Thursday, July 30, 2020

A last message from John Lewis on reclaiming our national soul

The John Lewis essay in the NY Times - Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation.

Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

Mr. John Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral, July 30, 2020.

Here is his essay verbatim (block quotes suppressed)

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

The GOP sold its soul long ago. They were only too happy to have Trump get them off the responsible governance hook.

Stuart Stevens writes in the NY Times: We Lost the Battle for the Republican Party’s Soul Long Ago. Only fear will motivate the party to change — the cold fear only defeat can bring.

After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, commissioned an internal party study to examine why the party had won the popular vote only once since 1988.

The results of that so-called autopsy were fairly obvious: The party needed to appeal to more people of color, reach out to younger voters, become more welcoming to women. Those conclusions were presented as not only a political necessity but also a moral mandate if the Republican Party were to be a governing party in a rapidly changing America.

Face
Who do you trust?

Then Donald Trump emerged and the party threw all those conclusions out the window with an almost audible sigh of relief: Thank God we can win without pretending we really care about this stuff. That reaction was sadly predictable.

I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it. Hold Donald Trump up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party.

Reading Mr. Bush’s 2000 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention now is like stumbling across a document from a lost civilization, with its calls for humility, service and compassion. That message couldn’t attract 20 percent in a Republican presidential primary today. If there really was a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, we lost.

This collapse of a major political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in modern American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the dissonance between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experienced was so great that it was unsustainable.

This election should signal a day of reckoning for the party and all who claim it as a political identity. Will it? I’ve given up hope that there are any lines of decency or normalcy that once crossed would move Republican leaders to act as if they took their oath of office more seriously than their allegiance to party. Only fear will motivate the party to change — the cold fear only defeat can bring.

That defeat is looming. Will it bring desperately needed change to the Republican Party? I’d like to say I’m hopeful. But that would be a lie and there have been too many lies for too long.

Mr. Stevens is a Republican political consultant. Thanks to Editor-at-Large Sherry.

Trump 'very impressed' with Dr. Demon

This item from Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddoqwBlog) ties these other stories together.

Benen explains Why ‘DNA from aliens’ made it into a White House press briefing. Trump’s found a doctor who’s made claims about alien DNA and the effects of having sex with demons while dreaming. He thinks her voice is “important.”

The latest presidential nonsense began – where else? – on Twitter earlier this week, with Trump aggressively pushing weird conspiracy theories and a video that falsely claimed hydroxychloroquine can “cure” people of COVID–19. That video was taken down by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, each of which agreed that the content was false and potentially dangerous misinformation, but the president was eager to endorse it anyway.

Yesterday, during a White House press briefing, Trump doubled down, not only ignoring the FDA’s judgment on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, but touting someone he saw touting the drug as a “cure.”

In case this isn’t obvious, what’s important here is not that some fringe figure peddles fringe beliefs. The internet is filled with obscure voices saying strange things to modest audiences. As a rule, the American mainstream largely ignores those voices, leaving them inconsequential.

What matters now, however, is that the sitting president of the United States would like the public to take fringe voices seriously, even as they peddle bogus public-health claims during a pandemic. I don’t care what Stella Immanuel has to say; I care that Trump is telling Americans that Stella Immanuel is “very respected,” “very impressive,” and has “an important voice.”

In early March 2016, several months before Trump’s election, Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote something I found memorable: “Among the most important tasks the president has is knowing what to believe, whom to listen to, which facts to trust, and which theories to explore. Trump’s terrible judgment in this regard is one of the many reasons he’s not qualified for the office.”

More than four years later, it’s among Trump’s single most important flaws. He simply lacks the wherewithal to know the difference between good information and bad, which in turns leaves him incapable of making sound decisions.

*Update*: During a brief Q&A this morning, the president again said, twice, that he was “very impressed” the Immanuel.

Kodak and its hydroxychloroquine connection

Following is part of the Kodak story by Judd Legum at popular.info.

Kodak, once an iconic American brand valued at $30 billion, has been in dire straits for more than a decade. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and emerged in 2013. But Kodak, which built its business selling film, never successfully transitioned to digital.

After bankruptcy, Kodak’s old stock was worthless, but the newly issued shares peaked at over $36 in early 2014. But since then, it has rapidly declined, with the price mired well below $3 since March. In recent years Kodak has been selling its patents, buildings, and other assets for cash. In 2018, the company attempted a pivot to cryptocurrency.

Then, late Tuesday afternoon, everything changed. President Trump announced that he was “using the Defense Production Act to provide a $765 million loan to support the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals.” Kodak would now “produce generic active pharmaceutical ingredients,” reducing the country’s reliance on China. Trump described it as “one of the most important deals in the history of U.S. pharmaceutical industries.”

The stock immediately spiked, reaching $53 by 10 AM on Wednesday. To put that in perspective, if you owned 100,000 Kodak shares on Monday morning, they were worth $210,000. By 10 AM on Wednesday, those same shares were worth $5.3 million.

The hydroxychloroquine connection

The deal with Kodak was brokered by White House trade advisor Peter Navarro. In recent days, Navarro has openly feuded with Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert. Navarro wrote an op-ed for USA Today with the title, “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”

One of Navarro’s chief complaints is that Fauci was insufficiently supportive of using hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, to treat or prevent COVID–19. The deal with Kodak appears to be a way for Navarro to continue to push hydroxychloroquine. As part of the deal, Kodak will reportedly manufacture chemicals that will allow more hydroxychloroquine to be produced domestically.

Studies have shown, however, that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating or preventing COVID–19. A study by the University of Minnesota, released June 3, found hydroxychloroquine “does not prevent Covid–19.” A rigorous study by the UK government, released June 5, found hydroxychloroquine had “no benefit for hospitalized Covid–19 patients.” On June 15, the FDA revoked its emergency authorization for the drug, stating that its “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID–19.” The WHO dropped hydroxychloroquine from a large clinical trial on June 17, “after available data indicated the drug was not effective for Covid–19.” (Navarro has keyed in on one outlier study that experts say was deeply flawed.)

But, despite the evidence, Trump and his advisers remain keenly interested in the drug. On Tuesday, Trump praised Dr. Stella Immanuel, who claimed in a viral video that hydroxychloroquine is a “cure“ for COVID–19. Trump said Immanuel was ”spectacular“ in the video, adding that he believed hydroxychloroquine ”works in the early stages" of the virus.

Immanuel, however, is known for holding a number of views that are not supported by scientific literature, including that “the uterine disorder endometriosis is caused by sex with demons that takes place in dreams.”

Trump believes - alien dna, demon sperm, and hydroxychloroquine

Here are a couple of items from the Daily Beast. Trump keeps getting weirder and weirder.

This F*cking Shit Again’—Trump Haunts His Team With Diversions to Demon Sperm and Obsessions With Faucis. The president wanted to flood the zone with press conferences again. But the early discipline is fading.

It’d been three months since Donald Trump had given his staff a break. For weeks, some of his top advisers had repeatedly warned him that his madcap performances at the White House’s coronavirus press briefings were tanking his poll numbers and helping Joe Biden, until finally the president decided to stop doing them. Senior administration officials and task-force members were elated—their infamously stubborn boss had actually taken their advice.

But in the months following the cessation of those pressers, Trump’s numbers—nationally and in critical swing states—have kept falling. And according to two sources who’d spoken to the president this month, he began insisting that it was time to start going with his gut, again.

The president restarted the press briefings last week, after having asserted to his aides that the resulting three months of political foundering had vindicated his instincts to “control the agenda” and to flood the media as much as possible. His return to the lectern, he predicted, would help his poll numbers.

But while the early results suggested that maybe Trump could keep a lid—even if just for a few seconds—on his self-destructive impulses, increasingly, the worst fears of the president’s staff are being realized.

“When he started doing them again [starting last week], my thought was, ‘Oh, great, this fucking shit again,’” said a senior administration official who works closely with the White House coronavirus task force. “And now we’re all talking about demon ejaculation.”

For more, check out this: Trump’s New Favorite COVID Doctor Believes in Alien DNA, Demon Sperm, and Hydroxychloroquine. The president is pushing the coronavirus theories of a Houston doctor who also says sexual visitations by demons and alien DNA are at the root of Americans’ common health concerns.

And Republicans were silent.

Mona Charen, contributor to The Bulwark, thinks The GOP Needs to Hit Rock Bottom. Congressional Republicans pretended they were powerless to limit Trump’s excesses. What difference would it make if voters made the make-believe real?

Following are her closing observations.

… Republicans have criticized the president on policy matters, sometimes even harshly. Where they have shrunk into their shells was on matters that are even more critical to the health of our republic. They have, by their silence, given assent to his cruelty, his assaults on truth, his dangerous flirtations with political violence, and his consistent demolition of institutions.

