Election Update – September 21, 2020

Presidential Race Stable, But Will Supreme Court Bombshell Change Anything? Especially In The Senate

The nightmares that Democrats and progressives have been having repeatedly over the past four years came true. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal anchor of the court, died, just 46 days before a presidential election that could have decided her successor. That means Donald Trump, at least for the time being, gets to appoint her successor and gets to shift the court to a 6-3 conservative one that could be locked in place for decades. If the Senate, led by Mitch “Donald’s Boots Taste Too Good” McConnell, lets him.

In a presidential race that has been fairly stable for the past year, could this be the shakeup we were all waiting for? The punditry seems to suggest it will galvanize right wing voters who made feel down on Trump due to his mismanagement – and that’s putting it lightly – of the pandemic and the endless barrage of scandals. But it could be a wash, or even a boon for Democrats. The nightmare having come true, it may galvanize them in ways they never have been before. After Ginsburg died Friday night, Democrats raised over $100 million in donations to Senate and other candidates, suggesting her passing has lit a fire under the Democratic base in a way nothing has since Barack Obama.

Early polls suggest most voters think Ginsburg’s replacement should be named by whoever wins the November election, be it Trump or Biden, but when have Republicans cared about what the majority wants? They’re in power despite the majority not voting for them.

Still, the GOP Senate Majority is tenuous. They have two seats up in six weeks in states that Hillary Clinton won and five more in battleground states. Of the two Clinton seats, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is already a write-off (and hasn’t swayed from voting with Trump despite it). He’s expected to lose to former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. He already said he’d vote to confirm a replacement. The other Clinton state is Maine, where GOP Sen. Susan Collins, who always won by big margins despite being in a blue state, is in big trouble. She has waffled on whether or not she’d vote for a replacement, but she’s already trailing her Democratic challenger, State House Speaker Sara Gideon by mid-single digits and Trump is way behind Biden in the state. Voting against confirmation might not save her, which may free her to vote FOR a nominee, having nothing left to lose.

Of the five Trump-battleground states, Arizona, which Trump narrowly carried in 2016 and currently trails in, is the third likely pickup for Democrats. Appointed incumbent Martha McSally is trailing astronaut and Mr. Gabby Giffords himself Mark Kelly in polls. McSally, who was appointed to the late John McCain’s seat in 2018, is sticking with Trump on a confirmation hearing, much like Gardner, preferring to go out appealing to the base.

The other four battleground state Senate races include both Georgia seats, where Democrats are vying to defeat appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. Dave Perdue; North Carolina, where Democrat Cal Cunningham is taking on Sen. Thom Tills and Iowa where Sen. Joni Ernst is up against Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Recent polls have shown Cunningham and Greenfield slightly ahead of the incumbents, while Democrat Jon Ossof is tied or slightly behind Perdue in Georgia and the Loeffler race is in flux. Because it is a special, a jungle primary featuring Republican Rep. Doug Collins and Democrats Ralph Warnock and Matt Lieberman will be held first with the top two going to a runoff. It’s possible neither Democrat could make it, though recent polls show Loeffler and Warnock, the pastor at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the top two spots.

Interestingly, if Democrats beat McSally and Loeffler, the winning candidates would take office before the end of the year, as they are special elections. That would reduce the GOP majority to 51-49 almost immediately.

Where the Supreme Court battle could help Republicans is in red states where Democratic Senate candidates have been doing well – Alaska, Kansas, Montana, Texas and South Carolina – galvanizing Republicans to vote for their Senate choice even if they don’t vote for Trump. It could also cut the other way as well.

As for the presidential race, no big changes. Pennsylvania though hangs on the edge of going back into tossup status, but Biden has led in every poll out of there, and is close to, or at, 50 percent there. I feel the same way about Pennsylvania for Biden as i do about Trump for Texas, where polls actually show a slightly closer race; not quite tossups, but close.

Tossups remain: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa and Maine’s 2nd District. In the Lean Biden states other than Pennsylvania, polls still show Biden comfortably ahead in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska’s 2nd District, Minnesota and Arizona.

43 days to go.

If You Love America, You’ll Want It To Fundamentally Change. Here’s How.

Our Nation Is Broken: Stop Defending An Untenable System Because You Think It’s The Patriotic Thing To Do

There’s a scene in Downton Abbey that I’ve linked it below (relevant scene starts at 2:27), where Martha Levinson, played by Shirley MacLaine, arrives in England from America for the wedding of her granddaughter, Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery). Upon arrival, she runs into her daughter’s mother-in-law and her nemesis, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith). The year is 1920 and World War I had recently ended. Europe was in political turmoil with monarchies falling in Portugal, Russia and Germany and on the verge of falling in Greece and Spain. Britain was left in financial and social ruin from the war, and at risk of similar social upheaval.

Martha and Violent make casual passive aggressive conversation during which the conservative and traditional Violet informs the modern, progressive Martha that she will like her new grandson-in-law, himself a man of the modern era. Martha asks to meet him before Violet responds that he has turned in for the night – tradition dictates that the groom cannot see the bride before the wedding. Martha smiles and shakes her head in disbelief:

“Nothing ever alters for you people, does it?” she exclaims. “Revolutions erupt and monarchies crash to the ground and the groom still cannot see the bride before the wedding.”

“You Americans never understand the importance of tradition,” Violet snaps back.

“Yes we do,” Martha calmly answers before placing her hands on Violet’s shoulders in a condescending way, as if to comfort a child. “We just don’t give it power over us. History and tradition took Europe into a world war, maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.”

Martha Levinson, the American mother of Downton Abbey‘s Lady Grantham suggests to her British counterpart Violet Crawley that blind allegiance to tradition nearly destroyed Europe – a lesson relevant for Americans today.

When I first saw this episode, way back in 2012 – I can’t believe it’s been that long – it struck me as a historian as the perfect portrayal of the divergent cultural paths erupting on either side of the Pond at that time. The United States was seen as a rising, modern forward-thinking power, while Britain desperately clung to its past, struggling to not get swept away in the tide of time. It’s working class population looking toward new, progressive ideals, while its aristocracy looking to hold on to traditions and ideals that, in their minds, were responsible for building and sustaining the largest empire the world had ever known.

But the scene also stuck with me because I felt as much as Martha was speaking to the British a century ago, she was also was speaking to Americans in the present day. Europe plunged into two centuries of war and unrest starting with the French Revolution and ending in fall of the Iron Curtain, because the systems that sustained it for over a millennium, notably the feudal system and religion, had broken down, and no one with the power to do anything about it could accept it or was willing to change it. Starting with the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union 200 years later, the continent saw one bloody and violent battle after another as countries endured a deeply painful cultural reckoning.

