The Never-Surrender Republicans

The Daily Escape:

Bradford Pear, Fields of Wrong, Litchfield County, CT – November 2020 iPhone photo by Wrongo. The Bradford Pear has white flowers very early in the spring, and red leaves in fall. It’s among the first to flower, and last to lose its leaves.

Wrongo is increasingly pessimistic that the majority of Republican voters will accept the result of the Biden vs. Trump 2020 election. The Morning Consult has a survey that shows:

  • 7 in 10 Republicans believe the 2020 election wasn’t free or fair: 48% of Republicans say it “definitely” was not free and fair, and another 22% say it “probably” was not. That’s twice the share of Republicans who said the race would not be free and fair just weeks before the election.
  • Republicans are most skeptical about the Pennsylvania results: Just 23% of Republican voters say they believe the results in PA are reliable, while 33% say the same about the results in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

This has incredibly dire consequences for the country, and possibly, for our democracy.  The WaPo’s Greg Sargent writes:

“With Trump unlikely to formally concede, you can see a kind of Lost Cause of Trumpism mythology taking hold, in which many supporters continue believing the election was stolen from him and that squeamish Republicans betrayed him by not fighting hard enough against it.”

No one should be surprised by this. Trump told us four years ago while running against Hillary Clinton, that he would only respect the outcome of the election if he won. And he’s been saying the same thing for months about this election. As Rick Hasen suggests, Trump and the GOP are placing a cloud of illegitimacy over Biden’s presidency.

This is not tenable. You can’t move on to what should come next when 70% of Republicans think Trump should be sworn in on January 20. You can’t reconcile with a party whose voters overwhelmingly believe the election was stolen from them.

Now, America will wait on the courts, which are conveniently stocked with judges appointed by Trump, and handpicked by Mitch McConnell. Don’t expect that all of the cases will be dismissed. Eventually, one or more of them will reach a Supreme Court that has three Justices who Trump has already said he expects will pay him back for their seats on the High Court. Add to them Alito and Thomas, and boom, we might have the Court overturning the election.

Yesterday, Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to block the certification of the Pennsylvania election results. Variations of the word “fraud” appear in the lawsuit 33 times, mostly in the context of prosecutions related to other elections. The only suspected instances of voter fraud cited in the complaint occurred in two counties that voted for Trump: Fayette, where Trump is winning by a 34 point margin, and Luzerne, where his lead is 14 points. The case has been assigned to US District Judge Matthew Brann, a Barack Obama appointee.

More and more Republicans are throwing in with Trump’s stolen-election whine fest. Axios reported that more foreign leaders have called to congratulate Biden than have GOP Senators.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said perhaps jokingly? There “will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” On Monday, Trump ordered senior government leaders to block cooperation with Biden’s transition team, escalating the standoff. That prompted the Biden team to consider legal action.

AG William Barr waded in to President Trump’s unfounded accusations of election irregularities by telling federal prosecutors that they were free to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified. Barr ignored the Justice Department’s longstanding (for 40 years) policies intended to keep law enforcement from affecting the outcome of an election.

This could become a battle about whether we remain a democratic republic. Trump supporters have already indicated what side of that battle they are on. So has the feckless Republican leadership. What can the Democrats do to prevent us from becoming an “illiberal democracy“?

Are they even aware that this is what may happen? Wrongo fears that the Dems are fighting the 20 year-old battle of Bush vs. Gore, not the current high-stakes battle for the soul of the nation.

This could fester for weeks, until the Electoral College meets on December 14. The damage could be incalculable.

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Monday Wake Up Call – November 9, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Starr’s Mill, GA – photo by Keith D Leman

We’ve bought some time, so let’s make sure we use it. Don’t drop your guard, people, we still have work to do after we’ve all had a turn at dancing in the streets.

The vote suppression, the sabotage of the US Postal Service, the attempted creation of a false narrative of vote fraud, all was overwhelmed by what will turn out to be nearly the 80 million Democratic voters.

