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In Poor Taste!

Yes, Clorox really does taste that bad…

[And yes, this photo is based on one taken at Barbara Bush’s funeral. It is ironic that Donald Trump was added to a photo in which he didn’t originally appear.]

In other news, The Lancet, the highly regarded British medical journal, says that “Americans should oust President Trump from the White House and elect a leader who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic.” They go on to say that the Trump administration’s actions are “dangerous for both the U.S. and the world.”

Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.

The US is by far the worst-hit country in the world, with more than 1.4 million confirmed cases and 85,000 deaths from COVID-19. The Lancet calls the Trump administration’s response to the crisis “inconsistent and incoherent”.

The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets — vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear. But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency.

Under Trump’s leadership, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was once “the gold standard for global disease detection and control” has sunk to being “ineffective”. The administration has repeatedly undermined the leading US authorities on infectious diseases, and The Lancet says “The CDC needs a director who can provide leadership without the threat of being silenced.”

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Burying your head in the sand

Donald Trump says that widespread coronavirus testing is “overrated“. This, despite the fact that he and other administration officials are being tested regularly.

But here’s what is really weird. Trump added:

We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They don’t want to write that. It’s common sense. We test much more.

So what Trump is saying is that he would rather not know if someone has Covid-19. He just doesn’t want to know. In other words, he is never going to support widespread testing (which has been shown in a number of countries as an effective way to slow down the spread of the pandemic), because it increases the number of cases and makes him look bad.

Not only that, but Trump keeps claiming that anyone who wants a test can get one, and that we do more testing than other countries. Both of these are total pants-on-fire lies.

If the US doesn’t get their act together and do more testing, then reopening the country will be a disaster and cost lives. Not to mention that it won’t save the economy. But Trump is more worried about looking bad.

© Matt Bors

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Obamagate?

Donald Trump is trying to push a new scandal, which he calls “Obamagate”. There’s just one problem. Even Trump can’t say what the crime is. When asked by a Washington Post reporter, Trump said “It’s been going on for a long time. It’s been going on from before I even got elected. And it’s a disgrace that it happened.” The reporter pressed Trump to name what the crime actually was, Trump said “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the papers, except yours.”

You can watch him avoid answering the questions here, in 51 seconds:

Trump has given up on even bothering to make up any “alternative facts” this time, he’s just claiming that there is a scandal, and that it has Barack Obama’s name on it, and Biden was somehow involved in whatever it is. And he keeps saying that it is “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!”

What Trump is doing is just the latest attack on the rule of law. If you are interested, the best account of what is actually going on was published last night from political historian Heather Cox Richardson. If you are curious, I highly recommend that you read it.

One thing Cox points out that is significant is that the FBI served a search warrant on Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) yesterday because he did some insider trading the same day he attended a private briefing for Senators about the coronavirus. However, that’s probably not why the FBI (now controlled completely by Trump) is going after Burr. If it were, then why aren’t they going after the other senators who did the same thing?

The reason they are going after Burr is because he chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, who agreed with the Mueller investigation and confirmed that the Russians interfered with the 2016 election and are already doing it for the 2020 election. The final volume of their report is supposed to be released very soon.

Just a couple hours ago, Burr announced that he was stepping down as the chairman of that committee, and now Mitch McConnell gets to pick his replacement. What’s the chance that there will be a new version of the report that suddenly decides that the Russians are innocent of meddling?

Again, using the FBI to force people to kowtow to the president is the height of corruption and puts yet another nail in the coffin of the Rule of Law.

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Even the Haters now hate Trump

Here’s an interesting demographic group: the people who hate all the presidential candidates, but still end up voting for one of them. For whom do they vote? Politico has an interesting article about this.

Who are these people? According to one pollster, “There are a number of people who hate politics and politicians, and they play somewhat of a swing role in the country.” Let’s call this demographic the haters.

In 2016, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had high disapproval ratings, and almost 20% of voters were “haters”, which makes it a rather significant demographic. In exit polls during the election, Trump got 17% more of the hater vote than Clinton. This was more than enough to change the winner in several of the battleground states.

Indeed, our Electoral College system can turn a 17% lead in a single demographic group into the difference between winning and losing. This is especially true for a demographic like haters, which is spread out over a large number of states.

In the upcoming 2020 election, the haters number around 25% of registered voters, but at the present time Biden leads Trump with haters by a 40 point margin. There are a number of reasons for this. First, Clinton was very unpopular, while Biden’s approval ratings are significantly better. As one Republican consultant put it, “There’s no way Joe Biden will be as bad a candidate as Hillary Clinton.”