I watched the episode during the 2012 presidential campaign, where there was some discussion over the possibility that President Obama could lose the election by losing the Electoral College, while winning the popular vote – as had happened to Al Gore 12 years earlier – and discussion that aggressive gerrymandering by Republicans meant Democrats could win more votes for House of Representatives and not win the House majority. The latter did happen, but the former did not, at least not that year. It did happen in 2016, the same year the Republican Senate majority, representing about 42 percent of the nation’s population, refused to do their Constitutionally-mandated duty of advising and consenting on a Supreme Court nomination by Obama – leaving the seat vacant for over a year until it was filled by Donald Trump, who won the presidency while losing the popular vote by 3 million votes.

The Electoral College, acting on the plurality, not the majority, of votes in several key states elected Donald Trump to the presidency, who thereafter broke every rule in the book with no accountability. Trump:

  • Hired his family for key jobs
  • Used the Department of Justice for his own personal benefit
  • Used the White House for political campaigning.
  • Used his own properties and forced taxpayers to foot the bill for security and rental space.
  • Used his office to dig up dirt on his potential 2020 political opponents, for which he was impeached and acquitted by a Senate representing 40 percent – a minority – of the country’s population
  • Left millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico without vital aid after a devastating hurricane
  • Nearly took us to the brink of war with North Korea and Iran
  • Downplayed, ignored and fumbled the response to the worst pandemic in a century, leaving over 200,000 Americans dead
  • Encourage and celebrated violence against opponents and journalists
  • Did nothing when a foreign adversary put out a hit out on American soldiers

And what is our way out of this? Well, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for his involvement in trying to use official business to dig up dirt on his Democratic opponent Joe Biden from the Ukrainian government, but he was acquitted by the Senate in a near party-line vote. A majority of the United States Senate, half of the legislative branch designed as a check on the president’s power, is instead doing his bidding – and voters made his party stronger in the Senate in 2018, adding a net gain of two Republicans to the caucus, all of whom are staunch allies of Trump – even as Democrats won more votes nationwide and took control of the House of Representatives by a huge margin. How? Only a third of the Senate is up every election year and by sheer stroke of luck, the 2018 map favored Republicans.

After their 2010 election win, in which voters chose Republicans as a check on Obama’s power, the GOP instead went ahead and cemented their own, using redistricting to draw Democrats out of power for most of the decade on a federal and local level. Gerrymandering meant Democrats have not been able to win the House despite winning more votes in 2012, and control of legislative bodies at the state level despite winning more votes several times over. Democrats won over 200,000 more votes than Republicans for the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2018 – an eight point margin – but remain well in the minority, holding only 36 of 99 seats. Democrats also won the popular vote for both houses of the North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania legislatures, but didn’t take control of any of the six. All four states have Democratic governors, meaning aggressive gerrymandering by Republicans in 2011 denied Democrats full control of the state governments in those states that voters voted for.

From these legislative bodies, came action – or inaction – on issues dealing with education funding, policing, criminal justice, women and gay rights and infrastructure. It has been most notable during the COVID-19 Pandemic, where state legislators in those states tried to throw wrenches in their Democratic governors’ responses. In Wisconsin in 2018, the legislature actually wen so far as to try and strip power away from the incoming Democratic governor in a naked power grab.

Back on the federal level, Trump has been allowed to stack the third branch of government – the courts – with over one hundred conservative jurists and allies, many of whom filling seats Senate Republicans refused to fill with Obama appointees from 2015-2017, including that one seat on the Supreme Court – for which they were rewarded with the presidency and continued Senate control.

And now, with the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump has the opportunity to appoint a third justice, solidifying a 6-3 conservative court for decades. If he does, a majority of the court, five of nine justices, will have been appointed by presidents who won their initial elections without winning the popular vote.

Trump and the GOP will own all three branches of government, and there will be no checks and balances as the Founding Fathers intended, and none of it won the support of a majority of American voters.

To make matters worse, the United States remain trapped in a death spiral called the COVID-19 Pandemic. With no federal leadership and high unemployment, the Republican Senate and President, neither of which won the majority of voters, refuse to pass more economic stimulus and aid to hard hit states like New York, that was passed by the Democratic House – which did win with the support of most voters. That leaves tens of millions of Americans without a paycheck and social safety net and opens the possibility of dramatic and painful cuts to New York City’s and other cities’ budgets.

To sum up: The system has failed. Our system relied on all actors acting in good faith to put country over party or desire for personal power, and the modern Republican Party – and its tens of millions of supporters – have shown they are not interested in acting in good faith. Aggressive gerrymandering and the debate over the vacant Supreme Court seat is the latest example. The GOP refused to even consider Obama’s nominee in 2016, because it was an election year – ironically blaming a suggestion Joe Biden made in 1992 if there was a vacancy in the court in an election year, but refuses to enforce the rule now with only six weeks to go before the election. No matter how many more votes Democrats deliver on the federal or state level, they still cannot be guaranteed power. Such a situation is unsustainable.

The circuit breakers put in place by our Founding Fathers – Congress, the courts, the electorate, an appeal to fairness, good faith and statesmanship and trust in the voting public – have all failed to prevent the slide into authoritarianism and lawlessness it was designed to stop, and has instead lead voters to unheard and disenfranchised. Is it any wonder we are starting to see lawlessness and apathy to rules and regulations in the general population? If our leadership isn’t accountable, why should we be?

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have political ramifications in the United States for decades, leading some to wonder if one woman’s death can forever alter the course of a nation, is that a sign of a broken system?

There are ways to change it. But first we have to accept that it’s all broken. The way we elect our presidents is broken; the U.S. Senate is broken; the way we draw our Congressional districts and state legislative districts is broken; our criminal justice system is broken; our economic system is broken; our education system is broken; our infrastructure is broken; our media is broken.

Now you may say, “Well Nick, that’s how it is. This is a republic, not a democracy. Tyranny of the majority is bad” and so on. It’s fine if you believe that (it’s not, but let’s say it is). However, the lesson of Europe a century or two centuries ago is this; it’s fine until the general public no longer say it’s fine. By allowing a government to rule without the legitimacy of the public, you risk the general public’s anger and rage. Things will reach a breaking point, and we may be at the cusp of that right now. I guarantee you people who feel disenfranchised will only stay quiet for long. The situation is a powder keg and ignoring only guarantees the United States will experience what European countries did during the 19th and early 20th centuries – chaos, instability and, ultimately, war. The pandemic, and the social and economic upheaval it has brought, has only hastened that moment, and if we’re not careful, will provide the spark – if it hasn’t already. We can adapt, let go of what doesn’t work and reinvent ourselves, or we can go down a destructive road as a nation. A true patriot would not want the latter.

How do we do that?

