Friday, October 23, 2020

Republicans Continue Blocking A Pandemic Relief Bill, Even In The Dace Of Massive Election Losses



230,000 Deaths by Chip Proser

Despite Trump's protestations at the debate last night that the pandemic is going away, yesterday, according to NBC News, set a record as the number of new coronavirus cases rose to over 77,000, topping the previous record in July. "Nationwide, 77,640 new cases were reported for the day, up from the previous record of 75,723 on July 29. Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday afternoon that the agency has noted a 'distressing trend' in which coronavirus case numbers are "increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country." And although Trump repeatedly bleated that it was all "Democrat governors" fault for closing down the economy, most of the increase is in states that voted for Trump. Hospitalizations are also spiking dangerously and deaths always follow increased case loads and hospitalizations. Yesterday's biggest new case loads were in Texas (+6,197) and Florida (+5,557), although Trump lied at the debate and said the pandemic was ending in Florida. Yesterday the U.S. had the most new cases-- by far-- than any other country in the world, even with Europe in a full-blown second wave. On a per capita basis, the 17 states hit hardest by the pandemic are all states that voted for Trump in 2016.
North Dakota- 45,996 cases per million residents
South Dakota- 40,713 cases per million residents
Louisiana- 38,325 cases per million residents
Mississippi- 37,996 cases per million residents
Alabama- 36,112 cases per million residents
Florida-35,762 cases per million residents
Iowa- 35,440 cases per million residents
Tennessee- 34,837 cases per million residents
Arkansas- 34,064 cases per million residents
Georgia- 32,544 cases per million residents
South Carolina- 32,529 cases per million residents
Arizona- 32,273 cases per million residents
Wisconsin- 31,963 cases per million residents
Nebraska- 31,682 cases per million residents
Idaho- 31,672 cases per million residents
Utah- 31,051 cases per million residents
Texas- 30,909 cases per million residents
Although the residents of most of these states haven't connected the dots between Trump and their suffering yet, some have. Florida, Iowa, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, NE-02, and even Texas are trending away from giving Trump a second term. According to a new poll by Change Research, Trump and his enablers in the Senate are losing in the battleground states polled:
Arizona- Trump down by 6 points and Martha McSally down by 11 points
Florida- Trump down by 5 points
Michigan- Trump down by 7 points and the Trumpist challenger to Gary Peters losing by 5 points
North Carolina- Trump down by 3 points and Thom Tillis down by 6 points
Pennsylvania- Trump down by 2 points
Wisconsin- Trump down by 8 points
Change Research noted that "As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, voters continue to prefer Biden and Democrats to Trump and Republicans on COVID-19 by 6 points in the battleground and by 12 points nationally. 55% of battleground voters and 57% nationally disapprove of Trump's handling of the virus, with majorities strongly disapproving. We also showed voters a tweet from Trump and asked them if it is mostly helpful or harmful when it comes to handling COVID-19."
The large majority of voters in the battleground say that instead of filling the Supreme court vacancy, the top priority for the U.S. Senate right now should be providing more economic relief and funds for combatting COVID-19 (62% COVID relief, 38% SCOTUS). Only the white working class men-- the heart of Trump’s base-- are more likely to prioritize the vacancy (58% SCOTUS, 42% COVID relief).

Asked which comes closer to their point of view about the economy, battleground voters are twice as likely to say that “The economy is struggling and we need more financial relief from Washington” over “The economy is recovering and we do not need any more financial relief from Washington” (66% to 34%), up 3 points since we last surveyed.

Battleground voters are as likely to blame Trump and Republicans in Congress as they are to blame Nancy Pelosi and Democrat in Congress for failure to pass new COVID-19 relief, with 10% saying they are both equally to blame. This was also the reaction of voters when the expanded unemployment benefit expired.

When we look to those who are currently experience lost wages or a salary cut in their household, they are far more likely to say the economy is struggling and we need relief from Washington (77%), they are as likely to rank the economy, jobs, and cost of living as a top issue as are those who are experiencing lost jobs or wages currently, and they are more likely to say that Trump and Republican are more responsible for the failure to pass more relief (54% v. 34% Pelosi and Democrats, 11% both equally).

Voters continue to prefer Biden and Democrat to Trump and Republicans on COVID-19 by 6 points in the battleground and by 12 points nationally. But that understates the frustration with Trump’s handling of the virus. Fully 55% of battleground voters and 57% nationally disapprove of Trump’s handling of the virus, with majorities strongly disapproving. We also see Trump’s weakness on COVID-19 when we look at the 11 point intensity advantage that Democrats hold on COVID-19: 48% of battleground voters strongly prefer Biden compared to 37% who strongly prefer Trump.
Republicans in Congress seem willing to do anything it takes to prevent a pandemic relief and stimulus bill from passing. McConnell has sabotaged everything the Democrats have passed in the House and has warned the White House that he will not allow whatever Pelosi and Mnuchin comes up with the pass either. Reporting yesterday for the Washington Post, Jeff Stein wrote that Senate Republicans don't want Mnuchin to come up with a compromise despite Trump's orders to do so. "Mnuchin," wrote Stein, "has already committed to a top-line figure of around $1.9 trillion, much too high for many Senate Republicans to swallow. This includes at least $300 billion for state and local aid, also a non-starter for many in the GOP. The Treasury secretary is also giving ground on multiple specific policy issues, for example reducing payments that Republicans wanted to go to farmers so that some of the money would go for food boxes instead, according to two people involved in the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the developments. He has left open the possibility of allowing even more money to flow to states and localities via Community Development Block Grants sought by Democrats."
“He negotiates harder with his own side than he does with her. Folks over here are sick of it,” said one Senate GOP aide, who added that Republicans were “reaching boiling point with him” as Mnuchin “gives and gives and gives and gets nothing in return.”

Another Senate GOP aide said: “Fair to say the feeling is he’s giving away the store. No one is surprised, but yes frustrated. The idea that our conference is going to go along with whatever bad deal he cuts with Pelosi is completely unrealistic.”

...[Pelosi] said she and Mnuchin had just about come to terms on a national coronavirus testing strategy Democrats have been pushing. But Pelosi acknowledged that other major issues were still unsettled, including aid to state and local governments and liability protections for businesses sought by Republicans.

Pelosi has expressed the desire to pass a bill before the election, but made clear Thursday that she was not wedded to that timeline if she does not get what she wants.

“We wouldn’t take less of a bill to get it sooner," Pelosi said. "We want the best bill.”

Senate Republicans have already made their opposition to a big new spending bill abundantly clear-- and yet Mnuchin continues to negotiate and make concessions, giving rise to the new round of complaints. Mnuchin is caught between a president who’s demanded that he “bring home the bacon,” and Republican lawmakers who oppose more pork.

...Privately, multiple Senate GOP aides said getting 13 GOP votes for a big bill brokered by Pelosi and Mnuchin simply could not happen.

“There are not 13 votes for this pile of crap Mnuchin is capitulating on,” said a third Senate GOP aide familiar with the discussions.

McConnell has said that if Pelosi and Mnuchin get a deal and it passes the House with Trump’s support he would bring it up for a vote in the Senate-- but has not said when he would do so.

Senate Republicans have long been skeptical of Mnuchin’s approach in negotiations with Democrats, including in the spring when he helped negotiate four bills totaling an unprecedented $3 trillion that in retrospect some Republicans think went too far.