Yet, many professional Democrats are in the throes of mortification. Why wasn’t the massive turnout an immediate repudiation of the deeply racist and misogynist Trump? Why didn’t the numbers create a blue tsunami?

You know how this goes: If Trump had squeaked out an Electoral College win while losing the popular vote, the GOP response would be: We have a mandate. But the real story is that Biden rebuilt the Blue Wall, flipped Arizona, Georgia, and NE-2, while winning the largest popular vote in history. Naturally, the Dems say: Oh no!

Biden won the White House. We’re going to have new cabinet members who won’t be corrupt. We’re going to have a new Attorney General and a civil rights division that won’t sit on its hands. We may get traction on climate change by rejoining the Paris Agreement. With a competent Secretary of State, we may rejoin the Group of Six trying to create a nuclear weapons-free Iran.

So, cool it. Our descent into authoritarianism has been averted for at least the next four years. Our democracy, such as it is, will be taken off life support. These are things worth celebrating.

Biden and Harris spoke on Saturday night about healing. They were brave words, but Biden has a big challenge trying to knit the country back together. Even now, the silence of Republican politicians is deafening. Why aren’t they stepping forward to congratulate the new president-elect?

Surely they know that Trump’s legal strategy is bogus, and doomed to fail. The Republicans in the Senate, with the exception of Mitt Romney, are playing along with Trump’s farcical claims of election fraud. So how will the healing happen? From Charlie Pierce: (brackets by Wrongo)

“Healing only works if the patient wants to be healed, and I fear that question is still very much open. Some 70 million of our fellow citizens wanted four more years of what we’ve had since 2016…They are convinced now that they’ve been cheated out of four more years of [that]….And they’re angry about it. As much as Biden talks about being a president for all of America, and he is unquestionably sincere about it, many of those 70 million people are completely unreachable.”

It’s important to remember that a person is rarely “cured” of cancer. Rather, doctors tell us to say it is “in remission”. Well, right now, fascism in America could be going into remission. The most dangerous symptom (Donald Trump) will be leaving power in January, but the underlying condition remains. Biden will need help from the Republican side of the aisle to bring a substantial number of our anti-Biden, anti-Democrat citizens to consider giving civility a chance.

Many Trumpers will be resistant to take a step toward a Democrat. They are very sad. They want us to really listen to them, because they have been so completely shut out of the discourse for the past four years. What do they think? What do they want from Biden?

Let’s not interpret a Biden win as an opportunity to indulge in the political equivalent of comfort food. We shouldn’t feel reassured or validated. There is nothing validating about 70+ million votes cast for Donald Trump. The struggle continues.

Our sense of purpose should be stronger than ever before. Per the GOP’s proven system, Trump will hand Biden a terrible economy, and quite possibly a pandemic for the ages. Biden will be pilloried, vilified and obstructed from the moment he takes power.

Yet, Wrongo is relieved, and we should be grateful.

But the Georgia runoffs loom in January, and the midterms are just 24 months away. So we shouldn’t complacent. Democrats happily enjoyed the Obama victory in 2008. We patted ourselves on the back for far too long, while the Republicans organized in earnest. Their eight years of work led to what today is the belligerent, fact-defying Trump coalition. Preventing 2022 from becoming another  2010 starts now.

So, time to wake up, Democrats! Trump isn’t going away, and neither is Trumpism, as shown by how few Republican politicians will congratulate the president-elect. To help shake you awake, listen to Taj Mahal sing “Your Mind’s on Vacation (and your mouth is working overtime)”, written by Mose Allison in 1976.

Whose mind’s on vacation while his mouth has been working overtime, Donny?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging, President-Elect Biden Edition

The AP declares it:

And you know what AP spelled backwards is? PA! Checkmate, you pieces of Trump! Wrongo will return to his usual complaining sometime next week when we start contemplating what comes next.

After four years of chaos, dysfunction, a huge dose of racism, over 230,000 dead from the virus, and massive job loss, why did nearly half this country vote for Trump? Why did half of us want four more years of his bullshit?

