If 2021 involves a tragic airplane crash killing 27 beloved celebrities, has half a US state burn to the ground because of global warming, a medium-bad flu season, and fewer than 8 devastating tropical cyclones, it will be a good year compared to 2020. But I think it will be better than that.
President Biden will not be able to form a cabinet since Mich McConnell will not let him, unless the two Democratic Senatorial candidates in Georgia win, so do work on that. But either way we’ll be fine. If Georgia sends two Democrats to Washington, we can get a national clean car law, start building out utility scale wind and solar, see some real farm support funding that both reduces fossil Carbon release and cleans up farms while reducing debt. We’ll see movement on health care reform (thought that is going to take a more progressive Senators) and major changes in electoral reform. It is not going to be a progressive’s wet dream, but 2021 will not be the political nightmare each of the last four years has been.
If Georgia fails us and we end up with two years of McConnell stopping every little thing Biden tries to do, that two year period will be the final two years of the Republican party, forever, and we’ll see that deterioration so fast it will be a memorable feature of 2021.
During the course of 2021 more than three different Covid-19 vaccines will be deployed and by the end of the year, enough people will be vaccinated that this plague will end. That will be a record breaking plague ending, compared to the other big ones, which usually have gone at least a few years. All plagues end, on their own, or at least have so far. Notice that we are not having a Bubonic Plague right now, and we are not having a 1918 flue pandemic right now. But that usually takes a bit longer. School will be back in session next school year, though perhaps normalcy delayed by a month or a month and a half. By the end of November all the kiddies will be in classrooms.
I suspect the spring back of the economy will be strong. In particular, I’m hoping that at a global level the spring back happens in areas that are now suffering from the kind of para-apocalyptic strife that breeds terrorism and war. Torn up regions of the Levant may become centers of energy production or other economic boom behavior, and less cauldrons of discontent and radicalization. That will take a few years, but it will start in 2021.
I assume the press will give Trump his due, which means, basically, ignoring him. The oxygen of attention starved of his Covid-streaked lungs will kill him, as public entity, and his followers, now the biggest threat to national unity, will forget he existed and crawl back into their politically dark holes. Every year the political orientation of the US shifts from deplorable to reasonable by about 1% (because of differential death rates vs. immigration and education). That means that after an 8 year long Biden-Harris administration with mostly Democrats in Congress, we will be done with them.
We need to see changes start that will take two decades to complete. The coming year, 2021, will be the year the seeds are planted.
Even our perception of partisan power politics is warped by Republican shenanigans.
Minnesota’s second district, represented by Angie Craig (a DFLEC endorsed candidate) is identified by the media as a swing district.
In 2016, Jason Lewis got 47% of the vote and thus beat Angie Craig (first time candidate), but Paula Overby, running as a third party (Independent) candidate took 7.8% of the vote. I am certain that Overby took very few Republican votes. She acted as a spoiler.
The next cycle, with no spoiler in the race, Craig beat Jason Lews 53:47% That is not an overwhelming victory, but a 14% difference is not what we see in a “swing district,” or even a “leans Dem” district. It is what we see in a blue district.
The current cycle, Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks, a Trump supporting conservative, was recruited by Republican operatives to run explicitly as a liberal spoiler. “I can do Liberal” he confessed to a friend when he told him that he had been recruited to do this. He then died of a drug overdose and in so doing, “unofficially withdrew” from the race. I expect Craig to beat her Republican challenger by a greater margin than she won with last time, possibly closer to 15%.
The only reason Minnesota CD 2 is called a “swing district” or even “leans Dem” is because the Republicans were running a con game, and two cycles back, Paula Overby, for unknown reasons (I am not saying she was recruited by Republicans), acted materially to spoil the race and enough voters fell for it that the Republican, one of the most odious of the Republicans (now running against Tina Smith for Senate) won.
It is often said that when people show up, Democrats win. True. But it is also true that when Republicans don’t cheat, Democrats win. Ideally, people show up AND Republicans don’t cheat — really, are stopped from cheating because they always will — then Democrats win.
