History is not going to be kind to Trump and his enablers

History is not going to be kind to Trump and the Republican party.  That’s basically because they are now the party of lies. It’s not just Trump. It’s all of his enablers.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem lying to George Stephanopoulus

Heather Cox Richardson, the history professor from Boston College (who has become a voice of sanity in the run-up to the election) put it this way:

Pundits suggest that the two different political ideologies in America are about values and principles, but it actually seems that the primary difference between the two camps is between those who are living in a fictional world, created by generations of right-wing media, and those who are living in the real world, the so-called “reality-based community.”  

Addressing the right-wing media’s construction of a false narrative for its supporters seems crucial to restoring sanity to the country’s politics. How that might play out is unclear, in part because Trump’s extremism seems to be driving a wedge into the right-wing ecosystem.
Heather Cox Richardson

Biden has already gone out of his way to say, repeatedly, how he will govern as the President for all Americans, regardless of whether they voted for him or not. That is, of course, the opposite of what President Trump has done, who for the entirety of his four-year term has looked to be the divider-in-chief.

While Trump refuses to concede, so far American Democracy is holding. The Donald is finding no recourse in the courts because there is simply no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud. Also, no recounts are going to bridge the tens of thousands of votes that Biden leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada and even Georgia.

I’m on record, multiple times already in this election season, as arguing that we’re nowhere close to being able to have a national healing; certainly the early evidence of the post-election environment underscores that belief.

But if you’re a Republican, you have got to be praying – as the folks at the Lincoln Project have done – that your party will soon return to a respect for factual truth, so we can resume arguing about our opinions and beliefs instead of having to argue about the facts.

After all, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said:

People are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Amen to that.

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At least I think this election proves that 2016 was not Hillary’s fault

One winner in this giant imbroglio after the election is the reputation of Hillary Clinton.  Clearly she was not as bad a candidate or as universally despised as people have made her out to be. 

If Joe Biden, the most inoffensive white-bread candidate imaginable, can barely squeak by President Trump, then this has a lot more to do with the extraordinary devotion that President Trump inspires than with what Hillary did wrong.

And let’s not forget Jim Comey’s 11th hour surprise and the Russian interference in 2016.

What is absolutely clear now is how much the Republicans were gearing up to run against Bernie Sanders than to run against Joe Biden.

Sanders partisans – and I’ve been one for most of my life – have argued for a long time that the polls showed the Bernie would have beat Trump in 2016, and showed that he would have beaten him again in 2020.

Well, I hope we can all agree now that any polls related to the 2016 and 2020 Presidential elections are not to be trusted.

Bernie would have been competitive, but I don’t think he beats Trump in either 2016 or 2020. He’s still a septuagenarian socialist Jew, and that would have been a bridge too far for a lot of “housewives” in the suburbs of Atlanta, or Pittsburg, or Milwaukee or Detroit.

I don’t know that anybody other than Barack Obama himself beats Trump in either of those years.

I hope that four years from now the country might be ready for a President Kamala Harris. But given how unbelievably popular bigotry has become again in this country, I’m not so sure.

I know one thing: I won’t be trusting the polls.

Other than that, let’s hope that Joe Biden can restore a tiny bit of bipartisanship, and hope that the next four years can calm the waters just a little bit.

So that we can all catch our breath again. Just let us catch our breath again.

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There is going to be no National Healing anytime soon

Back in 2016 when Trump was first elected President of the United States I noted that Trump was the “fuck you” president, and opined that the right wing “despises us because we’re liberals and elitists and order café lattes at Starbucks, because we have queer friends or are queer, because we want transgendered people to be able to use the bathroom of their choice, because we’re women or feminists, because we think that black lives matter, because we can afford college, because we know what arugula is, because some of us are Jewish, because some of us fraternize with Muslims, and because many of us have passports and have been overseas.”

Honestly, I was hoping that after getting finger-fucked by this guy for four years, that right wing America would have thought we had been punished enough for these terrible transgressions.

But apparently it ain’t so.

In a quote that has now circulated quite a bit on social media, Rich Lowry of the National Review opines that:

To put it in blunt terms, for many people, he’s the only middle finger available — to brandish against the people who’ve assumed they have the whip hand in American culture.