That we know the winner on Saturday morning, in the middle of a pandemic with a bunch of new voting rules that were written on the fly, is remarkable. Everything went really well (in the sense of knowing the results, not necessarily being happy with all of them). Enough with the slow vote counting memes.

To win, you have to finish first:

They don’t stop the count when you’re on the mats:

Trump’s lawyers try an unusual strategy:

Republicans are reduced to hunting in the dark:

Trump’s mantra:

Can’t wait for the Inauguration:

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Saturday Soother – Another Election Hot Take, November 7, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Fall Giving Way to winter, VT – October 2020 photo by Jennifer Hannux (hat tip Jeri S.)

Trump’s 17 minute debacle on our election process reminds Wrongo of FDR’s advice about public speaking: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated“. Trump wasn’t any of them.

If Wrongo was to ask how a specific county voted, giving you the following information, what would you say? This county is 96% Latino, the most Latino county in the US. Its poverty rate is 35% and its unemployment rate is 7.9%. It is also among the poorest counties in the US. Leading up to the election this fall, the county had a surge in Coronavirus cases that overwhelmed its only hospital, a 45 bed facility.

So, how would this county vote in 2020? In 2016, Clinton won it by 60%. In 2020, Biden won it by only 5%. We’re talking about Starr County, TX. Here’s a map with the 2020 election results superimposed:

This didn’t escape notice in the local paper, the Valley Central News. They quoted Political Science Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Natasha Altema, who said that the “defund the police” meme may have cost the Democrats: (Brackets by Wrongo)

“…we’ve seen throughout the Valley that law enforcement—whether if it’s in the form of policing or CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] —is very prominent here along the border”

Altema also said that local lack of understanding about the Black Lives Matter movement may have also caused a push-back:

“The association of Black Lives Matters with the Democrats would be a turnoff—right? Because of…lack of understanding or misinformation,”

BTW, all local races were won by Democrats.

This was a dramatic swing towards Trump in four years, particularly since this is predominantly a Mexican-American community that lives in a border town. The question has to be: Are we witnessing a dramatic and historic realignment?

This can be broadened to the entire country. Trump underperformed with white men, but made gains with every other demographic. Some 26% of his votes came from nonwhite Americans, the highest percentage for a Republican since 1960. As Matt Taibbi says:

“Trump doubled his support with Black women, moving from 4% in 2016 to 8%, while upping his support among Black men from 13% to 18%. Remember, this was after four years of near-constant denunciations of Trump as not just a racist, but the leader of a literal white supremacist movement…”

Earlier this week, Wrongo introduced the idea that people across demographic groups liked the policies of the Economic Left, but disliked the policies of the Cultural Left. Biden isn’t really a part of the Economic or Cultural Left, but he allowed himself to be called a “socialist” by the Economic Right. He was tagged with approving of “defund the police” by the Cultural Right. We know that the Democratic Party platform does not embrace “socialism.” Nor does Biden.

Don’t forget, the Democrats nominated exactly the candidate the Party centrists wanted. That didn’t change what Republicans said about him. Biden was the moderate in the race, but Republicans still called him a radical socialist.

The Dems need to make some political changes, or they’ll lose Starr County (and more) next time. But that requires a rethink of its policies toward working Americans to include: Health care, good jobs, safe streets, free education. The main policies supported by the Cultural Left do not look like winners in heartland America.

Finally, it’s bizarre that after all this time, Democrats can’t defend what they believe from the attacks by the Right. Some Dems continue to believe that if they change what they believe, it will change what Republicans say about them. It won’t. Changing to policies that align with what average Americans need may fashion a durable coalition of Rural and Urban voters.

Maybe by the time you read this, Biden will have been (nominally) declared the next President, subject to the legal skirmishes Trump has planned for him. Those legal battles probably won’t start until next week, so try to relax today with our Saturday Soother.