  • We can fix the Supreme Court problem by adding seats, expanding the court from 9 to 13. It’s been done before, expanded from 5 to 7 to the current 9. Is it a power grab? Sure, it’s an escalation, but the legitimacy of the court is already damaged in the eyes of half the country. If not adding seats, set term limits.
  • We can fix the Senate by getting rid of the filibuster, so a simple majority is all that is needed to pass legislation. Before 2007, that’s how most legislation passed – very few pieces of legislation were filibustered. When the Democrats took a one-seat majority in the 2006 elections, Mitch McConnell, as Republican leader, decided everything that came before the Senate would be filibustered by Republicans, breaking a norm that had existed for 200+ years.
  • We can fix our elections by eliminating partisan gerrymandering and allowing independent redistricting, expanding the size of the House of Representatives so a million people in Delaware and Montana don’t have the same representation as 579,000 people in Wyoming and 745,000 people in California in a body that is supposed to be representative of the people. We can make the District of Columbia, which is more populated than Wyoming AND Vermont, into a state so they have full representation and, should they choose it, bring Puerto Rico in as a state. Let Republicans compete for Congressional and Senate seats in DC and Puerto Rico the same way Democrats are expected to in Wyoming and Idaho. It will force them to become more moderate.
  • We can eliminate the Electoral College and establish instant runoff voting, allowing third parties a chance to get votes without being a spoiler and ensuring nobody becomes president without getting 50 percent or more of the vote. If not, we can push states to adopt the “Popular Vote Interstate Compact” where states agree to give their electors to the popular vote winner, regardless of if he or she won their respective states. This would render the Electoral College functionally obsolete.
  • We can enact independent redistricting nationwide, and amend the Constitution to mandate it

We can adapt, let go of what doesn’t work and reinvent ourselves, or we can go down a destructive road as a nation.

Why are we hanging on to those obsolete, untenable institutions and traditions? Out of some deference to our ancestors who fought and died for them? It may have worked for them – debatable – but it no longer works for us. We can’t keep pushing broken institutions and ideas to a breaking point and be surprised when rage and violence erupts when they break. Civilizations around the world from England to Greece to China survived thousands of years by reinventing themselves and adapting to the changes around them and within them. America must follow in their footsteps if it hopes to survive as long as they have.

The paraphrase Martha Levinson; History and Tradition are threatening to take this country into a civil war. Maybe we should think about letting go of its hand.

Election Update: September 15, 2020

Arizona, Wisconsin Lean To Biden, Democrats Looks Good In Florida

We’re less than 50 days from the election and not much appears to have changed. Polls still show former Vice President Joe Biden with a lead in the high single digits.

I waited until tonight to do the weekly report because I wanted to wait for Monmouth’s Florida poll and also because I’ve been suffering from a nasty headache since Monday morning.

Polls this week give Biden a comfortable lead in Arizona and Wisconsin – the latter is exceptionally damaging to Trump because it was an Obama-Trump state that has been center to his reelection strategy. Both states lean Biden on my map.

The tossups remain: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa and Maine’s 2nd District. Gun to head: Biden wins Florida, North Carolina and Maine’s 2nd; Trump Georgia, Ohio and Iowa. It doesn’t matter though, even if Trump wins all six, he’d still lose by 21 electoral votes and that Monmouth poll I spoke of? Biden +4 in Florida and he’s at 50 percent.

For Many, ‘Never Forget’ Is No Longer About The Lives We Lost

Most Of You Can’t Name Five People Who Died On 9/11 Without Looking It Up

Five years ago, I got scolded at by a now former friend. September 11th had gone by and I had not posted anything about it on Facebook. This made her angry. I “always post stuff about everything else,” but she passive-aggressively suggested “I must’ve forgotten about 9/11.”

Photo by Lars Mulder on Pexels.com

The accusation infuriated me. I was in New York City that day and I saw the towers burning. I thought my parents were dead for a good few minutes – they were both supposed to be at or near the World Trade Center that morning. My father ended up being only a few blocks away. In the weeks and months after, I was too afraid to go back to college. It scarred me for a very long time. I took a class called “Sociology of Terrorism” just to calm my anxiety. Turns out the safest day to ride public transit is Thursday. Ask me why sometime.

So I asked the ex-friend who scolded me; name five people who died in 9/11.

Silence. then “uhhh, that firefighter from school, York…also Anne’s brother, what’s his name…and the priest, that was so sad how they carried his body away.”

For all her lambasting over the importance of remembering September 11th, she couldn’t name more than one person who died that day, and she couldn’t even remember that one person’s full name even though he was a member of our community.

So I rattled off the names I knew:

Rev. Mychal Judge, educated for a time at the same high school as me, was the first person to officially be labelled as a casualty that day; Steven Cafiero, who had just entered a new relationship with my mom’s best friend, Raymond York, a firefighter from the firehouse in my neighborhood whose daughter went to my elementary school, Charles Waters, whose sister Anne had died of cancer a few years earlier and was part of the gang of mothers who practically ran my elementary school (of which my own mom was part of); Chris Santora, a friend of my cousin’s who loved being a firefighter. There were the names we should all know by now: Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham on United 93; Barbara Olson, whose conservative commentary filled me with ire and made me realize I wouldn’t be following in my family’s Republican footsteps. There were Flight Attendant Betty Ong and Captain John Ogonowski, who was at the controls of the first plane to crash that day – American Flight 11, where passengers Berry Berenson Perkins- wife of late actor Anthony Perkins and David Angell, the producer of TV shows like Frasier and his wife Mary, all died. I never met most of these people – I only knew York – but their names fly out of my mouth whenever anyone asks me about 9/11. Because when I think about 9/11, I think about them.

On the 10th anniversary of September 11th, I interviewed a girl who was 4 when her dad died on 9/11. At the request of the subject, I won’t name her or her dad, but his was another name I rattled off to my friend.

The girl and her mother went to Ground Zero every year on the anniversary and a few times, she recited her dad’s name at the memorial ceremony. Their story was among many that we compiled that year for a special tenth anniversary 9/11 edition at the newspaper I worked for.

The 10th anniversary seemed to be a turning point. As the years past, the memorial services got fewer and fewer, and survivors felt less and less like talking. I was at a different paper in 2015 when we were trying to cobble together a special 9/11 memorial edition. Desperate for copy, I reached out to the mom of the girl I spoke to four years earlier, but she told me they would not be going to the memorial service that year and she didn’t really want to be interviewed for a story.

She explained that in the most recent years, they had only gone to the ceremony because her mother-in-law wanted to go in memory of her son, but she had passed away that year. Her daughter, turning 18, decided to no longer go. Her other children were adults and had moved out of the New York area. The mother confessed that she had been bullied and tormented by other victims’ families, and even people who didn’t have any connection to 9/11 for “disgracing her husband and father.” I asked to speak to the daughter and she agreed and I reached out to her. She agreed to talk to me, but not for publication. What she said shocked me.

“I’m sick of being the little girl with the dead dad,” she said. She explained that every year since she was five years old, she’d go to the ceremony and every year people would come up to her and offer condolences and say how sad it was that she lost her father, and when she was a little girl, it was helpful. But the same reactions she got when she was 5, she was still getting when she was 17.

