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Archive for the ‘stuff’ Category

Pat Benatar: We Live for Love

Remarks:

In 1980 this song went to #27 in the US and nowhere in the UK. It is by far my favourite Pat Benatar song, but I had completely forgotten about it till – yesterday. Thanks Internet! I mainly remember her for “Love is a Battlefield” (1983), which MTV played to death. But I also remember that even then I knew it was hardly her best song.

This song was written by Neil Giraldo, whose main contribution to the ages is Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” (1981). He was Benatar’s guitarist and later husband.

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Lyrics:

Your love’s contagious
One kiss is dangerous
But I have more to risk than you to lose

I feel passion growin’
I know that love is only
Just one inch away from strikin’ us

We live for love
We live for love

When we get tired
And watch the summer fade away
Will you think of romance? What will we do?

Is there a place where we can go
Where time stands still for those who know?
‘Til eternity we’ll fulfill our desire

We live for love
We live for love
We live for love
We live for love

I never planned to win the race
But you convinced me face to face
There was never a chance of losin’ at all

We live for love
We live for love
We live for love
We live for love

We live for love
We live for love
We live for love
We live for love

Written By Neil Giraldo

Source: Genius Lyrics.

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Programming note #42

 

Diet Orange: From today till the day after the Electoral College votes (November 27th to December 15th 2020) I am going to adhere to a strict news diet of Trump tweets. I can look at anything his tweets or retweets directly links to, but nothing beyond that.

After December 15th I am free to read or watch anything about these 18 days from any source. Until then everything about these 18 days has to come by way of Trump’s tweets.

My aim is understand the mindset of the Orange Bubble. Because from within my own filter bubble (we all have one) it looks unhinged, not part of “the reality-based community”.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

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The Hair Dye Coup

The Hair Dye Coup (2020), as talking head Keith Olbermann calls it, is President Trump’s attempt, both legal and ill, to hang onto power in the US despite losing the 2020 election. It is both laughable and frightening at the same time. As of November 20th, it looks likely to fail, but Trump remains in power till at least January 20th, two long months from now.

State of play: Two weeks ago all the main news outlets, even right-wing Fox News, projected Joe Biden to be the winner: unofficial vote counts showed that he won enough votes in enough states to win the Electoral College vote on December 14th. When the same news outlets four years ago reported that Hillary Clinton lost just as badly, she conceded the next day. But now it has been almost two weeks and Trump still has not conceded. He is still saying he won.

Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, spreader of Russian disinformation, and Trump’s personal lawyer, says that Trump won and that he can prove it in court. He said that at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in north-east Philadelphia. He said it at the Republican National Committee as hair dye ran down his face (pictured above) – underscoring how half-baked his claims are.

Trump has been crying voter fraud since before the election. The stuff that Giuliani or Trump or Fox News say might sound reasonable – but none of it, so far, has held up in court.

Republicans have become victims of their own propaganda: they make voter fraud seem more common than it is to push through voter suppression laws. But the fact is, voter fraud is just not that common, certainly not common enough to overturn enough of the 6 million some votes that Biden won by.

In 2000 it all came down to a few hundred votes in Florida. Biden’s victory is far more solid and broad-based than that. Even in Georgia, after a hand recount, Biden still led by some 12,000 votes. And he does not even need Georgia to win the Electoral College.

Plan C is to pressure Republican officials to delay certifying the vote in their states or to send in their own slate of the electors for the Electoral College. As in 1876, that would likely throw the election to Congress where each state would get one vote. There are more red states than blue states, so Trump would win. But that does not seem to be working either. Republicans at the state level, unlike those in Washington, seem willing to stand up to Trump. It probably helps that Democrats did so poorly down ballot, giving state Republicans something to lose if they help Trump.

Plan Mitch: Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat through Senate procedure. Can he steal a presidency?

Plan E for emergency. Now that Special Operations report directly to Christopher Miller, a Trump lackey put in charge of the Defence Department on November 9th, they could secretly carry out some sort of horrific Reichstag Fire event.