Institutions are like scaffolding. When a society’s institutions are weakened, the whole edifice can come crashing down. This often happens to countries as a consequence of war or natural disasters. In our case, it was self-inflicted before the natural disaster (coronavirus) struck, and now, as masonry hits the pavement and floors sag, we are seeing the results.

Donald Trump undermined the institution of the free press, urging his followers to disbelieve everything except what came from the leader. And Republicans were silent. He weakened respect for law enforcement and the courts, suggesting that he was the victim of a “deep state” and that “so-called judges” need not be respected. And Republicans were silent. He enriched himself and his family. And Republicans were silent. He introduced doubt about accepting the results of elections. He scorned allies and toadied to dictators. And Republicans were silent. He ran the executive branch like a gangster, demanding personal loyalty and abusing officials, like the hapless Jeff Sessions, who merely followed ethics rules. He ignored the law to get his way on the border wall. Silence again. He violated the most sacred norms of a multi-ethnic society by encouraging racial hatred. Crickets. He made the United States guilty of separating babies from their mothers. And Republicans were silent. He undercut the credibility and honor of the Republican party by failing to dissociate it from kooks and criminals. And Republicans were silent.

Elected officials, terrified of their own constituents, have cowered and temporized in the face of a truly unprecedented assault on democratic values. They believed that they were powerless and acted accordingly. Since they were powerless when it counted, what difference would it make if voters were to make it official?

Consider something else that Sen. Murkowski said in response to Gen. Mattis. “When I saw General Mattis’ comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”

And Murkowski was silent.[Scriber - this one is mine.]

When one person shows courage, others are emboldened. If more Republicans had shown a willingness to stand for basic political hygiene, for elemental human decency earlier in this awful era, it might have become contagious.

But since that did not happen, the only thing that will send a message to the Republican party commensurate with its moral abdication over the past four years is to lose in a landslide. Not just Trump, but his silent enablers too.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a contributor to The Bulwark, and host of The Bulwark’s Beg to Differ

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Without a peaceful transfer of power and facing election loss Trump will break America

What do you think sets us, as a democracy, apart from other, nondemocratic nations? You might cite “rule of law”. But I would argue in favor of the peaceful transfer of power. And that is what keeps me up at night. Never in our history has a president refused to accept the results of an election - in advance of the election! Yet, many observers see Trump’s words and actions as preparation for refusal to transfer power.

Brian Klaas, Washington Post Global Opinions contributor, identifies the probem and suggests how to prepare for Trump rejecting the election results in November.

President Trump is laying the groundwork to do something that no previous president has ever done: falsely claim that an election was fixed against him in order to discredit the vote. Trump has repeatedly — and incorrectly — claimed the election will be “rigged” against him. By promoting a series of wacky, debunked conspiracy theories, he has primed his supporters to wrongly believe he is the victim of some unknown, shadowy “deep state” plot. In an interview that aired last week, he refused to commit to accepting the results in November.

His actions challenge the flagship event of our republic: the peaceful transfer of power after an election, accepted by all candidates. (It’s worth noting that in 2016, Hillary Clinton quickly accepted the results and congratulated her opponent, while also criticizing the election’s integrity based on verified instances of Russian information warfare — a far cry from Trump peddling the debunked myth of widespread voter fraud.) With about 100 days to go, we are careening toward an extraordinarily dangerous crisis of American democracy.

Such crises never happen in other functioning democracies. But they happen all the time in broken countries around the world. In contentious elections from Africa to southeast Asia, incumbents who lose often refuse to accept defeat. Welcome to the club, America!

All the warning lights are blinking red. University of Birmingham professor Nic Cheeseman , an expert on contentious elections and political violence with whom I co-authored the book “How to Rig an Election,” normally worries when contested votes happen in Kenya or Zimbabwe. Now, he’s worried about the United States. “There are five warning I always look for,” he told me. “Organized militias, a leader who is not prepared to lose, distrust of the political system, disinformation, and a potentially close contest. Right now, the U.S. has all five.”

Consider ourselves warned. The question, then, is: What do we do about it? If Trump ends up trying to torch crucial norms of democracy in order to save face, how can we prepare? Other countries offer a series of lessons we should urgently learn from, so that if (or when) the worst happens, Trump’s matches don’t light.

First, we need a bipartisan pact endorsing the results. Incumbents who reject results solely because they lost tend to get more traction when their party backs them uniformly. When cracks show, the self-serving farce falls apart. Democrats and Republicans who believe in democracy should agree to immediately and publicly accept the election results (barring any major irregularities).

All living former presidents should be involved. It would also be particularly helpful to ensure that former members of the Trump administration — such as John Kelly, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis — are on board. The broader the coalition, the more Trump’s desperate ploy would be exposed for what it is.

Second, shore up public confidence with oversight. State election officials can conduct quick randomized audits and release results that demonstrate the integrity of the process. Many states do not automatically mandate such audits, but there is still time to expand them before November. And while some states have put up roadblocks to independent international election observers in the past, now would be a good time to welcome them with open arms. They might shine an embarrassing light on any state’s electoral failings, but can quickly debunk false claims of manipulation made by losers.

Third, the media should do more to educate voters about election administration. Trump’s lies about election procedures work when people don’t understand the process. For example, Trump tried to attack mail-in ballots while saying that he has no issue with absentee ballots, even though no-fault absentee ballots and mail-in voting are exactly the same thing. Just as it’s easier to scare people with the risks of dihydrogen monoxide until people realize that it is water, educating voters will make it harder for Trump to get away with lying about how elections are held.

Fourth, state and local election officials should do more contingency planning for a pandemic election. Things will go wrong. The more preparations are done now, the fewer examples Trump and his allies can cherry-pick to make false claims of being the victim of an unfair vote. Again, the media can help expose states that aren’t ready, to help kick them into gear.

Finally, it would help if the margin was clear and court rulings were swift and decisive to uphold democracy. As professor Sarah Birch, author of “Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order,” told me: “Malawi provides a good example of a country that recently weathered a contentious election more successfully than many observers had expected.” Even though the president tried to manipulate the vote — and even tried to cancel it — “the clear margin of victory of the winner together with the resoluteness of the courts in insisting on adhering to democratic electoral norms” blunted the damage done by the losing incumbent.

If Trump’s authoritarian populism wins in November, the United States faces an existential threat to its democracy. But if he loses, the period between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20, 2021, will be particularly dangerous, too. It’s not too late. But we must get ready.

So there you have it. As Klaas put it: “Consider ourselves warned.”

Team trump is losing it with no viable correction in sight

The long delays in getting COVID–19 test results is just one example of how Trump’s team still does not get it says Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post.

But then they never have. I’ll come back to that presently.

Judging from their TV appearances, President Trump’s advisers are unwilling to admit error and adjust their handling of the coronavirus pandemic accordingly. They still insist they are doing everything perfectly, and still blithely point to about a third of the United States as merely some “hot spots.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Adm. Brett Giroir, who heads the widely panned federal testing operation, would not admit that much of anything was wrong … [Americans] in many cases must wait more than a week for test results. This delay makes contact tracing virtually impossible if the person who has tested positive unknowingly continues to infect others.

The economic message was not much better. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow, appearing on the same show, insisted the economy is going great: … "Once again, the message is to just ignore the “hot spots” — which include some of the most populous states. After 17 straight weeks with more than 1 million unemployment claims filed, he gushed over the “strong” jobs picture. Kudlow insisted unemployment benefits are too high, dissuading people from getting jobs … justifying a reduction in benefits, will sound to many Americans cruel and ludicrous. Their parsimony over $600 contrasts with their generosity whenever it comes to tax cuts for the rich or loan subsidies to major corporations.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), whose name frequently appears on the list of top picks for Joe Biden’s vice president, was having none of this. “Well, I think both of them are so sad. For the admiral, I know that he knows better. We are not testing where we should be. The virus is not being contained,” she said. “The states that Kudlow ticked off, as though it was something small, is almost a third of the population of the United States. We have over 140,000 people who are dead. Vice President Pence said a month ago that things were getting so much better; 40,000 people have died since then.” Bass asked: “When will the administration develop a national strategy? This is just so tragic.”

Only about a third of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 8 of 10 Americans think we are headed in the wrong direction.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Republicans, pointing out they gave a $2 trillion tax cut heavily tilted to the rich and big corporations but “they’re resenting $600 for single moms to be able to put food on the table, for dads to maintain the dignity of — of keeping their families intact, and with unemployment insurance, with assistance for rent.” As they are cutting unemployment, Republicans are also proposing liability immunity if their employees come back and get sick. Again, Pelosi was emphatic:

What they’re saying to essential workers, you have to go to work because you’re essential. We’ve placed no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe and if you get sick, you have no recourse because we’ve given your employer protection. And if you don’t go to work because you’re afraid of being sick and you have that job opportunity, you don’t get unemployment insurance. This is so unfair. Let’s just get to the heart of it. At the point of all of this is, this president — I have a new name for him, Mr. Make Matters Worse. He has made matters worse from the start. Delay, denial. It’s a hoax. It’ll go away magically. It’s a miracle, and all the rest. And we’re in this situation with — you spelled out some of the numbers very clearly early. So it makes matters worse — now then we send our children to school. The best way to send our children school is to fund it, to fund it.