But Trump’s approach in the talks has been inconsistent, and it’s not at all clear that even if Pelosi and Mnuchin were to strike a deal, that Trump would or could bring Senate Republicans along. The president has said Republicans would fall in line, but he himself has veered between calling off talks and demanding more money than even Democrats proposed.

On Wednesday evening Trump seemed to write the whole effort off in a pair of Twitter posts where he lamented, “Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right.”

Conservatives off Capitol Hill are watching the process play out with something akin to horror.

...Even among conservatives, however, there is resignation that Mnuchin has been empowered by Trump and there is little to be done about the president’s bipartisan negotiator.

“There are concerns about the direction inside the White House but at the end of day Mnuchin takes direction from president,” said one GOP aide, granted anonymity to share internal thinking.
According to CNN, among the reactionary Republicans pushing hard for no help to working families are Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is up for reelection and has been trying to keep her hatred for working class people on the down low, and John Cornyn (R-TX), who is in an identical situation.

A few days ago, Eric Boehlert explained very clearly what's keeping a bill from passing: "Republicans don't want to pass one."

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Trump Is The Worst President This Country Has Ever Seen-- But You Already Knew That, Right?



Frank Luntz is probably the best-known Republican Party pollster in the country. At a briefing he gave to for Global Counsel, a British strategic advising company he consults, he said he's "never seen a campaign more mis-calibrated than the Trump campaign. Frankly, his staff ought to be brought up on charges of political malpractice. It is the worst campaign I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching them since 1980. They’re on the wrong issues. They’re on the wrong message. They’ve got their heads up their assess… Your damn job is to get your candidate to talk about things that are relevant to the people you need to reach. And if you can’t do your damn job then get out... Nobody cares about Hunter Biden… why is [Trump] spending all his time on him? Hunter Biden does not help put food on the table. Hunter Biden does not help anyone get a job. Hunter Biden does not provide health care or solve COVID. And Donald Trump spends all of his time focused on that and nobody cares."

Yesterday, the editors of The Atlantic, in their endorsement against Trump, were not as concerned about the campaign as they were about the man and his policies. In The Case Against Donald Trump, they note that he "poses a threat to our collective existence" and conclude that the choice voters face is spectacularly obvious... [T]he national defense strategy of the United States is built on the unstated assumption that the American people will not allow a lunatic to become president. If that assumption is wrong, then no procedural, legal, or technological mechanisms exist that are able to fully protect the human race from such a lunatic." The Atlantic editors see that-- any least at this moment-- as "a catastrophic flaw in U.S. nuclear doctrine."
In most matters related to the governance and defense of the United States, the president is constrained by competing branches of government and by an intricate web of laws and customs. Only in one crucial area does the president resemble, in the words of the former missile officer and scholar Bruce Blair, an absolute monarch-- his control of nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon... was reported to have told members of Congress at a White House dinner party, “I could leave this room and in 25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.” This was an alarming but accurate statement.

When contemplating their ballots, Americans should ask which candidate in a presidential contest is better equipped to guide the United States through a national-security crisis without triggering a nuclear exchange, and which candidate is better equipped to interpret-- within five or seven minutes-- the ambiguous, complicated, and contradictory signals that could suggest an imminent nuclear attack. These are certainly not questions that large numbers of voters asked themselves in 2016, when a transparently unqualified candidate for president won the support of 63 million Americans.

At the time, Donald Trump had not yet served in public office, so concerns about his ability to protect the United States from harm were hypothetical, though grounded in his long and terrible record as a human being. As The Atlantic stated in its October 2016 endorsement of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, Trump “traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself … He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

What we have learned since we published that editorial is that we understated our case. Donald Trump is the worst president this country has seen since Andrew Johnson, or perhaps James Buchanan, or perhaps ever. Trump has brought our country low; he has divided our people; he has pitted race against race; he has corrupted our democracy; he has shown contempt for American ideals; he has made cruelty a sacrament; he has provided comfort to propagators of hate; he has abandoned America’s allies; he has aligned himself with dictators; he has encouraged terrorism and mob violence; he has undermined the agencies and departments of government; he has despoiled the environment; he has opposed free speech; he has lied frenetically and evangelized for conspiracism; he has stolen children from their parents; he has made himself an advocate of a hostile foreign power; and he has failed to protect America from a ravaging virus. Trump is not responsible for all of the 220,000 COVID-19-related deaths in America. But through his avarice and ignorance and negligence and titanic incompetence, he has allowed tens of thousands of Americans to suffer and die, many alone, all needlessly. With each passing day, his presidency reaps more death.

But let us lay all of this aside for the moment. Let us even lay aside the extraordinary fact that Donald Trump has been credibly accused of rape. Compelling evidence suggests that his countless sins and defects are rooted in mental instability, pathological narcissism, and profound moral and cognitive impairment...

Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, is in many ways a typically imperfect candidate, but if we judge these men on two questions alone-- Who is a more trustworthy steward of America’s nuclear arsenal? Which man poses less of a threat to our collective existence?-- the answer is spectacularly obvious.

The Atlantic has endorsed only three candidates in its 163-year history: Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Hillary Clinton. The latter two endorsements had more to do with the qualities of Barry Goldwater and Donald Trump than with those of Johnson and Clinton. The same holds true in the case of Joe Biden. Biden is a man of experience, maturity, and obvious humanity, but had the Republican Party put forward a credible candidate for president, we would have felt no compulsion to state a preference. Donald Trump, however, is a clear and continuing danger to the United States, and it does not seem likely that our country would be able to emerge whole from four more years of his misrule. Two men are running for president. One is a terrible man; the other is a decent man. Vote for the decent man.
No comment on Biden's decency but he is certainly the lesser evil. And two groups have made up their minds that-- no matter if they agree with the editors of The Atlantic that's he's decent or with me that he's the lesser evil-- they will cast their ballots for Biden: Jews and young people. Trump, a neo-fascist with outright Nazis int the heart of his regime, has consistently made overtures to Jews, some extremely substantial. Jewish voters are not convinced. A J Street survey of likely Jewish voters in two key battleground states, Pennsylvania and Florida, shows overwhelming majorities against him and against his agenda. Among Jews, only crackpot religionist fanatics, primarily Hasidics who are not permitted to use the internet and who regard non-Jews as taboo, support Trump.

Jews for Trump? Less than in 2016

In an e-mail yesterday, J Street vice president Ben Shnider noted that last year Señor Trumpanzee tweeted "'Jewish people are fleeing the Democratic Party.' He-- and the hawkish right-wing groups that back him-- predicted 2020 would be the year of a major 'jexodus,' leading to a surge in Jewish support for Trump and the GOP. Our new polls of Jewish likely voters in Florida and Pennsylvania show there is, indeed, a movement of voters since 2016. But it’s in the opposite direction.
In both states, Biden leads Trump by a 50+ point margin. The 73-22 spread in Florida marks a five-point drop in Trump’s Jewish support since he faced off against Hillary Clinton.

Trump and his allies on the right have long claimed that the administration’s giveaways to the Israeli settlement movement and symbolic gestures like moving the US embassy would be keys to wooing Jewish support.

But as J Street polling has shown year after year (and as some pundits still fail to grasp) American Jews simply do not vote based on Israel. Like other Americans, we prioritize health care, the economy and in 2020, pandemic response. Our new survey shows that only six percent of Jewish likely voters in Florida include Israel in their top two voting issues.

And guess what? Even if we did vote based on Israel, our surveys show Jewish voters in these swing states prefer Biden to Trump on the issue (56%-35% in Florida).

