Trump’s End Game

The Daily Escape:

”The Gates” by Christo, Central Park, NYC – 2005. A series of 7,503 vinyl “gates” were installed along 23 miles of Central Park pathways. The exhibit ran for 15 days, from February 12, 2005 through February 27, 2005. Wrongo and Ms.Right saw it on February 13th 2005.

From the AP:

“Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”

Nothing Barr says makes any difference to the Trump true believers. Many Trump supporters have been calling for investigations by the FBI and Justice Department, but the Justice Department won’t be going there.

It makes no difference to the lawyers trying to make a buck on Trump’s quasi-legal actions. And there is quite a troop of legal monkeys like Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, Lin Wood and Joe DiGenova. And some are spewing hate messages while reinforcing the Trump message of voter fraud. Here are two:

Lin Wood is a Georgia-based attorney best known for representing the wrongly accused bomber, Richard Jewell. He also apparently represents Donald Trump.

Joseph DiGenova, who is still helping Giuliani in challenging the 2020 presidential election results said this on a radio show about Chris Krebs, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who was fired by Trump after saying America held its “most secure election”:

“Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity. That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

Wrongo is an advocate of free speech, but these people are fomenting assassination and a civil war, and should be stopped. Chris Krebs apparently is suing DiGenova.

But for Trump, the effort to destroy democracy is profitable. By pretending he didn’t lose, and has some legal avenues to remain in power, Trump gets to use the money he raises on pretty much whatever he wants. According to the NYT, so far, Trump has raised $170 million. The WaPo describes the funds-raising as using “a blizzard of misleading appeals about the election”. And Kurt Andersen tweets that:

“Donors on Mr. Trump’s website are opted in with a prechecked box to make monthly contributions.”

But as of Monday, all of the key swing states that Trump has been contesting — Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada — all certified Biden’s victory.

In other words, the 2020 election is over. Again.

But there also seems to be time for some hot elephant on elephant action: Republicans in Ohio have decided to try and impeach their Republican governor, Mike DeWine over his effort to contain the spread of Covid. DeWine imposed a three-week curfew from 10 pm to 5 am, and his fellow Republicans are outraged.

On Monday, Arizona’s Republican governor Ducey held a short ceremony to certify Joe Biden’s election win. He also certified the election of Democrat Mark Kelly to the US Senate. During the ceremony, Trump called on Ducey’s mobile phone, but he didn’t pick it up; he kept speaking. Trump did not take that well. He called into an Arizona election hearing Rudy Giuliani was holding, and said to the audience:

“Arizona will not forget what Ducey just did…”

You see, for Republicans, freedom isn’t free. My freedom costs yours. Democrats and other Leftists would be able to understand this, if only they loved America and freedom like Republicans do.

Republicans have been pushing extreme conspiracy theories at least since the 1950s with McCarthy and the John Birch Society. These are the same people whose fathers had “Jane Fonda Traitor Bitch” bumper stickers in the 80s and accused every liberal of being a communist. It’s natural enough that after 70 years, they really believe them. The Trumpers do not understand how a candidate who could fill arenas could lose to a candidate who barely left home.

So what’s Trump’s end game? Money in the bank can fund a presidency-in-exile. A significant portion of his dedicated followers certainly plan to stay engaged. There’s even some evidence that he may try to torpedo the Georgia Senate races. A recent poll showed that 54% of Republicans want Trump to run again in 2024.

OTOH, if that poll is correct, millions of Trump voters are done with him. Maybe he runs. But it may be that the rest of the GOP are ready to turn to one of the younger, more promising Republican creeps in the Senate.

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Hello Darkness My Old Friend

The Daily Escape:

Yachats, OR – November 2020 photo by Roberta Johnson

Did you realize that the Republicans have made it a long-term strategy to delegitimize the last four Democratic presidents? That includes Carter, Clinton, Obama and now, Biden.

What tactics the GOP will use against Biden probably haven’t been fully fleshed out yet, but it’s still seven days until the Electoral College’s “Safe Harbor” date; 13 days until Electoral College votes are cast; and 50 days until Joe Biden is inaugurated.

There’s plenty of time for their plan to come together, but you can be sure that it will be déjà vu all over again. What we already know is that many Republicans are already coming out of the woodwork to criticize Biden or his nominees to various key positions. From the WaPo:

“In near-identical tweets this week, GOP senators Tom Cotton (AK), Josh Hawley (MO) and Marco Rubio (FL) all came out pretty aggressively against Biden’s Cabinet picks.”

The common thread of their tweets is a resistance to the educated, steeped-in-government expertise that Biden wants to shape his government with. Imagine the anti-elitists making that argument: Cotton graduated from Harvard undergraduate, and Harvard Law. Hawley graduated from Stanford, and Yale Law School. All three Senators voted for Trump’s Cabinet, which was filled with people who also went to Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools. Trump also bragged about going to an Ivy League school.

Even Larry Hogan, Republican governor of Maryland, who told Trump to concede, saw fit on Monday to endorse the two Georgia Republican Senate candidates, Loeffler and Perdue. So even the better ones aren’t changing their spots.

And we still have the twin Republican stains on the country: Eleven months into the Covid mess, sourcing sufficient testing is still a struggle, and we’re still short on PPE. As Robert Reich said:

“Leave it to Trump and his Republican allies to spend more energy fighting non-existent voter fraud than containing a virus that has killed 244,000 Americans and counting.”

