Five Things: July 30, 2020

Oh, hello! How are you? I have a few things I’m thinking about today:

Hey, did you know? Our economy is shit! Specifically, the last economic quarter is absolutely the worst on record, either on its own (in which the GDP shrank more than nine percent) or on the especially dramatic “annualized” basis (which has the GDP shrinking an unfathomable 32%). Here’s an explainer about what “annualized basis” means, and why it’s probably not the one to look at for an actual accurate bead on the economy, but, look, no matter how you slice it, our economy is in a bad way.

“It’s the Trump economy!” Well, as much as I hate being fair to the awful bastard, let us stipulate that given the pandemic and the initial shutdown it precipitated, the economy would have taken a massive hit during this first phase of the coronavirus regardless of who was president. Trump and his administration’s policy of “welp, you’re on your own, guess you’re gonna die,” certainly didn’t help between April and June, of course. But it would have been a mess regardless. It’s all the rest of the year, and the subsequent economic mess that exists (and is coming) from the administration’s incoherent and incompetent response that will define the Trump Economy. And just before an election! That’s great news for him.

Speaking of which —

Trump wants to delay the election: Sure, he’s trying to distract from the horrifying economic report today (it won’t work), but also, he’s pretty sure he’s going to lose the election (he probably will) and if and when he does he’s going to spend the rest of his life in courtrooms and/or in jail (I can’t wait), so why not try to delay the election on the basis of the utterly spurious lie that voting by mail is fraudulent? This is an utterly foolproof plan with no flaws whatsoever!

The good news, such as it is, is Trump’s brilliant plan doesn’t seem to be getting much traction with other GOPers, who I have to assume have actually read the Constitution, or at least have had someone read it to them. Also, Congress would need to change the date; good luck getting that past the House at the moment. But this is just more evidence that Trump is planning to deny the validity of any election that doesn’t go his way, and the rest of the GOP will have to decide which they like more: The US Constitution, or, you know, actual fucking treason. I wish I could say that “actual fucking treason” had less than coin-flip odds at the moment.

Herman Cain dies of coronavirus: Which is sad, and also, I don’t think it’s politicizing his death to point out the odds are really excellent that he contracted the virus either at Trump’s Tulsa event or traveling to or from it. Cain’s people want to suggest there are other places where he could have picked up the virus, and of course they would do that. One does have to entertain the possibility that they may even be correct; Cain was extensively traveling during a pandemic and also eschewing things like mask wearing, which increased his chances of exposure. What we can say for sure is: stay home when you can, folks. Wear a mask when you can’t.

Meanwhile, back here at Whatever: Athena and I held our first staff meeting today, talking about short and long term plans for the site now that she’s coming on as staff — not just in terms of posts and features but a bunch of backend stuff too, like scheduling and where in the house she’ll do her work (home office, folks!). I suspect I bored her a bit with all the things I had on the agenda to discuss, which just means I am totally being a boss, I guess. In any event, a good meeting and a good start. I’m looking forward to next week. Just FYI, expect the Athena rollout to start relatively modestly as we get things going; we have a fair amount of backend stuff to contend with the first couple of weeks.

Spice with the catnip sock: We have a lot of catnip toys in the house, because the cats are all catnip-sensitive (not all cats are) and we enjoy watching them get stoned. But they are also super aggressive with the toys so they don’t last very long — someone sent us some catnip bananas and the cats had eviscerated it an hour later, and we had catnip all over the hardwood floors.

So what I end up doing is taking a whole bunch of catnip, putting it into an old sock, putting a knot in it to sequester the catnip, and tossing it to the cats. Voila: a durable catnip toy the kitties have yet to destroy. And after a couple of weeks, replace the catnip inside, and you’re back in business. I reloaded the sock the other day; here’s Spice enjoying it quite enthusiastically.

84 Comments on “Five Things: July 30, 2020”

  1. My cat would totally destroy the sock.He’s trying to destroy all my bedding right now.

  2. GOPers who’ve read the Constitution “or at least have had someone read it to them.” This made me actually laugh out loud and it’s been a pretty shitty day. Thanks.

  3. Because it never gets old: “If you don’t talk to your cats about catnip, who will?” :-D

  4. We have two cats that are both insensitive to catnip, and I am sad for them but more for me for being denied stoned cats as entertainment.

  5. Let’s not jinx it and say “he’ll probably lose”….Hillary was polling at 85% last time and got beat….I can’t take another letdown

  6. About Trump spending years in court or jail: I wonder if Biden will pardon him? One could make the same argument that Ford made about Nixon, that it’s worse for the nation to go through all that then let it go. Whether that’s true or not, I have no idea.

  7. The sock thing also works with rice/lentils/flaxseed if you’re looking for a microwavable heating pack. (My current cat is fairly catnip-indifferent. Our last cat wasn’t sensitive at all… Except the one day she needed to get high, after being spayed, and having been tucked up too tightly. :( We were trying to make her feel better until in the morning, were trying everything, finally gave her a catnip toy someone had gifted that she hadn’t cared about before. She took one very long huff and then relaxed visibly, and fell asleep shortly thereafter. In the morning, she was on the road to normal.)

  8. It’s not a real work-from-home scenario until you have Zoom meetings from opposite ends of the house.

  9. Margaret:

    I find it unlikely Biden would pardon him, and even if he did that wouldn’t immunize Trump, that wouldn’t immunize him from state-level felonies. New York State is definitely out there, waiting.