In fact, our polls show a striking rejection of Trump’s foreign policy by Jewish voters and a strong preference for Biden’s leadership and policies. In Florida:
63% place greater trust in Biden to handle Iran and 64% agree with Biden that the US should reenter the Iran deal;
64% support a two-state agreement with Israeli and Palestinian capitals in Jerusalem.
And the margins were even higher when it came to issues of domestic security:
75% to 20% say Biden would do a better job tackling white nationalism and antisemitism;
67% to 25% trust Biden over Trump to keep American Jews safe.
As for young voters, a new survey for Axios shows that there are only 5 states, all backward and kind of sad, where most voters under 35 are going with Trump: Arkansas, Idaho, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. I'm shocked North Dakota, which is an even worse red hell than South Dakota, is missing from that list! Oh, wait... North Dakota either has no voters under 46, or voters under 46 weren't polled. (Same goes for Alabama and Kentucky and Oklahoma). Still, Axios concluded that "Trump's path to re-election depends heavily on younger adults staying home... Among 640,328 likely voters surveyed nationally in multiple waves from June through this week, younger voters strongly supported Biden over Trump in most states-- including Texas (59%-40%), Georgia (60%-39%) and even deep-red South Carolina (56%-43%)."

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Will The Anti-Red Tsunami Sweep The Democrats Back Into Control Of State Legislatures-- Yes, But Why Not Florida?



Florida Man x 3

Reporting for National Journal, Mary Frances McGowan and Leah Askarinam wrote about the state of the crucial-- but largely ignored-- down-ballot battles over control of state legislatures. In a tsunami-- even though it's primarily a rejection of Trump-- Republicans on all levels are staring into the wide open maw of defeat. In 2010, two years after Obama's big win, due almost entirely to Democratic Party complacency and incompetence on every level, 21 state legislative chambers flipped from blue to red. The Republicans used these wins to further gerrymander state after state into GOP bastions, particularly North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Texas. (Democrats did basically the same thing in Illinois and Maryland.)

Goal Thermometer"Ten years later," wrote McGowan and Askarinam, "Democrats control 39 legislative chambers out of 98 total (excluding Nebraska, which is unicameral). Republicans are on defense, and Democratic groups are stressing the importance of having a seat at the table during redistricting, not to mention the importance of policy goals like expanding Medicaid and increasing voter access." They warn that it's no easy task. Republicans drew the boundaries of the districts being fought over and the Republican State Leadership Committee has had "a gargantuan financial war chest" to work with. Blue America is trying to boost the chances of progressive candidates across the country and you can contribute to any or all of them by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer on the right. National Journal delineates the 10 most likely chambers to flip a week from Tuesday.

The 67 seat Minnesota Senate, which currently has 35 Republicans and 32 Dems, is probably the surest bet, with 10 Republican-held districts that Governor Tim Walz carried in 2018. The Dems need to flip just 2 of them and are likely to flip at least 5.

In Arizona, both Houses are controlled by the GOP and both look flippable in a state that is trending blue and where Biden is way ahead and where Democrat Mark Kelly looks sure to beat GOP incumbent Martha McSally in a US Senate landslide. Governor Ducey is loathed because of his disastrous pandemic response and state legislators are going to get walloped because of him (and Trump). "More so than in other state legislatures," wrote McGowan and Askarinam, "the results from the two chambers are likely to reflect one another. Arizona is divided into 30 legislative districts, each of which is represented by one state senator and two state House members. Republicans hold a 17-13 majority in the state Senate and a 31-29 majority in the House. Democrats should be able to win both but, like Minnesota , this isn't going to have any impact on the redrawing of district lines. (Arizona has an independent commission doing that job.)

Texas though, is a real battle-royale where the ability of the GOP to gerrymander is very much at stake. This one is CRUCIAL. Please contribute to Lorenzo Sanchez, Eric Holguin and Erin Zwiener here. Right now there are 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats in the state House and the Democrats are heavily targeting the 9 Republican-held seats that Beto O’Rourke carried in his 2018 Senate race, focusing on blue-trending suburban areas near Houston and Dallas, where Trump has become an albatross around the neck of every Republican. If the Democrats flip this chamber, the repercussions nationally will be humongous because GOP plans to gerrymander newly blue congressional districts will have to be scrapped.

The Iowa House has a 53-47 Republican majority. The Democrats need 4 seats to take back control. The legislature doesn’t draw the legislative boundaries but it gets to approve or disapprove them. Democrats control 3 of the 4 congressional districts and the 4th is an open seat where J.D. Scholten is running the most energetic campaign in the state. It looks like Biden is going to win the state, as will Theresa Greenfield, who is leading GOP Senator Joni Ernst by 1.8 points on average.

The Michigan House looks ready to flip back to the Democrats as well. Right now the GOP holds 58 seats to the Democrats' 52 but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer carried Oakland County by 17 points in 2018 and the Democrats are fighting hard to pick up seats there and in other suburban districts.

I would call it a much longer shot, but Democrats feel they can take back both the House and Senate in North Carolina, in great part because a federal court declared the old map unconstitutional, the Democrats had a very successful recruiting season and because both Governor Roy Cooper and Biden are surging right now. The Dems need 5 state Senate seats (and 2 are sure things). "The path to netting the other three," wrote McGowan and Askkarinam, "is scattered across the state, with promising races taking place in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and the Piedmont region. Democrats point to Senate District 24 in Alamance County, where Democratic veteran J.D. Wooten is running against Republican Amy Galey, as a bellwether. Trump carried that district by 12 points in 2016; if Wooten makes it across the finish line, the chamber is likely to follow. In the state House, Democrats need to flip six seats to take a majority. The landscape is a bit rockier than in the Senate, due to a handful of vulnerable incumbents whom the party needs to protect. However, the party has identified nine Republicans they see as vulnerable."

Pennsylvania should be easier, where the state House has 110 Republicans and 93 Dems but with plenty of suburban targets around Philly and Harrisburg for the Democrats to win in, along with Biden. The Democrats are also likely to flip 3 state Senate seats, but they need a 4th (in Lancaster) and if they win it it will mean the anti-red tsunami is bigger than most people expect.

The toughest of the 10 chambers is the Georgia state House, where Democrats need to pick up 16 seats. They'll win seats but probably more like 7 or 8 than 16.

Goal ThermometerThat leaves a chamber that should be a relatively do-able pick up unmentioned: the Florida state Senate, which the top Senate Democrat, Gary Farmer, seems absolutely determined to lose. The state Senate consists of 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats, so the Dems need 3 for a tie and 4 for a majority. It's almost as if they made a deal with the Republicans to go after 2, which will leave the Senate with a 21-19 GOP majority. Early on, the Democrats tried recruiting failed gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink to run for the open SD-20 seat (parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties). She declined but the candidate who nearly won the seat against Tom Lee, the retiring incumbent, in 2018 is in it to win it. The state party has not been welcoming, at least in part because Lewis is black and they try to prevent minority candidates from running in "white" districts. (Yes, it's the worst Democratic state party in the country-- or maybe tied for worst with Ohio's.) Right now, it looks like Lewis is going to beat far right nut-job Daniel Burgess, despite Farmer and the state party. That'll make it a tied chamber; one more seat and they have a win.

