Saturday, October 31, 2020

Herd Immunity

The Trump campaign has announced, in a move as unexpected as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, that the President will hold 11 rallies after the election.

They would create the impression that the incumbent has won re-election and with disputes playing out in both the courts and the streets, be a powerful motivator for both the public and judges to see things their way. That is the major reason that the Trump campaign will continue until he is legally declared President or involuntarily removed from office.

But there is another reason that Donald Trump is likely to continue to hold large rallies of (predominately) unmasked fans, standing close to each other, applauding and cheering. 

In a remark which should go down in infamy,  on February 7, 2020 President Trump told Bob Woodward  that SARS-CoV-2

goes through the air (and is) always tougher than the touch. You don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.

And downplayed it he has, a couple of dozen times, including arguing that it is less dangerous than the "common flu." That's still a very popular trope among Trump acolytes.

In a vivid depiction of the depth and breath of the Trump family's empathy, the President in August stated that Americans "are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is" and his son on the day casualties topped 1,000 mused that deaths had "dropped to almost nothing." So now that we hear that rallies probably will continue beyond Election Day, and we learn this:

They've created roughly 30,000 victims and claimed approximately 700 deaths. They will continue. That's not "despite" nor even "unrelatedly." It is "therefore."

Rallying The Troops

Politico has reported
Top surrogates for the Trump campaign have been told to keep their Novembers clear for potential campaign events. And Trump campaign advisers said not to rule out the possibility Trump continues his rallies even as election officials continue to count ballots after the Nov. 3 election, according to a campaign surrogate and two Trump advisers.
It would be an upset for Trump to decide not to hold rallies after the election, whether it appears he wins or loses.  NBC News reported on Wednesday that the President expects to hold 11 rallies in the last 48 hours of the campaign. They would help increase turnout and give the impression of massive support which, after this election, would serve a strategic purpose.

That tactic would be a particularly Trumpian thing to do, and not only because he craves attention and adulation even more than does former President Obama. (And that's not easy.)  Trump understands, as Democrats might not, that in the very likely event that this thing isn't decided on November 3, it would remain more of a political process than legal process.

But don't trust me. Trust

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (who) wrote a concurring opinion in Wisconsin National Committee v. Wisconsin State Legislature in which he mentioned in dicta “those States [that] also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter;” and some “states want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election;” and ‘“If the apparent winner the morning after the election ends up losing due to late-arriving ballots, charges of a rigged election could explode’” (quoting, out of context, professor Richard Pildes).

With "chaos and suspicions" and "explode," Justice Kavanaugh wasn't speaking of an orderly judicial process. He was riffing on the most important remark made by either presidential (or vice-presidential) candidate in debate this autumn.  "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Donald Trump threatened, 27 days before Kavanaugh's comment.

And then there is Pennsylvania, the leading candidate as the tipping point state in the election:


Ultimately, the dispute now being played out in court as to whether to count ballots postmarked by Election Day but received afterward will be decided in court. Ultimately. However, justice is not blind and the old maxim "The Supreme Court follows the election returns" may prevail, as it did in December, 2000 with the Brooks Brothers riot.

Those paid GOP operatives were clean-cut, fashionably if leisurely dressed, and unarmed. The Proud Boys are none of those, and Donald Trump, with rallies and otherwise, will be actively encouraging them and other vigilantes after the election. 




 Next up: the other, lesser, objective of the rallies.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Not Everyone A Coward

It now has been over six weeks since we learned that

Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to Vice President Pence for two years, said that the administration’s response cost lives and that she will vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this fall because of her experience in the Trump White House.

“The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus have made this ongoing response a failure,” she said in an interview.

Troye is one of the most important GOP figures to break with Donald Trump and endorse Joe Biden in this campaign.  There are relatively few who have done so. One other who has done so is Trump '16 campaign official Jessica Denson, described here as an actress and journalist, who was involved in the campaign with outreach to the Latino community.  Denson- with other staffers from the 2016 campaign- has filed a lawsuit(s) to free herself from a non-disclosure agreement.

In an interview earlier this week, CNN's Jake Tapper played a clip from a Republican Voters Against Trump ad in which Denson stated "the campaign was a vile, self-serving branding exercise for one man and his family." She told Tapper

I have seen that this campaign continues to go out brandishing a Bible and an American flag and claiming that they have anything to do with freedom but I've lived firsthand that they have- they have nothing to do with freedom. They've worked very much against free speech and democracy. 


Denson is particularly peeved at the treatment she and other women received in the campaign and generally blasts the Trump campaign and Trump himself. Troye, a national security professional, was especially disturbed at the response of the President to the work of the coronavirus task force and the disregard Trump has exhibited to the mounting number of deaths.

While Troye is unusually motivated by principle, both she and Denson have done what few others have. They responded to the greatest threat to the nation, possibly to the world, in the best way possible: resigning, criticizing the Administration, and endorsing President Trump's opponent.

It is courageous, made more so by the failure of others in the campaign or Administration who have failed this moment.

Dr. Anthony Fauci comes to mind, or at least to mine yesterday, when I contrasted the timid Fauci with Miles Taylor. But even more egregious is the behavior of  Dr. Deborah Birx, the other immunological expert in the high reaches of the federal government and aside from Fauci, the most recognizable scientist in Washington.