– Abagond, 2020.

Update (December 1st): Currently in the middle of Plan C. All the swing states have certified their vote and Trump’s lawsuits seem to have all fallen flat. So now Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan are holding hearings on voter fraud. If they use that to declare the vote fraudulent and send in a separate slate of electors, Trump could win.

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Remarks:

This is one of my favourite Diana Ross songs, even though it is not one of her big hits. It came out in December 1973 and went to #15 on the US R&B chart. Michael Masser wrote the music, Pam Sawyer wrote the words. Their songs have appeared here before (listed below):

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Lyrics:

Last time I saw him
He sweetly kissed my lips
Last time I saw him
He said:”I’ll be back for more of this”
Last time I saw him
We were crying at the bus
I knew he hated leaving
But he had to set us up

I gave him money
I know I invested well
Mamma doesn’t trust him
But he loves me I can tell

Each time the greyhound
Arrives at nine o’ clock
But I don’t start my crying
‘Till that last man’s gotten off

Last time I saw him
Last time I saw my honey
Last time I saw him
He was greyhound-bound
But I’m still waiting here
Without a fear
That bus will someday turn around

I had no letter
It’s been six months, maybe better
I try forgetting him
But I love him more then ever

I have decided
I’ve waited long enough
If there was nothing wrong
He would return right on that bus

There must be trouble
So I’m leavin’ on the double
If he can’t get to me
I know he needs me desperately

Last time I saw him
Last time I saw my honey
Last time I saw him
He was looking fine
And as he waved goodbye
He said don’t cry
I’m coming back, no rain or shine

Last time I saw him
Last time I saw my honey
Last time I saw him
He was greyhound-bound
And as he waved goodbye
He said don’t cry
I’m coming back, no rain or shine

La de da, la da do
Do la da da, da da da

Last time I saw him
He was looking fine
And as he waved goodbye
He said don’t cry
I’m coming back, no rain or shine

Source: Genius Lyrics.

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Election of 1876

The Election of 1876 for US president was won by Rutherford B. Hayes, who lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College by one vote:

  • Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican governor of Ohio): 4,034,311 votes (47.9%) → 185 Electoral College votes.
  • Samuel J. Tilden (Democratic governor of New York): 4,288.546 votes (50.9%) → 184 Electoral College votes.

The US elects its presidents indirectly through the Electoral College, which gave us popular-vote losers Trump (2016) and Bush II (2000). And Hayes.

This was the election that ended Reconstruction: It led to pulling out all the remaining troops in the South, leaving Black voters to the mercy of Whites. Jim Crow rule (1877-1968) duly followed. Republicans lost the South for almost a hundred years, till 1965, when Democrats in turn “lost the South for a generation” by restoring voting rights to Blacks.

Tilden was the odds-on favourite: he was the governor of New York, then the biggest and richest state, and, as a Democrat, was expected to carry the South.

But:

Three Southern states were still, in effect, under Republican military rule: Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. That meant that Blacks could still vote in large numbers and they voted heavily Republican. And it meant Republicans controlled the canvassing boards that counted the votes or, more to the point, threw out votes. Florida and South Carolina were close, but Tilden almost certainly won the popular vote in Louisiana. Violence by Tilden supporters provided the excuse needed to throw out enough Tilden votes for Hayes to win in all three states.

But:

Four states sent more than one set of Electoral College votes! In Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana – and Oregon – the governor sent in a dubious slate of electors, which led to other state officials sending rival slates! Congress, which counts the Electoral College votes and determines the winner, had to decide which slates were the “real” ones. It kicked it to a commission, which made decisions based not on any consistent principle, but on strictly partisan lines, supported by bogus reasoning. Since Republicans controlled Congress, they controlled the make-up of the commission.

But:

Southern Democrats threatened a filibuster, which would tie up Congress with long speeches as Inauguration Day drew near without a president! To prevent that, Hayes’s people promised key Southern Democrats, behind closed doors, to pull out all troops from Confederate states of the South defeated in the Civil War. Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana still had troops.