  10. Already on Fox etc. comments the tone is “Hyuck Hyuck, Trump sure is trolling them librul dimmycrats!”

  11. Paying attention to whatever 4 am thumb-flatulence shows up on @realDonaldTrump was always a bad idea, but between now and the election it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a continuous sewer of toxic, crazymaking irrelevance because he’s cornered and even his enablers are starting to abandon him.

    Manipulating the media with unhinged distractions isn’t really a re-election strategy, it’s just the default impulse of his id. And nobody needs any more of that.

  12. According to at least one article I’ve read, Trump is trying to draw a distinction between absentee ballots, which he calls good, and mail-in ballots, which he calls bad. Has anyone bothered telling him that absentee ballots are cast by mail?

    @Margaret — Ford and Nixon were both Republicans, which meant Ford was vulnerable to party pressure to pardon Nixon. (Whether he _was_ pressured or not I can’t say. I was a kid when I watched Nixon’s resignation, I couldn’t fully comprehend how important that was.) I really don’t see the Democrats urging Biden to pardon Trump. I can see Trump trying to pardon himself, assuming someone convinces him a challenge to the election’s validity won’t work.

  13. In three months, the 3Q GDP numbers will come out, and because 2Q was a historic low resulting from a near-total shutdown of the national economy, 3Q will probably be the largest quarter-over-quarter increase on record. Which will lead to a week of GOP crowing about how the president* has brought about unprecedented economic growth!!1!

  14. I still wonder if he plans to pardon himself on the way out the door. My brain goes to talk about paying Stormy Daniels to pardon him, but it’s been too long a day for that level of nasty.

    I really don’t care, I really don’t. To quote ‘Stitch’ Jones, “Don’t go away mad, just go away”

  15. I have two cats with measured catnip responses. They roll about on the toys a bit, then carry on as usual. I assume if they used marijuana, they would be equally responsible about it.

    Trump has threatened to delay the election before, and it’s been pointed out before that the process is extremely difficult and unlikely. I’m not sure if it’s been pointed out TO Trump, but I want to shake the hand of the person whose job it is to try. And also buy them a drink, or possibly some catnip.

  16. Trying to deny the validity of the election is not “actual fucking treason.” That same Constitution you refer to defines it: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Blowing off the election would certainly be a violation of his oath (so what else is new?), but that doesn’t constitute treason.

  17. We had just replaced our scratcher with a new one and it seems that whenever one buys something cat related (not cat food, though), the seller sends catnip with the purchase. Anyway, after putting some of the catnip on the new scratcher, both of our cats took turns using it (something new to use plus catnip equals happy kitty). But what was funny is our younger cat has been laying on it like she’s the queen of the world or something.

  18. “have actually read the Constitution, or at least have had someone read it to them”

    How hard is this? The Constitution only consists of half of the First Amendment and about two-thirds of the Second.

  19. Obama’s first chickenshit move of his presidency was that whole “look forward, not back” bullshit to avoid anything that might ask with legal import whether Bush and Cheney did anything unconstitutional or in violation of international law with regards to torturing prisoners of war, nation wide spying on american program, and all the bullshit involved with lying to congress about active wmd programs in Iraq that didnt actually exist.

    Would Biden pardon Trump or call off any federal investigations of Trump because of the same chickenshit excuse?

    I give it a 50/50 chance.

    If dems have proven anything it is their uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  20. Trump is trying to engineer a situation where he can either delay mail-in votes or have them declared void. If he slows the mail, or sequesters the mail-in votes until after Nov. 3, then he can say they will not be counted because they didn’t arrive in time. He will find some “clever” way to get rid of mail-in votes.

  21. @Steve Roth,

    Although I wouldn’t want to state what Scalzi’s intentions were, especially on his own site, I’ll not that there is both a legal and colloquial meaning for treason. However, I don’t think I really have to know which one he was using to refute your argument.

    If Trump attempts to delay the election, he’s trying to stay in office beyond his designated term. That’s a coup attempt. If members of Congress, support that, they’re supporting a coup attempt. I’d say that a coup attempt qualifies as “levying War against [the United States].” Which is Treason.

    So I think your argument is erroneous.

  22. Thirty-five years ago (plus or minus a year or two) I was a student in Minneapolis while Herman Cain was an executive at Burger King, then owned by then-independent Pillsbury Co. I used to visit family back East by way of Auto Driveaway cars, and had the (dis)pleasure of twice driving his perfectly crappy compact Oldsmobiles – an Omega and a Calais – to or from Cherry Hill, NJ when he was relocated, about a 1200-mile drive. So I can say that I pitied him even before today, either because he was given these as company cars or because he chose them deliberately.

    (I didn’t know then that he’d become both famous and repulsive. I only remembered his name because it was a close match for my mother’s daddy, Herman Cohen.)

  23. @iwasgettingshorttoo

    “Would Biden pardon Trump or call off any federal investigations of Trump because of the same chickenshit excuse?

    I give it a 50/50 chance.”

    I disagree. I think your estimate of the chances of Biden pardoning Trump are 50% too high. Biden’s a Democrat and Trump is a Republican. There is NO political gain to made from such an act and mountains of losses. Plus, everyone remembers Ford pardoning Nixon and how much that cost. There’s no way Biden is going to pardon Trump. Plus he doesn’t need to.

