Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Two possible outcomes of 2020 election - Biden wins, Trump loses

One can hope! Read on.

Jonathan V. Last (Executive Editor of The Bulwark) has some interesting views of where the election is headed. Quite a few excerpts follow.


Another weekend of runway is gone and Trump isn’t turning this race around.

He’s falling further behind.

In the first week of June I wrote that the cake was almost baked. Trump had 20 weekends until Election Day to stop his slide, find a floor, make up ground, and then get within 4 points of Joe Biden—which is a level he’s never been in this race.

And what happened for Trump this weekend?

  • Breaking news that his good friend Vladimir Putin has been paying bounties for the killing of American soldiers
  • Runaway virus infections in Florida, Texas, and Arizona—each of which is close to a must-win for him to have any chance at being reelected.
  • And the president tweeted out a video of a supporter yelling “White power!”

So no. Not a great weekend for the Trump 2020 campaign.

And now 15 percent of the clock is gone.

How bad are things for Trump? Politico talked with a bunch of sympathetic Republicans inside and outside Trump’s orbit and the mood seemed … utterly macabre. The party is beginning to prepare for a landslide loss that could make Jimmy Carter feel good about himself.

But this line in the Politico piece really caught my eye:

Behind the scenes, Trump and his team are taking steps to correct course. In the week since his Tulsa rally, the president has grudgingly conceded that he’s behind, according to three people who are familiar with his thinking. Trump, who vented for days about the event, is starting to take a more hands-on role in the campaign and has expressed openness to adding more people to the team. He has also held meetings recently focusing on his efforts in individual battleground states.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who effectively oversees the campaign from the White House, is expected to play an even more active role. [emphasis added, obvi]

That’s … the plan? Trump is down double-digits. 125,000 Americans—and counting—are dead. The economy is in the crapper. And Trump 2020’s big plan is to send in … Jared?

It’s one thing for down-ballot Republicans to walk the plank for Trump when he’s Making America Great And Stuff. But the real loyalty is whether or not they take their lumps when Trump is so checked out that he turns the party’s entire electoral future over to Jared Forking Kushner.

Even so, I have every confidence that Republican candidates will pass this test. They’ll drink the Kool-Aid.

Because that’s what Republican voters want them to do.

There Is No “Better”

Trump’s response to the Russian bounty story is a good example of why his campaign’s problems are intractable.

The story broke on Friday.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that the revelation was “Fake News” because he had never been briefed about any Russian bounty program.

Maybe this is true and maybe it is not.

But for the president to offer “No one told me about this big important thing” as a defense is an advertisement for weakness.

On Sunday, a reporter from a very unfair Fake News Channel—Fox News—reported that people close to Trump are beginning to think he might pull the plug on his campaign if his poll numbers don’t improve. The Fox reporter claimed that people close to Trump describe his mental state as “fragile.”

Again: Maybe true, maybe not.

… at this point the two most likely scenarios for the election are the following:

(1) By the early fall the race has returned to its natural center of gravity with Biden +6. Biden then maintains this lead and wins a comfortable Electoral College victory or pulls away in the final weeks and wins a large Electoral College victory.

(2) Trump is not able to regain his footing and Biden retains a large lead through the end of September—let’s say that “large” means anything greater than +7 nationally. If this is the case, then there will likely be a large break against Trump in the final weeks as voters bail on the sinking ship and Biden’s victory could be a landslide where he wins by more then +10 percent with something approaching 400 Electoral votes.

I would guess that those two possibilities probably make up 70 percent of the potential outcomes at this point and the chances of Trump finishing at –3 in the popular vote and lucking into another Electoral College victory are about the same as Biden pulling off a historic rout where he wins by +15.

Never forget: Bad gets worse.

VoteVets is no friend of ‘traitor’ Trump.

For example, The Hill reported that Progressive vets compare Confederate officers to terrorists in new ad on Army bases.

VoteVets, a progressive veterans group, released a new ad Friday targeting President Trump’s refusal to support the renaming of Army bases named after Confederate officers, who it compared to foreign terrorist leaders.

“We’d never name bases after America’s enemies, like Osama bin Laden,” the group tweeted along with the ad. “Why does Donald Trump so desperately want to keep the names of other racist enemies on our Army bases?”

The advertisement reimagines military bases with pretend mock-ups of facilities such as “Camp bin Laden” and “Joint Base Al-Zarqawi.”

But the most recent of their ads is a real burner calling Trump a ‘traitor’. Check this one out.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Trump getting thumped so he blaims the 2020 election

Things are not going well for Trump. He’s down, sometimes in double digits, in all polls. The voracious coronavirus is eating Americans at an ever faster rate. And now his Russian buddy is claimed to be offering a bounty on US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Charlie Sykes in The Bulwark morning email explains.

For Trump, it has been a parade of horribles. His bet that he could open up the country and declare victory on the coronavirus is backfiring as the numbers spike; the polls in key states continue to be awful; and over the weekend he faced multiple bombshells, including this story about the Russians paying a bounty to kill U.S. soldiers. His attempts to deflect the story were ineffectual, so this one’s not going away.

And then Trump dug himself an even deeper hole by tweeting out a supporter shouting “white power.”

All of this takes place as TrumpWorld scrambles to salvage his campaign. The Wapo reports:

President Trump and his campaign team are grappling with how to resuscitate his imperiled reelection effort amid a wave of polling that shows him badly trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and losing traction even among core constituencies.

But the problem isn’t the staff, the strategy, or even the message. It’s the candidate, “Trump himself, who has derailed his team’s desired themes on an almost daily basis — deploying racist rhetoric and mounting incendiary attacks on critics amid a surging coronavirus pandemic, an economic crisis and roiling protests over police brutality.”

So what can he do? Dangle a bright shiny object to direct your attention away from his failures. In this instance, he blames the upcoming election for his being a loser.

Jill Colvin of The Associated Press (via he Daily Star) reports Trump’s attacks seen as undercutting confidence in 2020 vote.

WASHINGTON — It was a startling declaration about one of the pillars of American democracy, all the more so given its source.

The president of the United States last week publicly predicted without evidence that the 2020 presidential election would be “the most corrupt election in the history of our country.”

“We cannot let this happen,” Trump told an audience of young supporters at a Phoenix megachurch. “They want it to happen so badly.”

Just over four months before Election Day, the president is escalating his efforts to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote.

It’s a well-worn tactic for Trump, who in 2016 went after the very process that ultimately put him in the White House. He first attacked the Republican primaries (“rigged and boss controlled”) and then the general election, when he accused the media and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign of conspiring against him to undermine a free and fair election.

“The process is rigged. This whole election is being rigged,” he said that October when polls showed him trailing Clinton by double digits as he faced a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations.

Then, as now, election experts have repeatedly discredited his claims about widespread fraud in the voting process.

In a country with a history of peaceful political transition, a major party candidate’s efforts to delegitimize an election amounted to a striking rupture of faith in American democracy. But to do the same as president, historians say, is unprecedented.

“Never,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley when asked whether any past U.S. president had ever used such language. “What you’re seeing is someone who’s an autocrat or a dictator in action.”

Trump votes by mail - he just doesn’t want you to do the same

This year, Trump has seized on efforts across the country to expand the ability of people to vote by mail. It’s a movement that was spurred by the coronavirus, which has infected more than 2.4 million people in the U.S. and killed more than 125,000 nationwide. The virus is highly contagious and especially dangerous for older people, who typically vote in higher numbers and have been advised by federal health authorities to limit their interactions with others.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting, even in states with all-mail votes. Trump and many members of his administration have themselves repeatedly voted via absentee ballots. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from accusing Democrats of trying to “rig the election by sending out tens of millions of mail-in ballots, using the China virus as the excuse for allowing people not to go to the polls.”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Strategies for beating COVID - Targeted testing and positivity reduction

National Geographic has an essay on Here’s how to stop the virus from winning. Case surges, overrun hospitals, and a second lockdown this summer could deal a heavy blow to the United States. Here’s what we need to turn the tide.

Following is an excerpt.

… Even the best diagnostic tests run the risk of yielding a false positive result, so if a city, state, or nation tests too many random people in the general public, you might end up quarantining the wrong people. Rather than test blindly, the highest priorities should be seeking out individuals who have symptoms of possible COVID–19 disease as quickly as possible and processing their tests faster, so the right cases can enter quarantine sooner. That’s how places like New York, South Korea, and the European Union beat back their outbreaks.

“I am deeply worried about approaches that assume we are going to test people who either have no symptoms or no epidemiologic criteria for testing,” says Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist who leads the Johns Hopkins Testing Insights Initiative at the Center for Health Security.

Nuzzo wants more than three million tests per week to root out COVID–19 from the most at-risk populations, such as by instituting universal and regular testing at nursing homes, prisons, and jails. But 30 million tests per week would be impractical, she says, because there are only so many labs in the country that can process the samples.

“To me, if we have to do that level of testing, it represents a bit of a failure … because that will mean that we have let the epidemic grow to the point where it’s just wildly uncontained,” she says.

