The October Surprise in 2020

“autocratic malarkey”

hydrochloroquineI woke up in the morning, and suddenly, it made sense, in a Bizarro world sort of way. Many pundits said there was no October surprise in 2020. I would disagree. The surprise was djt getting COVID.

He flies on Marine One to the hospital on a Friday. By Sunday, he’s riding around in a limo, waving to supporters. And on Monday evening, he’s back at the White House, defiantly ripping off his mask, saying “Screw you, COVID.” A week or so later, he’s off doing dozens of his rallies before tens of thousands of his adoring acolytes, including five events in four states in one day.

Now, you and I may see this as grossly irresponsible behavior, creating a bunch of possible super-spreader events. But to his fans, he is portraying Strength and Resilience.

It’s like in that old Saturday Night Live skit. He is the Arnold clones, Hans and Franz. He’s going to “Pump you up.” Meanwhile, the other guy, he says, is hiding in his basement like a “girly man.”

Never underestimate the appeal of toxic masculinity, especially mixed with half-truths. My gut says that the big blue wave didn’t come because those mysterious undecided voters leaned red. And possibly because his supporters lie to pollsters.

“The unhinged, dangerous, Democracy-destabilizing thing”

He gave a speech at the White House around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in which he prematurely declared victory. This despite the fact that “millions upon millions of legitimate votes were still being counted. As Vanity Fair noted: “The goal, in all of its authoritarian bluster, was to get out in front of a result that might not land in his favor.”

Now, “the networks quickly and aggressively called bulls**t on Trump’s remarks, either breaking away from the speech or butting in with fact-checks. ‘We are reluctant to step in but duty-bound to point out when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that’s not based in the facts at all,’ said MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

His colleague Nicolle Wallace put it this way: ‘It’s straight-up autocratic malarkey, and what we have to keep in mind is that he’s not the boss of the counting…”

“CBS threw up a graphic stating, ‘CBS NEWS IS NOT PROJECTING A WINNER IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE,’ and Norah O’Donnell described Trump as ‘castrating the facts…’

“But perhaps the most noteworthy analysis was that seen on Trump’s frenemy network, Fox News… At a historic and uncharted moment like this, it was crucial to have a respected veteran newsman like anchor Chris Wallace telling the viewers what they needed to hear.

“‘This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,’ Wallace said. ‘He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.’

“The question is, did the viewers believe him?”

Where he leads, they will follow

Apparently not. Because the media, he keeps telling them, is fake. This despite the fact the shift in vote count was predictable.

“Dozens of [his] angry supporters… converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix as the returns went against him Wednesday in the two key states. The folks pounding on the Plexiglass in Detroit chanting “Stop the Count” made the NBC News on Wednesday. I feared for the wellbeing of the election workers inside.

Demonstrators, some armed, gathered at the government office in Maricopa County, AZ yelling, “Kill Fox,” and “Count the Vote.” Reportedly, the group became so threatening that the work of counting the vote had to be ended for the evening.

What does one want in a president? I found this four-minute video from John Green (no relation) about the decency of Joe Biden rather touching. And this 20-minute piece of John Oliver on the incompetence of the coronavirus response infuriating.

But djt apparently overcame the COVID. So he must be America Strong, even if he leaves it to his idiot son-in-law to “Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate.”

His fans appreciate his disdain for “political correctness.” He orchestrates his rallies as places to express their anger: “Fire Fauci,” “Lock Her Up.” Yet they’re OK with him lying to them about the seriousness of the pandemic, pushing conspiracy theories, dismissing climate change, pandering to racists, using the government for personal gain, and ruining our international reputation.

Yes, he suggests he’s for individual liberty, but it’s for those who agree with him. Lower taxes but really for the rich. Smaller government when it involves human services or the environment, but not the military. 

My rational brain says his fans are crazy. But I also have to admit I’m just not experiencing his persona the same way as they do. And it’s not just the one person but Trumpism I just don’t grok.

Octoberish rambling: Road to 270

Many Tom Lehrer lyrics to the public domain. 

election_screen_time
election screen time per xkcd. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Road to 270 map

He’d Waited Decades to Argue His Innocence. She Was a Judge Who Believed in Second Chances. Nobody Knew She Suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Franklin Graham Goes Apoplectic Over Pope’s Push for Civil Unions for Gays.

Talk To Your Boss About Burnout Before It’s an Emergency.

Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up

TELL ME MORE WITH KELLY CORRIGAN: Bryan Stevenson

MyHeritage vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA – Battle of the Titans 2000

The Town That Went Feral

Yeah,  thanks, Zoom

The Commercial that Killed a Fast Food Chain – Rax

Game show legend  Tom Kennedy, host of ‘Name That Tune,’ dies at 93

Five Nouns You Didn’t Realize Were Also Verbs

The 25 most spectacular branding fails of the last 25 years

Mistakes You’re Making When Reheating Leftovers  That Could Make You Sick

These Are America’s Favorite Halloween Candies By State And Starburst Tops The List

Now I Know: The Most Dangerous Pole Dance and Why Penguins Are a Laughing Matter and The Greatest Soccer Player Who Never Was and The Cheetos Challenge and Where the Cows Go and When Abraham Lincoln Lost New Jersey (and Won Anyway) and  Big Yellow Man Washed Ashore  on the Beach and  Where Men and Women Literally Don’t Speak the Same Language

Coronavirus

How to fight the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Dynamic Change of COVID-19 Seroprevalence among Asymptomatic Population in Tokyo

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The  World Health Organization

Evidence Points to  Role of Blood Type in COVID-19

The US Is Missing a Chance to Tackle Climate Crisis and Pandemic Relief Together

Airport enlists Sniffer Dogs to Test for COVID-19

Analysis Shows Spike in Cases After Numerous Trump Rallies

Wear A Mask (Be Our Guest Parody)

IMPOTUS’ scorched earth policy

Executive Order Letting Him Purge Thousands of Federal Workers for Disloyalty

He demands Barr arrest foes and it hardly makes a ripple

Kavanaugh Parrots His Mail-In Ballot Lies as SCOTUS Bars Extension of Wisconsin Deadline

Lincoln Project Burns Fox News Phonies And Their ‘Trump TV’ National Memo

John Oliver on his immigration policies -‘Truly disciplined about being truly evil’

In the deluded mindset of Trumpworld’s denizens,  wearing a mask is: a) a sign of weakness, and b) a sign of, somehow, being a woman—which is itself seen, by them, as equivalent to weakness.

 He Confides His Feelings About ‘A Female President’  

Columbia University study shows that over 130,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided with a more robust pandemic response

Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants “Herd Immunity.”

He’s their monster.  But suddenly Senate Republicans have never heard of him

A Radical Proposal  for Dealing with His Supporters After Biden Wins

The Administration’s Racial Bias — As a Black veteran, I can’t remain silent

The NYT’s shocking report on family separation

 

British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read

MUSIC

Eddie Van Halen, Hall of Famer Who Revolutionized the Guitar, Dead at 65

Coverville:  1329: The Eddie Van Halen Tribute and 1330: John Lennon Cover Story V 

Live From SpragueLand Episode 11: Peter Sprague Plays The Beatles 

Rhythm’s In the Melody  – Soulsha

Brahms – Sextet in G major  – Park | Yoo | Chang | Ullery | deMaine | Kim

i carry your heart by Eric Whitacre.

Pop Psalms: Once in a Lifetime  – Talking Heads

Italian folksong The Carnival of Venice, played by Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble

Sounds from St. Olaf – Episode 2:  Cubano Be, Cubano Bop  Jazz at St. Olaf

My Old Flame – Spike Jones, with Paul Frees imitating Peter Lorre

Tom Lehrer is officially releasing the lyrics to many of his songs into the public domain. 

Sean Ono Lennon talks with Elton John, Julian Lennon, and Paul McCarney about John Lennon. Part 1 and Part 2

Voting for the incumbent, save one

Paul Tonko v. Liz Joy

Paul Tonko
Paul Tonko

I voted yesterday, in person, at one of the six polling places in  Albany County, and the only one in the city of Albany. I voted by mail in the June primary. Now my fear of being disenfranchised is greater than the threat of COVID.

If you don’t know who I voted for in the Presidential race, I’ve been far too subtle. There are three Congressional races in this television market. Only one, of course, is for my district.

NY-19

South of here is the 19th Congressional district. The incumbent is Anthony Delgado (D), who won the nomination in a very crowded primary field in 2018. In that general election, he knocked off one-term Congressman John Faso, plus two other candidates, including Diane Neal, formerly on the TV show Law and Order: SVU.