“It’s like I never grew up,” she said. “I would never grow up to them. I will always be the sad little girl whose daddy died. I just didn’t want to be that anymore.”

She admitted that she never told her new friends at college – she attended a college in New England – that her dad died in 9/11. She didn’t want them to know because “that’s all I would ever be to them. The 9/11 girl.” But they found out and after that, it was all anyone wanted to talk to her about. At one point, she admitted to contemplating suicide.

“I didn’t want to go through the next sixty, seventy years as the ‘the girl whose daddy died in 9/11,'” she said. “I thought, maybe I can get a reset.”

It made me realize that we too often force these people to put on a grand performance every year for our own self-serving reasons, because we desperately want to cling to that moment in time. And it didn’t feel like it was about the victims or the survivors, but about something else.

That year, I did something dramatic. I killed the special 9/11 edition for the first time because we didn’t have enough content. There were fewer memorials services, and less stories to tell because we had told them all. My publisher reluctantly agreed. Not because he wanted to honor 9/11 – We still had a centerfold page of photos of memorial services around Queens – but for another reason. As a result, we got loads of hate mails and threats because of it. I was told I’d never work in New York again. But I had a reason, and it had nothing to do with not wanting to “Never Forget.”

As editor of chief of my newspaper, I was (for some reason I never understood) required to copy edit all the marketing material from the Advertising Department. In mid-August, I got the flyer for the 9/11 edition:

“ITS TIME TO REMEMBER THOSE WE LOST ON 9/11. LET YOUR CUSTOMERS KNOW YOU WILL NEVER FORGET. CALL NOW FOR SPECIAL RATES!”

The flyer further explained that or an extra $100, the ad would get a special “Never Forget” banner on top. I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough. Fourteen years after those traumatic events, we had reduced 9/“11 to a reason to make money. If the edition ran, tt would be 10 pages of “Never Forget” ads and like three pages of stories. I thought it was trite. That’s why my publisher didn’t want to kill it – he would be losing out on thousands in ad revenue.

In recent years, 9/11 and the victims of the attacks have been used as cudgels against modern political movements like Black Lives Matter.

The truth was, we weren’t doing it out of any sense of responsibility toward the memory of those who died and the loved ones they left behind. We were doing it as an excuse to sell ads for an extra hundred dollars with a “NEVER FORGET” banner on the top. For that, my reporters and myself had to beg survivors and relatives of victims to relive the trauma of that day again. For that, we pleaded with them to put on that grand performance. The readers wanted to see it, and we wanted to make money off of it.

That was the same year my former friend berated me about the lack of a “remembrance post” on Facebook.

It had come clear to me that this was no longer about 9/11 or the victims, it was about what 9/11 and its aftermath represented to a portion of the population: a national consensus they agreed with: a neoconservative “America = Good, Brown Man = Bad” worldview, and they desperately want that again. Like faded movie actresses who obsessively watch their old movies, they were desperate to relive those “golden days.” We felt obligated to oblige them, and figured out how to make money off of it.

You probably saw a lot of these memes yesterday; “Nobody cared what race you were. Nobody cared about who you voted for it. We were all Americans” blah blah blah. It’s about celebrating a time when it seemed like the neoconservative, nationalist worldview had a national consensus and had reached its zenith. It’s about remembering a time when it was OK to hate Muslims and want to bomb them and it was considered taboo to protest the flag, the anthem, or even the (Republican) president.

For many of those who want to wash themselves in 9/11 memories, that’s what it’s about. That’s why right wing polemicist Glenn Beck named his movement “The 9/12 movement.” That’s why former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said on Twitter one year that he wished those who weren’t alive or were too young to remember 9/11 could go back “and feel the gravity of that day.” It was an obvious swipe at the progressivism of young people. Maybe if they lived through 9/11, they’d be less leftist and would love America more.

So I made what may be my last 9/11 Facebook post about that last year:

There has never been a day in the past 18 years where I didn’t spent at least a second wishing 9/11 had never happened and envying those too young to have experienced it or remember it.

Nick Rafter, September 11, 2019

That post-9/11 unity, while it felt nice – and yes I partook as well, marching down Francis Lewis Boulevard waving a flag, even sitting idly by while Muslims got harassed on Crocheron Avenue – turned out to not be a good thing. “We forgot about all our serious problems and stood on sentiment” just means that you’re still ignoring vital issues that will continue to bubble underneath the surface. While we waved flags, held vigils and sung anthems; racism, bigotry, income inequality, the damage to the environment and the injustice of our criminal “justice” system all just continued to be wounds that festered, and are still hard to heal today. The “sense of unity” that we experienced after 9/11 might have felt good, but it provided the fuel needed for some regrettable policies to be born – from the PATRIOT Act to the War in Iraq, and it sopped up the energy we needed to tackle some of the problems that still plague us today. Many of the worst mistakes we have ever made as a nation were born out of that post-9/11 unity. It was unpatriotic to debate or question our government’s response, and because of that, we will be paying for those responses for generations. If only we had listened to the opponents of the Iraq War or the opponents of the PATRIOT Act.

The desire for a significant part of this country to spent every second week of September toasting a time when they felt like there was finally consensus around their jingoist, militaristic worldview is leading people to abuse and twist the legacy of 9/11 today. This year, one viral post includes a picture of NYPD Officer Christopher Amoroso, telling his story before derailing at full speed into an attack on Black Lives Matter protestors and critics of the current state of policing. We have now been reduced to using the valor of a man who died 19 years ago to cast judgement on people protesting cops today. To criticize cops is to criticize this hero. It’s sick and insulting.

So here’s my final thought. Sometime in the future, the memorial services will cease, the bells will stop ringing, the names will stop being read. Newspapers will stop doing special sections – if they all haven’t already and survivors will have run out of stories. Sometime in the future, 9/11 will be a chapter in history class, not a day for us to post memes or be shamed for not doing it.

But 9/11 is not going to disappear from history because we stop putting on light shows or stopped ringing bells, or because we don’t all post memes or hashtags on social media, the same way Pearl Harbor or Bunker Hill doesn’t either. It will forever be etched in history.

And we will never go back to the sense of unity that we had after that. All that was a facade. It wasn’t truly genuine or healthy anyway.

Election Update: September 8, 2020

Pennsylvania, Florida Are Tight; Biden Shows Some Life in Ohio

The only change this week is I’m moving Pennsylvania to Tossup. It’s probably more lean Biden, but several polls have shown it close and shown Biden under 50 percent. While I think that’s a pretty OK place for Biden to be right now, Trump is one polling error away from winning Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s politics makes for an interesting predicament for the Democratic candidate. While the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh suburbs are moving left quite dramatically, Democratic strength in coal country and in the Poconos still has some room for Republicans to make inroads. A lot will depend on whether Biden can win back some Obama voters in Erie, and the Lehigh and Wyoming valleys. COVID-19 may actually help him here as plenty of New Yorkers, notably black and Hispanic, have relocated to Northeastern Pennsylvania. In a close election, they might be decisive. Democrats are also heavily investing in the 10th Congressional District that includes Harrisburg, the state capital, and York and increased Democratic turnout there may also help.