Dr. Fergie Reid of 90For90, who helped recruit so many of the Florida candidates told me this morning that "Some Democrats are on offense in Florida; many of these Democrats are playing a beautiful style of 'team electoral politics.' 2020 Florida Democrats are contesting 83 of the 84 GOP held State Legislative Districts; 11 out of 11 in the State Senate and 72 out of 73 in the State House. In the 14 GOP held congressional districts, Democrats are contesting 12. Two Republicans were given walkovers,' on the candidate filing deadline date in April, Mario Diaz-Balart in the prime swing district in the state-- CD 25-- and Neal Dunn in CD 2. Recent polling shows serious Biden strength, and serious Trump weakness in Florida. Republicans are fearful of an impending 'shellacking' and rightfully so. Their great fear is losing control. If they lose either the state House or state Senate, Florida Dems will have a say in the next decade’s electoral maps. Kathy Lewis for SD 20 is the 'rate limiting step' to this Democratic 'power possibility' in Florida. Moreover, the state Senate candidates in todo are the key drivers for a potential Biden overperformance throughout the state: Karen Butler for SD 1, Stacey Peters for SD 5, Heather Hunter for SD 7, Scott Fretwell for SD 17, Kathy Lewis for SD 20, Tony Eldon for SD 21, Katherine Norman for SD 23, Corinna Robinson for SD 25 and Rachel Brown for SD 27; the other Florida Senate candidates are already receiving max support. Help the neglected candidates for maximum effect. Sprint to the finish line. Leave no doubt.

Who's missing from this photo-- Matt Gaetz, Ted Yoho, Joe Gruters, Daniel Perez, Bill Galvano, Dane Eagle, Ashley Moody?

The most unpopular governor in America, Ron DeSantis, is not on the ballot. If voters want to make him pay for his pro-COVID/anti-Florida agenda, the can only take it out on his cronies in the legislature. And they should. DeSantis has killed 16,110 Floridians and the state's case total is 760,389-- 35,404 cases per million Floridians, far worse than any big state in the country. On Kathy Lewis' website, is a message about the pandemic: "In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida has seen unprecedented numbers of citizens lose their livelihoods and having to navigate an unemployment system that was seemingly designed to deter users from accessing much needed unemployment assistance. Florida’s response to COVID-19 has been disorganized and lacking in measures focused on saving lives. Kathy believes we need a robust and thorough plan developed with the expert advice of scientists and public health professionals to deal with the current pandemic and to prepare Florida for future pandemics with our citizens’ health and safety as our priority."

Bob Lynch is running for the Florida state House held by a top GOP leader-- who is protected by the Florida Democratic Party-- Daniel Perez. Bob explained that "The reason Florida is not on the list is because Florida Democrats made the calculated decision to not be on the list. This was largely led by Gary Farmer, who has a cushy gig in the minority, and he doesn’t want to rock the boat. Cutting deals with Republicans is his job. Representing Florida is not."

"There is," he continued, "a solid chance we flip Georgia, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and even freakin’ South Caroline Blue.  You’d think that Florida Dems would take advantage of this historic opportunity to go on a full court press to flip the Florida State Senate and House going into a redistricting year. Instead, Gary Farmer and his cronies decided to spend all of their time and money on Senate District 9 and 39 because that’s where their consultants and vendors can get paid the most and send the kickbacks all up the chain. They have not only completely ignored a historic slate of Senate candidates featuring @Butler4FLSen, @KathyLewisforFL, @Rachel_D_Brown, @NormanFlSenate, @CorinnaRobinson, @HeatherForSD7, @fretwellforfl, and @tonyforflorida, they have openly worked against some of them. Any one of these candidates could change the balance of power in Florida for a decade. Yet Gary and Juan Peñalosa have done everything in their power to abandon and torpedo these candidates. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself why?"

One very prominent candidate who is likely to be serving in the legislature next year and asked me not to divulge his name told me that "The Democrats are bringing a water gun to a bazooka fight with the Florida state legislature. Rather than help Democratic candidates win crucial races across the state, they're leaving them high and dry while actively working against candidates challenging Republican authority. It's genuinely disgusting how little party leadership actually wants to take back the state for the Democrats, especially considering Florida is a swing state with redistricting right around the corner. Republicans will fundraise and promote all of their candidates and shower them with buckets of cash to win. While the Democrats will be like 'OMG thanks for running XD' while doing absolutely nothing to help them win. It's embarrassing. One would think with the GOP's agenda sprinting towards fascism, the Dems might want to help out in critical races. But no, they'd rather be in the minority and collect a check. Holy shit what a petulant opposition party!"

Matt Rogers of Politidope-- and a legislative candidate himself in Virginia-- told me that for the last year, he's "been laser-focused on flipping Florida's 29 Electoral College votes for whomever the Democratic nominee ended up being. During that time, I've heard blood-boiling discussion of inspiring Democratic candidates being recruited OUT of races, party leaders wishing black candidates were 'more attractive' and Party 'leaders' themselves going on Twitter can saying they don't want to 'waste' resources on the brave candidates I've been so fortunate to work alongside with. Nevertheless, we persist. We've got only a few days left to raise money (until October 29th at 11:59 PM) for them. Let's do everything we can to help them and, in effect, help flip Florida's 29 Electoral College votes against the fascist in the White House.

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Trump, Guilty Of Negligent Homicide, Has Succeeded In Spreading The Pandemic Into Rural America



On Tuesday, a dozen countries reported over 10,000 new cases. The U.S. led the way with 63,663. COVID-19 has found a very welcoming environment in Trumpistan. Rural America paid attention to Trump's self-serving bullshit and gaslighting-- and now they're starting to pay the price. The pandemic spread into rural America at what the Daily Yonder called "a record-breaking pace again last week, adding 160 counties to the red-zone list and bringing the total number of rural Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus to more than 1 million. Nearly 70% of the nation’s 1,976 rural (nonmetropolitan) counties are now in the red zone, a term used by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to designate localities where the spread of the virus is out of control. Red-zone counties have a rate of at least 100 new infections per 100,000 in population. Rural America had 82,188 new infections last week, a 16% increase and the fourth consecutive week of record-breaking levels of new cases. With last week’s cases, the total number of rural residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus broke 1 million (1,068,949), according to data compiled by the nonprofit USA Facts."

That's Trumpistan: the Dakotas and all the states bordering on them that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem-- homicidal maniac-- infected: Iowa, Nebraska Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado.

Every single rural county in Wisconsin-- there are 46-- is in the COVID red zone now, In South Dakota 57 rural counties (out of a total of 58) are in the red zone, as are 58 of Minnesota's 60 rural counties, 75 of Iowa's 78 rural counties, 45 of North Dakota's 47 rural counties, 75 of Nebraska's 80 rural counties, 58 if Illinois' 62 rural counties, 49 of Tennessee's 53 rural counties, 54 of Oklahoma's 59 rural counties, 46 of Montana's 51 rural counties and 73 of Missouri's 81 rural counties. Those are the states where over 90% of the rural counties are in the COVID red zone, meaning the pandemic is out of control.

These were counties that voted, overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 and will vote for him again a week from Tuesday. Rural Florence County, Wisconsin went for Trump with 71.6% of it's vote. Taylor County, Wisconsin went for Trump 70.0% to 25.5%. Haakon, Campbell, Perkins, Jones, Potter and Douglas counties in South Dakota went for Trump with over 80% of their votes in 2016. Harding County gave him a 90.2% to 4.9% win. These counties are where COVID is reaping a gruesome toll today. Sioux County was the Trumpiest in Iowa (82,1% to 12.7%) in 2016. In 2018, Sioux County, performing as an R+48 constituency gave Nazi congressman Steve King his biggest win. Two years later no one believed in masks or social distancing, just in Donald Trump.