Cutting unemployment benefits while giving employers immunity is a peculiar way to win votes in an election year, but a good way to pander to donors and right-wing ideologues.

Whatever the Republicans present and whatever the final package will be, their attitude helps explain why they are losing coast to coast, be it in presidential and Senate races or the congressional generic poll for House races. Their denial of the degree to which they have botched the pandemic response and their blindness to the experience of ordinary Americans have not changed. Their suspicion that Americans are somehow goofing off, that parents are irrational for not wanting to send their kids to in-person school and that we should not be concerned about 60,000 or more new cases a day does not suggest they have learned much of anything after 143,000 deaths.

To be sure. But the thing is, this is not new. Republicans have never engaged with policy, have never learned from their mistakes, and have not cared.

I recommend Steve Benen’s book The Imposters He could have expressed GOP attitudes much more succinctly in the words of another of the ruling class: Let them eat cake.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Biden is the candidate with character

This testimonial appeared in my in-box yesterday. To be sure it is a fundraiser for Joe Biden. But it makes the case for Biden as the candidate with character. I’ve reprinted it below verbatim.

-=-=-=-=-=-=- QUOTING -=–=-=-=-=-=–=

My name is Kevin.

For 20 years and 8 days, I served in the U.S. Marine Corps—as a helicopter mechanic, as a drill instructor, and as an intelligence officer, deploying three times—to the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Kuwait.

Since my retirement from the Corps, my most important title is “volunteer.” Today, I spend most of my time with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), working with children and other Gold Star family members grieving the loss of a loved one who served and died, regardless of the timing or circumstances.

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a handful of leaders with true character. Joe Biden is one of them. I want to tell you why.

The first time I met Joe Biden was at a TAPS event, with the children of deceased service members. It was a closed-media event—no news outlets of any kind, just the mentors and the kids they worked with. Suddenly, the back door opens, and in walks then-Vice President Joe Biden. He didn’t come in with fanfare, he didn’t get up on stage or stand behind a podium.

He made it very clear to us: “I’m here for the kids.” And he proceeded to speak with, take photos with, and shake the hands of every kid in that room. They were over the moon. I had never seen anything like it. And by the way, this was several years before Joe lost his own son, Major Beau Biden.

The second time I met Joe Biden was in April of 2010, on the South Lawn of the White House. I was part of a group of active-duty service members sending off our wounded brothers and sisters for the White House to Lighthouse Challenge — a 60-mile, three-day ride that starts on the South Lawn of the White House and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.

Then-Vice President Biden delivered remarks, joined all of us to see the warriors off, and then walked straight into the crowd of servicemembers—shaking hands, taking photos, listening to people’s stories.

And here’s the part I haven’t forgotten:

Joe was definitely running late for some meeting or another because his staff was getting increasingly persistent—“Sir, we really need to go.” Not in a way that was disrespectful. It was just clear that they needed to be on their way.

Finally, Joe turned to his aides and said:

“I’m going to stay here shaking hands until there’s nobody left to shake hands with, and taking photos with these people until they get every photo they want.”

That’s exactly what he did. And I promise you that the service men and women who were on the South Lawn that day haven’t forgotten it, either.

Character is about what you do when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Joe Biden is a man of character.

And in the age of Twitter and perfect sound bites—people who are most interested in themselves, shaping their own image—Joe Biden is a man who, after more than 40 years of public service, still wants to give. I honestly get chills when I think about his empathy for and dedication to everyone but himself.

At a time when everything feels disingenuous and hand-crafted for a certain audience, Joe Biden is genuine.

Now more than ever, we need to have leaders we truly believe in. I truly believe in Joe Biden. I hope you’ll join me in supporting his campaign …

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Dealing with losers trespassing in the White House

If Trump loses, and refuses to vacate White House, he becomes a trespasser. And should he then be treated to eviction like any common criminal?

The Denver Post reports that Trump not ready to commit to 2020 election results if he loses. Also reported is the Biden campaign’s serouisly good response.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden. Trump says it’s too early to make such an ironclad guarantee.

“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on ”Fox News Sunday.” “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” The Biden campaign responded: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

A Democratic landslide might very well bury Trump

Landslide looms!

Really? It does keep looking like one.

JVL at the bulwark.com reflects on comparisons (by political operative Doug Sosnik) between Trump’s performance in 2016 vs. his performance today.

For example, in 2016 Trump won suburban voters by 4 points. Today Biden is winning that demographic by 6 points meaning that Trump has lost 10 points.

That also holds for how Biden is performing relative to how Clinton fared in 2016. For example, Clinton won white college women by 7 points. Now Biden is winning those voters by 28 points, a 21-point swing.

… the Big Takeaway from these numbers is that Trump has lost ground with every single group.

And he’s lost a lot of ground.

With all of them.

All men? Trump has lost 10 points.

White non-college men? Trump has lost 14 points.

White college women? Trump has lost 21 points.

Seniors? Trump has lost “only” 8 points.

In fact, seniors are the only group where Trump’s decline hasn’t been double-digits.

But here’s what I want to focus on: If you pull back, what you see is a president who has lost large chunks of support literally everywhere.

And that is the very definition of losing reelection efforts.

Almost all presidents who win reelection do so by adding to their coalitions. If you’re not adding support, then you’re losing. There are a thimbleful of exceptions to this rule (Obama 2012), but in those instances the sitting president started with a landslide margin of victory from his first term.

So the problem for Trump isn’t just the polling in this state or that state. It’s that the entire dynamic of the election is going the wrong way for him. And there is nothing about the last four years that suggests that he is capable of building on his 2016 coalition. Just in terms of support, this has been an avalanche moving downhill since about March of 2017. There is no reason to think that it’s suddenly going to stop and change direction.

By the way, on the subject of landslides: One of the theories I outlined yesterday about the election is that Trump could close the gap and get to +6, maybe.

I want you to think about the 2008 election and the massive victory Barack Obama won that realigned much of American politcs.

Obama’s margin of victory was +7.

Things are so bad for Trump that we are trying to conjure scenarios where maybe, if he gets lucky, he could tighten the race to the point where Biden is only winning by the same margin as Obama in 2008.

The Authoritarian Response

“… the world is looking on in horror as this country lurches from one disaster to another. …”

There is a standard response by dictators when things are not going their way. Change the narrative by sowing fear among the populace and identifying part of that populace as responsible for bad things.

Trump is doing exactly that. He cannot run on the economy. He’s screwed up handling of the nation’s response to COVID–19: the death rate is 146,000 dead and climbing. So he can’t run on his competence in managing public health.

What he is doing is creating a secret police (aka private army) and dispatching those irregular troops to America’s cities to combat lawlessness that is actually created by those troops. The intent is to redirect the narrative away from Trump’s fvckups and to focus the media on the strife in the streets.

John Cassidy at The New Yorker explains: America Is a Country Besieged by Its Own President. By sending federal agents to snatch protesters from the streets, Donald Trump is fomenting civil strife and attempting to distract attention from his pandemic failures.

(Cassidy is a native Englander.)

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that most of the people I grew up with loved the United States, or even openly admired it. Barely disguised resentment at the manner in which this country had eclipsed the British Empire was combined with a widespread contention that America was a shallow place beset by crass commercialism, high crime rates, and gaping racial rifts. But beneath the British condescension, there was also a respect for America: its technological know-how, its organizational efficiency, its democratic traditions, and its sheer heft. When my dad was away, working in Scotland, he saw the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy sail up the Firth of Forth. The vast aircraft carrier was almost a quarter of a mile long, he reported back to us in wonderment.

A half century later, the rest of the world is looking on in horror as this country lurches from one disaster to another. Trapped in a leadership vacuum created by the narcissistic reality-TV star who occupies the Oval Office, the United States seems powerless to arrest the spread of a pandemic that most industrialized countries contained months ago. As the cumulative number of infections surpasses four million, an economic rebound that began when many states prematurely reopened their economies appears to be stalling. And, with an election just three and a half months away, that same President, in a desperate effort to save his political skin, seems intent on creating violent clashes in some of America’s biggest conurbations.

So many bad things are happening, it’s hard to keep up. In many states, covid–19 hospitalizations are rising rapidly. On Wednesday, more than eleven hundred deaths were reported nationwide—the highest figure since May, according to the Covid Tracking Project—and on Thursday there were more than a thousand. “The epidemic in the United States resembled that of a developing country,” Dr. David Ho, a virologist at Columbia University, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, on Wednesday night. “This is certainly very, very sad to see.”