Rich Lowry in National Review

Now, to be fair, Lowry goes on to note that this “may not be a very good reason to vote for a president, and it doesn’t excuse Trump’s abysmal conduct and maladministration.” And that’s coming from the National Review.

Trump continues to be the “grievance” candidate, especially for white America, who apparently still feel especially put upon.

But if having this guy piss all over the constitution for four years, having him promote QAnon and white supremacy, and having him literally care more about his TV ratings than the Americans dying from coronavirus — if all of that has not satiated their appetite to punish the rest of us — then obviously there will be no healing going on.

What we appear to have now is a populace which is essentially evenly split between people who are horrified by the Orange Moron and those who are still on a revenge tour against cultural liberalism.

We’re not about to have an actual civil war, but we sure are in the midst of a cultural civil war. And that doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.

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We don’t know who won yet, but we definitely know who lost: Pollsters!

There is a famous proverb that you may have heard:

Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, shame on me

Well, I know who I’m never trusting again: the effing pollsters! Especially when it comes to Donald Trump.

It’s not completely clear why this is so bloody hard, but the pollsters were, once again, way the fuck off in their predictions about the election.

  • Joe Biden was supposed to have anywhere between a 5% and maybe 11% lead nationally.
  • Florida was supposed to be in play.
  • Georgia was supposed to be in play.
  • North Carolina was supposed to be in play.
  • For Christ’s sake, Texas (Texas!) was supposed to be in play.

Furthermore:

  • Wisconsin was supposed to be part of the blue wall.
  • Michigan was supposed to be part of the blue wall.
  • Pennsylvania was supposed to be part of the blue wall.

None of those three states were supposed to be in doubt.

Now, Biden may still win Wisconsin and Michigan — it actually looks like he’s won razor-thin victories there (that will likely be subject to recount) — and who the fuck knows how Pennslyvania will turn out.

But these were supposed to be sure things, not the barest of squeakers.

After their hugely embarrassing miscount in 2016, the pollsters refined their methodology, and it looked like they had gotten it right in 2018. They were practically spot on.

Well, back to the drawing board in 2020.

Honestly, I don’t think I can ever trust these guys again, no matter how often they refine their methodology.

The only silver lining is that none of the the people on the Democratic side really trusted the polls anyway, so they kept working hard and raising money and voting early and doing whatever they could to succeed.

Clearly they were right to do that.

But pollsters, WTF do you have to say for yourselves? Seriously, WTF!

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This time people have had four years to observe this guy

Four years ago, when Trump won in 2016, I wrote that Trump was the “fuck you” President, a way for conservatives to tell the rest of us how much they hated us.

This time around, everyone has had four years to observe this guy. They’ve been able to watch him piss on the constitution for four years, seen his off the charts narcissism, watch his dog-whistle to bull-horn racism, and seen how this guy literally cares more about his TV ratings than all the Americans dying from Covid-19. They’ve heard him suggest that we ingest bleach as a way to cure ourselves from the virus, and watched him hold superspreader rallies where no one was wearing masks.

This time young people registered and came out in droves.

And yet, as I write this, it appears that the election is still undecided, and that there’s a good chance that Trump can still win.

He’s going to the Supreme Court, naturally, to try and stop the counting in the cities of Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

This should have been a gigantic “blue wave” repudiation of Trump and all that he stands for. Instead, this one is going down to the wire, and we’ll have to see what the outcome is.

If all the states that are currently leaning in one direction are also called in that same direction, then Trump will win.

Once again, pollsters had Biden up in all of those states, and it appears that once again pollsters got it wrong. Apparently there are still legions of people who will vote for this dickwad and still lie to pollsters about it.

Regardless of the final outcome, my faith in the “common sense” of the American voter has been permanently destroyed.

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It’s not Left vs. Right, it’s Sane vs. Insane

By today the question isn’t whether to vote for Trump or Biden, but whether to vote or not to vote. I mean seriously, if you haven’t made up your mind by now, you’ve been deliberately in denial about what’s facing our country.