    If Biden wants to let Trump off the hook (as much as he can) he can just make it known through the Justice Department that he doesn’t want him prosecuted. And he won’t be. Also, a pardon wouldn’t protect Trump from state level prosecution and I wouldn’t be surprised if subpoenas are being served by NY state prosecutors at 12:01 PM, January 20, 2021

  24. I had a cat once who was only interested in the catnip if she could ingest it. Every time I bought her a catnip toy, even handmade ones which I could count on having been filled with fresh catnip, she was super interested for about five minutes until she figured out she couldn’t get the catnip out of it, then done. Pull out the little bag of catnip and feed her a pinch? Best thing every and she’d be wildly climbing on me to get more.

  25. @Steve Roth, I suspect Scalzi would define Trump as an Enemy if he attempts some sort of coup. By that definition, those who support him (i.e. give him Aid and Comfort) would be committing constitutional treason.

    @David Hajicek: except Trump doesn’t get a say in how the states appoint their electors: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct…Electors…”

    And if he just gums up the works and slows things down, he and Trump are still out as of January 20th. If the election results haven’t been certified, the succession goes to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    Not *at all* to say “everything’s gonna be fine.” I’m pretty sure Portland is a dress rehearsal for sending in thugs to “monitor” elections. And if he does somehow manage to scam his way to an electoral tie, the House votes…with one vote per state. So Wyoming’s half a million people get one vote. And California’s 40 million people…also get one vote.

  26. @rrhersh

    Don’t forget Article II, which makes a Republican president king, and the 10th Amendment, which makes Jim Crow okeydokey for Southern states.

  27. ” when [Trump]does[lose the election] he’s going to spend the rest of his life in courtrooms and/or in jail”

    Or Russia. Russia is also a possibility. Having a former President, even Trump, and whatever briefcase full of stuff he could grab on his way out the door, would be a real intelligence and PR coup to Putin. Watch out for any last minute spots of international diplomacy he decides to go on in his lame duck period. Assuming he does get a lame duck period and does lose, because I remember people talking about Hillary with the same certainty as Biden.

  28. Whether or not Cain got COVID at Trump’s rally, around and before and after, he chose to hang around lots of people without protection, so that other people could have the opportunity to get sick. I am hoping that getting sick/dying with COVID after flaunting masklessness will be the “autoerotic asphyxiation” of the 2020’s.

    As a separate rejoinder, https://twitter.com/Robin_Blue19/status/1288541089062965256/photo/1

  29. Margaret (and others), who are not paying as close attention to all this as my wife is (which is understandable, because no one could): Biden has already answered the question and said that he will NOT pardon Trump, period.

    2. As mentioned, Herman Cain was not just another Trump supporter, but a man with incredible risk factors, as he had survived Stage 4 liver cancer, Running around without a mask, let alone going to Trump’s Tulsa Fiasco and partying and dancing without a mask, could constitute a death wish to some. For a supposedly smart guy, that was very foolish behavior and he’s paid the ultimate price.

    Sad.

  30. Since Trump is not going to invite Biden over and hand over the Presidency, I have serious doubts about Biden doing anything to sweep Trump under a rug.

    Trump’s economy was about the same as Jerry Ford’s economy, the don’t fuck with it economy. Leave it alone and it will grow. Obama got the economy going, Trump could not have pulled it out of the fire then, and he won’t be able to do it this time. Q3 will probably be worse than Q2 because of foreclosures, evictions and water&power company issues.

    This winter in America is going to be a dark time.

    Swiffers work well at getting catnip off the floor, I know that from experience.

  31. Concerning Biden pardoning Trump – During the May 14th virtual Town Hall, Biden was asked if he would commit to not pardoning Trump. His reply was “Absolutely, yes. I commit.” (Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/15/joe-biden-pledges-not-to-pardon-trump-260147)

    Concerning Trump’s constant attempts to delegitimize the upcoming elections and the concern that he might “steal’ it – Unfortunately, he might be able to do this (sort of) legally. (Source: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/05/13/2020-election-contested-donald-trump-226869)

  32. It may have been a chickenshit move, but Obama, unlike a lot of liberals, knew for a fact that he’d NEVER get a conviction of Bush or Cheney people. Not when 40%+ of the country thinks the mere THOUGHT of a criticism of a Republican is treasonous.

    Even now, it’s even money whether you could actually convict Trump or one of his cronies post presidency.

  33. This isn’t rocket science and I can’t figure out why the GOP can’t get this. Get control of the virus and you can get control of the economy…one follows the other. But as long as the virus continues to rage unchecked you are just chasing your tail. Instead they do nothing and HOPE a vaccine bails them out.

  34. @gwangung – I doubt the US would convict Trump on any crimes he committed while in office. The other people around him are more likely to be convicted. Don Jr. and Eric probably have their escape plans in place.

    New York State, on the other hand, is most likely to convict Trump. We know he has committed tax fraud, and more than likely bank fraud. Personally, I’m hoping for a bank fraud conviction. Even if he never serves a day in prison, the public outing that he has been lying about his money is punishment enough. With his narcissistic personality disorder, he would rather go to prison than be seen as a failure.