The better benchmark for monitoring progress, she says, is test positivity, or what percentage of tests come back positive. The World Health Organization recommends that before places reopen, they need to record a test positivity percentage below 5 percent for at least 14 straight days, as many countries with subsiding outbreaks have done. When places go above this line, it becomes harder to keep COVID–19 from hopping from group to group. Too much positivity can also mean an outbreak is expanding uncontrollably, and because medical centers tend to prioritize patients with the most serious symptoms, more of the milder cases will go unnoticed, worsening the spread.

But rather than follow the World Health Organization’s benchmark, which was decided by an international panel of top experts, the CDC and the White House said that states can start reopening after falling below 20 percent test positivity. “It’s outrageously high,” Nuzzo says. Of the 30 states with cases surging right now, 16 have test positivity rates above 5 percent, and others in this unfortunate group are trending upward too.

Closer to home, all that is true of Pima County. In my analyses, positivity has been in the 10–15 range over the last couple of weeks. And yet we are opening up, that is, opening ourselves to more pain and suffering.

Crashing and Burning

In thisweek.com Windsor Mann describes how Trump is crashing and burning.

Americans really don’t like President Trump, who desperately wants to be liked by Americans.

A new poll by The New York Times and Siena College shows him trailing Joe Biden nationally by 14 points, 50 percent to 36 percent. Biden leads among women and nonwhite voters and is gaining ground among white voters. It’s possible that Biden leads among former members of the Trump administration, too.

Majorities disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, his handling of the protests following the death of George Floyd, and his handling of race relations in general.

There’s good news for Trump, sort of. He leads Biden by 19 points among white voters with no college education (a group he won by 36 points in 2016). The more white and the less educated you are, the more likely you are to support Trump, who on Sunday defended Confederate statues because they are “history” and who on Monday misspelled the word “history.”

Trump has never been popular in office. He’s the first president never to attain an approval rating of 50 percent in any credible poll. He won the 2016 election with only 46 percent of the popular vote. That’s 10 points more than where he is now.

Republicans are criticizing Biden for “hiding in his basement.” This is a compliment masquerading as a criticism. That Biden is staying at home during a pandemic is a testament to his deference to public health and his political savvy. Biden knows that no one makes a stronger case against Trump than Trump himself.

In the span of 24 hours this week, the president accused his predecessor of treason, accused Democrats of rigging the election, called his former national security adviser “a lowlife who should be in jail,” said we’d have fewer COVID cases if we had fewer tests, posted a racist video, and misspelled “history” and “shame.” It was a shameful day in presidential history and a typical day in Trump’s presidency.

In Trump we have a president in which incompetence, stupidity, derangement, bigotry, corruption, and dishonesty are each struggling to take the upper hand.

Americans have strong feelings about Trump. Twenty-seven percent of voters view him very favorably; 50 percent view him very unfavorably. Few people are passionate about Biden, which is a good sign. The only way to defeat a personality cult democratically is by replacing it with a personality that doesn’t inspire a cult.

Running as an incumbent is different from running as an outsider. Instead of playing on people’s grievances, Trump has to placate their anxieties. Instead of saying how awful everything is without him as president, he has to pretend that things are wonderful now that he is. It’s hard to pretend that a pandemic and the worst recession since World War II are wonderful.

Trump’s challenge as a non-challenger is to talk about anything other than his record. At his rally in Tulsa last weekend, he spent nearly 15 minutes talking about his ability to walk down a ramp and to sip water with one hand. This week — as seven states reported their highest numbers of coronavirus hospitalizations and as 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment — Trump said the lobster industry was “back, bigger and better than anyone thought possible.”

Trump isn’t talking about the issues that matter most. He’s talking about lobsters, “Obamagate,” flag burning, and Confederate monuments because he doesn’t want — can’t afford — to talk about three crises: the health crisis, the economic crisis, and his presidency.

With nothing to brag about, he is spouting Nixonian catchphrases about “THE SILENT MAJORITY,” notwithstanding the fact that his base is neither silent nor the majority. Trump seems to think that by saying or tweeting something, his words will become actualized — that if he says his supporters are the majority, that means they are. Instead of persuading people to support him, Trump is deceiving himself into believing they already do.

To many voters in 2016, the idea of an outsider “shaking things up” was vaguely appealing, precisely because it was so vague. As a political neophyte, Trump could make sweeping promises without having to defend or explain anything. His inexperience was a boon. Having never been tested in politics, he had never failed. He talked like a regular guy, which is to say, like someone who had no idea what he was talking about. He still talks that way.

Now we know the consequences of a Trump presidency: mass death, mass unemployment, civil unrest, an erosion of democratic norms at home, and growing distrust of America abroad. Trump may not learn from experience, but voters do.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Trump thinks the COVID-19 is an artifact of testing. The evidence says otherwise.

President Trump claims that the number of new cases is determined only by the number of tests.

Counterpoint #1: He wants a testing slowdown. So, I guess, if we stopped testing entirely, the COVID–19 infections would disappear. That’s just fvckin’ stupid coming from a man whose only concern is looking good.

Counterpoint #2: The data show that the rate of new infections is higher than can be accounted for by testing alone. Here’s my analysis of data from Pima County Arizona.

I start by correcting the number of cases by dividing the number of new cases by the number of tests. I computed the 7-day moving averages of these proportions. This tells you that of all the people tested the proportion that tested positive. Starting June 7, the 7-day averages of proportions were 0.068, 0.076, 0.066, 0.063. That’s what you would expect if the number of cases is determined just by the number of tests. But then, a few days later, those averages started increasing: 0.098, 0.088, 0.105, 0.121, 0.124, 0.125, 0.146, 0.163, 0.171, 0.156. So, early in June about six to seven percent tested positive. Most recently, those percentages climbed to 15 to 17 percent. Thus the number of infections is increasing at rates more than what would be expected just from the numbers of tests.

Trump should stop talking.

Here is the bigger picture: US virus cases near an all-time high as governors backtrack.

The coronavirus crisis deepened in Arizona on Thursday, and the governor of Texas began to backtrack after making one of the most aggressive pushes in the nation to reopen, as the daily number of confirmed cases across the U.S. closed in on the peak reached during the dark days of late April.

While greatly expanded testing probably accounts for some of the increase, experts say other measures indicate the virus is making a comeback. Daily deaths, hospitalizations and the percentage of tests that are coming back positive have also have been rising over the past few weeks in parts of the country, mostly in the South and West.

In Arizona, 23 percent of tests conducted over the past seven days have been positive, nearly triple the national average, and a record 415 patients were on ventilators. Mississippi saw its daily count of new cases reach new highs twice this week.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, whose state was among the first to reopen, put any further lifting of restrictions on hold and reimposed a ban on elective surgeries in some places to preserve hospital space after the number of patients statewide more than doubled in two weeks. Nevada’s governor ordered the wearing of face masks in public, Las Vegas casinos included.

The U.S. recorded 34,500 COVID–19 cases Wednesday, slightly fewer than the day before but still near the high of 36,400 reached on April 24, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The daily average has climbed by more than 50% over the past two weeks, an Associated Press analysis found.

Several states set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Trump and his sickophants unmasked

From the Arizona Capitol Times, June 24
Trump, Ducey, McSally and Lesko didn’t wear masks and scantly mentioned the coronavirus during their trip to Yuma, where cases are spiking and the president rattled off border stats while praising himself and the Arizona politicians.

(That’s all folks! Yellow sheet costs extra.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Desperation and Despair in Camp Trump as Biden surges ahead

“The Democrats are trying to Rig the 2020 Election, plain and simple!” - President Trump

Sounds to me like a declaration of desperation and despair. Trump and his sickophants are running scared and are trying tricks to suppress the vote. They have good reason to be worried, even panicked. Read on.

Charlie Sykes, writing in the morning email from The Bulwark asks: Are We Looking at a Biden Landslide?

The memory of 2016 will counteract any irrational exuberance, but it’s hard not to see a pattern here. This morning’s headline in the NYT:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has taken a commanding lead over President Trump in the 2020 race, building a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters and making deep inroads with some traditionally Republican-leaning groups that have shifted away from Mr. Trump following his ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new national poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.

Mr. Biden is currently ahead of Mr. Trump by 14 percentage points, garnering 50 percent of the vote compared with 36 percent for Mr. Trump. That is among the most dismal showings of Mr. Trump’s presidency, and a sign that he is the clear underdog right now in his fight for a second term.

The deeper you look, the worse it gets for Trump. Biden has “drawn even with Mr. Trump among male voters, whites and people in middle age and older — groups that have typically been the backbones of Republican electoral success, including Mr. Trump’s in 2016.” Look at the demographic breakdown here:

Josh Kraushaar thinks we need to brace ourselves for the possibility of a Biden landslide. He writes in the National Journal:

So what does it all mean for the November election? Right now, it looks more likely that Biden will win a landslide victory, picking up states uncontested by Democrats in recent elections, than it is that Trump can mount a miraculous turnaround in just over four months. Even as Trump tries to advance a law-and-order pitch amid growing violence and tumult in the nation’s cities, it’s unlikely to benefit the president because he’s the leader in charge. The chaos candidate is now the chaos president. Biden is the challenger pledging a return to normalcy.