As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, this isn’t an election between the left or the right, it’s an election between the sane and the insane.  Joe Biden is the anti-Trump. Instead of a malignant narcissist, he’s a real and admittedly flawed human being, one who has experienced a lot of personal tragedy, one who, if anything, has too much compassion.

But consider the video below, made in the last year of the Obama presidency, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as “Veep.” After watching it, can you imagine that Trump ever being able to participate in something like this?

This is, of course, not a good reason to vote for someone as President. (It’s like the people who wanted to vote for Reagan or George W. because they could imagine having a beer with them.) There are so many reasons to vote for Biden over Trump, and various political commentators have spelled those out in great detail over the last month. I’m not going to regurgitate them here.

If elected, Biden will likely need to be the “Healer-in-Chief.”  It will be a long time to get us back on the rails as a nation, and so much damage has been done. And who knows how long it will take Trumpistas to come and believe that the election was not rigged against him.  We’re in for a long period before we have any prayer of returning to any semblance of normalcy.

In the meantime, if Biden is elected, I really hope that he does at least two things:

  1. He promises, right out front, to be a one-term President. That will relieve him of the need to run for re-election, and would really allow him to focus on healing the nation.
  2. I hope he governs like Ronald Reagan did, which is to delegate as much as possible to a professional and competent staff, and stay focused on the broad themes of his Presidency.

If he can do those two things, we  may be able to exhale for a moment, before turning our attention to the other gigantic thing that we need to be dealing with, which is, of course, the coronavirus.

But one thing at a time. Let’s restore some sanity first.

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President Trump is the Boaty McBoatface of American Presidents: a Joke that has gone on too long!

President Trump is the Boaty McBoatface of American Presidents: a joke that has gone on far too long! Boaty McBoatface is, of course, what happens when you give the Internet the right to name a research boat (or technically, a submersible attached to a research boat) in order to help raise funds.

Also the other day, there was an article on Comedian Jon Rineman, a writer for Seth Meyers, who wrote the famous joke that Meyers told at the 2011 White House Correspondents dinner, that Meyers assumed, after Trump hinted he might run for President as a Republican, that Trump would be “running as a joke.”

Turns out the joke was on us.

And Rineman has been traumatized ever since.

It appears that the joke may finally be wearing thin. A lot of people are now, in the infamous words of Fannie Lou Hamer, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Trump’s presidency isn’t funny anymore (as if it ever was).

And, as of this morning, more people have already voted than either candidate (Donald or Hillary) got in 2016.

And, as of this morning, more people have already voted in Texas then voted in 2016.

Texas, my people!

Effing Texas!

The evidence suggests that young people (young people!) are coming out to vote in numbers never seen before.

President Trump is — as is well known — desperate to stay in power because, among other things, he is going to be in a boatload of legal jeopardy once he no longer has the legal protection of the presidency.

So, maybe, finally, finally, finally, the joke will be on him!

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How many deaths can we actually blame on Trump?

One of the questions that comes up is how many deaths for the coronavirus can we actually blame on President Trump. There is, of course, no actual answer to that question. But we can make some comparisons.

Now keep in mind that Trump has repeatedly given himself an “A+” for his handling of the coronavirus; that he keeps claiming that our numbers are higher because we test more; and that he keeps saying that the only thing he has not done well his handle the “public relations” around the coronavirus. And, of course, he keeps having massive “superspreader” rallies where no one wears masks.

So let’s compare the other country that I know best, the Federal Republic of Germany with the United States of America. Here are the statistics as of a few days ago:

CountryGermanyUSAUSA Adjusted
Fatalities10,032225,08439,998
Infected429,1818,680,8111,711,155
Population83,020,000331,002,651331,002,651
Death rate0.0121%0.0680%0.0121%
Infection rate0.5170%2.6226%0.5170%
Death/infection2.34%2.59%2.34%
Germany v. USA Coronavirus Statistics

So looking at these statistics, we see that Germany (with a population of 83 million) had 429,181 infections and 10,032 deaths, whereas the United States (with a population of 331 million) has had 8,680,811 infections and 225,084 deaths.

That means, that if the United States were the size of Germany (multiplying Germany’s statistics by 3.98) we would have a country with 1,711,155 infections and 39,998 deaths.