… With the connivance of Attorney General William Barr, his Administration put together Operation Diligent Valor, a military-sounding name for dispatching agents under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security onto the streets of Portland in camouflage gear, armed with tear gas and rubber bullets. On Wednesday night, federal agents teargassed the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, as he joined protesters on the streets.

Earlier in the day, President Trump had announced that he was sending federal agents into two more American cities—Albuquerque and Chicago—under the guise of expanding an anti-crime initiative, …

From the start, local elected officials in Portland opposed the decision to send paramilitary forces to their city. “Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” the Oregon senator Jeff Merkley tweeted, last week. …

Tom Ridge, … the first Secretary of Homeland Security, said that the agency wasn’t established “to be the President’s personal militia.” Ridge added, “Had I been governor even now, I would welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime or lawlessness in any of the cities. But … it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities.”

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the city would gladly accept federal assistance in fighting crime, but she also issued a warning. “We welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship,” she said. “We do not welcome authoritarianism, and we do not welcome the unconstitutional arrests and detainments of our residents, and that is something I will not tolerate.”

These developments suggest that America as a whole isn’t failing—not yet, anyway. But its system of government, its stated values, and its claims to greatness are all under siege by a President who lacks the moral compass, self-doubt, and respect for historical norms that would restrain another leader.

From the Roman Republic to Weimar Germany, and to Russia and Turkey in this century, history shows that democratic decay is a gradual process, and authoritarian leaders rarely, if ever, achieve unchecked power without the acquiescence of some elements of the political establishment. America isn’t there , and hopefully it never will be. At this moment, though, its claim to be a model for other countries is looking horribly tattered. The election can’t come soon enough.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Trump - 'Slow the testing down'

You’d be hard pressed to find someone more ignorant than the president of the United States. His unwillingness to learn even the most rudimentary aspects of that job is well known and documented in books such as “The Imposters” and “A Very Stable Genius.” A case in point is his view of the relation between testing and COVID–19. Here are examples from the public record.

President Trump said coronavirus testing makes the U.S. look bad, “so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down.’”

‘I Don’t Kid’: Trump Says He Wasn’t Joking About Slowing Testing

"Think of this, if we didn’t do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing we would have half the cases,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House. “If we did another, you cut that in half, we would have, yet again, half of that. But the headlines are always testing.”

Trump says that ‘if we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases’ of the coronavirus

The logic, if you want to call it that, is dumbfounding. From Trump’s assertions you would have to conclude that if there were no tests at all, then there would be no disease.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Trump's domestic wag-the-dog campaign strategy meant to divide Americans from each other

He blames the wrong people for violence in the streets. And that is another instance of Trump’s failures caused by his incredible, monumental incompetence amplified by his pathological narcisissm.

Thomas Friedman (NY Times) reports on Trump’s Wag-the-Dog War. The president is looking for a dangerous domestic enemy to fight.

Some presidents, when they get into trouble before an election, try to “wag the dog” by starting a war abroad. Donald Trump seems ready to wag the dog by starting a war at home. Be afraid — he just might get his wish.

(Thanks to Editor-at-Large Sherry for this tip.)

Charlie Sykes (bulwark.com) weighs in: “Sadly, I don’t think Thomas Friedman is wrong here.”

How did we get here? Well, when historians summarize the Trump team’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus, it will take only a few paragraphs:

“They talked as if they were locking down like China. They acted as if they were going for herd immunity like Sweden. They prepared for neither. And they claimed to be superior to both. In the end, they got the worst of all worlds — uncontrolled viral spread and an unemployment catastrophe.

“And then the story turned really dark.

“As the virus spread, and businesses had to shut down again and schools and universities were paralyzed as to whether to open or stay closed in the fall, Trump’s poll numbers nose-dived. Joe Biden opened up a 15-point lead in a national head-to-head survey.

“So, in a desperate effort to salvage his campaign, Trump turned to the Middle East Dictator’s Official Handbook and found just what he was looking for, the chapter titled, ‘What to Do When Your People Turn Against You?’

“Answer: Turn them against each other and then present yourself as the only source of law and order.”

Friedman has a lengthy analysis of how this played out in Syria.

America blessedly is not Syria, yet, but Trump is adopting the same broad approach that Bashar al-Assad did back in 2011, when peaceful protests broke out in the southern Syrian town of Dara’a, calling for democratic reforms; the protests then spread throughout the country.

Read the whole thing in the NYT.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The partisan divide over COVID-19

Republicans And Democrats See COVID–19 Very Differently. Is That Making People Sick? Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux answers at fivethirtyeight.com.

Americans have changed their behavior in ways that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago. Masks are an essential accessory. Social distancing is the norm. And even as states moved to reopen their economies in May and June, many Americans continued to think it was better for people to stay home.

But underneath that apparent consensus is a large — and growing — partisan divide. Even as cases and hospitalizations spike in red states that mostly escaped the early effects of the virus, Republicans and Democrats remain stubbornly split on the threat it poses. For instance, it was only in July that President Trump wore a mask in public for the first time. And perhaps thanks to Trump’s repeated downplaying of the threat that COVID–19 poses, Republicans are much less concerned than Democrats are about the virus.

Votes
Votes

Using your tax dollars Trump and Barr are creating Trump's personal militia - The Army of Mar-A-Lago

Of the many things to keep one awake at night, there is the possibility that Trump would refuse an orderly transfer of power should he lose the election. That election is then and there - 100 days or so. Another grim specter is here and now - Trump’s establishment of his personal, private army. That’s not even a secret police. There is nothing secret about it. There are paramilitary booted, armed, and camo’d troops on the streets of Portland Oregon stirring up sh!t last night and tonight and next night. More such activity is planned for Chicago, Kansas City, and Albuquerque. Coming soon to a city near you …

How did we come to this? This morning Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, July 23, tells the story. (Following is the last part of her post.)

… Trump’s campaign is trying to rally voters with the idea that American cities run by Democrats are seething with violence. And to create that violence, the administration is sending in law enforcement officers that belong to departments within the executive branch of the government.

Trump included the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, in his photo-op on June 1, after officers cleared peaceful protesters out of Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Square with tear gas and flash-bangs. But military officers and defense officials past and present pushed back strongly against the attempt to politicize the military, and made it clear they would not permit soldiers to be used in ways they considered unconstitutional.

So Trump is turning the officers of the executive branch into the president’s private army.

On June 26, Trump issued an “Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence.” That is the document supporting the deployment of officers from what appears to be Custom and Border Protection, wearing military uniforms, in Portland, Oregon. Their original mission was to defend the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, which had sustained vandalism and thrown fireworks.

The Executive Order blames the protests in Portland on “rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists who… have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies — such as Marxism — that call for the destruction of the United States system of government.” It says that those calling out racial bias in America are seeking “to advance a fringe ideology that paints the United States of America as fundamentally unjust and have sought to impose that ideology on Americans through violence and mob intimidation.” It claims: “These radicals shamelessly attack the legitimacy of our institutions and the very rule of law itself.”

The administration justifies the operations in Chicago and Albuquerque differently. On July 8, Attorney General William Barr announced a Department of Justice initiative called “Operation Legend,” named for a four-year-old victim of gun violence. Operation Legend began in Kansas City, Missouri, “to fight the sudden surge of violent crime.” Under the initiative, Barr is deploying federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to “surge resources” first to Kansas City, and now to Chicago and Albuquerque. The DOJ also promised to move personnel to Kansas City—and now, presumably to the other cities— “to handle an anticipated increase in prosecutions.”

All the affected cities are run by Democratic mayors.

The Trump administration is hammering again and again on the idea that Democrats will bring chaos and violence to American streets. To illustrate that argument, it is instigating violent encounters. In Portland, officials said that the protests were calming down before the new federal force moved in. They asked for the officers to be removed, but Trump refused. His acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, says: “I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job. We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not.”

(Wolf is not Senate-confirmed, and there is question about whether or not he’s even legally in his job, since he has now been 251 days in a post that can only have an “acting” director for 210. With no experience in intelligence or security, it is unlikely the former lobbyist could make it through the Senate, but Trump likes his loyalty.)

Today, Tom Ridge, the country’s first Director of Homeland Security, who served under President George W. Bush, warned that the department “was not established to be the President’s personal militia.” “It would be a cold day in hell before I would give consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities,” he said.

What is really at stake is the delegitimizing of Democrats altogether before the 2020 election. Today Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign and one of Trump’s personal lawyers tweeted: “No Democrat should EVER AGAIN be elected in the United States in any capacity. The government’s constitutional obligation is to preserve and protect OUR rights, not to preserve and protect their own power. They are willing to sacrifice America and our freedom and liberty. NO!!!”

