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.

September rambling: end the stigma

Musicians Across Five Continents

post-apocalyptic section
The Most Segregated City

Vlogbrothers: End the stigma

What happened to Jaye McBride could have happened to any of us

WAVE 3 News reporter kissed on live TV; here’s why it’s not cool – Sara Rivest is the daughter of Michael, a guy I know in Albany IRL

The differential privacy video the Census Bureau sponsored from MinutePhysics

Unmarried Partners More Diverse Than 20 Years Ago

Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies at 75

Longtime TV newsman Sander Vanocur dies at 91

Bill Schelly, R.I.P.

Amy Biancolli turns 56

The Surreal End of an American College

What Happens Right Before Your Best Employee Quits

Alan Zweig’s Vinyl documentary – a record collector’s expose

Baking Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card

The Guardian: 100 best films movies of the 21st century. 1) I’ve seen 26 of them, at least two of which I disliked; 2) the year 2000 is NOT in the 21st century

Save on Internet Safety guide

Chef Boyardee: The Sine Qua Non of Homemade Pizza

Alex Trebek saying “genre”

Epergne: It’s time this Kitschiest of Obscure Vintage Treasures had a Comeback

The Evolution of a Fractured Coin of the Rebellion

The Modern Jonah

Now I Know: Who is MP and Why Are His Initials on My Checks? and An Aria a Day Keeps the Cougars Away and The Aquarium That Turned a Blind Eye Toward Bullies and The Island That Floated To Safety and Why We Give 21-Gun Salutes

English

The Beauty of Being Bilingual

Merriam-Webster dictionary adds ‘they’ as a nonbinary pronoun – America’s oldest dictionary claps back at grammar snobs as it embraces a more inclusive definition

Public is or Public are: “British English tends to see either a plural or singular verb, pronoun or noun as acceptable, depending on the context in which the collective noun is used. American English, however, is considerably more rigid in sticking with the singular. Though they too may reconsider occasionally, based on context.”

Harry Potter and the Poorly Read Exorcist

Boss Tweet

New Yorker.20191007
He is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for

If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is and If Democrats put off impeachment until he does something worse, he’ll do something worse and His call to Zelensky was not out of the ordinary – for him and With the Gears of Impeachment Finally Grinding, the Hard Part Begins; also Lindsey Graham’s Impeachment Views in 1999 Vs. 2019

Iran Policy Is a Failure

Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market

The Race to Prepare for a Potential U.S. Exit From the World’s Mail System

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Legal Immigration

Travel ban really was a Muslim ban, data suggests

Comedian John Mulaney has the perfect analogy for what’s going on in our country today [explicit language]

MUSIC

What’s My Name – Ringo Starr

Playing for Change: The Weight – Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr, and Musicians Across Five Continents

Old Town Road -Courtney Hadwin

Overture: L’italiana in Algeri, or The Italian Girl in Algiers by Giacchino Rossini

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – Sleeping At Last

Happy Birthday, Hans Zimmer edition

Coverville 1278: The Leonard Cohen Cover Story V

Love’s Creeping Up on Me – United Image, a 1971 Stax song that sounds more like Motown to me, and is billed as Northern Soul

All Kinds of Kinds – Miranda Lambert

Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris Trio Documentary

The importance of choir: John Rutter (there are about 20 seconds of him in b&w before he actually begins to speak)

Real Arrogance Over False Humility: The Beautiful Honesty of Joni Mitchell

The First Time I Met Prince, by Sheila E

Mexican repatriation of the 1930s

A Decade of Betrayal

1500-Mexicans-Loaded-on-TrainsI was catching up with a month of four-minute vlogbrothers videos when I got up to John Green’s piece on Mexican repatriation. He was researching a famous painting when he came across a bit of terrible US history that wasn’t in any of the textbooks that either of us had read.

It’s not a secret – there’s even a decent Wikipedia page about it. The narrative is that in the early stages of the Great Depression, there was, of course, a scarcity of jobs. The Secretary of Labor William N. Doak suggested that if there were fewer people, there would be fewer unemployed, and, as President Herbert Hoover put it, “real jobs for real Americans.” This did not prove to be the case.

From The Atlantic: “According to former California State Senator Joseph Dunn, who in 2004 began an investigation into the Hoover-era deportations, ‘the Republicans decided the way they were going to create jobs was by getting rid of anyone with a Mexican-sounding name.'”

A Decade of Betrayal

Professor Francisco Balderrama has literally written the book on the actions, A Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s. He notes that Mexicans were targeted because of the proximity of the Mexican border and the physical distinctiveness of the people.

“The federal government imposed restrictions for immigrant labor as well, requiring firms that supply the government with goods and services refrain from hiring immigrants and, as a result, most larger corporations followed suit, and as a result, many employers fired their Mexican employees and few hired new Mexican workers causing unemployment to increase among the Mexican population.”

The term “repatriation: was actually inaccurate, since up to 60% of those sent to Mexico were U.S. citizens: American-born children of Mexican-descent who had never been to Mexico and often did not speak Spanish.

It wasn’t a unified plan. “In Los Angeles,” explained Balderrama, “they had orderlies who gathered people [in the hospitals] and put them in stretchers on trucks and left them at the border.” Others would round up people up in parks and scanning public employee rolls for Mexican-sounding names and send them on special trains out of the country.