That is 185,056 deaths fewer than the United States actually has.

Or 17.77% of the deaths that the United States actually has.

Okay, but Germany’s response has been particularly good (although even the Germans have seen a sudden upswing in infections and are going into a partial lockdown for the month of November).

What if we compare the European continental “big four” of Germany, Italy, France and Spain with the United States. Again, here are the stats:

CountryItalySpainFranceGermany
Fatalities37,70034,75234,76110,032
Infected564,7781,046,1321,138,507429,181
Population66,036,00046,940,00066,990,00083,020,000
Death rate0.0571%0.0740%0.0519%0.0121%
Infection rate0.8553%2.2287%1.6995%0.5170%
Death/infection6.68%3.32%3.05%2.34%
Europe’s Continental “Big 4”

Now, let’s look at the aggregate data:

CountryUSAEurope Big 4USA Adjusted
Fatalities225,084117,245136,488
Infected8,680,8113,178,5982,564,696
Population331,002,651262,986,000331,002,651
Death rate0.0680%0.0446%0.0412%
Infection rate2.6226%1.2087%0.7748%
Death/infection2.59%3.69%5.32%
Europe’s Big 4 vs. USA

So, again, if the United States had done as well as Italy, Spain, France and Germany combined, we would have 88,596 fewer deaths (or 39.36% fewer) than we actually have.

“A+,” eh?

Last night, Donald Trump — who never tires of coming up with new lies — made the claim that doctors were inflating the number of covid deaths because they get “more money” if they characterize a death as covid related than if they don’t.

“Malarkey!,” as Joe Biden might say.

Hospitals and doctors have been struggling financially especially because they have not been able to perform the high-revenue procedures that they normally perform, as many of those have been crowded out by coronavirus care.

But facts have never disturbed Donald Trump.

The 225,084 that have perished under Trump’s watch is more than those who perished in World War I (116,516), the Korean War (36,516), the Vietnam War (58,209), September 11 (2,996) or the Benghazi incident (4). In fact, it’s more than all of those events combined (214,241). The only events that have killed more Americans — excluding for a moment all the Native Americans that were killed during our colonization of the country — are the Civil War (655,000), World War II (406,400) and the 1918 Flu Epidemic (675,000).

Why aren’t we more upset about the 225,084 dead? Probably because most of those killed were old. Instead of being virile young soldiers, most of them were old.

But hardly all of them.

Casualties of war are, of course, much more visual than old people expiring on a ventilator. But the same number of families is impacted, regardless of how you die.

So, Donald Trump, it’s not an “A+” that you deserve. It’s pretty much an “F”.

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Democrats need to completely rebuild their approach to the Judiciary.

Back in 2000 the German National Soccer Team (“Die Mannschaft”) suffered an embarrassing set of defeats at the UEFA European Championships in Belgium and the Netherlands.  The Mannschaft tied with Romania, lost to England, and then was humiliated by the Portuguese “B” Team, which had already qualified for the next round. Although blessed with a cornucopia of talented players, the German team was in serious disarray, which caused the national association to decide to rebuild the team from the ground up. It took a while, but fourteen years later they won the World Cup in Brazil, including a legendary 7-1 upset of their Brazilian hosts. The rebuild was complete.

Why do I bring this up now? Because it is important to know when you have to rebuild.

And the Democrats have to completely rebuild their strategy relative to the judiciary.

As most everyone knows, Amy Coney Barrett was elevated as the 115th justice of the Supreme Court. With that elevation, Republican Presidents have now picked 15 of the 19 most recent Supreme Court justices, even though Republican candidates have lost the popular vote in six out of the past seven presidential elections.

We’ve been had.

And you have to give credit where credit is due: to Mitch McConnell and to the Federalist Society, which have had a singular focus on the court for decades now.  

McConnell, of course, was completely unapologetic about his stark hypocrisy, or about blowing up the norms of the Senate. “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” he said in his speech on the Senate floor. “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

And he’s right.

He’s absolutely right.

We won’t be able to do much about this unless, of course, the Democratic team collectively can grow a pair of cojones.

Large cojones.