  35. @Ron Beilke
    I think the explanation is that the GOP has no interest in governing and they’re completely incompetent at it. Stated more ideologically, any solution that involves large-scale coordinated government action is anathema to them, but that’s what’s required in a pandemic. So they would rather try to undermine the science and snipe at Democrats to keep everyone bickering and stuck at the ground floor.

    If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s also their climate change playbook.

  36. @just different

    “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.” – P. J. O’Rourke

  37. I do the catnip-in-a-sock thing with my cats as well. Does Spice ever grab the sock by the knot and then drag it around the house looking for all the world like a lioness dragging a deer back to her pride?

  38. A couple of side notes:

    (1) Declaring an “Enemy” requires a Congressional resolution. It’s not even something that the State Department’s annual designation of “terrorist states” can do. So far as I know, it can only be a recognized or recognizable nation-state (so the UN can’t be an Enemy).

    (2) What is more interesting to me than the pardon question is just how quickly, and in what order, a President Biden would move to reverse a number of Drumpf’s signature asshole moves. In some order, within the first thirty days after changing office, I think we’re going to see:

    Tear Down the Wall (horrifying side note: In the next few days, three times as many Americans will have died ascribed to COVID-19 as are memorialized on the Vietnam Wall)

    WHO are you? WHO WHO? WHO WHO? (yes, that does imply begging)

    and on the less classic-rock part of the playlist,

    Rescinding all efforts to rescind DACA

    Ending all efforts to target Byrne Act funding on sanctuary jurisdictions

    Rename all US military posts currently named after Confederates to, well, something else

    Ending of the executive efforts (most of which don’t even have the power of executive orders) to defund any American foreign effort that even breathes the words “birth control”, let alone “abortion”

    Withdrawing all approvals for oil drilling on federal land granted since 02 November 2019

    Withdrawal of EVERY active nomination for ANYTHING that hasn’t been confirmed as of 1159/20Jan2021… which will probably leave both the Federal Election Commission and Federal Trade Commission lacking a quorum due to term expirations, oh well

    and, to return to the classic-rock playlist, Biden and Jagger dancin’ in the streets — unfortunately, Bowie is “not available” — as Biden tries desperately to convince all of Europe that the last four years are just a bad dream, hoping that they’ll forget the periods from 1986 to early 1990 (I can’t, I was there) and from 2002 to 2007 (Jagger will join in, though, he’s always up for a party).

    The reason for all of these: None of them require either anything from Congress… or compliance with the notice-and-comment procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act. Not even the allowance of drilling — all allowances of drilling on federal land are by definition temporary, and there’s no property right in the drilling (just in the equipment used, which is bring-your-own anyway).

  39. I’m sorry, but I can’t quite work up more than half a thimbleful of sympathy for senator Cain.

    He made a conscious decision to attend several public events during a pandemic, one that had and continued to kill people by the thousands.

    I am sorry for his loved ones (they really ought to have been tested, as well) but I’m not falling apart with sorrow over the death of a science-denying, true-believer of a Drumpfist covidiot with delusions of invincibility.

    All of my heartstrings are for frontline workers who, every day, risk their lives and sacrifice what little normality(remember that medical professionals are sleeping at hotels or in tents so as not to infect their families) there is so that the rest of us can vent and speculate about the fate of the orange garbage bomb from the safety of our stocked and sterilized homes.

    He and other dead covidiots were the engineers of their own destinies. That’s what “personal responsibility” is all about, right?

    My only hope is that innocent folks won’t pay with their lives for his unmitigated stupidity.

    If so, they and their families will have my deepest condolences.

  40. I’ve never seen cats reacting to catnip – for a while I thought it was a bit of a myth or in-joke. Then I discovered that cats in Australia are all (except maybe a very few recent imports) of the variety that don’t react to it. Which doesn’t stop pet shops from stocking catnip toys, mind you, they just have no effect.

  41. When I grew catnip in my garden I noticed that cats had a different reaction to the fresh then they did to the dried. And no two cats had absolutely the same response. Maybe a topic for a graduate thesis there?

  42. @David Hunt, thanks for your courteous response. However, while you may “say that a coup attempt qualifies as ‘levying War against [the United States],’” the law does not. “War” is, by the definitions understood by the framers, something that only a nation-state can conduct. An individual like Trump, or the hypothetical Congresscritters you mention, cannot “levy war.”

    And @Jon Marcus, while you may be right that “Scalzi would define Trump as an Enemy if he attempts some sort of coup,” his definition is not the one that matters here. @Jaws is correct that an Enemy, in Constitutional usage, can only be a nation-state and not an individual.

    Let’s bear in mind here that there’s a reason that treason is the *only* crime explicitly defined in the Constitution. It’s defined there in order to limit it, because King George III tended to define anything he didn’t like as treason. We celebrate the glory of our Constitution by realizing that it does not allow individuals, or even kings, to declare anything they don’t like to be treason.

    Does no one else see the irony of condemning a man for proposing something unconstitutional, while in the same breath exceeding that same Constitution’s definitions?

  43. Children! Don’t make me turn this hearing around!

    Your elected officials, ladies and gents!

  44. @Steve Roth, I don’t agree with your parsing of “coup”; it is inconsistent with the charges laid against Aaron Burr. It is also inconsistent with the formal pardon for treason offered to former Confederates by Andrew Johnson, even many who had not “take up arms” against the Union. Hugo de Groot (latinized as “Grotius” and well known to the founders) discussed coups as acts of war against the legitimate government, precisely because they were done in the name of a government (admittedly, he was primarily discussing coups instigated by outsiders without declaration of war).

