Political Implications of the New Census Data

The Daily Escape:

Nathan’s Batteries, a converted Esso station, Wilkesboro NC. –  February 2021 photo by Greg Kiser Photography

The Census announced the Congressional reapportionments from the 2020 census: Texas picked up two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each picked up one seat.

California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all lost one seat.

Here are a few quick observations regarding how the Electoral College has shifted since 1959, when Hawaii became the 50th state: (h/t Paul Campos)

  • California, Florida, and Texas have collectively picked up 58 electoral votes (This census is the first time California has lost a congressional seat since it became a state).
  • New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have together lost 38 electoral votes.
  • West Virginia has suffered the biggest proportional decline, losing half its electoral votes.
  • Florida and Arizona have enjoyed the largest proportional gains, tripling (FL), and nearly tripling (AZ) their representation in the Electoral College respectively.

And counting mattered. A couple of the shifts were by razor-thin margins, with New York losing a seat by just 89 people and Minnesota holding on to one by just 26 people. The news is generally good for Republicans. They control the redistricting process for five of the seven new seats.

The Cook Political Report estimates the shifts are worth about 3.5 seats to Republicans, which if no other seat shifted in the coming midterms, would put the House near-even (either 218-217 or 219-216 in Democrats’ favor, versus the current 222-213).

But the most perilous statistic is that Republicans control 61 of the 99 state legislative chambers and almost 55% of the state legislative seats, giving them control of redistricting and ultimately, a good shot at preserving the possibility of controlling one or both Houses of Congress.

In August, the Census Bureau is expected to release detailed information showing down to the block, where nearly every person lives. New legislative maps will be redrawn in each state to ensure equal representation. Right now, the GOP controls more statehouses overall and has an edge in growing states. Republicans will only need to net a handful of seats to control the House.

This is made worse if we remember that in June, 2019, in Rucho v. Common Cause, the Supreme Court essentially gave partisan gerrymandering its constitutional blessing by ruling that local political decisions are non-justiciable.

From Charlie Pierce: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“You have to have some appreciation for what a perfectly complete whole the conservative project is. By pressing every advantage…they have gained sufficient control of the process to defuse most progressive initiatives, to defang most governors if the state happens to…elect a Democrat, and to arrange for the various judicial branches to be their ultimate backup.”

Overall, the US population grew to 331 million, a 7.4% growth rate since 2010. This is the second slowest rate of population growth the census has ever recorded, just behind the 7.3% growth in the 1930s. That decade’s slowed growth was rooted in the Great Depression. From the WaPo:

“Unlike the slowdown of the Great Depression, which was a blip followed by a boom, the slowdown this time is part of a longer-term trend, tied to the aging of the country’s White population, decreased fertility rates and lagging immigration.”

This decade’s sluggish growth started in the Great Recession. Its weak recovery saw many young adults struggling to find jobs, while delaying marriage and starting a family. That blow to the nation’s birthrate was exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.

West Virginia and Maine saw deaths exceed births over the decade.

Most demographers forecast even slower population growth in the coming decades. For the first time, we have more people over the age of 80 than under age 2. The median age in the US is 38, up one year since 2010. Going forward, the number of people over age 65, will grow faster than younger cohorts.

What about counting Latinos? Texas, Florida, and Arizona had been predicted to gain more seats but didn’t. It’s possible that Latinos weren’t properly counted. They make up a large segment of the population in the three states that didn’t gain expected seats. Some point to Trump who tried to intimidate immigrants or people in the country illegally from participating in the Census. Additionally, the pandemic made it difficult to reach certain populations.

Now it will be a bare-knuckle fight between the Parties in most states to win the gerrymander war.

That will be watched closely by candidates across the country who need to decide how redistricting affects their chances of winning an election.

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Demographic Analysis of Pro-Trump Congressional Districts

The Daily Escape:

Three Sisters, Goblin Valley State Park, UT – photo by jonnyboy_wanderlust

As Wrongo writes this, the House has voted for a second Trump Impeachment. The process began with votes on rules and procedures. Most Republicans argued that impeachment would be divisive. That’s rich, given that for four years they have supported and encouraged the divisive lies and actions of Donald Trump.

But now, it’s suddenly critical that we “heal.” Of course it is.

