place to attempt to overturn the election. He has no defense for the fourth deadline, though. Whether any of his plans work is, at this point, unknown:

December 8th is the last day on which states can certify their results. While most of Trump’s many legal efforts are falling apart, there has been a consistent theme: try to throw out votes. One Trump surrogate, Sen Lindsay Graham (R-SC) tried to persuade Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Raffensperger to throw out all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of non-matching signatures.

Without outside interference, Georgia will certify its result on Nov. 20, after a hand recount; Pennsylvania and Michigan will certify their results on Nov. 23, Arizona will follow on Nov. 30, Wisconsin and Nevada a day later. That’s it for the six swing states where Biden leads by a total of 218,000+ votes.

December 14th is when the Electoral College votes. The question of whether Electors are bound to vote for their state’s chosen candidate was decided in June 2020 when the Supreme Court said that the laws saying that states could replace faithless electors are constitutionally valid.

Despite that ruling, several Republicans including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), have suggested that Republican-led legislatures should ignore the popular vote and certify their own slate of Electors for Trump. Such a move may also run afoul of the same Supreme Court precedent mentioned above. In any event, The Electoral Count Act gives priority to Electoral Votes cast under rules established in advance of the election, meaning that if a state legislature were to send a different slate of Electors to Congress to compete with those reflecting the popular vote, the national legislature should accept the latter.

January 6th: Congress meets in joint session to certify the Electoral College vote. The Vice President presides over this meeting. You can be sure that several GOP members in both the House and Senate will object to the certification, that’s surely already choreographed at this point. Importantly, each House is supposed to decide on their certification separately prior to the joint session. Here’s the relevant language (3 USC 15):

“But if the two Houses shall disagree in respect of the counting of such votes, then, and in that case, the votes of the electors whose appointment shall have been certified by the executive of the State, under the seal thereof, shall be counted.”

Over the next few weeks, we’re all going to learn whether Trump has any procedural path to remain in power.

January 20th: Inauguration Day. An attempt to continue occupying the White House after noon on Jan. 20 would constitute trespassing and might even constitute sedition to the extent it was intended in order to hold power illegally:

“If two or more persons … conspire to overthrow … the Government of the United States … or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

Republicans know they are really fighting to preserve the Tyranny of the Minority.

They have only won a national plurality ONCE since 1988. It’s pretty clear that they aren’t capable of being a majority Party as things stand today. Trump’s 2016 win ratified this truth.

They understand that the real GOP wall is the Electoral College, and they will use any mechanism available to defend their built-in Electoral College advantage. It’s the only way to minimize their popular vote disadvantage.

So, the GOP defends its Electoral College Wall at all cost, while the Dems try to defend their Blue Wall.

Assuming the center holds, what happens between January 6th and January 20th?

Nobody knows, but Wrongo is dubious that Trump will a) beat Biden, or b) voluntarily give up being the Most Powerful Man on the Planet one minute before he has to.

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Monday Wake Up Call, More Covid is Coming Edition – November 16, 2020

The Daily Escape:

2020 Photo via Ed Hall

Doesn’t this disgusting guy show absolutely everything that’s wrong with America in 2020? The facts are bad, says the NYT: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“At least 1,210 new coronavirus deaths and 159,121 new cases were reported in the US on Nov. 14. Over the past week, there has been an average of 145,726 cases per day, an increase of 80% from the average two weeks earlier. As of Sunday afternoon, more than 11,050,100 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 245,700 have died…”

Why is stopping the Coronavirus political? The virus needs hosts and targets. If we are sufficiently far apart, the virus can’t spread, and will eventually die out. But people like our fellow citizen above refuse to believe they will spread, or get sick from Covid.

Long-time blog reader Pat M. asked Ms. Right to show Wrongo an article by Dr. Leah Curtin, “Pathological individualism”, in which Dr. Curtin says this:

“It seems we can no longer tell “freedom” from “license,” “rights” from “responsibilities,” or “laws” from “the common good.” And while the world pities us…we stand like spoiled children, insisting on our “rights” and making fun of people in masks.”

Curtin points out that even a superficial study of the Constitution is clear about our freedoms, our rights, and our individual responsibility to help bring about the common good: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“…to be “free” means to be able to do the doable without being subject to unjust constraints. It doesn’t mean that any of us can trample on the rights of others, though we’re still struggling to understand and implement the latter…..personal rights come with the responsibility to maintain them for self and others.

In other words, we don’t have the freedom to infect others. Why? Because that creates conditions that violate other people’s unalienable rights. If you think this is exaggerated, consider this tweet from a thread by a South Dakota ER nurse:

Politico reports that some Republican governors are signaling to Biden that they will not support any sort of federal mandate involving COVID-19 and masks: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“President-elect Joe Biden says he’ll personally call red state governors and persuade them to impose mask mandates to slow down the coronavirus pandemic. Their early response: Don’t waste your time. Almost all of the 16 Republican governors who oppose statewide mask mandates are ready to reject Biden’s plea…even as they impose new restrictions on businesses and limit the size of public gatherings to keep their health systems from getting swamped.”