  45. No one is going to do a thing to Trump when he leaves office. If he loses, the same thing will happen during every transition. Biden will come in and Trump will leave.

    The delay tweet was trolling.

    Death rate in Texas from COVID, 0.0152, about half the last recorded flu season here. What exactly is the problem?

    Pandemic will end day after election, no matter who wins. Political viability runs out. Remember Iraq war death toll from Bush 43? Media stopped pushing it after he won 2nd term. Couldn’t use it against him anymore politically because he couldn’t run again.

  46. Ya know, perpetually throwing certain words around, e.g. racist (lost its luster a few decades ago) and treason (lost it’s luster one day after the 2016 election), whenever you feel you must disagree with a particular point/statement that someone you don’t like says, makes you look like you got no originality left. Being unoriginal usually equates with being ignored.

  47. @ G. B. Miller:

    “Being unoriginal usually equates with being ignored.”

    This from the guy whose only response to arguments presented against Trump has never been anything else than “LOL, he’s still your president”. Or a racist false equivalency.

    The king of weak, cowardly drive-by trolling.

    I feel suitably chastised.

  48. So it would have been no worse or better under Clinton. Which means she would be facing a tough reelection campaign as well? Moral equivalency is hard. I would make quips about the economy and covid deaths too but as I don’t like in rural land I have to experience it every day going to my essential job.

  49. @johnr219

    If you look at total deaths for the state of Texas for the flu (2018 data from CDC) you have 3,516 deaths.
    Total deaths to date in Texas due to COVID-19 is 6,442. You have almost a doubling of total deaths versus the flu. I am sure that the deaths in Texas will continue to grow at a rate much greater than the flu.
    Also comparing the flu to C-19 is a false equivalency as they are drastically different diseases.

    Finally the disease does not care if we do or don’t have an election. It is a multitude of viruses that is optimizing itself for survival (Darwinism) in the optimum host – humans. To claim that the pandemic will go away just because the election occurs is like wishing to lose weight while binging on oreos.

    I doubt I have influenced you but I feel better so I am happy now.

  50. Clinton would probably have not initiated a trade war with China and probably not passed the tax “cuts” (so we’d have lower government debt). The trade disputes between us and China were already weighing on various industries before COVID. On the other hand, the Senate would not have played well with Clinton (and the House early on) and so there would have been problems.

    The biggest factor now in ease of reelection would have been how competent would her response to the pandemic have been, because if the economy could have come back (if Trump had had anything approaching a competent response) Trump would have a somewhat easier path to reelection, (He’d still have to argue about his connections to Russia, his incompetent management, his inability to keep his right arm down, etc. but the economy trumps a lot of that). It is possible that Clinton could have messed up this bad, but it seems unlikely (grabbing a random person off of the street to run the response probably would have been better than having Trump – they wouldn’t have lied as much, for one) and so the economy and the country would be in a better position. On the other hand, Fox would be trumpeting the deaths and the restrictions to minimize them, and we wouldn’t know what could have happened if Trump were here so it would probably be difficult, anyway (although we do have other countries’ responses to compare to so).

  51. For your catnip sock (because I do the same thing): if you throw in some crinkly plastic, it adds to the allure. Also, dunno how feasible it is for you, but if you grow your own catnip it’s much more potent. Whee!

  52. @G.B. Miller:

    LOL!
    Because n***, Fa***, bean*** and Cu*** are some of the most dynamic and politically effective neologisms in circulation right now.

    If I had a dime for every triggered, free speech advocating, 50s fetishizing right-wing snowflake (Don’t you *dare* call me a racist just because I disagree with you about lynching, concentration camps for Muslims and Hispanic illegals and the furtherance of genocidal covid policies!) who went frothy and purple when called out for bigotry and anti-American treachery I could have every Drumpfist in existence loaded onto spacecrafts and rocketed into the sun.

    As it is, I’ve collected quite the tidy little sum from the tired conflation of simple disagreement with advocacy against unconscionable policies designed to keep power and privilege in the hands of American born SWMs, their dutiful helpmates and their malleable-minded offspring.

    Finally, it’s neither tired nor politically ineffective to call a bigot a bigot just because white supremacist right wingers who use the term “racist” are met with laughter and derision, especially when squealing in outrage over antiracists identifying white people as the main transgressors. That ole trick is so worn and torn it ought to be burned.

    TL; DR: Okay, Bigot.

    Oh, and there’s a dime through the “Clinton wouldn’t have done any better” slot!

    Could’ves and would’ves mean fuck all in the face of Trump’s gross negligence. Full stop.

    The reality is that Drumpf presides over a diseased pit infested with white supremacist sociopaths and flat earthers.

    The reality is that mutterings about his various acts of domestic terrorism are rising in his own party.

    So we’re perfectly clear, I haven’t a single doubt that Clinton would have saved more lives than has the former host of Celebrity Apprentice.

  53. gwangung, who said anything about conviction? Gawds. How many times was Hillary -convicted- of anything? Keep having committees do investigations. Keep bringing out the truth. Keep digging up the dirt.

    There is a large swath of Americans even today safely protected from their ignorance convinced that Iraq had an active WMD program because Obama was too chickenshit to get his hands dirty. Investigations would have abused their ignorance. There is a large swath of Americans safely protected from their ignorance that torture produces valuable intel. Congressional investigations could have abused that ignorance.

    And then dems sit in total bafflement as to how someone as inept as Trump has 40% support in polls. Its because dems often think not doing anything is the same thing as taking the high road.

    Dems act like they dont even understand how politics works sometimes.

  54. @ iwasgettingshorttoo:

    “Investigations would have abused their ignorance.”

    I think you overestimate the degree to which the American public cares about WMDs in Iraq, or about torture.

    Most Americans would not have been able to find Iraq on a map in 2003, and only had a hazy understanding of “WMDs”. The majority of Americans have a rather vague understanding of anything, period.

    Knowing that the WMDs were a lie would not have changed public opinion on the aggression on Iraq to a significant degree. Two years earlier, the government dropped the ball and we were hit by terrorist attacks that caused thousands of deaths. The myth of our invulnerability was shattered and Joe Average in Bumfuck, Nowhere, was terrified and enraged. Being of a primitive disposition, unsophisticated and not particularly intelligent, all Joe wanted was revenge. Nothing less than mass-murdering the evil dark people who made Joe afraid would do. Torrents of blood, squads of Chuck Norrises rampaging through burned-down enemy villages; the Star-Spangled Banner superimposed over the smoke-filled desert sky, “America the Beautiful” playing over a backdrop of explosions.

    Same goes for torture. It’s not that Americans are “safely protected from their ignorance”. It’s that we don’t care, or even actively support it. Weird brown people with beards deserve to be detained indefinitely without being charged with a crime. If they hadn’t been plotting against us, they’d have nothing to fear.

    Look no further than reactions to the recent police assassination protests. Large swaths of the electorate don’t give a shit, or believe the police are completely within their rights to kill at will. That those uppity minorities need to be put back in their place.

    That’s the real reason for Trump’s 40% approval. It’s not ignorance, or the lack of dirt being dug up. He’s no more than a symptom. He’ll go away. Troglodytism, belligerent stupidity, obsession with violence, moral and spiritual bankruptcy, worshiping the false idols of our racist and genocidal past. How do we deal with that before 2024? 2064? 2104?

  55. I too have discovered catnip socks as the best and most durable toy for my monsters. In particular they like the fuzzy kind of sock, and will spend hours alternating between attempting to groom it into submission and attempting to rip it’s guys out. They will even find non-catnipped fuzzy socks and bring them to me, asking for a fill-up. Little adorable addicts.

  56. I’m reluctant to go all paranoid, but every time Trump posts one of his more outrageous tweets, I hear, “Look! A squirrel!” and swivel my head around to see what actual danger we’re supposed to distracted from. Currently, his minions are hobbling the Postal Service and messing with the Census deadline, actions that benefit Trump at election time and and the GOP for a decade to come.

    I’m not sure how fully Trump is aware of this kind of stage magic–maybe it’s something he does automatically, and the minions have learned to work with it to produce outcomes that The Boss likes and that benefit them. But it certainly has its effect on the news cycle and the short attention span of people with other, more in-your-face problems to deal with.

  57. The Trump Economy is the Trump Economy (and not a continuation of the Obama Economy) because while the Obama Economy was a genuine if slow recovery from the Great Recession, over his first three years Trump consistently undermined it in order to preserve decent top-line numbers at the expense of a sound foundation. This left the economy fundamentally weakened, which was fine as long as things kept humming along, but made it much more susceptible to stress.

    A Clinton Economy probably would not have looked quite so good coming into the COVID crisis, but probably would have weathered it in somewhat better shape. It still would have taken a big hit, but nothing like what we’re experiencing now.

    In addition, Clinton would have provided national leadership in the COVID crisis, which almost certainly would have softened the blow. Again, still a big hit, but nothing like what we’ve experienced.

  58. The rank-and-file GOP politico probably wants to be rid of that man as much as any Democrat, they just don’t want their fingerprints on the act; what really frightens them is their “base.” That’s why even though impeachment was arguably in their interest (I suspect that Pence could beat Biden) they didn’t pull the trigger.

    This is as compared to those folks who are taking notes to make sure that the next election is one man, one vote, one time.

  59. Vanity Fair story today says Boy Blunder had managed to come up with a plausible national testing plan, through some sort of million monkeys/million typewriters miracle, but it was spiked because only blue states were affected.

    Case numbers in US (CA, AZ, FL) are at least one order of magnitude higher than in Europe at the moment. The orange pustule was so stupid that he didn’t do the one thing that would help with his re-election, any sort of positive leadership would have helped, and the economy would be recovering by now.

    But given the fact the US electorate has the attention span of a gnat that’s just been sprayed with Raid, even if Biden does get elected (and gets the Senate too, otherwise nothing will happen), they will go back to sleep in 2022 mid terms and elect Tucker Carlson in 2024.

    Just for once, it’d be nice to get a Democratic president who doesn’t have to drag the economy out of the ditch on day one of their term.

  60. The bananas didn’t even last a day?!?! I’m so sad and happy I could craugh!

    But, yay, I know what to get them for all the major feline holidays.

  61. Fatman: nope. After MLK, a lot of white americans convinced themselves that everything was fine and dandy. For decades, racist shit was going down, and white america shrugged.

    Collin Kaepernick kneeled and racists balked and uninformed whites shrugged and told Kaepernick to get lost.