Second, and more importantly, haters tend to vote against the status quo. In 2016, Hillary Clinton was strongly identified with the status quo, while Trump was the opposite, promising to shake things up. For 2020, it is now Trump who represents the status quo, and the current status is pretty bad.

Disclaimer: Just because this is a good sign for Joe Biden, don’t assume the election is in the bag (like many of us did in 2016). It is still 173 days away and as we have just seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, things can change dramatically in just a week. At this point in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton had a larger polling lead over Trump than Biden has now. Biden has not been the (presumptive) Democratic nominee very long, and Trump has just barely started to attack him. Trump’s campaign manager has bragged about how much money they have that they will use to attack Biden, calling it a “death star” of negative advertising. I am expecting the ads to be especially nasty, as Trump can’t run on the economy anymore, and their attacks on Biden’s son Hunter didn’t go anywhere. And reality nor facts will not limit them.

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Let Kids Drink!

This is oh-so-wrong, but hilarious.

Alcohol sales surged after the pandemic started. By late March, they were up 55% compared to sales 12 months earlier.

On the other hand, alcohol sales were already increasing before COVID-19 arrived. Even then, the US was drinking more alcohol than before prohibition. The exception to this? Champagne sales, as they say, are flat or falling.

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What do you get when you cross a penis and a potato?

A dictator (dick-tater, get it?).

What does this have to do with politics? Today’s NPR headline says it all:

Michael Flynn Pleaded Guilty. Why Is The Justice Department Dropping The Charges?

In its usual, over-polite way, NPR tries to answer the question. But the real answer is obvious. Because Donald Trump told Bill Barr to spring him. Doing so today served two purposes: the obvious one is to continue to tear down Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election. The second one is to distract everyone from today’s horrible jobs report. In case you didn’t hear, 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April.

Michael Flynn was the poster boy for Russian interference in the 2016 election. As Trump’s first National Security Advisor, he not only colluded with the Russians, he then lied about it. In addition to lying to the FBI, he lied to the VP Mike Pence, and Trump fired him over it. But now Trump says that Flynn is innocent and even said that he would welcome Flynn back into his administration.

Flynn pleaded guilty not just once, but twice. His guilty pleas included the promise that he would help with the investigation, but he lied about that as well.

Trump feels perfectly entitled to use the power of the presidency to subvert justice, to favor his friends and acolytes, and punish his enemies. We already know that he will try to subvert the 2020 elections, including enlisting the aid of foreign dictators. We have become not a banana republic, but a potato republic, and Trump is the potato whose brain is in his dick.

UPDATE: Barack Obama says that the DOJ dropping Flynn’s case is unprecedented and the “rule of law is at risk”. Obama also called the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “an absolute chaotic disaster”.

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Boss Bitch Fight Challenge!

Need a way to kick stay-at-home boredom? Want some fight-club action but require social distancing?

Well, watch this video and try to see how many people in it you can recognize:

Want to know how this happened?

UPDATE: Everyone I’ve talked to LOVES this video, but someone asked me last night what this has to do with politics. This is supposed to be a political blog (even if a somewhat humorous one).

The answer is… everything.

First of all, this is part of my “Things to do at home” during the pandemic series. Making cool videos with your friends is definitely a good thing to do! (As a totally side note, before I became a computer nerd, I got an art degree, including in filmmaking. And just last night I ordered a much more powerful computer with a bunch of software for making videos. So this is a big interest of mine.)

Second, this video is totally empowering for women. Given the political power of the #metoo movement, this is definitely relevant. I’d rather see news that empowers women, than news that treats them as victims that need special handling. I’m reminded of the highly successful efforts that successfully resulted in gays securing the right to marry (and many other rights). Even I was completely amazed that in a relatively short time we went from a country where social conservatives used homosexuality as a potent wedge issue, to one where nobody seems to worry about any silly “gay agenda” anymore. And simultaneously educated the public that gays are normal people who contribute to our nation in myriad important ways. That’s power!

Third, the more I look at the history of our country, I see that times of crisis for the US almost always result in great leaps forward. When we faced the stock market crash, the dust bowl, and WWII (a triple whammy) we ended up with the New Deal. The Civil War ended up with the emancipation of slaves, something that was long overdue. I’m pleased that the current pandemic is already resulting in technology being applied in new and wonderful ways, like this video allowed Zoë Bell to play with her friends.