I think it is likely Trump gets close to his 48 percent in Pennsylvania this year, but if Biden coalesces the anti-Trump vote, he should be able to reach 50 percent and win the state. Quinnipiac had Biden polling at 52 percent, so a 52-48 or 52-47 win is not out of the question. A 3-4 point Biden win is a likely scenario, but a win is a win and Biden’s somewhat comfortable leads in Wisconsin and Arizona may mean Pennsylvania won’t give him the 270th electoral vote. I’ll reassess Pennsylvania in the tossup column if more polls come out showing Biden leading.

The rest of the map is unchanged this week. Polls have shown some Biden strength in Ohio and a close race as usual in Florida. They both remain tossups. Some polls have show Texas a tossup, but I’m not yet convinced. I do things there’s a reasonable chance enough Texas Republicans might vote Libertarian that a 48-47 Biden victory is possible (Beto O’Rourke got 48 percent of the vote in 2018). I still think its leans Trump though but I’m right on the cusp of calling it a Tossup.

Interesting thing about this week’s map – Biden is sitting at 270 without the tossups.

To Donald Trump, My Grandfathers Narrowly Avoided Being ‘Suckers’

Francis “Frank” Rafter was blown off an ammunition ship – probably hit by a German torpedo and then covered up by the U.S. government – off the coast of New Jersey, in January 1944. He suffered burns to most of his body that left him with lifelong emotional and physical scars that contributed to his early death. Later that same year, while driving PT boats between England and France to help ferry supplies after D-Day, Domenick Del Prete narrowly escaped a Luftwaffe attack off the coast of Calais, France. Both saw fellow American soldiers die right next to them, and both very nearly joined the ranks of the 400,000+ Americans who lost their lives in that war, and the more than 1.3 million who died in military service to this country since 1776.

By the grace of God, they survived. Thirty-nine years after their respective ordeals, in a world seemingly free of the Nazis they fought, their grandson and namesake, Domenick Francis Rafter – you might know him as Nick Rafter – was born in New York, United States. Neither lived long enough to get to know their grandson. Now, nearly four decades later, the American presidency is held by a man who multiple people confirm said this of soldiers who died in battle:

When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/09/trump-americans-who-died-at-war-are-losers-and-suckers/615997/

I almost refuse to believe its real. I know its been confirmed by several sources, although all unnamed, and I know John Kelly chose not to comment, which from my journalism experience tells me he’s one of the sources, but if true, this by far one of the most shockingly offensive, disgusting and unforgivable things Donald Trump has ever said. The only reason I’m skeptical of this story is I cannot believe no one within earshot punched him in the face when he made these comments. Imagine hearing the President of the United States calling dead American soldiers “losers” and “suckers” and not thinking it was your patriotic duty to knock his fucking lights out.

Of course Trump denies it, and his merry band of bootlickers like Sarah “I want to be Governor of Arkansas and I need stupid people to vote for me” Huckabee Sanders is out defending him, but the Atlantic story has been confirmed by The Washington Post, the Associated Press and other media outlets.

There is part of me that feels like this is a Trojan Horse – a story planted by Trump’s campaign to make him look bad to “trigger” Trump opponents, which only serves to satisfy Trump supporters and get them excited to vote. They love to watch people get all outraged at stuff Trump says and does. It emboldens them. They seem to enjoy it, and they don’t care whom he’s hurting or what rules he’s breaking or what norms he’s destroying. Trump’s only path to victory is to turn out his own supporters in big numbers while trying to divide his opponents’ coalition, or at least keep them from voting (by, for example, fucking with the mail).

But the stories also confirm comments he made about the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, whom he called a “loser” for being captured during the Vietnam War, where he spent years in a Prisoner of War camp, was tortured and suffered permanent injuries. We know he said this, we heard it right from his mouth several years ago, and we knew he had disdain for the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee that only grew after McCain cast the deciding vote to kill a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

I can’t for the life of me why or how anyone still thinks we can find something in common with Trump supporters, or that placating them isn’t going to make this get worse. Too may lines have been crossed, the last straw is way behind us.

Francis Rafter survived the destruction of his ammunition ship, but 138 men did not, and it is not only unacceptable to have a president who thinks they were “suckers,” and it is even more unacceptable to have Americans who are not bothered by him saying that, simply because it “triggers the libs”

When are we going to put our collective foot down on the derangement of our fellow Americans? How much lower do they need to go?

A Coronavirus Pandemic: The World May Have Been Here Before.

Forgotten To History, A Late 19th Century Pandemic May Have Been A Coronavirus. Here’s What Happened
A map showing the locations of outbreaks during the 1889-1890 Pandemic and what month they occured.

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we’ve been learning a lot about past pandemics and how they affected humanity and everyday life.

Most of the pandemics we’ve heard about were due to influenza viruses. Flu viruses are different than coronaviruses, virologists I’ve spoken to explain to me. The flu tends to mutate more quickly and is often seasonal, not spreading as efficiently in warmer weather, while coronaviruses are often not seasonal, tend to be more contagious and don’t mutual quickly. That makes this pandemic a bit different than the 1918 Spanish Flu or the 1967 Hong Kong Flu or even the only pandemic most of us have lived through – the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic.

There hasn’t been any discussion of past pandemics due to coronaviruses, but it’s likely one or more existed at some point in history. Besides COVID-19, there are six other known coronaviruses that infect humans: SARS, the virus that nearly caused a pandemic in 2002-2003 and is closely related to COVID-19 (Medical experts termed COVID-19, SARS-COVID2 and SARS, SARS-COVID1, because of how closely related they are); MERS, which stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus, that caused outbreaks in the mid 2010s in Saudi Arabia and South Korea; and the other four, HKU1, NL63, 229E and OC43. I have no idea why they’re called that, but they do circulate in the human population and cause about 15-20 percent of common colds. Most of us have probably been infected by one or all of them at some point in our lives.

But if SARS-COVID2 entered the human population in a deadly disruptive pandemic, did the others? Maybe, and possibly more recent than we think.

The 1889-1890 “Russian Flu” pandemic, which has been referenced several times in comparison to the current pandemic, may have actually not been a flu at all. Some scientists believe it was how one of the coronaviruses, OC43, first entered the human population. It was first suggested that the pandemic may been caused by a coronavirus decades ago, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, two Danish academics, Lone Simonsen and Anders Gorm Pedersen, in a study that’s still being peer reviewed, found some compelling evidence to support the theory. Most notably, they were able to trace the history of Coronavirus OC43 to its closet relative, the bovine coronavirus and found that OC43 likely split from bovine coronavirus and began infecting humans sometime in the late 1880s and early 1890s, which would coincide with the Russian Flu Pandemic. The scientists also found that the symptoms associated with the 1889-1890 Pandemic were similar to COVID-19, and the pattern of mortality, largely concentrated in the elderly population, makes it dissimilar to flus, which often kill children in large numbers, as well as the elderly. Another factor was that many sickened with the “Russian Flu” suffered nervous system and neurological damage, which is not common with flus, but as we’ve seen is common with COVID-19.

