Sunday, August 09, 2020

What If: Considering How trump Will Cheat in 2020

I wrote earlier that donald trump has no honest way to win the 2020 Presidential election.

So that means trump is going to cheat.

We're already seeing some of the steps trump is deploying to rig the turnout and thus the results. his latest Postmaster General is sabotaging the United States Postal Service to ensure mailing delays that could prevent mail-in ballots from getting received in time to count.

Other things in play, aside from trump's accusations that mail-in balloting is voter fraud, are AG William Barr's efforts to misdirect investigations into Russian (and other nations') meddling into the 2020 general vote. There's hints aplenty that Barr is setting up "October Surprises" to discourage voter turnout for Joe Biden. 

All of this culminates into a lot of worried speculation - and yes, I am piling onto that dread - of how trump and cronies are going to cause enough disruption into the results that he can shrug off a Popular Vote and also an Electoral College count that would otherwise confirm a Joe Biden victory. 

But can it really happen?

Infidel753 pointed me to a link to a website Electoral-Vote that took stock of all the fears and tried to look at the actual numbers and likely results for November 2020. What the blogger there found was, well here's a few paragraphs:

If we assume there is enough "fog" to give cover to state legislatures to start thinking about shenanigans, that still leaves the pro-Trump forces with some daunting math to confront. Let's start with the states that have Democratic trifectas. Joe Biden is expected to win all of these, and there are not going to be any EV-stealing shenanigans in Trump's favor in these places:

That already puts us (note: well, Biden) at 195 EVs. Now let's add in the states where Biden is expected to win, and the Democrats control at least one chamber of the state legislature (note: meaning the GOP can't automatically fck with the EV):


We're up to 233 EVs. Biden isn't going to lose any of these due to shenanigans, either. Note, incidentally, that Minnesota is the only one of the five additional states that has a split legislature. The four others have both chambers with Democratic control.

Now, let's add states where Biden is favored to win, and where there is at least one Democrat who has to sign off on the results (either the governor, the secretary of state, or both):

Now we are up to 305 EVs. Getting into the weeds of what could happen in each state is a bit much, but several things are already evident: (1) Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states would have to be very unified to pull off this scheme; (2) they would face pushback on that, including lawsuits, in many places; and (3) their likely best case scenario, even if they are unified and they prevail in court, is to deny anyone an electoral victory (by muddying the waters until the deadline for the EC to meet has passed) and to throw the election to the House...

So the good news, as long as the voter turnout matches what the polling is currently telling us, is that Biden can easily pass the 270 EV hurdle much like Obama did in 2008 and 2012. And the blogger at Electoral-Vote hasn't counted states like Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Georgia that can still go Blue for Biden this November.

So the bad news is this: Now we know why trump and his GOP cronies are eager to fck up ballot-by-mails (aka Absentee balloting) to try and mess with ALL states results to create enough chaos to ruin this math. And now we know why Barr is readying the DOJ to cause the chaos, not prevent it.

Going through a current pandemic crisis that can hamper in-person voter turnout is probably one of the reasons - he'll never admit it, but you have to admit the thought has crossed so many people's minds that SOMEBODY in trump's orbit whispered it into his ear - why trump is failing to respond to the crisis at all.

Another element of bad news is, while the Electoral-Vote blogger - I'm not sure whose name in on it, it's either Votemaster or Zenger (hmm, as a Journalism grad I know that name) - knows the Popular vote AND Electoral vote all favor Biden, we can still see that trump and the GOP's endgame is to throw the chaos into the U.S. House. The example here isn't the 2000 Election madness - the conditions for that were different - but the 1800 and 1876 Elections, where political bias favored the Party in control of the House.

The sick rule of the House solution is that the votes are not tallied by Representative - which favors Democrats - but by State Delegation (the group per state) meaning 50 votes not 435 (and DC has not vote in this matter). Thanks to gerrymandering, delegations skew to the Republicans who currently control 26 delegations over Democrats' 23 (one delegation is split). THIS is what worries Never Trumpers, more so that messing with the Electoral College: Barr could either trick or bully enough state legislatures to not accept the popular voting in their states to award Electors, forcing the College to cancel and pass it all to a GOP-bent House.