From Timeline: In downtown LA “during the 1930s, La Placita Catholic church was a social hub for Mexican Americans and immigrants…

“On February 26th, 1931, they sealed off the area around the church before anyone could realize what was happening and began arresting suspected undocumented immigrants en masse. Families watched in horror as their spouses, friends, and colleagues — 400 people in total — were loaded into vans, and eventually shipped back to Mexico. Many of those detained had been in the country so long they didn’t speak Spanish.”

Read more at this NPR or Teen Vogue. I believe that knowing our history makes us better citizens.

Internet diet versus immediate gratification

This may be great for democracy, but not so wonderful for punditry.

john greenI viewed the four-minute post of vlogbrother/author John Green – I doubt we’re related but you never know – in which he talked about taking a year off from much of social media, going on an Internet diet.

Then Arthur – you know Arthur, because I’ve mentioned him at least twice on this blog – wrote I think he’s on to something, he being John.

Hank Green’s big brother – that’s John, not me – states that his Internet is not working, And by “not working,” he’s not talking poor service from Spectrum cable. “John’s specific problem is wasting too much time on social media, and needing to compulsively refresh, and all the problems that flow from that.”

Yet he – that’s John, not Arthur – can watch things on YouTube, for example, with a degree of discernment and intentionality. I find that interesting because, if I were to allow myself to fall into a time-suck hole, it would surely be the medium that AUTOMATICALLY bounces from one video to the next.

You may have heard we held elections in the United States on the first Tuesday in November, and some pundit – I really don’t remember, or care, who – complained that she or he was upset because all the results of many of the races were not determined within 24 hours, because it wasn’t as much fun, or something.

Here’s an article from the OCTOBER 29 Washington Post: Think you’ll know who won on election night? Not so fast … It explains that counting the votes in some places, such as California, take a long time because “there are seven tight House races” and “because more than half of voters opt to use vote-by-mail ballots (a.k.a. ‘absentee’ ballots in some places). California ballots postmarked on Election Day have three days to show up at county elections offices.”

This may be great for democracy, but not so wonderful for punditry. The talking heads blather on the first Sunday after the vote about whether there was a “blue wave” of Democrats in the House of Representatives, but they’re basing their observations on necessarily incomplete data.

We all want to know, NOW, how many people were shot and killed in the latest mass shooting and why. So we go back to the story while the news folks get “analysts” to speculate. The Las Vegas massacre in 2017 was particularly frustrating to people in this regard because no clear motive was ever determined.

I was struck when the Butte County, California sheriff announced that the number of people unaccounted for jumped dramatically to 631, up from 130 the day before, even as the death toll kept rising. Some folks were musing, “How can that be?” Because it takes time to gather information in difficult, horrendous and unprecedented circumstances.

Maybe a year ago, there were three or four stories I was getting updates on when someone actually chastised me not knowing about yet another story that was less than three hours old.

I applaud John Green’s desire to step back from the fray of too much information that doesn’t nourish the soul. The last two years, in particular, seems it’s hard to keep track of it all. Not doing so IS an option.

November rambling #2: Narco-a-Lago

“The fish rots from the head”: a historian on unique corruption

What’s killing America’s new mothers?

American hyper-capitalism breeds the lonely, alienated men who become mass killers and Samantha Bee on why “abused women are the canary in the coal mine for mass shootings”

Before Sutherland Springs, the Pulse nightclub and San Bernardino. Before Mother Emanuel church, Sandy Hook, and Aurora. Before Gabby Giffords and Fort Hood, there was Binghamton

A Statistical Companion to “The Vietnam War”

Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit

Walking While Black

Can my child be friends with white people?

“We’re not über-ICE” – Albany, NY mayor Kathy Sheehan, interviewed by Tucker Carlson, discussing Albany’s status as sanctuary city (11/16/2017)

I Forgot My PIN: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin


Apparently, the new Firefox download, Quantum, is a pain. One user wrote: “I had the extensions I needed, the page design I was comfortable with, and working more efficiently and effortlessly than ever. This makeover is terrible.” Also, Finding and fixing a Disqus problem

Economic Development: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

In which John Green is stunned by Kiwi kindness

A five-minute animation about the Dunning-Kruger Effect

10 “Spiritual” Things People Do That Are Total BS

Short film: The journey from underdog to basketball star

Traditional Radio Faces a Grim Future

Sitcoms could be better

Now I Know: Pizza It Forward and When the Government Outlawed Love

The Akond of Swat – Edward Lear

Not me: Eighth-grade teacher Roger Green was heading to the press box back in March to announce the varsity baseball game, but he began to feel achy.

THE KAKISTOCRACY

We are reaching Hrench Revolution levels of inequality and injustice

Why billionaires destroy jobs

The Final Victory of JR Ewing

Narco-a-Lago: Making Millions from Panama Development Used to Launder Drug Money

Every scandal plaguing him

“The fish rots from the head”: a historian on unique corruption

Trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe WERE banned in the US

He may be related to 16th-century serial killer ‘Werewolf of Bedburg’

Johnstown Never Believed He Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway

Tweeting Condolences About The Wrong Mass Shooting

John Oliver Delivers Scathing Review Of Year One

Plus, an oldie (October 2016), but goodie: The growing list of women who have stepped forward to accuse Trump of touching them inappropriately

MUSIC

Thunderstruck – AC/DC

On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Disney medley – Voctave

-ly – Tom Lehrer (Electric Company)

Coverville 1193: Cover Stories for Blue Oyster Cult, Petula Clark and Miley Cyrus (!)

K-Chuck Radio: The Monster Soulful Groove

Stringman – Neil Young

#ROCKHALL2018:THE CARS INTERVIEW