“After making history by being impeached, (the President) lambasted his political opponents, painted himself as a persecuted hero and skipped his successor’s inauguration as he finished up his single term in office. In a bitter farewell address, he railed on about his many grievances and insisted he had no regrets from his time in office.”

The president in question was Andrew Johnson.

Johnson was still expected to attend the event as of the very morning of that Inauguration Day, but he begged off when his carriage came for him, and stayed in his office until the very last minute of his Presidency. “The last minute” is not a figurative expression in this case. He left the White House at noon, precisely as his term expired.

Both races are a coin flip. These races are just about dead even and have very few “undecided” voters, so the outcome will hinge completely on turnout.

The challenge is slightly easier for the GOP only because the Democrats have to win both seats to gain Senate control, so the Republicans can hold on if they win either one. For example, they could write off Loeffler, take all the national/outside money they were planning to spend on her, and put it behind Perdue instead. The Democrats have no similar option. They need both.

“It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid. Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people. I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000.”

He’s right on both counts. It’s two kinds of crap

  • Crap: The stimulus check is chickenshit
  • Other crap: The bill is full of bullshit unrelated to COVID.

I suppose this is true, but doesn’t matter.

Giuliani now exists in a hazy and bizarre Twilight Zone in which none of his criminal actions matter from the beginning of time until January 19th, as long as he doesn’t break any state or local laws.

First of all, if he committed Federal crimes in the past, Trump can pardon him for those.

But more significantly, Rudy may NOW commit any federal crimes he wants to commit. He is quite literally above the law, because any federal crimes he commits between now and January 19th can be pardoned by Trump as he exits – even if Rudy commits those crimes on Trump’s behalf!

All of that sounds incredible, yet it is completely legal and constitutional. (Basically a variant of this already happened with Roger Stone, who committed crimes on Trump’s behalf, then was pardoned by Trump.) Trump and Rudy can now exploit a loophole in the American legal system. The normal constitutional remedy for this type of behavior on the part of the President is impeachment, but there is simply no time to pull that off with a lame duck President. Our founding fathers gave us no mechanism to deal with a President corrupt enough to take that kind of advantage of his final days in office. Apparently they could never imagine that a scoundrel of that magnitude could win the office.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter whether Trump can pardon himself. He doesn’t need to as long as Pence is on board. The same sort of loophole applies to him. He can commit any Federal crime he wants to between now and January 19th, as long as he steps down that day and allows President Pence to be sworn in and issue a Nixon-style pardon to Trump. That’s perfectly constitutional, and comes with an unchallenged precedent in Ford’s pardon of Nixon. The only question is whether Pence is willing to be a faithful lapdog. I guess you can forgive the Founding Fathers for missing this one, because they did not create a system in which the President and Vice-President would be partners. In the 1796 and 1800 elections, they were opponents. (Second highest number of electors became VP). It was not until the 12th Amendment in 1804, about 16 years after the ratification of the Constitution and nearly 30 years after the Declaration of Independence, that the modern system became operative.

According to Gallup, approval of the USA’s leadership is at the lowest point ever in many, many countries, and to make things worse (1) that includes our most trusted allies and (2) those net approval ratings are so low that it may take years or even decades to turn them around, if they can be turned at all.

Germany: minus 83% (6% approve, 89% disapprove)
The UK: minus 60
Canada: minus 65
The Nordic countries: all minus 60 or worse
Other major European powers: between minus 55 and minus 65
Australia and New Zealand: in the high minus 30s.

Among all the free world powers, only Japan continues to hold a slightly positive view of the USA (39% approve, 38% disapprove).

I guess Americans can take some consolation in the fact that our most powerful geopolitical rivals are just as unpopular. The median positive approval for the USA stands at 18%. Russia and China are almost identical at 19% and 17% respectively.

The world now looks to Germany for leadership. (There’s one of the more frightening sentences written in the past two centuries.)

62% of the people of other countries approve of Germany’s leadership. In fact, even Americans have a higher approval of Germany’s leadership than their own! (Germany’s leadership +29, Trump -12, Congress -50.)

Continue reading “Will the USA ever be able to regain its status as the world leader?”

Just a matter of passing interest.