In 2020, Delgado is running against Kyle Van De Water (R), as well as Steven Greenfield (Green) and Victoria Alexander (Libertarian). But I’ve only seen Delgado commercials here, mostly him touting how he keeps in touch with his constituents, even during a pandemic.

NY-21

The most contentious race in the area is in the 21st district, north of here, between incumbent Elise Stefanik (R) and Tedra Cobb (D). This is a rematch of their 2018 race, which the Republican won by 13.7 percentage points. Stefanik had replaced retiring incumbent Bill Owens (D), beating Aaron Woolf (D) handily back in 2014.

Both campaigns use a combination of inspirational and negative ads. Stefanik touts helping small businesses in her district, sort of helping to make pizza. She’s with a group of police officers when she, and they, note they “back the blue”; she’s even wearing blue jeans, perhaps to emphasize the point. She paints Cobb as a tax-and-spend liberal.

Cobb portrays Stefanik, who appeared at the 2020 Republican National convention, as a Trump clone. Her best ad shows her and her adult daughter discussing the fragility of having health coverage.

NY-20

In my district, the 20th, Paul Tonko (D) was first elected in 2012. He had been a long-time member of the New York State Assembly. I could name none of his opponents prior to this year.

In August, I saw a couple of lawn signs, not far from my house, for Liz Joy. I have no recollection of lawn signs from any of Tonko’s previous opponents.

Then she ran this damn TV ad. She’s leading a bunch of women down the streets and spouting some law-and-order blather. She suggesting Paul Tonko and the Democrats are seeking to destroy the police and the country. I was appalled with the Sarah Palinesque tactic. If I saw her, I’d say, “Oh, come ON, Liz! Tonko as a wide-eyed radical?”

I met Liz Joy once. She was a blogger for the Times Union, though her blog is down for the duration of the campaign. Mike Huber, who was the blogmeister at the time, wanted to find some more conservative voices, and she qualified.

One of the other TU bloggers had a small gathering – six or eight of us – at their apartment, perhaps in the late autumn of 2016, and she was invited. There’s a photo somewhere. She was very pleasant. We DIDN’T talk politics at all.

The one ad I saw of Tonko’s was a fairly boring one about him serving his constituents. I don’t know him, but I’ve run into him several times. He’d be at an Underground Railroad event, an economic development session, the 50th anniversary of FOCUS churches celebration, and the like. If he’s in town, and not in DC, he’s meeting the citizens.

Liz Joy would not be unsurprised that I am voting for Paul Tonko.

Senator Elizabeth Warren turns 70

the trouble with “tough” women in politics

Elizabeth WarrenAs a candidate for President of the United States, Elizabeth Warren probably has a plan for that. The Guardian suggests she is the intellectual powerhouse of the Democratic party.

Recently, she’s been getting applause even in heart of MAGA country. I think that’s because the “liberal firebrand” had been a diehard conservative, for years a registered Republican.

Maybe that’s why her campaign is “on the rise”. “Voters are inspired by her personal story of struggle growing up in Oklahoma and how she connects that to her worldview of fighting for everyday people and challenging power.”

She tells about her dream for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Back in the 1970s, “our toaster oven had an on-off switch and that was it. At some point, someone had the bright idea of adding a timer and automatic shut-off. This simple change made it a whole lot harder for distracted mothers” – like her – “or anyone else, to leave it running until it set the kitchen on fire.

“Thirty years later, while working on an article about how the government could protect consumers from predatory financial companies, I thought about those old toaster ovens. By then, it was all but impossible to buy a toaster that had a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. A government agency monitored toasters for basic safety, just like government kept lead paint out of children’s toys and rat poison out of medicine.”

Elizabeth Warren has lots of ideas about education. Her student debt plan, formulated from grassroots pressure, is seen as an outsized economic boon for people of color. Try her new calculator to see how much of your student loan debt would be cancelled under her plan.

“Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a teacher… But that meant I’d need a college diploma. Our family didn’t have the money to pay for it.. But I got my second chance at a public commuter college that cost $50 a semester and opened a million doors for me.

“I got my degree and I got to live my dream: I became a teacher for students with special needs. My story was only possible because America invested in kids. That just isn’t true today.

“Betsy DeVos is the worst Secretary of Education we’ve seen. She and her team are up to their eyeballs in conflicts of interest. Instead of championing our students, they protect for-profit colleges that break the law and cheat them.”