Birx lately has been on a junket recommending masks and social distancing. That's good, though recently she visited Bismarck State College and stated “It starts with the community, and the community deciding that it’s important for their children to be in school, the community deciding that it’s important not to infect the nursing home staff who are caring for their residents – for North Dakotans – every day,”

It shouldn't escape our attention that she placed responsibility upon the people by avoiding even indirect criticism of Donald Trump, even to the point of an implicitly suggesting that the residents of North Dakota are unaware of the importance of their children being in school.

Perhaps the  road tour will bear some fruit, helping at the margin to curb slightly the number of coronavirus infections, just as Dr. Fauci's credibility with the American people may convince a few individuals to practice sensible avoidance measures. However, Fauci and Birx (the latter, assuming she'd prefer Trump not to be re-elected) are playing a dangerous game. They are betting that they need not speak out against the one candidate who believes Covid-19 "is what it is" because he will be defeated anyway by the opponent who would like to see fewer people die.

If all goes well, Fauci will win his bet, and Birx too, if she wants Trump to lose. But even if they do, we should remember that while they accomodated this regime and enabled Donald J. Trump, there were former Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor, Olivia Troye, Jessica Denson, and a few others who sacrificed something for country.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Compare And Contrast

San Antonio mayor and former head of HUD endorsed Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the other guy does good reporting on this issue. Nonetheless, I'm definitely not on board with this:

This issue is not the most immediate crisis, nor is destruction of our environment; gun violence; threats from Russia or mainland China; terrorism; gun violence; reduction of reproductive rights; racism; homelessness; consolidation of corporate power; corruption of the political process by dark money; 86 other things.

Every one- every one- of these has been made worse by President Donald J. Trump. While Castro and Soboroff are focused on the Administration's cruel immigration policies, they're missing the big picture, which is that President Trump is a severe threat to ameliorating these problems, and to the continued existence of the world.

One of the individuals who has not lost focus is Miles Taylor who, whatever his faults  

was the anonymous author of The New York Times Op-Ed article in 2018 whose description of President Trump as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” roiled Washington and set off a hunt for his identity, Mr. Taylor confirmed Wednesday.

Mr. Taylor was also the anonymous author of “A Warning,” a book he wrote the following year that described the president as an “undisciplined” and “amoral” leader whose abuse of power threatened the foundations of American democracy. He acknowledged that he was the author of both the book and the opinion article in an interview and in a three-page statement he posted online.

Mr. Taylor resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in June 2019, and went public with his criticism of Mr. Trump this past summer. He released a video just before the start of the Republican National Convention declaring that the president was unfit for office, and he endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee.

Miles Taylor resigned. There are too few individuals who resigned from this Administration without at least a little pressure too leave. There are fewer still who have done that and written an op-ed and a book (albeit anonymously) blasting the President- and endorsing his opponent.

One of those individuals who serves Donald Trump and has done none of this- despite ridicule from the President- is Dr. Anthony Fauci.  Fauci remains employed, remains ineffectual, and remains relatively silent about his ultimate boss, who never misses a chance to belittle the fellow. 

Fauci, as someone who has warned about the danger of SARS-CoV-2 (at least since he discouraged mask-wearing), remains trusted and admired by the public. Yet, he is silent about the presidential election (and congressional elections). He has maintained his job to little effect, while a public resignation with an accompanying statement weeks ago (before early voting began) may have had a conclusive impact on the election.

In the last few months, Dr. Fauci has periodically expressed frustration with the lack of interest in the federal government in face masks, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, and other measures which would stem the growth of the novel coronavirus.  However, as of a few weeks ago (even now), Dr. Fauci has avoided taking the one step, or series of steps, which would have the greatest impact in curbing illness and death.

Resignation, explanation, and endorsement of Joe Biden is obviously the most patriotic- and effective- move that could be made. Instead, Fauci demonstrates that he is little more than a careerist, country be damned.

Compare that with the actions of Miles Taylor, who may not be a good person but has put it on the line for Joe Biden. He has, in this moment,  in the runup to the most important election since the Civil War with the fate of a democratic republic in the balance, done the right thing.

But yeah, his immigration policy was bad.


Tucker And Hunter

Friday is a good day for snark:

After extensively quoting Carlson, the Daily Beast remarks

Tucker Carlson’s office received secret documents from a source that could change the course of the election, asked for them to be shipped across the country rather than scanned and securely emailed, his producer sent them off, and they have now been stolen from a mail facility, and no one knows what happened.

According to a text exchange posted on Twitter by Salon’s Roger Sollenberger, Carlson stated that copies or photos were made of the documents before seemingly asserting that this episode was proof that he was being spied upon.

If copies or photographs of the documents were made and they are the least bit negative, we'll know even before you read this. More likely, either they don't reflect badly on Hunter Biden, much of the story is made up, or it is all made up.

I hate to criticize someone who admits "re-tweets are emphatic endorsements" rather than the standard "re-tweets are not necessarily endorsements." Still, this reminds me of the Tucker Carlson who revealed the address of a reporter and family, alleging without hard evidence that the reporter was going to reveal Carlson's address in an upcoming story, after which the reporter's address and other personal information inevitably made the rounds on social media.

This is the way the GOP and their hacks do things, which a President Biden will need to know. And he'll need to understand it so that he recognizes what he's up against and be determined to overcome.


One of Our Own, Or So He Says

So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented I got to tell you something. As much as people may ha...