Tilden was robbed, but let it slide. Ulysses S. Grant, who won the Civil War, was president and no one had any appetite to start a new civil war.

Frederick Douglass, a Hayes government appointee, on Hayes:

“His mistake was that he confided in the honor of the Confederates, who were without honor. He supposed that if left to themselves and thrown upon their honor they would obey the Constitution they had sworn to support and treat the colored citizens with justice and fairness at the ballot box.”

The South descended into Jim Crow.

The 1876 election by county.

– Abagond, 2020.

Source: mainly “Fraud of the Century” (2003) by Roy Morris, Jr.

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Biden wins!

Kamala Harris being hugged by her husband after finding out she will be vice president, November 7th 2020.

Biden wins! On a Saturday afternoon, November 7th 2020, after three long days of counting mail-in ballots, Biden at long last has won enough states to become the next US president.

Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice president – 100 years after women got the right to vote. And the first Black woman. She stands a good chance of becoming president some day. Truman, Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Ford, Bush I, and Biden himself were all vice presidents.

But the US is not out of the woods yet. Trump is still president till January 20th and there is no telling what he might do. He still claims he won the election. He has put up a non-scalable wall round the White House and will not promise a peaceful transfer of power.

Trump’s many lawsuits seem to be going nowhere. So far. He cries fraud but has no facts to back it up. The aim is to get one of his lawsuits up to the Supreme Court where Republicans have a 6-to-3 majority. If they throw out enough votes, Trump wins.

Trump could screw up the Electoral College. Like by getting Republican state lawmakers to send in their own slate of electors. Or somehow delaying electoral votes. That would likely throw the election to the House of Representatives, where each state would get one vote. There are more red states than blue states. Trump wins again.

Right-wing terrorists (known as “militias” by the White Liberal press) are also a wild card. They have already tried to kidnap and execute a governor! Trump has already told the Proud Boys to “stand by”. They could either amount to nothing – or dog the US for years or decades to come. In the short term, that will largely depend on Donald Trump.

If Trump gives a concession speech that will be huge. It is one of those Norms of Democracy that people in the US took for granted in the days before Trump. It is not required by the Constitution. If necessary, Trump can be removed from the White House after 12 noon on January 20th by the Secret Service as a trespasser. But if he concedes,  then most of his 70 million supporters will accept the outcome of the election.

After Trump comes Mitch McConnell. He is the Senate Majority Leader. If Republicans keep control of the Senate, McConnell remains in charge. McConnell could block all federal judges and Supreme Court justices Biden might name, and even Biden’s picks for his own cabinet. He can block all his legislation. Biden, as an old-school senator, is used to compromise. McConnell is used to obstruction. Biden is also a Wall Street lackey. Therefore, most likely Biden will in effect become a moderate Republican – unless he faces huge protests from the left.

And MAGA Land is going nowhere. Their threats of emigration are probably overblown. And Trump will still be out there whipping them up. Or someone like him. His defeat in 2020 was not enough to discredit Trump or Trumpism.

– Abagond, 2020.

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US Election Day 2020

The long awaited day is here! And hopefully the beginning of the end of the Trump Era. The opinion polls are against him, more than they were four years ago when he barely won. But he has a 6-to-3 Republican majority on the Supreme Court, so the trick for him will to be to get the election thrown to the Supreme Court.

President Trump is already putting up a non-scalable wall round the White House.

The Real Clear Politics average of national polls puts Biden ahead by 7.2 percentage points:

  • 51.2% Joe Biden (Democrat)
  • 44.0% Donald Trump (Republican)

That should be enough to put Biden above both the margin of error and the anti-democratic effects of the electoral college. But we shall see. (Four years ago Trump was down by 3.3 points. That narrowed to 2.1 on Election Day with the electoral college making up the difference. In 1876 Hayes lost the popular vote by 3.0 points and still became president).

FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 10% chance of winning. That is the same as the chance of rain in Los Angeles on any given day. Four years ago they gave Trump a 28% chance. The polling is supposed to be better now. (Four years ago they undercounted those without a college education.)

We might not know the winner for several days. That is because Pennsylvania and some other swing states do not start counting mail-in ballots till Election Day. And voting by mail has been heavy this year because of the pandemic.

How long it took to project the winner after polls closed in California (at 23:00 EST or 04:00 GMT):

  • 2008: 0 minutes (CNN probably knew hours before based on exit polls)
  • 2012: 15 minutes
  • 2016: 2 hours and 35 minutes

But note these are guesses, mainly based on exit polls, a statistical sampling of voters. The actual vote count could turn out differently if it is close.

Early signs of a Biden landslide: Florida, Texas or Arizona turning blue. Trump won all three states last time. If Trump holds on to those, he has a chance of winning outright.

Trump might try to declare victory before the counting stops. Or stop the counting so he can claim victory. CNN is more likely to be right than Trump, but most Republicans believe him over “fake news” CNN. So, simply by declaring victory Trump makes victory more likely – if only by creating enough doubt and disagreement that the Supreme Court will have to settle it.

I voted at the crack of dawn. I got in line at 6.25am, was the fourth in line. By 7.00am, when the doors opened, there was already a long line. No police, no Army of Trump, no men with long beards and long guns. Just the election workers, all of them women (which I found reassuring I now realize).

I voted for Joe Biden and a straight Democratic Party ticket for reasons explained elsewhere.

– Abagond, 2020.

Update (November 4th, 12:21 GMT): More than eight hours after polls closed in California, there is still no clear winner. In the middle of the night Trump got on TV to claim victory and cry “fraud”, without any evidence. He wants the Supreme Court to stop the vote count in the Rust Belt 3: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He was still leading in those states but, with much of the mail-in vote still to be counted and leaning Democratic, he could lose one or more of them and therefore lose the election. Presumably his own exit polling shows just that. 

Update (November 5th, 12:12 GMT): Still no winner. Trump lost Wisconsin and Michigan and has been filing lawsuits. He needs four states to win: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, and Nevada. Biden needs only one of them. They are neck-and-neck in each state, so any of these states could go either way. There have been protests both for and against counting votes. The current map according to the AP:

Update (November 6th, 12:20 GMT): Biden passes Trump in Georgia (!!!!) and is closing fast in Pennsylvania, while maintaining his lead in Nevada. It could be over later today.

Update (13:56 GMT): Biden just passed Trump in Pennsylvania!!! Trump is unlikely to catch up since they are just counting mail-in ballots now, which skew Democratic (Trump told his supporters to vote in person).

Update (November 7th, 12:15 GMT): Still no winner on the fourth morning after the election. Biden is more than 20,000 votes ahead in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona, but there are still hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots yet to count. In Georgia he is still ahead, but only by 4,020 votes. The counting continues into the weekend…

Update (22:11  GMT): Biden wins!!! Three and a half days after polls closed in California. He won Nevada and Pennsylvania, which is enough to put him over the top. He could still win Georgia. So far none of Trump’s lawsuits seem to be getting anywhere, but he is president till January 20th and remains a huge wild card.

Update (Friday the 13th): Trump is projected to win Alaska and North Carolina while Biden takes Georgia. That gives Biden 306 Electoral College votes, which by Trumpian standards counts as a “massive landslide”. Trump still has not conceded while his many lawsuits go nowhere. Tomorrow: the Million MAGA March in DC.

My post on The Hair Dye Coup picks up the story from here.

