Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Deranged and Raging

I didn't watch the debate Mental And Moral Collapse of the United States last night, but I followed the Twitter feed and read the postscripts, and by GODS it was a true nightmare.

To quote James Fallows at the Atlantic:

Start with the supposed moderator, Chris Wallace. It became obvious five minutes in that Donald Trump’s strategy was to interrupt, yell, insult, and disrupt as often as he could. This is a strategy that can work only if no one gets in the way of it, and Chris Wallace just let it go on. Maybe Wallace was caught by surprise by Trump’s bellicosity and primate-dominance. (But—c’mon.) Even so, two or three minutes of this should have been enough to adjust. He didn’t adjust. And he let Trump roll over him...

I recorded a whole detailed minute-by-minute annotation of the debate as it unfolded, but I’m not going to dignify this disaster with any details. It was a giant mess. Did the spectacle change any votes? Who knows. Maybe some people were revved up for Trump by his assertiveness. Maybe other people—I’d guess a larger number, but it’s just a guess—were repelled by his bullying tactics...

But for tonight I’ll say this was a disgusting moment for democracy. Donald Trump made it so, and Chris Wallace let him. I hope there are no more debates before this election. If they happen, I won’t waste another minute of my life watching them.

The modern presidential debate was invented in 1960. We may have seen the end of its useful life this evening.

This was about the most judicious review of the night I found. Everything else ranged from how chaotic and demeaning trump's behavior was right down to the most blunt "It was a shit show" takeaway from CNN's Dana Bash.

The post-game narratives coming out of trump's camp - his debate handlers Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie were out quickly trying to perform some form of ass-covering afterward - was trump planned to disrupt the debate and interrupt as often as he could to throw Biden off-balance and cause Biden to stutter. trump's intent was to make Biden look weak. It never occurred to trump - or anyone in his circle - that a lot of people who stutter learn to control themselves through focusing on their statements and staying calm. It does make Biden appear placid, emotionally flat, and unable to deviate from script while speaking in public, but it also means that he's actually less gaffe-prone on the stage than when he's in meeting rooms and pre-rally gatherings.

The end result of trump's gameplan was that he showed himself the bully, the screaming rage-monster, the control freak husband/ex-boyfriend of women's nightmares.

As David Frum at the Atlantic put it:

President Donald Trump arrived at the first debate with a theory and a plan. The theory was that American voters crave dominance, no matter how belligerent or offensive. The plan was to hector, interrupt, and insult in hopes of establishing that dominance.

His theory was wrong, and his plan was counterproductive...

Trump yelled, threatened, interrupted—and changed nothing. All he did was confirm the horror and revulsion of the large American majority that has already begun to cast its ballots against him.

Correction: Trump did one thing. On the Cleveland stage, Trump communicated that he will seize any opportunity to disrupt the vote and resist the outcome. He communicated more forcefully than ever that the only security the country has for a constitutional future is that Biden wins by the largest possible margin...

The only ones who did cheer as trump vomited his rage upon the international stage were the Proud Boy/White Supremacist factions whom trump refused to denounce when asked by the moderator Chris Wallace. Worse, trump rallied those wingnuts with the words to "Stand Back, Stand By", a call for them to await instructions for when trump clearly wants them to disrupt voter turnout on Election Day (and worse, to riot in county Elections offices afterward to prevent any clean ballot counts).

To say this was America's Worst Night for Democracy undersells a lot of other bad nights - actually the nights of November 8-9, 2016 when this motherfcking Shitgibbon won the Electoral count are the Worst Nights - but it's the big red flag we've all been waiting for signalling that the chaos of 2020 is going to get worse.

There's only one way out of trump's Hell, America. GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT AND ELECT EVERY DEMOCRAT TO EVERY OFFICE YOU CAN.

trump's derangement and raging ways are getting worse. If he steals this election as he's promising to, we can't survive four more years of this crap. We just can't.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Digging Into trump's Tax Dirt

There's a debate tonight but I don't give a rat's ass because unless trump goes batshit crazy and vomits on everybody this will not change a lot of voters' minds.

In the meanwhile, following up on trump's tax troubles, I spotted a Tweet from John Rogers about reading a tax expert's - Daniel Shaviro a professor on tax law out of NYU - evaluation of the Times' revelations to get a better idea how much trouble trump is in:

2) Trump appears to be an absolutely terrible businessman. This is a man who netted $606 million over nineteen years (from 2000 to 2018) through The Apprentice, licensing and endorsements, and investments and businesses run by others, and yet has created enormous financial peril for himself by buying prestige business properties for high prices, and then pouring cash into them without thereby generating positive net returns. Even with the cash infusions, his personally run businesses have continued to lose a great deal of money (even leaving aside depreciation deductions that might or might not be accompanied by actual declines in economic value). One therefore suspects that he is simply funding the negative cash flow, not creating new value that might pay off in the future...

3) As a matter of net worth, Trump appears not to be rich (despite his having inherited a large fortune). The impending financial liabilities, and selling off of assets (plus taking out of loans) to keep the cash flowing is only one reason for concluding that, as a matter of net worth (as distinct, from say, lifestyle), Trump does not appear to be rich. Consider that, from 2000 to 2018, his net profit from assets – his own businesses, plus investments in businesses run by others – is only $4.2 million (the excess of his investment gains over his business losses).

This is about $220,000 per year. Just as a very general ballpark comparison, if you were earning $220,000 per year from assets that offered, say, a regular 4 percent annual return, that would imply that you were worth only $5.5 million...

While 5.5 million isn't something to sneeze at for middle-class folk, trump has been selling himself as a BILLIONAIRE, of which 5.5 million is metaphorically pocket change (think about the $2000 you got in your checking account compared to the three quarters, two dimes, and five nickels in your change dish).

What trump is doing, from what I can tell, is create the illusion of wealth in order to convince others of it: Spending lavishly and indulgently on luxury items as though that's all there is to it. Thing is, that kind of wasteful spending helps explain why trump also appears to be massively in debt. Back to Shaviro:

4) There is nothing wrong in principle with using true economic losses to offset the tax that would otherwise be due on gains – but it also isn’t clever tax planning. The late, great Martin Ginsburg – a famous tax lawyer and the spouse of the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – once jokingly described what he called the “Herman tax shelter.” The idea was that, if you need, say, a $1 million tax deduction, your fictional accountant Herman could say: “Give me $1 million, I’ll steal it from you and go to a country where you can’t reach me, and voila, you have a $1 million theft loss.”

The gist is: Planning to get a deduction is useless if the plan involves you losing too much money in the first place. If that's all that trump is doing here with reporting losses to the IRS every year, it would still be reckless behavior because it's all focused on the now (short-term) and doesn't allow to invest or plan long-term, which cuts into profits down the road. In short: trump's an idiot.

We therefore should distinguish between (a) Trump’s losing so much money over the years – be it from bad luck, bad judgment, or incompetence – and (b) his also taking a number of tax positions that, as I discuss next, appear to be questionable or even fraudulent. The real losses rightfully offset tax on the gains, insofar as using them in the way he did was legally permissible, and the adverse inferences to be drawn from them lie outside the tax system (although again, as per the fallacy in the “Herman tax shelter,” they do not reflect clever tax planning).

The fifth point on Shaviro's list answers a long-standing argument about trump's refusal to go public with his tax returns. A lot of his critics believed his excuse of getting "audited" by the IRS was asinine, but it turns out the IRS *is* investigating him for a questionable refund filing from 2007-09. So Shaviro looks at that and I want to quote him in full:

5) The ongoing IRS audit dispute regarding a $72.5 million loss deduction looks very bad for Trump. The Times article suggests that the key issue, for most or all of this claimed loss, is a “worthless stock deduction” from abandoning his interest in the disastrous Atlantic City casino venture. Many years ago, when I was in tax practice, I actually worked on this precise legal issue (for a corporate client of my law firm), so I am quite familiar with it. When you own equity (such as Trump’s partnership interests in the Atlantic City activity) that has lost enormous value, typically the equity constitutes a “capital asset.” If you sell it for an enormous loss, that is only a capital loss, and deduction of the loss is limited to the sum of (a) net capital gains for the year, and (b) $3,000. Disallowed losses are carried forward, but at $3,000 per year they may be worth very little, unless your income in future years includes large capital gains. But if the investment is utterly worthless and you abandon it for zero consideration, it becomes an “ordinary” loss (i.e., one that is not subject to the limits on deducting capital losses).

Trump apparently did this with his Atlantic City partnership interests, and claimed an ordinary loss that seems to have made up much or all of the $72.5 million. But he received back a 5 percent interest in the stock of the new entity. As the Times article rightly notes, this could establish that the entire abandonment loss claim was legally invalid. He would merely have sold his once-valuable asset for a large capital loss, the use of which would be sharply restricted as described above. The Times notes that losing on this issue – as it appears he should, if the stated facts are accurate and relevantly complete – would cause him to owe the IRS about $100 million, given interest on the prior refund. This leaves aside the possibility of civil or criminal tax penalties for claiming an abandonment loss despite receiving consideration back.

We're now getting into the criminal stuff in trump's tax returns, and also why trump is so desperate to cheat his way into a second term to avoid prosecution. Rather than take the capital loss which was limited, trump filed for the ordinary loss to get unlimited return... even though the stocks he received from the transaction did not make the loss worthless. This is tax fraud, and unless his lawyers beat the IRS into submission (or he bullies them directly, which would be an abuse of office) trump is going to pay one way or another.

It gets more serious from here:

6) The consulting fees that Trump’s various foreign businesses paid to Ivanka Trump and others look potentially fraudulent. The Times article cites 20 percent consulting fees that foreign Trump businesses regularly deducted by reason of paying them to unnamed consultants. Some of these fees pertained to activities in which Trump’s role as an investor was ostensibly entirely passive, meaning that he wasn’t engaged in making any of the business decisions. Consulting fees also appear to have been paid to family members such as Ivanka Trump. She got consulting fees with respect to businesses for which she simultaneously worked as an executive, and thus as an employee.

Based on what the article says, several different types of fraud may have been involved here. Fees paid to family members who did not provide services in return would be improper deductions. Fees paid to “consultants” who were employees might be properly deductible by the business – as salary – but would potentially trigger 3.8 percent payroll tax liability by the recipient under the so-called Medicare payroll tax. Fees that were actually gifts to family members were not properly deductible, and also may have generated gift tax liability on Trump’s part that the mislabeling helped to conceal.

From what I can tell, the trump family was double-dipping, getting paid twice for the same job (with the second "job" a no-show consulting excuse). Violations of payroll tax and Medicare tax codes. This is where it's not just trump on the line, it's the whole fcking family.

7) Other improper deductions that may have been claimed fraudulently. The Times article notes several different types of improper deductions for business expenses that appear to have been personal, and hence not allowable under the federal income tax...

In short: This is where the jokes about $70,000 haircuts come in. Seriously though:

Similarly, the Times article raises serious questions about deductions for a residential property, described by Eric Trump as the family “compound,” on the ground that it was an investment property being held for profit. The very year after the investment designation was made, Trump claimed a deduction for a charitable easement that precluded development of much of the property. Happening just a year later (and possibly foreseen), this would only add to the difficulty of establishing the requisite profit motive.

A further instance of potential fraud relates to deducting legal fees that may have related to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, rather than to his business activities. This may even include the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, if it was improperly amalgamated with actual legal fees...

And this is where the state attorney's investigations into trump kick in. Where the IRS is one level of trouble, the state of New York is a level trump can't bully or hinder (thank you, Separation of Powers between State and Federal). This has been where the tax returns fight had been at its harshest, with trump fighting tooth and nail to prevent the local DA from getting into his financials. Well, it looks like that's a little too late...

Much like the debate happening about... oh RIGHT NOW... these revelations won't change a single mind among the 40 percent that makes up trump's rabid fanbase.

But these revelations expose just how weak trump's position truly is: facing likely criminal charges and civil lawsuits (he can delay the former but facing too many of the latter), trump is relying far too much on foreign creditors and foreign dirty money to survive even day-to-day.

This unfortunately makes him dangerous in an election cycle: trump has every reason to cheat to stay one step ahead of the law he's supposed to uphold.

This thankfully also makes it easier for the rest of us to understand what's at stake and vote the thieving con artist out of office.

We need to do this, America. We cannot survive with a tax fraud and financial disaster running the White House.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Only Two Things Certain with trump: Schadenfreude and Taxes

Note: I just realized a day later that I wrote an earlier report about trump's tax-dodging back in 2016(!!!) that used a similar title to this blog article I wrote yesterday. Dammit. I've been screaming for so long about trump being a tax cheat and con artist that I'm starting to repeat myself!

Anyway, on to the article...

So the big bombshell on Sunday was Buffalo winning its third straight game this NFL season was the New York Times reporting on what they had on donald trump's tax returns. Apparently, they have received verifiable copies of the returns that trump had been keeping out of sight for the last 5 years, and they gave their first - promising more to follow - report on what they found. The rest of what they have is behind a firewall, so I'll go to Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice to help with the schadenfreude:

Also, he wrote off $70K in taxes for hair styling. He wrote off more than $700K in “consulting fees” that suspiciously matched an amount collected by a Ivanka-owned consulting company. I am not a lawyer, but that sounds legally dubious. It may be perfectly legal since our tax code seems designed to allow rich people to perpetuate outrageous scams.

Anyhoo, I’ve long since stopped waiting for any revelation about Trump, no matter how repulsive or ridiculous or outrageous, to make the bottom fall out of his base of support. If 200K-plus dead Americans on his watch — with recorded evidence that he lied to us about the danger — won’t budge the needle, nothing will. Somewhere around 40% of our fellow citizens are dumb and/or malevolent chumps, and they’ll never admit they’ve been conned. Still, being exposed as a fraud has got to be a personal hell for a narcissist like Trump.

Let's go to Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo for some thoughts:

The Times has obtained what Trump has long sought to keep from investigators: “tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization.”

Trump is deeply in debt. If he loses his dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over the validity of a $72.9 million tax refund, he could owe the government more than $100 million after including interest. He has hundreds of millions in loans coming due in the next few years with no way to repay them. Some he personally guaranteed.

Sunday’s lengthy report is just the overview. There is nothing more on Trump’s financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, but enough to whet the appetite for more. Not to worry. The Times reassures that “additional articles will be published in the coming weeks...” 

(Editor's Note: As I post this blog article, the Times released Part II of their reporting, it seems to involve how NBC's "The Apprentice" kept trump afloat...)

Digby's coverage at Hullabaloo goes into better detail, and I would encourage you to hop over there and read each of the 13 points she makes about how this is a really big fcking deal that trump is in debt up to his bad $70,000.00 haircuts.

To be honest, these revelations aren't shocking to those of us - myself included - who knew for a long time that trump was never honest about his wealth and showed far too many signs of living off massive loans he can't pay off.

What this means to the 2020 election cycle depends entirely on those voters who were still undecided - not that many - and on Republican voters who can't pretend trump is a financial genius anymore - also not that many - and on Democratic voters who have to step up and get the damn vote out - this needs to be as many Dems as possible - to throw this crooked bankrupted fraud out of OUR house.

This almost underscores just how dangerous trump is going to get as he openly plots to subvert the election this November. This is it for him, this performance he has ripping off the federal government from INSIDE the government. There are no other con jobs waiting for him after this. He has no other escape plan from this con he's got going, and once he's outside of the Oval Office he has nowhere to run and hide. This is why he's threatening to pull every authoritarian trick in the books to cheat and stay in office, this is why he's always talking about stealing a third term when the Constitution clearly says Hell No.

There's a couple other things to point out - that our tax code unfairly skews in favor of the so-called wealthy (as well as the real wealthy), and that our legal system unfairly refuses to treat financial fraud as serious as it ought to - but I will leave those rants for another day.


trump is literally in debt to other people, and those chit-holders are bound to call in their IOUs that will end up hurting us.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Work for trump... But It Sure As Hell Explains A Whole Lot

So under the categories of "Florida Man," "Republicans Are Insane," and "Baker Acted," we have this report coming out of Ft. Lauderdale (via the Sun-Sentinel):

President Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale was taken from his Fort Lauderdale home by police Sunday afternoon after his wife reported that he was armed and threatening suicide.

The police, called by his wife, went to the house in the Seven Isles community, an affluent area in which houses have access to the water. They made contact, “developed a rapport” and negotiated his exit from the house, the police said in a statement. He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center under the Baker Act, which provides for temporary involuntary commitment.

My dad worked as a legal guardian and I studied for it as a profession for a bit (didn't go anywhere, wasn't any good at it) when I was unemployed, and let me tell you the Baker Act is a huge step, if the doctors find out he's got serious issues Parscale is going to get wrapped up in a whole slew of legal issues and intense treatment that will take him out of circulation for a good while (for example, he will likely - for his own safety as well as everyone else's - lose his rights to own or keep any firearms if this happens).

The thing you gotta remember about Parscale was how... intense he was regarding his work as trump's campaign manager this 2020 election cycle. Right up to the point where all of Parscale's financial mismanagement - and self-indulgence - got out in the open. Along with a disastrous attempt to host a campaign stop at the height of the COVID pandemic in Tulsa - poorly set up, rife with flaws that were exploited by Korean boy band followers for God's sake - Parscale quickly lost favor with his boss and quickly lost his campaigning top job.

Everything since then was probably not a fun ride for Mr. Parscale. A public object of ridicule, likely not finding many allies, and also facing the possibilities of investigations into how he managed the 2020 campaign, he had to have been under massive emotional pressure.

But don't expect me - as a fellow half-mad Florida Man - to offer any sympathy to Parscale, who willingly signed up for this job with all the warning signs about trump. I only wish well to his wife, friends and/or family members in case Parscale's madness doesn't go away.

This is what you get with trump, when you think about it. Given trump's history of being a demanding bad boss with his own obsessions, narcissism, and paranoia, you'd have to be as crazy as Parscale to willingly work for that Shitgibbon in the first place. The question is how much sanity you'd still have once you get kicked to the curb.

(Glances at half of trump's ex-employees showing up on Dancing With the Stars) Well, maybe that question's been answered anyway...

And to think: This isn't even the most embarrassing story coming out of trump's world tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Game of Demographics 2020 Season

What has trump and the Republicans so terrified about 2020 to where they are threatening to disqualify entire ballots across battleground states?

Because it still all comes down to the Electoral College, and too many large-sized battleground states are basically toss-ups in the polling. Especially the large-sized states that leaned Red for the last 20-40 years.

It's telling that for 2020, the biggest states that went for trump - Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina - are either reliably Blue for Biden now or technically within margin of error (say, 3 percent) of going either way. There are good chances that Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan are going for Biden. Pennsylvania could go Blue but there are signs it's one of the states trump is trying to trash hundreds of thousands of ballots. The polling on Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida keep fluctuating. 

Also, trump's attempts to flip Minnesota do not seem to be going anywhere at the moment (Biden has a +10 lead on trump as of 9/24).

If we just count the states with double-digit Electoral Votes, and only count the ones we pretty much know are going for Biden or for trump, the map looks like this:

It used to be that the Republicans - the party of conservatism - had claimed Texas as theirs since the 1980s, along with strong holds on North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida all as part of their grand Southern Strategy. That was also true of Ohio and Arizona, both as part of Ohio as a centerpiece of traditional Republican origins and Arizona as part of the western conservative movement that held sway in California.

But a lot had been changing, especially by 2008 when it became clear that a demographic shift was happening, coinciding with a collapse in Republican dominance due to mismanagement, corruption, and foolishness under the Dubya regime. Florida, due to its ethnic and economic diversity, was no longer reliably Republican at the national level (going for Clinton twice in the 90s and for Obama twice in the 2010s). Virginia's cultural conservatism lost its grip and the state is pretty much Democratic Blue since 2010, and that shift is starting to drift into North Carolina.

What's shocking is the shift in voter turnout in once-reliably Red states like Texas, Arizona, and Georgia. These were cornerstones of Republican dominance, and yet they're now close enough to flipping Blue that Democrats are noticeably campaigning in them where they once avoided wasting any previous efforts in them.

For all the gerrymandering, voter suppression, and gamesmanship, the Republicans are losing to a generational shift away from Boomers (aging Far Right who are dying out) and Gen Xers (half -divided between Reagan worshipping believers to jaded Dem centrists) to Millennials and Aughts (rising in age to vote, and vote more aggressively than Gen X) who are more Progressive, burned out by failed Republican agendas (more of them are poor and in debt in larger numbers than previous generations at their age, and a lot of that due to Republican policies), and ethnically-mixed.

Also in the mix is the unintended consequences of California's housing crisis of the last ten years: where California had become a jobs Mecca drawing many young adults (mostly liberal-leaning) to the state in the 1990s and 2000s, the insane cost-of-living and overvalued house properties - mostly due to the conservative Prop 13's tax-limiting requirements to keep values overinflated - have driven Cali residents elsewhere... to places like Arizona and Texas. And those ex-Californians did not shift their political views when they moved, meaning they are shifting those states further Left than ever before.

Losing Texas in the Electoral College at the least would be catastrophic for Republicans: Where Democrats can rely on California, New York and Illinois to provide a foundation for Electoral success, Texas was the big one for the GOP. Florida may be almost as big on the counts, but unreliable. Ohio had been that way for both Obama elections. The next largest populated state that Republicans could rely on when (not if) Texas goes Blue would be Tennessee at 11 Electoral Votes. Just look at the battleground map above: If Texas can't be counted on, Republicans are starting with a guaranteed 32 EV compared to Democrats' 174. And there aren't enough small state Electoral Votes to catch up.

Combined with the noted shift in suburban voting habits, states like Florida and Ohio and Texas and Georgia and North Carolina - where most of their largest metros are suburban landscapes - are now honestly up for grabs for the Democrats to win or lose, not the Republicans. Granted, the Republicans can try again to gerrymander those states even more to retain control of their state legislatures and congressional delegations, but they are running out of room and running out of time.

This was a demographic shift expected to kick in by 2040 at the latest, 2028 by the earliest (I had hoped in 2016 that it was sooner than that, ah well). trump's toxicity with suburban families (women in particular) is accelerating the shift.

This explains the openness of trump's war against the voting methods like mail-in balloting, and his blatant call to dismiss ballots and delegitimize the results in the battleground states. This is desperation, not just for him but for the Republican Party as a whole. They can't solidify the corruption of their minority rule without a second trump term to complete the destruction of federal norms.

This is why it's so important for Democratic voter turnout in the states, especially the battleground states. Everything is at stake this 2020 cycle. The fate of state legislatures, Senate seats, census-based redistricting, everything.

Republicans may have the money and the guns, but Democrats have the numbers. And the future. They can win the future this November.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

trump's Public Coup

trump is not winning at the polls.

trump is not going to win the Popular Vote.

trump is looking at the reality that he won't win enough states to trick the Electoral College.

trump is going to cheat.

And he's not even hiding it anymore.

From Barton Gellman at the Atlantic, with a serious look at how far trump is willing to go to destroy our voting rights:

If we are lucky, this fraught and dysfunctional election cycle will reach a conventional stopping point in time to meet crucial deadlines in December and January. The contest will be decided with sufficient authority that the losing candidate will be forced to yield. Collectively we will have made our choice—a messy one, no doubt, but clear enough to arm the president-elect with a mandate to govern.

As a nation, we have never failed to clear that bar. But in this election year of plague and recession and catastrophized politics, the mechanisms of decision are at meaningful risk of breaking down. Close students of election law and procedure are warning that conditions are ripe for a constitutional crisis that would leave the nation without an authoritative result. We have no fail-safe against that calamity. Thus the blinking red lights...

The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.

Trump’s state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for postelection maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states. Ambiguities in the Constitution and logic bombs in the Electoral Count Act make it possible to extend the dispute all the way to Inauguration Day, which would bring the nation to a precipice...

Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.

Trump’s invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before...

Trump’s behavior and declared intent leave no room to suppose that he will accept the public’s verdict if the vote is going against him. He lies prodigiously—to manipulate events, to secure advantage, to dodge accountability, and to ward off injury to his pride. An election produces the perfect distillate of all those motives...

All of which is to say that there is no version of the Interregnum in which Trump congratulates Biden on his victory. He has told us so. “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” Trump said at the Republican National Convention on August 24. Unless he wins a bona fide victory in the Electoral College, Trump’s refusal to concede—his mere denial of defeat—will have cascading effects...

trump has already set the groundwork, laid the accusations of mass voter fraud that won't even stand up in court... and we have to contend with the possibility that a Republican-tilted Judiciary - packed the last four years by an eager McConnell - will twist the known law to fit trump's desires.

Just this afternoon, trump refused to answer any question about conceding the election if he loses to Biden this November (via Alana Wise at NPR):

President Trump on Wednesday suggested that he might not accept the election results if he is not declared the winner in November.

"We're going to have to see what happens. You know that. I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster," Trump said, alluding to his unsubstantiated arguments about widespread mail-in ballot fraud.

"Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly, there'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else."

trump is accusing the Democratic Party of cheating while he himself is preparing to send 50,000 paid "observers" nationwide to precincts in a likely attempt to intimidate minority voters into turning away from casting their ballots.

trump is openly refusing to play by the rules of our elective system. he's going to try to intimidate the voters into not voting in person, and then he's going to demand that the mail-in ballots for Democrats get tossed as "fakes". And even if trump loses to Biden by five points in the Popular, and even with Biden securing 332 Electoral College votes (basing this on the 2012 Obama results, which the current polling suggests is going for Biden as well, plus Arizona and maybe North Carolina), trump will lie about the results and convince the GOP-held state legislatures and district courts into denying Biden the win.

he's not hiding this anymore. This is no October Surprise getting unleashed. This is trump, exposed and revealed as the bullying con artist he's always been.

Except this time he's sitting in control of the Executive branches of the federal government - especially in control of Barr's corrupted Justice Dept. - willing and eager to bully and con his way through the 2020 results.

America, we dare not let him.

For the LOVE OF GOD, vote. If there's early voting in your state, do it now. If you're balloting by mail, use your county Elections' office drop-off box if you think the mail system is broken. If you have to vote in your precinct, go. Risk the coronavirus, and face the Republican-bought enforcers already threatening to hassle voters on Election Day.

Your vote is YOUR voice and YOUR power. Use it, spite trump's attempt to steal it away. Make the results so lopsided in Biden's and the Democrats favor that no amount of trumpian lies will hide his doom.

This is trump's War on our power. This is the Republicans' War on America, finally with battle lines drawn.

We must win, America, against trump's threat to steal our nation away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

trump's Body Count for 2020 Keeps Going Up

For the year so far, still in September 2020, the COVID-19 Coronavirus death count for the United States went over 200,000 fallen due to a superflu that could have been managed since March if only we had the national leadership to guide us towards safe distancing, mask-wearing, and better awareness. 

And donald trump's response while the news was breaking that America has suffered more deaths in less than a year than many of our wars combined?

Sayeth trump: "It affects virtually nobody."

200,000 DEAD ARE NOT NOBODIES. Those are families, friends, loved ones...

If we take a moment to note what Tengrain observes at Mock Paper Scissors:

...And I suppose those families grieving with their loss and/or dealing with the long-term struggles of having survived a round of the damn Trump-virus (including heart, lung, and seeming brain problems) might be surprised to learn that they don’t actually exist.

These are evil people and I sincerely hope that when this era is over that they are marched through the streets, heads shaved, so decent people can spit on them there is an accountability. The entire 4th Reich needs to be locked-up and suffer the consequences for their astonishing crimes against humanity.

To hell with the Republicans and their attempts to steal 2020 while we're all DYING from their madness and cruelty. Get the vote out, America, #VoteBlue across the board, for the LOVE OF GOD OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT NOW.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Florida Ballot Amendments 2020: As Always, What the People Want (And Sometimes, What They NEED)

 As before, many thanks to Ballotpedia website, which tracks all the state referendums and goes into the details of the debates surrounding each issue facing the electorate. If you're visiting this blog from a state other than Florida, do yourself a favor and check that Ballotpedia link to see what your state is voting on this 2020.

In the meantime, here's what I and 18 million other Floridians have to deal with:

Amendment One: Citizenship Voting Amendment

It's a relatively straight-forward amendment that spells out "only U.S. citizens can vote in the elections." Which is kind of odd because our Florida Constitution already HAS wording to that effect. Seriously, click this link to the Florida Senate's Constitution website, Chapter 97.041 in the Florida Statutes, (1)(a) 2. must be a citizen of the United States.

What this reads like to me is part vanity project by the people backing this referendum, part intimidation tactic to scare minorities. The ones pushing this want to see a positive turnout and majority Yes vote on a no-brainer "Patriotic By God" referendum that really changes nothing. Anybody caught voting No to this bill can thus be labeled UN-PATRIOTIC. Screw that. I'm voting No because there's no reason for this referendum to reinforce something that's already in the law.

Amendment Two: Minimum Wage Amendment

Now here's an amendment that matters: "Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027."

State of Florida is currently one extra dollar above the national minimum wage, which is $7.46 (so Floridians are at $8.46). That's nowhere near a living wage (calculated at $16.07 in 2018) to afford rent, car and gas, and food.

What this will do to full-time employees is minimal, other than making entry-level wages go up to put them near the $15 an hour level. But this will have a profound effect on most part-time and seasonal workers, whose ability to pay the rent and other bills will get easier. This will be a huge wage boost since 2009, the last time the federal government raised the minimum wage.

For all the yelling and screaming from businesses that this will force them to fire workers because they can't afford the salaries, or that they'll leave the country, not of lot of them follow through on that. Businesses hire who they need to in order to keep up with any demands for work that befall that industry, and they'll have to hire - and keep - quality workers. And the businesses most affected by a minimum wage increase - restaurants, hotels, retailers - well, they have nowhere else to go and markets here to fill.

In the places that implemented this kind of wage boost: Costs for some services have gone up (but not enough to trigger inflation fears), businesses had cut back on hiring more employees than they already have, and a number of employees working multiple part-time jobs found it easier to cut back to working just one (or two). But the threatened collapse of the cities and states that have pushed these laws never came to pass.

This is anecdotal but I have relatives on part-time employ who live in a state that just went to a $15-per-hour wage. That relative has reported back that mortgage payments just got easier, which has reduced some of the anxiety they're coping with. I don't have much more to report than that.

By all measures, this is a Yes vote from me. Anything we can do to lift our working class out of poverty is a damn good thing.

Amendment Three: Open State Primaries Amendment

This is an interesting attempt to shake up a broken electoral system. This referendum "Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law."

This does not look to affect the federal-level elections (President, Congress, Senate, Awesomest Chris, etc). 

What this looks to emulate is the Open Primary system they use in California (although that does include the non-Presidential federal offices). It mixes up the major parties (Republican and Democratic) and forces them to play nice with the smaller parties (Libertarian, Green, is Modern Whig still around...) and/or anybody else able to get on the primary ballot.

The results of this can be a mixed bag by the looks of it. As the WaPo article highlights, it can give one party an advantage in certain districts by dominating the primary and having both finalist spots filled (meaning a party win no matter what), but if too many candidates from the same party fill the ballot, they risk a split between party voters in that district (or state) and the less popular party can fill those two gaps instead (it hasn't happen yet, not noticeably).

The advantage to the Open Primary system as proposed is one that affects me: I am registered a No-Party-Affiliate. Yes, I am voting All-Democratic ticket now and for the foreseeable future thanks to Republican BS, but having been burned as a former registered Republican I feel uncomfortable signing up for another party even if I agree with them on 95 percent of the issues. Anyway, the problem being NPA is that I can't vote in either party's primaries (currently closed to members only): With an Open Primary, I now have a reason to show up in March and August when the primaries usually take place in Florida and I can have a say on which candidate(s) I think should represent in the General Elections that November.

And you'd be amazed at how the two major parties - Republicans and Democrats - are responding to this referendum: They both fear it, which is like having Burger King and McDonald's teaming up to stop a Wendy's from getting added to the other street corner they're on.

There's also arguments that this primary process of filtering down to two choices in November hurts the minor parties like Libertarian and Green. But here's the thing: They're not winning under the Closed Primary system anyway. Seriously, how many third party representatives are sitting in Tallahassee right now? (spoiler: Florida has NEVER had a non-Dem or non-GOP elected official in the state Lege) With an Open Primary, the odds ought to improve for a Libertarian or Green to do well enough to garner second-place in a two-place final round in one or two districts, if they find the right district that can support them.

The likelihood that a lot of No-Party-Affiliate voters like meself - currently around 3.6 million Florida voters - will show up more to vote improves the chances we will get candidates responsive to the voters instead of the major parties. More voters, better outcomes (or at least HONEST outcomes). On this point alone, I am leaning towards Yes on the Open Primary amendment.

Amendment Four: Second Vote On Public-Approved Amendments Amendment

This should be called the "No No, You Gotta MEAN IT When You Vote A Referendum Into Law" Referendum.

Officially, the legal wording is this "Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections." Unofficially, this amendment says "We don't believe 60 percent of you really wanted this, so screw you."

Instead of relying on 60 percent of voters to agree on a State Amendment the one time they get that many voters to agree on ANYTHING, this Amendment requires a second set of hurdles to get installed and do the vote ALL over again in case someone gets a bad case of buyers' remorse (or more likely, get inundated with ads and media claims opposing that amendment until enough people give in and vote No the second time).

What this Amendment will do is force the Initiative groups - the grassroots organizations, the non-profits, the ones looking to push reforms that the powerful elites controlling Tallahassee don't want passed - to double up on the costs and hassles of getting an Amendment created in the first place. It's not easy to get the petitions signed and confirmed, it's insanely difficult and expensive.

This is a ridiculous extra step getting added to a process that already has a difficult application process, approval process, judicial process, and then voter process. For any Amendment to survive and get 60 percent or more voters to back it should tell you that YES this is it, no do-overs, this becomes Florida law.

This is the big NO vote this year. This dare not become law, because if it does then nothing else the People desire as law will ever be allowed.

Amendment Five: Homestead Transfer Amendment

Also known as the "Save Our Homes Portability Act," it extends out an existing Homestead Exemption benefit getting transferred between a previous owned home to a new home from two years to three. It's one of two Legislature-approved Amendments, and one that both parties approved as a common-sense measure.

There doesn't seem to be any kind of financial impact statement regarding state revenues, not on Ballotpedia anyway, except for an example of how the "Save Our Homes" benefit reduces the tax paid for the homeowner by several thousands of dollars. There is an editorial listed with the Tampa Bay Times arguing in favor of this Amendment, while the League of Women Voters are opposing it on a blanket opposition to any referendum involving tax cuts that would harm public funding.

I am with the League in that this looks like another way to starve the state revenues, especially at a time when other resources for state funding is affected by the COVID pandemic. I would have to vote NO on this. I understand it'll probably pass because most voters are also homeowners who see the need to increase their exemption benefits, so I'm not particularly fighting hard against this one...

Amendment Six: Veterans' Spouse Tax Amendment

Again, for Florida a lot of taxation happens with property tax, and there's a lot of Homestead Exemption add-ons to give homeowners to keep said homeowners appeased. One such benefit was given to military veterans - especially popular due to the number of retirees here in-state - and so what this Amendment does is add a rule to that allowing the spouse of that veteran to continue receiving the veteran benefit even if the veteran dies (the exemption goes away if the spouse remarries or sells that property).

Again, this legislative-approved Amendment is so popular with elected officials that nobody balked at it, and again this looks like a popular Amendment to pass because noone dares put the tax squeeze on veterans or widows/widowers. The League of Women Voters opposes, again as a matter of principal. However, I am stuck on the fact this Amendment affects my parents (Dad's a vet) so I gotta go with what's good for my folks. I know this puts a crimp on revenue building but, you know, family. Voting YES on this one.

And... that's it, these six are the ones that survived the ballot process. Pretty quiet this election cycle, eh.

The key things to remember: Be wary of anything that takes our rights AWAY from us, be wary of anything the legislature throws at us, and be wary of anything that's got more parts to it than a Star Wars Lego set. 

This is why Amendment 4 is a disaster deserving a huge NO vote to reject it: If it passes, we may never see another citizen-approved referendum made again. 

This is why Amendment 3 is a GOOD one to pass: It expands our voting rights, especially for the large plurality of non-party voters who can finally get a say on which candidates they prefer in August well before they're forced to choose party hacks in November.

And anything that gives our workers better wages is always a plus, so YES on Amendment 2.

One last key thing: Every election the ballots we get are big ones, lots of offices to fill, lots of local ordinances up for votes as well. Check EVERY part of the ballot and make sure you've filled out every single choice you can see. Every vote needs to count, every election matters.

Now get the damn vote out, Florida. Early voting starts in October, and registration ends around October 3! Prepare yourselves.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Oh No. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Died.

No No No is literally trending on Twitter.



Okay, if we can go to a calmer voice like Russell Berman at the Atlantic about this:

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today represents a devastating loss for feminists who held up the 87-year-old as an icon of women’s rights, and as a bulwark protecting abortion rights and a wide range of other progressive ideals on a conservative Supreme Court. The Brooklyn-born jurist became one of the nation’s foremost advocates against gender discrimination as a lawyer for the ACLU, decades before President Bill Clinton appointed her to be the second woman to sit on the high court.

But her passing less than two months before the presidential election also tosses one more lit match into the tinderbox of national politics in 2020: It will surely inflame a deeply polarized country already riven by a deadly pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and civil unrest in its major cities.

In Washington, the vacancy fight could ratchet up tensions to a level unseen even in the tumultuous Trump era. President Donald Trump will be eager to fill Ginsburg’s seat immediately, seizing an opportunity to rally his base before the election and to cement his legacy in the event he is defeated in November. He could also become the first president since Richard Nixon to install three justices on the high court in a single four-year term. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated he’s ready for another confirmation battle, either before or immediately after the election. Republicans might be hard-pressed to consider and approve a Trump nominee in the eight weeks before November, but even a victory by Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic takeover of the Senate might not prevent Trump from successfully appointing another justice. Republicans would still control both the White House and the Senate until a new Congress takes office in early January...

...McConnell has insisted that the precedent he created to deny former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in the final year of Obama’s term—in a vacancy that occurred nearly nine months before the 2016 election—no longer applies, because the same party controls both the White House and the Senate majority. “Oh, we’d fill it,” the Kentucky Republican promised in May 2019, more than a year before Ginsburg announced the cancer recurrence that took her life. Never mind that the rationale McConnell gave at the time—that voters should have the chance to weigh in on their next Supreme Court justice—would seem to apply even more strongly during an election in which the first ballots have already been mailed...

McConnell will break the rules he himself made because his main objective - Republican political rule even in spite of a majority of Americans opposing Republicans - is all that matters.

You know Mitch is going to summon the Senate back this Monday and push through a trump nominee of some 30 year old with maybe three weeks worth of legal work but with the farthest Far Right ideology spewing out his mouth to get voted to Ginsburg's seat by the end of next week.

We are looking at the reality of a 6 conservative - 3 liberal skewed bench ruling on banning abortion (plus birth control because the Patriarchy demands it), ending affordable health care, voter suppression, immigration torture, and every other legal matter starting this October.

We are so very royally fucked.

I know, I know. We are coping with the passing of a lioness in American jurisprudence in Ginsburg, a feminist icon whose legal rulings were of high importance and foundational.

But we're also in the gravest national crisis of political gridlock and self-inflicted destruction since 1860. We're being led by crooks and corrupt bastards who do not care for justice or equality or the law itself.

The Darkest Timeline has gone full dark.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

What We Do To Women In The Shadows of Our Government

 The report hasn't been fully verified but there's enough to this story to make one sick. Via Nicole Narea at Vox

The allegations began with a nurse, Dawn Wooten, who filed a whistleblower complaint on Monday that cited concerns about a seemingly high number of hysterectomies performed on immigrants detained at the facility.

On Wednesday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the vice chair of the House immigration subcommittee, said in a statement that she had been briefed by three attorneys representing detainees at the facility. At minimum, she said, 17 or 18 people held at the Irwin County Detention Center had been subjected to unnecessary gynecological procedures — often “with the clear intention of sterilization” and without obtaining proper consent...

Many of the details of the allegations against the Georgia facility are still emerging, and both ICE and the private operator of the facility have called for skepticism of the complaint, which relies on secondhand accounts of the hysterectomies that were allegedly performed. Attorneys have since come forward with firsthand accounts of such procedures, but it is not clear to what extent ICE and the medical staff involved sought the detainees’ consent to perform those procedures or whether they were medically necessary...

According to Wooten’s complaint, the detainees, many of whom have limited English skills, were allegedly sent to a gynecologist outside the facility who performed the hysterectomies, often without them fully understanding why they were getting the procedure done. One woman was told it was because she had a “thick womb” or “heavy bleeding,” even though she had never experienced heavy bleeding or been told by a doctor previously that she had a thick womb, according to the complaint...

Hysterectomies can be commonly used to treat noncancerous growths in the uterus that contribute to heavy periods and painful sex, as well as endometriosis, pelvic support issues, abnormal uterine bleedings, chronic pelvic pain, and gynecologic cancers. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that, depending on a patient’s condition and comfort level, they may “want to try other options first that do not involve surgery” or see if the condition improves on its own first, waiting to perform the hysterectomy until a woman no longer wants to bear children.

Detainees were also subject to other invasive gynecological procedures, including one woman who allegedly had Fallopian tube removal without her consent, which will likely make it harder for her to conceive in the future...

The report suggests that these surgeries were unnecessary. There were other ways to treat women - birth control pills for example help with treating ovarian cysts - but it looks like this private corporation - well removed from any public oversight - went too far.

It's known as "Forced Sterilization."

It's considered a human rights violation.

And given the open hostility that trump and his closest handlers like Stephen Miller are towards immigrants, and especially towards women, a lot of this looks intentional.

And this is just at ONE detention facility run by ICE and their corporate partners.

And this is just ONE MORE moment of a Republican agenda to make women suffer for the sake of a twisted patriarchy.

Ye Gods, trump and his anti-immigrant horde are desperate to hurt other people - above all, to hurt women - any chance they get.

Go Read Infidel's The Choice

There's a lot to write about so I want to post something quick about the 2020 Election and WHY IT MATTERS so here's Infidel753 on "The Choice," read it in full and understand WE NEED TO VOTE THE REPUBLICAN CROOKS OUT NOW. Pass it on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Documenting The Character of Joe Biden for the Presidency In 2020

I know I pimp heavily the work of James David Barber's Presidential Character, and I've already made my analysis of Joe Biden's traits heading into the 2020 general election.

But I wanna confirm my reading of Biden's habits and potential performance as President, so I went looking for research from other observers. It's always good for the soul to find out other people see the same things you see...

Anywho, here's some links to what I found that matches my conclusion of Biden being Passive-Positive.

From "The Political Personality of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden," by Aubrey Immelman in a working paper for College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University via Digital Commons:

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Biden’s primary personality pattern was found to be Outgoing/gregarious, complemented by a secondary Accommodating/cooperative pattern and subsidiary Ambitious/confident features.

The prominence of the Outgoing pattern, in conjunction with a distinctive Accommodating pattern in his overall personality configuration, is indicative of the conciliatory extravert subtype. This personality composite provides the personological substrate for a strong affiliation motive. These individuals are driven to seek approval; they want others to like them and view them as a friend or ally. To achieve that motivational goal, they often compliment, praise, or flatter others, presenting an image of goodwill. When disagreements occur, they attempt to smooth things over, sometimes at the cost of conceding.

Leaders with Biden’s personality profile are likely to exhibit an interpersonal leadership style, characterized by flexibility, compromise, and an emphasis on teamwork. The general tenor of a Biden presidency likely will be conciliatory, which could render a prospective President Biden vulnerable to manipulation by pressure groups and handicap him in negotiations or conflicts with foreign adversaries...

In terms of presidential temperament, Joe Biden seems most similar to Barber’s (1972/1992) passive–positive presidential character — leaders such as William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, and Ronald Reagan, characterized by an ingratiating personality, optimism, and a desire to please. These affiliation-motivated presidents are low on the need for power and do not invest much energy in the office of the presidency but nonetheless like the job...

Here's something from a source I normally don't quote from (the American Conservative) in a June 2020 article by Robert W. Merry:

...but Biden’s ability to work with senatorial colleagues was a hallmark of his image over the decades of his congressional tenure. The highly regarded Congressional Quarterly book of political profiles, Politics in America, praised Biden for his ability to work with North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms when Helms was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Biden was its ranking member. Said the book: “Biden’s ability to maintain lines of communication with all groups often has made him, rather than Helms, the key vote on Foreign Relations.”

This can be viewed as evidence of a Positive trait, based on the Barber scale. Even after 30 years in the Senate, said Politics in America, “he still exhibits the intelligence, drive and passion of his youth.” The key word here, in terms of presidential character, is “passion.” Positives demonstrate a zest for the job and an openness to people, even those in the opposition who represent impediments to success that must be dealt with through persuasion, cajolery, back-slapping, and old-fashioned horse-trading. Positives love that game; so does Biden.

On the Active/Passive scale, Biden seems to tilt toward passivity... Thus does it appear that Biden represents a likely Passive/Positive president. Recall, Barber sees presidents in this category as wanting to be loved and thus ingratiating—and easily manipulated. That indeed is one of the knocks on Biden by conservatives—that he is being manipulated in his campaign, and would continue to be as president, by his party’s emergent leftist radicals...

Merry might need to recognize that the fears of Biden being manipulated by the Far Left Progressives is mirrored by the Progressives' fear that Biden will be manipulated by the Moderates and Centrists that Merry would view as advocates to his issues. Ah well, can't please everyone.

P.S. Merry, I can explain to you why Barber graded Reagan as a Passive-Positive, drop me a message we'll talk aboot it.

To round out to a nice third entry, here's an Atlantic article from Franklin Foer about Biden's campaign struggles and rebounds:

In the face of upheaval, he’s given reason to hope that the traits that were his supposed weaknesses could prove to be his great strengths. If one of the ultimate purposes of protest is to push politicians, he’s shown himself a politician willing to be pushed. His tendency to channel the zeitgeist has supplied him with the potential to meet a very difficult moment...

More than other figures in the Democratic Party, Biden can speak warmly about the protesters without risking political backlash. With his gaffes, which sometimes veer toward the politically incorrect, he’s hardly an easily caricatured avatar of wokeness. His penchant for cringeworthy remarks, and his old-time mannerisms, help cushion whatever anxiety some white voters might have about his tough criticisms of police and blunt condemnations of systemic racism...

The challenge for the Biden candidacy is to bridge an alliance with a resurgent left. Biden, a creature of the Senate, has to convince young people rushing to the barricades that he’s worth a trip to the polls. And the challenge for the left is to accept that Biden is its greatest chance of achieving its long-held dreams. What he’s demonstrated over the past week is a willingness to play the role of tribune, to let the moment carry him to a new place...

What Foer speaks to is the conciliatory nature of a Passive-Positive, a sizable amount of humility and self-deprecation (traits sometimes shared with Active-Positives) mixed with the awareness of the moment and the ability to attune to the needs of others (in this case, the needs of Americans both Left Center and Right battered by four years of trumpian abuse).

In terms of our nation's need for a Passive-Positive figure, in many respects this makes Biden the perfect antithesis to donald trump, a pure Active-Negative and thus polar opposite in nature to Biden's Congenial traits (referring back to Merry's article, even Merry notes the unhappy, grasping and raging traits of trump puts him squarely in the A-N chart).

This is where we are at: The choice is between a benevolent, congenial Biden and a rage-filled, destructive trump.

It shouldn't be that hard a choice, America. For the LOVE OF GOD, vote Biden.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Nullifying 2020

(Update 9/16/20: Thanks again to Tengrain at Crooks&Liars to share this article at Mike's Blog Round-Up! Wish me luck with the FWA Royal Palm Literary Award for Non-Fiction: Blogging)

It's getting more obvious by the day: trump wants to nullify the 2020 Elections. Via Cameron Peters at Vox:

It’s not a new talking point for Trump, who has already mounted a sustained campaign against mail-in voting and the US Postal Service — and who continues to claim there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, when there was not.

But in an election where as many as six in 10 Americans say they plan to vote early and a historic number of ballots are likely to be cast by mail, such rhetoric takes on a dangerous new dimension. There’s a fair chance we won’t know who won on election night as ballots are counted — many states accept ballots postmarked on Election Day for days afterward — and Trump is already sending up a signal that he plans to dispute the results or even prematurely claim victory on Election Day if early returns show him ahead...

...Trump also suggested Saturday that his supporters should turn out as poll watchers, “because with you people watching the polls it’s going to be pretty hard to cheat. I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to be a cheater.”

The suggestion is a concerning one, however. There is a history of GOP poll watchers engaging in voter intimidation — one that led to a since-expired federal consent decree curbing such activity. With instances of armed Trump supporters engaging in pseudo-law enforcement vigilantism, there’s reason for concern that poll watching could lead to further voter intimidation in November...

there are several things at play here. trump above all is projecting, accusing the other party of being the cheaters when it's been him and the Republicans caught cheating both in 2016 and now. trump is also trying to create a Narrative to sell to the Beltway media, as a means of beating it into their heads early and often to the point they will parrot it as fact.

Above all, trump is sowing chaos, creating an environment where he can abuse the powers of the office and refuse to accept a possible outcome of not only losing the popular vote to Biden, but also enough states to lose the Electoral College as well.

This is an attempt by trump to intimidate voters into not even trying to vote, of depressing turnout so that only his true believers show up and skew the results again like in 2016.

There is a solution to this, Democrats.

TURN THE VOTE OUT. Everyone registered to vote, get the fck to the polling booths. Mail in your ballots. Show up for Early Voting, show up in such numbers that trump can't claim early leads.

VOTING MATTERS. You have the numbers, Democrats. You have allies among Independent voters sick of trump's incompetence. You need to counter trump's lies with a clarion call to every voter who supports you to get the ballots in and make every person count.

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11 2020 So Many Years Ago

Some days you just look at the blue sky and it reminds you of how clear and blue that Tuesday morning was so long ago.

There will be services and memorials throughout the day across New York, DC, and Pennsylvania. With this being an election year, don't be surprised if the partisan spins come out (and someone accusing Biden of being in charge of the Presidency back in 2001 when it was Dubya and his crew who screwed up).

And yes, I am angry and afraid and upset. If trump steals away the 2020 results with his voter suppression and Russian aid (and any other "legal" trickery he'll encourage) we are facing the nightmare of having THAT Shitgibbon in the White House when the 20th anniversary rolls in next year.

For the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, AMERICA, do NOT let that Shitgibbon be there to twist what should be a solemn memorial into his personal ego-stroking. /headdesk

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Red Skies in 2020

Should have taken warning, it's just\
People mourning\
Running, hiding, lost\
You can't find\
Find a place to go\
So it's...

Red skies at night\
Red skies at night\
Oh oh...

- "Red Skies," The Fixx

This is not good (from Astig Magaling's channel):

(from BOSSCARS channel):

This one has better music but is more unsettling:

This isn't Blade Runner. This is Real Life.

Right now, the West Coast is shrouded in the smoke of dozens of wild fires from Washington to Southern California, all part of an ongoing cycle of bad weather and hotter-than-normal conditions. To quote from Jane Hu at Slate:

In case you’re wondering if this is normal: It absolutely is not. Historically, fire season in California peaks in October, and Denver hasn’t gotten snow in September for two decades. Often, vacationers in San Francisco complain that the weather isn’t as warm as they were expecting for California—“the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” people like to say—but the Bay Area hit 100 degrees this weekend. And these aberrant patterns aren’t the only extreme weather we’ve seen across the U.S. lately: Hurricane Laura pummeled the Louisiana coast less than two weeks ago, and a couple of weeks before that, a derecho whipped through Iowa, where winds over 100 miles an hour damaged more than 800 buildings and up to 43 percent of the state’s soybean and corn crop, according to Radio Iowa...

Hurricane Laura was two weeks ago and there's barely any talk about the damage done there. The storm that hit Iowa was a freaky thing called a derecho and the scale of it has wrecked the state for years to come.

And we've already forgotten as a planet the devastating wildfires of Australia that opened this annus horribilis of 2020. We're talking an environmental disaster that will take decades for humanity to recover and that may wipe out the natural wildlife forever.

Back here in the U.S., all of this is taking place with a Republican-led federal government that has said little and doesn't seem to be doing anything to help with resolving the climate change woes that are fueling the extremes in national and global weather.

None of this is normal weather. None of this is getting fixed as long as the Republicans drag their feet on any action that might dare cut into CEO bonus pay.

And it's still red skies tonight on the West Coast...

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

trump Lied, We Died. DO SOMETHING TO STOP HIM, America

So this dropped today (via Adam L Silverman at Balloon Juice, but seriously this should be on all the major Non-Right Wing news sites by now):

Lordy! There Are Tapes! Bob Woodward’s Rage Has Leaked To CNN & By Leaked I Mean Bob Woodward Gave CNN the Book and the Tapes

Whenever anyone tweets "Lordy" on Twitter it means someone has tapes of trump tripping over his own ego to expose his sins (we still haven't seen a hair of the reported Pee Tape though). When I saw it trend, I knew it was bad, but I had to find out how bad (from here Silverman reports from the original CNN source):

President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book “Rage.”

"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7.

In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. “Pretty amazing,” Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times “more deadly” than the flu.

Trump’s admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and “all work out fine.”

The book, using Trump’s own words, depicts a President who has betrayed the public trust and the most fundamental responsibilities of his office. In “Rage,” Trump says the job of a president is “to keep our country safe.” But in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and in March, admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic...”

Well, we still had a national panic. And then the nation split into two factions: One faction that believed every word from trump that the panic was overblown and the whole thing was a hoax to make trump look bad; the second faction that realized real quick that trump was LYING as usual and did everything they could to self-quarantine and wear masks everywhere they had to go.

And because trump downplayed the crisis, because trump added confusion to the public awareness rather than giving honest warning to the hazards of COVID, because trump lied to the press and the public and everyone else, the United States is facing one of the highest death totals the planet will witness (nearing 200,000 total COVID-related deaths this September).

We're nearing the death count of our major wars, far higher than any terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Because trump lied. Because trump knew the virus would strike at people he did not have to care about, even though his OATH OF OFFICE should compel him to defend this nation from all threats.

There's a word for that.


And trump is doing everything in his power to cheat his way to another four years of this insanity, with an entire Republican Party willing to commit every sin to help him.

Gods help us.

Voting him and every GOP official out of power is the only way we're going to survive, for the LOVE OF GOD every honest American wishing to protect their loved ones need to understand that.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

A Second Chance To Restore the Long Arc Towards Justice

I just want to post a link here to an important, must-read essay by Adam Serwer at The Atlantic, regarding our nation's poor civil rights history, and the chance we face today of making good on the promises of the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era:

Trump was elected president on a promise to restore an idealized past in which America’s traditional aristocracy of race was unquestioned. But rather than restore that aristocracy, four years of catastrophe have—at least for the moment—discredited it. Instead of ushering in a golden age of prosperity and a return to the cultural conservatism of the 1950s, Trump’s presidency has radicalized millions of white Americans who were previously inclined to dismiss systemic racism as a myth, the racial wealth gap as a product of Black cultural pathology, and discriminatory policing as a matter of a few bad apples...

The conditions in America today do not much resemble those of 1968. In fact, the best analogue to the current moment is the first and most consequential such awakening—in 1868. The story of that awakening offers a guide, and a warning. In the 1860s, the rise of a racist demagogue to the presidency, the valor of Black soldiers and workers, and the stories of outrages against the emancipated in the South stunned white northerners into writing the equality of man into the Constitution. The triumphs and failures of this anti-racist coalition led America to the present moment. It is now up to their successors to fulfill the promises of democracy, to make a more perfect union, to complete the work of Reconstruction...

You need to read the whole thing. It's arguably one of the most important works on modern racism - and its long deep roots to a failed Reconstruction - since Ta-Nehisi Coates' tenure - especially his brilliant argument "The Case For Reparations" - at that magazine.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Disrespect Is Everywhere In the World of trump

Over this weekend, no other report about trump has been as damning as Jeffrey Goldberg's article in the Atlantic about trump's consistent disrespect for the men and women of the armed forces. I could quote bits and pieces from it, but you SHOULD go and read the article in full. If I should quote any passage, it's this:

On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members. But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.

“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” one of Kelly’s friends, a retired four-star general, told me. “He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.” Kelly’s friend went on to say, “Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain. That’s why he would say this to the father of a fallen marine on Memorial Day in the cemetery where he’s buried.”

We need to remind ourselves that this report of trump's incomprehensibility is actually old news. trump has been disdainful of military service and the people who signed up for it even years before he started campaigning for the Presidency. he's been caught bragging about getting out of the 1960s draft and comparing service in Vietnam to his trying to avoid STDs in the 1980s.

Goldberg's article rehashes the reality of trump's failed trip to honor the fallen of World War I back in 2018. trump's people denied the reports then, but it comes up again with sources confirming trump labeled the Belleau Wood Marines as "losers" and "suckers".

It's been documented that trump views the world as "winners" and "suckers" and that he himself should never be seen as a sucker. The implication there being: the rest of us should be suckers, to his con games.

It's been documented that trump wants everyone else to respect him - and be loyal to the point of sacrifice - but cannot in any way show respect to any of the people who work for him. To any of the people he views as beneath himself. You know, the people he views as suckers.

The warnings are there, have always been there, big red flags getting waved with giant easy-to-read letters printed on the banners screaming "TRUMP IS A SELFISH UNTHINKING MONSTER".

trump keeps showing us his character, a character wallowing in greed and cruelty and vulgar lusts.

None of this is surprising anymore. It just keeps hurting. And hurting. And the pain is not going to stop until trump is gone, gone from power and gone from public view.

Gods help us. We need a Blue Wave this November to wash all trumpian sins away.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

It's September 2020 and All Is NOT Well

Our situation on the streets of America isn't getting any better with trump actively stirring unrest as a means to win re-election in November. Via Aaron Rupar at

On Monday afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden addressed unrest in cities like Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon, saying that President Donald Trump “long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country.”

“He can’t stop the violence, because for years he’s fomented it,” Biden added during his speech in Pittsburgh. “You know, he may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is.”

Within hours, Trump proved Biden right, delivering a press conference in which he stoked unfounded fears about “left-wing political violence” while refusing to condemn right-wing vigilantes — including a 17-year-old supporter of his who has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha...

...Not only does Trump habitually refuse to acknowledge that police violence and right-wing violence are problems in the US, but he goes out of his way to justify it.

Asked by Ingraham if he wants his supporters to confront protesters, Trump said, “I want to leave it to law enforcement, but my supporters are wonderful, hardworking, tremendous people, and they turn on their televisions and they look at a Portland or a Kenosha ... they can’t believe it.”

About that teen gunman:

You might think that condemning this type of vigilante-style violence would be an easy thing for a president to do — but not for Trump. Asked about the case during Monday’s news conference, Trump defended the shooter.

“That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape that I saw, and he was trying to get away [from protesters], I guess, it looks like, and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him,” Trump said. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed.”

Never mind the reality that the teenager traveled across state lines with that rifle, never mind the reports that he shot someone first, and the other two were shot trying to stop him from shooting any more people. To trump, the gunman is the hero and the protesters are "Antifa terrorists" (You might notice the Far Right refuse to spell that out as "Antifascist" because the full word makes it damn clear those protesters are the good guys).

Amid all of this, trump and his campaign handlers have been trying to spread the crazy conspiracy that the current round of protests and all the violence - a lot of it caused by Far Right counter-protesters trying to frame the anti-fascist groups - are all coming from "Biden's America" and that's how things will get if Joe wins the election this November. Never mind the reality that all of this is happening today under trump's mismanagement of everything, and under trump's unwillingness to lead a united America.

If there's any good news, it's that the current post-convention polling still shows Biden with a healthy national lead in the popular vote and decent leads in key battleground states for the Electoral College.

The bad news is: trump is going to make things worse because it's the only way he knows how to survive.

Gods help us.