In the era between WW2 and Trump, only two elected presidents have run for a second term and lost the general election:

In 1980, Jimmy Carter ran for a second term. Forty-four million Americans went to the polls to vote for his main oppponent (Reagan). In all, 51 million Americans voted against him.

In 1992, George Bush the Elder tried for a second term. Forty-five million Americans went to the polls to vote for his main oppponent (Clinton). In all, 65 million Americans voted against him.

In 2020, Donald Trump the Elder ran for a second term. Eighty million Americans went to the polls to vote for his main oppponent (Biden). In all, 83 million Americans voted against him.

The comparison is made more significant by the fact that Americans were not universally and specifically rejecting Carter and Bush, two decent men. Many Americans liked those two but nonetheless turned out to vote for charismatic opponents in elections complicated by substantial third-party voting. In the 2020 election … well, nobody thinks of Biden as Joey Charisma. Furthermore, down-ballot Republicans did fairly well. It’s obvious that the vast majority of those eighty million people who voted against Trump were casting votes specifically to reject Donald Trump.

It was the most resounding rejection of a president in modern history, and by a very large margin. Before this, no modern President trying to be re-elected for a second term had ever been replaced by an opponent receiving more than 45 million votes. Trump has been replaced by an opponent receiving 80 million votes.

In fairness, we should also note that no President running for re-election ever received as many votes as Donald Trump.

Voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential election was the highest it has been in 120 years! There were record numbers of votes for the president, and even more impressive record numbers of votes against him. Because Donald Trump is so loved and so hated, he has in a sense re-energized American democracy as much as he has polarized it. His very presence has made people on both sides more aware of the importance of the right to vote, and of the potential cost of not exercising that right. He has raised the stakes.

Trump’s national security adviser says it looks as though Biden won

Also up for wagering:

Trump will obviously want to replace the man with a totally unqualified loyalist buffoon. But the betting line is … which kind of unqualified buffoon?

So many possibilities …

  • right-wing nutbag commentator
  • unscrupulous lawyer
  • fertilizer baron who made big campaign contributions
  • dumb-ass Trump relative
  • white nationalist
  • embezzler who needs a pardon from Trump
  • senile former senior military officer
  • Rudy Giuliani

538’s overview

CNN’s election map


1. Biden has won Arizona and Georgia.

2. Trump has won Alaska and North Carolina

The final electoral count is 306-232.

Several recounts will happen, but the margins are all far greater than the largest amount ever shifted by a recount.

The lawsuits will not change any results. They are all either lacking in merit or so insignificant as to have no impact on the result.

I’m sure you are well aware that all eyes and everyone’s remaining dollars will get poured into Georgia, where control of the Senate is at stake. Everyone in Georgia is likely to remain as annoyed with their fellow Georgians as we all have been with each other for months, and everyone in the state will be miserable except the TV, radio, print and billboard salesmen, all of whom stand to earn record commissions from the expected deluge of political ads.

Lots to digest.

One thing the author seems to be unaware of is the fact that one cannot lump “Latinos” into a single stereotypical group. The author seems to be surprised that the Latinos in Florida are very different from the others. Lumping Cubans into the Latino monolith is like placing Alabamans and New Zealanders in the same group because they both happen to speak English. In fact, the Alabamans probably vote much more like the Cubans.


One point bears repeating, although I point it out far too often. The country is sharply divided between poorly educated whites and all others.

Trump’s support among the poorly educated whites (about 35 points) is a bit stronger than Biden’s support among “all other” (about 25 points).

White, no degree (35% of total) all other (65%) actual popular vote
Trump 67% 37% 47.5%
Biden 32% 62% 50.8%

But that is offset by the fact that the “all other” group is larger in size, so Trump loses more ground with that group than he gains with the poorly educated whites.

White, no degree (35% of total) All other (65%)
Trump +17 million -23 million

There has been quite a metamorphosis of the parties over the recent decades. In Ike’s day, blue collar whites voted for Democrats. It’s no simple matter to explain why they changed. Back then the union workers were voting in their own economic interest, for a decent working wage, a social safety net, and better educations (promising upward mobility) for their children. Now they seem to be voting against themselves, for a party that opposes affordable universities and universal health care while pushing tax breaks for corporations and the rich.

