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Pack Rats

The idea of “court packing” the US Supreme Court has been getting attention lately, in the wake of Mitch McConnell and the Republican controlled Senate ramming through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett less than a month before the presidential election.

The media seems intent on pressing Joe Biden — including during Biden’s town hall last night — to announce whether he would favor adding new members to the Court if he is elected.

There is a good argument to be made that the Republicans unpacked the Supreme Court by refusing to consider Merrick Garland, bringing the size of the court down to 8 seats in 2016. This then allowed them to repack the court during Donald Trump’s administration, appointing three justices.

This doesn’t include hundreds of other federal court judge appointments that were delayed during Obama’s administration, but were then rushed through during the Trump administration, stacking the federal court system with staunch conservatives who are barely qualified for the job.

Even worse, the media seems to be ignoring that Republicans have been doing lots of court packing with little notice at the state level. In the last decade alone there have been at least 10 attempts at court packing of state supreme courts, and nearly all of them have been driven by the GOP. Two of those attempts (both by Republicans) have succeeded, in Arizona and Georgia.

The bottom line is that Republicans are all for shenanigans in the court system when it benefits them, but denounce it when Democrats even think about using it to restore balance in the federal courts. Why is the media playing along with this?

© Jen Sorensen
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Walk of Shame

This ad by the Lincoln Project has a sense of humor. Methinks that they are starting to gloat just a little.

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Visualizing Covid-19

This is a fascinating interactive visualization of Covid-19 by state over time, created by Dan Goodspeed. The color of the bar indicates whether the state is “blue” or “red” (based on the Cook Partisan Voting Index). The length of each bar shows the number of Covid-19 cases per million people in each state. For example, a value of 10,000 means that 1% of the population of that state has contracted Covid-19 (10,000 divided by 1 million equals 0.01, which is 1%) .

Note how over time the states that have the highest percentage of infection shift from blue states to red states. Initially blue states bore the brunt of the pandemic because of their large urban populations and busy airports with flight connections to sources of Covid-19. Later, these early states took measures to combat the pandemic, but red states did not (even believing Donald Trump’s claims that the pandemic was a hoax and consequently refusing to wear masks or socially distance).

Goodspeed’s website has other visualizations, including for Covid-19 deaths.

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Going to the Dogs

Trump is the first president in over a century who doesn’t have a dog.

What I want to know is, in the clip of Trump saying he doesn’t want a dog, why are all those supporters clapping?

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Obama v. Trump

This is absolutely hilarious.

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Sacha Baron Cohen, Seriously

There is an interesting article in Time Magazine by Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Ali G, etc.) titled “We Must Save Democracy from Conspiracies”. Here’s a sample:

Using unhinged lies and conspiracies to gain power and subjugate others is, of course, nothing new. The blood libel—the myth that Jews murdered Christian children and used their blood for religious rituals—is the world’s oldest conspiracy, dating back to the Middle Ages. The lie that Black people are genetically inferior or inherently violent is at the core of white supremacy. The lie that women are biologically or mentally unequal to men—to be treated as property and body-shamed—has perpetuated millennia of patriarchy. The lie that there is an epidemic in the U.S. of babies being executed shortly after birth has helped fuel state bans on abortion, even in the case of rape or incest.

Today, however, is a uniquely dangerous moment. Donald Trump—who averages 23 lies a day and is the world’s greatest superspreader of coronavirus conspiracies—has caught the virus himself. He has a dutiful ally in Facebook—the greatest propaganda machine in history. And this is a time when Americans are especially vulnerable to lies and conspiracies. This trifecta has created a whirlwind of conspiratorial madness.

I’m glad that SBC mentions Facebook. It turns out that he is part of an organization called “Stop Hate for Profit“. It is obvious that Facebook is only too happy to take money from organizations that spew hate and lies, while pretending that they are trying to do something about it (they aren’t).

Facebook largely refuses to fact-check political ads and posts—which it then microtargets to voters. And Facebook still hasn’t taken down Trump’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Astonishingly, Facebook continues to give a platform to white supremacists and Holocaust deniers.

I’m all for internet freedom, but Facebook has turned themselves into a publishing platform, and that means they have a responsibility to prevent hate speech.

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What are you voting for?

There are so many reasons to vote during this presidential election. Which of these are included in your reasons?

© Jen Sorensen
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You’re Fired!

If you are suffering from Trump Fatigue, you aren’t alone. Just think of how nice it might be if we never had to hear from him again.

So peaceful.

Another great video from Randy Rainbow.

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Closing Argument

I love hearing Michelle Obama speak. Listening to someone who actually understands and believes what they are talking about (without any overriding political agenda) is so refreshing.

Yes, I know a 24-minute video is way too long for our short-attention-span world. But I’m posting this only because you might have noticed this video, but not bothered to watch it. However, it takes a little time to lay this all out.