Just look at the swing-state map: Biden is leading in every battleground state, according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages, with the exception of North Carolina where the race is tied. Trump trails by 6 points in the electoral prize of Florida, where the president’s newfound willingness to meet with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro prompted a fierce backlash and quick White House retreat. He’s down 4 points in Arizona, a state that has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once since 1964. He’s not close to hitting even 45 percent of the vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin—the Midwestern states he flipped to win the presidency.

Read the rest here.

'Worst off' Arizona reacts to Trump Phoenix visit

First let me report some numbers.

From Blog for Arizona: “Fox 10 in Phoenix reports, Harvard epidemiologist says Arizona is currently the worst off amongst U.S. states in terms of COVID–19: Harvard University epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding says Arizona holds new records for cases, positivity percentages, hospitalizations and ICU beds in use.”

I’ve been tracking the number of cases per day in Pima county (from data reported in the Daily Star). During the last five days in May, the number of new cases averaged 48.8. As of today, that average for the most recent five days is 281.4, an over five-fold increase. That’s partly attributable to today’s number of new cases at an all time high (I think) of 502.

In Blog for Arizona David Gordon reported Donald Trump came, saw, lied and potentially spread the Coronavirus in Phoenix today. He covers a lot of responses from AZ officials and candidates.

Gordon concludes with this question: “What kind of leader denies scientific facts and risks the lives of his people during a public health pandemic so he can get a political thrill and satisfy his megalomania?”

And answers: “A very bad one that does not deserve to be reelected this November.”

Also in Blog for Arizona the Blue Meanie reports Trump death cult ‘spread the pandemic tour’ comes to Arizona (updated). This post has the link to the latest ad from the Lincoln Project :“Truth”.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Trump's war against testing results disrespects the math. Trump rep says it was a joke. CNN anchor nails it - 120,000 dead is no joke

I’ll lead with two things to note. First, the number of positives in a sample is more than just the number of tests. The Trump and his sickophants get this wrong. Second, when Trump says something patently false and/or over-the-top offensive, he or his communication people take refuge in calling it a “joke”. The thing is, 120,000 dead is no joke.

Regarding point #1: David Vernon, Ph.D., wrote a LTE in the Star saying Dr. Christ needs a math lesson

Our state health director says that when you test more, you get more cases, accounting for the increasing numbers of COVID–19 diagnoses over the past few weeks. However, it is not just the absolute number of cases, it is the percentage of positives among those tested that is going up. One learns in statistics class that the proportion of positives in a valid sample is not a function of sample size, but a function of population incidence.

More testing does not produce a higher proportion of positives; if the incidence remains the same the ratio of positives to negatives in the sample remains the same, even at 100% population testing. Absolutely, mathematically, the incidence of COVID–19 in Arizona is increasing, not due to testing but due to spreading of the virus, as mitigation practices are loosened in the name of economics.

We still have no treatment and no cure. The fatality rate remains between 5 and 10% of those infected. How many deaths will be economic?

Regarding point #2: Justin Baragona, Contributing Editor at the Daily Beast, reports CNN Anchor Corners Trump Campaign Spox: Are Dead Americans ‘Funny to You?’ Murtaugh attempted to frame Trump’s testing slowdown remarks as a joke, prompting CNN’s Brianna Keilar to push back and ask why the deadly pandemic was funny.

CNN anchor Brianna Keilar took Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh to task on Monday, repeatedly pressing him to defend Team Trump’s claim that the president was just “kidding” when he claimed over the weekend that he asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing.

During his sparsely attended Tulsa rally on Saturday night, President Donald Trump told his supporters that he called on officials to slow COVID–19 testing in order to decrease the number of confirmed cases in the country. A White House official later told The Daily Beast that Trump was “obviously kidding” and Trump aide Peter Navarro claimed on Sunday that the remarks were “tongue-in-cheek.”

In a contentious Monday interview that also featured the CNN anchor grilling Murtaugh on Trump’s recent use of the racist phrase “Kung Flu,” Keilar brought up Trump’s testing comments, asking whether it was true that Trump wanted to slow it down as America passes 120,000 COVID–19 deaths.

No, it’s not. As a matter of fact, the United States leads the world in testing,” Murtaugh replied, prompting Keilar to immediately wonder why Trump was saying that.

“I understand there’s not much of a sense of humor at CNN center,” Murtaugh sneered. ”But the president was joking. He tried to illustrate the point that when you expand testing, you will naturally expand the number of positive cases that you detect.”

[Scriber: See math lesson above.]

“That was the very point he was making,” he continued. “I’m not surprised that you’re either unable or unwilling to understand the president had a tongue-in-cheek remark there. But that’s the point he’s making.”

Keilar, meanwhile, pointed out that there are now “120,000 Americans dead,” adding: “I do not think that is funny. Do you think that is funny?”

After Murtaugh reiterated the president was just trying to “illustrate the point” about expanded testing, the CNN anchor pointed out that he just said “it’s a joke.”

Stammering, the Trump spokesperson said that one can “use ironic humor” in these situations, prompting Keilar to again interject.

“Is dead Americans, is unemployed Americans, is that funny to you?” Keilar dryly noted.

“You can ask it 100 different ways,” Murtaugh retorted, causing the CNN host to fire back: “And you won’t answer it.”

The Trump flack would go on to repeat his talking points about the president making a factual point about increased testing resulting in more confirmed cases, leaving Keilar with the final word.

"You are aware that hospitalization numbers disprove what you are saying,” she proclaimed. “That testing does not solely account for the numbers we’re seeing, including in Florida, a state you just held up as a model when it certainly is not.”

“It is not funny that Americans are dying, she concluded as a stone-faced Murtaugh stood silent. “It’s not funny that they’re unemployed. Tim Murtaugh, thank you for coming on.”

An afterthought: Actions matter!

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports Trump tells supporters he pushed to ‘slow down’ virus testing. Either Trump was telling an ugly truth, or he was joking about a deadly virus as the death toll in his own country tops 120,000.

… it’s important to emphasize that the president’s public rhetoric matters, but his administration’s actions matter more. With this in mind, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, And Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) yesterday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar with a striking claim.

According to the Democratic leaders, a recent emergency aid package approved by Congress included $25 billion to expand coronavirus testing and contact tracing capacity, but the Trump administration has only allocated about a third of the available funds.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) responded soon after, “From the beginning, the lack of a response hasn’t been an accident. It’s been by design. His plan has been to let people die. This guy is a danger and a menace and it’s wild that now he just admits this openly and believes no one will care.”

Trump Rally a Real Folly

Tim Miller, writing in The Bulwark, tags Trump’s Rally Folly in Tulsa in Make Arenas Empty Again In Tulsa, the Trump campaign transitions to farce. Following are excerpts.

The Blue Wave
The Blue Wave hits Tulsa rally

Tulsa was supposed to be the place where Trump reset his troubled reelection campaign. Since his last rally was canceled—an aborted March show in Tampa—the economy has tanked, 120,000 Americans have died, and there has been a national awakening over police misconduct. Forced to acknowledge reality, the Trump campaign changed its slogan from “Keep America Great” to “Make America Great Again, Again.” Then to “Transition to Greatness.” (I hold out hope that once Brad Parscale realizes he’s toast, he’ll float “Continuity with Change” on his way out the door.)

On Saturday it was unclear just what this transition is supposed to be. Over the course of an eleventy-thousand minute address, Trump produced neither a vision for the next four years, nor a unifying theme of his campaign.

For example: “… Trump went on a 16-minute (yes, 16-minute) diatribe about the way the media covered his speech at West Point. This soliloquy included a harangue about how tiring it was for him to salute 600 cadets ”… “ he dedicated several more minutes to explaining that he used two hands to hold a very small cup of water only because of how tired all the saluting had made him.”

Put aside the question about whether any of this sounds like a man in control of his faculties. And put aside how anyone could see this sad, elderly fellow as a model of strength.

Just as a political matter: What exactly is the angle here?

To me, the obvious answer is: There isn’t one.

Donald Trump doesn’t know how to manage a global pandemic. He doesn’t understand how said crisis intersects with our economic decline or what to do about it. He is fundamentally incapable of being a uniter or a salve for a country that is raw with pain over police violence and racial tensions. And he doesn’t know what to do about the fact that Joe Biden is schlonging him in the polls.

So Trump didn’t go to Tulsa with a strategic communications goal that would help him address any of these problems. And he didn’t go there to demonstrate that he was a deal-maker, a businessman, who is ready to lead a fractured country into a glorious transition back to—or maybe onward to?—greatness.

No. He went to Tulsa because he had gone almost four months without the mass adulation to which he had grown accustomed. And it made him grumpy.

Donald Trump went to Tulsa to fill a hole in his heart. To hear people cheer for him. To complain about those who have insulted him.