UPDATE #13, 11:00 AM EST on Saturday. Joe Biden has won Pennsylvania and (apparently) the Presidency.

  • Trump is holding on in North Carolina, and that will not get updated for about a week. Looks safe for Trump.
  • Georgia is already planning a recount because the race is incredibly tight. It does appear that Biden will hold on to the state, but it can’t be called.
  • Although Fox and the AP called Arizona for Biden, Trump may prove them wrong and win there, because he gets closer every time they count another tranche of ballots. Biden is only ahead by 20,000 with 125,000 left to count. It will go down to the wire.

UPDATE #7. Donald Trump will get more votes than any American has ever previously received in a presidential election – but will lose by some five million votes. Obviously that means that the voter turnout was immense on both sides. People were very involved and passionate in this election, but it also means that a vast number of Americans love Donald Trump, whose vote total will exceed Obama’s in 2008! Of course, that direct comparison is inappropriate in that Obama got about ten million more votes than his opponent, but the 2020 vote count still reflects Trump’s immense popularity, as well as his immense unpopularity. I disagree with Biden’s claim that America has given him some kind of mandate. The GOP held the Senate and gained seats in the House. The presidential vote was purely a referendum on Trump. We simply rejected an asshole, so Biden’s only mandate is not to be an asshole.

Fox News election maps

538’s live blog

Fox News shows Joe Biden at 264. (One needs 270 to win.)

According to Fox, four states are undecided. Biden only needs to win one.

In the three where Trump is leading:

  • it appears that Trump will win North Carolina;
  • it appears that Biden will eventually end up winning Pennsylvania;
  • Georgia is impossible to predict because the candidates are only 30,000 votes apart, but the number of uncounted votes is now fairly small, so Biden’s chances are narrowing.

What if Biden can’t win one of those three? If Trump wins all three where he is leading, the entire election hinges on Nevada! Biden thinks he will win there, but the candidates are in a virtual tie in Nevada as of midnight Wednesday.

It now seems certain that Biden will win the popular vote (96% likelihood). In fact, the Sleepy One has about a 93% chance to get more than 50% of the vote. Of course, that is irrelevant, but 538 feels that Biden’s chances also look excellent in the Electoral College.

The odds makers have a different take on it. Based on the odds, Trump has an implied 40% chance of winning the Presidency again. “On the 12th October 2016, Donald Trump’s 2016 election odds implied he only had a 19.1% chance of defeating Hillary Clinton. Therefore, according to sportsbooks, Trump is in a much better situation this time round.”

A salient fact is that 75% of the money has been wagered on Trump in recent weeks.

Biden, you monster!

Earlier, “President Trump mockingly warned at his rally in Nevada late Sunday that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would ‘listen to the scientists’ if elected.”

Gee, I wonder what happened to countries that did follow the science.

Oh …

“The Chinese economy grew 4.9% between July and September, as China becomes the first major economy to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Two ways to look at the latest developments in Colorado:

(1) “Senate Majority PAC, a group aligned with Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, is pulling its remaining $1.2 million in TV ads out of Colorado in a sign of confidence that former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has a solid lead over Cory Gardner, the first-term GOP incumbent.”

(2) Despite Hickenlooper’s lead in the polls and Senate Majority PAC’s expression of confidence, a Gardner campaign spokesman, asked to comment on national Democrats’ decision, had a different interpretation. “It’s clear the Democrats also know John Hickenlooper has no chance of winning,” said Gardner spokesman Jerrod Dobkin, who probably added, “Oh, I see. Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to ya! I’ll bite your legs off!”

(It’s possible that Loops has already won. Colorado votes 100% by mail, Loopy is up by some 9-10% in the polls, and the early balloting rush has been astounding.) At the top of the ticket, it appears that Biden will win by a landslide. (Hillary won it by five points in 2016.)

According to 538, the overall national battle for control of the Senate is too close to call. (Slight edge to blue at the moment, but with a lead too fragile to weather the vagaries of October.)