Thing is, the Electoral-Vote blogger thought of that as well:

An even bigger problem is Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966). While that one was specifically about poll taxes, it also established the broad principle that once the right of people to vote has been extended, the state cannot intervene to dilute the potency of that vote. Taken together, what Bush and Harper suggest is that a state might be on firm ground if they announce on, say, Jan. 1, 2020, that "this year, the state legislature is just going to award our EVs." However, once states allow people to cast actual ballots, that method for awarding EVs is locked in and cannot be altered...

It had happened before, by the way: In 1860, South Carolina didn't host a popular vote, their legislature went and awarded their results to the pro-Slavery Democratic candidate (Beckinridge). This time, it's too late: Any GOP state that's watching the polls swing to Biden (hi, Florida!) right now in August cannot cancel the vote and nominate the Electors. They can do everything else - suppress votes, rig machines, undercount results - but they still run the risk that the popular vote won't go their way.

Which is partly why they're waiting on Barr to release "reports" of mail-in ballots being "rigged" in order to justify negating the popular vote results... but THAT all depends on if the difference in results relies on the mail-ins counting or not (if Biden wins by a wide margin without mail-ins, forget it: Barr would have to argue a way to negate the WHOLE thing, which even conservative courts would choke on).

This is the point where headaches start forming, and the stress of paranoia/despair kicks in. The solutions rely on a lot of things outside of control at our (yours and mine) level. The Democratic Party has to be ready to call on a legion of lawyers across every state to fight Barr's likely meddling in any and every possibility.

The one thing WE can do at our level is turnout the vote. THAT'S the math we can control. As long as the turnout FOR Biden and the Democrats is high enough, the Republicans can't rig a damn thing. They'll yell and scream, they'll present bad evidence to argue their side, but if Biden is winning places by double-digits in enough states and at percentages close to polling, the Republicans will have a hard time arguing rigged results... and they run the risk at state levels of alienating enough residents to diminish state-level control by the 2022 midterms, if not outright street protests by an outraged majority that will never stop (hi, Belarus!).

Democrats need to ensure enough of their numbers are registered and ready to vote, confirmed to vote for Biden against a corrupt trump that is one step away from tinpot dictator status that haunts all the failed Republics we've seen over the decades.

Elections matter, Americans. Voter turnout matters, Democrats. Come hell or high water or COVID or police crackdowns, every one of us opposed to trump's misrule, every one of us opposed to McConnell's obstructionist destruction, we have to do the math and vote and make it count and make the Republicans answer for their cheating, corrupt ways.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

But the Suburbs Have No Charms to Soothe

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory
Of lighted streets on quiet nights

In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out

Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

- "Subdivisions" Rush

Okay, to be honest, this quick little rant about donald "Fearmongering Shitgibbon" trump trying to scare White Suburbanites into fleeing from Biden and Democrats is mostly so I can quote from a song I grew up to since the 1980s.

Which is kind of a thing for me, being a Generation Xer who grew up in the suburbs, in the north Pinellas County region of Tampa Bay Florida where I literally watched entire neighborhoods spring up from the paved remnants of orange groves and dirt hills. Florida's population boom of the Eighties? I was there, and it was all 3-4 bedrooms houses with manicured lawns and pink (excuse me, that color is CORAL, thank you very much) painted exteriors.

So if anything I speak from experience. So with this, I question trump's attempt to appeal to what he called the Suburban Lifestyle Dream.

He's attempting to appeal to those who, when the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s gave Blacks more political freedom (but not economic equality), fled from places due to be desegregated - cities - outward to planned and deed-restricted neighborhoods where the obsessions over property values would encourage segregation in ways that couldn't be called out. It was called White Flight and you shouldn't be surprised to meet a lot of White folk who won't talk about it or claim it never happened that way. (Ask White folk about Redlining and watch their heads explode)

trump's appeal is based on the view of the suburbs being traditionally White Conservative enclaves, home to thousands of middle-class workers who habitually vote in favor of the world of Ronald Reagan's Eagleland, a place where people work hard play hard obey the traffic laws and worship an Evangelical-approved Deity every Sunday.

There's a problem with that image of Suburbia. It's a little out of date.

A lot has changed since the 1980s. The economic makeup of suburban communities have shifted away from the Blue Collar manufacturing conservatism that made up the neighborhoods from the Sixties through the Eighties. If anything - and from what I've seen - the suburbs has seen a rise in White Collar professionals - due to the loss of manufacturing jobs since the Seventies - made up of technology, health care, education, office-oriented work forces... which have more diverse and more educated demographics.