    In this year alone, i have seen entire teams kneel during the anthem and team owners are telling racists who complain about the kneeling to go screw. Confederate statues are coming down. American military bases named after confederate generals will all likely be renamed by 2024. Confederate flags are banned on military bases even on things like personal coffee cups.

    What changed?

    Awareness.

    Specifically cell phone video showing cop aftrr cop after cop murder a black man.

    But fundamentally, awareness.

    Obama or dems could have pushed for investigations after O was in the white house. Those investigations could have raised awareness.

    Would it convince everyone? No. Bigot gonna bigot. But CLEARLY there is a swath of americans who just dont know and believe whatever they are fed.

    Investigations could have changed their diet.

  62. I have no expectation of him ever seeing the inside of a courtroom for the last 4 years of shenanigans.

    If he comes to the realization that he has no chance in hell of winning in November, he can resign before the election, and he won’t have lost his re-election bid. Not his ticket anymore, not his loss.

    If he does lose in November he can resign anytime between Nov and Jan, and Pence can give him a blanket pardon for 4 years of shenanigans.

    If he doesn’t admit defeat in either of those ways, I would fully expect Biden to swallow his pride, and give him a pardon anyhow, so that the nation can end this whole sorry chapter, and start to heal and move on. Because the reality is, dragging the country through a drawn out court process isn’t likely to accomplish anything other than just keeping him in the news and in front of everyone long after his sell by date.

    The precedent exists. Count on it being used again, one way or another.

    “In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford, who had succeeded to the presidency upon Nixon’s resignation, explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interests of the country and that the Nixon family’s situation was “a tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”

    After Ford left the White House in 1977, he privately justified his pardon of Nixon by carrying in his wallet a portion of the text of Burdick v. United States, a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court decision that suggested that a pardon carries an imputation of guilt and that its acceptance carries a confession of guilt.”

  63. @Chris S
    Oh. My. God. That Vanity Fair piece is hair-raising. It’s astonishing that Jared Kushner was the one person in that administration to display even the smallest shred of competence or concern for American lives.

  64. Neither Pence nor Biden can pardon him for state crimes and you can bet your ass that NY will come after him hammer and tongs.

  65. And the fact that Biden committed to not pardoning Trump is utterly meaningless.

    Effectively anything said in a stump speech can be assumed to be null and void the instant the election is over. Maybe he’d actually hold to that commitment. But only a fool would count on that.

  66. @rochrist – That’s a bet I’d take happily. The political class doesn’t like to eat it’s own. Even when they are simultaneously cloaking themselves in the guise of an “outsider”. He’s part of the system now, and the system is phenomenally good at doing whatever it can to protect it’s own.

    Hell, even the impeachment was just another episode of political theatre, with a foregone conclusion before it started.

  67. Dear Johnr,

    “What exactly is the problem?”

    It’s fourfold:

    1) Picking one metric by which you can argue COVID-19 is less important than the flu is dumb and irrelevant. You’ve picked a particularly meaningless one — go, you! (Ryan has presented meaningful information).

    2) Even if your metric was in some way valuable (it’s not), C-19 has five times the mortality rate and is 3-6 times more infectious than the flu. The former will be reduced by improved treatments, but even if we were to get it down to the level of the flu the vastly higher infection rate means many, many more people will die of it and much more stringent social health controls will be required to prevent it from burning through the population.

    3) Even if — by some bizarre twisting of logic — C-19 could be equated with the flu, you can’t say that like it’s a good thing. The 1919 pandemic was the flu and the next big one that the medical community was fearing and expecting would come along was flu. Saying this is the apocalypse we expected instead of an unexpected one is like saying, “Oh good, it’s zombie cannibals, not vampires! What a relief!”

    4) If you really, truly believe this is all a political put-up job, well I won’t argue with you about that. Because I don’t argue geography with piss-ignorant Flat-Earthers who refuse to live in a factual reality. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

    Really, just about anything.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
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  68. Kent Burn:”tragedy in which we all have played a part.”

    The fuck if I was a part of any of this Trump bullshit.

    If Biden does ANYTHING to let the sociopath Trump off the hook, he will be a lame duck one term p resident from that moment forward. Guaranteed. And the dems wont be getting much support from their base in 2022 or 2024.

    Nixon paid thugs to break into dems hq to win an election. Trump openly courted Russia to help him win. If nothing else, congress should immediately go after all the documents and witnesses from the whitehouse that Trump stonewalled during the impeachment.

    Then there should be an investigation into to trump family skimming money off the top of literally everything tbey could get their hands on.

    And another investigation into any trump making money off cv19, the stimulus, research, fake cures, and awarding of ppe contracts to people with zero experience making ppe.

    And finally a full forensic accounting of trump, his businesses, his loans, any influence over him from russia, and an accounting of how much richer he is as a result of being president. The man raised money for his veterans charity and then the whole trump family used the money as a slush fund. That was just one court ruling we know of.

    Get it all done in 2 years before the midterms, and get everything out in the open. Drive the knife a little deeper into the republican party, the enablers of this shitshow.

    At the very least, get enough dirt that we can pass a law that presidential candidates must submit their taxes so this bullshit doesnt happen again.