Democrats need five seats to control the US Senate. We assume one seat will be lost in Alabama, where having a democrat win that one time required that the Republican be about the most odious Senatorial candidate in the history of the nation, and that was nearly not enough, because Alabama loves odious.
Here is the current state of the races most likely to matter in this quest.
Arizona: Democrat Mark Kelly vs. Republican Martha McSally. Kelly has led McSally forever, coming close to even or behind in very few polls. However, the most recent polling is concerning. A long term 6+ point average lead has devolved since the middle of October to a present near tie, and in the most recent poll, McSally has pulled ahead.
Republicans often have a major negative push in a campaign during the last two weeks, and that often pushes the poll numbers closer, but often, that does not seem (in my opinion) to change the actual voting, depending on the local culture. For example, in Minnesota, that usually backfires. But I don’t know what is likely to happen in Arizona.
Colorado: Democrat John Hickenlooper vs. Republican Cory Gardner. Gardner was essentially elected by accident in 2014, and Hickenlooper is popular. This race is considered to be so obviously Hickenlooper’s that there is hardly any polling.
Conclusion: We’ll assume this is a Democratic takeway.
Georgia: Democrat Jon Ossoff vs Republican David Perdue. There is no particular reason to expect Ossoff to win this race, but right now Georgia is undergoing a shift that could put him in position. As of late, the polling puts the two candidates at dead even, but that is probably a temporary quirk.
Conclusion: Republicans retain seat.
Iowa: Democrat Theresa Greenfield against Republican Joni Ernst. Challenger Greenfield has shown strong polling since mid summer, but once again, due to some last minute Republcian mojo, the race is suddenly essentially tied. This is coming down to how annoyed people might be with Ernst for not cleaning out the swamp, vs how concerned Iowans are with protecting their way of life, which is silly because Democrats are actually better at growing corn than Republicans are.
Maine: Democrat Sara Gideon vs Republican Susan Collins. Susan Collins is one of the most annoying Republican Senators, because she is always pretending she will ultimately do the right thing, then never does. Not once. Ever. Challenger Sara Gideon is taking the fight right to Collins and is going to wump her in the final vote.
Conclusion: Democrats win, followed with 18 months by an indictment against Collins. What for? I don’t know, but obviously somebody owns her and once the spell is broken, which is till be on November 3rd, that can lead to indictmentitis.
North Carolina: Democrat Cal Cunningham vs Republican Thom Tillis. Cunningham essentially threw this race away and guaranteed a Republican win, and thus, no Democratic control of the Senate, because he couldn’t keep his SMS in his pants. But, on the other hand, Republican Thom Tillis is so disliked in his state that he is still losing anyway. Cunningham’s indiscretion basically shifted polling from a farily strong chance of winning to a race that is within the margin of error.
Conclusion: Tossup. Anything can happen in this race, but either way, somebody’s gonna lose them a trailer.
South Carolina: Democrat Jamie Harrison vs Republican Lindsey Graham. Graham is a long time frequently re-elected figure in South Carolina, so it is his race to lose. But he could. Graham is ahead in most polls, but has tied in three Quinnipiac polls in a row. There are indications that there is a rapidly turning tide. I’m going to assume this will not be a change, but the race is interesting enough that I put it on this list so you will know what to fret over on election night (and a while after).
Conclusion: Republican win. Or will it be?
Most likely outcome: Democrats take Colorado and Maine, and maybe one other race, and Republicans stay in control of the Senate. This causes all useful legislation to stall for another few years, and global warming gets so bad it can’t be fixed.
Most hopeful outcome: Despite Democrats stepping on their own SMS, as it were, and that fact that in most sates Republicans can out campaign Democrats with their eyes closed, Democrats take Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, and scare the bejesus out of Graham but he keeps his seat. That’s one more than needed.
Another possible scenario: Democrats also lose Smith’s seat in Minnesota. Suddenly, she is on the verge of falling behind. Minnesota voters are unreliable. It could happen.