The racial shift of the suburbs has also taken place since the Nineties. Hispanic population growth in various states - not just in the South - has filled in a void where White residents kept fleeing from encroaching metropolitan politics. Another element has been "Black Flight" where the rise of educated White Collar workers in that demographic allowed them to flee cities much the way Whites fled decades earlier. (Yeah, we uh don't talk about that either, except for the part where hip young White couples are moving back into the cities to gentrify everything... ugh another Starbucks?)

As a result, it's not that the suburbs are now White enclaves... it's that the suburbs are now White Collar enclaves, filled with professional-level, college-educated home owners of varying ethnicity. And all of them eager to enforce that NO SOLICITING sign in front of the main entrance to their walled-off subdivisions.

We're talking teachers, doctors and nurses, computer/technology workers, lawyers, public service (city/county) employees, financial experts, store managers, warehouse supervisors, anything that requires a 4-year degree minimum. All of them living the Suburban Lifestyle Dream.


Because there's also another thing that trump is overlooking about the suburbs: Those neighborhoods are getting hit HARD during trump's own regime, especially in trump's failure to handle the Conoravirus pandemic. I just listed the professions above, nearly every one of them affected negatively - especially those in the medical/health care fields - by trump's continued inability to answer the challenges of leadership needed to keep the nation quarantined and reducing the risks of infection. As a result, it's also affecting those professionals in businesses and workplaces that are being forced to exposure, especially the teachers and educators facing the risks of COVID exposure at school.

As a result, I am not imaging a high number of suburbanites who view trump with any level of favorability or support. trump had been bleeding off suburban types throughout his tenure, especially among women, but lately that leak has turned into a gusher. And the polls are backing me up on this.

trump can't appeal to a broad range of educated, ethnically-diverse Americans. he's been too busy appealing to racist Whites to keep his voting base happy.

and trump can't comprehend how his ineptitude and failures have turned the Suburban Lifestyle Dream into a nightmare. Which is why he's going to make things worse for American suburbanites.

For the LOVE OF GOD, Suburban America, wake up and vote trump out.


Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Anyone Remember The Year 2010 And How It Seemed So Crazy Then

I am suddenly nostalgic and in the mood to look back ten years to 2010 and try to remember what the hell the world looked like back then.

Back then this was under a completely different name - Amendments We Need - and the blog's focus was supposed to be on political reforms and high-minded philosophizing. But even then the postings were sliding into weekly (and then daily) words of outrage over the partisan nightmare the Republicans were creating during the Obama years, so I changed it (and busted a lot of links to earlier articles in the process, sigh).

I realize looking back the amount of writing (85) was minimal compared to recent years where I break 100 easily, although the years 2015 (205) and 2016 (307) are outside the norms. Back then I was still finding a voice, and coping with a lot of bad stuff in the Real World.

2010 was the middle of my lost years, between late 2008 when I lost my full-time job as a librarian before regaining a new librarian post in early 2013. Roughly four-plus years of career searching, thanks to the Great Recession that killed off the civil service job market: A lot of city, county, and state revenues relied on property taxes, and the collapsed housing market cut into those revenues well up to now.

Best I could find were part-time jobs, inventory checking here, temp Census taking there, unable to hold either for long while I kept hunting anything in editing (Journalism), research (Libraries), or tech (Computer skills, and studying for A+ certification on a job-hunting grant).

In terms of what I was writing on the blog, it bounced between the serious endeavors - lamenting the failures of mainstream media and such - and the quick posts - thus and so - in order to keep myself engaged with writing while the real world was bumming me out.

Man I was pretty depressed back then (and sadly that depression is chronic and not far from my mind)

I notice I was linking a lot to Glenn Greenwald back then... and that faded away in favor of Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic as well as the general team of misfits at Balloon Juice, upon which a lot of my current blogging is based. I also started linking to David Frum and Conor Friedersdorf as kinds of counter-balance of conservative viewpoints, because I try to accept the larger scope of things (even as I got to find conservative viewpoints skewing further to a vicious extreme).

I was also taunting Erik Erickson often because the SOB threatened to shoot census workers at a time I was enumerating. Grrr.

If there were any personal bright spots, my brother Phil took me to a Rays game that ended up the team's first No-Hitter. WOOHOO!

