A Tale of Two Debates

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Shenandoah NP, VA – photo by juliend73

Two debate topics. First, the VP debate. What stood out for Wrongo was that Pence ignored the moderator’s cues that his time was up, and to stop talking. Ms. Right felt that his dismissive mansplaining would turn off any remaining undecided women. And there sure are a lot of women who easily recognize Pence as one who fits that pattern.

The moderator, Susan Page, asked great questions. Sadly, few were answered.

While Harris missed several opportunities with Covid and with the Trump economy, Josh Marshall sums up the event for Wrongo:

“I wouldn’t say Harris wowed. There weren’t a lot of zingers. But she hit every last point the campaign could have asked for. Just methodically. Killing the ACA, Charlottesville, the horrific failure of the COVID response. She didn’t really care about Mike Pence. She was there to make a case against Donald Trump. And she did….They needed a performance that locked down a lead that is already in place and confirmed the themes they want at the center of the campaign conversation. They got it. She hit the points they wanted and in ways Joe Biden couldn’t.”

And, there was Pence’s fly. The best meme Wrongo saw was this:

Finally, early in the debate with Pence going over his time, this occurred:

Moderator: “I think we should move on, Mr. Vice President.”

Pence: “No, I want to go back”.

Isn’t that the perfect metaphor for everything Republican in the last forty years?

Second, the presidential debates: Was this the last debate of this election cycle? We heard on Thursday that the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the second presidential debate would be virtual instead of in-person, owing to Trump’s Covid infection.

Trump then said he wouldn’t participate, and his campaign announced vague plans instead to hold an in-person rally. Trump told Fox Business:

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate….I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating’s all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”

There’s always a chance Trump will change his mind before next week, but that rarely happens. Biden is now saying that if Trump won’t show up, he’ll hold his own event with voters. He also proposed that the town hall debate be held instead on Oct. 22, the original date of the third debate.

If there isn’t another debate, that’s fine. The presidential debate format isn’t designed to include a candidate like Trump, who categorically refuses to be honest, or to follow the rules.

Have you noticed that Trump is always the victim? That people (Deep State, Obama, and Clinton) are all out to get him? He’s been wronged continuously since before his election in 2016, according to his wild fantasies, and the crazy shit he mainlines from Fox.  And he demands retribution.

If you think that it’s too wild to speak of retribution, consider this: ProPublica is reporting that an email sent last week by the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section to prosecutors around the country says that if a US attorney’s office suspects election fraud involving postal workers or military employees, federal investigators are empowered to undertake investigative steps even before the polls close.

That’s regardless of whether those actions could affect the outcome of the election, or not. The email directive was sent to the DOJ’s district election officers, who monitor election procedures and take complaints on Election Day from the public.

From ProPublica:

“Avoiding election interference is the overarching principle of DOJ policy on voting-related crimes. In place since at least 1980, the policy generally bars prosecutors not only from making any announcement about ongoing investigations close to an election but also from taking public steps — such as an arrest or a raid — before a vote is finalized because the publicity could tip the balance of a race.”

If America were still a functioning democracy, there would be no question about who would be the winner of the November 3 election, but Bill Barr is very concerned.

We have to realize that a Democratic landslide will be prima facie evidence that the election was rigged, so Bill Barr will ride in with the cavalry to try and rescue Trump.

Let’s close with this October 8 tweet by Sen Mike Lee (R-UT):

“Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”

Pure Republicanism. Lee’s not only anti-democratic, but apparently anti-spelling.

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Trump’s Closing Argument? More Covid, Less Stimulus

The Daily Escape:

Littleton ME, October 2020 photo by Kim Smith-Williams. The trees were planted by her grandfather in 1942.

It was amazing to see Trump turn down an offer from the Democrats to inject $ trillions of stimulus into his weak economy just days before the election. Wouldn’t that have helped his chances?

And he did this the day after his “helicopter salute” ceremony that raised questions about his Covid strategy. Based on what he said, it sounds a lot like “Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine, it’s no worse than the flu”. Trump resurrected “Same as the Flu“, and killed the economic stimulus package on the same day.