He went to a state he knows he’ll carry even if Joe Biden wins 400 electoral votes because he knew this was a place where he would be loved by a sea of “his people.”

And he didn’t even get that.

Check out the symbol (photo above) of what is coming for Trump in November.

UPDATE: Actually, the problems with the Trump campaign are already here. News Corpse in the Daily Kos explains Here’s Why Trump’s Tulsa Rally Troubles Go WAY BEYOND the Pitiful Turnout.

Claiming a success …

It’s an opportunity,“ [campaign advisor Mercedes] Schlapp admitted [to Chris Wallace], ”for us to gather data.“ Indeed it is. Everyone who requests a free ticket to the event is required to provide their name and other personal identification. That’s all entered into a database that is later used to contact potential voters. Trump’s campaign chairman, Brad Parscale made the same admission prior to the Tulsa affair, tweeting that this would be the ”Biggest data haul and rally signup of all time."

There’s just one problem. There are reports that an army of Tik-Tok users requested tickets that they had no intention of using. It’s hard to estimate the precise impact of this Trump trolling project, but there were thousands of interactions with the prank on social media. So somewhere between the 6,200 people who showed up at the rally, and the million who allegedly requested tickets, there [is] an untold number of fake respondents. That means that there is a significant amount of fake data currently residing in the Trump campaign database. And that’s on top of the fake data that was there before this event. [NOTE: News Corpse is in that database, despite never having provided any information]. So when the campaign begins its voter outreach they will be wasting huge sums of money and effort on ghost voters.

Monday, June 22, 2020


Shrinking is the title of the latest Lincoln Project ad. It’s a doozy.

Required watching for those who are racially biased - meaning me, you, and everyone else.

In the title I say that because racial bias is implicit, that is unconscious, and pretty much universal. Thus we all have a lot to learn from this TED Talk by a Stanford University professor whose research area is racial bias and what to do about it.

How racial bias works — and how to disrupt it.

Our brains create categories to make sense of the world, recognize patterns and make quick decisions. But this ability to categorize also exacts a heavy toll in the form of unconscious bias. In this powerful talk, psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt explores how our biases unfairly target Black people at all levels of society – from schools and social media to policing and criminal justice – and discusses how creating points of friction can help us actively interrupt and address this troubling problem.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Jennifer L. Eberhardt · Professor, author
A social psychologist at Stanford University, Jennifer L. Eberhardt conducts research on race and inequality.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Penguin Books (2019)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

12,800 -- the number of Trump supporters who did not show up yesterday. That was a serious set-back for Trump

During the last few days the Trump administration got their ass kicked.

  • AG Barr tried to fire SDNY attorney Geoffrey Berman. Berman said no way. Barr kicked it up to Trump who kicked it back to Barr. Now Berman’s assistant, reputed to be the real deal, will be acting attorney. Over in the Senate Lindsey Graham left it up to the two Democratic senators. Thus the administration gained nothing as the SDNY investigations will continue. This is another instance of egg-on-your-face for an incompetent and corrupt administration.
  • Also Trump tried to block publication of John Bolton’s tell-all book. The judge blocked the attempted block. The book is on track to be published on the 23rd.

Here are excerpts from Letters from An American for June 20, 2020 by Heather Cox Richardson (to which Scriber subscribes).

The other big story today was, of course, Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, designed to jumpstart his campaign and reunite him with the crowds that energize him. His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, along with the president himself, has spent days crowing that almost a million tickets had been reserved, and the campaign had built an outside stage for overflow crowds.

But far fewer than the 19,000 people Tulsa’s BOK Center could hold showed up: the local fire marshal said the number was just under 6,200.

Now this is funny.

Young TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music (so-called “K-Pop stans”), along with Instagram and Snapchat users, had quietly ordered tickets to prank the campaign. The technological savvy of their generation has turned political: they knew that the Trump campaign harvests information from ticket reservations, bombarding applicants with texts and requests for donations. So they set up fake accounts and phone numbers to order the tickets, then deleted the fake accounts. They also deleted their social media posts organizing the plan to keep it from the attention of the Trump campaign.

The poor turnout after such hype was deeply embarrassing for the campaign. Trump’s people took down the outside stage and Trump blamed “protesters” who had kept supporters out of the venue for the small size of the rally, but there were few reports of any interactions between Trump supporters and protesters and no one was turned away.

But worse the for the long-term political prospects for Trump et al., was the reactions of the audience. The Scribers watched (part of) Trump’s speech. The audience appeared bored out of their skulls.

The rally itself did not deliver the punch Trump’s people had hoped. The speech was disjointed as the president rambled from one topic to another, rehashing old topics that no longer charged up the crowd, many of whom were caught on camera yawning or checking their phones. It was clear that The Lincoln Project’s needling of his difficulty raising a glass to his mouth and walking down a ramp at last week’s West Point graduation has gotten under Trump’s skin: he spent more than ten minutes pushing back on those stories—the ramp was “like an ice skating rink,” he claimed– which, of course, only reinforced them.

Much more damning, when discussing coronavirus, he told the audience falsely that the recent spikes in infections are because there has been more testing: “When you do more testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases. I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”

This is an astonishing admission. More than 120,000 Americans have died of Covid–19 so far, and while in some states hard hit early on numbers of cases are declining, cases are right now spiking in a number of other states in far higher numbers than increased testing would show. Experts agree that the administration’s odd reluctance to test for coronavirus cost American lives. Within hours of his statement, it was being used in a political ad against the president.

Far from energizing Trump’s 2020 campaign, the rally made Trump look like a washed-up performer who has lost his audience and become a punchline for the new kids in town. According to White House reporter Andrew Feinberg, a Trump campaign staffer told him that Biden “should have to report our costs to the [Federal Election Commission] as a contribution to his campaign.”

Think about that.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Bolton speaks - and so doing may save our democracy.

One of my mentors, a person who I trust and respect, recently wrote to me about “my belief that Trump has all the mental and emotional characteristics of a dictator.  And I think that four more years of Trump may end the democracy that we all have cherished.”

These beliefs should not be partisan. If you love this country, as I do, read this essay by arch-conservative Bill Kristol.

John Bolton Tells the Truth. Even if they don’t like him, every Republican and conservative in Washington knows that Bolton doesn’t make things up. What will they do now?

Twice over the last few years, I’ve met with individuals who had recently departed the Trump administration after serving at very senior levels. I’d known these individuals before Donald Trump descended his escalator five years ago. I hadn’t been in touch with them during their time in the administration so as not to cause complications for them if somehow it became known we’d talked. I believed these individuals had chosen to serve this problematic president with good intentions, and probably accomplished more good—or, more precisely, prevented more harm—than many on the outside realized.

When these individuals left, I was led to understand through intermediaries that they would not resist, they might even welcome, an invitation to talk. So talk we did, at some length, privately.

I can report one exchange I had with both individuals. I said to each of them: “You know I’m alarmed by President Donald Trump. If I’d seen what you saw up close, would I be a bit reassured—or even more alarmed?”

Both answered promptly.

One responded, “You’d be more alarmed.”

The other simply said, “Twice.”

I was a bit befuddled and asked him what he meant. “You’d be twice as alarmed,” he explained.

So I’m not particularly surprised by John Bolton’s revelations. (I should make clear that neither of the individuals described above was Bolton.)

But whether or not one is surprised by what Bolton reports, no one should really doubt the truth of it. I have no doubt that Bolton is telling the truth. Not simply because of my two, as it were, generally corroborating sources. But because I’ve known John Bolton a long time, and John Bolton is an honest man. He tells the truth.

Full stop.

John Bolton is neither a liar nor a fantasist. John Bolton may not be the epitome of warmth, humor, or even kindness. But he is honest.

Nor is he the type to get confused. He is a meticulous note-taker. When we read Bolton’s book, we will almost certainly be reading the nearest thing to the truth about the Trump administration that we’re likely to get before historians have a chance to get inside the administration’s archives.

Here is what is relevant for Republican elites going forward: They have known John Bolton for a long time, too. Almost every Republican elected official, every influential Washington conservative, and many Republican donors know John Bolton. And they, too, know he’s honest.

So what do they have to say about a president who blesses Chinese concentration camps, pleads for re-election help from an enemy dictator, and routinely subordinates the national interest to personal and political considerations?

How can they continue to support this president?

I’m sure they will find ways. But those who continue to support Trump need to accept that they’re supporting a man who has done what Bolton says Trump has done. And those who support a Trump second term need to accept that they are supporting four more years in office for a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

And those who continue to keep silent are keeping silent from us, their fellow citizens, their judgment of a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

Enough. Bolton has spoken. Surely there are others who will now dare to disturb the sound of silence.

Electing a President lacking character is like 'putting a pyromaniac in charge of a tinder box'

Writing in The Bulwark Sarah Longwell asks of Republicans What Did They Think Would Happen? Actually, character does count.