Even though more than a million died worldwide (the population of the Earth at the time being `1.2 billion, that would equal about 7 million deaths today), the 1889-1890 pandemic has kind of been lost to history, but several major historical events can directly be tired to its aftermath. The Russian Revolution, World War I, the rise of Populism in the late 19th Century and the labor movement, along with the social and economic reforms it led to, and the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, can be traced back to the residual effects of the pandemic. Even the seeds of the Spanish Civil War, which occurred nearly half a century after the pandemic, were planted during the outbreak.

Coronavirus OC43, which still infects humans today and causes common colds.

The 1889-1890 pandemic began in Russia, probably in modern day Uzbekistan. It struck Central Asia with a vengeance – killing entire towns and thousands in cities. It remained in Russia for most of 1889 and that’s where it hit the hardest. Another piece of evidence that it may have been a coronavirus was the fact that it spread wildly through Russia in the summer, notably in warmer Southern Russia, which is uncommon with flu viruses.

By the end of the summer, it reached the Russian capital of St. Petersburg and from there is spread to Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, landing in America, in Massachusetts, at the end of the year. By early 1890, it spread to South America, where it ravaged Argentina, helping trigger a coup there in July that later incited the Panic of 1893, a major worldwide economic recession.

The first wave killed such notable people as Empress Augusta, the queen mother of Germany, and Knights of Columbus founder Michael McGivney.

It’s effect on Russia was notable. It hit early in the reign of Tsar Alexander III — himself later a survivor of the pandemic – who had reversed some of the economic reforms of his father, Tsar Alexander II. The former tsar was assassinated in 1881 at the hands of an extremist who was unhappy with how little the tsar’s promised policies toward reforming the country’s medieval economic system went. As a result, his successor did a complete 180 degree turn and rolled back the modernization of the Russian economy, bringing back the feudal system and leaving much of Russia’s population in poverty, essentially enslaved to land-owning nobility. That left a huge portion of Russia’s population vulnerable to a pandemic, and the return of agriculture under Alexander III as a primary economic system might have also lead to the pandemic itself – putting humans in close proximity to farm animals, notably cows, and slaughterhouses and providing the opportunity for the virus to jump to humans. The catastrophic number of deaths and economic suffering caused by the pandemic in Russia helped revolutionaries build support and put Russia on a track that ended nearly 30 years later with the Bolshevik Revolution and the founding of the Soviet Union. Some historians link the two by noting children who suffered through the pandemic and watched their elderly relatives die held the Russian monarchy in contempt for their responsibility in causing and mismanaging the pandemic, and that ire inspired them to become part of the Russian Revolution as adults, still carrying the emotional and social scars from 1889.

Makes you wonder if there will be events in the late 2040s that we will be able to tie directly to what’s going on now, doesn’t it?

King Alfonso XIII of Spain was infected by the virus that caused the 1889-1890 Pandemic during the epidemic at age five, and grew seriously ill but survived. Twenty-nine years later, at age 34, he nearly died of the flu during the 1918 Pandemic, helping give that pandemic it its nickname the “Spanish Flu”

The 1889-1890 Pandemic lasted about 20 months, ending in December 1890, but there were recurrences in Spring 1891, winter 1891-1892, winter 1893-1894 and early 1895, each recurrence being less serious that the previous. It finally disappeared in 1895 – and by disappeared, it just became seasonal and endemic and was managed naturally through a level of natural immunity and treatment options or mutated to a less serious virus. OC43, if it is what caused the 1889-1890 Pandemic, still circulates today, causing common colds.

During an 1892 recurrence in Britain, the virus killed Prince Albert Rupert, Queen Victoria’s grandson and second in line to the throne after her and her son the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). As a result, Prince Albert’s younger brother, George, took his place in line and became King George V in 1910 when his father died. George was king during the 1918 pandemic and is the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II, meaning Her Majesty may owe her title and her throne to a coronavirus.

Another interesting historical note: The “Russian flu” sickened King Alfonso XIII of Spain, then only five years old and king since birth as his father died during his mother’s pregnancy. He grew severely ill and suffered a long recovery, remaining fatigued and lethargic for months. (Another similarity to COVID-19). His long recovery and lethargy forever left an image in the mind of Spanish nobles and subjects that he was a weak and sickly king. Alfonso would later become severely ill as an adult during the 1918 Pandemic, helping give that virus its nickname, the “Spanish Flu,” and helping further cement the idea of his feebleness in the minds of his people. Revolutionaries seized the opportunity to overthrow a sickly king and a decade and a half after the 1918 Pandemic, Alfonso was forced to abdicate during the Spanish Civil War and died in exile in Italy at a young age of 54 – perhaps weakened by lifelong effects of a novel coronavirus infection?

So what does this all tell us? Well if this was a coronavirus, it took just under two years to infect enough people for it to wane in a world of 1.2 billion people, but it came back several more times over the course of the next five years after that. Is that what we have to look forward to this time? Well, yes, possibly if there’s no vaccine, but a vaccine is very likely and will shorten that timeline tremendously.

And a century or more from now, humans might still be infected by SARS-COVID2, but it would barely give them a cold. Who knows what the world will look like then though?

My One Scary Experience With Rudy Giuliani’s NYPD Was Illuminating

It Was Terrifying and Maddening, And For Black Americans, It’s Everyday Life

STORYTIME!

As the topic of police brutality and racism stews once again, I have been thinking recently about my own experiences with police. As a white guy, most of my interactions have not gone the same way as we hear and see with black and brown Americans, even when they perhaps should have. For most white people, this clouds the general image of police. They were nice to me, so if they weren’t to you, that must be something you did.

The Queens bus shelter, seen here in August 2020, where I was nearly wrongly arrested for truancy in May 2001.

In one instance when I was 18, I once urinated on a subway platform in front of cops – and got away with it. I was drunk and stoned out of my mind at the time. I once was accused, wrongly, of shoplifting at 20, in which the cop ended up buying me a soda as an apology for accusing me. For several years, I had a PBA card, given to me by a friend on the force, that got me out of several speeding tickets until they stopped working.

I had so many of these instances with cops that one of my friends once joked that my gravestone should read “He was lucky he wasn’t black.” The joke was funny at the time, but today just makes me irate and serves as a constant reminder of the privilege I have.

