Tuesday/ tonight’s ‘debate’

Don’t be fooled by the nice-looking formal debate stage. It was ugly, made so by Trump. Debate moderator Chris Wallace (middle) lost control of the debate three minutes in, and never regained it. ‘No more men for president‘,  said some women on Twitter. ‘No more debates‘, said many others (there’s TWO MORE – unbelievable). Can we just vote and get it over with?

I was spared from watching Trump and Biden ‘debate’ tonight (I play socially distanced tennis on Tuesday nights). Lucky me. The highlights (lowlights, really) were available, and discussed afterwards, of course.

Once again, Trump would not disavow white supremacist groups, specifically the Proud Boys: a far-right and neo-fascist organization.
‘Stand back and stand by‘, said Trump. The Proud Boys celebrated their mention at the debate afterwards.

Here is the New York Times’s six takeaways from the debate:
—Trump trampled over everything.
—Biden, at his strongest, pivoted to the camera — and away from Trump.
—Trump still wants to wear the outsider mantle.
—Trump would not condemn white supremacy, or urge his supporters to stay calm.
—Trump did little to address the gender gap (women support Biden far more than they do Trump).
—Biden rebuffed the leftist label that Trump tried to pin on him.

Sunday/ confirmed: Trump, the tax cheat

The New York Times has finally gotten its hands on more than two decades of Trump’s tax returns, up to 2017 (even Congress, with a lawsuit, has so far not been able to get it).

The bottom line: for many years, Trump has gotten away with paying zero federal income taxes. He paid a paltry $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency. In 2017 he paid another $750. (Presidents Bush and Obama regularly paid more than $100,000 year each, in federal income taxes).

Tax avoidance is legal, but tax evasion is not. So is a super-complicated scheme of shell companies, and offshore accounts avoidance – or evasion? I don’t know the answer to that, but $750! That’s less in taxes than that paid by the 18-year old cash register attendant at Walmart.

The presidency has helped Trump’s businesses, says the NYT, but has not resolved his core financial problem: many of his businesses continue to lose money.

The NYT reports that Trump appears to be responsible for loans totaling $421 million, most of which is coming due within four years.

Saturday/ “We’re going to have to see what happens”

From the Washington Post Editorial Board:

IT WOULD have been unthinkable, not long ago, for a White House to have to issue such a clarification. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany averred Thursday that President Trump “will accept the results of a free and fair election.” Ms. McEnany was not rebutting some kind of fevered left-wing conspiracy theory but the president’s own words. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday when asked whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he said.

Sadly, there’s a limit to how much reassurance Ms. McEnany can provide. Mr. Trump will reserve to himself the right to determine whether the election is “free and fair,” and he has already said the only way he could lose is through fraud. Mr. Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr have pre-spun the results by fanning conspiracy theories about mail-in ballots. “Get rid of the ballots” means curbing the mail-in voting that large numbers of Democrats say they will use this year.

There’s a touch, but only a touch, more reassurance to be had from the mild condemnations that Republicans issued following the president’s antidemocratic statement. There is some comfort in the fact that they said anything at all; such things are not guaranteed these days. But it is easy for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to say that “the winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th.” It may take more gumption for them to do the right thing after their president has spun a narrative of massive electoral fraud.

The most distinct danger, in other words, is not that Mr. Trump will refuse to cede power after unambiguously losing. It is plausible he will lead in key states on the evening of Nov. 3, based on an advantage in in-person voting — and that his lead will then diminish or disappear as mailed ballots are counted. If he falsely portrays the shift or the delay as scandalous, will Republicans stand up for democracy and the truth? Or will they support him as he seeks to do what he has openly said he intends — to “get rid of the ballots”?

A president with a modicum of decency would seek to reduce national tensions and assure Americans that the government is working to ensure that every American has a fair opportunity to vote. During a pandemic, that would mean acknowledging that many more Americans will want to vote by mail, which was not controversial until Mr. Trump decided it might hurt his chances. It would mean explaining that the shift toward mail-in voting might make things feel different — full results will not be available on election night, for example — but assuring people that this is not evidence of fraud.

That is not the president we have. So it falls to others — Democrats and, we hope, Republicans — to explain and explain again. Mail-in and early voting are safe and appropriate. The winner may not be known on election night. It is more important that every vote be counted. Vote, be patient, and do not be swayed by the president’s lies.