Temperatures will be in the 70’s on the fields of Wrong this weekend. That means that Wrongo will be putting up our deer fencing to protect Ms. Right’s plantings from becoming deer food when cold winter arrives.

We will try to de-stress from the election season, along with everyone else. To get us off to a good start, listen to the late Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” performed live by Eddie Vetter and Beyoncé in 2015 at the Global Citizen Festival. This performance includes a short part of a speech by Nelson Mandela. The song is more important now than ever:

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They’re Still Counting

The Daily Escape:

Truth spoken by an unknown pavement Plato

We’re all still waiting with fingers crossed as the vote tallies slowly grow amidst the remaining battleground states, and the blizzard of lawsuits by Trump across the country. Can the guy who wrote “Art of the Deal” close the deal?

It looks like we’ll know tomorrow.

It’s interesting that Trump is saying “Stop the count” on Twitter, because if all of the uncalled states really did stop the count, he’d lose, since Biden is ahead in Arizona and Nevada, which would give him 270 electoral votes.

What Trump really means is “Stop the count in states where I am ahead, but keep counting in states where I am behind.” Hard to have it both ways, Donnie boy.

Trump’s words have incited some of his followers to show up at ballot-counting sites, armed in some cases, to scream at poll workers. That has necessitated local law enforcement to show up to keep the counting sites secure and the poll workers safe.

Despite that, most of America understands we have to follow the math: Counties with small populations finish their vote counting early, and they tend to lean “right”. Counties with big populations take longer to count. They also have more mail-in votes to count. These are usually urban areas that usually lean “left”. What initially looks like a win for the “right” can slowly erode over time, as the higher populated areas finish counting and their report.

That isn’t proof of a conspiracy to steal an election, as maybe 10% of the Trump-faithful think. It’s been going on for decades, even if Trump has just recently discovered it. As Judd Legum notes, Trump’s various lawsuits sound ominous, raising the possibility of court decisions that could overturn the results of the election:

“But if you look at the details of these cases…they are far less menacing. They appear mostly designed to generate headlines that Trump is contesting the outcome, rather than cases that could determine the outcome of the race.”

Still, this will take at least a week, possibly two weeks to resolve. So let’s have a few hot takes on what just went down.

One key 2020 takeaway is that we had an election with what should have been a game-changing turnout, and instead, it arguably hurt Democrats down ballot. But it allowed the Dems to (probably) win the presidency with split-ticket voter support.

Second, Trump had built a broader coalition than we realized. It does seem clear that the Biden campaign had an ineffective engagement operation with Black and Latino voters. From CNN here’s a breakdown of voter share:

Trump lost support of many White men (down 13 points), but did better with White women (up three points) than in 2016. The bigger story was Biden underperformed Clinton’s margin of victory among voters of color by seven points as Trump did substantially better with both Black men and women.

Trump’s performance among Latinos should alarm Democrats. It helped him keep Florida, which has many Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans. But he trails in Arizona, which has more Mexican-Americans.

Biden’s argument in the primaries was that he could recapture some of the White, working class voters who went to Trump in 2016. He actually out-performed Clinton with both White men and women without college degrees. He made inroads with White college educated men, but underperformed Clinton among White college educated women.

Third, for all the effort that a lot of smart people have put into it, polling failed us again. There’s too much biased and missing data. People who don’t trust the polls don’t talk to pollsters. Sometimes they flat out lie. In battleground states, polls were consistently 3-6% over-optimistic for the Democrats in both 2016 and 2020. What does it say when people are dumb enough to vote for Trump, but smart enough to lie to a pollster?

Finally, we’re living in some horrible mashup of 2016 (a shocking defeat) and 2000 (a long drawn-out agony). We want answers but somebody is saying “You can’t handle the truth” (yet).