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Joe Biden for president

I am voting for Democrat Joe Biden against Republican Donald Trump in the US presidential election on November 3rd 2020:

  1. To fight the pandemic. In a sense it is not Biden who is on the ballot but Dr Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert whom Trump and his followers want to fire. “Fire Fauci!” they chant. No: Fire Trump. Trump could fight the pandemic way better than Biden if only because he could get his followers to wear face masks. But instead he has politicized masks. How utterly idiotic. He is getting people killed. He has to go. Since he seems bent on herd immunity, voting him out will save at least a million lives right off the top. That exceeds the number of abortions a year, to put it in “pro-life” terms.
  2. To save what is left of democracy: I know that sounds melodramatic. I was informed of that four years ago. And while Trump is not (yet) Hitler, Trump is more like Hitler than he was four years ago. So my fears were not unfounded. Masha Gessen, who lived under Putin in Russia and wrote of his rise from democrat to autocrat, says this election is the last best chance to save what is left of democracy in the US. And it is not just Trump: even back in 2012 part of why I voted against Romney was because of Republican voter suppression. It has only become worse. Voting Republican is a vote against democracy.
  3. To help stop the rise of White nationalism: both politically and culturally. The Republican Party is leading the nation towards White minority fascist rule. That is not the America I was taught to believe in or want to live in. For my family there is little hope for the future in a country like that. Only survival. Or emigration.
  4. To do something about climate change: Under the Republicans nothing will be done and time is running out.

Growing up I was taught to believe in science, democracy and anti-racism. By that measure it is not even close. It is Biden hands down. Though with Trump the bar has been set very low.

Last spring I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic party primary elections. So I am hardly a fan of Joe Biden. He is a corporate Democrat. The idea that he is a puppet of the radical left is laughable. If only. He has shifted somewhat left because of people like Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and AOC, but once in power he will almost certainly shift right, back towards what his donors want. But it is bound to be better than under Trump.

I want Trump and the Republicans to lose in a landslide so humiliating that the Trump Era becomes an Embarrassing Chapter in US history, one that Republicans distance themselves from. So I am voting a straight Democratic ticket, if only to help knock some sense into Republicans. Because otherwise Trump and Trumpoids will dog us for years to come.

– Abagond, 2020.

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Remarks:

Of the gazillion political ads I have seen in 2020, this one is by far the best. It is also a brilliant use of Springsteen’s song. The original song was about Tom Hanks dying of AIDS in the film “Philadelphia” (1993):

I was bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window, I didn’t know my own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me wastin’ away
On the Streets of Philadelphia

But now, in the Pandemic of 2020, it is the US as a whole that is sick and abandoned:

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I, my friend

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Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
I was bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window, I didn’t know my own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me wastin’ away
On the Streets of Philadelphia

[Verse 2]
I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
It was just as black and whispering as the rain
On the Streets of Philadelphia

[Bridge]
Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I, my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip this skin

[Verse 3]
The night has fallen, I’m lyin’ awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the Streets of Philadelphia

Source: Genius Lyrics.

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Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden on April 12th 2016 looking like a gangster – at World Food Program USA! (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

Hunter Biden (1970- ) is the son of Joe Biden who, in turn, is running against Donald Trump for US president in 2020. Hunter Biden is the target of an 11th-hour smear campaign that more than 50 retired US intelligence officials, who have worked for the past four presidents, say “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian intelligence operation”. Game knows game.

Joe Biden has two sons:

  1. Beau Biden (1969-2015) – served in the Army, fought in Iraq, was Attorney General of Delaware, died of cancer at age 46. He is the one Kamala Harris knew as a fellow state attorney general.
  2. Hunter Biden (1970- ) – graduated from Yale Law, kicked out of the Navy for cocaine, had a daughter by a stripper, served on various corporate boards and has become a target of right-wing conspiracy theories. He and Christopher Heinz, stepson of John Kerry (who ran for president in 2004), founded an investment firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners.

On December 18th 1972, both sons, his baby girl Naomi and his wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, were in a car accident. His wife and daughter died. Joe Biden remarried in 1977, to Jill Jacobs Biden, his present wife. In 1981 they had a daughter, Ashley. She is still alive.

From January 2009 to January 2017, Hunter Biden was the son of the US vice president.