The United States are divided between white supremacists and others who feel that African Americans should have the same rights as anyone else. Entire regions of the country express their distinctiveness with rallies, protests, and often, physical conflict sometimes leading to death. The President of the United States is widely regarded as a do-nothing idiot, but his very lack of legitimate activity seems designed to tacitly support the know-nothing right wing white supremacists. But there is a new leader coming, one who will fight against white supremacy and hard right conspiracies even as he works to pull the country together. Those watching closely are concerned, however, that the new leader may not even make it alive to his own inauguration, given the violent nature of the times and the severe, vitriolic hate expressed by those opposed to him.
Welcome to 1861.
“On the eve of his 52nd birthday, February 11, 1861, the President-Elect of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, walked onto a train, the first step of his journey to the White House, and his rendezvous with destiny.
But as the train began to carry Lincoln toward Washington, it was far from certain what he would find there. Bankrupt and rudderless, the government was on the verge of collapse. To make matters worse, reliable intelligence confirmed a conspiracy to assassinate him as he passed through Baltimore. It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of the Republic hung in the balance.
How did Lincoln survive this grueling odyssey, to become the president we know from the history books? Lincoln on the Verge tells the story of a leader discovering his own strength, improvising brilliantly, and seeing his country up close during these pivotal thirteen days.
From the moment the Presidential Special left the station, a new Lincoln was on display, speaking constantly, from a moving train, to save the Republic. The journey would draw on all of Lincoln’s mental and physical reserves. But the President-Elect discovered an inner strength, which deepened with the exhausting ordeal of meeting millions of Americans.” (Publisher’s summary.)
This is a very good book, compelling, startling, and if you don’t already know the story, highly informative. I won’t push it because it is already widely acclaimed. Even the guy who wrote Hamilton says it is a must read. I know you are going to get it and read it. Instead, I will point out two arguments made in the book that are not necessarily the main arguments, but that I found to be very important.
First, trains. The story is of course almost entirely played out on a train or near a train, in a train or on the way to or from a train. This gave the author license, appropriately and we are glad he took it up, to discuss the role of trains in the formation of North and South differences in the US. I won’t make the argument here, I’m just telling you that you will find it in the book (mainly in the beginning chapters) and you will find it fascinating.
Second, Lincoln’s prowess as a speech writer and speaker. Surely you’ve heard the story that Abe Lincoln write the famous Gettysburg Address as an afterthought on the back of a napkin on the way to the battlefield (on a train). That of course, never happened. Lincoln worked hard on that address, over a longer period of time. It is a finely crafted speech based on a thousands of years old oration by the first citizen of Athens, but of course much updated. Lincoln crafted that, and other speeches, with an earned, and learned, appreciation of rhetoric as well as history.
But it is also true that Lincoln was probably not the best presidential orator before he was president. Prior to 1860, Lincoln argued cases against fellow lawyers in front of tough judges. He entertained his colleagues on the circuit court with memorable stories and parables, back in the days when the “circuit” meant lawyers, and sometimes judges, travelling, eating, and sleeping together while going from one town to the next to handle cases. He ran for office a few times (won once) and engaged Douglas in the famous Lincoln Douglas debates. He studied the classics, and he studied history, not formally but by walking in total hundreds of miles to to borrow books. Then he ran for election again and won, having made very few speeches during that campaign. So, on the day Lincoln was elected President, he was a skilled communicator, but not necessarily a skilled presidential speaker, at a time when a skilled presidential speaker seemed rightly to be a key factor in ultimately keeping the United States alive.
And he understood this, and every day for the entire train trip, he worked on that. He gave over 100 speeches in 13 days. A handful of these, including the one he gave at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, are counted among the great speeches. Another handful, he really screwed up, such as one of the first, given in Ohio, in which he pulled an Omar, saying something like “nothing is really happening.” (Ilhan Omar meant, “one thing happened and then an inappropriate reaction to some other thing occurred in an exploitive manner, which was bad” and Lincoln meant “so far no full-on battles have been fought yet.”) For both Ilhan and Abe, the press and the detractors went to town.
