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?

Friday/ the ‘other’ Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore, reimagined by Twitter.

Trump is holding another (stupid, insane) political rally today, this time at Mt Rushmore in South Dakota. In the middle of an epidemic spiraling out of control in many states, there is no social distancing and no mandatory mask wearing at his event.

Besides, noted a political commentator: Trump’s politics of hate and division must fly in those faces of Presidents Roosevelt, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, carved out of the granite.

I learned today that there is another giant granite carve-out that has already been many decades in the making, just 17 miles from Mt Rushmore: the unfinished memorial dedicated to the Sioux leader Crazy Horse.
Here is a 2019 write-up about it from Business Insider.

The unfinished memorial in South Dakota dedicated to the Sioux leader Crazy Horse. (Crazy Horse is famous for being one of the leaders in a victory against the US army in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876).  Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski designed the sculpture, thinking it would take 30 years to build. Work began in 1948, and it’s now been 73 years, and it is not nearly finished. The complete sculpture will have the Sioux leader sitting on his horse. [Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Friday/ it’s Juneteenth Day

Google’s home screen ‘doodle’, to celebrate Juneteenth Day.

Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

More at https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm


The Trump campaign did good work (unintentionally) by initially scheduling his stupid rally in Tulsa, OK for today. Oh! It’s Juneteenth, had no idea (I’m parapharasing), said he, we will move it. (Moved it by one day, to Saturday).  So now many millions more Americans — at long last — know what Juneteenth is, and there will be a push from Congress to make it a federal holiday.

As for Saturday’s rally, there is the reality of Oklahoma being in the middle of a spike in Covid-19 cases. No matter. Deaf to Oklahoma public health officials, the Trump 2020 campaign will pack 20,000 adulating Trump barbarians into the Bank of Oklahoma Center. They will not be required to wear masks. Tulsa Mayor, and Oklahoma Governor — the consequences will be on you.


Sat. Jun 20: Trump delivered his usual disjointed speech; told the thin crowd he ‘wanted to slow testing down’, and called the corona virus Kung Flu.
His appearance at the outside overflow area was cancelled. The overflow area was empty.

Inside the Bank of Oklahoma Center at the start of Trump’s speech. The Tulsa Fire Dept. told Forbes magazine on Sunday that attendance was just under 6,200. The capacity of the Center is 19,000. [Panorama shot from Twitter, taken by CNN’s @DJJudd]

Wednesday/ the Capitol Hill ‘Autonomous Zone’

I walked by the section of Pine Street between 10th Ave & 11the Ave today, called the Capitol Hill ‘Autonomous Zone’ by the protesters. (How long it will remain ‘autonomous’ — occupying the city streets, unchallenged by the Seattle Police Department— is unclear).

Three intersections on Pine street are blocked off, and a little ‘protest village’ of sorts have sprung up all around it. There are tents, stalls that sell water and food, and other trinkets to protesters.

Around 4 pm, on the corner of 10th Ave & Pine St, and looking east towards 12th Ave. In the distance a person with a loudspeaker is talking to a crowd of 50 or so people.
Here is an impromptu memorial with candles and flowers for victims of police brutality, set up at the corner of 11th and Pine.
Graffiti on the boarded-up shop fronts further down on 11th Ave. BLM = Black Lives Matter, and Defund SPD = Defund Seattle Police Department. Critics (I’m one of them) would say ‘Defund’ is not the best word for the slogan. Most activists explain that it means among other things to ‘take SOME, BUT NOT ALL funds given to the police, and add it to the budgets for social services, healthcare, education and training’. Other things should happen that is not captured by ‘defund’. For example, the police need to be demilitarized (don’t deploy weapons of war against civilians). Already, Democratic 2020 Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has said he does not support ‘defunding’ the Police.
Trump must have seen coverage of Seattle on Fox News (far-right propaganda news network). Bet he did not pick up the phone to call our Governor, just tweets an insult with the usual stupid spelling errors. The ‘President’ of the United States, stooping down to the stupid joke that he is.

Sunday/ another rough night on Capitol Hill

It was beautiful outside, this afternoon as I walked down to Madison Park .. but tonight there was trouble again in Capitol Hill, Seattle, with the protests.
A madman drove towards the crowds and shot a 27-year old guy. He then got out of his car and brandished his gun. He is now in custody and the wounded man is in stable condition.

As I write here it’s after midnight (into Monday morning), and I can hear the popping sounds of the flash-bangs as police are trying to disperse the crowds, telling them to go home.

Scenes shortly after midnight in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Lots of smoke.

Wednesday/ still protesting

Long past midnight last night, I could still hear the police helicopter hover over the protesters here in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. It is less than a mile from my house, as the crow flies.

The protesters are out there again tonight. A curfew that had been in place, was lifted, though. I really hope the ugly scenes of Saturday night are behind us.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has upgraded the charge against former police officer Chauvin to second-degree murder. The other three officers that had been with him, have now been charged as well — of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The protesters in the crowd that are protesting police brutality against George Floyd for a 6th night, seen from the 3rd floor of a nearby building. The umbrellas are there to help deflect tear gas canisters, a Hong Kong tactic. Probably too few umbrellas, though! .. but hopefully things will stay peaceful. Also: not a good thing that so many people are gathered in one place with the corona virus still very much in circulation. What are people to do, though, that are protesting generations of marginalization and economic inequality? A 2011 National Institutes of Health study found that some 2.3% of deaths – 50,000 people – in the United States yearly, are due to poverty/ lack of access to affordable healthcare.  

Tuesday/ no obscenity too depraved

On Monday evening, federal authorities used tear gas to clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protestors, so President Trump could pose for a photo while holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

It wasn’t the first time Trump has used the word of God as a political prop. But it was obscene, even for him.
– William J. Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, The Washington Post

Saturday/ ugly scenes in downtown

You know it has to be bad when multiple emergency alert messages pop up on your phone.

In downtown Seattle today, a peaceful protest march was turned into a destructive riot, with evil-doers throwing Molotov cocktails and other objects at police, breaking storefront windows, looting them, and setting three or four vehicles on fire.

Seasoned reporters say this one was the worst since the 1999 World Trade Organization protests here in the city.

A curfew is now in place for tonight & tomorrow night, and the National Guard has been called in by the governor.

 

A police van burning in downtown Seattle today. It’s 4.12 pm, says the clock on the left. The peaceful march started at 3 pm. [Picture from King5.com]

Thursday/ Minneapolis is burning

‘White people, by and large, do not know what it is like to be occupied by a police force. They don’t understand it because it is not the type of policing they experience. Because they are treated like individuals, they believe that if ‘I am not breaking the law, I will never be abused.’
– Khalil Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America


There is a lot of trouble in Minneapolis over the police brutality that led to George Floyd’s death on Monday.

Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday evening. [Credit:David Joles/Star Tribune, via Associated Press]

Sunday/ all the things trump did today

In 2014, Trump had criticized President Barack Obama for playing golf when there were two confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States.

Fast forward to May 2020, with the death toll for Covid-19 approaching 100,000. It’s Memorial Day weekend, honoring America’s war dead.

Picture and headline in today’s Washington Post. Yes. ‘President Trump’ .. but president in name only. Really: just an internet troll, a promoter of hydroxychloroquine, bleach & UV rays for Covid-19, as well as conspiracy theories – so: a charlatan*, a white collar criminal, a tax evader, a military draft evader. 
*person practising quackery or some similar confidence trick or deception in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.

Saturday/ President Obama

President Obama made welcome and rare appearance on national television tonight, delivering two virtual commencement addresses to the Class of 2020 high school graduates.

His main messages:
1. Don’t be afraid.
2. Do what’s right.
3. Build a community.

He commented on the pandemic as well, and criticized the handling of the outbreak that has now killed more than 87,000 Americans, and crippled much of the economy.
“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge, know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.’

Photo and text from the New York Times.

Wednesday/ gaslighting us, every day

gas·light
/ˈɡaslīt/
verb
gerund or present participle: gas·lighting
1. manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
2. Trump & his White House staff, talking about the corona virus pandemic.

Jared Kushner had the ba*** to say today that the federal government’s response to the corona virus outbreak is ‘a great success story’. That is a vile and infame lie.

Anyone that knows anything, knows the response can only be described as an abysmal failure. Obama’s team (that had sent 10,000 troops to contain the Ebola pandemic in Africa in 2014), briefed them in 2017 at the hand-over. What did Trump do? He dismantled the pandemic agencies in the federal government.

Trump was briefed extensively in January & February 2020 by the intelligence agencies about the coming pandemic. He dismissed their concerns. At least – what? 50%? of the 60,000 deaths that have now been recorded, could have been prevented. More Americans have now died of the virus in three months, than the casualties of the Vietnam War. That war ended after three decades on Apr. 30, 1975.

From the New York Times. Does this look like, as a whole, that the United States is ready to let people flood into the streets and public places? Not by a long shot.

Monday/ leave the Clorox alone

 

ox·y·mo·ron
/ˌäksəˈmôrˌän/
noun
a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. act naturally, deafening silence, bittersweet, President Trump).

chlor·ox·y·mo·ron
/ˈklôräksəˈmôrˌän/
noun
a figure of speech, suggesting that the injection of bleach into humans can cure Covid-19, and that it therefore warrants medical research.

Saturday/ how Trump became President

I saw this YouTube clip from a 2018 Jimmy Kimmel Live show for the first time today. Several people are shown a big world map with the countries outlined.

Were they going to be asked to point out an obscure country such as Nepal, on the map? Maybe a more obvious one such as – uh – Australia? China? Canada? No. Four or five people were asked to choose and correctly point out any one country whatsoever on the world map.  Couldn’t do it.

To save Kimmel’s audience from utter despair, the clip ends with a young boy ticking off the countries in South America, on to Mexico, USA, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and .. correctly pointing out Papua New Guinea.

Is this South Africa? asks the woman. ‘No, that’s South America, and that’s a continent’, says the interviewer. Three or four more guesses yielded no country that she could correctly point to. ‘I’ve actually been to college’, says the woman at the end. ‘That’s the sad part’.

Monday/ another rough one

The stock market was down today by ‘only’ – what? 4% or so, I think. I am not even looking anymore. Congress is still trying to pass a $2 trillion economic package. (That’s a 2 with 18 zeros; about 10% of the entire US Gross Domestic Product). As the New York Times says: Republicans insist that we should fight a plague with trickle-down economics and crony capitalism. Democrats, for some reason, don’t agree, and think we should focus on directly helping Americans in need. 

There was Trump today, again at the podium with the daily press conference, his tedious self. He has done very little to stop or slow the pandemic. He now tries to claim, that it is going to be possible to resume business as usual in another week or so. (Unbelievable. And good luck with that). The press conference today went on so long, and so off the rails, that it was abandoned by the three national TV networks.

The USA is still a patchwork of some States with statewide Stay-At-Home orders, some with orders just in some metro areas (Florida, Texas), and many ‘red’ states (Republican controlled) with no restrictions at all. [Source: New York Times online].
Trump as his press conference today. ‘To watch Trump is to witness the awesome and terrifying power of the American president over life and death – a burden he is unqualified to bear’. [The Guardian online newspaper].

Friday/ the United States is in a National Emergency

Gov. Jay Inslee expanded school closures and prohibited large gatherings across all of Washington State on Friday, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Health officials reported at least five new deaths, and more than 560 people have now tested positive.
– Associated Press


Where coronavirus cases have been reported (official count: 2,100 with sparse testing). More than a handful of experts put the number of infected Americans already, as an estimated number, in the hundreds of thousands. [Graphic by the New York Times].
This is a scary graph. There is no sign whatsoever, that the ‘curve is flattening’ (the number of new cases reported every day, still increases at an exponential rate).

Trump finally announced today — some 30 minutes before Wall Street closed for the week— that he declares a National Emergency* over the coronavirus.  He shook hands with at least three Fortune 500 executives (a bad example in the time of coronavirus), and proceeded to exchange barbs with the press. ‘Such a nasty question’ he said, without answering, when asked why he disbanded the pandemic response team when he took office.

Panic buying erupted on Wall Street, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other indexes up almost 10%.

Okaayy .. but there is going to be a recession. How can there not be? The world is grinding to a halt. The three largest cruise ship lines have announced a suspension in cruising for 30 days. Delta Airlines says the drop-off in business is worse than after 9/11. If any number of states is like Washington State or the State of New York, the national economic impact will be significant.

*The Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1987 is activated. When the Stafford Act is activated to deal with a pandemic, the federal government can begin providing direct emergency medical care to citizens throughout the country. This could include the establishment of temporary hospitals, for example, to ease the nation’s projected shortage of intensive care beds. The government could also use the act to provide food, water, medicine and other supplies to Americans. [Source: USA Today].

Thursday/ the ‘end of the world’?

From the German translation of ‘The Shooting Star (French: L’Étoile mystérieuse)’ by Belgian cartoonist Hergé, 1942.
A giant meteoroid was projected to hit Earth at 20:12:30 pm. A very anxious Tintin dials for a countdown to the exact time of doom. NOW .. ! he thinks, and then There! It is the End Of The World! dropping the phone and covering his ears. 
Tintin and Snowy survived, and ran out into the street, celebrating.
P.S. Even in this internet & smartphone age, the US Naval Observatory still offers a dial-in number to get the exact time. Dial 202-762-1401.

More cancellations today: the entire NBA season cancelled — and the NCAA’s March Madness games, as well (Madness? No, necessary).

Trump’s muddled speech about banning travel from Europe to ‘stop the spread of the coronavirus’ landed with a thud in the financial markets, as did the Federal Reserve’s announcement today, that they will intervene in the markets and pump in more than $1.5 trillion (yes, trillion with a T).

The United States is having a crisis of confidence in the President, and the White House, during this nationwide public health emergency.

Wednesday/ my vote is in

I sent my vote in today. It’s so easy in Washington State: you get your paper ballot in the mail, you fill it out, the mailman picks it up. No stamp needed.

As someone said on Twitter about voters in California and Texas that had to wait in line for 4 hours or more on a Tuesday workday, at a polling station: that is not ‘democracy in action, in America’. That is voter suppression. 

My voters’ pamphlet, with my digital ‘I voted’ sticker .. and I put some words in George Washington’s mouth.

Super Tuesday/ Biden now in front

Here’s the pledged delegate count, as reported late on Tuesday night by the New York Times. Biden 228, Sanders 211, Warren 13, Bloomberg 8. It sure seems to be down to a two-person race (first to 1,191 delegates wins). And it seems Bloomberg’s campaign has to do some introspection.

Super Tuesday turned out to be a momentous day for the Joe Biden campaign, and the tide seems to have turned in his favor.

Biden won in at least 9 of the 14 contested primaries. Texas was too close to call by late Tuesday night. Biden will likely lose California to Bernie Sanders, but he will probably make the 15% cut-off, to still garner some of the state’s huge number of 415 pledged delegates.

Update Wed 3/4: Michael Bloomberg announced that he is dropping out of the race, and endorsing Joe Biden. By now the delegate count is Biden 432-Sanders 388.