I did, however, have one experience with the cops that I think back on that wasn’t positive, and I’m often reminded of it as a life lesson. This one experience is what black and brown Americans face regularly, and it might have ended with tragic consequences if it were a black teenager instead of myself in that situation.

This story takes us back to May 2001. I was a high school Senior at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York. Because it was a college preparatory school, upperclassmen created their owns schedules similar to what you would do in college. We had many elective half year classes that ran in the first and second semesters only. We had a seven day cycle schedule and had free periods scattered throughout. I had set my schedule so I had four free periods in the Fall and 10 in the Spring, my last high school semester by doubling up on electives in the Fall. I struck gold in getting last two periods (5th and 6th period) free every Day 6 in the cycle. That means I was able to leave school at 12:30 p.m. when Senior lunch started, instead of the regular 2:40 p.m. dismissal.

But this one specific Friday, close to the end of the year, I hit the jackpot. My teacher for my 4th Period on a Day 6 was absent, meaning I could leave at 11:30 a.m. that day. So I packed my bag up, saw one of the secretaries, Mrs. Colasanti, on the way out, bragged about leaving at 11:30 a.m. and headed home.

It was during this time that Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in his final year at City Hall and deeply unpopular (this was pre-9/11), fell back on an issue that had seemingly worked for him during his entire term – law and order. His Senate campaign against Hillary Clinton having flopped and his personal life souring his image, Rudy decided to try to change the subject to the latest non-issue annoying the city’s Karens – truant students. They were in malls, busses, diners all hours of the day when Rudy’s base voters expected not to see them, and their complaints had made the pages of the New York Post. So the mayor and the NYPD decided to go on an anti-truancy blitz, seeking to catch kids who had been skipping school, arresting them and bringing them back to school – or worse.

At just around noon that Friday, I was standing at the bus stop near Queens Center Mall, where I switched from the Q88 bus to Q11 during my commute home. I was in my school uniform and was one of only three people there and obviously the only teenager. While waiting for the bus, two police officers walked up to me and asked me who I was and why I wasn’t in school. I began to tell them about my free periods and the school’s policy of allowing people to go home early if they have no more classes, but kept getting interrupted with other questions and a request to see identification. It was clear to me that they were trying to annoy me, but cutting my off when I answer, in the hopes of getting a reaction, but cops intimidated me and I was scared to respond. I handed over my ID and caught my breath.

My frightening and angering 2001 experience with the NYPD makes me wonder how black Americans deal with that sort of treatment on a regular basis.

As one officer started looking at my school ID and driver’s license, the other pushed me hard up against the bus shelter – where I can remember clear as day there was an advertisement for Old Navy. He proceeded to hold my hands behind my back, as if he was ready to handcuff me. The whole thing happened extremely fast, but I’m pretty sure I tried to resist, an involuntary movement, and said something to the effect of “let go of me, you’re hurting me, I’m not cutting school” to the cop. I remember asking them to call the school, saying that they could prove it. Mrs. Colasanti had seem me leave and she would vouch for me. They didn’t listen. The cop holding my hands behind my back told me to shut up. Suddenly, the other cop, who I assume had been looking at my ID – I couldn’t tell since I was facing facing away from him – told his partner to let me go.

“We can’t take him in, he’s an adult,” the cop said. His partner let go of my hands and the other cop glanced at my drivers license, then at me, then at the license and handed it back to me. At this moment, I was confused. It was still another three weeks or so until my 18th birthday, so why was he saying I was an adult? Was this a trick? Was he expecting me to respond that I was still 17 and if I didn’t, he’d arrest me for lying to a cop? I remained silent. Anxiety riddled my body and I was breathing heavily. My face sweat and my heart beat so loudly it shook my entire body. Did he read my birthdate wrong? (I always assumed he read May 3, which had been a few days earlier, instead of May 30, my actual birthday).

“Don’t cut school again,” he said, before walking off with his partner. No apology, no smile, just a passive aggressive comment, as if he was angry some loophole in the rules prevented him from being able to slap cuffs on a teenager and drag him back to school in the back of a squad car. It felt like they were getting some enjoyment out of tormenting me, out of asserting authority and it was a buzzkill only to realize they didn’t have authority in this situation.

There were two older people in the bus shelter waiting for the bus at the time, and I avoided eye contact with them as much as possible, but I knew they were staring at me. Neither asked if I was ok. I assume they thought I had cut school. The bus came, I got on, took a seat way in the back and stared out the window the entire ride home, wondering if I had narrowly missed a trip to Rikers Island. What would have happened if they had taken me in? Would I have gone back to school and would they have let me go when the school told them I was allowed to leave? Would my parents find out? Would they believe me? My heart was racing and my face was flushed.

I thought no one would ever believe the cops harassed me for no reason, or that they were wrong.

I got home that day and I hid in the basement where I took a nap. I was super quiet all weekend. I debated whether or not to tell my parents what happened, but feared they would think I actually DID cut school. I was raised to believe “if you have interactions with cops, you must have done something wrong,” which even today is a common refrain among supporters of the police in the brutality debate. I thought no one would ever believe the cops harassed me for no reason, or that they were wrong.

I was a white kid in a Catholic school uniform in Queens – the demographic you wouldn’t expect to have this experience. I can only imagine what it would feel like for a black 18-year-old in that situation. It was clear to me these cops were aggressive and looking to assert authority. If I was black, would I have been shot in that moment? I hadn’t even considered it at the time, but now I wonder, would a black kid have been even more terrified than I was? Would that have caused him to resist more strongly as a flight response? Would that have led to them killing him? This is how those situations happen; a conflict over a minor violation that turns deadly because a person feels aggrieved and cop feels his authority has not been respected.

And further, as terrifying as that situation was for me, it only happened once. Only one other time – when a cop asked me to stop out of the car after pulling me over in 2014 – did it almost happen again. I got out of that by dropping the name of the Executive Officer at the cop’s precinct.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be facing that situation on a regular basis, and I can easily see how a “flight or fight” response to aggressive policing, like the one I almost did, could lead to a situation where a cop shoots, either in fear for his or her life or to reassert authority. No wonder the anger and feelings of hopelessness are so palpable among black Americans, My experience with cops that one time in 2001 that left scars through today, is a regular fact of life for them.

Election Update: August 31, 2020

Is The Race Tightening, Is It Not? Analysis The Pundit Paranoia Eight Weeks Out

If you’ve been politically active in the past week, you’ve probably heard a lot of “Trump’s reelection chances rising!” takes. With the RNC ending and chaos and violence breaking out in some cities – most notable Kenosha, in a swing county in a swing state, its been a few days of “Are Democrats blowing it?” narratives again.

But even if some polls show tightening – and there probably is some tightening- Biden is still ahead by a significant amount, about where Obama won in 2008, and is over 50 percent in most polls, meaning undecideds are few and far between. Also, we saw “is it slipping from Democrats” in 2017 and 2018 as well before Democrats won big.

So where are we eight weeks out?