But overall, what Lincoln did was to fine tune his skill. For two weeks he gave many great speeches — and lived several near death experiences involving crushing crowds, being shot at with friendly cannon fire twice, nearly bombed once or twice, and nearly assassinated by a thousand assassins once — while the whole country followed every move reported near real time by telegraph. Abe Lincoln purposefully (and incidentally) set up a nation wide culture of expectation and commitment. He created, over this two week period plus a few days in DC and his inaugural, a North ready to fight and a South forced to define its own role as starting a war to defend slavery.
That final real life master class in presidential speech giving turned an excellent orator into one of the best ever.
Hey, did you bump on my wording in the first sentence, above? (“The United States are divided between white supremacists and others who feel that African Americans should have the same rights as anyone else.”) That’s how they would have said it before Lincoln’s presidency, and before the Civil War. “The United States are …” The United States became a singular entity because of Lincoln and the war. Now, it is “The United States is…”
If you went back in a time machine to become an antebellum grammar Nazi, you would have to learn this.
It took a lot of years for the American Civil War to get done with.
There are a lot of reasons for that. (I should mention that any statement of fact, voicing of observation, or expression of opinion about the Civil War will lead to a great outcry about the facts, observations, and opinions, so check below in the comments for that.) One of the reasons the Civil War took almost five years (and never mind that there is an argument that had the Civil War not taken all that time it would not have stuck) is that the Union Generals were crap. Many were political appointees, or for some other reason incompetent. They lost a lot of battles.
One of the things the Northern generals were doing wrong was this. Most “battles” would take a couple-few days. So the two sides slog at each other for a while, and one of the sides gets hurt worse, and maybe leaves the field. Then there is a period of time during which the dead and near dead are collected. Then, later that day or the next day, in cases where the North had prevailed in the first wave of the battle, the Northern officer staff would have tea or do some other thing. During that time, the South would round up reinforcements, regroup, and attack back, and drive the Northern army away. (Alternatively, the southern force would bug out and move out of range, then regroup, while the Northern general failed to keep up, re-attack, and finish them off.)
But US Grant did not operate this way. Grant did not drink euphemistic tea. He would get up at 3 in the morning after the first wave of battle, call together his troops, and attack even more bigly than he had attacked the day before. Personally I think one of the reasons behind this is this was that after the battle, during the reset, most generals would rearrange troops on their front and center line, to prepare for the next day. Grant would hit that front line while his enemies were looking left and right instead of forward.
Once Grant was put in charge of the whole Union Army, having demonstrated the success of his approach in the West, it was only a matter of time before the North defeated the South.
So, here’s the lesson. One way to win is to pull your pieces off the field. Then, when the other side goes to have tea, put everything back on the field, doubled. Then you win.
So, yesterday’s news that the Republcian Party has reduced its ad budget in Minnesota by 90% does NOT mean that DFLers (DFL=Democratic Party) go have tea. It will take a phone call for the Trump campaign to resurge in our state. DON’T BE FOOLED. HOLD FAST. Swarm, don’t rest!
We’ve got this, but only if we don’t get fooled again.
“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. … Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
What Trump Said
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. … One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over. … And this is their new hoax.”
Minnesota’s First Congressional District includes much of the southern part of the state. This is a very conservative area, and also a very white area. There are counties that have more combines than people of color. A lot more.
It happens to include Rochester, which is where the Mayo Clinic is located, which gives Liberals (or, at least, Centrists) a chance. This is why Tim Walz, a high school teacher and National Guard lifer was able to represent CD1 as an elected DFLer (DFL = Minnesota’s Democratic Party) for several terms. He had to walk that fine line. He is essentially a progressive, but won there anyway. For various reasons, however, he almost lost his most recent election, and was destine to finally get voted out by an increasingly Trumpian mass of corn farmer, despite having support in the medico-academic community around Mayo and the University in Rochester. He ran that cycle for Governor, and that is what he is now.
Two years ago, Dan Feehan, representing the DFL, and Jim Hagedorn, representing the Republicans, faced off. Dan was a great candidate and a great person, a Paul Wellstone inspired combat veteran. He served for a time as the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, under Barack Obama. He has since worked with the Farmers Union in Minnesota, focusing on Healthcare.