Likewise, it is helping companies realize that their employees can productively work from home (something I’ve done in many jobs in my life) with a little help from technology. If that message sticks, it will make a huge dent in pollution, save lives lost in traffic accidents, and help fight global warming. How awesome is that?

Likewise, I’ve recently discovered the telephone. Seriously! When I was much younger, I used to call friends or family and talk for hours. With the advent of email and text messages, I stopped doing that. Email and text messages allowed me to avoid interrupting people or playing phone tag, but we also lost some things, like immediacy, and more satisfying connections. But I have now discovered that I can just pick up the phone and call someone, including people I haven’t physically talked to in years. So far, every time I’ve done that, the person has answered and has been overjoyed to hear from me, isn’t busy, and we talk up a storm. I LOVE IT! I feel like I am reconnecting with my world. Now that we have to practice severe social distancing, using the telephone (and video chats) allows us to reclaim some of that person-to-person interaction that we need. Try it!

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Coming out of the WC

Another brilliant video from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, doing a great cover of the 70s hit “The Model” by German band Kraftwerk:

I love the outpouring of music videos practicing social distancing.

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SGN graduation 2020

This is the best episode of SGN yet. After all the bad news this weekend, we could definitely use some good news, and Some Good News is just what the doctor ordered.

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Denial is not just a River in Egypt

A post in Axios provides some evidence that the Republican approach to fighting the coronavirus is not working like they said it would. And their new push to reopen businesses and recreation is likely to backfire.

So far, the states that have suffered the most due to COVID-19 are states with Democratic governors. This was to be expected, because blue states have larger, more densely crowded populations. Also, blue states have done significantly more testing (per capita), so it is likely that the number of cases in red states is under-reported. I also have to wonder what effect the rerouting of medical supplies from blue states by the feds has had.

Regardless, that didn’t stop Republican politicians and pundits from making political hay, calling federal aid to state and local governments “Blue State Bailouts“.

Ironically, the states with GOP governors are now seeing a surge in new cases:

Over the last two weeks, reported infections have increased 91% in red states versus 63% in blue states.

We see the same pattern for COVID-19 deaths: 170% growth in red states vs. 104% in blue states.

That means that deaths in red states are growing 63% faster than in blue states. Due to the nature of exponential growth, at that growth rate red states will pass blue states in deaths per capita at the end of May (in less than 4 weeks). And that is not even taking into account that states will likely see increasing death rates starting a week or two after they relax distancing rules.

According to FiveThirtyEight, “Nine of the 10 states that have seen the most rapid increase in coronavirus from Monday to Thursday are states that voted for Trump in 2016.”

Will this cause Republican pols and pundits to change their tune? Don’t hold your breath.

UPDATE: The CDC announced today that they expect the daily death rate to double by June, and predict the total American deaths will be around 135,000. Ouch! That’s like a 9/11 event every single day.

Both Trump administration predictions and a public model from the University of Washington (that has been frequently cited by the White House) say that deaths will rise as states reopen.

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More Honest Government

A new episode from The Government. Warning, lots of offensive (but hilarious) language:

I’m having trouble disagreeing with anything in this video, even when they talk about “backwards countries and failed states” and use the US as a prime example.

Who could possibly want to go back to “normal”?

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Things to do at home

The art museum in Portland Oregon is encouraging people to recreate famous art at home, using materials at hand. Here are a couple of examples people have come up with so far:

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SGN

John Krasinksi (from The Office) decides that it is time for Some Good News (SGN). I’ll give you two episodes, the first one I watched, which seems to be the most popular one…

… and the first one they put together …

And episode 2 is sweet, especially if you are a Hamilton fan.

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Scores for your Chores

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert provides musical scores to help you enliven your daily stay-at-home routine.

They even provide links to the music at https://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/news/1009741/the-late-show-s-jon-batiste-scores-your-chores/

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Legislative Hypocrisy

The Louisiana legislature just voted to restrict access to mail-in ballots in their primary, which was already delayed because of the coronavirus. In fact, some GOP members tried to block the measure because they claimed that it still gave too much access to mail-in voting.

Their reasons? As usual, the Republicans claimed that voting by mail would invite election fraud. This, despite the fact that election experts and fact checkers have repeatedly shown that the risk of fraud (both with and without vote-by-mail) is extremely low.

The hypocritical part? The lawmakers of Louisiana were reluctant to vote in person on the election plan, so they voted by mail.

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