Friday/ Ruth Bader Ginsberg (1933-2020)

The children’s book ‘Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality’ by Jonah Winter, Stacy Innerst (Illustrator).
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman’s place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School’s first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice. [Description of the book from barnesandnoble.com]
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (87) passed away today (pancreatic cancer).
She was a trailblazer and a champion of gender equality. Now that she is gone, there may be profound consequences for the Court, and for the country.
Only 3 of the remaining 8 justices are now considered progressive or liberal, with 5 conservative.

A growing crowd gathered on Friday night at the grounds at the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. for an impromptu vigil for Justice Ginsberg. [Picture posted by Kelsey Reichmann @KelseyReichmann on Twitter]

Wednesday/ ‘law and order!’ shouts the liar-criminal-conspirator-traitor

The reporting of Trump calling American soldiers ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’ is still fresh. Even so, recorded interviews with Watergate journalist Bob Woodward surfaced, of Trump knowing full well, as early as February, that the coronavirus was deadly and airborne, even as he lied about it to the country.

Voters already punished the Republicans over health care as the No 1 issue in 2018 (they lost the House). Hopefully, they will do so again in November. (Trump’s administration is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. If successful, this move would permanently end Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans). 
Here’s the American Medical Association in June: ‘Striking down the law at a time when the system is struggling to respond to a pandemic that has infected nearly 1.4 million Americans and killed more than 80,000 at the time of this writing would be a self-inflicted wound that could take decades to heal’.

Yet .. Trump’s game is to say: look at all the chaos and uncertainty! Law and Order!

‘His Game: To stir up fear of chaos and violence, promise the voters ‘law and order’ – does that put Trump into the White House again?’ .. we’re at the mercy of the six battleground states. Biden needs to win Florida OR Pennsylvania OR two of the other four. One would think it’s doable, but look at that second graph that shows Trump narrowing the gap with Biden in the battleground states. [Graphs and map from Der Tagesspiegel newspaper]

Saturday/ the Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade: a sinking proposition

It’s Labor Day weekend, and people are up to all kinds of crazy things .. like going onto a lake in relatively calm weather, and still managing to sink four boats.

There were no injuries. So it’s hard for me not to have a little schadenfreude over the mishap during the Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade.

From the New York Times:
Mr. Salinas (organizer of the boat parade) said he had seen boats of all sizes Saturday — from 60-foot yachts to eight-foot boats. Mixed with the number of boats headed in the same direction, their various sizes and the choppy water, Mr. Salinas said, accidents were bound to happen.
“You can have really great water one second, and it could get some pretty heavy swells in a matter of minutes,” he said. “Once boats get on a lake, mother nature has its own plans.”
Boaters were set to travel around the lake, which is about 15 miles northwest of Austin, at 10 miles per hour, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Other boat parades to display support for President Trump have taken place this summer.

Thursday/ two months to Nov. 3

There it was, on the radio today: the undecided voter. Some clueless person from Pennsylvania that told the interviewer that neither Trump nor Biden was an appealing option, and that she ‘had not made up her mind’.

So! I thought: you’re telling us that you cannot choose between the blue skies of a sunny day, or the pitch black of a moonless night; between candidates that are polar opposites — one good, and one a destroyer of decency and democracy.
We cannot help you. Don’t bother. Just stay home.

A banner that has been up for quite some time, near Madison & 20th Ave. (Apologies for the f-bomb). The banner assumes (correctly), that voters in Seattle will overwhelmly vote for the right candidate .. if only they can be convinced to vote.
‘This week, a slew of new, high-quality polls out this week confirmed their off-record observations: Biden continues to hold a steady lead over President Trump’. – Amy Walter writing for the Cook Political Report.

Thursday/ all the Trumpublicans

Here are some 1,500 people (very few masks, no social distancing in the seating), sitting through 71 minutes of Trump’s rambling acceptance speech for his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate, in front of the White House at the final night of the Republican National Convention.

All this violates the Hatch Act of 1939*. And now the White House is good enough as a prop for Trump .. did he not once call the White House a ‘dump’?

*The Hatch Act (1939), an ‘Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities’, prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are working in an official capacity (such as setting up & hosting a political convention at the White House!).