Since at least 2019, President Trump has been trying to find dirt on Hunter Biden, as the son of his most feared opponent. It is what got Trump impeached in 2019: he tried to hold up foreign aid to Ukraine (an abuse of power) to blackmail its president into announcing an investigation into Hunter Biden. Because Hunter Biden had been on the board of:

Burisma Holdings: a huge natural gas company in Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on its board from 2014 to 2019. He knew nothing about natural gas or Ukraine, but he did know his father, then the US vice president. His father, like other Western leaders, was pushing for an investigation of Burisma for money laundering. Trump claims Joe Biden was trying to protect Burisma and therefore his son. The opposite was true.

Hunter Biden’s laptop – in October 2020, Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon provided Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post the contents of what they said was Hunter Biden’s laptop computer. Since no one outside the Republican Bubble is allowed to see its contents, the White Liberal press cannot report it as fact. But at least two of its emails do seem to be real – the Bidens do not deny that. Neither seem to be the smoking gun of corrupt dealing in Ukraine and China that the right-wing press claims they are, unless you take the word of Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden.

Hunter Biden has had business dealings in Ukraine and China, but there is no evidence that it has affected US foreign policy before Trump became president. Nor does anything suspicious appear in the last 22 years of Joe Biden’s tax returns, which, unlike Trump’s, have been made public.

– Abagond, 2020.

Sources: mainly Google Images, NNDB, BBC and The Economist.

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How I think the popular vote will go in each state by November 9th 2020. Click to enlarge.

The Year of the Black Swan, 2020, has been highly unpredictable – but I will not let that stop me!

The main political events in the US for the next few months:

  1. November 3rd: “Bad things happen in Philadelphia” – possible power blackouts, voter intimidation, and right-wing violence on Election Day, especially in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
  2. November 4th: Trump declares victory shortly after midnight in DC – before polls close in Hawaii. He will base this on the votes counted as of midnight. A third of the country, aka the Trump Cult, will believe, to their dying day, that he won the 2020 election fairly and squarely.
  3. November 9th: The Blue Shift – as mail-in ballots are counted, it becomes apparent, to everyone outside of the Republican Bubble, that Biden won both the popular vote and even the electoral college vote (pictured above). Exit polling by CNN and others will show the same. Trump cries voter fraud and drives the election to the Supreme Court:
  4. December 12th: Biden v Trump – the Supreme Court, in a 6-to-3 decision, throws out enough mail-in ballots to give Trump the victory. No matter what facts they need to invent or ignore, no matter what feats of illogic they need to perform. After all, they are the last word, so who can stop them?
  5. December 14th: The Electoral College elects Trump.
  6. January 20th 2021: Trump inaugurated to a second term amid massive, nationwide protests.

Of course, 2020, being what it is, no doubt has something in store that no one is even thinking about right now. You know, like the arrival of the Andromedans or something.

That map at top is how I think the popular vote will go in each state. I take the Real Clear Politics’ latest poll average for each state and then assume they all shift by the same amount as they did in the last days before the 2016 election. Biden wins all the states Hillary Clinton won along with Arizona and the infamous Rust Belt 3 that Trump narrowly won: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. That gives Biden at least 307 electoral college votes, well over the 270 required. (I say “at least” because I am not sure about Maine-2 and Nebraska-2. In the map I gave them to Biden based on present, unshifted polling.)

The Electoral College map, though, will look different. It will have to for Trump to win. At least the Rust Belt 3 (or their equivalent) will have to turn red, whether through ballots thrown out by Biden v Trump or the Republican legislatures in those states submitting their own slate of electors:

North Carolina and the Rust Belt 3 are not just plain old swing states. They each have a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature (thanks in part to gerrymandering). The legislatures could use the chaos of November 3rd (see #1) as an excuse to call the election themselves and send in their own Republican slate of electors, letting Congress sort it out. It has happened before, in 1876, which helped to give us Jim Crow.

– Abagond, 2020.

Correction: In the original post I said Maine-1 when I meant Maine-2. Sorry.