South Dakota’s governor Kristi Noem, Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt and Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts, whose states are seeing tsunamis of new cases, say mask wearing should remain a personal choice, not a legal obligation. This shows how difficult it will be for Biden to build consensus around even basic public health strategies after he’s sworn in.

Other Republican governors, like Eric Holcomb in Indiana and Kay Ivey in Alabama have had mask mandates for months, while Utah Gov. Gary Herbert imposed a statewide order last week when it became clear that his state’s hospitals were overwhelmed. Mike DeWine in Ohio also did the right thing.

We continue to think that we can only control Covid with a binary switch. The economy is either closed, or open. We either save the economy, or save the healthcare system.

But, the Biden administration isn’t proposing using an on/off switch for the country, or for individual states. They propose using a dial, with stops from fully open to fully closed, and many stops in between, depending on the local severity of the pandemic. This approach will recognize facts on the ground as they change, and keep draconian measures like lockdowns from being the only tool in the box.

When we wear masks that cover our noses and mouths in public, people should understand that:

  • The wearer knows that they could be asymptomatic and still give someone the virus.
  • They don’t “live in fear” of the virus; they just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
  • They don’t feel like the “government is controlling them”.
  • Wearing a mask means they are caring and responsible.

Will Republicans help Biden create a teachable moment for America? Don’t count on that. As Thanksgiving approaches, it just seems that no one wants to bother: Sure, it kills other people, and that might include grandma, but it won’t kill me.

Trump and Republicans have shown utter indifference to Covid and how it’s affected people’s lives. But it didn’t seem to hurt them in the elections, at least at the state level.

What will it take to wake up, America?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 15, 2020

COVID and the economy are urgent crises that must be dealt with immediately. Climate change is an existential threat that will require the Biden administration’s ongoing attention. Not to mention the threat to democracy that’s been revealed by Trump during his administration. And now, he won’t leave. Trump’s allegations have been proven baseless, and yet he continues to try to find a way to get a second term. Biden’s got a very full plate.

Stewing usually tenderizes, but not in this case:

Humoring him is as dangerous as it is pointless:

Tough question reveals true GOP:

While measuring for new drapes, Biden learns something:

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Saturday Soother, No Concession Edition – November 14, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Big Lily Creek, Russell County KY – November 2020 photo by Dean Francisco

On Friday afternoon, the WaPo called Georgia for Biden and North Carolina for Trump. They were the last two states to be called. Overall, Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, Trump is projected to win 232, the same tally as in 2016, with Trump on the losing side this time.

So far, Biden has about 5.2 million more popular votes than Trump.

You may remember that in 2016, Trump called his Electoral College win a “landslide”. This time, no concession so far. We hear from the Right that “there is no Constitutional requirement for a concession speech, and the press does not certify election results.” That’s true. And there’s no Constitutional requirement for fairness in our society. Maybe there should be one. For better or worse, social norms, including being a graceful loser, are part of what keep our society functioning. If we ignore those norms, society will have problems surviving.

One malfunctioning area of society is our pandemic response. Alarm bells are going off all across the country because of COVID. The situation is approaching the horrific. Back in March/April, when hospitals became short staffed, they were able to hire nurses and other health care workers from parts of the country that hadn’t been overwhelmed.

Now, the disease is everywhere. It’s so bad that Doctors Without Borders, the independent organization that sends physicians to less developed countries having some sort of health care crisis, has sent COVID-19 teams to the US. How embarrassing.

The following chart on COVID hospitalizations shows you why we need hospital workers. We’ve hit a new high in America:

The result is a surging pandemic that has been left to run wild across the country and a “catastrophic” lack of ICU beds in places like El Paso, TX and Minnesota. The WaPo quoted Michael T. Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy:

“This is like one huge coronavirus forest fire, and I don’t think it’s going to spare much human wood out there unless we change our behavior.”

Sixty-seven thousand hospitalized and 1,100 dead per day. We’re not in a presidential transition, it’s more of a death march to January 20th.

If you live in South Dakota or Iowa, and take a COVID-19 test, the odds are that you will test positive. Positivity rates in both of these two states are above 50%. In South Dakota, its 56.4%; in Iowa, its 51.4%. Here in Connecticut, we’re at 4.3%, among the top eleven places with the lowest positivity rates in the US.

FYI, despite what you may hear, higher positivity rates do not correlate with more testing. In fact, South Dakota and Iowa are testing fewer people per 1,000 population than any of the 11 states with low positivity results.

In North Dakota, health-care workers with asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus were authorized by the governor to keep working. North Dakota is one of 15 states without a mask mandate. The ND Nurses Association has called for a mask mandate if they have to work while infected.

There are Maskholes in every state, people who are following their warped sense of “personal freedom”, and not wearing a mask to protect others, or themselves. Remember during the campaign when Trump told his followers that the day after the election, the media would stop mentioning COVID-19 because the only reason they were reporting on it was to hurt him?

