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.


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:


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:


The Never-Surrender Republicans

The Daily Escape:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Just 48 hours to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not all the gravestones are about Halloween:

The ghost of elections past:


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:



The Seat is Lost, The Election Isn’t

The Daily Escape:

Fall comes to Grand Portage, MN –September 2020 photo by Valjcoo

We now know that the Republicans have the votes to confirm another conservative Supreme Court justice before the election. Mitt Romney announced Tuesday that he supports moving forward with a Senate vote on Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This means that Democrats have no shot at stopping the confirmation process before November’s election.

More tyranny by the minority. This might as well also be Romney’s announcement that for better or for worse, he’s running for president in 2024.

Substantively, a 5-3 conservative vs. liberal breakdown on the Supreme Court was already going to result in the death of the ACA when the justices hear the case on November 10. So, a 6-3 division probably doesn’t mean that we’re going to be all that much worse off, legally.

The remaining question is whether the nominee will be the Cuban-American judge from Florida. Choosing her will probably secure the state for Trump in November, so why not just go ahead and make the entire Supreme Court a political fiasco?

In fact, getting the complete conservative takeover of the Supreme Court done before the election may keep more than a few Trumpists away from the polls on November 3d.

Choosing an ideologically pure judge is far more important to Republicans than it is to Dems, who rarely make it an article of faith in our elections. During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, the Dems will take the opportunity to demonstrate again how ineffectual they are.

They need to be careful not to engage in something suicidal just before what is truly the most important election in our lifetimes. As Wrongo has said, the loss of this seat was predetermined by Hillary’s loss in 2016.

Of course Democrats should drill deeply into whomever the Republicans nominate; that’s how the game is played.  Of course they should oppose the nominee in the Judiciary Committee, and then lose by a straight-party vote. Of course they should make principled speeches in the well of the Senate before they lose another straight party line vote that will confirm Trump’s nominee.

They should scream about it, say the gloves are off, and then go out and take the White House and the Senate.

Dems need to get back to the totally mismanaged COVID response. It’s the overriding issue of this election, even more significant than the death of Ginsburg. There will be at least 250,000 COVID deaths by the time of the election, and no Republican cares or will say anything about it.

Dems need to get back to asking if Trump has delivered a better life to us. He hasn’t. There were no big wage gains, and no 5% annual GDP growth. He’s only delivered huge unemployment, and unnecessary deaths. The rich have gotten enormously richer, and there is the hate, and all of the lies.

But the Electoral College still looms large. Wrongo’s former colleague is driving across America on the back roads, photographing what he sees. And what he sees is mostly empty spaces. As he moves from urban and suburban areas to exurban and rural areas, the Biden signs disappear, Trump signs dominate, and finally become exclusive. He documents front yards with temporary canopies set up to hand out Trump paraphernalia. Pickups looking ISIS-like with Trump and American flags flying from poles mounted in the truck beds. Here’s a photo of his taken in Virginia City, NV on 9/20:

September 2020 photo by OHeldring

The flags are for Trump, the Kansas City Chiefs, and “Don’t Tread on Me.” Add in the vintage Ford, and it’s an ordinary day in rural America!

An important indicator for November 3d will be voter participation in rural areas, which we should expect to be very high. This November, Wyoming will cast three Electoral College votes, one for every 190,000 residents, while California will cast 55 votes, or one for every 715,000 residents. One person, one vote has died. Here’s Steve Coll with some perspective about the Electoral College:

“The system is so buggy that, between 1800 and 2016….members of Congress introduced more than eight hundred constitutional amendments to fix its technical problems or to abolish it altogether.”

He reminds us that in 1969, the House passed a Constitutional Amendment to establish a national popular vote for the White House. At the time, Nixon called it “a thoroughly acceptable reform”. Alas, it was filibustered by Southern Senate segregationists.

These days, just two words sum up the state we’re in: “Stay Safe.”

It only took four years for Trump to wreck everything. Whenever the Trump years pass, our democracy, assuming that it endures, needs a major repair job.

That starts on November 3.