Here is Steve Schmidt on Twitter@SteveSchmidtSES, mincing no words:

The desecration of the White House for Trump’s perverse political use is an abomination. The question of whether voters care about the Hatch Act is beside the point. It is the law. Trump’s convention was a pageant of breathtaking dishonesty, racial incitement and demagoguery. 1/

It was an exposition of lawlessness where the powerful symbols of State that belong to all of us were profoundly abused in the name of Trump’s personal vanity and political narcissism. The playing of Hail to the Chief and the use of USMC sentries attired in dress uniforms for 2/

political purposes was grotesque. Make no mistake about what Trump declared over these last four days. In essence he said, I AM THE TRUTH, I AM THE LAW, I AM THE STATE. The Republican Party’s platform has but one demand. One requirement. Obedience and loyalty to Trump. 3/

It is the definition of a cult of personality. This cult of personality is sustained by a vast, disaggregated and pernicious propaganda network that includes misinformation incepted and distributed by Russian Intelligence Services and other state actors, Fox News, OAN, 4/

Breitbart, a rancid collection of pundits and talk radio hosts , Internet trolls, Q Anon, and a thousand Facebook sites that teem and boil with conspiracy theories, extremism, menace, racism, antisemitism and misogyny. All of it together represents a grave danger to our 5/

national unity and democracy. There is a war being waged on truth and it turns out truth like the concepts of duty and patriotism was surrounded by many faithless friends. The complicity through both deed and silence of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and 6/

so many more in service to the maliced alternate reality of Trumpism seen this week isn’t just disgraceful, it’s tragic and deadly. The RNC began with the appearance of the contemptible McCloskeys. Their awfulness was experienced by the children of the Synagogue who have 7/

the misfortune of worshipping God next door to the McCloskeys. The children established bee hives to curate honey for the Jewish holidays. The hives were accidentally placed inches over the property line. McCloskey took an axe to them. The only reason they were on television 8/

this week was for pointing weapons at Black people who were peacefully marching for justice and equality on their street. Their message speaks for itself. Their words had meaning. Matt Gaetz’ words had meaning. Kimberly Guilfoyle’s messianic blatherings of devotion had meaning.9/

A 17 year old heard the message. He lived in Indiana. He sat in the front row of a Trump rally. He heard it all. He took it all in. He was poisoned by it. He was converted by it. He was radicalized by Trumpism the same way young men in the Middle East are radicalized by extremism 10/

He drove to Wisconsin with his AR-15 to join the fight. He became a killer there. We ignore this radicalization at our great peril. There is indisputable cause and effect. We do not have the luxury to pretend there is not. 11/

This was another week of needless suffering and death in America. Thousands are dead since the gavel was struck on Monday. More families are shattered and more businesses are shuttered. That is the reality. School openings are in chaos and there is no plan. This week was 12/

Another putrid chapter in this ghastly Trump era. America knows the truth and the truth is this. Trump is untrustworthy and dishonest. He is a liar. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone but himself. He doesn’t care about your family or mine. He doesn’t care for our troops 13/

And he doesn’t care for America. He lacks humanity and decency and processes none of the noble virtues that built our nation. It is all on the line in November. Vote. @ProjectLincoln

Monday/ the uncertainty of everything

Everything remains entirely uncertain.
– Andreas Kluth writing in an article for Bloomberg titled ‘An epidemic of depression and anxiety among young adults’

Credit: VAN DAM | Source: Landsmeer, Netherlands | Provider: CartoonArts International

As we careen toward the election-of-a-lifetime of Nov. 3, the Republican National Convention, with its scaremongers and ‘they are coming for you’ themes, has started.

The Trump Republican Party ditched its party platform this election cycle— essentially saying, we’re all-in with Trump, whatever he does and plans. In a way, they have no choice. They have destroyed everything, down to the US Postal Service, which had reliably been delivering mail for 240 years.

Trump is trying to steal the election again – the only way he can win. So will the lies & propaganda get the criminal, immoral, idiotic president into office again? .. with no plan to stop another 100,000 Americans from dying from the pandemic that has BY THE WAY also destroyed our ability to see family and friends, and celebrate life?

P.S. I’m really OK, I just feel bad for young adults, starting out in their lives and careers, and that did not deserve any of this mess.

Thursday/ and here’s Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s acceptance speech, of his Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 general election, was well received.

Next week is the Republican Party’s Carnival of White Grievance (they call it a convention). Then there will be three debates —as if there is anything to debate— between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on Sep. 29, Oct. 15 & Oct. 22.

Tuesday/ 1984, 2016, 2020: third time’s a charm?

It’s official: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (age 77) has picked Senator Kamala Harris (55) as his running mate for vice president. Ms Harris’s father is Donald Harris, a renowned Stanford professor and an immigrant from Jamaica. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was an India born Tamil American cancer researcher and civil rights activist (she passed away in 2009).