Jim Hagedorn was the offspring of a former US Representative (Tom Hagedorn) and was half raised in McLean, Virginia and half Truman, Minnesota. For years he ran a blog called “Mr Conservative” that included a LOT of sexist, misogynistic, racist, islamophobic, and anti-Native American yammering. When people noticed and he got called out, he claimed he was only joking. The Washington Examiner declared him “the worst midterm candidate in America” last cycle.
When the corn farmers and medical professionals of the increasingly conservative 1st District were asked to chose between the two, 291,085 people voted, and by virtue of a mere 658 votes, Hagedorn had won the district.
Then he went to work being an asshole. I won’t go into all the details, but here is the latest in a DFL press release:
Hagedorn’s Report Confirms Corruption Within Congressional Office
Independent investigation needed to answer remaining questions
St. Paul, MN – On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Congressman Jim Hagedorn quietly released his internal review of the ongoing corruption scandal in his Congressional office. Despite Hagedorn hiring a lawyer for crooked politicians to get him off the hook, the basic facts of the report are damning:
“Congressman Hagedorn fully agrees that he is ultimately responsible” for the potentially illegal mismanagement of over $450,000 in taxpayer dollars.
Abernathy West is likely tied to Congressman Hagedorn’s top staffer who spent half a year breaking ethics rules and potentially directing our tax dollars into his pockets.
Congressman Hagedorn allowed two businesses to rip off U.S. taxpayers by dramatically overcharging Hagedorn’s office for services for over half a year.
Congressman Hagedorn is still employing John Sample, a staffer whose company received over $110,000 in taxpayer dollars from the Congressman’s office. As multiple ethics experts have said, Hagedorn’s decision to do business with his own staffer “violated House rules” and constitutes “a problem,” raising “neon signs flashing red signals all over the place.”
Hagedorn’s far-from-independent report fails to answer numerous, serious questions:
Why did Congressman Hagedorn lie about completely delegating his mail program to his chief of staff when that was clearly not true?
Why did it take reporting months after-the-fact for Hagedorn to become aware of the potentially illegal activity taking place within his own office?
How was it that Congressman Hagedorn hired two different staffers who funnel our tax dollars into their pockets?
The report confirms that there still needs to be an independent investigation and Congressman Hagedorn owes it to the people of southern Minnesota to publicly release all relevant correspondence including text messages, emails, and letters prior to Election Day.
DFL Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement:
“It’s laughable that Jim Hagedorn would ask the public to trust him and his bought-and-paid-for report after Hagedorn spent months lying to Minnesotans and trying to cover up the corruption within his own office. Even a lawyer for crooked politicians couldn’t conceal the fact that there was massive wrongdoing in Hagedorn’s office and that an independent investigation is needed to get to the bottom of it.
“Congressman Hagedorn is responsible for using almost half a million of our tax dollars to line the pockets of his employees. This corruption within Hagedorn’s office went on unchecked for months until media reports exposed it to the public, at which point Hagedorn lied to the public and tried to deflect blame. The people of Minnesota deserve better than crooked politicians like Jim Hagedorn.”
Now would be a good time to give Dan Feehan some money, or help his campaign in some other way.
Press release from the Minnesota DFL (That’s what we Minnesotans call our version of the Democratic Party.)
The Minnesota GOP and Trump campaign even embarked on a tour of the state of Minnesota, which risked exposing Minnesotans to a deadly pandemic that has killed over 180,000 Americans and whose infection rates are growing here in Minnesota. Here’s what today’s speakers said:
“The plain truth here is that Minnesota Republicans and the Trump campaign are putting people’s lives at risk to win political campaigns,” said DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin. “The Minnesota Republican Party’s unsafe events could be spreading COVID-19 across our state, landing people in the hospital, and even killing them. If Minnesota Republican events have not caused serious harm, it is only because their fellow Minnesotans are taking this threat seriously and making the sacrifices necessary to save lives.”
“This is the perfect storm of everything people shouldn’t do: going from place to place with no knowledge of whether or not you’re sick and meeting with people,” said Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Many of them as you can see are not young, many of them are vulnerable, but there’s no way for people to know who’s vulnerable and who’s not and then.”