Sadly, Covid is much worse than the flu. Trump says that the flu claims more than 100,000 lives some years. Maybe it did when he was a kid, but for the past 10 years, the seasonal flu has killed between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans a year. In fact, Covid has killed more Americans in the past 8 months than the flu has killed in the past 5 years combined.

So his Covid strategy is: “Grandma’s gotta die because people need to go to restaurants”. Not a winning message.

Let’s move to Trump saying he won’t pass a new stimulus until he’s reelected. Republicans have been divided on more money for states, individuals and businesses, with those in close races generally more amenable to a bigger stimulus package.

But the hard-core conservatives have been opposed to a bigger package, and Trump is particularly hostile to providing funds to state and local governments. OTOH, while negotiations weren’t going anywhere fast, they weren’t that far apart. The House had passed a $2.2 trillion bill, while Mnuchin’s offer was $1.6 trillion.

According to the WSJ, the trigger for Trump’s pulling out of a possible deal was an update from Mitch McConnell, who said that even if Mnuchin and Pelosi came to an agreement, he wasn’t likely to have enough Republican votes in the Senate. There would have been sufficient votes in the Senate to pass the bill, but it would have required Democratic Senators to put it over the top, an unacceptable look for Trump.

Somebody should have told Trump the master negotiator, that if you walk away from a deal, you don’t get anything you want, either.

The stock market didn’t like Trump’s bailing on another stimulus. And on Wednesday, Trump reversed course and talked instead about bailing out the airlines :

“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!”

If seems likely that the CEO of Delta might have suggested to Trump that mass layoffs in Atlanta wouldn’t be helpful to his re-election. But Trump apparently hasn’t learned that when you’re dealing with people with actual leverage (instead of a contractor who can’t afford to sue you), you actually have to give up something to make a deal.

The CARES Act was the high-water mark of federal government response to the pandemic-caused economic disaster. That was six months ago, and nothing substantial has happened since. It’s hard for Trump or his Party to say, going into the last three weeks that they really care at all about those who have lost their jobs to the pandemic.

Through a series of bad decisions and foolish actions by Trump, America has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other industrialized nation. The outbreak has killed 210,000 and caused large numbers of people to change how they live their lives.

And those changes have created enormous economic disruptions, everywhere.

There are just 27 days to go until the election. All of those people who are out of work have to make rent. And all of them, when they worked, supported other businesses with their spending. That’s all gone.

The only thing which will “fix” the economy are masks, physical distancing, and a vaccine. Nothing gets us back to “normal” until then.

The only question is whether or not the federal government will spend the money to keep as many people and businesses afloat as possible until a vaccine gets here.

Trump and the Republicans won’t work on either Covid or help those hurt by the pandemic. So no one should vote for them.

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Don’t Cry For Me, Dr. Fauci

The Daily Escape:

Autumn view from Lovers Leap Bridge, New Milford CT – November 2017 photo by Mike Jacquemin

The show must go on, and it did for Trump once he returned to the White House from his short stay at Walter Reed Hospital. His Evita-like photo op on the Truman Balcony was designed to show (to which demographic in America?) that his “recovery” is one for the ages, that he’s a strongman. Since he is only a few days into the course of the disease, his recovery might also be a myth.

He has now thoroughly politicized the pandemic. Before he tested positive, all of his efforts to deal with COVID looked first at the political value, before the value to the public’s health. Now he’s incorporated his illness into a mythology about COVID. From Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark:

“Last night, we got the full cinematic roll-out of “The Orange Evita,” PRODUCED, DIRECTED, AND STARRED IN by DONALD J. TRUMP.”

Sykes goes on:

“The video production of his triumphant return to the White House was quintessentially Trumpian. All the power moves: the helicopter, the music, the pageantry, the balcony, the dramatic removal of the mask — all perfectly choreographed by a man famous for his finely honed instincts for entertainment.”