Looking back, I'm finding something that had me looking forward: I wrote an article "Daddy What Did YOU Do During the Republican War on America" projecting all the way up to the far-flung year of 2020 (oh, hi). Oh good God, re-reading this article is breaking my heart. Not just the fanciful idea that I'd actually be married with kids by now (looks forlornly across an empty house as a Florida thunderstorm rages outside), but that ten years ago some form of sanity would prevail. That somehow, the crazed Tea Party efforts by the Far Right - the media, the GOP Congresscritters, the Birthers that would metastasize into QAnon nuts six years later - would implode on itself, that enough Americans would rise up against the tax-cut obsessions and racist/sexist bullshit.

Now I know why I was looking back now. Why I'm in such a mood. Part of me remembered this, remembered the hope I had for brighter happier days in the 2010 decade. All to see it come crashing down thanks to Mitch and trump and 62 million insane neighbors.

That was 2010, ten years gone.

Are we going to let 2020 ruin everything between now and 2030?

Are we even going to see 2030?

Sunday, August 02, 2020

There Is Only One Safe Place In America Right Now: Home

We are eight months into 2020 and we are still coping with a Coronavirus pandemic that shows no sign of slowing, all because our national political leadership remains unfocused on fighting it to the point where trump and his handlers behave like it's still not real.

The scary thing is we are closing in on the traditional start of our national education system returning from summer breaks, where classrooms open in August through December for Christmas/New Years holidays. trump is insisting the schools open. Coronavirus is telling us differently (via Adrianne LeFrance at The Atlantic):

“This push to open schools is guaranteed to fail,” says Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and molecular virologist, and the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. I’ve been corresponding with Hotez, and with several epidemiologists, over the course of the pandemic, and have noticed a starkness in their views in recent weeks. “The social-distancing expectations and mask requirements for the lower grades are unrealistic,” Hotez told me. “In communities with high transmission, it’s inevitable that COVID-19 will enter the schools. Within two weeks of opening schools in communities with high virus transmission, teachers will become ill. All it will take is for a single teacher to become hospitalized with COVID and everything will shut down.”
Hotez has good reason to be pessimistic. There were 68,605 new cases in the United States yesterday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day average has stayed above 60,000 new cases per day since July 13. Reaching 100,000 cases per day, once seen as an apocalyptic, worst-case-scenario warning from Anthony Fauci, is no longer difficult to imagine. Indeed, my conversations with epidemiologists in recent days were all strikingly dark. They agreed: Schools should not risk reopening, probably not even for the youngest children, in the coming weeks. “We can’t pretend like everything’s fine,” said Gary Simon, the director of the infectious diseases division at George Washington University. “If I had a school-age kid, I wouldn’t want to send him to school.”
The evidence is all around us. There is the summer camp in Georgia where hundreds of kids and counselors—nearly half the camp—got infected after only a few days together. Then there’s the school in Indiana where, just hours after reopening last week, a student tested positive for the coronavirus. (“We knew it was a when, not if,” the superintendent told The New York Times, but officials were “very shocked it was on Day 1.”)

We had months to prepare, ever since the official shutdown in March. We needed extensive testing in place, enough labs to generate results in days so we could quarantine fast enough. We needed more hospital beds and supplies, overflow facilities to handle the waves of infected we're still trying to heal. We needed to plan for home child care, providing workplaces the means to redirect work from office to home so parents could keep an eye on their families. We needed the funding to set up virtual schooling, mobile WiFi hotspots to families in rural areas, free Internet to suburbs and cities, and loaner laptops so that kids could get classes and submit work to and from home, where they'd be safe.

None of that happened. The scope and size of such endeavors can't be done state by state. It had to be done at the federal level. Yet trump and his Republican allies in the Senate are DOING NOTHING except give orders to the states and to school systems that can't even begin to solve the problems they're being told to fix. Back to LeFrance:

“The problem is the White House and the task force could never organize themselves to lead a federal response and bring virus transmission down to containment levels,” said Hotez, who has argued for the necessity of a federal containment plan that, if executed effectively, might allow the nation to reopen comprehensively as soon as October. “Instead they took a lazy and careless route, claiming schools are important, as we all know, and the teachers and principals need to figure it out. What they did was deliberately set up the teachers, staff, and parents to fail. It’s one of the most careless, incompetent, and heartless actions I’ve ever seen promoted by the executive branch of the federal government.”