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Biden-Trump Debate II

The Biden-Trump Debate II (October 22nd 2020) took place in Nashville, Tennessee and was moderated by NBC News journalist Kristen Welker (pictured). It was supposed to be the third US presidential debate of 2020 but wound up being the only one worthy of the name: in the first debate Trump would not follow the rules and in the second one he chickened out. There are no more debates after this. Joe Biden and Donald Trump now head into the home stretch, with Election Day 12 days away (November 3rd).

For me as a voter, living in the the US in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic that is still out of control, the moment that crystallized the debate came 14 minutes in:

JOE BIDEN: And by the way, this [Trump] is the same fellow who told you, “This is going to end by Easter” last time. This is the same fellow who told you that, “Don’t worry, we’re going to end this by the summer.” We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter and he has no clear plan. And there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.

KRISTEN WELKER: President Trump, your reaction. He says, you have no plan.

DONALD TRUMP: I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country.

Trump a few minutes before:

“And as I say, we’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”

Trump nine months ago (January 22nd):

“we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

In March I was not surprised that the US was caught flat-footed by the pandemic. Its history is punctuated with events like that: Pearl Harbor. Sputnik. 9/11. What did surprise me, appall me, was that after a few months the US still did not have its act together. And that the president seemed so unconcerned after 200,000 American lives had been lost. Not Iraqi lives or Vietnamese lives, but American lives.

BIDEN: Anyone is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.

But, but, but….

But Hunter Biden’s laptop! As Trump and Fox News “personalities” tell it, this is the main threat to the nation. Hunter Biden is Joe Biden’s son. A computer laptop, which even Fox News says is only “purported” to be his, and which NBC News is not allowed to see a copy of, supposedly proves that Hunter Biden used his father’s position as US vice president to make millions from China, that Joe Biden himself is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party. Oh, and child porn. Or something like that.

The scandal cannot breathe on its own outside the Republican Bubble. Trump and Fox News have told so many lies that it is probably just another lie.

And of course, there was this:

TRUMP: I am the least racist person in this room.

– Abagond, 2020.

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Bob Woodward: Rage

“Rage” (2020) is a book by Bob Woodward about the White House under US President Trump from about March 2018 to July 2020, more or less picking up where “Fear” (2018) left off. Back in the 1970s Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon.

Sources: Like his other books, it is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with those who could provide first-hand accounts of what went on in the White House. But unlike “Fear”, Trump himself was interviewed. Trump, though, said Woodward was a “Dem operative” who did not understand him.

Topics: Russiagate, Ukrainegate, the impeachement, North Korea, the George Floyd protests, etc, but mainly Trump’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic, from January 28th to July 21st 2020, when 143,000 Americans died.

Theme: Trump as leader. We find out that in private Trump understood the pandemic and systemic racism perfectly well, certainly well enough to know how serious they are.  Likely he understands climate change just as well. But in public he acts like these things are either not real or are about to go away. So his “leadership”, such as it is, becomes mainly an exercise in public relations, in making himself look good. But he is not even good at making himself look good! At least not to half or more of the nation.

Systematic racism: After much hemming and hawing, and endless boasting about the African American unemployment rate:

WOODWARD: Do you think there is systematic or institutional racism in this country?

TRUMP: Well, I think there is everywhere. I think probably less here than most places. Or less here than many places.

WOODWARD: But is it here in a way that it has an impact on people’s lives?

TRUMP: I think it is. And it’s unfortnate. But I think it is.

But was he going to do anything about it? No. He says he has already done more for the African American than any president except Lincoln. After all, the African American unemployment rate had reached record lows – that is, until the China virus came, so unfair, totally not his fault.

Pandemic response: On his pandemic response he gives himself an A. That will go to an A+ once the vaccines come out, hopefully before the election on November 3rd. By banning some air travel from China in January, which was totally his idea (after his five top medical and national security advisers strongly recommended it), he saved 3 million lives.

Dr Fauci on Trump:

“His attention span is like a minus number.”

Dr Fauci was his leading expert on infectious diseases.