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University released a paper that the folks in Sioux County, Iowa and the rural counties across America should turn off Fox and read. The paper is about COVID deaths and why most of them were avoidable. Between 130,000 and 210,000 peopler re dead now because of Trump and his Republican enablers. "With more than 217,000 lives lost," the 4 doctors who penned the report wrote, "and a proportional mortality rate twice that of neighboring Canada and more than fifty times that of Japan-- a country with a much older population than the U.S.-- the United States has turned a global crisis into a devastating tragedy... [T]he abject failures of U.S. government policies and crisis messaging persist. U.S. fatalities have remained disproportionately high throughout the pandemic when compared to even other high-mortality countries. The inability of the U.S. to mitigate the pandemic is especially stark when contrasted with the response of high- income nations, such as South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and Canada, as well as low- and middle-income countries as varied as Thailand, Pakistan, Honduras, and Malaysia. All of these nations have had greater success in protecting their populations from the impact of the coronavirus.

Over the past nine months, the United States has witnessed an alarming jolt of vulnerability and anguish, as the novel coronavirus pandemic has wrought immense suffering and confusion in a country that only last year topped an international ranking of epidemic preparedness. This year, American exceptionalism has manifested in the worst way: 217,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, the highest gross numerical toll of any country by more 65,000. Over eight million Americans have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and millions more have been clinically diagnosed with COVID-19, without test confirmation.

Many of the underlying factors amplifying the pandemic’s deadly impact have existed long before the novel coronavirus first arrived in Washington state on January 20th-- a fractured healthcare system, inequitable access to care, and immense health, social and racial disparities among America’s most vulnerable groups. Compounding this is an Administration that has publicly denigrated its own public health officials-- and science more generally-- thereby hamstringing efforts by its vaunted public health service to curb the pandemic’s spread.

The result has been a tragedy: for a country with just 4% of the world’s population, U.S. citizens make up 20% of all global cases. More than 217,000 U.S. residents have lost their lives, accounting for one-fifth of all COVID-19 deaths worldwide.

...By contrasting the U.S. proportional mortality rate with that of six other high-income countries, this report highlights the stark reality that is the United States’ continued mismanagement of the pandemic response. Particularly, it is the inability or unwillingness of U.S. officials to adapt or improve the federal response over the course of the pandemic that has strongly contributed to the nation’s uniquely high Covid-19 fatality rate. The U.S. should have-- and could have-- done better to protect the nation, and particularly its most vulnerable populations, from a threat that was identified and recognized early in 2020.

The failure of the federal government to (a) create a rigorous national strategy for testing and contact tracing, (b) coordinate data collection and coordination among U.S. states, or (c) recognize the scientific validity of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings and social distancing reflect a deeply inadequate national response when contrasted to other high-income countries. Our comparative analysis estimates that somewhere between 130,000 and 210,000 American deaths to date could have been avoided.

The weight of this enormous failure ultimately falls to the leadership at the White House-- and among a number of state governments-- which consistently undercut the efforts of top officials at the CDC and HHS. Further, there is little evidence to suggest that science-based policies will prevail going forward with DonaldTrump as President given his continued attacks on science and government scientists. A pandemic is not a time for a decentralized and combative national response. It requires strong leadership and coordination across states towards a common purpose of defeating the threat with the might of the whole nation. The cases of South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, and France demonstrate that the scope of the crisis and suffering did not need to reach the levels seen in the U.S.
Since the report was written, U.S. deaths from COVID have continued to rise exponentially. As of yesterday, U.S. deaths were closing in on 230,000, pushed higher by rapid growth in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona, all states that Trump won in 2016 but all states that are reconsidering for 2020. Are the rural counties in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa reconsidering? Maybe some people but the polling indicates that the worst-stricken COVID counties in rural America are sticking with the man who has infected their small towns.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!



by Noah

Dateline: Washington, DC
Thinking they need a little juice, the Republican Party has decided to change their motto. Gone but not forgotten, are "Greed Over People," and the old KKK chestnut "America First" (most recently used by beloved party leader Donald Trump) but, judging from the above, it appears that the Republican Party has decided to double down on their cherished Death Cult status. I'm sure that people like party chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel considered other slogans like "Die and Die Quickly," "Just Die, Losers," "Coathangers For Teens, "Just Gas 'Em," "Second Amendment Solutions," and "Herd Mentality-COVID For All!," but, in they end, they went for something more general and all-encompassing. So, "Reckless Disregard For Human Life" it is. If you're gonna go down, you might as well go down being who you are and use what you are most known for right now. If they win, they can keep the motto and thank whoever hacked the most voting machines.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Trump Plans To Win 6-3 Or 5-4… In Overtime



From Newsmax

-by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Trump's Kampf (German for struggle) has been clear since before he got in the White House:

Endlessly scream Big Lies about a “fake” election.

Pack the Court with flunkies, culminating with Amy Barrett.

Create chaos in the swing states.

Use gerrymandered TrumpCult state legislatures to override the popular vote (see below for the 1887 Electoral Count Act).

Sabotage the Electoral College past its “Safe Harbor” date. Let all the deadlines pass.

Get the whole mess in front of the Trump-owned Supreme Court. Win either 6-3 or 5-4, depending on a wavering John Roberts.

The stage was set in 2010, when the Koch Brothers gerrymandered fascist legislatures into 29 states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other Electoral College pivots.

In a well-funded covert operation known as the Redmap Coup, GOP agents took state power throughout the US. The Obama Democrats said and did nothing (see David Daley’s Ratf**ked).

Since 2016, Trump has screeched that millions of Mexicans swam the Rio Grande to vote for Hillary Clinton. Defeated by obvious election thefts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Clinton said and did nothing.

From 2010 to now, GOP Dirty Tricksters have filched a thousand elected offices, including at least six US Senate seats and those three on the Supreme Court. The Democrats have said and done nothing.

A Florida referendum decisively re-enfranchised more than a million ex-felons, only to be trashed by a governor and legislature empowered in a stolen 2018 election.

Nationwide, the TrumpCult has stripped some 17 million citizens from the voter rolls.

It has budgeted $20 million for 50,000 armed White Supremacist militias to intimidate voters.

It has assaulted vote-by-mail, gutted the US Postal Service, obliterated drop boxes, misdirected voters, subverted ballots, intimidated citizens, trashed precincts, sabotaged reception and recount deadlines, and done all else possible to sabotage this year’s vote count.

Inside the voting centers, they’re disqualifying countless ballots without significant opposition from the supine Democrats.

And they’re sabotaging digital scanners set to count virtually all of 2020’s ballots, illegally destroying electronic ballot images, which can supply an accurate vote count quickly and easily.

Instead, in virtually any state, those machines (many linked to the internet) could be hacked to produce any tally the TrumpCult might want.

Trump does face significant opposition.

Polls showing a massive public rejection may understate the power of 86 million millennials who generally despise Trump, but have been slow to vote. Their younger Gen Z siblings also hate him, but are just starting to come to the polls.

Overall, Trump’s imperial white misogynist hate-base is on a demographic death march. Whites will soon be a minority in this country. A strong woman of color like Kamela Harris-- a “monster” in Trump’s eyes-- embodies their worst nightmare... and the tangible future they will fight to resist.

So the Millennial/Z’s diverse, tolerant, Solartopian mega-generation must flood the polls to overcome Trump’s election theft breakwater.

To start, as elders shun infectious voting centers, Millennial/Zs may transform the ranks of poll workers.