The argument made in 2016 by conservatives who thought that Trump was manifestly unfit for the job went something like this:

Sure, we might get judges and tax cuts. But the potential downside of having a senescent, wannabe gangster as president of the United States is that (1) he might push us into a constitutional crisis and that (2) if he’s confronted with a real-world crisis, there’s a non-zero chance he could cause radical, real-world harm.

Well, here we are.

These possibilities seemed so obvious then that I could never tell if the people denying them were really blind, or if they were working overtime to pretend not to see them.

Did they really think that putting a man bereft of character, decency, and empathy in charge of the country wouldn’t make a difference?

Did they really think that dismissing each instance of his racism, bullying, fecklessness, megalomania, corruption, lies, and stupidity it wouldn’t have a cumulative effect?

Trump accommodators, of both the direct and indirect variety, will scoff at the idea that what is happening to the country right now is in any way related to Trump’s incompetent and toxic performance.

They have to scoff. Because to admit that Trump played any part in bringing us to this moment is to admit culpability for the role they played all the times they covered for him because, you know, Gorsuch. So instead they tweet outrage at the cities on fire and the protestors in the street with a studied blindness to the fact that this is the logical conclusion—to paraphrase John Heilemann—of putting a pyromaniac in charge of a tinder box.

We have an incurious narcissist of a president who was warned over and over by his advisors about an imminent pandemic. He ignored them. Then he engaged in “one day it will just disappear” wishcasting instead of spearheading a coordinated federal response. Then he said that he “take[s] no responsibility.”

What did they think was going to happen?

This pandemic has left more than 104,000 dead in 12 weeks and sparked an economic crisis that has pushed 40 million into unemployment. And during this time the president used his bully pulpit not to rally the country to unity or try to vent some of the pressure that was building up in our communities, but to promote fake medical cures, push fake Obama scandals, and to spread conspiracy theories about a fake murder.

What did they think was going to happen?

You may remember that time when the president told American congresswomen of color to “go back to where they came from.” Or the time he told cops not to “be too nice” when arresting suspects. Or the time he laughed when one of his supporters suggested shooting immigrants. Or all the times he told his followers to punch people he didn’t like.

Donald Trump has spent his entire political career using maximally divisive, racially charged, rhetoric that glorifies violence while winking and nodding to those eager to receive the high-pitched dog-whistle of hate.

What did they think was going to happen?

The president’s behavior sets the tone for the country. When the president lacks restraint, he creates permission structures for less restraint from everyone down the chain—politicians, cops, citizens. When the president lacks character, there is a vacuum of leadership. And chaos always fills that void. When the president relishes violence and promises to unleash “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” on protesters, we should not be shocked when things escalate.

Again, I’m not excusing the looting and rioting. The people committing that violence should be held accountable for their crimes. But this isn’t an either/or situation. You can hold those people responsible and also hold the president accountable for the toxic atmosphere he has recklessly nurtured.

And you can hold to account the people who, for reasons of either convenience, or ideology, or profit, made themselves willfully blind to what Trump has been doing.

As a young conservative in the ‘90s and early aughts I was told, over and over (and to this day still believe), that “character counts.”

Peggy Noonan once wrote of Ronald Reagan:

In a president, character is everything. A president doesn’t have to be brilliant; Harry Truman wasn’t brilliant, and he helped save Western Europe from Stalin. He doesn’t have to be clever; you can hire clever. White Houses are always full of quick-witted people with ready advice on how to flip a senator or implement a strategy. You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks.

But you can’t buy courage and decency, you can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.

Well, President Trump didn’t bring any of those things with him. And rather than demand better, conservatives and Republicans surrendered. Many of them eagerly. They put policy over decency. They prioritized political power over everything.

From the day he came down the escalator, Trump promised to burn it all down. And now Conservatism Inc. is surprised the country is on fire?

What did they think was going to happen?

Sarah Longwell is publisher of The Bulwark.

The winner of smart money in the Biden VEEPstakes is ...

… Val Demings!

I must lead with two things.

First, I did not see that coming. So I learned a lot from a professional gambler (who is also a Republican of the Never Trumper variety). I learned because of a discrepancy between what I expected going into this and what I got. My pick for VP all along was different and now I am revising my preference.

Second, what follows is an email from The Bulwark, a publication staffed by a group of conservatives (to which I subscribe - the publication, not the ideology). I read The Bulwark religiously because of the clear thinking and because we share a common goal - to Dump Trump.

So this item is from Jonathan V. Last’s “Triad” which appears in The Bulwark. This one is a bit different as he explains. Here are excerpts. (You should read the whole thing] .)

  • Betting on Biden
  • I’m going to do something I’ve never done here before and probably won’t do again. So bear with me.

    I got a long, looonng email from a reader this week about Biden’s VP pick.

    This reader is a professional gambler who bets on political outcomes for a living.

    He does not want his name revealed.

    So we’re just going to call him code-name “Domer.”

    Anyway, Domer wrote for me a giant piece explaining why he thinks the literal smart money—meaning, sharp players making cash wagers—should be on Val Demings as Biden’s VP.

    And the entire thing is so smart and interesting that I’m going to give this entire newsletter over to Domer so he can explain his thinking.

    Ladies and gentlemen, good luck. Here’s Domer:

    Joe Biden is likely to select Kamala Harris, a Senator from California, as his running mate about six weeks from now. Bettors are betting on Harris. Pundits are predicting Harris. Reporters are reporting Harris in the lead. And Kamala’s personal connection to Joe is previewing a possible ticket. But that could be a mistake and, in my estimation, an unforced error at a key inflection point for the campaign.

    I’m betting, literally, that when the vetting narrows down the choices— - when the pros and cons of all of the candidates they’ve interviewed are white boarded and chewed over and argued about in the context of what this race is really about— - that a little known member of Congress, Val Demings, comes out on top.

    Will this actually happen? Probably not! But it might happen, and bettors are starting to figure that out— – the odds on Demings have shortened from 50–1 to 5–1 in the past few weeks. I hope to walk you through the process of trying to find and predict an unlikely outcome. An outcome that could provide a windfall profit, if my instincts are correct.

    As a brief introduction, I bet on politics (mostly), and have been betting as my sole occupation since I put in my two-weeks notice in 2007.

    In 2020 political alignment parlance, I’m a college-educated, “Never Trumper” Republican who has been realigned from a certain straight-down-the-ballot R voter to a certain, if unenthusiastic, Joe Biden voter. I primarily use a website called PredictIt (and before that, the now-defunct Intrade). PredictIt is a peer-to-peer exchange that allows users to bet legally with one another on all manner of political forecasts; the most popular of these forecasts revolve around the Presidential election. As a tradeoff to its legality, there are strict limitations imposed by the CFTC of $850 at-risk per contract, and the door to PredictIt is fully open to any academics who want to study what its traders are doing.

    In order to make a consistent living, one needs to be right a bit more than wrong, and to occasionally be right on very unpredictable outcomes that people did not see coming. I wrote an article in 2012 discussing my process, and in it are stories about discovering a governor from Alaska named Sarah, imagining a Jon Huntsman Presidential campaign before it existed, and losing my shirt misjudging Barack Obama’s cabinet selections. In this 2020-focused article, I’ll dive deep into a single topic: Biden’s VP selection. My goal is to unearth one of those unpredictable outcomes that people did not see coming. For perspective on my recent VP selections…in 2016, I did manage to nail Mike Pence for Trump, but I lost money on Tim Kaine, thinking Hillary would make a more outside-the-box (read: smarter) choice.

  • The Lessons of 2016
  • Okay, so with that preamble out of the way, here’s Domer laying out the history of 2016 and how that impacts the 2020 dynamics:

    The place to begin in Joe Biden’s vice presidential selection process is my analysis of the current general election landscape. Biden has a lead of 8.1% over Trump on RealClearPolitics as of June 15th; he is also a slight betting odds favorite to become our next President (~57% chance). It’s not a guarantee that Biden wins, though, and further uncertainty creeps in via the fact that Trump is running a VERY unconventional campaign.

    Immediate problems present themselves with Trump’s Back to the Future strategy. The first is that Biden has an enormous favorability gap over Clinton. The second is that Trump is now an insider incumbent who should not be able to realistically hoodwink voters into believing that he is still an outsider!

    Joe Biden is, by almost all accounts, a genuinely good person who has deep friendships across political lines. This is his biggest edge against the antagonistic Trump.

    To quote Lindsey Graham from 2015 (prior to Graham’s reputational seppuku) “[Joe] is the nicest person that I think I’ve ever met in politics…he is as good a man as God ever created.”

    Biden may get overly handsy and may have a wayward son. He may make political errors and even try to take unethical shortcuts like ripping off another guy’s speech. You may disagree with him or even hate him politically. But it is fair to say that Joe Biden is a nice guy who means well, and it is equally fair to say that voters share this sentiment.

    Joe Biden has been an elected leader in Washington, D.C. since there were 4 channels on TV; he was sworn in 3.5 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Biden has 8 years as a veep and 36 years(!) as a U.S. senator—oodles of experience and longevity, true, but also an opening for Trump to define Biden as “status quo.”