Public Policy Polling has a new poll out of Georgia – a must win Trump state – that as been solidly Republican since 1996. Biden leads Trump by 1 – 47%-46% – and Trump’s numbers are underwater with 52% disapproving. More interestingly, the undecided seem to be anti-Trump. There are no undecideds among 2016 Trump voters, but eight percent of Hillary voters are undecided, as are 8 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Independents. These voters are largely in Metro Atlanta and largely made up of young people and people of color, not demographics friendly to Trump.

Also, a recent poll showed third party voters from 2016 are breaking for Biden 2-1. If that holds, it would probably win him the election by winning him battleground states where Trump won in 2016 with a plurality – Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and perhaps North Carolina.

Further, a Military Times poll shows Biden ahead of Trump with active military, though with a huge undecided number. If that’s true, that would be an earthshaking result. Active military members have voted Republican for as long as anyone could guess. I’d be shocked if Biden won the majority of active military votes, but even a result in the low to mid 40s could turn states like North Carolina and Arizona.

For now my map hasn’t really changed, except that I still can’t quite get my head around Texas being a tossup, so I left it in Trump’s column, and I can quite get my head around Florida being lean Biden, so its still a tossup. CBS recently did a poll of every state that showed Trump with only a small lead in several solid red states like Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and South Carolina, so if the race does break toward Biden – and it could if COVID gets worse again or the economy doesn’t improve – then we could see some red states turning blue that we didn’t expect. That does happen in landslides (For example: Reagan winning Massachusetts in 1980; Bush winning Maryland in 1988; Clinton winning Montana in 1992 and Florida in 1996; Obama winning Indiana in 2008).

The other tossups – Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa and Maine’s 2nd District are all still in that category.

The election is in 64 days!

Why Democrats Might Get Blamed For Problems Trump Caused

Preconceived Notions Are Hard To Break, And The One Here Is Democrats = Crime

The United States is on the brink of civil war.

I don’t think we can look at what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, and in Portland, Oregon this weekend and conclude anything else. Two sides – white supremacist-aligned groups supporting Donald Trump on one side, and Black Lives Matter and socialist causes, along with anarchists and radicals who align themselves, often not welcomed, with those movements, on the other, are facing off; and its turning ugly.

Photo by Oscar Chan on Pexels.com

But as violence erupts around the country, and Donald Trump helps fan the flames, the online punditry has reduced themselves to asking: “Is this good for Trump? Will this get him reelected?”

The administration isn’t even coy about thinking this is good for him; Kellyanne Conway even said so this past week. It seems counterintuitive to think the country descending into chaos and violence is somehow good for the incumbent president, but now we have even Democrats making the case that violence is good for the incumbent president who can’t seem to stop the violence and worrying it will turn the tide of the November election toward Trump.

What we should ask ourselves is this. Why is it when there’s violence, it’s the Democrats who bear the blame?

Trump is President, doesn’t the buck stop with him? He could send federal enforcement in if he wants to, with or without local approval. He did it in June and it just made the situation worse. Remember the gassing of the protestors in Washington, D.C.? He’s not doing it again because he wants his hands clean of this and because he doesn’t want it to blowback on him when the problem escalates.

He’s intentionally sitting back and letting the powder keg explode because he knows we’ve internalized the preconceived notion that “Republican = law and order; Democrat = crime” from decades of propaganda even when the correlation doesn’t actually apply in the real world. We have surrendered to the narrative without even questioning it. Trump could start a fire and get caught holding the match and people would blame Democrats for letting the house burn, because, why? Republicans put out the fires in the past and Democrats didn’t? We’ve allowed a narrative to take hold that Republicans, and only Republicans, are good for law and order and security, when it reality, there’s little evidence that this is true. In New York City, Rudy Giuliani is credited with reducing crime, when crime actually began dropping three years before he become mayor. Had Bloomberg left office at the end of 2009 when he was supposed to, he would’ve left with a higher crime rate than when he took office on Jan. 1, 2002. Ronald Reagan is credited with ending the Cold War, even though it was economic and military decisions the Soviets made before he was president that likely did the most fatal damage to them. Reagan, meanwhile, got us caught in quagmires around the world and used our military might to help build and strengthen organizations – like Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party, to fight Communism and Iran – that later blew back on us and pulled us into costly wars in the 2000s. Speaking of the 2000s, were we any less safe and secure for invading Iraq and creating the power vacuum in the Middle East that lead to the rise of ISIS? It was Republicans Nixon and Reagan who created the economic and social policies that exacerbated poverty, drug abuse and defunded public education in urban areas that lead to crime in cities in the first place. How is it that THEY are the “law and order” and “security” party?

“But the cities/states are run by Democrats!” Yeah, and? These Democrats aren’t running for president. They’re also not doing any better job than Trump did when he did sent in law enforcement. Maybe the problem isn’t that we haven’t crushed them hard enough? Maybe a stronger law enforcement response only makes it worse? Why is the answer for civil unrest always “how do we crush it?” and not “what is causing it and can we do something to make it stop?” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while condemning violence, once said “the riot is the voice of the unheard.” Have you ever slammed on a table because no one was listening to you or punched a wall because you felt unheard? Now apply that to thousands of people. Same concept.

How much of the unrest is because of police brutality caused by decades of police forces recruiting white supremacists that Trump, and Republicans, have not only done nothing about, but has quietly encouraged it? How much of it is because of the social and economic disruption caused by the pandemic Trump fucked up responding to? How much of it is because we did not provide a social safety net to catch the millions whose livelihoods were thrown into turmoil by the pandemic? There is no logical reason why people should want to vote for the incumbent when there’s mass civil unrest under that person’s presidency and there’s no logical reason why we should accept that they would. The civil unrest is based solely on issues Trump has only exacerbated as president. It won’t get better if he’s reelected, it will just get worse.

We may have more unrest if Biden wins, but we definitely WILL have it if Trump wins.

What would Trump do different in his second term that he isn’t already doing? Especially when his opponents are the guy who, for better or worse, wrote the Crime Bill credited with dramatically lowering crime and a star prosecutor who put criminals behind bars. Why would voting for Biden cause more looting and riots? Simply because he’s a Democrat? Have we taken a moment to consider that maybe electing someone who may do something about the underlying reasons for unrest would do more to stop the violence than sending in more men with guns? History tells us there are two ways to quell civil unrest: Either make progress toward the demands of those speaking out, or slaughter them by the hundreds or thousands. If you want to try the former, vote for Biden. If you want to try for the latter, vote for Trump.

I can’t tell you who will benefit from this politically, or if it will even still be an issue in a month. There’s still a pandemic going on. We will cross the 200,000 dead threshold from COVID before the country starts voting and another wave is not out of the question. But as far as civil unrest, I can tell you one thing: We may have more unrest if Biden wins, but we definitely WILL have it if Trump wins.

Choose accordingly.

%d bloggers like this: