As I write this (Dec 23rd), the current COVID-19 death count in the United States is at 323,000. In my state of Florida, our Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to hide the state’s death count, just as President Trump has directed. Last December 7th, DeSantis had the police raid the home of Rebekah Jones, a data specialist who exposed DeSantis’s efforts to hide the COVID-19 death toll.
Trump did absolutely nothing to mitigate the pandemic, apparently fearful that taking decisive action would rattle the stock market. Unfortunately for Trump, Bob Woodward has him on audio tape admitting to knowing the danger of this pandemic last January. Best estimates are that we will hit 500,000 dead before Spring.
On September 16, 2007 in Baghdad Iraq, during President George W Bush’s abortive occupation, this boy, Ali Kinani was just 9 years old, sitting in his father’s car in Nisour Square. Mercenary soldiers from a security company called Blackwater, owned and operated by Erik Prince, stopped traffic and started firing indiscriminately at the stalled cars. They blew little Ali’s head to bits, his brains fell between his father’s legs.
The men who killed Ali Kinani and 17 other innocent Iraqis that day were these men, former soldiers, as is Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater at the time.
From Wikipedia: “On October 22, 2014, a Federal District Court jury convicted Nick Slatten of first-degree murder, and three other guards (Slough, Liberty and Heard) guilty of all three counts of voluntary manslaughter and using a machine gun to commit a violent crime. On April 13, 2015, Slatten was sentenced to life in prison, while the other three guards were sentenced to 30 years in prison.”
Last night, President Trump pardoned all four men. Why would he do this? The answer is corruption, pure and simple. Let’s have a look at the murdering scum involved in this miscarriage of justice.
First up is Erik Prince, the founder of the Blackwater private security firm (now called Academi). Erik is a former Navy Seal, with a net worth of $2 billion. He is a convert to Catholicism. Prince lost his first wife to cancer, and has married twice since her death. Prince donated quite a bit of money to the Family Research Council, a anti-gay hate group.
Erik Prince’s sister is Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education. Betsy’s family is the 88th richest in the United States, having made their fortune from Amway, a pyramid scheme that sells cleaning products to suckers. They are as crooked as they come, but they still made a fortune fleecing “distributors.” Betsy DeVos is noted for owning seven yachts, two mansions, and a fleet of 12 private jets. Her net worth is estimated to be over $5.4 billion.
Do you see the connection now? Betsy DeVos’s immoral brother, Erik Prince, has one significant black mark on his record, the Nisour Square Massacre. By asking Trump to pardon the Blackwater killers, Betsy erases her brother’s biggest mistake. “Look, they’ve been pardoned, nothing to see here. Move along.“
Betsy DeVos was a controversial choice for Secretary of Education, having just a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and no experience whatsoever in teaching. Vice President Mike Pence had to break a tie vote to confirm her. Over 450 lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Education, the most in the department’s history.
Sadly, Betsy DeVos proves one thing: that the rich are now so brazen, they think they can buy their way out of any jam. They can commit any crime, and just buy their way out of it. The list of these entitled rich people buying justice grows daily. Look at Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly who got a rape charge buried by paying the victim $30 million to keep quiet.
If you’re a friend of President Trump, you can get away with murder. You can buy a pardon. A little boy is dead. Who cares? Betsy DeVos bought a pardon for his killers.
I’ve already written about how wonderful the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” is, with 23-year-old actress Anya Taylor-Joy staring down her older chess opponents, who just can’t believe that they’re being vanquished by a teenager. Set in the early 1960s, the attention to detail in this production is marvelous, from the old cars to the rotary telephones hanging on the wall with coiled cords. How many kids today have ever heard a dial tone?
Being a bit of a movie buff, there’s a specialist in the movie business called the continuity person. That’s the employee who makes sure that between takes, the position of items on a coffee table have not moved, the same costume is used, a bracelet is on the same wrist, things like that. A famous lapse in continuity recently was Queen Daenerys’ Starbucks cup spotted by viewers of the HBO series “Game of Thrones” (this kerfuffle caused the special effects department to digitally remove it).
Anyway, it’s fun to discover these little goof-ups in drama productions, and I’ve spotted one in “The Queen’s Gambit“, which I will reveal for the first time today.
In episode 2 of “The Queen’s Gambit“, Beth Harmon’s adoptive mother, Alma Wheatley, sends young Beth to the nearby drugstore to fetch three packs of Chesterfields, a brand of cigarettes popular in the 1950s. She gives Beth a note and enough cash for 3 packs. When Beth presents the note to the druggist, he retrieves just one pack of cigarettes from the display and gives it to her.
Leaving the store with the one pack of Chesterfields for her adoptive mother and her purloined copy of a chess magazine hidden within the newspaper, Beth strolls away.
Re-entering the house, Beth is seen with three packs of cigarettes for her mother, just as Alma had requested.
Did I just waste your precious time? Possibly. But the next time you discuss “TheQueen’s Gambit” with friends, you can impress them with “Did you know that the druggist only sold Beth one pack of cigarettes and she returned with three?” They’ll think you’re a genius, like Beth.
On a hot July night in ancient Rome, (July 18, 64 AD to be exact) a fire started in the city’s waterfront that eventually devastated ten out of fourteen of the city’s districts, killing hundreds and leaving many thousands homeless. In the aftermath, the people of Rome blamed their Emperor, Nero, who was at the time safely ensconced in his summertime villa in the seaside town of Antium. Still, rumors arose that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. Nero, seeking to place the blame elsewhere, targeted the Christian minority as the official scapegoats. This started a three-centuries persecution of Christians in Rome, ending finally in 311 by edict of the Roman emperor Galerius.
In January of 2020, a dangerous new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 was introduced into the United States via air travel from China and Europe. Nearly a year later, 300,000 of our fellow citizens have succumbed to COVID-19. Today, we are enduring 3000 dead each day from this pandemic, equivalent to a 9/11 massacre daily.
Trump repeatedly stated, in public, that the coronavirus would just go away. He did next to nothing to address it on a national level. This forced governors of states hard hit early by viral outbreaks to bid against each other for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilators, and so on. There are embarrassing photos of nurses wearing trash bags, and reusing N95 face masks for days on end. We looked, in the spring of 2020, like a failed country.
Trump, of course, was lying about this from the get go. He admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he knew the virus was deadly, even to children. Woodward has tapes of this; we’ve all heard them (unless you’re listening to Fox News). And what was Trump actually doing while his fellow Americans were dying? You guessed it, playing golf! Trump has made 285 daytime visits to his golf clubs since the inauguration, costing taxpayers $142 million for these trips. This year Trump has played golf 47 times. So, while too many Americans were in hospital ICU wards, struggling to breathe, facing a lonely death on a ventilator, Trump was PLAYING GOLF!
There was one group watching this intently, the American electorate. I’ve delineated in previous blog posts the stupid and ineffectual campaign Trump ran this year. Having won four years ago in the electoral college, aided by just a 70,000 vote spread over three battleground states, it wouldn’t take much to reverse Trump’s advantage. Former Vice President Joe Biden played it smart, campaigning out of his basement, or in small scale COVID-safe events. Biden let Trump destroy himself.
That Trump did, in magnificent fashion. Undercutting his own campaign professionals, Trump insulted every group he needed to win: women, people of color, immigrants, just take your pick. The result was, on November 3rd, to use the words of Navy Lieutenant Clarence Dickenson from the Midway movie, “We’re going to give them a shellacking.” Biden garnered 81 million votes whilst Trump got 73 million. The Electoral College spread was 306 for Biden versus 232 for Trump, almost a mirror image of the 2016 result, but in Biden’s favor. In other words, it was a shellacking!
Let the Whining Begin!
The election ended on Saturday, November 7th at 11:24 a.m. when all the Networks (including Fox News) called the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The Conservative response was essentially this: “We were winning on election night. How is this possible?”
That’s easy to explain. The Democrats knew that the Republicans cannot win an election fairly, and would thus resort to voter suppression efforts, such as reducing the number of polling places in traditionally Democratic precincts, creating long delays at the polls, and so forth. Texas was especially egregious in voter suppression, having, for example, only one voter drop-off box for an entire large city.
That said, the Democratic plan was to encourage everybody to ask for an absentee or mail-in ballot (I voted in Florida by Absentee Ballot this year). In truth, this was also the most sensible thing to do during a pandemic. The result was actually no surprise for professional politicians savvy in how these things go, the absentee and mail-in ballots went heavily in favor to the Democrats, handing Biden an epic victory.
The Republican Party’s reaction has been tragically comic, led by President Trump and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. Trump has been constantly rage-tweeting since the election. Here’s an example:
Rudy Giuliani has been comedy gold, at least for Saturday Night Live. Rudy has been staging a series of fake Hearings, basically a bunch of disappointed Republicans in a hotel conference rooms. In one hilarious outing in Michigan, he performed with Mellissa Carone, a clearly inebriated witness, who babbled on about nothing in particular. Apparently, nobody vetted Ms. Carone, who had recently pled guilty and served probation for sending unwanted sex videos to her lover’s ex-wife. Here’s a photograph of Rudy’s star witness (or should I say witless).
Another comedy icon on the Trump circuit is the dour-faced lawyer and conspiracy-monger Sidney Powell. Ms. Powell promised to “Release the Kracken” when she got to court (Hey, that’s Liam Neeson’s line from “Clash of the Titans,” he should sue!). Anyway, when Barrister Powell got to Court, there was a small problem – she had no evidence whatsoever. She was laughed out of court in Michigan and Georgia. In fact, it was so bad that the Trump Campaign disowned her. All of Trump’s lawsuits, save one, were quickly dismissed, many by Republican and Trump-appointed Judges. Here’s Powell in action recently.
When the courts won’t roll over and hand you the election, what’s left for Trump? Sedition, of course. Trump encouraged the right wing militias to take to the streets. One group, composed of pitiful losers called the Proud Boys, showed up in DC and tried to mix it up with the civilians there. Remember, none of these guys could get a woman to talk to them without swiping their credit card. Here’s a photograph of these weekend Cos-players showing their class and intelligence to the American public.
The most unsettling lawsuit was brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, basically suing the states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, claiming they violated the Constitution and diluted the impact of Texas votes. This went right to the Supreme Court, asking them to overturn the elections in those states and give the Presidency to Donald Trump. Now, Ken Paxton is under indictment for securities fraud (this is Texas, it might be political payback). Nonetheless, some speculated that Paxton may be looking for a Trump Pardon.
Even more disturbing is that 17 Attorneys General from Republican states joined this law suit as did 126 Republican members of Congress. One of the co-signers is my Florida Congressperson, Ken Bilirakis. I sent him an email and called him a “traitor.” Here’s Texas AG Ken Paxton.
These modern-day Benedict Arnolds didn’t get very far with the Supreme Court. All nine Justices dismissed the case with a curt reply:
The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
As I write this, December 14th, all states are convening their Electoral Colleges and certifying their votes. The last one today is the State of Hawaii, due to convene at 7 p.m. I’m hesitant to use the words “it’s over” because there’s always the possibility of a Trump coup attempt, a bogus state-of-emergency, or some Red state seceding from the Union between now and Inauguration Day, January 20th.
I don’t think anything like secession will happen since almost all of those Red states are beholding to the liberal Blue states. It goes like this: New York contributes much more to the Federal Government than it receives in return. That excess goes to prop up Red states like Alabama and Louisiana. Any secession funny business would result in quick bankruptcy for those states, and they know it.
Still, it’s pleasurable to watch the right-wing Fox News hosts cry “Foul,” and demand that the election get a do-over. It’s fun to watch conspiracy nuts like Alex Jones demoted to hollering over a bull horn at some pitiful Trump street fest. It’s delightful to see Twitter stamp “This claim is disputed” on all future Trump tweets.
These are Conservative tears. They’re more pleasurable than sex, Star Wars movies, Rickenbacker 12-string guitars, and butter pecan ice cream. Well, maybe not as pleasurable as SpaceX rocket launchings, I have standards.
The will of the people has spoken today. Biden has won. The Right Wing hate engine had some sand poured into it’s roller bearings; it’s starting to screech. That’s music to my ears!
The seven-part Netflix mini-series, the Queen’s Gambit, has been the streaming service’s most successful production. In the first 28 days of distribution, it has garnered 62 million views. If this were a movie exhibited in theaters, it would have qualified as a runaway blockbuster.
I’ve watched a lot of streaming content in 2020, hiding out in my condominium from the COVID-19 pandemic. This show, set in the early 1960s, is the best production I’ve seen in years. It follows the fictional life of Beth Harmon, sent to a Christian orphanage at age 9 after surviving an automobile accident that killed her mother. In the orphanage, a reclusive janitor teaches her the game of chess in the basement. You follow her life as she enters the competitive world of professional chess, saddled with addiction problems caused by the orphanage drugging the children with tranquilizers. You don’t have to know anything about the game of chess to enjoy this yarn. Just watch Anya Taylor-Joy’s icy stare as she crushes all the men who can’t believe they’re being beaten by a fourteen year-old girl.
The Queen’s Gambit was written in 1983 by Walter Tevis. Tevis was, by any definition, a successful author. He wrote the following novels, all made into popular movies.
The Hustler 1959
The Man Who Fell to Earth 1963
The Queen’s Gambit 1983
The Color of Money 1984
Walter Tevis led a sometimes turbulent life. Here’s a link to an article explaining how Beth Harmon’s journey dealing with addiction mirrors the author’s life.
Walter Tevis wrote the Queen’s Gambit in 1983, and sadly died of lung cancer a year later. Below is an image of a chess magazine of that period, showing Walter Tevis on the cover.
It turns out that I have a connection to Walter Tevis. Admittedly, it’s as thin as a sheet of graphene, but I can claim it. Walter Tevis was a Creative Writing and English Literature Professor from 1965 to 1978 at my undergraduate college, Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio . I was an engineering student there from 1963 to 1968.
I did take a “creative writing” class in 1963, but that was before the university hired Tevis. I still write, both on this blog and my current novel in progress, “The Voiceless Angel.”
Still, I no doubt walked by this man as I traversed the Ohio University college green on my way to classes. Color me proud that I started my career of creative writing in the English Literature Department that had Walter Tevis as one of its prestige professors.
Tom Petty, asked in an interview how he approaches music covers , responded with this simple observation (paraphrasing here a bit). “You have two choices. Make the cover an exact duplication of the original, or make radical changes to create essentially a new song.”
No thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic beleaguering the United States, I’ve been listening to lots of music on YouTube, especially covers of songs I fondly remember. The availability of home recording software (e.g. AudioBox 96 for $300) allows anybody to create music that sounds as good as the world’s most expensive recording studio. The truth be told, I’m hearing the best music of my life these days on YouTube, and of all these cover artists I listen to, there is none better than Margot Cotten.
Margot Cotten is a multi-talented, thirty-something singer-songwriter from Paris, France who can play a variety of instruments (guitars, drums, bass, and keyboards) at expert level. She has produced a couple of albums (Margot Cotten and 2&2), available on Amazon Music, iTunes, Spotify, and other outlets. Cotten’s songwriting, almost all in English, would be described as folk-rock. As for her singing style, let’s just say that if Bob Dylan had ovaries, he’d sound like Margot Cotten.
Most interesting to me is her penchant for doing covers (in English) of the music from the sixties and seventies; covers where Margot plays all the parts. Margot has explained that she loves that genre, locates the original vinyl albums and CDs from that era, and analyzes their structure (what is the rhythm guitar strumming, what are the lead guitarist’s melody lines, string bending, and so on). The result of this dedication is an eclectic set of covers on YouTube, specifically the ones labeled “Margot Cotten –One Woman Band.” Allow me to introduce you to a couple of them.
Cotten’s “Listen to her Heart” is a faithful duplication of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers version, with a minor difference. Margot plays Mike Campbell’s lead guitar parts on a Stratocaster-style 6-string rather than a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar. That said, she still has Campbell’s part down pat.
While most people are familiar with the Tina Turner rendition of the song “Proud Mary,” it was originally a garage band song penned by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The essence of Fogerty’s sound was a pounding rhythm guitar with a lead guitar playing off the same chords up the keyboard. As Tom Petty suggested, Cotten’s rendition is an exact duplicate of John Fogerty’s version; the video a veritable lesson on how to play the song.
Margot Cotten’s work harkens back to the days when people actually wrote songs with a melody, with lyrics that meant something thoughtful, with guitars and drum sets that filled the nooks and crannies of your soul.
Thank the heavens for Margot Cotten, who writes her own songs and pays homage to the greats of yesteryear. Give her a listen, and support good music!
I contacted Margot Cotten by email, linking this blog post, and asking if she was OK with it.
Margot responded with this interesting response:
Hello James ! Thanks for your blog post ! I love it ! It’s very sweet of you ! On Listen to her Heart, Mike didn’t use a 12 strings. The first 12 strings he bought was the one on the cover of Damn The Torpedoes. Listen to her Heart was on their second record and they used six strings guitars that they doubled ! That’s why I didn’t use my 12 strings on it !! Don’t change your article for that I just wanted to let you know. Like you I’ve always thought that he used a 12 strings on listen to her heart until I read (or heard in an interview?) that he didn’t ! Have a wonderful day James ! Margot
Well, I stand corrected. The lady does her research. Makes me love her even more!
According to Slate, on Saturday morning before the major networks and media outlets called the election for Biden/Harris, Trump tweeted that Rudy would stage a presser at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Let the comedy begin!
It looks like someone in the Trump campaign then booked the Four Seasons Total Landscaping Service for the event rather than the famous Philadelphia Hotel. Too embarrassed to admit a mistake, Rudy and his clown academy showed up at the industrial site anyway and taped some Trump signs on the landscaping company’s garage door. The event location was sandwiched between a crematoria and a porn store (which reporters said had some good deals on vibrators that day). I think there was also a dumpster nearby.
So, Rudy Giuliani started blathering about “stolen ballots” and “we’re ahead, so let’s end the countingnow” (OK, I’m paraphrasing a bit), but while he was speaking, the news hit that all the networks (including Fox News) had called the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Well, that was a buzz-kill, wasn’t it? No, that buzzing sound you’re still hearing is all the customers road testing the new vibrators in the porn store next door. Rudy, to his comedic credit, pressed on, claiming that Republicans weren’t allowed to observe the ballot counting (flat-out lie, as all counting operations had Democratic and Republican observers in-house). The presser ended with Rudy and his staff slinking away, each wondering how to author a resume that doesn’t show any connection to the Trump campaign or his Administration.
Howard Cosell, the hated Monday Night Football announcer, would always intone near the end of the game: “As I predicted at the top of the show…” and then go on to boast how smart he was identifying some player’s shortcomings. Howard, of course, is more famously known for the phrase “Down goes Frazier, Down goes Frazier!” which he excitedly shouted when George Foreman knocked down the heavyweight boxer, Joe Frazier, in a title fight.
I was watching a Saturday edition of Morning Joe at 11:24 a.m. when almost simultaneously CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, and the AP called the election for President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I’ll admit it, I started chanting in my head: “Down goes Trump, Down goes Trump!” Still, how did Trump go from a winner in 2016 to a loser in 2020?
Spoiler: Trump lost because he is, at the core, a moron.
Four years ago (2016), Donald J Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million, but still managed an electoral college win by flipping just three states that had been reliably Democratic in years past.
(10 electoral votes)
Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 23k votes
(16 electoral votes)
Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 10k votes
(20 electoral votes )
Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 44k votes
Note that only 70,000 votes spread out over three traditionally Democratic states was enough to put a reality show performer into the White House. Trump boasted that his electoral victory was a landslide (not true, Obama did better twice) and tirelessly repeated this boast at every campaign rally.
Last March, when Trump learned that Joe Biden was probably going to be his opponent, he teed up his usual schoolyard insults:
Leader of Hunter Biden Crime Family (thanks to Rudy and Russians for that one)
Did it work? Not a chance, it turned out. Biden and Harris did a magnificent job running their campaign, but in all fairness, their opponent was, in the words of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a “fucking moron.” Trump undermined his own campaign team on a daily basis.
1. Flip Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania
Job One for Biden was to flip Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania back to the Democratic column. Biden succeeded wildly in Michigan and Wisconsin, crushing Trump so badly in the polls that the Republicans stopped spending money there. Pennsylvania took some work, as the interior is Trump territory, where rubes still believe that Mexico is going to pay for that wall. Still, the effort paid off and it was Pennsylvania that finally triggered CNN and then the other networks to declare Biden the winner.
2. Crush the Dementia Card
Trump’s son, Don Jr, appeared on Fox News every day claiming that Joe Biden was too old, decrepit, and suffering from diminishing mental acuity. This was picked up by every right-wing social media outlet. The problem was that appearances by Biden in interviews, debates, and speeches showed a man who was mentally sharp and able to address issues cogently. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the two Biden – Trump debates. Trump looked like a petulant child whilst Biden spoke to the American people. So Biden dementia was a losing gambit for the Trump campaign.
3. Blow up the Biden Crime Family Nonsense
The suggestion that Joe Biden is corrupt was blown out of the water last February by Nancy Pelosi, when she successfully impeached Trump for attempting to manufacture bogus evidence against Biden using Russian/Ukrainian kompromat. Rudy and this guy below, Lev Parnas, traveled to the Ukraine in search of dirt on Biden’s remaining son, Hunter Biden. The Russians were happy to comply.
Lev Parnas was arrested last spring and has been singing like a bird to Federal investigators. Left to his own devices, Rudy concocted a Hunter Biden scandal that was ludicrous from the get-go. A laptop computer, from supposedly Hunter Biden, who lives in Los Angeles, was dropped off at a New Jersey computer repair shop, run by a legally-blind Trump supporter. Said laptop was never picked up or paid for, remained at the shop for one year, but then suddenly shown to have EMAILS and other nasty stuff in its hard drive.
This bogus laptop “evidence” was so ludicrous that no national newspapers or TV media gave it any credibility, except for the right-wing scream machine.
It’s no secret that Hunter Biden fell into a serious drug habit, ruined his marriage, and got kicked out of the military. His father, Joe Biden, has acted as a loving father, encouraging him to stay in rehab, that he can still put his life back on the right track. That’s what a loving and compassionate parent should do.
Bottom line: the Biden Crime Family gambit was a DUD.
Trump’s Pitiful Last Month
As the three major Trump campaign lynchpins (Battleground States, Dementia, and Hunter Biden Crime Family) were methodically destroyed by the Democrats, the last two months of the Trump campaign were pitiful super-spreader events staged only to assuage the ego of the self-absorbed President.
Trump’s abject failure to deal effectively with the COVID-19 pandemic was put on tragic display, both nationally and internationally, by his staging of these super-spreader events, at the White House or on airport tarmacs, for hordes of devoted but delusional supporters. States like North Dakota have seen COVID hospitalizations spike after these brainless events. Our friends and enemies abroad looked with shock and disdain at Trump’s lunacy in infecting himself, his family, and supporters.
Biden played it smart, didn’t stage any super-spreader events, boat parades, or redneck truck caravans. He kept his appearances low key and within Cleveland Clinic guidelines. It paid off.
As you know by now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won big. Biden won the popular vote with 75 million votes, the largest vote total ever recorded. To be fair, Trump won 71 million votes which was also impressive. That said, a 4 million vote popular vote difference is a shellacking. The electoral college score is 279 – 214 in favor of Biden, as of Sunday November 8th.
Incumbents usually win these elections. 71 million Americans fired President Trump. 71 million Americans saw him as a total failure as a President. 71 million Americans said “Buh-bye.”
My advice to Republicans (and conservatives), don’t put a moron into the White House ever again.
The election is just one week away. Here’s my view of how it’s going.
President Trump is now in full panic-mode. None of his patented name calling or fake Russia-produced Hunter Biden scandals seem to be working. He hit rock bottom last Sunday after walking out of an interview with Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes, complaining bitterly about the tough questions and her scorn of his incessant lying.
Me? I’ve already voted, straight blue, through-and-through. Here’s my ballot. I checked with the Pinellas County Board of Elections, my vote has already been counted.
Trump Campaign Has Failed
The following image best describes the Trump campaign.
Remember that Trump lost the 2016 popular vote by almost three million votes, but managed an electoral college victory by winning several Midwest states by razor-thin margins. This time, Nate Silver of http://www.fivethirtyeight.com predicts Trump has only a 12% chance of winning. So, what’s the difference this time? I suggest that Trump has angered two important demographic groups: suburban women and senior citizens.
His courting of Evangelicals and conservative Catholics hell-bent on overturning Roe v Wade has gone over like a lead balloon with many female voters. Trump’s condescending treatment of female reporters hasn’t gone unnoticed either.
Senior citizens are alarmed by two Trump positions: the total and catastrophic failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and his threat to Social Security and Medicare by suggesting elimination of its major source of funding, the payroll tax.
Another way to look at the sinking Trump campaign is the “rats leaving a sinking ship” angle. Trump’s staff is now just shameless sycophants and vapid family members; all the responsible adults are long gone. Trump bitterly complains about all the negative stories about him in the press, but it’s his own people who are feeding reporters anecdotes about his misbehavior. While Fox News is still a reliable propagandist for Trump, the right-wing Drudge Report has become anti-Trump recently. Worse yet is the Lincoln Project, a cabal of conservative Republicans that are creating the most damaging anti-Trump Internet and mass media advertising spots. Here are two Times Square billboards about Jared and Ivanka placed this week. The Kushners threatened legal action, the Lincoln Project people just laughed at them.
Another group that Trump has angered more than usual is the people-of-color contingent. African Americans have been a reliable Democratic voting block, but Trump’s coddling of white supremacists is sure to bring out Obama-level voting from the black community.
Finally, there is the tragic display of irresponsibility by Trump and his campaign staff scheduling these “super-spreader” events wherein massive crowds of MAGA supporters show up crammed together without masks, spreading the COVID-19 infections to one and all. No doubt Trump loves to bask in the adulation of these people, but he’s literally killing some of his supporters (or their grandparents). Note: for masks to work, everybody has to wear masks!
Biden Has Been Playing It Safe
There’s an old adage, attributed to Napoleon: “When your enemy is over there destroying himself, do not interfere!” The Trump campaign has been a cascade of mendacity and self-pity, with a side helping of rage-tweeting. His campaign’s wounds are all self-inflicted.
Biden’s campaign events are models of COVID-19 safety procedures. He speaks to small gatherings of people in their cars, who honk their approval or in parking lot events that are socially-distanced.
Joe Biden, and his running mate Kamala Harris, have stuck to one consistent theme: Trump’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic. They know that COVID-19 is Trump’s Achilles Heel, and they are firing arrows into it at every campaign stop.
Here’s the point: Biden and Harris may play to small crowds, but the local reporters show up, collect their soundbites, and return to their newsrooms and TV stations to report what was said. It makes its way onto social media. The image is stark: Biden is acting responsibly whilst Trump is Mister Super Spreader. The debates haven’t helped Trump either.
Here’s another old adage: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Trump’s first debate was a fiasco. Apparently he was told to interrupt and run roughshod over Joe Biden, expecting that this would rattle and force him to self-destruct. The exact opposite happened. Biden spoke calmly and knowledgably to the American people. He looked like a President while Trump came off as a petulant toddler.
Trump foolishly canceled out of the second debate, and then appeared intellectually defanged in the last debate. Now, there’s only one week left. All Trump has now are his adoring fans at his super-spreader events. That’s been a consistent 42% support for Trump and it’s not increasing.
I think Trump is going to be trounced by Joe Biden next Tuesday, by a landslide!
If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow in my post-election blog post. Until then, here’s what I think of the Trump campaign.
Last Tuesday’s Presidential Debate at Case Western University was hosted by the The Commission on Presidential Debates and the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s finest hospitals. The established rules were simple and clear: Trump and Biden would not wear masks but would be separated on stage a safe distance, everybody else must wear masks.
Trump’s family entered the hall wearing masks, but brazenly removed them as soon as they sat down. They kept their masks off for the rest of the event. Below is a photograph of the Trump family onstage after the event.
Vice President Biden’s wife, Jill, kept her mask on throughout. The photograph below shows Dr. Jill Biden wearing her mask, just as the Cleveland Clinic had requested.
Between Tuesday and today (Friday), President Trump kept a busy schedule, campaigning at events where he and his MAGA supporters, crowded together in airplane hangers, refused to wear masks. Trump continued to publicly mock the wearing of masks, claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic was just about over.
This morning (Friday) we awoke to this tweet.
Of course, the discussion all day on the news channels will be about who is potentially infected in the White House and beyond. Trump’s adviser Hope Hicks has been singled out as the Typhoid Mary of this saga. She became ill on Air Force One Wednesday evening and was immediately quarantined. Still, President Trump traveled to campaign events on Thursday, knowing that he might be infected.
The next few days will be a rather grisly death watch as we wait to see who else this foolish Trump family and their sycophants managed to infect.
Let me say at the outset that I wish President Trump and the First Lady a speedy and complete recovery. They will be getting the best medical care in the United States.
That said, we’ve seen all we need. This campaign is over. The debates are over. It’s time to stop talking about Trump and vote. My absentee ballot arrives in my mail this afternoon.
To me, voting the Trump family out of the government is now imperative. Donald J Trump disqualified himself for another term due to his criminal negligence regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
He knew how dangerous it was in late January. Bob Woodward has tapes of him admitting this: that it was an airborne virus, that it kills 4 out of 100 infected, that even children may be vulnerable, that everybody should be wearing masks.
Yet, he lied to the American people in public, and mocked the wearing of face masks. We have all seen the videos of idiotic MAGA types having toddler melt-downs when asked to leave stores that require wearing of masks. Worse yet, Trump and his minions never practiced even the slightest infection control during the summer.
Now all these people in the White House and the Republican Senate and House are looking at each other today, wondering if they will end up in the four out of a hundred group that will die from this disease.
The government has completely failed us. Trump has completely failed us, in more ways that I can describe this morning. We have to vote Trump and his family out of the government. We have to vote all his Republican enablers in the House and Senate out, every damn one of them – no exceptions.
Job one is to put a man of decency and experience into the Oval Office, and that would be Joe Biden. Sure, all our taxes will have to go up; it will take decades to repair the damage Trump has done to our country, but I know what I’m going to do.
Vote that criminally negligent Donald Trump out of the government.