“To me, people’s lives are more important to people’s votes,” added Slavitt. “I think I would ask that of your elected representatives in your candidates: is my life more important than putting you in office? And is your behavior at suggesting that? So I just would say to anybody who doesn’t hold that value: it’s not too late to change because people are going to live or die by your decisions.”
“We have seen that places that do have fairly severe outbreaks, when they start to recommend masks, when they introduce mask mandates, they turn the corner,” said Dr. Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist and Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University who appeared in a non-partisan capacity to speak about the science behind masking and COVID-19. “Wearing a mask is important. I think social distancing is important and I would also prioritize outdoor events. I think if you’re able to do all three of those things: masks, social distancing, and outdoors, I think that’s relatively safe and I would feel comfortable in that situation for someone who is not older or someone without underlying health conditions. But indoors, maskless, close-quarters, those are all recipes for transmission”
You are in motion. You may not realize this, but you are, even while you think you are standing still. Long ago physicists realized that everything is in motion, but they probably were not thinking of you. But I am thinking of you, and you are in motion.
Let me sharpen the point of this polemic so you get it right away. You are on a subway platform (a subway is like a train but it runs underground, in case you are in the Midwest or something) and you are in motion. When you move around on the platform, you may randomly bump into someone, and then maybe they bump into someone else. And so on. Every now and then, somebody is bumped off the platform and onto the tracks, and right away the subway (underground train) comes by (the engineer is a guy named Murphy) and runs that person over.
Did you see that part where you are in motion, and that actually caused someone to get run over by Murphy’s subway?
If you don’t vote, that is not not doing something. You are in motion, remember? Just “sanding there” not voting has consequences. You didn’t vote, you knocked someone off the subway platform. Get it?
I live in a suburban townhouse complex. Those of you who have always known me will know that I wasn’t born in one, never lived in them for most of my life, and it may be a bit of a surprise, but I almost never chose where I live (or what car I drove, for that matter) partly because there are other things I chose to choose instead. Anyway, here I am in this suburban townhouse complex in an outer ring white flight bedroom community of the Twin Cities. It is campaign season, and it is time for me to put out my campaign signs. Maybe a BLM sign and maybe a Vote Climate sign. I’ll probably mix them up, move them around, keep them visible and busy. Keep them in motion. Because I am in motion, and I confer some of that motion to my lawn signs. (I quickly add: In this political district, lawn signs do vote. You should see them on election day, springing along on their spindly little legs over to the polling place at the community center. But I digress.)
Naturally, the lawn signs cause a controversy. Sort of. Two things are in motion at the same time. Someone complained about lawn signs. The representative from our HOA’s management company swings into motion. A lawyer is consulted. The presumption is that the signs are bad. The presumption is that they are illegal. Oh no, wait, look it up, they are not illegal. But there are limits. Limits I say! Limits on time and limits on space, and damn well better move them when the vast green lawns are getting their grooming. Those who go beyond the limits must be told “No, no, that is a no-no!” We don’t want controversy. We don’t want the “liberal media” (yes, that term was actually used by the lawyer) to write a story about us! No no. Heavens no.
I’m on the board of the HOA, so I see this stuff in motion.
Meanwhile, I sit on my porch, with my lawn signs out there. My actual neighbors come by. “Hey, can I get one of those signs?” “Hey, can I get one of those other signs?” The signs cleverly stashed in my garage are in motion. They are marching on their spindly legs across the neighborhood and planting in the lawns everywhere. This is a sign of something, I figure.
So I delve into the email flurry about the law and the signs and the perception and the liberal media. I say, look, change your attitude. We need more, not fewer, signs. Do you not realize that sitting there in your Daly City inspired little townhouse in the white flight bedroom community suburb and grumpily scanning your neighbors’ lawns for signs of signs is exactly how you knock people, innocent people who did you no harm, and often, innocent people who actually require your protection and not your attack on them, off the subway platform into the unforgiving path of Murphy’s subway car? Do you not get this? “More signs!” I say. Put them in motion!