Saturday Soother – September 19, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Afternoon rain, Candlewood Lake, Brookfield CT – photo by Kevin Lane

We’re 10 days away from the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN. The debates should have zero meaning for the election, since Trump will lie his way through all three of them. That has been the reality since 2016, and it’s continued, non-stop. From Politico:

“Four years after he won the Midwest by vowing to revitalize the US manufacturing workforce, President Donald Trump is campaigning for reelection on a job well done. The numbers tell a different story.”

It’s highly doubtful that economic anxiety alone won the Midwest for Trump. We should remember that there was a near-perfect conjunction among racism, sexism and Whites voting for Trump in 2016.

Here’s Trump lying on Sept. 10 at a rally near Saginaw, Michigan:

“You better vote for me, I got you so many damn car plants….And we’re going to bring you a lot more.”

So many car plants: That would be zero.

And Michigan was down 66,500 manufacturing workers for the year from July 2019 to July 2020. Much of those losses were due to the pandemic, but there were 10,200 fewer manufacturing workers in Michigan in February 2020 than there were in February 2019. Earlier, Trump lied in Ohio at a Whirlpool factory:

“Over the last six months, we’ve witnessed one manufacturing miracle after another”.

Ohio was down 48,000 manufacturing workers in July vs. last year. Pre-pandemic, it had lost 2,200 workers in February from last year. Politico quotes Mark Muro, a Brookings economist:

“Trump has been all in on this huge resurgence of manufacturing employment, and that has not materialized.”


“…the White House’s trade wars kicked the [manufacturing] sector into another slump in 2019, with Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania facing declines or plateaus in manufacturing employment even back in February — well before Covid-19 forced layoffs at dozens of plants.”

The trend is the same nationwide. Manufacturing across the US is down 720,000 workers from February, despite gaining 29,000 jobs in August.

And then there’s the pandemic. Trump blamed “blue states” for increasing the nation’s death rate from coronavirus, suggesting that if “you take the blue states out” of the equation the US would be far more competitive with other countries.

He’s making no bones about the fact that he’s president of only those who live in red states (149 million vs. 179 million in blue states.) Since he’s ignorant of most facts, here’s one: 53% of coronavirus deaths have occurred in blue states, and 47% have occurred in red ones. More than 90,000 people have died in red states, while about 100,000 have died in blue states. So, another lie, and not exactly a stellar record in red states.

Of course we will have to wait and see if reality vs. lies told in debates make any difference. Gimme the damn ballot.

It’s Saturday, so let’s take a short break from politics for our Saturday Soother.

The leaves are starting to fall here in Connecticut, long before any fall color arrives. We’re expecting the first frost over the weekend, and as usual, there’s yard work ahead. The last of our tomatoes need to be harvested, along with a few remaining jalapenos. Sounds like salsa to Wrongo. Oh, and the water fountain needs cleaning, too.

Before all of that, take time to brew up a vente cup of Kenya Gatuya coffee ($21.00/12oz.) from Lake Tahoe’s perfectly named for a Saturday, Drink Coffee Do Stuff. The roaster says the 6,000ft elevation at Lake Tahoe makes their coffees sweeter. You be the judge.

Now, put on a sweater and think about the eternal changing of the seasons. And remember that one day, like a miracle, Trump will just disappear. Now, listen to Yo Yo Ma play Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s oboe and The Falls” from the movie “The Mission.”

Music like Morricone’s whispers to us, and carries us beyond our trivial endeavors. Consider yourself soothed:


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 30, 2020

WaPo’s Alexandra Petri restates Trump’s re-election strategy:

“Donald Trump has made America great again, and he will make it great again, again, if reelected, but right now, Joe Biden and the Democrats are ruining America and filling it with chaos. So don’t you think it’s time for a change?”

Her piece is pretty funny, you should read it. The internet is also asking: Why is vigilante murder an appropriate response to property damage, but property damage isn’t an appropriate response to vigilante murder?

We can’t let Trump highjack the narrative away from our other major problems: Consider that stocks in the US hit all-time highs this week, but another 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. This shows that employers continued to eliminate mind-boggling numbers of jobs, five months into the pandemic. One result is that 12 million people have lost employer-sponsored health insurance since February due to losing their jobs.