With control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency in 2020 – which looks increasingly likely – there are some things that we can do.

If we have the balls.

It turns out that the Constitution gives the Congress a great deal of latitude in regulating the entire federal court system, including the Supreme Court.  Things that could be done include[1]:

  • Court packing, by increasing the size of the court from 9 justices to 11, 13, or even 15.
  • Giving justices term limits, most likely a single 18 year term.[2]
  • Regulating which cases the court can hear, by having rotating panels of appellate judges select the cases.
  • Expanding the lower federal courts, allowing the courts to hear many more cases in a timely fashion.[3]
  • Reconstitute the Supreme Court to work more like a federal court of appeals, where rotating panels of justices would hear cases, with an option of en banc review.
  • Create a separate constitutional court, to hear constitutional questions only, while leave the Supreme court intact to hear questions related to federal statutes and regulations.

All of these suggestions have pros and cons, and not being a Constitutional scholar myself, I don’t currently have a strong opinion on which option should be pursued.

This is also why Joe Biden has proposed creating a bipartisan panel of Constitutional experts to make those kinds of recommendations.

I honestly don’t know yet what the right thing to do is. But it seems clear to me that something must be done. If Democrats do win the House, Senate and Presidency together in 2020, the window to do anything might only be two years long. So whatever we do, we had better do it quickly.[4]

Republicans are hoping that ABC’s elevation will motivate their voters to come out to the polls, but that might blow up in their faces. The deed has already been done. On the other hand, the brazen way that this was accomplished has made a lot of Democrats furious, and made them furious at a moment where they can do something about it.

I could be wrong, and I’ve been wrong before[5], but I sense that there might be a Democratic tidal wave coming on.


[1] Most of these suggestions come from an article in the New York Times, which solicited these suggestions from Constitutional scholars.

[2] This would require a constitutional amendment, but could be pared with a change in the Constitution to keep the number of justices at nine. Packaged in this way, it might get support from the conservative side of the aisle.

[3] Only a very small percentage of federal cases go up to the Supreme Court, so this could actually make a difference.

[4] Since we don’t yet know exactly who will be in the Senate in 2020, it’s hard to make predictions about 2022, but at the moment it looks like Democrats and Republicans will be defending an equivalent number of seats. Historically, mid-term elections can be difficult on an incumbent President’s party.

[5] I was wrong in 2016, but then everybody was wrong in 2016, including – as has been well established by now –the Trump campaign. It is now well known that Trump began his 2016 campaign primarily as a “branding” exercise.

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Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs, Mega Edition

Eight days. Eight effing days!

That’s how many days there are until the election. And how many days did they make Merrick Garland make without even giving him the courtesy of an interview?

293 days.

Let me say that again.

293 days.

At the time the Republicans tried to make it seem like they were standing on some kind of principle. Allegedly it was the “Biden rule,” which they resurrected from a speech Biden made in 1992, in which he suggested that President Bush should wait until after the election to appoint a replacement, if a Supreme Court seat became vacant during the summer.

Of course, no vacancy ever occurred during the summer of 1992, so it was entirely a theoretical exercise.

Still, the Republicans wanted everyone to believe that they had set forth a great principle whose precedent had been set by our very own Vice President at the time, Joe Biden.

As Biden himself might say, “malarkey!”

But the depth of their hypocrisy could hardly be better demonstrated than in the contrast with the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. The Republicans have bent every conceivable rule, including proceeding with the Judiciary Committee vote even though no Democrats were present, as well as staying in session for the entire weekend, just to make sure that they could vote on Barrett today and get her seated in time to be able to rule on any contested aspects of the election.

As a number of the Democratic Senators noted, the new principle is apparently “because we can.”

That principle could lead to some unhappy results in the future:

  • It could provide great temptation for the Democrats to engage in court packing, which they might be able to do if they gain the House, Senate and Presidency in 2020 (which they very well might).
  • It may seriously impact the credibility of the court as a non-partisan institution. (Right now the court is much better regarded than either the Presidency or Congress, although it’s credibility has already been compromised.)

The Republicans are playing a dangerous game here, especially since they may have to repair themselves from top to bottom after their degradation through the last four years of the Trump presidency.

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