And here’s what Trump said:

“I learned so much about coronavirus….And one thing that’s for certain: don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it….Don’t let it dominate you…Don’t let it take over your lives…I stood out front, I led…nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did….Now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know…”

He ignored that, as of Monday night, 210,117 Americans have died from COVID, none of whom received anywhere near the level of medical care that Trump did at Walter Reed.

Most of us would go through an experience like contracting COVID, and if we recovered, would think about what we learned now that we’re back to health. We’d consider ourselves fortunate. We’d also be extra cautious, having just survived an encounter with a potentially deadly virus. We’d almost certainly follow the proper precautions even if we may have previously ignored them. We’d now know that COVID is potentially deadly, and that we’re incredibly lucky to have survived it mostly intact.

But that isn’t Donald Trump showman, your president.

Trump could have shown empathy for those who have died from the virus. The NYT reports that some in the campaign thought that if Trump recovered quickly and then appeared sympathetic to the public about his own experience, he could have something of a political reset.

But instead, he channeled Evita, opting to show strength. Yet, in the video, he didn’t look strong or even all that healthy. He didn’t look robust, he looked reckless.

And then on Tuesday morning he tweeted that flu season is coming, and that the flu is more lethal than COVID, something he also said 210,000 deaths ago. BTW, Twitter has taken Trump’s tweet down as misleading.

It isn’t too soon to wonder how many more thousands will die because of Trump’s recklessness and refusal to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

And rather than the songs from Evita, Wrongo is reminded of this from Andrew Lloyd Webber:

Every time I look at you
I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You’d have managed better
If you’d had it planned

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Monday Wake Up Call – October 5, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Fall on the T Lazy B Ranch. Ennis, MT – October 2017 photo by Ed Coyle photography

Lost in the noise on Trump’s COVID diagnosis Friday was that the US Supreme Court agreed to hear two Arizona cases that could end the Voting Rights Act, and hurt the prospects of the Democratic Party. Ian Millhiser wrote the linked article for Vox, and he calls it the biggest threat to voting in decades:

“The specific issue in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) cases concerns two Arizona laws that require certain ballots to be discarded. One law requires voting officials to discard in their entirety ballots cast by voters who vote in the wrong precinct (rather than simply not counting votes for local candidates that the voter should not have been able to vote for).

The other law prohibits “ballot collection” (or “ballot harvesting”) where a voter gives their absentee ballot to a third party, who delivers that ballot to the election office. (Arizona is one of many states that impose at least some restrictions on ballot collection.)”

These cases are being brought under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, (VRA) signed by LBJ, which prohibited racist voting laws that were prevalent at the time. In 2013, the Supreme Court in Shelby County vs. Holder effectively deactivated the Act’s preclearance regime that required states with a history of racist voting practices to “preclear” new election rules with officials at the DOJ.

And the Court’s decision in Abbott v. Perez (2018) held that lawmakers enjoy a strong presumption of racial innocence so that it is now extremely difficult to prove that lawmakers may have acted with racist intent (for example, in gerrymandering a district) except in the most egregious cases.

These two Arizona DNC cases involve a different element of the VRA, the so-called “results test” that prohibits many election laws that disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.

Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear these cases, the Court’s Republican-appointed majority could potentially dismantle the results test. It might water down that test to such a degree that it no longer provides a meaningful check on racism in elections.

As a federal appeals court said in an opinion striking down the two laws:

“…uncontested evidence in the district court established that minority voters in Arizona cast [out of precinct] ballots at twice the rate of white voters.”

Sound racist to you? Of course!

One reason that people in Arizona may vote in the wrong location is that some Maricopa County voters, for example, must travel 15 minutes by car to vote in their assigned polling location, having passed four other polling places along the way.

In addition, many Arizona voters of color lack easy access to the mail and are unable to easily travel on their own to cast a ballot. As the Arizona appeals court explained:

“…in urban areas of heavily Hispanic counties, many apartment buildings lack outgoing mail services,”

And only 18% of Native American registered voters in Arizona have home mail service. The appeals court also said that Black, Native, and Hispanic voters are:

“…significantly less likely than non-minorities to own a vehicle and more likely to have inflexible work schedules.”