“You have declared, ‘It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v Wade,’ so this is obviously a matter of deep principle for you. My question is this: ‘Would you cast a vote to uphold a law you considered barbaric and was against your personal principles if that law appeared to be valid and constitutional?'”

That is the same question I would ask of every court nominee (absent the word “barbaric,” which is specific to her), and it is the only question I care about, so I would use all of my time until they committed to an answer. If they answered “yes” convincingly, if I believed they could vote against a deeply-held belief if to do so was the proper application of the law, I would vote to confirm. If they answered “no” or, more likely, tried to weasel out of giving an answer, I would vote to reject.

Which means I would probably vote to reject every nominee, whether “liberal” or “conservative.” I don’t care whether they are liberal or conservative. In fact, I want them to be neither, ala David Souter. I just want them to make up their minds AFTER studying the case, not before.

Did you know …

In a presidential election in the USA, it is possible to get more than 75% of the popular vote in a two-person election, only to see your opponent inaugurated.

Here’s how that could happen: Larry Loser wins 100% of the popular vote in states that add up to 268 electoral votes, but he loses the remaining states by the smallest margin possible. Depending on the exact breakdown of the states (or sub-states in the cases of Maine and Nebraska), that would result in one candidate winning the popular vote by approximately a 3-to-1 ratio, but losing the electoral college 270-268.

“The development marks the completion of a head-spinning 48 hours. Trump, on Tuesday, took to Twitter to call off the stimulus talks entirely, sending markets into a dive. Eight hours later he called for piecemeal legislation to address the economic hardship created by the coronavirus pandemic — something Democrats have repeatedly rejected. By Wednesday night, Mnuchin called Pelosi and said the President was interested in coming back to the table, according to a person familiar with their conversation. Now, the President is once again open to a bigger deal.”

Why the sudden swing? Voters feel the President took a beating in the debate. Among those who had an opinion of the “winner,” Biden won 49-24. More important was this question:

Did the presidential debate make you …

More likely to support Donald Trump…………… 6
More likely to support Joe Biden ………………… 19
Made no difference…………………………………… 73
Not sure………………………………………………… 2

So among voters who were swayed one way or the other, Biden held a 3-1 edge.

This post-debate poll of the popular vote may be accurate, but is almost meaningless because of the electoral college. Yes, Trump will lose California by some five million votes, but the swing states are all pretty much still in play. (Additional polls from RCP)

Obviously a corrupt move to keep the vote down in the major cities, which vote Democratic.

Harris County, Texas (Houston) encompasses 1,800 square miles. It is much larger than the state of Rhode Island and has four times as many people. It also has some of the worst traffic in the USA, so it can take hours to get from one part of the county to another in the worst conditions. Even in the best of conditions, the county is 60 miles wide and congested. This proclamation makes it extremely difficult to get to the one and only drop box – and that’s for middle class voters with autos. It’s almost impossible for people who have to rely on public transportation.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

– Martin Niemöller, speaking of the Third Reich.

The Daily Caller Threatens to Sue Louisville Police After Two of its Reporters Arrested During Riots

“I am packed in with 28 other people in a 20×20 cell. Not all of us have masks, and there is not enough room so people are sleeping on the floor.”

Not only did the adviser suggest that the case should not be dropped, but he also suggested Flynn should now face additional charges – based on the prosecutors’ own words, as well as Flynn’s conflicting statements!

“Gleeson emphasized that DOJ has never conceded one of Flynn’s central points: that his guilty plea was the product of prosecutorial misconduct. And that discrepancy, he says, tears the cover off the pretext for dismissing the case. Gleeson also argued that Flynn should be punished for additional “perjurious” statements during earlier proceedings in the case, such as asserting in court under oath that he wasn’t coerced into pleading guilty. He has since claimed prosecutors threatened to prosecute his son, Michael Flynn Jr., if he didn’t plead guilty — a contention DOJ has rejected.”

“[I]n refuting Flynn’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct as ‘unfounded,’ the Government makes clear there was no prosecutorial misconduct, coercion, or secret deals,” Gleeson argues. “Thus, in defense of its Rule 48(a) motion, the Government confirms that Flynn not only lied to this Court but is now doubling down by continuing to submit false allegations of prosecutorial misconduct to excuse his false denial of guilt.”