A majority of House Republicans objected to the certification of Electoral College votes from the swing states of Arizona and Pennsylvania. Even more Republicans voted against the House motion to ask Mike Pence to begin the process required by the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Now it’s on to a second impeachment. A grand total of ten House Republicans (out of 211) voted along with all House Democrats to impeach Trump. According to the WaPo, McConnell has decided not to convene the Senate for an emergency trial, meaning the trial will fall to the newly Democrat-controlled Senate after January 20.

Back to the House Republicans: Jacob Whiton wrote an interesting demographic and economic analysis of the constituencies represented by the 139 House Republicans who objected to the certification of at least one state’s Electoral College results. His aim is to clarify the demographics of where right-wing authoritarianism has taken root. Overall he found that:

“The Republican Party’s most Pro-Trump House members have been elected by…white homeowners in the fast-growing exurban fringe. They feel the social status traditionally associated with their identity as white Christians is being degraded and that left wing political movements pose a threat to their livelihoods and political power. In reaction, they have lashed themselves to a movement within the Republican Party led by President Trump that seeks to defend the privileges of property-owning white Americans in our political system, economy, and public life.”

The districts represented by the most committed Pro-Trump Republicans are fast-growing, rapidly diversifying suburbs. Places where inequalities between white homeowners and their non-white neighbors have been shrinking, and where low voter turnout has helped deliver reliable Republican victories.

Residents of objectors’ districts are more than twice as likely as residents of other Republican districts to live in “sparse suburban areas.” These districts are among the fastest-growing districts in the country, with population growth outpacing that in districts represented by Democrats or other Republicans over the last 20 years.

Almost all of this growth has been among non-white groups, specifically Latinos and Asian Americans, resulting in a dramatic shift in the demographic composition of these districts:

In the objectors’ districts, residents under the age of 18 are 3.6 times more likely to be Hispanic and 1.6 times more likely to be Black or Asian American than those over the age of 65. This means that in these districts, debates about Social Security and Medicare, public education and housing are highly polarized.

District constituents of the Republican objectors tend to have the lowest levels of formal educational attainment. In their districts, on average, 68% of white homeowners do not have a four-year degree and their median home value is the lowest:

Whites in Republican objectors’ districts are considerably more likely to own their own home and earn higher incomes than other racial groups, except for Asian Americans. But White homeowners’ perception of loss of status relative to upwardly mobile Hispanic and Asian American households is a key social context which is driving Trumpism’s nativist politics.

White evangelical Christians have been Trump’s most unwavering base of support. In more than half of Republican objectors’ districts, evangelicals account for at least a fifth of constituents, making them far more likely to represent evangelicals in Congress than other Republicans or Democrats.

White evangelical Protestants stand far apart in their politics. The Public Religion Research Institute’s 2020 American Values survey found that they are the only group where a majority expresses a preference for living in a country “made up of people who follow the Christian faith”.

They are the only group for whom abortion and terrorism rank in their top three most important issues. They are also the least likely to agree that President Trump has encouraged white supremacist groups, although a majority of Americans overall do.

Whiton found that workers in the Republican objectors’ districts are more likely to be employed in sectors of the economy Trump has routinely identified as most threatened by the political left: mining and oil and natural gas extraction, heavy manufacturing, and law enforcement.

Whiton concludes with a note of optimism: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“The fact that Republican objectors command the least popular support among their own constituents of any congressional elected officials in the country is both a testament to their effectiveness in entrenching their own power and also the foundation on which we must ground our hopes for political change to end minority rule.”

Perhaps we should focus our voter turnout activities in these Republican objectors’ districts.

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Monday Wake Up Call – The Republican’s Electoral Vote Ploy

The Daily Escape:

Mammoth Terraces, Yellowstone NP – photo by Jack Bell Photography

This picture is a perfect metaphor for America at the start of 2021. What we see is beautiful, but it sits on top of a mega-volcano that could erupt at any time. This could describe what our nation sees in January.

Little in America works anymore. Friend of the blog Pat M. said that when she asked the food bank in her small coastal town on the New Jersey shore what they needed most, they said “diapers”. Her town is an upscale place that much like down-scale places across America, has citizens in desperate need.

Imagine being a mom in middle class America who can’t afford to diaper her baby….

Our politics (and our politicians) have failed our people. There’s plenty of proof of that: The hard-hearted inability of Congress to pass relief legislation until it may have been too late for some. And the so-far disastrous federal rollout of the coronavirus vaccine proves that the Trump administration is incompetent at their jobs.