The epic shift to vote-by-mail and early voting is at last moving our elections away from hackable electronic touchscreens and onto hand-marked paper ballots.

With protected chains of custody and preserved digital images, we could get quick, accurate, reliable vote counts.

But tens of millions of youthful voters must arise, especially in the gerrymandered swing states.

Only overwhelming margins like those run up by Obama in 2008 and 2012-- at least 5%, probably more-- can prevent these fascist legislatures from voiding the popular vote and sticking Trump delegations into the Electoral College.

That means winning the 2020 Trifecta by restocking the registration rolls, protecting early voting and vote-by-mail, and preserving the digital vote count.

Otherwise, amidst the choreographed chaos, by a count of 6-3 or 5-4, Donald Trump will become President for Life.

Postscript: The Electoral Count Act of 1887

The US Constitution gives legislatures the power to choose their state’s Electoral College delegations, no matter what the public wants.

This became an issue when the 1876-1877 election devolved into the kind of chaos Trump aims to create this year.

Democrat Samuel Tilden got 250,000 more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, whose Republicans stole enough Electoral College votes to force a five-month stalemate. Hayes finally cut a deal to end southern Reconstruction, disenfranchising the African-American population.

Ten years later, the Electoral Count Act set a “safe harbor” date-- this year an entirely unworkable December 8-- by which legislatures must certify their state’s Electoral College delegation. The role of the state governors is murky and untested.

An obvious Trump strategy would be to sabotage state vote counts and delay definitive tallies beyond the legal deadline. The Roberts-Kavanaugh-Barrett “Brooks Brothers Mob” did that in 2000 by physically assaulting Florida’s recount, allowing the Supreme Court to throw the election to George W. Bush.

This year, Trump could repeat history in Florida (not to mention Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and/or Arizona) delaying the certification of enough Electoral votes to deny Biden the presidency, even if he wins the popular vote by many millions.

Electoral votes must be delivered to the Vice President by December 23. On January 6, a joint session of the newly-elected Congress counts them, with a dizzying array of variables in between.

Any Senator can join with a Representative to force a closed two-hour joint session evaluating any state’s Electoral College delegation.

In 2001, then-VP Al Gore prevented the Congressional Black Caucus from challenging the Florida delegation that had been seated by armed thugs who got the Supreme Court to stop the Florida recount. Gore also stopped Rev. Jesse Jackson from staging a national demonstration demanding the popular vote be honored.

In 2005, with then-VP Dick Cheney presiding, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) joined Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) to challenge Ohio’s fraudulent delegation. Congress didn’t care. Bush got a second term.
This year, Trump has his armed White Supremacists-- his Hitlerian Brown Shirts-- on “standby.”  Their orders are to create chaos at the polls and in the vote count.  The country’s laws are antiquated, contradictory, often incomprehensible.

But Trump's “November Surprise” bottom line is obvious: delay the vote counts, hijack the state legislatures, steal the Electoral College delegations, get it all to his “safe harbor” Supremes, who will crown him 6-3 or 5-4... or at least try.

Because the key questions have now become:

Could a huge popular landslide prevent this coup from happening?  How big does it need to be?  How much election protection will it require?
What (if anything) will the Democrats do about all this?

And, most importantly...what will YOU do about it?



Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman co-wrote The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections, which resides at along with Bob’s Fitrakis Files.

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The American Voter And The Catholic Church Evolve On The LGBTQ Community-- While The GOP Devolves



Undue Influence by Nancy Ohanian

A new national survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that "the vast majority of Americans (70%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 28% of Americans who oppose it. Majorities of Democrats (80%) and independents (76%), as well as half of Republicans (50%), support same-sex marriage."

It will probably surprise no one that white evangelical Protestants are the only major religious group in which a majority opposes allowing gay and lesbian couples marrying (34% favor, 63% oppose). Majorities in every other major religious group support marriage equality, including 90% of the religiously unaffiliated , 79% of white mainline Protestants, 78% of Hispanic Catholics, 72% of members of non-Christian religious groups, 68% of Hispanic Protestants, 67% of white Catholics, 57% of Black Protestants, and 56% of members of other Christian religious groups. Further, "more than eight in ten Americans (83%) favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, compared to only 16% of Americans who oppose such laws. Majorities of Democrats (94%), independents (85%), and Republicans (68%) favor nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people."

Trump, as you know, chose a vicious homophobic bigot from a weird Bronze-Age-oriented religious cult for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. The Republican-controlled Senate is rushing through her confirmation against the wishes of most Americans.

More in touch with the kind of Christianity that is related to Jesus Christ, Pope Francis, has taken a big step towards ending the systemic homophobia that has helped turn people off to the Catholic Church. Reporting for the Washington Post yesterday, Chico Harlan and Michelle Boorstein wrote that in a new documentary Pope Francis "has called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples, in what amounts to his clearest support to date for the issue... Francis has long expressed an interest in outreach to the church's LGBT followers, but his remarks have often stressed general understanding and welcoming-- rather than substantive policies. Priests in some parts of the world bless same-sex marriage, but that stance-- and Francis's new remarks-- are a departure from official church teaching. The documentary, Francesco, is premiering this week in Rome and then in the United States. The pope gave an interview to the filmmaker, Evgeny Afineevsky, saying that 'homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They're children of God and have a right to a family,' the pope said. 'Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.'"

Biden has evolved from being a homophobic bigot into someone who at least professes to be pro-LGBQT. Trump, meanwhile, has devolved from being someone who didn't care one way or the other to being a vicious transactional homophobe. Yesterday, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin reported that most voters prefer Biden's positions over Trump's on virtually every major issue. On all other subjects tested in the poll, voters preferred Biden over Trump. Biden is favored over Trump to lead on the coronavirus pandemic by 12 points, and voters trust Biden over Trump to choose Supreme Court justices and to maintain law and order by six-point margins. Americans see Biden as more capable of uniting the country by nearly 20 points.

"Trump," wrote conservative activist George Will in his Washington Post column yesterday, "is as much a mess and a disgrace now as he was when he began his illegitimate, divisive presidency. "As the Donald Trump parenthesis in the republic’s history closes, he is opening the sluices on his reservoir of invectives and self-pity. A practitioner of crybaby conservatism-- no one, he thinks, has suffered so much since Job lost his camels and acquired boils-- and ever a weakling, Trump will end his presidency as he began it: whining.
His first day cloaked in presidential dignity he spent disputing photographic proof that his inauguration crowd was substantially smaller than his immediate predecessor’s. Trump’s day of complaining continued at the CIA headquarters, at the wall commemorating those who died serving the agency. His presidency that began with a wallow in self-pity probably will end in ignominy when he slinks away pouting, trailing clouds of recriminations, without a trace of John McCain’s graciousness on election night 2008." ...Subsequently, the Republican Party has eagerly surrendered its self-respect. And having hitched its wagon to a plummeting cinder, the party is about to have a rendezvous with a surly electorate wielding a truncheon. The party picked a bad year to invite a mugging, a year ending in zero: Approximately 80 percent of state legislative seats will be filled this year, and next year the occupants, many of them Democrats wafted into office by a wave election, will redraw congressional districts based on the 2020 Census.

After Democrats controlled the House for 40 years (1954-1994), control of it changed under four presidents (Bill Clinton in 1994, George W. Bush in 2006, Obama in 2010, Trump in 2018). Trump’s legacy might include a decade of Democratic control of the House.

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Trump Is An Illegitimate President And Everything He Has Done In Office Must Be Undone-- Starting On Day One With The Removal Of Coney Barrett



Has Trump's Damnatio Memoriae Already Begun?

Amy Coney Island Baby will be an illegitimate Supreme Court justice since the Republicans broke the Senate rules to ram through a hasty confirmation [and by an illegitimate president]. The rules are clear, there can be no report from the Judiciary Committee without at least two members of the opposition party present. None were present. Biden and the new Congress absolutely must remove her the first day they take over. The confirmation process was tainted. The fascists must not be allowed to get aways with this.

But Mike Lofgren, a former Republican congressional staffer for John Kasich in the House and later the chief analyst for military spending on the Senate Budget Committee, argues in a piece for Common Dreams that Congress "must wipe the slate" by "rescind[ing] all acts signed by Trump, all of his executive orders, and all of his appointments to federal positions," including judicial appointments. He wrote that the new government the voters are empowering must prepare a plan, and the sooner the better, to address the long-term damage that Trump and his paladins have caused, "steps that go far beyond holding one man and a few of his campaign aids and appointees legally accountable (although I certainly endorse prosecuting their potential crimes)... [I]t is a time to start planning the immense job of clearing away the rubble and achieving something like public sanity. Yet a magic return to the post-Cold War status quo of a fossilized 'normalcy' that disguises festering social dysfunction is neither possible nor desirable." That status quo ante of fossilized normalcy, of course, has always been the very heart and soul of Biden's candidacy.

What Lofgren argues is that Trump was an illegitimate president, from day one, and that the Biden Adminsitration "must patiently and persuasively make every effort to demonstrate to the public that the process by which Donald Trump became president was tainted, and not sweep the unpleasant facts under the rug, as the Obama administration did with the lies and crimes of his predecessor’s invasion of Iraq." Underlying all that must come next is the point that "if the election process itself was tainted, then all of Trump’s subsequent acts in office must logically be poisoned according to a reading of the legal doctrine of “unjust enrichment”-- if Trump’s policies remain, he would still be imposing the burden of his tainted election upon the American people while continuing to benefit his co-conspirators and donors. Whether foreign interference shifted enough votes to change the [2016] election result is, besides being impossible to establish beyond doubt, irrelevant: the law does not give 'attempted' bank robbery a mulligan as compared to successful heists. The goal must be to wipe the slate clean of acts and policies of the Trump regime that by their very nature are illegitimate, as they are based not on consent of the governed but foreign interference and illegal trickery."

Dynasties throughout history have retrospectively declared as an interregnum those periods ruled over by a usurper, and the interloper’s acts and decrees were considered illegitimate.

The same applied even to more democratically determined governments. There were several European parliamentary countries that were occupied for years by Nazi Germany. After the war, these reconstructed democracies realized that, in addition to purging their systems of wartime collaborators and their policies, things could not return to the status quo of the 1930s. The slate had to be wiped clean for society to move forward.

Trump’s removal from office is only the first step. A new administration and a fresh Congress must wipe the slate in much the same manner that the Romans used damnatio memoriae (the condemnation of memory) to literally erase the record of a traitor or a usurper by removing any trace or mention of the evil doer. While it is hardly practical for an updated version to make someone an “un-person,” in that sense, the spirit of undoing their acts should be employed, both as a transition to better governance, and to serve as an admonition to those who would rule America as dictators.

A new Congress should pass a law of repeal covering the period of Trump’s regime since January 20, 2017 at noon; it would rescind all acts signed by Trump, all of his executive orders, and all of his appointments to federal positions. Congress would also specify that all government documents referring to Trump or his administration clearly carry the denotation that the period was a legal interregnum without constitutional legitimacy. This practice would follow the example of Germany’s Federal Archives; even archived official photographs from the Nazi era all contain a disclaimer warning that the original captions supplied with the photos may be “erroneous,” “biased,” or "politically extreme.”

Is this feasible? Can Congress undo judicial appointments without a formal impeachment and trial of each incumbent? Yes, Congress has the constitutional power to reorganize the judiciary; removing all of Trump’s judicial appointees would be the temporary use of such reorganizational power.

Would this seize up the functioning of government? No worse than Trump and congressional Republicans have already done. Trump’s administration has had an unprecedented number of vacancies in senior positions, and many agencies have limped along with acting directors for much of his term.

Congress, with Republicans backstopped by Trump obstructing any worthwhile initiatives, has been less productive than any Congress in living memory; it is hard to think of any law of much significance it passed other than the GOP’s beloved tax giveaway to the rich.

Doubtless, there will be exceptions to blanket nullification, but a new Congress must specifically exempt them. Likewise, it is impossible to unspend money already spent in appropriations bills, but any legislative riders attached to those bills can certainly be rescinded.

This kind of nullification will of course raise difficult issues, such as how to deal with White House and agency records generated when Trump occupied the Oval Office. Correcting the suppression of data, or in some cases its potential falsification in agencies like NASA, the EPA, or the CDC under Trump appointees, will be a matter of concern for Congress and the executive branch for years to come. The National Archives will have its work cut out for it, categorizing executive branch records, and separating the genuine from the spurious, so that an accurate history of the Trump years can be written.

Trump had his own lame version of Damnatio Memoriae

Some will object that this is not the American way, which traditionally ascribes good faith to political adversaries and lets bygones be bygones. But the old way of doing things too often degenerated into mutual backscratching and the urge to forget inconvenient facts (a syndrome that is part of what Gore Vidal called “The United States of Amnesia”). It is part of what got us to this sorry present state: too many people refused to take Donald Trump seriously, considering him either a harmless jackass or someone who when handed power would magically grow in maturity.

Others may think that a thirst for justice too readily descends into vengeance-seeking, and might compare it to regime change in banana republics. But after Watergate, the norm has been to avoid justice entirely, such that blatantly criminal acts like Iran-Contra and the Bush administration’s unconscionable lying when it committed unprovoked aggression evoke a yawn from the Great and the Good. Does Trump’s deliberate sabotage of public health measures leading to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths (when he was fully conscious from an early date of coronavirus’s danger) now merit the same treatment? When will our political establishment ever draw the line about illegal conduct by the powerful?

Denmark now, as it was 75 years ago, is an example of an enlightened and humane country, with mild criminal laws and a remarkable level of social trust. But after enduring five years of brutal occupation in World War II, thousands of collaborators were purged and 46 of the worst were executed. The least we can do is undo Trump’s misdeeds and foster a sense of national shame that too many of us took self-government for granted, while a surprising number actively tried to subvert it.

Damnatio memoriae is already playing out in towns across the Old Confederacy, including Virginia, where I live. Just up the road in Alexandria, a Confederate memorial has sat for decades, smack in the middle of the town’s main thoroughfare. Or it did until one day in June, when it vanished.

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2020 Could Be the Worst Year for Arctic Ice Ever (and Joe Biden Won't Ban Fracking)


The Laptev Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean

by Thomas Neuburger

        "Joe Biden will not ban fracking."
        —Kamala Harris, October 7, 2020

This is your friendly, periodic reminder that while Joe Biden dithers about fracking and support for fossil fuel, the planet is changing rapidly as we speak.

How rapidly? The planet is changing so fast that Biden may still be alive when the error of his ways becomes obvious to us all.

2020 Is Looking Like the Worst Year for Arctic Sea Ice Ever

Above is a map of the Laptev Sea, a part of the Arctic Ocean. The Laptev Sea is suffering the same fate as the rest of the Arctic — it's losing its ice at an alarming rate. As you can see from the graph below, 2020 is shaping up to be an unprecedented year — even surpassing in icelessness the previous worst year, 2018, marked in yellow. (Chart courtesy of climatologist Zach Labe.)

The same things is happening in the Siberian Sea (again the previous worst year, 2012, is marked in yellow):


This is, of course, a natural result of record high air temperatures over the Arctic:



Not only is the extent of sea ice rapidly diminishing; the volume of ice — which takes into account its thickness — is also shrinking to a shadow of its former self:


Climate Deniers Push Biden to Stay With Fracking for "Strong Environmental" Reasons

While this is going on, Team Biden is being lobbied (or quietly encouraging others to lobby them) to stay the course on fracking because fracking "could actually help the climate." You read that right. As a recent Politico piece argues, "abruptly ending fracking today would make [the] decarbonization process harder, not easier."

The Politico piece is propaganda (of course) written by two men associated with the Breakthrough Institute, an energy company-friendly think tank founded by known climate denier — and Republican-invited witness at the most recent House science hearing — Michael Shellenberger.

A sample from Shellenberger's House testimony: "If the Greenland ice sheet were to completely disintegrate, sea levels would rise by seven meters, but over a 1,000-year period. And for that to happen, temperatures would have to rise far more than anyone imagines." 

No, Mr. Shellenberger; if the Greenland ice sheet were to completely disintegrate — and it's disappearing 600% faster than models have predicted — global sea level would rise by seven meters within a few years or less, not ten centuries. If you fill a bathtub, it doesn't take a week for new water to reach the back. Water doesn't get stuck like that — it flows.

The end of winter Arctic ice is coming. Ten bad years could do it. Joe Biden may even live to see that day, especially if he helps cause it.


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Will The Movie About The Trump Campaign Be A Spy Thriller? A Tale Of A Crime Family? A Tragedy? A Comedy? All Of The Above?



2 bullshit artists the public is done with

Ultimately, Trump will lose in less than two weeks because most Americans are sick of him (some literally with COVID and some just of his rotten persona) and because we're in serious times and serious times call for... well, not a self-serving clown. His non-response to a pandemic that has sickened over eight-and-a-half million Americans and killed over 227,000 of us has made most voters sit up and take notice. But there are other factors that have played into what is shaping up to be the biggest repudiation of an incumbent president since Herbert Hoover.

Some of those reasons are big-- like the unemployment number and Trump's inability to force McConnell and the Republican Senate to agree to a pandemic relief bill. Or how Trump's own campaign attorneys have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Biden campaign-- and just $50 to the Trump campaign. Others are, by themselves, barekly a blip on the radar-- like Trump's latest bankruptcy: his campaign.

Mike Murphy is a well-known GOP political operative who worked for John McCain, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lamar Alexander to name a few, In an interview with NBC News about how Trump wasted a billion dollars of his contributors' money yesterday, Murphy noted that the Trump campaign "spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff and vanity ads way too early. You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly.”

Then there's the whole "strategy" behind Trump's desperate super-spreader rallies. side from the fact that he should eventually be charged with negligent homicide, the whole endeavor is a tragic joke. Nancy Cook gave away the punchline at Politico yesterday. With the Orange Blob yearning for "the magic of his 2016 upstart campaign: the multi-rally days, crisscrossing the country in a Trump-branded plane, the screaming crowds... he’s designed a 2016 redux in 2020 to recapture that spirit, casting off the constraints of a pandemic, his own presidency and even the advice of some of his own advisers."
Trump views rallies in battleground states as the linchpin of his closing argument, a means to excite his supporters and ensure they vote on Nov. 3. But many Republicans close to the White House, former senior administration officials and political advisers say the rallies are largely a way to keep the unscripted and undisciplined president occupied, since they do little to persuade new Trump voters. Rallies, they note, do not woo senior citizens, independents or suburban women, many of whom have moved away from the Trump ticket this election cycle. Most of Trump’s rallies are no longer televised nationally as they once were.

And with coronavirus infection rates climbing, the Trump rallies often draw negative headlines in local news markets because the packed events defy public health guidelines, featuring few masks and almost no social distancing. After Trump’s recent rallies in Bemidji and Duluth, Minnesota-- both in counties the Trump campaign hopes to win-- local health authorities connected roughly 24 new Covid-19 cases to the rallies and protests outside of them.

...[T]he rallies offer the president his own form of soothing, along with a major ego boost in the middle of a tough campaign, said aides, advisers and allies. Trump feeds off the energy of a crowd regardless of whether the appearance makes the most political sense or can help him make gains against Biden in states like Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.

“Trump thinks, ‘I have the rallies to prove that I am the greatest. No one can attract crowds like me,’” said Tony Schwartz, the author and Trump critic who ghost wrote The Art of the Deal and just published a memoir titled Dealing with the Devil: My Mother, Trump and Me. “It is like taking a shot of testosterone to pump himself up, particularly now.”
One of the funniest, though, is how the planned October surprise-- a Trump-Putin-Giuliani con-job of a Ukraine scandal that is the defining moment in American politics on the right-wing fringe, but not taken seriously by any normal people-- went awry. The cooked-up evidence is likely to wind up on a rap sheet when Giuliani is eventually prosecuted.

And it has already spun off an hilarious sub-plot: Giuliani the Trump-like pervert. Catherine Shoard exposed the latest Giuliani caper for Guardian readers. Borat is in the house-- and Rudy missed the chance to sneak out the back door! Giuliani's reputation of is already in tatters, to put it mildly, but Shoard contends that it "could be set for a further blow with the release of highly embarrassing footage in Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow-up to Borat." The film is being released Friday and in it, Rudy "is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat’s daughter, who is posing as a TV journalist."
Following an obsequious interview for a fake conservative news programme, the pair retreat at her suggestion for a drink to the bedroom of a hotel suite, which is rigged with concealed cameras.

After she removes his microphone, Giuliani, 76, can be seen lying back on the bed, fiddling with his untucked shirt and reaching into his trousers. They are then interrupted by Borat who runs in and says: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

...Word of the incident first emerged on 7 July, when Giuliani called New York police to report the intrusion of an unusually-dressed man.

“This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit,” Giuliani told the New York Post. “It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive.

“This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away,” Giuliani said. The police found no crime had been committed.

Giuliani continued: “I only later realised it must have been Sacha Baron Cohen. I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me.”

Viewers may be less convinced that Baron Cohen, reprising his role as the bumbling reporter Borat Sagdiyev, and Maria Bakalova, who plays his daughter, Tutar, had no success.

In the film Borat is dispatched by the Kazakh government back to the US to present a bribe to an ally of Donald Trump in order to ingratiate his country with the administration. After the monkey earmarked for the gift is indisposed, Borat’s supposedly underage offspring becomes the replacement present.

Even before he reaches into his trousers, Giuliani does not appear to acquit himself especially impressively during the encounter. Flattered and flirtatious, he drinks scotch, coughs, fails to socially distance and claims Trump’s speedy actions in the spring saved a million Americans from dying of Covid. He also agrees-- in theory at least-- to eat a bat with his interviewer.

Giuliani has become a key figure in the late stages of the US presidential election after obtaining a laptop hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden and left at a repair shop in Delaware.

His efforts to unearth political dirt on Trump’s rival for the White House mean that the film’s mortifying footage can be seen as an attempt to undermine Giuliani’s credibility. The film, released on Amazon Prime less than a fortnight before the election, ends with an instruction for viewers to vote.

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