All of this disaster gets laid at the feet of the trump family. Like every other crisis, trump handed this off to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who proceeded like all his previous endeavors to mismanage the situation to where we're screwed now. As pointed out in this article in Vanity Fair by Katherine Eban:

Six months into the pandemic, the United States continues to suffer the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the developed world. Considerable blame belongs to a federal response that offloaded responsibility for the crucial task of testing to the states. The irony is that, after assembling the team that came up with an aggressive and ambitious national testing plan, Kushner then appears to have decided, for reasons that remain murky, to scrap its proposal. Today, as governors and mayors scramble to stamp out epidemics plaguing their populations, philanthropists at the Rockefeller Foundation are working to fill the void and organize enough testing to bring the nationwide epidemic under control...
Rather than have states fight each other for scarce diagnostic tests and limited lab capacity, the plan would have set up a system of national oversight and coordination to surge supplies, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks.
The solutions it proposed weren’t rocket science—or even comparable to the dauntingly complex undertaking of developing a new vaccine. Any national plan to address testing deficits would likely be more on the level of “replicating UPS for an industry,” said Dr. Mike Pellini, the managing partner of Section 32, a technology and health care venture capital fund. “Imagine if UPS or FedEx didn’t have infrastructure to connect all the dots. It would be complete chaos.”
The plan crafted at the White House, then, set out to connect the dots. Some of those who worked on the plan were told that it would be presented to President Trump and likely announced in the Rose Garden in early April. “I was beyond optimistic,” said one participant. “My understanding was that the final document would make its way to the president over that weekend” and would result in a “significant announcement.”
But no nationally coordinated testing strategy was ever announced. The plan, according to the participant, “just went poof into thin air.”
In a statement, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “The premise of this article is completely false...”
By early April, some who worked on the plan were given the strong impression that it would soon be shared with President Trump and announced by the White House. The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point. Simply working together as a nation on it “would have put us in a fundamentally different place,” said the participant.
But the effort ran headlong into shifting sentiment at the White House. Trusting his vaunted political instincts, President Trump had been downplaying concerns about the virus and spreading misinformation about it—efforts that were soon amplified by Republican elected officials and right-wing media figures. Worried about the stock market and his reelection prospects, Trump also feared that more testing would only lead to higher case counts and more bad publicity. Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, was reportedly sharing models with senior staff that optimistically—and erroneously, it would turn out—predicted the virus would soon fade away.
Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said...
On April 27, Trump stepped to a podium in the Rose Garden, flanked by members of his coronavirus task force and leaders of America’s big commercial testing laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, and finally announced a testing plan: It bore almost no resemblance to the one that had been forged in late March, and shifted the problem of diagnostic testing almost entirely to individual states...

We saw the results of that: A number of Republican-controlled states - Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Arizona above all - decided to push for quick re-openings, acting as though COVID was under control when it was merely waiting for super-spreader events to cause a second wave. Those Red states - no longer the Blue states (save California) - are now the hot spots threatening our citizenry to the detriment of REPUBLICAN governors who are now the ones to blame.

The means to track and isolate carriers through testing fell apart: Not enough funding and help from the federal level where it had usually been. We're at a point where people are waiting more than 7 days for results... during which time they're infecting everyone else as asymptomatic victims of the Coronavirus.

In the meanwhile, trump's Far Right fan base and media allies pushed against EVERY tool of combating the pandemic as though the fight itself offended their "freedoms", especially waging a war against mask-wearing in public places even though months of evidence demonstrated here and elsewhere that masks reduce the spread of COVID. Unless trump himself comes out and repudiates his earlier stances, we are not going to see an end to that fearmongering over masks (it may already be too late if trump tries).

There are no good solutions except the hard choice of going back to Shut Down like we did in March. The hard choice for the U.S. Senate - which is FAILING to pass much-needed extensions of financial aid to the unemployed and renters in dire need of paychecks - to continue federal support that most conservatives despise. These hard choices may be unpalatable to the Far Right... but without those decisions, we are facing both an expansion of a lethal pandemic killing more Americans and a worsening economic situation that can't repair itself without yet another massive bailout.

First things first, Americans.

Keep our kids and families safe as possible. Keep them home. Give them the tools to study in safe places and learn as best they can without the exposure to death they'll be facing in the close quarters of classrooms.