The pundits say at least part of Biden’s choice of Harris was driven by demographics: he needs women, and African American voters to turn out in 2008 numbers (when they came out to vote for Obama).

In 1984 we had Walter Mondale that picked Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, only to lose big against Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. That was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won the state of Washington. (Good).

Then just in 2016, we had Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket with Senator Tim Kaine, narrowly losing to Trump. (Will we ever forget that in this lifetime? No).

P.S. On the Republican side there was John McCain in 2008 and his ‘maverick’ pick for VP, Sarah Palin.

Friday/ more protesting, peacefully

There was a little crowd tonight in front of Uncle Ike’s on 15th Ave, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter!’ and ‘Defund the Police!’.
There was no visible police presence, but it seemed the organizers of the gathering designated a handful of ‘marshals’ that kept an eye out for vandals and troublemakers.

There’s Uncle Ike’s in the distance (purveyor of marijuana products). I was not about to wade into the crowd, but it did seem that just about everyone was wearing a mask.
The intersection of Republican & 15th Ave was blocked for a good 30 or 40 minutes, and I don’t know what the buses on No 10 route did to get through or around the crowd.

Saturday/ more help needed, right away

It’s going awfully bad for many millions of people here in the United States.
With 153, 000 lives lost, there is no end in sight for the pandemic.
There is no national strategy to contain it.
The country’s GDP had declined by 9.5% in the second quarter, wiping out 5 years of economic growth.
Unemployment benefits for tens of millions of workers have expired at the end of July.
Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans have let legislation languish for months— proposed by the House for additional help from the government to people in dire need.

Infographic from the Washington Post, showing how the bad the pandemic was in the Northeast, but that it has now moved to the Southeast and the Southwest.
From The Washington Post, Aug. 3. Let’s just note: Congress = The House + The Senate. It’s Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans that are to blame for doing nothing.

Friday/ decoding street art

I walked down to the former Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone by the East Precinct police station today.

All was quiet with not much traffic on the streets – but right then three police patrol vans erupted out of the police station garage, piercing sirens going and headlights flashing.  There was an emergency somewhere that they were rushing to.

Here’s artwork on the boarded up street corner where CHOP was (Pine St & 11th Ave): a gallery of pop culture characters.
At the back, left to right: Barney Rubble from The Flintstones (first appearance 1959), Luigi from Super Mario Bros., Inspector Gadget from the namesake animated TV series (1983), Ned Flanders from The Simpsons (1989), and The Kool-Aid Man, primary mascot for Kool-Aid (1975).
In front, left to right: Rocko the wallaby from Rocko’s Modern Life (1993), Nibbler from the cartoon series Futurama (1999), Underdog from the animated movie (2007).
And this one makes one wonder what Anti-Anti-Antifa would mean. Well: Antifa is short for anti-fascist* or anti-fascism. So Anti-Antifa would presumably support a right-wing fascistic stance, and Anti-Anti-Antifa would bring us back to a reiterated Antifa. (Just as in math, where a double negative becomes a positive).
*Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe [Wikipedia].

Thursday/ John Lewis laid to rest

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
– John Lewis (80), in an essay he wrote shortly before his death on July 17.

Civil rights icon and former congressman John Lewis was laid to rest today after three former presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama) had delivered eulogies for him at a service in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Sunday March 7, 1965: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chairman John Lewis (far right) and Hosea Williams of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) lead peaceful voting rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. | © Alabama Department of Archives and History.  Photo by Tom Lankford, Birmingham News.
Minutes later, with white onlookers cheering them on, Alabama State troopers in riot gear brutalized and trampled unarmed men, women and children, beating them with clubs and unleashing tear gas. Lewis was hit on the head and fell to the ground and when he tried to get up, was struck again, leaving him unconscious.

Tuesday/ the frenzy of the VP sweepstakes

Who will Joe Biden pick as 2020 Vice-Presidential running mate?
Well, we know it’s going to be a woman: Biden said it will be, some time ago.
Some political experts say that he has taken care of the ‘heavy lifting’ already, in terms of commiting to picking a woman. That would build on the success of female Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, and be a nod to  empowering women in politics (and a thorn in Trump’s side). So it does not matter too much which woman he chooses.