And she has a plan to pay for things. An Ultra-Millionaire Tax in place for the 75,000 largest fortunes in the country would cover Universal Child Care and early education, do universal free public college, and cancel student loan debt for 42 million Americans. Even the 1% know they aren’t paying their fair share: a new poll shows 60% of millionaires support her idea.
Elizabeth Warren.obama
It seems she has two major impediments in her campaign. One is that she’s a woman of a certain age. Jill Filipovic wrote in the New York Times about age and the female politician: “They are seen as too young and inexperienced right up until they are branded too old and tedious. Elizabeth Warren… finds herself put in the same ‘old’ category as [Bernie] Sanders and Joe Biden, even though both men are nearly a decade older than she is. Men who are more or less the same age as Ms. Warren — John Hickenlooper (67), Jay Inslee (68) — are not lumped in with the white-hairs.”

The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic weighs in on why female 2020 presidential candidates such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren aren’t getting as much media coverage as their male counterparts.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 communications director talked to Vanity Fair about Warren, Harris and the Likability Quotient. She sees the trouble with “tough” women in politics, is that “The media unintentionally perpetuates male candidates’ advantages because they look and sound like candidates who have won in the past. And—shocker—they’re usually men.”

Rebecca Solnit writes Unconscious Bias is Running for President: On Elizabeth Warren and the False Problem of ‘Likeability’. She sees stories like this one – I Can’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Losing to These Guys – as articles that tie her to failure before the race has truly started.

The other topic of “controversy” is described by former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich: “Elizabeth Warren is one of the most talented politicians and policy leaders in America. We must not allow Trump or anyone else to ‘swift-boat’ her because she identified herself as an American Indian three decades ago.

“At worst, Warren may have stretched the bounds of the definition of whiteness. That’s understandable. She grew up in Oklahoma, a state created from Indian Territory. She probably witnessed the disrespect and occasional brutality that Native Americans were, and still are, subject to. Her own genetic test showed at least one Native American ancestor. She has stressed that she is not a member of a tribal nation.”

“She hasn’t insulted Native Americans by calling a leading politician ‘Pocahontas’ and joking about the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

“Warren got no career benefit from her self-designation. At every step of her exceptional rise in the legal profession, those responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman. The fact that she claimed Indian descent on a Texas bar form that was meant to be confidential is further evidence that her identification arose from sincere belief.”

One can agree or disagree with her positions on other specific issues, but that’ll have to be another post. Still, there’s reason to believe that she would make America great again. Guess who voters prefer in 2020 if the ‘perceived electability’ factor was removed.

Elizabeth Warren turns 70 on June 22, the same day as Meryl Streep.

Who Do I Side With 2020 Presidential quiz

Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend Indiana, Mike Pence’s state. I had barely heard of him, yet he’s up at the top of my leader board. Who the heck is he?

I-Side-With-Feb-2019-There is a political quiz that Arthur took called Who Do I Side With? It contains questions on a wealth of issues from national security to education and health care.

If YOU should decide to fill it out, consider clicking on the “other stances” each time in order to get more nuanced responses. I filled this out in June 2016, and – SURPRISE – Bernie Sanders was my pick, with 92%, followed by Hillary Clinton at 68% and Jeb Bush at 28%.

Note that the guy who ultimately won the election isn’t even on the matrix, as he had just announced his candidacy that month.

You’ll see that virtually all the declared candidates on the Democratic side fare about the same with me. In other words, I REALLY don’t care yet.

That said:

Pete Buttigieg – he’s the mayor of South Bend Indiana, Mike Pence’s state. I had barely heard of him, yet he’s up at the top of my leader board. Who the heck is he? Arthur (oh, HIM again) needed to find out. Here’s an article from his hometown paper. There was a compelling interview on ABC News’ This Week earlier in February that I can’t access presently, but he was very impressive.

Beto O’Rourke – has a recently defeated candidate ever gotten more traction than he?

Kamala Harris – the US Senator from California sat down with an extended interview with Trevor Noah, and I found her impressive; you may not be able access it overseas. The noise about whether she’s black enough annoys me greatly.

Elizabeth Warren – she’s a loyal Democrat and Not a Socialist, But She Still Makes Wall Street Squirm

Bernie Sanders – Wall Street likes Biden, Booker, Harris, Gillibrand, and Beto. Guess who they hate? Sanders and Warren. All the rest is commentary.

BTW, the graphic that’s included Arthur kindly designed for me in Photoshop because I know where my skills lie, and it is assuredly NOT in graphic design. Gracias, amigo.