His management of America’s COVID response is just one of many things that will improve after January 20. That brings us to the World According to Trump:

  • Stop testing – then we won’t have new cases…
  • Stop counting the votes – then I win…
  • Don’t publish my tax returns – then I’m still a billionaire…

Let’s cruise into the weekend leaving the Concession and COVID behind, at least for a little while. It’s cold and crisp in Connecticut this weekend, and time for our Saturday Soother, that part of the week when we try to refresh our bodies and souls before again strapping on the gladiator equipment for next week.

There’s little left to do to prepare the fields of Wrong for winter, so the focus today is indoors. Let’s start by brewing up a mug of La Esperanza Colombian Natural X.O. ($16.95/12 oz.) from Durango Coffee in southwestern Colorado. Durango Coffee’s motto is “Tough Town, Great Coffee.”

Now grab your mug and sit by a window where you can see the last of the leaves swirl down to earth, like Trump’s reelection chances, and listen to the “Band of Brothers Theme” from the soundtrack to the Band of Brothers movie. It’s played by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, conducted by Michael Kamen:

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Could Trump Be Attempting a Coup?

The Daily Escape:

Yosemite changing from fall to winter – November 2020 photo by kscwuzhere

Here’s another way of looking at the election: Joe Biden’s share of the popular vote is now 50.8% (77,126,066 popular votes). That will be greater than Ronald Reagan’s 50.7% vote share in 1980, vs. Jimmy Carter. It’s more than GW Bush’s margin over Kerry (50.7%), and more than Bush’s margin over Gore (47.9%). It’s larger than both of Clinton’s races: (49.2%) over Dole, and (43%) over GHW Bush.

Yet, the official position of the Republican Party, as put forth by the RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, is that Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election:

“On Tuesday…McDaniel….told FOX News commentator Sean Hannity that she has 234 pages containing 500 sworn affidavits alleging 11,000 incidents of various types of voter fraud…..It’s been rigged from the beginning…and now you have a media that’s rigging it again by saying we’re not going to even listen to these stories.”

Republicans have been making excuses that Democratic presidents haven’t been legitimate leaders since FDR. Kennedy only won because of dead Chicago voters. Johnson only won because of sorrow about Kennedy. Carter only won because Nixon was framed. Clinton only won because Perot messed things up. And how did Obama win? TWICE??

The GOP believes that it has been the rightful winners of every presidential election since Eisenhower. The natural order requires that they win. Actual vote counts are irrelevant.

The most likely outcome of the next two months is that Joe Biden will be sworn in as president in an orderly way, but there’s a chance it could go differently. Here’s a thought from Jared Yates Sexton: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“People keep asking whether Trump and the Republicans attempt to steal the election is legitimate, if it’s a coup, if it’s a fundraising scheme, if it’s posturing, if it’s actually all that dangerous.

The answer is yes. All of these things….

People like McConnell and Graham are giving voice to Trump for multiple reasons….they need to win the special elections in GA, the controversy creates passion, and it leads to fundraising. But…they’re also fine with a coup.

Trump and the GOP are playing a dangerous game. The coup might not work, but they see an advantage at flirting with a coup. The coup might work and they see an advantage with grasping power for themselves. It’s a win-win for them while we lose.”

Sexton’s most disturbing point, that Establishment Republicans probably don’t think the coup will work, but they seem to be 100% OK with it, if it does. 

Republicans believe that Democrats have no legitimate claim to govern, because Democrats only win elections when the wrong people vote for them, as opposed to Real Americans, who vote GOP.

The only question the press should be asking Republican officials is: “Are you on board with Trump’s coup?” The GOP really doesn’t want to answer questions about their actions, and won’t, even when asked. Charlie Pierce says this:

“So the president, the leaders of the Republican majorities in Congress, and the Secretary of State all are attached to the fantasy that Joe Biden is not the President-Elect….They are taking active measures in support of that fantasy, and the longer they do, the more real it becomes to the president’s 70 million followers. And, therefore, the more political power it gains, and the more poison is pumped into the political bloodstream of the country…”

This week, Trump replaced the head of the military, who had previously said that he was concerned about the use of troops against civilian populations. Then he replaced a number of senior military officials with known loyalists who have zero qualifications for their jobs.

People seem to believe that the (relatively) independent directors of the CIA (Gina Haspel) and FBI (Christopher Wray) are going to be replaced, soon.

If all of that happens, what is the innocent explanation for all of these moves? Pundits have said there may be simple explanations for them, but there’s a non-trivial chance that Trump is attempting to assert control over key parts of the government in advance of a destabilizing action to remain in power.

For decades, we thought that norms of behavior would prevent something like this from happening. Our respect for institutions, love of country, institutional guardrails, and separation of powers would prevail. But, those things only work as long as both sides informally agree to act like rules have meaning.

From the moment Trump declared his candidacy, he’s crossed those lines, over and over again. Even if he goes away or drops dead tomorrow, these lessons can’t be unlearned, no matter how badly Dems want to pretend things can go back to the way they were.

Because the GOP certainly isn’t forgetting any of it.

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