The Trump campaign has released an ad suggesting that the choice in 2020 is between “PUBLIC SAFETY” and “CHAOS AND VIOLENCE.” But observers quickly noted that the image of street violence in the ad was not from America, it was from Ukraine in 2014.

And the image was not of respectable police officers defending the rule of law. It was the opposite. It was a picture taken when democratic protesters were trying to oust corrupt oligarch Viktor Yanukovych from the Ukraine presidency. Yanukovych was an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and fled to Russia when he was thrown out of office in Ukraine. Yanukovych was in power thanks to the efforts of an American adviser: Paul Manafort, the same man who took over Trump’s ailing campaign in June 2016.

So to illustrate “chaos and violence,” the Trump campaign used an image of a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch’s specialized federal police wrestling a pro-democracy protester to the ground. And Donald Trump and that oligarch won power thanks to the same advisor.

Honestly, it’s hard to see the use of the image as a mistake.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Court rules Trump must pass the 'find a city' test

In Major Setback for Trump, Court Rules He May Send Troops Only to Cities He Can Identify on Map reports New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz.

WASHINGTON ([The Borowitz Report])—In what is widely seen as a major setback for Donald J. Trump, a federal district court has ruled that he may send Department of Homeland Security agents only to cities that he can correctly identify on a map.

According to the ruling, before Trump can deploy forces to any American city, he must first indicate their intended destination on an unmarked map and cannot let anyone else take this test for him.

White House sources said that, after the ruling was announced, a furious Trump repaired to the Oval Office with a map of the United States and a Sharpie.

After hovering his marker over the map for more than an hour, Trump finally brought it down on what he thought was Detroit but was, in actuality, East Hampton, New York.

In East Hampton, a town board member, Carol Foyler, expressed concern about Trump’s decision to send D.H.S. agents to the beach community.

“At this time of year, I think it will be next to impossible for them to find a rental,” she said.

Also in the Gnus, Scriber’s Usually Unreliable Sources report that, because of the court ruling, Trump’s secret police must be withdrawn from Portland Oregon.

Biden and Obama's reaction to Trump's 'no responsibility'

Here is an item from the Washington Post.

Former president Barack Obama and Joe Biden trolled Trump in a video that appears to be a new pandemic campaign tactic. In it, they expressed disbelief over how Trump has handled the crisis and has tried to avoid blame for his government’s failure to contain it. “Can you imagine standing up when you were president and saying ‘it’s not my responsibility. I take no responsibility.’ Literally. Literally,” Biden says. Obama’s response: “Those words didn’t come out of our mouths when we were in office.” Watch the video here.

What if Trump refuses to accept election results

This is a classic case of “if you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask the question.”

[What Could Happen If Donald Trump Rejects Electoral Defeat?][reject] Masha Gessen at the New Yorker explores some scenarios and comes up with chilling, run-for-the-hills, answers.

Remember that Trump is already on record (e.g., interview with Chris Wallace) expressing doubt that he will accept a loss at the ballot box.

You need to read this one on your own. My borderline panic needs company.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-could-happen-if-donald-trump-rejects-electoral-defeat

Some of the Fox News Trump interview with Chris Wallace

About Trump’s Fox News Interview. The president displayed difficulty recalling information, interpreting simple graphs, and remembering what Chris Wallace said.

This post to thebulwark.com is by JONATHAN V. LAST JULY 20, 2020 5:07 AM. Introduces the interview with this:

There have been moments during the last three years when President Donald Trump appeared either to be unwell or not in control of his faculties.

The new Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace is another such example.

Let’s leave aside all of the politics—there are plenty of other people writing about those aspects of the interview— and focus instead just on the president’s ability to retain information as seen in the opening exchange on the state of the COVID–19 pandemic. You can watch the video or I can just give you the transcript:

And he does.

… here is the sequence of claims from Trump and Wallace concerning mortality rates:

  • Wallace: “We have the seventh highest mortality rate in the world.”
  • Trump: “We have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”
  • Trump: “We have one of the lowest” mortality rates.
  • Trump: “Maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world.”
  • Trump: “Number one low mortality fatality rates.” [here he shows Wallace a graph handed to him by his staff]
  • Trump: “You said we had the worst mortality rate in the world …”
  • Trump: “… and we have the best.”

Note how Trump can’t keep straight where he thinks the U.S. mortality rate ranks. He goes back and forth between saying it’s “one of the lowest” and “the lowest.”

Trump then can’t remember what Wallace said. Wallace says the U.S. has the “seventh highest.” Trump then says, “You said we had the worst mortality rate in the world.”

Why can’t he remember what Wallace said less than two minutes ago?

But the most worrisome moment comes when Trump hands Wallace the chart that the president claims shows “number one low mortality fatality rates.”

Wallace shows the audience the chart … [Scriber: See the video embedded in the interview.]

Leave aside the fact that the chart Trump is using omits a number of relevant countries. Even among the countries it does count, it does not show the United States with the lowest mortality rate in the world. There are, depending on how finely you slice it, clearly two countries with lower mortality rates.

In other words, the president of the United States is looking directly at a line graph, but is not able to interpret it correctly.

The Fox News Sunday interview shows:

  • Trump cannot remember what his briefing book told him about mortality rates, so he flips back and forth between “one of the lowest” and “the lowest” in the world.
  • Trump cannot correctly interpret the simple graph handed to him by his own staff.
  • Trump cannot recall what Wallace said to him less than two minutes prior.

I’m not sure that there’s any explanation for this exchange that isn’t deeply worrisome for America.

There is much, much more in that interview that follows where Last’’s transcript left off.

Especially, check this one from another site: Trump will not accept election results … unless he wins.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

COVID-19 update

The Washington Post<br. Coronavirus Updates
Important developments in the pandemic.
By Avi Selk with Angela Fritz

The Post’s coronavirus coverage linked in this newsletter is free to access from this email.

For links to sources see notes. Scriber lightly edited.

In an hour-long interview on Fox News on Sunday, Trump was visibly rattled and occasionally hostile as he struggled to answer questions about the U.S. outbreak. He falsely claimed the spiking infection rate was an illusion, said that most new covid–19 patients would “heal in a day,” and blamed China for letting the virus “escape.” “I will be right eventually,” Trump said at one point. “It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right . . . You know why? Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”

This is nothing more than another episode of Trumpey Tunes. Read on for refutation.

The U.S. outbreak continued to worsen over the weekend, as average death rates hit new highs in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas, and at least 18 states set records for average weekly infections, according to statistics tracked by The Washington Post.

America now stands almost alone among wealthy nations for its failure to contain the disease. Infection rates have tapered off or flatlined in Europe, Canada and Japan — where many people have watched in shock as the United States gets sicker and sicker. “The fumbling of the virus was not a fluke,” our health desk wrote in an analysis of the political polarization, weak leadership, fragmented government, decrepit public health infrastructure and persistent social inequalities that led to this fiasco. “If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic, America has made it.”

To name just one apparent mistake: President Trump still refuses to consider a national mask mandate, which many other countries have begun to adopt as research suggests face covering are key in slowing the spread of covid–19.

Many scientists have come to believe that “superspreaders” — extraordinarily infectious people who may not even know they are sick — are driving the pandemic, spreading “bursts” of the coronavirus to dozens of people in a matter of hours. A single person may have infected nearly 200 others at a college bar in Michigan in the past month, among other incidents around the world that could have huge implications for how we combat the virus. “If you could stop these events, you could stop the pandemic,” one professor of environmental health told our health desk.

The Trump administration is also trying to block Congress from passing billions of dollars in funding for testing and contact-tracing programs, which were key to driving down infections rates in other countries. “Some White House officials believe they have already approved billions of dollars in assistance for testing and that some of that money remains unspent,” our political desk reported.

On the bright side

A British group announced promising results for an early trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine. It’s the latest of several potential vaccines proved to trigger immune responses that attack the virus, after similar announcements by two U.S. companies. But experts caution that these early trials involved a relatively small number of people and short amount of time. The vaccines still have to be proved safe and effective in broader and lengthier studies before they can be mass-produced.

Lincoln Project ad shows how it is happening here

The Lincoln Project Presents the Chilling “How it Starts” showing “It is Happening Here” reports David Gordon at Blog for Arizona.

The Lincoln Project’s latest digital ad, the chilling “How it Starts” could as easily have been a parody of the Sinclair Lewis work “It Can’t Happen Here” with the title “It Is Happening Here.”

Here are some excerpts.

What is happening?

Unidentified and uninvited federal troops are, apparently without warrants, harassing, beating, and detaining nonviolent protestors on the streets of Portland.