Donald Trump has basically one talent, his capacity to shoot out bullshit so fast that your brain gets overwhelmed. You lose the ability to discriminate truth from lies. You can’t even remember things you heard just a few days ago. Trump’s taxes are all but forgotten.

And that’s ok, because things like Trump’s taxes are in the same category as Hillary Clinton’s mail server — a distraction. These 24 minutes are what is important. This is what our democracy needs. Watch it. Watch it all.

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SNL is back!

And just in time. Here’s the cold open from last night. It starts out a little rough but has a good finish.

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Fear of Monsters

As someone who really misses the comic “Calvin and Hobbes”, I take solace in Ruben Bolling’s occasional “Donald and John” strip:

© Ruben Bolling

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Trump Knew!

Yes, Donald Trump knew that Hope Hicks had Covid-19 and that he had been exposed to her many times. And yet he still attended a fundraising event on Thursday with 30-50 donors (who paid as much as $250,000 to get a great bit more than they bargained for). Not only that, but he met privately with around 19 people at the event. The donors who attended “are panicking“.

According to Chris Wallace, the moderator of the debate, the Trump campaign’s entourage (which included Hope Hicks) arrived too late on Tuesday to receive a Covid-19 test, which the venue had required. Instead, they were allowed in on the “honor system”.

An honor system with the Trump administration. Seriously?

Trump’s people were wearing masks as they arrived, because they would not otherwise have been allowed into the auditorium, but they took them off shortly after sitting down and refused to put them back on. And as icing on the cake, Trump mocked Biden during the debate for wearing a mask.

It gets worse. Even though Chris Christie spent 4 days with Trump and Hicks preparing for the debate, the campaign did not inform him that Hicks had tested positive (he learned about it from the media). And (no surprise) the Trump campaign didn’t notify Biden’s campaign either (again, they learned it from the media).

Here is Heather Cox Richardson’s summary of this situation:

This crisis shows how the administration’s refusal to share information and its insistence on its own version of reality creates confusion that leaves Americans vulnerable and anxious. Its history of secrecy and lies means that few people actually trust anything its spokespeople say. It was striking how many people did not believe the Trumps were actually sick when the news broke; we are so accustomed to Trump’s lies that many people thought he was simply looking for a way out of future debates.

The constant lies—about coronavirus and virtually everything else—destabilize the nation because we cannot know what the truth really is. And if we don’t know what is actually happening, we cannot make good decisions. Today the editorial board of the Washington Post warned that the White House simply must let us know the truth about the president’s health so that we know who is actually running national security, the economy, and the election on our behalf.

That plea did not appear to make much of an impression on the White House: it did not bother to tell Pelosi, who is third in line for the presidency, that Trump was being helicoptered to Walter Reed Hospital. 

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Presidential Covid Humor

Yes, I know that this is in bad taste, but this has been an election that has broken all existing rules of taste and decorum. So why not make some jokes to have some fun?

Just remember that even Trump is somebody’s child.
My thoughts are with Satan at this time.

As President, Trump should get the best medical care …
… that $750 can buy.

With the possibility he may have to take over Trump’s activities this weekend, White House aides are frantically teaching Mike Pence how to play golf.

Obama: President Trump has the coronavirus. We should send him a card.
Biden: Can I write in it, “Stay Positive?”

[if readers see other jokes, please post them in the comments]

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Trump is a SuperSpreader

I hope everyone notes that Hope Hicks was showing symptoms of Covid-19 and was diagnosed Wednesday night. She had been in frequent close contact with Donald Trump. But did Trump quarantine himself?

I’ll give you one guess. According to WaPo, on Thursday “Trump and his entourage flew to New Jersey, where he attended a fundraiser and delivered a speech. Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters at a roundtable event.”

Trump knew he was strongly exposed to someone who is definitely contagious. And yet he still went around exposing dozens of other people at campaign events. Trump must be extremely desperate to raise money for his campaign.

The people who I don’t understand at all are those Trump supporters who attended his events today even after the news broke that he was exposed.

Just call it evolution in action.

And why did it take from Wednesday night until Friday morning for Trump to announce test results that showed that both he and his wife were infected? I know people who got test results back much faster than that.

UPDATE: Doesn’t that sound suspicious? Either he knew earlier and didn’t care if he spread disease and death to his followers, or else he doesn’t actually have Covid-19 (OMG he lied! Who would think he would do that?). Maybe he realized that he totally screwed up the debate and needed an excuse to avoid doing additional ones.

Or maybe this is just one more example of Trump doing a crazy thing to get attention, so he can push the bad news about the debate, the Supreme Court (he surely hated that two women — RBG and then Amy Coney Barrett — were getting more attention than him), plus (and most important) the release of his taxes.

Did it work? Had you already forgotten about his taxes?

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Fanatics

It seems clear that only fanatics or people who are desperate for a job will work for Donald Trump.

© Jen Sorensen

Here is documentation that all four of the people in this comic are unhinged religious fanatics:

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