Democracy now starts its first week of 2021 living dangerously. We knew that a few Republicans would object to the counting of the Electoral Votes of certain states. That the certification of Electoral Votes would be delayed to handle objections by politically motivated back-benchers in both Houses of Congress. This game plays out on Wednesday. We’ll watch Republicans attempt to throw out enough of the votes of Americans in a few states, to keep Trump in power.

That effort will fail, but we should see it for what it is. There’s a through line from impeaching Bill Clinton, to refusing Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, to Republicans in Congress refusing to confirm the election of Joe Biden. From Paul Campos:

“The logical and perhaps inevitable extension of the principle ‘we won’t confirm any Democratic Supreme Court nominee if we have the votes to block it’ is ‘we won’t confirm any Democratic winner of a presidential election if we have the votes to block it.’”

Republicans don’t have the votes to block Biden right now, but it’s one of their goals for the  future. Back to Campos:

“…Don’t fall for the claim that Mitch McConnell in particular was powerless here: The Senate majority leader has enormous formal and informal power to sanction deviationist members, by for example stripping committee assignments, blocking pet legislation, calling big soft money donors etc…”

From the NYT:

“Vice President Mike Pence signaled support on Saturday for a futile Republican bid to overturn the election in Congress next week, after 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory when the House and Senate meet to formally certify it.”

The NYT normally pulls its punches, but this article speaks of “unambiguous results,” that every state has “certified the election results after verifying their accuracy,” and that Republicans have attempted to question those results by “offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred” and amplified them via “specious claims of widespread election rigging that have been debunked and dismissed.

That the Times says straight out that the GOP wants to overturn the election doesn’t matter at all to today’s Republican Party.

Our social and political systems depend on the maintenance of informal norms as much as they depend on adherence to formal rules. Our most basic norm is the assumption that sociopaths are and will remain, unable to control our systems. We count on society’s guardrails to keep us from flying off the track. Here’s something to think about:

  • All of Congress were elected in November, including those Republicans who are objecting to the election results.
  • Among the Senators signing onto the effort are: Steve Daines (R-MT), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), all elected in November.

All are objectors to Biden’s election, but none of them are objecting to their own wins on the same day, on the same ballots, using the same election systems.

Let’s give the last word to Heather Cox Richardson:

“Democracy depends on a willingness to transfer power peacefully from one group of leaders to another. By revealing that they refuse to do so, the members of the “Sedition Caucus,” as they are being called on social media, are proving they are unworthy of elected office.”

Wake up America! The next time you see a Republican lose it when an athlete takes a knee during our National Anthem, remind them that they sat back and watched Trump and his supporters attempt to dismantle our democracy.

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Saturday Soother – December 12, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Cathedral Spires, Black Hills SD – 2020 photo by Max Foster

We’re stumbling into another December weekend without a bailout package for those who are still unemployed in the pandemic. The WaPo’s headline says it all: “More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic.” This is caused at least in part, by people going without jobs or unemployment insurance while waiting for the Senate and Mitch McConnell to come up with a bill that provides Americans the aid they need.

But the biggest news of the week was that the Supreme Court declined to hear the case brought by Texas asking the Court to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and declare Trump to be the winner. The Supreme Court wrote:

“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot,”

In case you’re wondering, Trump’s three new appointments didn’t support hearing the case. Whoever talked Trump out of appointing his kids, Eric, Ivanka and Junior to the Court had better lay low for the next few days. The Supreme Court deserves credit for rejecting an attempt to destroy American democracy, but many of those Republicans who joined the lawsuit, deserve our harshest judgment.

Adam Sewer of The Atlantic tweeted:

People have argued that because Trump hasn’t overturned an election, that we can now relax: The “system worked”, there were no tanks in the streets. But Republicans chose sides this week. More than half (126) of the Republicans in the House of Representatives signed onto Texas’s failed lawsuit, along with 17 Republican attorneys-general. Republicans must own up to their anti-democratic actions.

Once this is over, and Trump is living in Florida and is acting as president-in-exile, we’ll need to hold all of his seditious minions accountable. Unsurprisingly, this failed lawsuit came from the Party that claims to oppose “judicial activism.”

But enough of all of this big news, Wrongo was attracted to an Ars Technica story that reported on researchers teaching lab rats to drive little electric cars. The research was aimed at learning what effect the environment a rat was raised in had on its ability to learn new tasks. The team, led by Richmond University professor Kelly Lambert, decided to teach them to drive not just navigate another maze.