Stay At Home, America.

Stay Safe.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Hell No, trump

So trump dropped a tweet or three this morning, in the middle of a thousand other things happening, where he expressed his interest in suspending the 2020 General (and Presidential) Elections. The excuse was concern over the possibility of "ballot-by-mail fraud" (which still hasn't been proven in court) and the pandemic (which was trump's own damn fault letting it get out of control).

It prompted a day-long Twitter Trend of HELL NO, and brought a lot of angry people to bear worried that trump was now at full dictator mode.

To quote Ian Millhiser at Vox: trump can't do it if he tried.

A trio of federal laws set Election Day for presidential electors, senators, and US representatives as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” If Republicans want to change this law, they would need to go through the Democratic House.
The 20th Amendment, moreover, provides that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” Thus, even if the election were somehow canceled, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s terms would still expire as scheduled — although, as explained below, the question of who would succeed them is devilishly complicated...

trump could try to argue that his emergency powers would override the existing laws, but there's no way he can argue past something written in stone the way the 20th Amendment is. Supreme Court justices, even trumpian Far Right ones, do not take kindly to that kind of scam. And Chief Roberts has already expressed his disdain with trump's legal shenanigans. Back to Millhiser:

Under the 20th Amendment, “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d [sic] day of January.” So, if no one is elected to replace these officials, Trump and Pence cease to be elected officials the minute their terms expire on January 20. Members of the House serve two-year terms, so all members of the House will cease to be representatives on January 3; one-third of senators’ terms also expire on that date.
Ordinarily, if the Presidency and Vice Presidency are both vacant at the same time, the office falls to the Speaker of the House. But if there is no election, there will be no Speaker when Trump and Pence’s terms expire because all House seats will become vacant on January 3...

I've seen other arguments online that there's a possibility that Nancy Pelosi, the current serving Speaker, might still qualify under the 25th Amendment because the Speakership still belongs to her. The rules of the House are that she remains so unless voted out from office (which technically did not happen, there just wasn't a vote period), if majority control flipped to another party (which hadn't happened, due to no vote), if she was voted out by a No-Confidence motion (which is rare, and does not apply to this), or if she resigned. Technically, anybody could be voted as Speaker even if they were not elected to the House at all (which did come up during the struggle to find a replacement for Boehner when he retired), so Pelosi as sitting Speaker could remain so if the election was suspended.

But to continue Millhiser's reasoning:

If there is no President, Vice president, or Speaker, the next official in line is the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, a largely ceremonial position that is traditionally held by the most senior member of the majority party. Right now that is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
But wait! Recall that the terms of many senators also expire on January 3. As it turns out, 23 seats held by Republicans and only 12 seats held by Democrats are up for election this year, so if no election is held, Democrats will have a majority in the Senate once these seats become vacant. Which would mean that Senate Democrats would be able to choose a new President pro tempore. If they follow the tradition of choosing the most senior member of their caucus, that would place Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) next in line for the presidency.
Things actually get even more complicated from here. The 17th Amendment permits state governors to name temporary senators to vacant seats, but not all states allow their governors to do so. It’s also not immediately clear who would be the governor of many states if no election takes place in 2020, because much of the line of succession in those states could be rendered vacant as well...

Personally, if it works out that Pat Leahy ends up as President through all this, I'd be happy because it'd mean we'd get a President who personally stared down the Joker.

It's a pretty thought experiment to try, but the reality is trump can't stop this election cycle: It is hardwired into our system. Not just in the law but by tradition: We held a Presidential election in the middle of a Civil War, for God's sake. he'd have to order a straight-up military coup into the states to shut down the local election setups, especially in the Blue states that won't obey any suspension order he gives.