Russiagate: Dan Coats, Trump’s Director of National Intelligence from 2017 to 2019, said Trump acts like Putin, the Russian president, has something on him, but from the intelligence he saw it was not clear what it was.

Woodward in July 2020:

“Trump’s presidency was riddled with ambivialence, set on an uncertain course, swinging from combativeness to conciliation, and whipsawing from one statement or action to the opposite.”

Crazytown is still Crazytown, though not (yet?) fascism.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

551

 

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Donna Summer: On the Radio

Remarks:

One of my favourite Donna Summer songs. It came out in November 1979 and went to #9 on the US R&B chart. The line “must have fallen out of a hole in your old brown overcoat” suddenly came to her and the rest of the song grew from there.

See also:

Lyrics:

Someone found a letter you wrote me, on the radio
And they told the world just how you felt
It must have fallen out of a hole in your old brown overcoat
They never said your name
But I knew just who they meant.

Whoa I was so surprised and shocked, and I wondered, too
If by chance you heard it for yourself
I never told a soul just how I’ve been feeling over you
But they said it really loud, they said it on the air

On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa oh oh oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh

Now, now
Don’t it kinda strike you sad when you hear our song
Things are not the same since we broke up last June
The only thing that I want to hear is that you love me still
And that you think you’ll be comin’ home real soon

Whoa, oh, yeah, yeah
And it made me feel proud when I heard you say
You couldn’t find the words to say it yourself
And now in my heart I know I can say what I really feel
‘Cause they said it really loud, they said it on the air

On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa oh oh
On the radio

If you think that love isn’t found on the radio
Well tune right in you made find the love you lost
‘Cause now I’m sitting here with the man I sent away long ago
It sounded really loud , they said it really loud

On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh

Source: SongFacts.

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The Amy Coney Barrett hearings

This past week in the US, Amy Coney Barrett appeared before the Senate for her confirmation hearing. President Trump named her to take the place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. If a majority of senators confirm her, as  seems likely, she will be put on the Supreme Court for life. If she lives as long as Ginsburg, she will be on the court till 2059, for the next 39 years.

From Day 2 (October 13th 2020):

SENATOR DIANE FEINSTEIN: On July 30th 2020, President Trump made claims of voter fraud and suggested he wanted to delay the upcoming election. Does the Constitution gives the President of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay a general election under any circumstances? Does federal law?

AMY CONEY BARRETT:  Well Senator, if that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants, and read briefs, and consult with my law clerks, and talk to my colleagues, and go through the opinion writing process. So, if I give off the cuff answers, then I would be basically a legal pundit, and I don’t think we want judges to be legal pundits. I think we want judges to approach cases thoughtfully and with an open mind.

Huh?

Here is what the US Constitution says (Article 1, Section 4):

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

In other words only Congress or the states can change the date of an election, not the President.

Barrett prides herself in being an originalist, one who strictly follows the orignal meaning of the text of the law – yet she gave strange, fascist-friendly answers like this one. She also had trouble condemning voter intimidation as illegal (it is) or supporting a peaceful transfer of power (presupposed by the Constitution).

What can originalism – or, indeed, the Constitution itself – mean if something so straightforward is so up in the air?

Was she playing to an audience of one – President Trump, who is pro-fascist – or was it just part of her broader strategy of ducking questions?

The elephant in the room: The only informative part of the hearing came when Senator Sheldon Whitehouse ignored Barrett with her non-answering self and spent a half hour talking about the elephant in the room: dark money. Right-wing groups accept millions of dollars from persons unnamed (why it is called “dark”) to push for judges like Barrett (by way of the Federalist Society and ads placed in states with wobbly senators) and then drive court cases towards such judges to support four main causes:

  1. Dark money (of course);
  2. Voter suppression;
  3. Limiting the use of civil juries in court cases;
  4. Unregulated pollution.

Polluters for plutocracy! It is why money now counts as free speech and how the Voting Rights Act was gutted.

– Abagond, 2020.

See also:

538

 

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