But if you’re going to teach rats to drive, first you need to build them a car (an ROV or, Rat Operated Vehicle). The chassis and powertrain came from a robot car kit, and a transparent plastic food container provided the body:

The controls were three copper wires stretched across an opening cut out of the front, with an aluminum plate on the floor. When a rat stood on the plate and gripped a copper bar, a circuit was completed, and the motors engaged: one bar made the car turn to the left, one made it turn to the right, and the third made it go straight ahead. Sounds hard, but it didn’t take long for the rats to learn how to drive. Their goal was to drive the car to a food treat.

The rats had three five-minute training sessions a week for eight weeks, and they learned to drive!

The placement of the treat and the starting position and orientation of the car varied, so the rats had a different challenge each time. At the end of the experiment, each rat went through a series of trials, conducted a few days apart, where they were allowed to drive around the arena. One experiment had them driving without food treats, to see if they were only doing driving to get food.

Some who were quicker to start driving continued to be more interested in driving, even when there was no reward beyond the feel of moving without using their feet.

Uber is excited by this news and may try to replace human drivers. It’s their Holy Grail: drivers that do it for the love of driving and don’t ask for pay, benefits, or even treats.

On to the weekend! We’re finishing up the Christmas decorations in the Mansion of Wrong, although there will be very few visitors this time. So grab an ornament, and listen to the Dave Brubeck Quartet play “Take Five” from their 1959 ground-breaking album, “Time Out”. The tune was written by Paul Desmond, here on alto saxophone, Brubeck on piano, Teo Macero, drums and Eugene Wright on bass. Have a martini on the house:

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Trump’s Real Plan is Working

The Daily Escape:

Snow in the Bigelow Preserve, Stratton, ME – December 2020 photo by CaptainScrummy

So you think that America will cruise in to the acceptance of the Electoral College vote by a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, and Trump and the millions of members in his Lost Cause will just fade away? Think again:

The past four years have been a train wreck, and Trump has been the conductor.

In one way, Trump’s attempted soft coup is failing. After all, his hand-packed Supreme Court wouldn’t hear the case designed to overturn Pennsylvania’s election win for Biden. Yet, as the tweet above shows, Trump’s continuing effort to poison our voting process may yet lead to some terrible things.

But, is PA Sen Ward telling us the truth? Does she really fear Republican partisans? Or, is this an ex-post excuse for doing what they all wanted to do anyway? WaPo’s Greg Sergeant makes a good point:

“What matters is that many of them (Republicans) are entirely willing to support specific concrete actions to steal the election on Trump’s behalf.”

Aaron Blake notes that state GOP officials so far have overwhelmingly sided against Trump’s voter fraud claims, when they are forced to decide. But as we showed on Monday, Republicans are keeping their powder dry waiting for the House and Senate meetings to accept the Electoral College votes: (brackets by Wrongo)

“…just as notable as the lack of Republicans willing to say Biden is the president-elect is the lack of buy-in on Trump’s claims from other Republicans. They…have a choice to make if their colleagues press the issue, [by arguing against acceptance of the Electoral College vote at the January 6 joint session of Congress]”

Jonathan Last makes it clear what’s going on:

“Everyone laughs at how stupid the Trump lawsuits are. Can you believe these morons? They lose everywhere! Even Republican judges keep slapping them down! How embarrassing for Trump!

But that’s the wrong way to think about Trump’s actions since November 3. Because his goal hasn’t been to keep the office of the president. It’s been to keep the Republican Party.”

More:

“On the morning of November 4, Donald Trump faced two problems. The first was that he was going to lose the power of the presidency. The second was that this loss endangered his ownership of the GOP.”

Last says that for Trump, the lawsuits, the posturing, the attempted coup— all would still be nice if he were to be re-inaugurated January 21. But that’s a secondary objective. The primary objective was to stop the Republican Party from leaving him:

“…owning a major political party isn’t as useful as being president. But it’s not nothing….In a two-party system, you can exert a great deal of power by being the head of a Party. You have businesses and foreign governments that will pay tribute to you. You have an audience of something like 40 million partisans who can be mined for contributions and mobilized as a flash mob whenever you need them.”

Unfortunately, these millions out in TrumpWorld don’t know they’re being conned. They still actually believe that Trump will win reelection.  That’s dangerous, because many of them will be shocked when reality hits. What is most worrisome is the possibility of something happening that makes them feel they have license for mass violence. We can try to minimize the threat posed by Republican passivity, but there are always lone wolves who will try to do horrible things.

