“The Texas congressman asked whether there was anything the U.S. Forest Service could do ‘to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun.'”

The noted genius addressed a Forest Service spokesperson as follows: “If you figure out there’s a way in the Forest Service you could make that change, I’d like to know.”

Unfortunately, the Forest Service was too busy raking the forests to deploy any of their latest orbit-altering technology.

Political power in the United States will continue to shift south this decade, as historically Democratic states that border the Great Lakes give up congressional seats and electoral votes to regions where Republicans currently enjoy a political advantage, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Texas, Florida and North Carolina, three states that voted twice for President Donald Trump, are set to gain a combined four additional seats in Congress in 2023 because of population growth, granting them collectively as many new votes in the electoral college for the next presidential election as Democratic-leaning Hawaii has in total.

Republicans will control line-drawing for 187 congressional seats over the coming year, with Democrats controlling 75 seats, while the remaining seats that need to be drawn will be decided by independent commissions or divided governments, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.”

That works out to more than $500 per child per day, and it’s apparently a discount based on this sentence: “Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, said the average daily cost per child is ‘approximately $775 per day based on past experience.’

In comparison, I just checked the price of a Sandals all-inclusive 5-star resort in Negril, Jamaica, and it works out to $300 per person per day ($4200 for a couple, 7-nights). So we could transport the kids there, hire each kid a personal nanny at $90 a day (a desirable job with a solid wage in Jamaica), house them in a 5-star resort with unlimited gourmet meals included, and still cut the price in half from that $775 figure. The older kids can even drink booze for free! (Alcohol is also included at Sandals, and Jamaica has no minimum drinking age.)

In equally daunting math:

$60 million per week is three billion dollars per year – and the number of kids is expected to grow dramatically.

The cited rate of $775 per child per day multiplies out to $280,000 per child per year!

Of course I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take care of the kids, but perhaps we need to improve our efficiency.

A lot.

Chicago tops list of most corrupt city in US

I have told the story many times, but it bears repeating. When one got to upper-middle management in a company I used to work for, one was required to read the “Code of Ethical Conduct,” then sign an acknowledgment of having read it.

The most infamous passage went something like this:

“No official of XYZ corporation may offer a bribe to a public official.

However, there may be from time to time certain places where normal operations cannot be conducted without bribery. In such cases, the situation must be reported to the Vice-President in charge of the legal department. Such places may include Russia, Mexico, Nigeria … yadda, yadda … and Chicago!”

So, congrats to Chi-Town for living up to your hard-earned reputation.

“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.