Let’s close by listening to the late Tom Petty. Here’s “The Waiting” (is the hardest part) played live by Tom Petty along with Eddie Vetter of Pearl Jam:

These lyrics sum up where we are right now:

The waiting is the hardest part

Every day you see one more card

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart

The waiting is the hardest part

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Nevada Is The Key

The Daily Escape:

Change of seasons, Groton MA – November 2020 photo by scojo415

As Wrongo writes this, there isn’t a winner in the 2020 presidential election. Of the 538 electoral votes, the candidates have been awarded 478 of them, with 60 still up for grabs in five states. Currently it’s Biden with 264 and Trump with 214 electoral votes.

A high turnout election was supposed to favor Democrats, according to the pundits. But we just had the highest voter turnout in a century, with Trump receiving even more votes than last time. And the race is closer than it’s been in a very long time.

There was a point on election night 2020 that Wrongo had the same bad feeling that he had on the Clinton vs. Trump election night in 2016. An awful feeling that everything he thought he knew about the election was wrong. How could so many people who have had 4 years’ experience with Trump and with all of the damage and dysfunction he brought, say “Sure, I totally want that guy to be my president again”?

As of now, Biden seems to have the better chance to win, but it would be the narrowest of victories. He has 264 electoral votes and is leading in Nevada, worth 6 electoral votes. This means the election could come down to Biden flipping Nevada, or Trump holding it. Nevada says there will be no update until Thursday, 10am PST. If Biden holds on to his slim lead, that would give him exactly 270 electoral votes, with no margin for error.

There’s plenty of danger ahead. If Biden has 270 votes, just one faithless Biden elector would mean a 269-269 tie, throwing the election to the House. That would mean a Trump victory, since each state delegation gets one vote each, so the fact that the Democrats once again have more votes, runs up against the Wisdom of the Framers.

Trump is in federal court trying to get Michigan to stop counting votes. He’s also asked the US Supreme Court to intervene in the Pennsylvania vote count, saying exactly what the campaign lost with earlier at the Supreme Court. BTW, ballot-counting in Philadelphia is being livestreamed.

It may be weeks before we know the final results, something that happens routinely in our built-by-hand electoral system. But it seems to be turning into a legal war.

When all the votes are counted, more than 70 million Americans will have voted for Trump. Even if Biden wins, America didn’t repudiate Trumpism. Republicans will keep control of the Senate. And while the Democrats will still control the House, they’ve lost seats.

A long election night was signaled early with Biden’s horrific performance in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where Biden apparently won by seven percentage points. In 2016, Hillary won it by nearly 30, so the scrounging by Biden for red state electoral votes began early.

It’s worth noting that while Florida went for Trump, they also voted overwhelmingly (61%-39%) for a $15/hour minimum wage. Florida’s “Amendment 2” raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026.

This shows how politics is shifting in America: The $15 minimum wage is a key part of the Democratic Party’s platform. But, it didn’t help Biden in Florida, where he ran well behind the Amendment with about 48% of the vote. There’s growing evidence that people who hate the cultural left actually like the policies of the economic left.

Democrats believed that donating huge sums of money was a proxy for grass-roots organizing. Most swing state Democratic candidates vastly outraised their Republican opponents, but there’s little to show for it now that the votes are in.

In 2020 Democrats ran to the center, after a primary season trying to run to the left. And it looks like they’ll win the White House, while visibly struggling in both Houses of Congress. How should we grade their results, or the results of the Republicans, if their incumbent president loses?

What should the election post-mortems for each Party say are their strengths and weaknesses, looking towards the 2022 mid-terms and the 2024 presidential election?

What will the Parties say about how the political polling could be so wrong for a second straight time? Will Democrats finally learn not to rely on it?

In closing, change is coming. It’s not as fast as we’d like, but much of that’s on us.

Wrongo is reminded of the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from their 1969 album “Let It Bleed”. Back in the 1960s the song referenced love, politics, and drugs. In 2020, it resonates about how our expectations often exceed what we deserve.

Chorus: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”

Just like puppies. They want treats all the time, but it’s kibble that helps them grow, and stay healthy.

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Monday Wake Up Call – 24 Hours to Go, November 2, 2020

(There will not be a column on Election Day or Wednesday unless something huge happens. Normal posting will resume on Thursday.)