But that's not trump's true intention here. trump know how to play a long con, and he's setting the groundwork to invalidate the election after it happens. Per David A. Graham at The Atlantic:

Trump has repeatedly and falsely alleged that the election will be tainted by widespread fraud due to increased use of mail-in voting stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. (He has also repeatedly and falsely claimed major fraud in the 2016 election, which he won.) While voting by mail, like all methods, is susceptible to fraud, no evidence suggests widespread fraud that could affect the result of the election...
However, there are legitimate worries about the ability of many Americans to properly and safely vote, and many reasons to fear that the November election will be a train wreck. COVID-19-related complications, including a huge increase in demand for voting by mail and a shortage of polling places and poll workers, threaten to swamp already struggling local election systems. Election experts worry that final election results will not be available for weeks after Election Day, as votes are slowly counted. Any delay in the day of the election would only exacerbate this problem by making it even harder to meet other deadlines. Also under statute, the Electoral College must meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. According to the Constitution, the new presidential term starts at noon on January 20 of the following year...

trump is setting up now his ability to throw a wrench into that process, delaying things through court challenges at every mail-in ballot against him that nothing can get counted in time and force the Electoral College to not even vote. That would send the whole mess into the US House where by a quirk of the election rules each state (50) gets ONE vote (not proportioned out to each Representative), with the majority of each state dominating their single vote (there are 26 controlled by Republicans, one split, 23 controlled by Democrats). It wouldn't matter if Democrats have 230-plus Representatives: It would only matter that Republicans control 26 state delegations. The only way this doesn't work to the Republicans' advantage is if Democrats flip delegation control of three states, but there's no guarantee of that despite the signs of a Blue Wave in congressional elections.

This could happen even if Joe Biden secures both the popular vote (which is likely) and the Electoral vote (which would involve flipping back three to five - even six if Texas goes Blue (!) - states that went barely for trump). Just imagine it: Biden wins 374 EV by securing all the 2012 Blue states plus Arizona and North Carolina and maybe one more, and does so with 70 million voters to trump's 61 million with a nice 53 percent popular count. Yet trump and his Republican cronies still in control of Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin contest the votes forcing a delay similar to what happened in 1876, compelling the system to toss it all to a US House where Republicans hold 26 delegations.

It'd be a huge risk to piss off 70 million Americans, but like any political party relying on Minority Rule, the Republicans right now do not give a fuck about the Majority.

Back to Graham:

Trump’s unpopularity is one of the peculiarities of his proposal to delay the election. There aren’t many historical precedents for such a move, but when they exist, they have been undertaken by politicians who are extremely well liked... 
Such leaders could argue that their constituents needed and wanted continuity. Trump, by contrast, is a widely reviled politician. Most of the country feels that things are on the wrong track, and he knows it. This is, in fact, the likely motivation behind this proposal. It’s more a means of preemptively contesting the outcome of an election he fears he will lose than trying to actually move it...
If Trump loses the election in November and wants to argue that he was cheated and the voting was not legitimate, he can’t start on November 4. He needs to lay the groundwork ahead of time—for example, by repeatedly warning that the vote will be fraudulent and rigged, and by telling his supporters that he tried to postpone it but was denied by “Them.”
Some observers have focused on the question of whether a defeated Trump would actually leave office, as required by law, or stage some sort of coup. That still seems tough to envision, though the president’s complete disregard for the rule of law makes it hard to rule anything out. But a concerted effort to undermine the election, and to convince 35 to 45 percent of the electorate that the balloting was never fair, would do its own damage...

Either trump wins by cheating, or he wins by burning everything in his wake as he scurries out the White House door. It's both bluff - to cower us to behave - and threat - making sure his violent obsessive MAGA fans riot over his loss even if Biden tops him with 55 percent of the popular vote and a solid Electoral win.

We are too far into a disastrous trump regime to cower in fear. We've had 232 years of this nation to build our resolve and our faith in the United States to let this tiny, whining Shitgibbon get the better of us.

Vote however you can. Vote by mail even as trump destroys our Postal Service. Vote in person using every safety and health precaution you've got. Overwhelm trump's diminishing support. Overwhelm every Republican attempt to suppress our votes.

Make it so the turnout is so lopsided in favor to the Democratic Party that the state-level Republicans won't risk playing trump's con game to delay the counts.

Make it so the Majority - the TRUE Majority of Americans who want normalcy again, who want a working federal government again - finally gets their say after decades of abuse by a Republican Party that no longer represents us.

Don't play trump's game. Beat him at ours.

Hell No, trump.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Living a Different Life In the Pandemic

Things I've missed during this COVID-19 pandemic:

I've missed going to the movie theater to watch first-run summer blockbuster movies, superhero movies, comedies that won't make me cringe (those are rare anymore), anything that looks good by Pixar, those sort of things. I have streaming at home like Disney Plus, thanks to a Christmas present last year, but the experience of the large theater, the decent-sized crowds oohing and aahing and cheering and laughing... I miss that.