    But …

    Additionally, Trump already defeated a candidate who wore out the cassette tape on her “Most Qualified Person to Ever Run for President” soundbyte, and he is itching to run against the deep-state D.C.-types yet again. In Trump’s framing of the election, Trump is the dam preventing the forgotten man from being crushed by a raging flood of swampy water. Trump wants Biden at the political scene of all of Trump’s imagined Deep-State crimes, and he has an army of sycophants equally eager to place Biden there.

  • Val Demings and the Smart Money
  • Which brings us to the VP pick. My lens for picking Biden’s best running mate is a woman who does absolutely nothing to aid Trump’s dual strategies. A woman who will do no harm. This means that I think a career politician like Amy Klobuchar is a poor choice (irrespective of recent events), even though she seems like a good fit for the blue wave coalition that delivered so much success to Democrats in 2018.

    It also means that I think a partisan firebomber like Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren is a poor choice, because then Trump gets to paint Biden with the brush of a well-defined and disliked liberal legislator from a liberal state.

    These may seem like simplistic and trite ways to dismiss a candidate as flawed, but that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. Trump’s dream is to mold Biden out of socialist clay; to define Biden in a way that, for instance, reverses Biden’s advantage with finicky senior citizens. Trump’s goal is to further define Biden as a puppet for liberal interest groups in Washington that want to destroy the country. Trump wants Biden’s gargantuan 25 point edge in a recent WSJ/NBC poll on “the ability to bring the country together” to evaporate.

    The question Biden’s team should be asking is: Why give Trump any openings whatsoever to hammer Biden when the choice is in your hands?

    And so my thinking goes that extensive D.C. political experience is a negative with the uber-experienced Biden already at the top of the ticket.

    Out of that research, three names stuck out to me as “long-shot” fits for Biden: Tammy Duckworth, Terri Sewell, and Val Demings.

    Both Tammy Duckworth and Terri Sewell are great people with phenomenal life stories that bolster Biden’s strengths.

    Demings, however, is a natural communicator in the clips I watched, as compared to clips of Duckworth, and she had extensive experience in leading, as compared to Sewell.

    In Demings, I’d found my dark horse candidate.

    She was 50–1.

    SCRIBER WEIGHS IN HERE: In my eyes, Warren and Harris , for example, are needed in their present positions in the U. S. Senate. We will need every “D” in the Senate if a newly elected Biden has any hope of getting a legislative agenda passed. Flipping the Senate would dump Rich Mitch - a worthy goal in itself.

    I knew of Val Demings from following the Mueller investigation and the impeachment proceedings. In fact, I asked for a market from PredictIt on who the impeachment managers would be, specifically because I wanted to bet on Demings. (Luckily for the other traders, they did not put up the market; she was indeed a semi-surprise pick.)

    My VP research on Val Demings started from a place of knowing her as an effective and thoughtful person in Congress, and that was about it. I read her backstory as the first step, and discovered that she was a former police officer who rose to police chief in Orlando.


    Then I watched a video from a few years ago where Demings said offhandedly about being a rookie cop: “My plan was that I was going to go to the police academy, and just kind of stay under the radar and not draw attention to myself. And I was elected class president within a couple of weeks.”

    After listening to that, something clicked.

    I put together the three pieces in front of me:

    She was the first non-lawyer to be an impeachment manager;

    She rose to become chief of an organization dominated by white men;

    She was elected class president in the early 1980s long before it was in vogue to elevate women.

    She grew up incredibly poor, a descendant of slaves. Her parents did not finish high school, and worked in low-skill jobs. Demings was sent across town to a segregated school until sixth grade. She was the first in her family to attend college, and put herself through Florida State University by working at McDonald’s. She became a social worker after college and then applied to the police department. After serving as a police officer for 27 years, culminating in the top job, she ran unsuccessfully for Florida’s 10th Congressional District in 2012 against a quasi-incumbent. She lost by 3 points, but outperformed Barack Obama’s 2012 vote share in that district by 2.6 points. She started and stopped an Orlando mayoral run in 2014 and then successfully ran in a reconfigured Florida 10th Congressional District in 2016, garnering 64.9% of the vote and outperforming Hillary Clinton by 3.1 points in her district. Republicans did not oppose her in 2018.

    In the intervening years, Demings married fellow police officer Jerry Demings (also a rousing self-made success story!); they have 3 children and multiple grandchildren. Both she and her husband ride Harleys, and she is heavily involved with her church, counting Rev. Terence Gray as a mentor. Her biography is best summed up by Val herself:

    “[My parents] worked hard, and so every day now when I look at what I’ve been able to accomplish…it’s a tribute to my parents. [When I became the chief of police], they became the chief of police. When I look at being a member of Congress, they became members of Congress. And so their sacrifices paid off. All of their hopes and dreams as Maya Angelou says in her poem “Still I Rise”: we’re ‘the hope and dream of slaves.’ What I have been able to accomplish…the hope and dream of my parents.”

    Bearing in mind that I’m biased (and this should be front of mind for anyone reading this), I’ve also mulled over her shortcomings, namely a lack of political experience and the fact that she was a police officer.

    Val Demings has only been a Congresswoman since 2017, which would traditionally be an immediate dismissal for a VP candidate’s chances. In talking with other people who bet on politics, many disregard her as an option because of this.

    But I’ve found that elected experience simply doesn’t matter much.

    Obama was a senator for 3.5 years before being elected president. The current president had 0 years of experience.

    Plus, her track record would seem to indicate that she is an effective leader. Demings has also been spending considerable time as a media surrogate for Biden during this pandemic, likely so that the Biden campaign can evaluate her abilities.

    Finally, Biden would be sneakily mirroring the Obama/Biden ticket with a Demings selection. An older white candidate with a long history of elected office paired with a more recently elected black official with a deep background of non-legislative experience.

    Demings’ career as a police officer is the thorniest subject in the wake of the George Floyd murder …

    I talked about Demings being my top choice and explained some brief things about her.

    With the strong caveat that the vetting could turn up law enforcement skeletons (Florida’s Sunshine Law provides easy access to records of public officials), I’ve again decided that this does not matter. Controversial! And also quite convenient!

    The reason I decided this isn’t complicated though: The demographics where Biden has made inroads into Trump, as compared to 2016, all approve of the police more than average. Biden is peeling off suburbanites, college-educated whites, and senior citizens from Trump. These three groups easily have the highest approval of police officers in their respective demographic groupings.

    Because that enthusiasm revolves around deposing Trump.

    My thinking on the VP selection process from today, in mid-June, through the selection around August 1 is that the Biden campaign is soon to narrow down a long VP list of anywhere between 12 and 20 candidates.

    The campaign will get that initial list down to 5 or 6 eventually, and I think that final list will very likely include Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Amy Klobuchar, Val Demings, and Tammy Duckworth. There’s also a possibility that Gretchen Whitmer, Susan Rice, Keisha Bottoms, Maggie Hassan, or Tammy Baldwin make the final list in lieu of names that I’ve mentioned.

    My biggest leap forward in logic is that I think, ultimately, the choice will come down to Kamala Harris or Val Demings. They fit the moment and fit with Joe. On a personal betting level, the two options have quite different outcomes: I’d win $5,000 on Harris and $50,000 on Demings.

    I am not totally dismissive of Harris’s chances. If Biden had to make the choice right now, without any further vetting, I think he would pick her without much thought. But I’d like to take a quick moment to hash out why I am skeptical of her chances after a thorough evaluation by Biden’s team.

    First and foremost, it is true that Harris has been vetted extensively already as a result of running for president in 2019. It is equally true, however, that the result of that public vetting was a total disinterest from that same public in voting for her. Harris excelled at little, other than fundraising and some viral debate clips.

    The good news for Joe is that regardless of whether Harris is his VP or not, she can still do fundraising for him and she can still be a quippy surrogate for him.

    Secondly, prior to becoming a senator, her two runs for attorney general were unspectacular affairs in California politics. In 2010, she won by the narrowest margin of any of the major candidates for statewide office, and in 2014 she was in the middle of the pack. The best spin on her electoral history is that she does about as well as a generic Democrat, even with vast sums of money at her disposal. Harris also has a scandal in plain sight that will be fodder for swamp-obsessed Republicans: her boyfriend Willie Brown kickstarted her political career with two key appointments, for which she had zero qualifications—and he threw in a BMW for good measure. If life is a comic book, Harris’s origin story in politics is just plain icky, and it subverts many of the narratives that Biden already has going in his favor.

    I think the “safe,” but well-defined, liberal senator from California is a mistake waiting to happen and one that would provide a jolt of energy to a Trump playbook that’s currently on life support.

    If Demings versus Harris is indeed the choice in front of Joe Biden weeks from today, I think the woman born in Jacksonville—home of the newly-relocated 2020 Republican convention—should be on that stage.

    A woman who pulled her parents along with her through segregated and integrated schools into college. A woman who pulled her parents with her through the police force. And a woman who pulled her parents with her into the halls of Congress, where she swore another oath to serve and protect, and led the prosecution of the current occupant who broke that oath.