Move over, people who think they are standing still, and are satisfied with that, who even think it is the way to be. Everything is at risk right now. Everything. Move purposefully, because you are, right now, moving randomly. There is no still. There is only do.
The Battle of New Orleans, one of the major battles of the War of 1812, was fought on January 8th, 1815. The War of 1812 had ended the previous December. Awkward. In South Africa, the “Second Boer War” broke out for a number of reasons, but the common thread was about how the various territories of the region should be organized and governed. War was declared in October 1899, and formally ended on May 31st, 1902. The political and ideological struggle continued, and it was not until 1910 that the first official agreement to address the initial reasons for the war emerged. But even after that the struggle continued. The American Civil War ended on April 9th, 1865. A half dozen major battles and 16 months later, the fighting in that ended war petered out. The ideological struggle related to that war continues today, and thousands have died over it, after it was over.
A purely ideological war (though not without material casualties) is the war against the teaching of evolution in American public schools. There was a lot of action in that war throughout much of the 20th century. On December 20th, 2005, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania decided Tammy Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District in favor of the science of evolution being taught unfettered, and identified the last breath of a pseudo-scientific creationist doctrine as an expression of religion. Sure, people still continued to fight over the issue, but after the Dover decision, there were very few significant fights in public schools over evolution, the battles being brought to state legislatures, where they never took root because of Dover. Fighting continued, ideological battles continued, just like in all those other wars, but the war on evolution in the US public school system ended in December 2005.
I declare the war on science over this month, July, 2020. Nice round patriotic number. We can pick a date later after history has sorted out some details. But the war ended when this happened: American anti science forces having spent months telling people that Covid-19 was a hoax, not really deadly, not really as bad as it seemed, and that masks did not really matter … well, they started wearing masks. Pence and Trump surrendered the war when they said wear masks. The people in my local grocery store, that had been not wearing masks, masked up. The end. War over.
Most of my friends are pedantic skeptics, just like you dear reader, and you won’t let me say that the war on science is over because bla bla bla bla. That is why I wrote the little introduction at the beginning of this blog post. If we treat every thing like we were Wikipedia editors, than every thing would be slightly to very warped and things like wars would never be over. Get over it. This war is over, even if sporadic fighting continues until the Sun expands.
By the way, did you notice that there are some wars that actually unambiguously end, like World War II? Do you know why they get to end but other wars, from a pedantic perspective, never do? I’m not sure but I think those are wars started by individuals, or small groups of different kings or leaders, then when the opposition (usually, the good guys) catch up to them and put them down, the war ends, more or less instantly. But I digress.
There is still a fight, there are still more fights over science and justice and all that. But the systematic Republican controlled war on science in America got won. By us.
In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.
Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.
A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and family interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for regifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.
Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.
During the rally in Tulsa, Trump jokes. (Read the following with your best internal Trump voice)
“I know some of you, maybe many of you. Many many. Maybe, I know, many of you will get COVID. The Chinese Flu, I call it. I call it the Chi-Neez flu. I know many many of you will get it because you are here with me today. All crowded in. And boy, do I love to see the crowd. All crowded in together.
Please, though, don’t die before November 3rd, alright? I need you to vote. Not that I need you, really, I’ll win anyway. But it would be nice if you lived long enough to vote.”
Over the next 30 minutes the penny drops. Thousands of pennies drop. The crown starts to leave, then streams out, like Minnesotans to their cars halfway through a Twins game during a bad season.
And from there on it, Trump, all of it, dwindles away.
The penny dropsidiom
—used to say that someone finally understands something after not understanding it for a time.
I had to explain it to him three times, but finally the penny dropped.
Important subplot: Trump says he officially classifies all conversations he ever had with Bolton about anything. Therefore, if Bolton reveals any conversation at all, that he is a criminal, and will hopefully be prosecuted.
This is what dictators do. They play with the law. Trump, as dictator, could just declare Bolton to be a traitor and have him arrested and sent to Gitmo (maybe Trump doesn’t know he has that power?) but he plays around with it like this, makes the point more clear: Anyone who interferes with Trump’s power is in trouble.