The 2016 Popular Vote Loser Trump Administration, led by fringe reactionaries like the Aspiring Duce-the Chief Executive Demagogue and President of Betrayal, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump Attorney Bill Barr and his acting Black Shirts at Homeland Security (Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli,) are also threatening to take their black shirt squads to other cities led by Democrats (like Chicago or Milwaukee.)

The Lincoln Project ad rightly depicts these actions as “a President out of control” who will resort to any totalitarian measures to stay in power.

“This is how it starts and this is how freedom dies,” the narrator accurately states.

The narrator then calls everyone to action, stating:

“Unless we stand up. Unless we speak out. Unless we demand justice. Register and vote November 3 because if we don’t, we know how it ends.”

The narrator is right.

Now is the time for people to act.

Now is the time for local authorities, if they can, to arrest these uninvited black shirt paramilitary units and take them to court.

And that is happening.

Scriber has another observation. If you color these storm troopers white, you’d get the armored troopers from the Star Wars authoritarian empire - as in “Empire Strikes Back”.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A strategy for avoiding the Grim Weeper

There are lots of tips about how to avoid the Grim Reaper (aka COVID–19). Even the anti-mask crew is losing its war on rationality. But in these days of lock-down, stay at home, shelter in place, no gathering more than 10 (or 9, 8,7, 6, and falling), how do we avoid the Grim Weeper?

A big dose of satire seems in order. New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz reports that Trump Replaces Mary Trump with Kayleigh McEnany as Niece.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In the latest shakeup in his inner circle, Donald Trump has named the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, to the position of niece, replacing Mary Trump, effective immediately.

With only three and a half months to go until the election, replacing family members could be seen as a sign of desperation, political insiders said.

But, according to a White House source, the decision to replace Mary Trump with McEnany was a “no-brainer.”

"The President wanted a niece who could rewrite history, and Kayleigh has proven every day that she can do that,” the source said.

McEnany will continue in her role as press secretary in addition to niece, and will refer to Trump as “Uncle President.”

As for Mary Trump, she will remain a member of the Trump family, but has been demoted from niece to third cousin.

Thanks to Assistant Editor-at-Large Sherry. (Yep. She got a promotion.)

COVID-19 update with dire predictions from the Daily Kos - and Trump seizes the data

Brace yourself for the latest COVID–19 predictions. You’re not going to like them predicts Mark Sumner of the Daily Kos Staff. You will want to read the original post. I’ll hit just some high points.

Just two weeks ago, when Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the United States could see 100,000 cases of COVID–19 in a day, it seemed like a nightmare scenario. At the time America had just topped 40,000 cases for the first time. Make that 50,000. Then 60,000. Tuesday was the second day the nation logged over 70,000 cases in a day. It was also the first time the United States recorded over 1,000 deaths from COVID–19 since June 9.

To say that Mike Pence’s “no second wave” op-ed is going to be recorded as one of the most bassackwards statements in history is a given. But what’s shocking is that even Fauci’s prediction that was disturbing at the start of the month, looks like it could end up undershooting the real situation as badly as Pence did. The reasons for that are simple enough: We have governors who are willing to kill their people to score political points, we have a government determined to hide the truth of what’s happening, and we have people who are intentionally destroying their communities to own … whoever is left to care. And the result is that instead of 100,000 cases a day, the United States could be facing a million cases a day. Herd immunity, here we come … with half a million dead in tow.

Gov. Gregg Abbott has reversed himself in Texas. Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona hasn’t actually issued a mask order, but has at least gotten out of the way for cities and counties that want to do so. On Thursday afternoon, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had refused to ever issue a stay-at-home order for his state, recognized the threat of the spiking cases there and issued a statewide mask mandate. There remains some hope, because not every governor is Ron DeSantis (Florida) or Brian Kemp (Georgia). Even the most ardent Republican politicians are going to have a hard time throwing their citizens into mass graves to please a man who will be out of office in January.

We are still where we were at the start of March. Except that instead of dealing with 239 confirmed cases and a few thousand cases circulating through the public, there are tens of millions. And just as in March, the number of people who would become infected before herd immunity would bring the epidemic below the point where it could sustain itself is likely around 70%. Possibly higher. That would mean going through what we’ve been through so far, six more times. Except faster.

That number can be pushed down though social distancing, pushed down more through widespread use of masks, pushed down more by stay-at-home orders and serious lockdowns. All those things are coming. They’re just coming too late. They’re already too late to keep the total number of dead from reaching something between 300,000 and 400,000. The always optimistic IHME model is now projecting 224,000 by November 1. That’s just … where we are.

UPDATE - Trump cuts CDC data reporting in favor of a power play at HHS. Here’s another piece by Mark Sumner. Days after hospitals were told to stop sending information to CDC, all the fears appear justified.. Your tax money supports data collection and reporting. Just not to you.

Trump's private army invades Portland

Trump’s agents are sweeping peaceful citizens off the streets. This is not America. Ruth Marcus, Washington Post Deputy editorial page editor, explains the danger. Scriber has another take on what’s up in Portland; I’ll say more at the end of this post.

Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Something terrible, something dangerous — and, yes, something unconstitutional — is happening in Portland, Ore. It must be stopped.

“Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14,” reports Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.”

The report continues: “The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to ‘quell’ nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.”

Of course, authorities — and we’ll get to the matter of what authorities in a bit — have the power to prevent violence. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening in Portland, where nightly protests have been taking place since early June. Law enforcement agents aren’t targeting protesters who engaged in violence; they appear to be sweeping up random people who have exercised their rights under the First Amendment.

Like Mark Pettibone, 29, who was heading home in the early hours of Wednesday morning when, according to The Post’s Katie Shepherd, “several men in green military fatigues and generic ‘police’ patches sprang out of an unmarked gray minivan.” Pettibone was detained, searched, driven to the federal courthouse, placed in a holding cell and read his Miranda rights against self-incrimination. He declined to waive them. And then, about 90 minutes later, he was released.

“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time,” Pettibone told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.”

This is not America.

As much as I revile what President Trump is doing to the country, I have not been among the alarmists who warn of incipient authoritarianism, of festering fascism. I believe — I have believed, anyway — in the rule of law; the steadfastness of the courts, even larded with Trump-appointed judges; the strong tradition of the U.S. military refraining from being used to serve partisan interests. But to have watched live as federal agents attacked peaceful protesters near Lafayette Square, and now to read the reports from Portland, is to worry: Perhaps that was over-optimistic.

This is not America because of the First Amendment, quoted above. It is not America because we are a federal system, something you would think Republicans, who supposedly believe in states’ rights, understand and respect. So we are a country in which governors can summon federal help, are authorized to call out the National Guard — not a country in which unbadged federal police are loosed upon innocent citizens of a state over the objections of its governor. In this case, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, joined by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who have beseeched the feds to leave.

Yes, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed federal troops to Arkansas. That was to protect black students attempting to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, and to enforce a federal court order. It was to protect the students’ constitutional rights, not undermine them.

"This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland” is “a blatant abuse of power by the federal government,” she said, adding that Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland security, who visited the city on Thursday, “is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.”

Wolf, for his part, said Portland “has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”

But Wolf’s list of terrible depredations allegedly committed by the Portland protesters was less than convincing — and, in any event, in no way justified the kind of random, unprovoked arrests that have been described. The tally from July 15:

  • Violent anarchists doxed members of federal law enforcement.
  • Violent anarchists attempted to damage the Hatfield Courthouse by throwing objects at it and spray painting it. Numerous fireworks were also lit.
  • Violent anarchists trespassed on federal property and destroyed a card reader at the Justice Center.

There is a difference between solving a legitimate problem (the destruction of public property) and picking a political fight. Trump, understandably terrified of losing reelection, appears intent on doing the latter. “A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice — to attack it is to attack America,” Wolf thundered in his statement.

But there is a more important symbol of justice than a brick-and-mortar building.

It is called the Constitution. To ignore it is to attack America.

Now suspend disbelief for a moment. If Trump can get away with creating his own private army to control a city, what stops him from using said army to control the coming election? To station troops outside polling places? To abscond with ballots? To support and defend his declaration of dictatorship?

I’ll try to get some sleep tonight.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Quick results on weekly polls - Trump going down but so are GOP Govs

Among other things, 538 finds that Americans Increasingly Dislike How Republican Governors Are Handling The Coronavirus Outbreak.

… as president, Trump’s response to the coronavirus has continued to garner the most attention, but unfortunately for him, public opinion of his efforts has only worsened. About 58 percent now disapprove of his handling of the pandemic while just 38 percent approve, according to FiveThirtyEight’s coronavirus polling tracker.

More generally, Trump’s approval rating slid lower. It’s now 55.7% DISapproval vs. 40.2% approve.