    And that’s where I’ve pushed in my chips. Wish me luck.

    My thanks to Domer for all of this. May the odds be ever in his favor.

    Jonathan V. Last
    Executive Editor of The Bulwark

    'a loud and collective wailing of defeat and despair' is what we will hear from MIchigan GOPlins on Nov 3rd

    Writing in The Bulwark, Jeff Timmer explains why Michigan May be a Nightmare for the GOP. The state party’s transformation didn’t start with Trump. But his weak polling could plunge MIGOP into wrack and ruin.

    [BIG SNIP]

    Polling through mid–2020 has shown Trump consistently trailing Joe Biden in the mitten state, including a survey released last week showing Trump trailing Biden by a 15-point margin (50 to 35 percent).

    Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has only increased her popularity. Her approval numbers during the COVID–19 crisis, which has hit Michigan disproportionately hard, have remained in the mid–60s, while Trump’s have been mired in the low 40s. Whitmer gave her support to Biden at a pivotal moment in advance of his win over Bernie Sanders in Michigan and she is included in the speculation about Biden’s choice of a running mate. While Whitmer won’t be on the ballot in Michigan this year (unless Biden picks her), she’s in much better position to sway swing voters up and down the ballot than Trump or any Republican is.

    These disastrous top-of-the-ticket numbers are sure to be an anchor for Republicans down-ballot—suggesting that the 2020 election will continue to hollow out the party in the state. For example, Republicans have an exemplary candidate challenging Democratic freshman U.S. Senator Gary Peters. John James, a black 39-year-old Iraq War veteran Army combat helicopter pilot, is the CEO of an international logistics company with annual revenue exceeding $100 million. James ran against three-term Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018, losing a surprisingly close race and running well ahead of the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate. James has tried to thread the needle of not alienating Trump and Trumpists while also endeavoring to not repel college-educated white voters who increasingly see Trump as less desirable than chlamydia. This needle is proving unthreadable: The most recent poll shows James trailing Peters 48 to 32 percent.

    Freshman Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin (who defeated an incumbent Republican) and Haley Stevens (who flipped a GOP open seat) both face weak opponents and are likely to coast to re-election in their suburban Detroit districts.

    In the southwest corner of Michigan, bordering South Bend, Indiana—where the Chicago TV market penetrates—moderate Republican Fred Upton, first elected in 1986, faces extinction at the hands of Democratic state representative Jon Hoadley. Upton eked out the narrowest victory of his career in 2018 against a relatively weak and little-known opponent.

    Democrats also seem poised to break the GOP’s ten-year hold on the Michigan House of Representatives (state senators are not on the ballot this year) and either hold gains they made at the county and local levels in 2018 or add to them. Michigan adopted a new independent citizens’ commission to conduct redistricting after the 2020 census and the Democrats may well enter 2022 in their strongest political position since the mid–1980s to seize even more congressional seats and capture control of the Michigan Senate for the first time since 1984.

    Most Republicans in Michigan seem oblivious to this reality.

    What they have in front of them is the opportunity to do something pretty rare in politics, make a bold move that is both smart politically and the ethical thing to do. In this case: throw Donald Trump and his 35 percent ballot number overboard to try to save themselves.

    There have been more than enough bright neon signs flashing out their warnings that a big blue wave has been forming. John James flashing 32 percent might as well be posted in Times Square.

    But the message isn’t breaking through.

    Instead, inexplicably, the MIGOP cult continues to bow and pray to the great orange god they made.

    And so the sound most likely to emit from Republicans on the night of November 3, will not be silence—but a loud and collective wailing of defeat and despair.

    Jeff Timmer is a political consultant. He was executive director of the Michigan Republican Party and is now an erstwhile GOPer. Twitter: @jefftimmer.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    Trump sues to block Bolton book

    I bought my copy at Amazon.com. I want it on the [re]scheduled release date, June 23. No more delays!

    Trump’s legal gang is suing the publisher to halt release. Do you see the pattern? When something unflattering to Trump is published, he sues.

    You can read about it here: Trump administration sues to delay release of Bolton book.

    Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) opines this morning:

    It was a weird lawsuit. It claims Bolton is “compromising national security by publishing a book containing classified information,” but the government did not try to get a temporary restraining order, and it did not sue the book’s publisher: it went after Bolton alone, charging him with violating a non-disclosure agreement and demanding he hand over any money he makes from the book. Law professor Rick Hasen speculated on Twitter that the lawsuit “may be no more than a complaint written for an audience of one, more about looking tough against Bolton and claiming he’s violating the law than about getting actual court relief.”

    And check this out …

    Trump Considers Suing His Niece Over Her Tell-All Book, Saying She Signed an NDA.. The president has long favored using legal threats to stop people from writing bad books about him. Going after his own family may be next.

    Do you suppose that Trump’ thinks conversations with his own family are classified?

    COVID-19 more deadly than the flu

    Here from a Daily Kos subscriber is a chart comparing causes of global deaths during the first 5 months of 2020.

    One take-away is that COVID–19 is responsible for about four times more deaths than the flu.

    Deaths by cause

    Thanks to Mrs. Scriber.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2020

    In Africa Coronavirus 'pandemic is accelerating'

    The NY Times reports that Coronavirus Accelerates Across Africa. The virus was slow to start in many African countries, but epidemiologists say the number of confirmed cases on the continent is now rising fast.

    Public health experts have warned that Africa could become the next epicenter of the Covid–19 pandemic.

    The World Health Organization said last week that confirmed cases in Africa had doubled in 18 days to reach 200,000; the first 100,000 took 98 days.

    “Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3 percent of the global total, it’s clear that this pandemic is accelerating,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Africa, said in a video briefing last week.

    She said that until there was a vaccine available, the continent would have to live with a steady increase of cases.

    … what has often been perceived in Africa as a foreigners’ disease is increasingly reaching all sections of society. Testing is still extremely limited in most countries, so it is impossible to know how widely the pandemic has taken hold. But a month ago, the W.H.O. predicted that between 29 and 44 million Africans could become infected in the first year.

    Warning signs of pandemic resurgence

    From the Washington Post’s Coronavirus Update for June 14th:

    Some governors are threatening to shut their states back down as covid–19 cases and hospitalizations climb. Mask-less New Yorkers gathered shoulder-to-shoulder outside bars and restaurants over the weekend as if they had entirely forgotten about social distancing. “Don’t make me come down there …” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) tweeted in response to a video of one gathering. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said Monday morning he would consider closing his state again if similar behavior becomes popular in New Jersey. In Arizona and Florida, restaurants are re-closing to indoor dining after employees have tested positive.

    The increase in cases is not necessarily because of increased testing. In some places, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise even as testing rates fall. In six states, the seven-day average of new cases has increased since May 31 while the average number of daily tests being conducted has declined. In 14 others, the rate of new cases is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests. There are many warning signs in the data that the U.S. is entering a resurgence of the pandemic after states lifted restrictions.

    Sunday, June 14, 2020

    'We are not going to be able to stop the spread, and so we can’t stop living, as well'.

    How about dying?

    That quote is from State Health Director Cara Christ clarifying the cavalier attitude of AZ as the number of cases continues to rise. Another 261 cases were reported for yesterday.

    Tim Steller’s opinion: Action needed against Arizona’s COVID surge, not ‘misinformation’. The problem is the surge in cases, not the media reporting on it.

    You might have heard about the COVID–19 emergency in Arizona that the governor’s office acted against last week.

    I don’t mean the emergency of surging coronavirus cases.

    No, I’m talking about the emergency of “misinformation.” A “false narrative” was at work, you see, so Gov. Doug Ducey and his staff worked hard in a press conference Thursday and via social media to address that emergency.

    For around two weeks, cases of COVID–19 have been increasing fast in Arizona, according to the state’s own data, with the upward curve turning toward exponential growth. Cases have been rising faster in Arizona than almost anywhere else in the country. Hospitals have reported they are growing fuller, with the state’s largest system, Banner, sounding the alarm June 5 that the intensive care units at its sites were nearing capacity.

    After in-state news outlets like the Star and the Arizona Republic started reporting on this worrisome trend, national news outlets picked up the story, too. ABC. NBC, CBS, CNN and others all pointed to Arizona as a state where the pandemic is going in a bad direction.

    [Scriber:] The last 5 days in May averaged 48.8 new, confirmed cases per day (data from AZ Daily Star). Today, June 14, there were 261 new cases.

    Those reports were a real emergency.

    So at the press conference, Gov. Ducey emphasized, “There’s been a lot of misinformation out there. It’s important we have the facts straight about hospital capacity in Arizona.”

    A reporter asked, “What was the misinformation?” Ducey answered with the correct information:

    “We have hospital capacity in the state of Arizona.”

    True enough, it appears. For now. Overall, Arizona hospitals were at 83 percent of inpatient capacity late last week. Emergency departments and intensive care units were significantly better than that.

    But what about that other emergency — the spike in cases and increase in hospitalizations for COVID–19?

    On that, the governor and the state health director, Dr. Cara Christ, did not announce any new action.