The Daily Escape:

BREAKING! Investigation by the Wrongologist confirms Trump’s claims about voter fraud!

24 hours to go, fingers crossed. The next few days are going to have plenty of emotional ups and downs.

Even if the result is a Biden victory, waiting for it is going to be nearly unbearable. The alternative outcome? A disaster. Voters’ opinions always tighten in the last few days, so there isn’t a ton of reassurance to take from the last minute polls.

Wrongo wrote 25 posts in October, containing about 18,000 words, mostly about national politics. It seems like there shouldn’t be much more to say, but here goes.

With early voting nearly over, more than 91 million Americans have already cast their ballots. If the current rate holds, more than 100 million ballots will have been cast before Tuesday. That massive early turnout will equal about 72% of the 139 million votes cast in 2016, and for the first time in history, a majority of ballots will have been cast before Election Day.

Some slightly encouraging news. A new NYT/Sienna poll (November 1) shows Biden leading in several battleground states:

In Pennsylvania, Siena College says that only about 33% have voted early. Those who’ve already voted favor Biden 79%-16%. But among the two-thirds yet to vote, Trump has a 57%-34% lead. The math says that if those numbers hold, Biden will get 48.4% to Trump’s 42.9% of the vote, with ± 7% undecided. Trump would have to take all of the PA undecideds to come out on top, so Biden seems to have the advantage.

Again, this sounds good, but Republicans aren’t going to lay down in their efforts to steal the election.

For one piece of proof, the WaPo says that it reviewed an email in which Trump’s camp sought ballot security information from Cumberland County in Pennsylvania: They wanted the names of people who transport the ballots after the polls close, the names of people who have access to the ballots afterward, and precise information about where ballots are stored, including room numbers.

We know this because of an alarmed commissioner. You can bet this is going on across the US, and Trump is actively encouraging it. Here’s a 3am tweet:

“If Sleepy Joe Biden is actually elected President, the 4 Justices (plus1) that helped make such a ridiculous win possible would be relegated to sitting on not only a heavily PACKED COURT, but probably a REVOLVING COURT as well. At least the many new Justices will be Radical Left!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2020

Trump is making it clear not only that he is planning to contest the results of the election all the way to the Supreme Court, but that he fully expects the Court to hand him the win.

Think about this: Two years after Obama won in 2008, helped by an unprecedented small donor campaign, John Roberts writes the majority opinion in Citizens United which allows GOP donors to tip the scales going forward.

A year after Obama won in 2012 with record minority turnout, John Roberts wrote the majority opinion striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act which immediately led GOP-run states to enact barriers to minority voting.

And now SCOTUS, with three Justices (including Roberts) that were part of the Republican team in 2000 in Florida that helped GW Bush win at the Supreme Court, is poised to disqualify millions of legitimate votes to keep the GOP in power.

Robert Kagan in the WaPo had a great article on Friday:

“We kept counting on others to save us — our institutions, our political leaders, our courts — but help never arrived…And as we waited for someone, anyone, to do the right thing, we moved closer to the end….Now all we have left is the people. The voters, for all their failings, may prove more trustworthy than their supposed guardians. They may deliver us by delivering an irrefutable landslide to Biden. Or, failing that, by going out into the streets in an American version of “people power” to foil the plot against their democracy.”

Will the system work? That we even have to ask the question is the answer.

It may come down to mass demonstrations, just like we’ve seen in dictatorships. Sometimes the guns are aimed at the people; sometimes they’re aimed at the despot.

Wake up America, it comes down to us. At the ballot box, or if necessary, in the streets. To help you wake up, listen to “I Wanna Be Sedated” from the Ramone’s 1978 album “Road to Ruin”. Being sedated for the next few days doesn’t sound so bad:

Chorus:

Twenty, twenty, twenty, four hours to go

I wanna be sedated

Nothing to do, nowhere to go,

Oh I wanna be sedated

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – 48 Hours to Go Edition, November 1, 2020

Just 48 hours to go.

Has anyone else noticed that since his impeachment, Trump has lost a step? He no longer speaks about fighting the system, or his accomplishments. It’s all about how he’s been ganged up on, and mistreated. Maybe impeaching him wasn’t a complete failure after all.

We’ll see in two days if the blame game was a winning strategy:

It may be hopeful news or maybe just a deep fake, but several outlets are reporting that Trump has canceled his election night party. The party was to be held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, but instead, he’ll party at the White House.

But here’s a good reason to be nervous. Forbes reports that the Post Office is failing to deliver on time in key places:

“Battleground states in the presidential election are suffering from some of the worst ballot delivery delays in the country….and with state laws or court rulings requiring mail-in ballots to be received by Election Day, several states face a particularly high risk of voters having their ballots arrive too late to count, potentially impacting close races.”

Every Vote should be counted! Shouldn’t the Supreme Court support that?

Since January, the GOP has filed more than 230 lawsuits about voting:

Not all the gravestones are about Halloween:

The ghost of elections past:

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Saturday Soother – October 31, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Mohawk Trail, just off Route 2, near Williamstown, MA – October 2020 photo by Alahomora

Three days to go.

Happy Halloween, although at the Mansion of Wrong, All Hallows Eve is just another day. We’ve never had a human come to the door looking for treats. Let’s hope that tonight’s not the night.

The reality show that is 2020 really sucks. On Monday in NYC, a man fell about 15 feet into a pit of rats when a sidewalk sinkhole opened under him. He was injured and while he will recover, nobody will ever want his nightmares.

And early on Sunday morning, we turn the clocks back one hour when daylight saving time ends in most of the US. This year, more than 30 states considered legislation to make daylight saving time permanent, something that Wrongo endorses.

Roll Call has this about Trump’s closing argument:

“By arguing that the country is ‘rounding the corner’ on COVID-19 in the face of irrefutable data that the coronavirus is surging, Donald Trump risks appearing more and more out of touch with reality.”

But we know cases are way up. This is the NYT’s chart from Friday:

From the NYT:

“As of Friday morning, more than 9,024,100 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 228,700 have died…”

That’s roughly a 2.5% death rate since the virus came to our shores. It seems serious that cases are rising in most states, while deaths are rising in 24. The NYT reports that the top ten states with the highest death rates are: (in order) North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska, Idaho, Iowa and Utah.

Most of these states have significant populations that refuse to wear masks or practice physical distancing. Now, there clearly are people in America who won’t work for the common good, because their backs have never really been against the wall. We’ve become a soft, cartoonish version of what our parents and grandparents had to be in order to survive.

Americans play at being tough. Some of us strap on side arms or long guns to go to the supermarket. We complain when the internet is down because we can’t play Netflix or our favorite video game. We melt down on Facebook when someone objects to our little thoughts.

What this moment should have given all of us was a sense of common purpose that united us against an invisible enemy. Instead, it’s simply too hard for us to delay even a moment’s gratification in the face of the second wave of the pandemic.

Notice too that of those ten states, only one (Wisconsin) is a good bet to vote Blue next week. That’s not necessarily a problem, since the path to 270 for Biden looks like this:

If you look at voters in generational terms, Trump has turned into an electoral cul-de-sac. He’s simultaneously losing younger voters by a 2-to-1 margin, while also losing seniors by nearly 10 percent.

If you’re voting Blue this year regardless of your Party affiliation, you are indeed serving a common purpose, one that you will remember forever: When our democracy was on the brink of collapse, when our fellow Americans needed us, we came together to fire Donald Trump.

There are still a few days left to obsess about the election, but its Saturday, and we need our weekly break from the monster that sucks all of the happiness out of our lives. It’s time for our Saturday Soother.

We had snow on the fields of Wrong on Friday, and the weekend is bringing overnight temperatures in the 20’s, so few outdoor plants will survive that hard frost. We’ve still got a tree to plant that is supposed to arrive today, but Wrongo will wait for next week’s warmer weather to get it in the ground.