Thus, their ability to vote might depend on being able to give their ballot to a friend or a canvasser who will take that ballot to the polls for them. In any event, a majority of the appeals court judges who considered Arizona’s two laws decided that they violated the Voting Rights Act.

So, now it is appealed to the Supreme Court. More from Vox:

“As a young lawyer working in the Reagan administration, Chief Justice John Roberts unsuccessfully fought to convince President Reagan to veto the law establishing this results test; some of his memos from that era even suggest that the results test is unconstitutional. And Roberts is, if anything, the most moderate member of the Supreme Court’s Republican majority.”

This case will be decided by the Court without Amy Coney Barrett. That means it will take at least two conservative justices to side with the three remaining liberal justices, a tall order in these times. Of course, a four-to-four decision would let the appeals court decision stand.

Time to wake up America! Nothing we can do now will change the decision on these cases. That chance was lost in 2016. And the rights of voters of color to cast their ballots is in greater peril now with Ginsburg off the bench.

What we can do today and most importantly on November 3, is to stop the right wing in its tracks.

There can be no further gutting of voting rights in the future.

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 4, 2020

As many others have stated, Wrongo doesn’t wish COVID on anyone, and wishes Trump and the other Republicans with the virus the best. That said, there are now three Republican Senators who have just tested positive after being at an event with the president: Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Tillis (R-NC) and Mike Lee (R-UT).

The Amy Coney Barrett hearings are due to start on October 12th and conclude by October 22nd. Coney Barrett herself just tested negative for the virus, and barring complications, the sick Republicans probably could be back on the job in time for a vote at the end of the month.

The U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. The data show that the rate of economic recovery is slowing down. September was the first jobs report since April that showed net hiring below 1 million new jobs. Here are a few stats:

  • More than half of the jobs lost in March-April have now been recovered, but that means there are still 10.7 million fewer people with jobs than before the pandemic.
  • At the current rate, it would take 16 months to recoup all those jobs. But that’s a poor assumption, since the pace of hiring is slowing down. Some jobs are never coming back.

On to cartoons. Reports from the White House were comforting:

Walter Reed doctors report all is normal:

 

Trump’s debate performance was worse than Nixon’s:

The silence of the Elephants:

Karma isn’t always a bitch. Sometimes it’s a virus:

 

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Saturday Soother – Covid in the White House Edition

The Daily Escape:

Near Contoocook NH – September 2020 photo by Karen Randall

The October surprise is off to an impressive start! Wrongo suspected that Trump would either force the Durham investigation to announce a few indictments of members of the Obama administration, or the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in October. But instead, both Trump and the First Lady have tested positive, throwing the presidential election into chaos.

Former Vice President Joe and Jill Biden tested negative for the virus on Friday. VP Mike Pence and his wife Karen also have tested negative, as did the Trump’s son, Barron.

What other surprises might we expect? Plenty. There are still 31 days left until the election.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of people with COVID, even the vast majority of those with co-morbidities, do not become critically ill, let alone die from it. But, Trump was transported by helicopter to Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Friday evening. If Trump ends up in an ICU, the 25th amendment could come into play.

If you want to bone up on what the US succession plan looks like should Trump become incapacitated, the Brookings Institution has a detailed piece on what happens:

“First, those in the line of succession would need to be protected. It would be important to keep Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Grassley (President Pro Tempore), and members of the cabinet isolated from the president. It would be especially important to ensure that the vice president have limited contact with individuals generally to reduce his chances of contracting the virus as well.”

Grassley is in the line of succession? Shoot me now. Next:

“If the president is given notice that he is to be administered therapies that will impair his ability to perform the duties of office—for functional reasons, cognitive reasons, or both—under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the president can transmit to the House and Senate “his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

When Section 3 is invoked, the vice president becomes “acting president” until the president notifies the House and Senate that he is able to perform his duties once again. Section 3 has been invoked three times. Once for Reagan 1985, and twice for GW Bush in 2002 and 2007. Each time was for medical procedures that required anesthesia or heavy sedation.