    In fact, Christ said: “We know that it is in the community. We are not going to be able to stop the spread, and so we can’t stop living, as well.”

    Plop. That’s the sound of the Ducey administration throwing in the towel. As Steller reported, Ducey and Christ" didn’t even wear masks symbolically, to model good behavior, when they entered the room.

    Saturday, June 13, 2020

    Prospects for a peaceful, constitutional transfer of power on Nov. 4

    If the 2020 election were held today, all signs are that Trump would lose to Joe Biden. Forbes.com has documentation in Republicans Are Breaking From Trump Like We’ve Never Seen. Here are some of their facts and conclusions.

    TOPLINE Much of the Trump presidency has been defined by the president’s uncanny ability to bring the GOP in tow, but in recent weeks—with the nation battling two separate crises and the White House response to the turmoil under scrutiny—members of the party have begun to distance themselves from the president in unprecedented fashion.


    • Few Republicans supported Trump’s highly controversial photo op in front of St. John’s Church (which was made possible only after protesters were cleared with tear gas and flash bangs) and several GOP senators “cringed” at Trump’s tweet Tuesday morning suggesting that a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo—who was shoved backward by the police and bled from his head after falling—might be a member of Antifa, Politico reported.
    • Trump’s ability to divide the country by discovering and exploiting wedge issues also appears to have lessened, as some Republican leaders and large swaths of the business community are openly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and the White House instead focuses its efforts on the economy, and promoting “law and order,” as the president often tweets.
    • Hours after President Trump declared that his administration “will not even consider the renaming” of army bases named after Confederate generals, the GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee privately adopted an amendment Wednesday for the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate generals from military assets within three years, CNN reported.
    • Several high-profile Republicans have recently said they will not support the president’s reelection bid, including former President George W. Bush, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the New York Times reports; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters last week she’s “struggling” with whether to vote for the president in November.
    • The dissent from inside the GOP also comes on the heels of plummeting poll numbers for Trump: Trump’s approval rating has dropped ten points since May and has fallen below the 40% mark, according to the latest Gallup poll, and polling analysts say the president is in deep trouble come November.
    • He’s also facing dissent from the military: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark A. Milley said Thursday he “should not” have been at the church photo op; Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last week he was opposed to sending active-duty soldiers into American cities; and in a statement published in The Atlantic on June 3, former Defense Secretary James Mattis slammed the photo op and added he was “angry and appalled” that he has seen police officers “violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”
    • Still, while Republicans are distancing themselves from the president on certain issues in recent weeks, few—besides Romney and possibly Murkowski—are jumping ship entirely, afraid doing so would lead to defeat during their next election, the Washington Post reports.


    In a widely read statement published by The Atlantic, former Defense Secretary Mattis said he was “angry and appalled” that he has seen police officers “violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.” He also excoriated Trump’s photo op in front of St. John’s Church. “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” he said.

    So if Trump loses, what then?

    Trump says he’ll leave office peacefully if he loses in November reports politico.com. “Certainly, if I don’t win, I don’t win,” Trump said Friday.

    President Donald Trump sought to brush aside fears he might not leave office willingly if November’s election doesn’t go his way.

    “Certainly, if I don’t win, I don’t win,” he told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner in an interview that aired Friday. If he doesn’t win the election, Trump continued, “you go on, do other things.”

    Though the president has never given any serious indication that he might not leave office if he were to lose reelection, his comments aired Friday appear to be the first time he has publicly committed to doing so.

    All that’s promising, right? Read on.

    Still, he told Faulker that if he loses, “I think it would be a very bad thing for our country.”

    Faulkner posed the query after former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s likely Democratic rival in November, raised the prospect during a TV appearance on Wednesday.

    In an interview on “The Daily Show,” Biden warned Trump could “try to steal this election” by attempting to suppress votes, pointing to the president’s fervent opposition to mail-in voting and his unfounded allegations that widespread mail-in voting was ripe with fraud.

    Host Trevor Noah then asked the vice president if he’d given any consideration to what would happen if Trump refused to leave office at the end of his term, to which Biden replied that he had.

    “I was so damn proud to hear that four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump, and you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, ‘Whoa we’re not a military state, this is not who we are,’” Biden told Noah, a reference to rebukes of Trump for his attempts to militarize the response to nationwide protests.

    “I promise you, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch,” Biden said.

    Biden’s warning comes as recent polling shows the former vice president taking the lead across national polls five months out from the election.

    No term limits? “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot”

    Trump regularly trolls his critics on the issue, joking at campaign rallies and on various occasions about extending his presidency past the constitutional limit of two terms. In addition to the president’s vocal accusations of widespread voter fraud and claims of “rigged” American elections, of which there is no evidence, Trump has sometimes suggested that his supporters might “demand” he remain in office past his second term.

    In 2018, when China’s ruling Communist Party eliminated that country’s two-term limit and paved the way for President Xi Jinping to serve indefinitely, audio leaked of Trump apparently joking at a closed-door fundraiser, “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

    That’s point 1. Point 2 is that this a man who lies about everything.

    The man of 19,127 lies

    The Washington Post’s fact-checking team published A thorough catalogue of President Trump’s lies. According to a tally by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker team, President Trump made 19,127 false or misleading statements from his inauguration through June 1.

    That’s not an encouraging context for his promise “if I don’t win, I don’t win.”

    You saw his tax returns, right?

    Friday, June 12, 2020

    AZ tops 9 Senate seats most likely to flip

    By The Ranking Committee (Washington Post): These are the 9 Senate seats most likely to flip. Things don’t look good for Republicans.

    For over a year, the Ranking Committee has been laser-focused on presidential politics — who is going to win the Democratic primary, the veepstakes, the race to be the next outsider candidate and more. But if the Trump-Pence or Biden-TBD team wants to accomplish their goals in 2021, they’ll need to do the super-fun-and-not-at-all-arduous work of moving legislation through Congress.

    And that’s why the battle for Senate control matters so much.

    From a 30,000-foot view, this map looks bad for the GOP. Republicans are playing a lot of defense: They’re defending purple seats in Colorado, Maine, Arizona and North Carolina, and they might end up having trouble in red states such as Iowa, Montana, Georgia or even Texas. Democrats, on the other hand, don’t have many weak spots. Doug Jones will very likely lose the Alabama Senate race, and Republicans could try for a win in swing-y Michigan or red-trending Minnesota. But for the most part, the blue team is playing offense this year.

    National poll numbers don’t look great for the GOP, either. President Trump’s approval rating is low, and Joe Biden leads him by an eight-point margin per the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. Any election forecaster worth their salt will tell you that Senate elections are at least partly nationalized — that is, if Trump ends up losing bigly in Colorado and North Carolina, there’s a good chance Republican Sens. Cory Gardner and Thom Tillis will go down with the ship. This works both ways — if Trump manages to pull off a comeback victory, he could save some Republican senators along the way.

    But these Senate races aren’t determined by national numbers alone. Details really matter; candidate quality, issue positions, strategy, money and all sorts of other local factors will shape these races. So this week, the Ranking Committee has decided to pick the seats that are most likely to flip.

    At the top of the list is Martha McSally.

    The Ranking

    1.(TIE) Arizona (Martha McSally) R to D
    1. (TIE) Alabama (Doug Jones) D to R
    3. Colorado (Cory Gardner) R to D
    4. Maine (Susan Collins) R to D
    5. North Carolina (Thom Tillis) R to D
    6. Montana (Steve Daines) R to D
    7. Kansas (open) R to D
    8. (TIE) Georgia (Kelly Loeffler) R to D
    8. (TIE) Iowa (Joni Ernst) R to D

    Here are notes from the Committee (about the AZ Senate seat held by Martha McSally).

    Greg Sargent A Democratic win in Arizona would have huge implications for our politics. Swiping the second Senate seat in a border state where Trump gave his big 2016 immigration speech would show that Trump’s demagoguery on the issue is eroding the GOP’s grip on the Southwest. That could shift both parties’ electoral college calculations and confirm (especially if Trump loses the state) that Trumpism is a long-term loser for the GOP in a place that was supposed to thrill to it.

    Eugene Robinson Martha McSally is so far behind Mark Kelly right now that she can hardly see his dust, and she is going all-in with Trump. That doesn’t look like a promising strategy, to say the least.

    Karen Tumulty She’s clinging tight to Trump, at the cost of her own brand.

    Henry Olsen McSally increasingly looks like a two-time loser in once staunchly Republican Arizona. Trump’s unpopularity among college-educated suburbanites sunk her in 2018, and that trend is only stronger this year. She needs Trump to recover a lot of lost ground by November to have a fighting chance.

    Hugh Hewitt McSally narrowly lost in the headwinds of 2018, but her fighter pilot instincts have kicked in and she’s throwing her considerable energy and focus into the fray.

    Jennifer Rubin McSally has shown how foolish it is to embrace Trump wholeheartedly in a state drifting blue. Her opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly, seems a perfect match for a state that elected a Democratic senator in 2018 and is quite winnable for Joe Biden.