The real news may be in what is happening down ballot. GOP Govs are taking a hit but AZ Gov. Ducey takes a really hard hit in 538’s [Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Gallup isn’t the only pollster to find GOP leaders getting lower scores for the way they’re dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Change Research’s polling of six battleground states found especially poor numbers for Republican governors in two states where the number of coronavirus cases surged in the first half of July: Florida and Arizona. In Change’s polling, 57 percent disapproved of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s handling of the outbreak, and a whopping 71 percent disapproved of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s response. Additional polling in Arizona and Florida second these findings. OH Predictive Insights found that opinion of Ducey’s approach went from a net positive in June (59 percent approved, 37 percent disapproved) to a net negative in July (35 percent approved, 63 percent disapproved). Likewise, surveys by CBS News/YouGov found 53 percent of Floridians said DeSantis was doing a somewhat or very bad job and 62 percent of Arizonans said the same of Ducey.

From those on the front line, the virus 'will win' - 'It feels like we are on a sinking ship.'

Here is the lead into the Daily Beast Friday Digest

Quote of the Day: “It feels like we are on a sinking ship.”

That’s [what one Arizona emergency physician told our Emily Shugerman][ducey] about the coronavirus surge there. State officials reported over 3,200 new cases yesterday, more per capita than anywhere else except Florida. Arizona doctors are working 100 hours a week, and nurses are falling sick. These front-line providers are exhausted, scared—and angry at Gov. Doug Ducey, who has refused to issue a mask mandate or radically roll back the state’s reopening.

FYI: The ER doc mentioned above is none other than Dr.Matt Heinz.

Matt Heinz, a hospital physician in Tucson, Arizona, remembers the day he knew a coronavirus surge was coming. Or really, it was two days: a night shift that stretched from the evening of June 3 into the early hours of June 4, when Heinz admitted four patients suspected of having COVID–19, instead of the usual one or zero. It was a little over two weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey allowed the state’s lockdown order to expire, Heinz said, and “it was like someone flipped a switch.”

“And someone did flip a switch,” said Heinz, a former Democratic state representative who also served in the Department of Health and Human Services. “It was the governor.”

As cases in Arizona skyrocket, physicians told The Daily Beast they feel increasingly abandoned by Ducey, who was one of the first leaders in the country to lift lockdown restrictions this spring. Despite the state’s record-setting spike in cases—and the urging of hundreds of health-care workers and multiple mayors—Ducey so far has refused to re-institute a lockdown order or issue a mask mandate, leaving doctors and nurses feeling helpless.

“You can’t bluff this virus,” said Quinn Snyder, an emergency physician in Mesa. “People keep trying to find shortcuts around the issues at hand, but the virus just doesn’t care about those kinds of shortcuts. It will win.”

“I have been trying to talk to people and speak up as much as possible,” he added. “And *it feels like we are on a sinking ship.*”

Similar scenes played out across the West and South this week. In Houston, residents are begging for a lockdown. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom walked back his reopening after the state’s curve spiked. In Florida, where anti-lockdown Gov. Ron DeSantis has called the increase in cases “a blip,” nurses told us the situation had never been “crazier.” One of our medical contributors, Dr. Irwin Redlener, predicted that if drastic nationwide action isn’t taken, we could see a jaw-dropping 1 million cases a day and up to 800,000 deaths.

Scriber Takes a data break

According to worldometer.info the U.S. population was 331,101,407 at about 12:10 PM on Saturday, July 18. Redlener’s predictions mean, at the rate of a million each day, we have less than a year (331 days) before every man, woman, and child in the U.S. is infected.

Washington’s response? More chaos. The president’s allies are doing their best to undermine the one person there many Americans feel they can trust: Dr. Anthony Fauci. Messaging on whether schools can reopen safely seems hopelessly muddled. And the administration quickly rescinded its plan to oust foreign students who can’t attend in-person classes because they might contract a deadly disease.

There were glimmers of good news, I guess. President Trump wore a mask—after four months and almost 140,000 deaths. And one of the vaccine makers announced some promising results. But as the head of the CDC said, things will get worse before they get better. “I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we experienced in American public health,” Dr. Robert Redfield cautioned.

And what is the WH doing? Sidelining CDC and sequestering the numbers.

[ducey[:https://www.thedailybeast.com/arizona-doctors-say-gov-doug-ducey-steered-state-into-covid–19-surge?via=newsletter&source=BI-end-week-digest

Quick results on weekly polls - Trump going down but so are GOP Govs

Among other things, 538 finds that Americans Increasingly Dislike How Republican Governors Are Handling The Coronavirus Outbreak.

… as president, Trump’s response to the coronavirus has continued to garner the most attention, but unfortunately for him, public opinion of his efforts has only worsened. About 58 percent now disapprove of his handling of the pandemic while just 38 percent approve, according to FiveThirtyEight’s coronavirus polling tracker.

More generally, Trump’s approval rating slid lower. It’s now 55.7% DISapproval vs. 40.2% approve.

The real news may be in what is happening down ballot. GOP Govs are taking a hit but AZ Gov. Ducey takes a really hard hit in 538’s [Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Gallup isn’t the only pollster to find GOP leaders getting lower scores for the way they’re dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Change Research’s polling of six battleground states found especially poor numbers for Republican governors in two states where the number of coronavirus cases surged in the first half of July: Florida and Arizona. In Change’s polling, 57 percent disapproved of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s handling of the outbreak, and a whopping 71 percent disapproved of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s response. Additional polling in Arizona and Florida second these findings. OH Predictive Insights found that opinion of Ducey’s approach went from a net positive in June (59 percent approved, 37 percent disapproved) to a net negative in July (35 percent approved, 63 percent disapproved). Likewise, surveys by CBS News/YouGov found 53 percent of Floridians said DeSantis was doing a somewhat or very bad job and 62 percent of Arizonans said the same of Ducey.

Storm troopers in Portland. Science and school openings. The nation shifts toward Biden.

Quotes for the Day

"violent anarchists” in Portland are charged with “throwing animal seed” WTF? Surely, the storm troopers must have more to worry about.

Today the White House blocked the CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield from testifying before Congress about school reopenings. “The science should not stand in the way of this,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Thursday. The WH is silencing the wrong people.

I owe Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) for the quotes and the blog post that follows.

[In a Washington Post interview Congressman John] Lewis said he had a warning for Trump. “Mr. President, the American people are tired and they cannot and will not take it anymore. They have a right to organize the unorganized. They have a right to protest in a peaceful, orderly, nonviolent fashion. You cannot stop the people with all of the forces that you may have at your command. You cannot stop people when they say ‘no.’”

This, of course, is exactly what Trump is afraid of. His polls are slipping as Americans turn away from his handling of the protests in the country and of the coronavirus pandemic. Today, Inside Elections showed 19 shifts in how states are likely to vote in 2020, and all of them were toward presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “Trump’s job rating has been on a precipitous decline over the last two months, not only putting a second term increasingly out of reach but potentially wreaking havoc on GOP candidates down the ballot,” the site concluded.

Here is the Inside Elections list.

Alaska from Solid Republican to Likely Republican
Arizona from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic
Florida from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic
Georgia from Lean Republican to Toss-Up
Iowa from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican
Kansas from Solid Republican to Likely Republican
Maine (statewide) from Likely Democrat to Solid Democratic
Maine’s 2nd District from Tilt Republican to Toss-Up
Minnesota from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic
Michigan from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic
Missouri from Solid Republican to Likely Republican
Montana from Solid Republican to Lean Republican
Nebraska’s 2nd District from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic
Ohio from Likely Republican to Tilt Republican
Pennsylvania from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic
South Carolina from Solid Republican to Likely Republican
Texas from Likely Republican to Tilt Republican
Utah from Solid Republican to Likely Republican
Wisconsin from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic

Back to Heather Cox Richardson …

Trump planned to win reelection with a strong economy, and bet big that ignoring the coronavirus would make the pandemic go away. He bet wrong. Many states, especially those in the South and West, reopened too early, and cases there are now spiking. Today, more than 70,000 new infections were reported in the U.S., and 18 states have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 people. More than 10,100 new cases were reported in California; more than 11,400 in Florida. We are approaching 140,000 deaths. A majority of Americans disapproves of the way Trump has handled the pandemic.

A report today in the Washington Post says that Trump has lost interest in the pandemic anyway. An adviser said the president is “not really working this anymore. He doesn’t want to be distracted by it. He’s not calling and asking about data. He’s not worried about cases.” Instead, he is worried about reelection, and has apparently concluded that pushing schools to reopen normally in just a few weeks will bring suburban women back to his standard.

According to a CNN article, Trump’s aides concluded that suburban women were stretched by homeschooling and childcare, and would welcome a return to normal. To do that, he has undercut his own medical advisers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who worry that reopening the schools without gaining control over the virus will create new hotspots. He appears to be trying to get schools to reopen by main force. Today the White House blocked the CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield from testifying before Congress about school reopenings. “The science should not stand in the way of this,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Thursday.