  69. I feel bad about Herman Cain either having been killed by Trump or having brought Covid to spread around Trump’s rally and kill other people. He wasn’t a great guy, but he wasn’t Trump-level evil.
    I’ve had mild pneumonia a couple of times, and that’s been horrid enough; bad-enough-to-kill-you pneumonia has got to be a nasty way to die, even if you don’t also get a stroke.

    Meanwhile, the Federalist Society has called for impeaching Trump because of his remarks about wanting to delay the election. I don’t think it’ll sell (because he just suggested it, didn’t officially give anybody orders to do it, though he may have unconstitutionally ordered the Census Bureau not to count non-citizen immigrants.) But if the Republicans in the House would like to call for impeachment, and a dozen or two Republicans in the Senate are willing to go along, I’ll certainly applaud.

  70. To add to what Ctein said, a bad flu like the 1919 pandemic could kill 0.5% of the entire US population (and that’s a conservative estimate). Today that would work out to be well over 1.5 million people.

    Pretending that it’s not a problem or that it’s going to disappear after the election do not help and are going to prolong the problem. Which means COVID-19 will both kill more people and hurt the economy more.

  71. @iwasgettingshorttoo You live on the same planet he’s the elected leader of a superpower on. You’re part of it, whether you wanted to be or not. That’s just how the system works. A candidate doesn’t just get elected to represent the people who voted for him.

    You really think Biden is that worried about being a lame duck, single term president? If he’s aware enough to be concerned about that, then he’s aware enough to know that the odds of him being functional enough to run in 2024 are effectively zero. Either he’ll be dead already, or he’ll be so old and decrepit by then that it won’t matter. Either way, you’re not getting a Biden re-election campaign.

    All of those investigations you’re imagining, are purely a figment of your imagination. Never, ever going to happen. At least not in any meaningful way.

    Is he guilty of some shit? Almost certainly. Not nearly all the shit you seem to think he is. But there’s no chance of him ever seeing the inside of a jail, and effectively no chance of him seeing the inside of a court room. Even if it ever came to that, he’s old enough, and wily enough, to drag it out forever. And he’s old enough that forever isn’t all that long for him either.

  72. I think the Biden Administration will have a moral imperative to go after Trump full-bore in every possible way (legal and legislative). Trump has done so much damage to the rule of law, the only way forward is A) to see that he suffers the maximum possible punishment for his actions, and B) assure that it can never happen again by enshrining expectations for presidential behavior into law instead of counting on the president to follow expected norms of behavior.

  73. @Bill Stewart

    Cain himself deserves no sympathy whatsoever. He made his choices, and now suffers the consequences.

    His family deserves sympathy, for losing someone they cared for. His family deserves even more sympathy if any of them get sick from Herm’s stupid choices. Anyone that had contact with him that gets sick deserves sympathy. But Herm himself? It’s impossible for me to muster any at all.

  74. Agreed.

    As I said, all sympathies lie with anyone caught in the crossfire of his stupidity.

  75. Of course, if Trump loses, his 2024 campaign will start right away – got to keep the grift on grifting, and he can then spin the inevitable bank fraud prosecution in NY as “ex-presiduncial harassment”. How else will he be able to pay for his son’s female companies (both on the payroll of the campaign at $150k ish)?

    I don’t think Biden will pardon Trump, but he’s likely to be dead before he sees the inside of a courtroom. There’s absolutely no doubt that the financials he showed the banks don’t match the tax returns, but it will take years of legal fights to get to that point.

    Unless the Scottish politicians do manage to go after him with an unexplained wealth order to show where the money came from to buy his UK golf courses (spoiler: money laundering for the Russian mob/Putin).

  76. Kent: “You live on the same planet he’s the elected leader of a superpower on. You’re part of it”

    Yeah, if you dont understand what –responsible– means, thats on you, not me. You’re clearly a trump apologist. I am not. Fuck trump. He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life. And he deserves to be stripped of every asset before he dies. You want to defend him thats on you.

  77. Dear Kent,

    While I agree that Biden’s campaign promises are irrelevant (since when has a political candidate ever kept all their campaign promises?), the Trump/Biden situation isn’t anything remotely like the Nixon/Ford situation. You cannot use the latter as a predictor of the former.

    At the time that Nixon left office, almost no one outside of the inner circles of government knew what bad a state the man was in. (Not too many folks know that even today.) He’d suffered a serious mental collapse. I suspect a combination of his innate paranoia, his alcoholism, and the stress of the Watergate investigations, but whatever the reason much of the time he was not competent. I don’t mean that in the colloquial way that we talk about Trump not being competent. Nixon was nonfunctional. The highest levels of government were being run around him — NOBODY followed any of his orders, when he was functional enough to give them, without vetting them first with a responsible adult.

    It’s difficult to imagine this didn’t strongly affect Ford’s decision. He wouldn’t want the country to know, he certainly wouldn’t want other nations to know that our government had been effectively headless for the better part of the year. Also, Nixon was in no mental shape to be tried for his crimes (which we now know, from the released documents, were significantly more serious and extensive than a hotel break-in). Legally, without question, he was competent to stand trial, but that really wouldn’t of been the issue. It would’ve been the prospect of putting someone who was very obviously not “all there” on public display.

    Do I happen to think Ford made the right decision? No. I think he badly misjudged the tenor of the country. Whatever. His reasons for doing so don’t apply to Trump’s situation. Unless the man has a complete nervous breakdown in the next five months.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
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