I've missed browsing the bookstore. Yes, I work in a library, but it doesn't hurt me to go checking out all the other books and magazines the library can't carry (we ARE running on a city/county budget, people).

I've missed the occasional road trip to where my friends are, the ones I grew up with in high school and some I've made in my time living around the Tampa Bay area. I miss driving out to the Pinellas beaches. I miss revisiting Tarpon Springs, finding a gyro place to eat (sorry but Plaka's closed). I miss visiting any beach overall, it's been years since I went and just sat and enjoyed the view, the overwhelmed senses of watching and feeling and smelling sand and water and sky (no tasting though).

I've missed the chance to travel this summer, nothing major like I hope to someday - I desire a visit to Vegas and the Grand Canyon, I desire a trip to Ireland, I desire a trip to Prague, I desire a trip to Japan - but still a chance to go somewhere scenic and spiritual and fun (no, not Disney. Well, okay, MAYBE Galaxy's Edge). I did have plans to visit the Ta-Nehisi crowd this September, but that's on hold as well. Sigh.

I'm missing the weekend jaunts I take to places where I can sit and write, away from the distractions of home.

There are other regrets, but right now these are the things I know are missing in my life.

I have to accept this, because the risks of COVID are too great to ignore at my peril and everyone else's.

Perhaps another time, when a vaccine is confirmed, when life can return to a semblance of normalcy.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Quick Update on Jacksonville, trump, and the Reality of an Out-Of-Control Pandemic

(Update 7/26/20: Thank you again Batocchio for linking me to Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up this weekend! I want to mention here that this blog just received a Finalist recognition from the Florida Writers Association for the article "Seven Reasons NOT To Invade Iran" and hopefully we'll see where things go from there... )

trump, unhappy that North Carolina and Charlotte was telling him he couldn't have a big shindig for a convention this year due to trump's own mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, tried to move the big part of the show - his speech - to Jacksonville Florida where he thought the rules would be more relaxed and the locals more accommodating.

Today, he finally accepted the warnings of Jacksonville officials and likely his own medical experts that hosting a large gathering even outdoors was a bad idea, and canceled the big ego-boosting show. To quote Steve Contorno and Kirby Wilson via the Tampa Bay Times:

The news came as a surprise to several Florida Republicans close to the event and the president. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of Trump’s closet allies in Congress, said he didn’t know Trump had made this call. Nor did state Sen. Joe Gruters, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who helped bring the event to the Sunshine State.

It may have been a surprise to the Florida Republicans, but it wasn't exactly so for the number of party leaders who were begging off from attending because even they didn't want to risk their health. Back to the article:

It was only six weeks ago that Trump stripped the convention from Charlotte, the previous host city, after clashing with Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper over what the president then deemed to be overly demanding restrictions related to the coronavirus. Trump and the Republican Party then settled on Jacksonville, in part because Florida was swiftly reopening the economy amid falling coronavirus cases.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry enthusiastically welcomed the event. Curry celebrated the announcement with a flashy video and promises of a post-coronavirus economic boom for his city. However, the reality on the ground dramatically shifted. Florida subsequently emerged as the new national hot spot...

Partly because the risks of exposure actually goes back up when you re-open too quick, and mostly because trump and the Republicans didn't effing care even back then. Back:

More recently, organizers said they would shift to a more scaled-down convention with smaller crowds. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced last week that just delegates, a single guest per delegate and alternate delegates would be permitted to attend the president’s nomination speech on the final evening of the convention. Speeches set for earlier in the convention were restricted to the party’s roughly 2,500 delegates only...
The final nail arrived this week when Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams suggested he didn’t have enough details to provide adequate security to keep attendees and Jacksonville residents safe. Still, even with COVID-19 deaths registering in the triple digits and his local sheriff no longer on board, Curry still remained that the show would go on...

What will happen now is pretty much what everyone else in the nation is doing: Hosting it all on Zoom chats. Given how disorganized this entire circus turned out to be, I'm willing to bet even trump will screw that up.

On the bright side, Jacksonville doesn't have to face the prospect of a super-spreader event hitting them the way trump's Tulsa rally did. On the downside, we're still coping with an ever-upward spike of positive cases and deaths here in Florida.

That part of trump's shitshow hasn't ended yet. /headdesk