This gamble hasn’t paid off, either. Seventy-one percent of Americans, including 53% of Republicans, say reopening the schools is risky.

Now, Trump and his people have gone all-in on dividing the country, both to hold his base and to frighten his opponents with fascist tactics. The administration has sent federal agents in battle gear to Portland, Oregon, in what it says is an attempt to protect federal property.

But the complaints against the protesters are embarrassing. Yesterday Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf released a press release warning the American people just how dangerous the “violent anarchists” in Portland are. His list includes 17 counts of graffitiing a courthouse, damaging fences, “throwing animal seed” (what does this even mean?), vandalizing two security cameras, breaking windows, and throwing fireworks.

For these acts, unidentified officers in unmarked cars are pulling people off the streets. The officers appear to be from Customs and Border Protection, and a memo obtained by The Nation says they are a special task force created by the Department of Homeland Security in response to Trump’s Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence. The task force is called the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT), and is supposed to combat civic unrest.

Local authorities have said repeatedly they do not want the federal officers there, and that they are deliberately aggravating the tensions in the city to gin up the Republican base with contrived images of violence. Today both of Oregon’s senator and the U.S. Attorney in Oregon called for an investigation into “constitutionally questionable arrests in Portland” by PACT.

Nonetheless, the administration has made it clear they intend to take these tactics nationwide. When asked about the arrests in Portland, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli told NPR that “this is a posture we intend to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country.”

It is worth noting that Wolf and Cuccinelli are both “acting” secretaries—they have not been confirmed by the Senate and thus are beholden to Trump for their jobs. Mark Morgan, who is in charge of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also an “acting” commissioner.

The administration’s actions in Portland are a major red flag for democracy. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has called the law enforcement officials “stormtroopers.”

As the administration escalates its attacks on democracy, many of us are weary. In June, reporter Jonathan Capehart asked Representative Lewis “what he would say to people who feel as though they have already been giving it their all but nothing seems to change.” Lewis answered: “You must be able and prepared to give until you cannot give any more. We must use our time and our space on this little planet that we call Earth to make a lasting contribution, to leave it a little better than we found it, and now that need is greater than ever before.”

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” Lewis tweeted almost exactly a year before his death. “Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”

Thank you, Sir. May you rest in power.

Tonight, just before midnight, we heard the news that 80-year-old Georgia Representative John Lewis has passed away from pancreatic cancer.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Latest polls favoring Biden. And one Governor's struggles to protect his citizens from Trump's interference.

Here’s some good reporting by Charlie Sykes in this morning’s thebulwark.com email. He first covers the latest in poll results (favoring Biden) and then points us at an op-ed in the Washington Post by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Trump’s “death star” implodes, Biden tops every poll

Just months ago, [now former campaign manager Brad] Parscale had promised the campaign would be activating what he called the “Death Star,” but succeeded only in creating a thousand Twitter memes about its spectacular failure.

Not even the fact that he kept Trump family members and girlfriends on his payroll was enough to save his grift after the fiasco in Tulsa. And then things got worse.

How much worse? Wednesday [July 15th] was the the worst polling day of Trump’s presidency..

It began with a CNBC poll showing that Biden was maintaining his lead in crucial swing states.

Here’s how Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and the Republican Trump matched up in individual states:

Arizona: Biden 51%, Trump 45%
Florida: Biden 50%, Trump 43%
Michigan: Biden 48%, Trump 42%
North Carolina: Biden 47%, Trump 46%
Pennsylvania: Biden 50%, Trump 42%
Wisconsin: Biden 48%, Trump 42%

Then came a Monmouth poll out of Pennsylvania, showing Trump down by 13 points.

This was quickly followed by a devastating Quinnipiac poll showing Biden leading Trump nationally by a staggering 15 percentage points. “There is no upside, no silver lining, no encouraging trend hidden somewhere in this survey for the president,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.

As coronavirus cases surge and states rollback re-openings, former Vice President Joe Biden opens up his biggest lead this year over President Donald Trump in the race for the White House. Registered voters back Biden over Trump 52 - 37 percent, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll released today. This compares to a June 18th national poll when Biden led Trump 49 - 41 percent. Since March, Biden’s lead had ranged from 8 to 11 percentage points.

Independents are a key factor behind Biden’s widening lead as they now back him 51 - 34 percent, while in June, independents were split with 43 percent for Biden and 40 percent for Trump. There is also some movement among Republicans as they back Trump 84 - 9 percent, compared to 92 - 7 percent in June. Democrats go to Biden 91 - 5 percent, little changed from 93 - 4 percent in June.

“Yes, there’s still 16 weeks until Election Day, but this is a very unpleasant real time look at what the future could be for President Trump.”

Wait, there was more. In late afternoon, the NBC/WSJ poll came out, also showing Biden leading by double digits, and showing a deadly political trend line for Trump.

The poll shows Biden ahead of Trump by 11 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 40 percent, which is well outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Biden’s lead in last month’s poll was 7 points, 49 percent to 42 percent.

In addition, the poll shows Democrats enjoying an intensity advantage heading into November, and it has Trump’s job rating declining to 42 percent — its lowest level in two years.

At this point, it is important to note that little to none of this is Brad Parscale’s fault. He wasn’t the one screwing the pooch on the pandemic, or staging cringey photo ops with bibles, or ignoring Russian bounties on American soldiers, or lighting the fires of racial tension, or delivering incoherent press conferences in the Rose Garden.

The election is shaping up to be a referendum on Donald Trump, and the far away galaxy doesn’t have enough lipstick to put on that pig.

BTW: the new guy? Bill Sepien, of Bridgegate

Larry Hogan: Why Didn’t Trump Help?

Maryland’s GOP governor has a blistering critique of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

The Washington Post has that story in Fighting alone. I’m a GOP governor. Why didn’t Trump help my state with coronavirus testing?

My wife, Yumi, and I stood on the tarmac, waiting in cloth masks, on the morning of April 18. Finally, a Boeing 777 landed and taxied to the far corner of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. It was the first Korean Air flight ever to land at BWI, but it didn’t have a single passenger aboard. The crew of five had flown 14 hours, straight from Seoul.

“Congratulations, honey,” I told Yumi as the pilot turned off the engines. “You helped save a lot of lives.”

The plane was filled with 500,000 test kits for my state, where the coronavirus had already infected 12,308 Marylanders and killed 463 of them. The numbers were still climbing, and we would never be able to contain them without mass testing. “Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” President Trump had declared the previous month. In reality, only 2,252 Americans had been tested at that point in March. Across the country, my fellow governors were desperately pleading for help on testing. But in early April, Trump said it was the states’ job.

Yumi was born and raised in South Korea, a country that had, by then, erected a well-coordinated testing regime. So, with nowhere else to turn, Yumi and I asked President Moon Jae-in for help. He arranged the sale of a half-million test kits from LabGenomics, one of the world’s leading medical testing firms, for $9 million. It was a bargain considering the $2.8 billion in revenue we projected the pandemic would cost Maryland.

Now the kits had arrived. The crew members came down together, walked over and stopped six feet away. Yumi bowed, and the crew bowed in return. Following their lead, so did I. Then a caravan of Maryland National Guard trucks escorted by the Maryland State Police drove the tests from the airport to a refrigerated, secure warehouse at an undisclosed location. The federal government had recently seized 3 million N95 masks purchased by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. We weren’t going to let Washington stop us from helping Marylanders.

This should not have been necessary. I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response. I did the best I could for Maryland. Here’s what we saw and heard from Washington along the way.

Trump’s first public utterance about the coronavirus set the tone for everything that followed. He was in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 22, after the first American diagnosis. “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” asked CNBC anchor Joe Kernen.

“We have it totally under control,” Trump responded unhesitatingly. “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” And off the president went for the next eight weeks. The rest of January and February were peppered with cheerful or sarcastic comments and tweets, minimizing the outbreak’s severity and the need for Americans to do much of anything.

… instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his reelection plans.

America’s governors took a different approach. In early February, we descended on Washington for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. As chairman, I had worked closely with the staff for months assembling the agenda, including a private, governors-only briefing at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis, to address the growing viral threat. We brought in Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was already widely admired but whose awesome knowledge and straight-talking style hadn’t yet made him a national rock star; CDC head Robert Redfield; Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of homeland security; Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases; and Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

They hit us with detailed presentations and the unfiltered truth, as well as it was known then. I remember hearing many dire claims: “This could be catastrophic. . . . The death toll could be significant. . . . Much more contagious than SARS. . . . Testing will be crucial. . . . You have to follow the science — that’s where the answers lie.”

In his op-ed Hogan recounts more of what Trump did and did not.. “where the answers lie” - To this day Tump continues either to not understand or not to care. Consider his attacks on Dr. Fauci. The blood of 138,000 citizens is on Trump’s hands.