The cost of the Republicans’ misplaced attention is clear: While Covid-19 surges to record levels, there’s still no national strategy for sourcing PPE or tests. There’s no national standard for stay-at-home orders, or mask mandates. There’s no funding for additional Covid relief.

Instead, the Republicans have led millions of Trump voters to believe the election was stolen. They will be a hostile force for years, supporting Trump’s presidency-in-exile at least until the 2024 elections. Delegitimizing Biden will pull lots of money into Trump’s newly formed PAC. It also allows Trump to keep himself at the center of media attention.

One thing this delegitimizing of Biden will do is keep the political gridlock going for another four years.

That will continue to enable the 40-year old Republican heist. According to a recent Rand study, if America’s distribution of income had remained the same as it was in the three decades after WWII, the bottom 90% of Americans would now be $47 trillion richer. More from Reich:

“The upward redistribution of $47tn wasn’t due to natural forces. It was contrived. As wealth accumulated at the top, so did political power to siphon off even more wealth and shaft everyone else.”

Today, we live in the richest third world country on the planet. Since Covid hit, the rich got richer. The Treasury and the Fed bailed out big corporations but let small businesses go under. Since March, billionaire wealth has soared while most of America has become poorer.

By the end of this pandemic, Trump’s legacy will have entered Pol Pot territory. He’s been ever-present, even while being a terrible president. There were no checks or balances. The GOP gave him everything he wanted, up to and including a theocratic SCOTUS.

Now we need to make sure we’ll never have another authoritarian President. We’ll do that by cleaning out the political rot. It will be hard work, it means that we need to be citizens, not merely consumers. With the Conservatives trying to combine Church and State with big business, what must be done will be hugely difficult to accomplish.

Ruminate on the return of the darkness by listening to Disturbed’s cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence”. Perhaps the best cover song ever:

Listen carefully to the words, and you will understand the story of the decline of our values and our country.

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Monday Wake Up Call – November 30, 2020

We’re back from our turkey-induced coma, but it’s hard to start a new week without our usual Sunday humor:

Yummy Thanksgiving pie:

Looking forward to the Inauguration:

This Thanksgiving, Biden thanked all the front line workers for all they have done. Trump thanked all of his lawyers.

Wrongo hadn’t realized that Trump has now spent more than an entire year of his term on a Trump property (418 days), and 307 days playing golf. Imagine how much more damage he could have done if he wasn’t so lazy.

Why is it so difficult for Americans to understand the threat to our society from Covid? From the WaPo: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“In nine states, more than 1 in 1,000 people have now died of coronavirus-related causes, while daily covid-19 deaths nationwide are climbing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic.”

A few long-reluctant Republican governors recently adopted statewide mask orders and stricter social distancing measures. But not all: For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), last Tuesday extended an executive order that bans city and county governments from enforcing mask ordinances or limits on restaurant capacity. South Dakota’s governor Kristi Noem (R) is still resisting any kind of mask mandate. Nebraska’s governor Pete Ricketts (R) again stated his opposition to mask mandates, while Nebraska’s rural hospitals are nearly at capacity, as are bigger cities, like Lincoln.

White, rural American states are late to the pandemic’s deadly impact – partly due to how physically distant their residents are, by definition. But rural states have the smallest margin for error in terms of health care infrastructure. Their lack of ICU capacity combined with their relative inability to handle delivering the new vaccines when they become available, may see rural Trump-loving Americans take a much harder hit than they expected from Covid.

The exact criteria for who will be first in line won’t be defined until immediately after a vaccine is authorized. But the pressure’s on: The WSJ reported that United Airlines is already flying doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to points around the country in order to be prepared for distribution, if Pfizer wins government approval.

Think about the enormous pressure there is on the FDA to approve use of these vaccines. That approval starts with a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). The FDA has scheduled a Committee meeting on Dec. 10 to discuss the request for emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine.

As of now, the FDA hasn’t made the names of Committee members’ public. But imagine if there are a few Committee members who disagree that the vaccine should be made available immediately.

This recently happened with an Alzheimer’s drug. The FDA’s review division reported that the drug’s effectiveness data was “extraordinarily persuasive”.  But many on that drug’s Advisory Committee rejected the study, saying that the data showed the drug offered no significant improvement to patients.

Now, the FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its outside advisors, but it often does. So what happens if the Pfizer Committee has a split decision?

Finally, the Supreme Court’s decision in a Covid case about whether or not a state official could close down places of worship in order to stop the spread of a deadly disease, seems out of step with where we are in America. They ruled that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

That’s a huge shift since Coney Barrett joined the court. In a similar case earlier this year, the court declined to lift pandemic restrictions in California and Nevada when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was alive.

But the longer term issue isn’t the possible infringement of individual religious liberty. It’s how the American Right wants to expand it so that religious people can ignore just about any law they don’t like.

The problem with this decision is that it expands an individual right to a communal right. A religious person should be able to follow their faith, but once you start giving religious communities separate rights, you’ve weakened the rule of law.

Your exercise of a right shouldn’t impose unreasonable burdens on others. But Conservatives want to treat religion as having a higher level of rights then others’ individual rights, and this isn’t right.

Time to wake up America! The fault lines of our society have been exposed by Covid and the Republican response to it. To help you wake up, listen to a cover version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his siblings. He became an instant sensation after his cello performance at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle. Watch it, you won’t be dissapointed:

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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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