If a president’s condition declined so rapidly that he was unable to invoke Section 3, Section 4 can be used instead. Under Section 4, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send notice to the House and Senate that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. In this case, the vice president also serves as acting president.

Once a president recovers, he can transmit a letter to that effect to the House and Senate, and re-take presidential power, unless the vice president and a majority of the cabinet tell Congress that the president remains incapacitated—at which point Congress must vote on a finding of incapacity.

As of now, Trump isn’t incapacitated, so he’ll continue in office, even at the hospital. Unlike the rest of us, he has the best tax payer-provided health care available, and it only cost him $750:

It’s unlikely anyone will truly relax this weekend, but let’s begin our usual Saturday Soother, designed to help you kick back, unwind, and think about anything other than politics. Here in Connecticut, we are starting to have the fall colors New England promises, but they are a little flat compared with other years.

The weekly coffee remains on hiatus, so it’s time for some soothing music. Today, let’s take a seat near a window, put on the Bluetooth headphones and listen to “Meditation” from Jules Massenet’s opera, “Thaïs”. It is based on the novel Thaïs by Anatole France. It was first performed in Paris in March, 1894.

Today, the Meditation is performed by violinist Janine Jansen in 2006, with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Neeme Järvi. The concert was held at Berlin’s Waldbühne, an outdoor venue with 25,000 in attendance. Would that many Americans show up for an outdoor symphonic concert? Watch this, you won’t be dissapointed:

 

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America’s Frightening Militia Problem

The Daily Escape:

Guildhall, VT – September 2020 photo by Michael Blanchette Photography

Four years into the Trump era, Americans now realize that armed paramilitaries show up at most demonstrations. On some occasions, there is lethal violence. And Trump just called on one such group to “stand by”.  Apparently they are acting like storm troopers waiting Trump’s bat signal to help keep him in power after November 3rd.

The biggest problem will be in the post-election period when there will be a substantial chunk of Americans who won’t believe Biden is a legitimate president when he takes office. It won’t be Trump’s entire 40% of the electorate, but it will be a large group.

We’ve heard the names of these armed militias: the Proud Boys, the boogaloo movement, the Oathkeepers, the Three Percenters, and many others. Unlike other countries, the armed far-right doesn’t need a covert network to supply it with military equipment because America is awash in legal weapons. Militias and vigilantes don’t have to maintain underground communication networks because social media enables them to operate freely. Experts estimate that there are around 300 mostly right-wing militia groups.

On the same day that Trump asked the Proud Boys to stand by, the FBI issued an intelligence report warning of an imminent “violent extremist threat” posed by another far-right militia, the Boogaloo. The report, entitled “Boogaloo Adherents Likely Increasing Anti-Government Violent Rhetoric and Activities, Increasing Domestic Violent Extremist Threat in the FBI Dallas Area of Responsibility,

The term “Boogaloo” refers to a coming second American Civil War, which the fiercely anti-government group has declared its intention to bring it about. They are willing to foment a race war, if it supports their goals.

The FBI report concludes by citing concerns of the Boogaloos’ “increased ‘patrolling’ or attendance at events”. Remember that at the presidential debate, President Trump called for his supporters to patrol polling places:

“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen…”

It’s illegal for them to “go into the polls’.

A troubling aspect is the deep involvement of America’s military and law enforcement in these militias. The Atlantic has a long article on the Oath Keepers where the author reviewed its members list: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“About two-thirds had a background in the military or law enforcement. About 10% of these members were active-duty….There were members of the Special Forces, private military contractors, an Army psyops sergeant major….There were Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, a 20-year special agent in the Secret Service, and two people who said they were in the FBI.”

The NYT also wrote about the military involvement in the militia movement: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Although only a small fraction of the nation’s 20 million veterans joins militia groups, experts in domestic terrorism and law enforcement analysts estimate that veterans and active-duty members of the military may now make up at least 25% percent of militia rosters. These experts estimate that there are some 15,000 to 20,000 active militia members in around 300 groups.”

This toxic stew has been on a low boil while the top leaders of the Department of Homeland Security directed agency analysts to play down threats from white supremacist groups, according to a whistle-blower complaint released earlier in September.

These militias have proclaimed themselves enforcers of Trump administration policies, and as protectors of businesses in cities with BLM protests. The confrontations with protesters have also dovetailed with actions to protest coronavirus containment measures as in Michigan.

But the threats have recently focused on Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and others on the left. And between here and the election, we may well see Trump encourage their help with certain state and local governments around the ballot counting process.

The common denominator of these militias is armed intimidation and violence in the service of a political agenda. They alone will decide to act if triggered, or if they think in their sole judgement, that the Constitution has been violated. In a functioning democracy operating under the rule of law, it’s difficult to see these movements as anything other than a demand for the benefits of the society they want, with none of its obligations.

They want to “solve” what they perceive to be the nation’s problems through Second Amendment absolutism that legitimizes armed confrontation instead of political activism.

Back to the post-election scenario: There could easily be incidents where people get hurt or killed, a slow grind that keeps people scared and stressed all the time.

Please, this November, we must vote in overwhelming numbers.

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Hot Take on the Bad Debate

The Daily Escape:

Sentinel Pass at Lake Moraine, Banff, Alberta, CN – 2020 iPhone 11 photo by Zestful9

I’m old enough to remember when Al Gore got slammed for sighing during a debate in 2000. And now, Trump has taken us to a galaxy far, far away. Trump had three messages last night:

First, the rules don’t apply to me. If I want to talk, I talk. I’m above other men. Paraphrasing from 2016, “When you’re a star, they let you do it”. Chris Wallace, playing the role of wimpy Moderator, says: “You agreed to the rules”. But Trump shows he sets the rules, not the wimpy moderator guy. Classic primate dominance behavior. All Wallace had to do was just keep telling the president to stop until he did. Hard to imagine Trump being more rude.

Second, Trump’s strategy wasn’t to try for more votes, but to discourage people from voting. A smaller turnout helps Trump stay in office. If you’re turned off by his truculent performance, maybe you’ll decide it’s too much trouble to wait in line to cast your ballot. Of course, Trump’s shit show may have had the opposite effect. It may have motivated you to stand in the rain, snow or hurricane to vote him out of office.

Third, Trump activated his fascist supporters, the Proud Boys. What he told them by saying “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by” is that the rest of us should stay home on November 3, or we might find some trouble.

That wasn’t a dog whistle, it was a dog bullhorn. Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins of NBC News call the Proud Boys:

“…a self-described ‘Western chauvinist’ organization, is considered a violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group.”

Finally, as Wes Kennison says, Biden is a stutterer. Kennison points out that stutterers have great difficulty with abusive tones of voice, rapid fire interruptions, zigzagging change of topic, personal insult and humiliation, all are tripwires that can scramble a stutterer’s ability to speak. From Kennison: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“There was nothing unplanned or spontaneous in the President’s strategy. The bastards did not prep him to attack Joe. They prepped him to attack Joe’s disability hoping that by triggering his stuttering they might deceive an audience unfamiliar with the disability into thinking that Joe was stupid, weak, uncertain, confused, or lost to dementia.”

The media today has again fallen into the “Both sides” trap, saying how awful Trump AND Biden were. How uncouth, unpresidential and impolite. Given the context, was saying “Shut up man” uncouth? Wrongo listened to BBC, who was full of: “With so many difficulties facing the world, this crap is what the next leader of the free world decides to talk about”?

More debates? The Commission on Presidential Debates wants “additional structure” for remaining debates. But whatever they do won’t materially change Trump’s performance. Trump has no upside even if he puts on a better, more compliant act going forward. The damage is done.

When you think about it, Biden is the conservative in the race. He values established institutions and alliances. He recognizes the need for change, but wants a moderate, considered approach. He has a strong moral sense. He values the rule of law, while Trump and the GOP in general, value none of those things.

The only rational response to this debate debacle is to vote, and make sure your friends vote.

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Monday Wake Up Call – September 28, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Dead Horse State Park in Moab, UT – September 2020 photo by schumats1

Few people have the imagination for realityJohann Wolfgang von Goethe

Here are a few stark realities that we couldn’t have imagined even five years ago:

First, a minority faction governing the majority with increasingly unpopular policies imposed through increasingly undemocratic means is not exactly a formula for a stable democracy. This is something that Wrongo wrote about last week. If somehow after the November election, that script is flipped, and we have a majority governing an ethno and religious-purity minority who won’t recognize the majority’s legitimacy to govern, we’re headed for dark times.

Once Coney Barrett’s confirmed, we’ll again be living in a Phyllis Schlafly country. Schlafly’s far-right, anti-feminist ideology rules the Republican Party, and soon, the Supreme Court. But it’s still contrary to American public opinion. A majority of Americans think abortion should remain legal, and 75% support Schlafly’s old enemy, the ERA.

But, unpopular ideologies can prevail whenever we’re complacent about our beliefs.

Second, we have a president who is a faker and a liar. The NYT has gotten its hands on many years’ worth of Trump’s federal income tax documents. You know, the ones he and his attorneys have worked so hard to suppress. From Eric Boehlert:

“In life outside the MAGA bubble, the tax return revelation is a big one because it’s hard to explain why, for the last decade, Trump has written off $26 million worth of dubious “consulting” fees. And it certainly appears the Trump Organization paid Ivanka Trump massive consulting fees for no-show work. All of this coming just five weeks before the election. The Times blockbuster is one of the more seismic scoops in campaign history.”

The Times’ story will most likely be a huge problem for Trump among independents and suburban voters who may have voted for him in 2016. Trump’s “fake news” dismissal of the tax story will only work among his super-loyal followers.

Kevin Drum turned the NYT’s reporting into a graph:

Long story short, since 2012 Trump’s been losing money every year. He’s lost money at pretty much everything he’s ever done. The only exception is The Apprentice and the licensing money it enabled.

From Drum:

“Trump’s ability to squander the money he inherited is breathtaking. He’s also deeply in debt, it turns out, with about $300 million in loans coming due over the next few years. It’s no wonder he’s been so assiduous at trying to turn the Oval Office into his own private ATM.”

That kind of financial exposure makes Trump a national security risk.

Third and finally, here’s Wrongo’s framing of the issues for Tuesday’s debate. This, from Michael Grunwald in Politico: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“The US budget deficit tripled this year to $3.3 trillion, by far the highest ever. The US economy shrank at a 31.7% annual rate in the second quarter, by far the worst ever. The trade deficit is at its highest level in 12 years. Consumer confidence is at its lowest level in six years. Unemployment claims, which had never topped 700,000 in a week before March, have topped 700,000 every week since March.

Farm bankruptcies are rising…Homicides are rising in America’s cities after decades of decline, while a series of police killings of unarmed Black Americans has triggered…civil unrest. The West Coast is on fire, and 2020 may turn out to be the hottest year in recorded history. America’s reputation abroad is the worst it’s been since the Pew Research Center began doing international surveys.”

And remember that virus thingy that Trump says isn’t a big deal? It has already killed 200,000+ Americans and is still spreading in 29 states.

Biden ought to just read that as his opening statement in tomorrow night’s debate, and then just say:

“Do you think you’ll be better off with four more years of these disasters that Trump has brought us? “

Time to wake up America! We have to imagine realities that would have been fiction just a decade ago. Once we wake up to how terrible our present state is, we need to vote in overwhelming numbers to gain sufficient political control to deliver a progressive future for all.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – September 27, 2020

Trump has announced that Amy Coney Barrett is his nominee to the Supreme Court. She will make the sixth Catholic member of the court.

This highlights the impact that Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society has had on the makeup of the Court. Leo selects Trump’s judicial nominees. In addition to his role at the Federalist Society, Leo is a board member of Opus Dei’s Catholic Information Center. Attorney General Bill Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone have also been board members.

No one should object to Catholics, or even to having a majority of them on the Court. But, the Court, like the Electoral College, have become the last bastions of power for the minority in America. As currently constituted, they will block the rise of a broad coalition of diverse progressives from power for at least another generation. On to cartoons:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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