No coffee today, but a very relaxing video. The music is by Franz Schubert, his No. 4 Standchen from Schwanengesang, which means “swan song” in German. It’s from a collection of songs written by Schubert at the very end of his life. The Schwanengesangs were composed in 1828, and published in 1829, just a few months after the composer’s death. Franz Liszt later transcribed them for solo piano.

So a hopeful swan song for Trump, and a relaxing moment for all of us who listen today. Here the solo piano is played by Vadim Chaimovich.

The video combines Schubert with images of a Van Gogh painting. Pretty relaxing:

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Four Days to Go

The Daily Escape:

Full color at Smugglers Notch, Jeffersonville, VT – October, 2020 photo by Kyle Seymour Photography

Four days to go. Lots of people want to check out, to stop thinking about the election or about the Coronavirus. People are fatigued by the partisanship, by the tsunami of misinformation on social media, and the incessant and repetitive commercials.

Wrongo was texted nearly 20 times yesterday by various candidates begging for money. His email is flooded with all caps scare messages from the Parties or from specific candidates. Unsubscribing is fruitless, they will worry about that next month, if ever.

Who can blame people for wanting it to be over? The fact is, this whole Covid-45 presidency has been stressful, with little or no downtime for a break.

Here’s some frightening information: The NYT reports that the stress of presidential elections may increase the incidence of heart attacks and strokes: Scientists tracked hospitalizations for acute cardiovascular disease in the weeks before and after the 2016 presidential election, among about three million adults who were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health care system:

“The study, in PNAS, found that hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease in the two days following the election were 61% higher than in the same two days of the preceding week. The rate of heart attack increased by 67% and of stroke by 59% in the two days following the election. The results were similar regardless of the age, race or sex of the patients.”

Wow, we knew that Trump has been bad for the health of all Americans. But more heart attacks and strokes just because America holds an election?

So try and relax over the next few days. Protect yourself: Maybe go out to dinner on Election Night. Get a massage. Turn off notifications on your mobile phone, and don’t turn on your TV before 9pm.

There were two election cases decided by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. One was in North Carolina. From the AP:

That led to this tweet from Adam Sewer:

The other case was in Pennsylvania, where the Court refused a plea from Republicans that it decide before Election Day whether election officials can continue receiving absentee ballots for three days after Nov. 3. While the PA order was unsigned, it was apparently unanimous, though three justices (Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch) said the court might return to it after Election Day.

In the North Carolina case, the same three Justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said they would have granted requests from Republican lawmakers and the Trump campaign to block lower court rulings allowing the longer deadline.

The two cases involved similar issues. In Pennsylvania, the question was whether the state’s Supreme Court could override voting rules set by the state legislature. In North Carolina, the question was whether a state election board had the power to alter voting rules set by the legislature.

On Wednesday, Justice Alito said he thought that the election would be “conducted under a cloud”:

“I reluctantly conclude that there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election….Although the court denies the motion to expedite…[the petition] remains before us, and if it is granted, the case can then be decided under a shortened schedule.”

This is the Supreme Court saying that the election is proceeding under a cloud, and that they reserve the right to revisit their opinion!

They just gave Trump a green light to protest the election.

We should never normalize how bizarre it is that we are all having to expend an inordinate amount of energy making sure that our votes get counted. Even the Supreme Court isn’t clearly on the correct side of making certain that all votes count. That shouldn’t be normal.

America’s in the midst of changing how we vote, from largely in-person on Election Day, to largely In advance, either by mail or through in-person early voting. States and counties need to adapt to this revolutionary change, and that will take time to get it right.

We should designate Election Day as a National Holiday.

America actually holds 50 state elections for president, not a national election. We need to change state and local laws to allow for counting the early voting before Election Day. All states should count all ballots so long as they are postmarked on Election Day. After all, the IRS accepts your tax return without penalty based on the postmark, not when it is opened.

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