On Thursday, January 30th, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa, President Donald Trump held one of his patented rage rallies for his adoring fans. Speaking for ninety minutes, Trump berated the usual enemies: Hillary, liberals, immigrants, reporters, etc. Seated to the President’s right in the front row, soaking up all the hostility, was Kyle Rittenhouse, a high school dropout from Antioch, Illinois.
This screen capture below from a C-Span video shows Kyle dutifully listening to Trump’s speech. Rittenhouse himself posted a live TikTok video from his seat, verifying that he was indeed there.
Wendy Rittenhouse, Kyle’s mother, is 45-years-old, divorced, and works as a Nurse’s Assistant. Struggling to get by on her income and $85 monthly child support from her ex-husband, Michael, Wendy has filed for bankruptcy and sought a restraining order against a neighbor whose teenage son bullied her son Kyle.
Reporters have started to piece together Kyle’s story. With only two years of High School, he had worked as a lifeguard until idled by the Covid-19 lockdown. Kyle applied for entry into the US Marines, but recruiters rejected him right on the spot. His social media presence indicates a fascination with police work, joining some police youth programs that included ride-along and other activities. His Facebook and TikTok entries show photographs in police garb and military apparel. The most problematic feature of all of these online images was the ever-present AR-15 rifle.
The question is: who bought him that AR-15 rifle? At age 17, it is illegal in Illinois to own such a weapon or carry it around. Did his mother buy it for him? His father?
It’s a toxic brew. The middle child of a dysfunctional family, with no one to teach the obvious lessons of life: honesty, the importance of education, work ethic, respect for others, Kyle was a walking fertilizer bomb, waiting for someone to light the fuze. That person was none other than Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.
Kenosha, Wisconsin, erupted into street demonstrations after an August 23rd cell phone video hit the news showing the Kenosha Police shooting an unarmed black citizen, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times as he tried to get into his car. These street demonstrations started peacefully, but decades of experience show that these situations are a magnet for ne’er-do-wells, looters, and anarchists who jump at the chance to do some mayhem.
While Kenosha, Wisconsin, struggled with dealing with the demonstrations, looting, and destruction of public and private property, President Trump fanned the flames with his Twitter platform. Here’s an example:
After these Trump tweets, Kenosha experienced a new phenomenon, the arrival of armed right-wing militia groups. More disturbing is the apparent acceptance of these vigilantes by the local police. There is video evidence of Kenosha police encouraging these lawless groups, giving them water bottles, saying: “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” The protesters found themselves on the street with the police on one end and a band of right-wing militia vigilantes at the other end. Trump had lit the fuze.
That Tuesday night, August 25th, it all went wrong. Kyle Rittenhouse showed up with his Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifle and a first aid kit. He took up residence at a business that had been burned out, ostensibly to protect it. Reporters approached him and made this report.
On Tuesday night, Rittenhouse was with fellow armed men self-appointed to protect the streets of a city aflame, insisting he was there to render first aid and protect a business. But asked by a reporter to clarify whether his role was “nonlethal,” he cradled his weapon and pointedly disagreed. “We don’t have nonlethal,” Rittenhouse said.
Kyle became lethal minutes later. The first to fall was Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha. Rosenbaum, unarmed, chased Kyle into a parking lot. Kyle opened fire with multiple rounds, killing Rosenbaum. He left behind a fiance and a young daughter.
The crowd attempted to catch the shooter and get his gun, precisely what a good citizen should do in an active shooter situation. The next one to be killed was Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake. He had a skateboard as his only weapon, and a shot to his chest extinguished his life. Remember, these AR-15 weapons explode internal organs, according to ER doctors. Huber left a daughter and a longtime girlfriend.
One other victim, college student Gaige Grosskreutz, was shot in the arm and is expected to survive. Video shows that Grosskreutz was carrying a handgun, but did not fire it. This clip from a cell phone video shows Anthony Huber (skateboard) and another man attempting to get the rifle from Kyle.
Several bystanders documented Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting rampage. NBC News collected most of these videos and published this chilling report.
Study this photograph. A seventeen-year-old high school dropout, rejected by the US Marines, looking for a fight. How many of him are out there, waiting to act out their militia fantasies. All they need is an autocratic leader to give them the green light.
I’ve written several blog postings about these AR-15 assault rifles and how their wide availability has weaponized the crazies among us. However, this time, there is a political aspect to events in Kenosha, Portland, Louisville, and several other cities. Trump is deliberately inciting this violence to steer attention away from his abject failure dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t be fooled. Trump can’t be the “law and order” candidate when the civil unrest is on his watch. These are the Trump riots of 2020. It’s going to get worse.