Here’s the political betting site PredictIt giving California Senator Kamala Harris a 58% shot, and former national security advisor Susan Rice 27%. Senator Elizabeth Warren is a distant third. The wonderful thing is that a Biden win, will have him replace all the incompetent nincompoops in the Trump cabinet with talented and experienced people.
So how does this site work? Well, you can buy shares at the price listed, and if the event turns out in your favor, you get $1 per share (minus a fee). If your candidate loses, you lose all your money!

Tuesday/ my primary vote is in

I added my avatar, and a few annotations to the digital sticker from King County Elections that says ‘I voted’.

I mailed in my ballot for the Washington State primary election today. Washington uses a top-two primary system, in which all candidates appear on the same ballot, for congressional and state-level elections.

So the top two vote-getters move on to the general election in November, regardless of their party affiliation.

To any candidate that dares having ‘Prefers Republican Party’ behind his or her your name on my ballot: You are automatically disqualified.
Your party is a disgrace — as is that ‘President’ that you had foisted on us in 2016.

Thursday/ the Trump White House: dishonest, disgusting, deranged

Dr Anthony Fauci, via blurry webcam, on the White House’s efforts to undermine him: ‘You know, it is a little bizarre; I don’t fully understand it’.

Jake Tapper (CNN): ‘That’s Dr Fauci characteristically being diplomatic.
Let me not be diplomatic.
The White House campaign to undermine Dr. Fauci is dishonest, it’s disgusting, it’s deranged, and at a time of a deadly pandemic, it is the ultimate in irresponsibility.
Literally more than 136,000 Americans are dead because of this virus and instead of an aggressive national testing and contact-tracing program, the White House is instead launching a smear campaign against the guy trying to save our lives’.

Dan Scavino is White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Director of Social Media. (Jake Tapper did not call out this tweet specifically, but I would say it qualifies as dishonest, disgusting and deranged). 

Sunday/ a billion dollar criminal enterprise

The Lincoln Project is holding accountable those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.
The Lincoln Project

Trump used his pardon power corruptly on Friday, to commute the prison sentence of his personal advisor Roger Stone. Here is the transcript, and stills from The Lincoln Project’s political ad, made in response to it.

It’s not a campaign.
It’s a billion dollar criminal enterprise.
Donald Trump says he’s running on law and order.
Who’s he kidding?
Trump’s campaign manager is a felon.
His deputy campaign manager is a felon.
His national security advisor? A felon.
His foreign policy advisor is a felon.
His personal lawyer is a felon.
His longtime personal advisor? A felon.
Nixon was BAD.
Trump is WORSE.
Now, Trump saves Roger Stone.
Stone lied to cover up Russian involvement in Trump’s campaign, to protect Donald Trump.
Seven felony convictions.
Trump: ‘I am the law and order candidate’.
Trump is the most corrupt president in U.S. history.
There is only one way to end the Trump crime spree.
Throw him and his crooks out of office.
On November 3rd, vote for justice.

It’s not a campaign.
It’s a billion dollar criminal enterprise.
Donald Trump says he’s running on law and order. Who’s he kidding?
Trump’s campaign manager is a felon.
His deputy campaign manager is a felon.
His national security advisor (Michael Flynn)? A felon.
His foreign policy advisor is a felon.
His personal lawyer is a felon.
His longtime personal advisor? A felon.
Nixon was BAD.
Trump is WORSE.
Now, Trump saves Roger Stone.
Stone lied to cover up Russian involvement in Trump’s campaign, to protect Donald Trump.
Stone lied to cover up Russian involvement in Trump’s campaign, to protect Donald Trump.
Seven felony convictions.
Trump: ‘I am the law and order candidate’.
Trump is the most corrupt president in U.S. history.
There is only one way to end the Trump crime spree. Throw him and his crooks out of office.
On November 3rd, vote for justice.

Wednesday/ the future: even more impossible to foretell

I see political science professor Helmut Norpoth — who has correctly predicted five out of six elections since 1996 — gives Trump a 91% shot at winning in November. (The model places an emphasis on how much enthusiasm candidates were able to generate early in the nominating process, and Joe Biden did particularly poorly in the early Democratic primaries. The Cult of Trump barely had any opposition in the Republican primaries).

Hey, professor: add in 11% unemployment/ 40 million still out of work by Nov., and therefore tens of millions with no health insurance in a pandemic, 250,000 lives lost in preventable deaths, and 4x more people needing housing & help with meals than before the pandemic.

What does your model predict for that scenario?

The staggering failure of the Trump Administration and their corruption of the CDC. Where will that blue line be in November?