Our economy remains far worse than it was in January. The Fed’s weekly economic index suggests that the economy is still more deeply depressed than it was at any point during the 2008 financial crisis. The stock market rise is driven by only a small number of technology giants (Apple, Google, Amazon, and others). And the share prices of these companies have very little to do with their current profits, let alone the state of the economy in general.

Trump has not offered a solution for any of this, because he doesn’t need an answer if you think rioting and looting are more important. On to cartoons.

Why the stock market’s up when everything else is down:

Guess which side thinks Kaepernick is a traitor, but Rittenhouse, the shooter is a patriot?


Trump says he’s not going down with the ship:

We left the reality-based world last week:

Some think that professional athletes shouldn’t say anything about BLM:


Trump’s Portland Playbook

The Daily Escape:

Storm near Mesa Verde, CO – photo by mayaxs

It’s once again getting difficult to write about this stuff. Trump is willing to deploy a secret army to protect buildings, but he won’t take responsibility to protect human beings from a pandemic that is killing Americans at the equivalent of three jumbo jet crashes a day.

Let’s focus on the conflict between the First Amendment and the Second Amendment that’s been playing out on our streets since the murder of George Floyd in May. Early in the COVID pandemic, armed protestors carried their long guns into the Lansing, MI state capitol demanding an end to the shutdown. They also stood around in Richmond, VA and in both cases, law enforcement kept their distance, bending over backwards to avoid creating a confrontation.

When unarmed protestors showed up in most American cities after Floyd’s murder, law enforcement more or less did whatever they wanted to them. The sustained brutality of the police against unarmed protestors (there are more than 800 video-recorded incidents of police violence) is prima-facie evidence supporting the protestors’ message.

There are political ramifications and lessons to be learned from the reactions of both groups of protestors and local and federal authorities.

Carrying guns into a legislature completely undermined whatever goals the protestors in Lansing and Richmond were trying to accomplish. The response from most Americans was to ridicule them. The police believed that the armed protestors weren’t going to use their weapons. They knew that letting them yell and march around would placate them. Law enforcement was pretty sure they wouldn’t be back in larger numbers the next day.

On the other hand, the unarmed protestors inspired by George Floyd’s death started a national conversation about the role and conduct of the police. The BLM protestors turned out in the hundreds of thousands, every day, and theirs was largely an anti-police message.

Carrying arms would have certainly undermined their message. Armed anti-police protestors would have credibly shown (to the eyes of most Americans) that a violent police response was probably appropriate. Unarmed protestors have a moral weight that is completely lacking in the messaging of the armed anti-shutdown protesters.

More importantly, the BLM protestors are targeting their message at people who will vote in November.

The sustained, mostly non-violent nature of the protests in the face of an often-brutal police response (and now in Portland, a similar response by federal secret police) gives the protestors political power. Right now, a majority of the rest of the country is on the side of the Portland protestors. This is the exact opposite of the public’s response to the armed protestors.

Another factor is that Rep. John Lewis’s death reminded us of the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Think about how different things would be today if those marchers had been armed. There would have been even greater state-sanctioned violence; and most of America at the time would have seen it as justified. It was those unforgettable and unforgivable images of brutal police violence against unarmed and peaceful marchers that shocked the nation and government enough to change the law.

Lasting change only comes through voting, and putting pressure on elected officials to sanction bad actors and change laws that enable bad behavior. That only happens if the protestors gain and keep credibility with voters.

Isn’t it sad that Trump sees two monsters, civil unrest, and the pandemic, and chooses to say that fighting the pandemic is up to the states, but graffiti on federal courthouses is the hill he’s willing to die on? This is the fallout:

A bunch of people in Portland have sprayed graffiti on buildings, broken windows, and started fires, which, to be clear, is wrong and should be punished. Trump’s response was to send in the feds, in force.

Trump’s play is to use federal law enforcement to prod the protestors into more unrest and property damage. He will continue calling peaceful protesters rioters and anarchists. He will try to paint Biden and the Democrats as enablers of the downfall of American society.

This old storyline has worked in the past. Portland is the test of Trump’s playbook. Protestors have to remain mostly peaceful in the face of threats and physical violence by the Federales.

That must be the BLM playbook.

It’s not going to be pretty. People will get hurt.