Can the Republican Party move on from Trump? It could, but that requires the next generation of ambitious presidential aspirants to replace Trump in the daily political discussion. But Trump won 74 million votes, more than any other Republican, just last month. And the base’s acceptance of Trump’s claim that he really won preempts the plans of the next generation.

The other Republican presidential aspirants have realized that the best path forward is to say they believe the voter fraud line. That means their incentive is to outbid their peers in expressing support for Trump’s claims of victory. Let’s leave it to Jonathan Last to close:

“….the minimum ante for Republican politics is now support for an insane conspiracy theory.”

Unlike his predecessors, Trump has not called Biden, much less invited him to the White House. Trump has indicated that he may not attend Biden’s inauguration, which would make him the first sitting president since Andrew Johnson in 1869 to refuse to participate in the most important ritual of the America’s democratic transfer of power.

Our democracy is on a knife edge right now. Even if we’re certain that Biden will prevail, the kowtowing to Trump by Republicans isn’t going to end soon, or well.

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Monday Wake Up Call – December 7, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Crater Lake, OR – November 2020 photo via imagur. This is the fifth time we’ve featured Crater Lake.

What’s it gonna take for America to wake up to the Republican’s ongoing attempted coup? From the WaPo:

“Just 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Joe Biden’s win over President Trump a month after the former vice president’s clear victory of more than 7 million votes nationally and a convincing electoral-vote margin that exactly matched Trump’s 2016 tally.”

A team of 25 Post reporters contacted aides for every Republican by email and phone asking three questions: 1) Who won the presidential contest? 2) Do you support or oppose Trump’s continuing efforts to claim victory? 3) If Biden wins a majority in the Electoral College, will you accept him as the legitimately elected president? Most refused to answer. Here are the WaPo’s findings in a chart:

When 215 of the 249 Republicans in Congress (86%) refuse to answer whether Biden would be the legitimately elected president, we’re looking at an attempted coup. These people aren’t waiting to get all the facts, or let the process play out. We shouldn’t be calling it anything else.

Just three state elections were really close — that is, decided by less than a one percent margin: Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Biden won all of them. The only semi-close state that Trump won was North Carolina, by a 1.3% margin. But had the three really close states gone for Trump, we would be looking at an Electoral College (EC) tie, 269-269. Then the House would re-elect Trump, thanks to the Constitutional process for breaking Electoral College ties, which gives each state one vote in the House to determine the next president.

Republicans control a majority of the seats in 26 House delegations, Democrats control 22, with two split evenly. That would mean a Trump re-election. It’s important to again emphasize that the EC would then have overturned the clear will of the people, showing how terribly flawed the EC truly is.

Since Republicans are still unwilling to say Biden won, even though all three of those states have certified him as the winner, imagine what we would be going through today if a single state hung in the balance?

And if the election had come down to a margin of a few thousand votes in Pennsylvania, you better believe the Supreme Court would have happily voted to toss out enough votes to provide a Republican victory. We shouldn’t feel sanguine about Biden’s clear victory.

We saw this in Wisconsin. Their Supreme Court just had a couple of 4-3 decisions on ridiculous cases brought by Trump, cases that argued for decisions that would be contrary to their constitution. Three of the four Republican judges voted with Trump anyway. Fortunately, one Republican judge actually cared a little about the law. That’s just too close.

And Politico is reporting that Rep. Mo Brooks, (R-AL) plans to challenge the Electoral College votes when Congress moves to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6. He’s looking for a Senator to join his challenge, though he noted that doing so would largely be a symbolic, and not practical, undertaking.

Time to wake up America! Our democracy is hanging by a thread. Despite Biden receiving more votes than any other president, despite getting the largest vote percentage against an opponent since 1932 (when Roosevelt defeated Hoover), Trump is still trying to overturn the election. And most Republicans are silent or looking the other way, hoping Trump succeeds.

To help you wake up, listen to Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite perform “What the Hell” which they released in August. You get Charlie’s harmonica and Elvin’s guitar. It’s a protest song for our times:

Here are their great lyrics:

Look at the shape, the shape the Nation’s in
This situation is a shame and a sin
I want to know, how could a good thing go so wrong?
Tell me, what the hell is going on?

Sometimes I don’t know whether to cry or laugh
Half the people in this country can’t stand the other half
I want to know, why can’t we halfway get along?
People, people, what the hell is going on?

He is the president but wants to be the king
Know what I like about the guy? Not a goddamn thing
I want to know, how can four years seem so long?
Lord have mercy, what the hell is going on?

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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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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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