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    • Surprise!
      Newly released data shows that properties owned by the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies profited from pandemic relief programs: In total, it was more than 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65 million. https://t.co/O4Ltezu7lj — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 2, 2020
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    • Schools and Covid
      Back in August, when it became clear that schools were going to reopen in countries like the US and Britain that did not have Covid under control, and which never would control Covid until there is a vaccine, I wrote an article warning against going back to school while Covid was out of control. I’d […]
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Critics review Trump’s latest straight-to-video movie

I saw it so you don’t have to. Actually, that’s not quite true. I watched the first 7 or so minutes then I started to fast forward 5 minutes at a time. But no matter where I landed, it sounded like the same section of the narrative in the script played over and over again as if the audience didn’t get the important plot devices, symbolism and foreshadowing the first several times and so needed reinforcement at regular intervals. So I skipped to the predictable ending. Sure, even bigger and more terrifying but not very original.

I think that’s a danger for the sane. It just looks like Trump being Trump, trying to outdo himself but still reinforcing the same themes of prodigal son, ne’erdowell, Peer Gint with a soupçon of Atilla the Hun. Think Woody Allen with his latest incarnation of Hannah and her Sisters. The neurosis and sense of alienation is tiresome. In this case, We may be witnessing Trump’s plot turn where we watch him visibly melting, melting, suffering the cruel injustices of the world, what a world. Or he may be getting ready to nuke Atlanta. So hard to tell.

Phillip Bump at WaPo critiques the nuances:

Again, there wasn’t anything new to it. It was a pastiche of so much that we’ve heard so often. It presented no coherent case for the existence of fraud, instead substituting a volume of accusations for an abundance of proof. Having hundreds of people make unfounded allegations isn’t proof of wrongdoing, as any review of those sheaves of affidavits collected by Trump’s campaign from various supporters makes clear. Having one person make hundreds of unfounded allegations isn’t proof either — but Trump’s goal isn’t proving each point. It’s getting Americans to accept maybe just one or two, so that they’re receptive to his broader point: Something Must Be Done.

That something isn’t clear. At first it was to block the counting of ballots which were showing he lost key states such as Pennsylvania. Then it was to block the certification of votes in states such as Michigan. Then it was to try to get state legislatures to appoint new, Trump-friendly electors to the electoral college. Then it was to get a case to the Supreme Court where something magical would slice through the Gordian knot tied by American voters.

In the speech, Trump made vague demand that someone — anyone — intervene.

Golly, who does he have left? Barr has pissed him off, Wray is still hanging onto his job, presumably with enough information to lock him up for a good long time. I guess he could always turn to his new Secretary of Defense. But good luck getting the military rank and file to do his dirty work. This definitely merits some thought about where this story is going next.

One thing is for sure though. Trump’s tragic flaw is he is unable to see others as more than extensions of himself. What’s going on right now must be very frustrating because he’s not getting his way like he usually does. He probably didn’t see that coming so decisively.

He also doesn’t realize that there are a lot of other characters, 80 million of them, who are just as angry, maybe more angry, who aren’t going to let his minions roll over them.

I’d say pass the popcorn but I’m tired of this movie already. I’m just going to go pack my bug out bag so I’m prepared for anything.

*****************

This part is indicative of where he’s going with it:

“This election was rigged. Everybody knows it,” he said. “I don’t mind if I lose an election, but I want to lose an election fair and square. What I don’t want to do is have it stolen from the American people. That’s what we’re fighting for, and we have no choice to be doing that.”

Here’s the nub. Or rub.

Overturning the certifications and appointing electors for Trump to the electoral college that negates the actual will of the voters would be very bad in most cases. But in this case, those votes for Biden were cast by very UN-American people so wresting control of the process for the real Americans is totally ok.

And who are the real Americans?

The 73 million people who are extensions of himself, of course.

Where have we seen stripping the rights from certain citizens and not others before? Don’t you first have to make them enemies and somehow alien? And then when you’ve reduced those aliens to less than human, it’s much easier to get the real citizens to commit acts of violence against them, right?

I’m sure I’ve seen this movie before. No, no, don’t tell me.

And another thing…

$170,000,000 could be put to better use.

I’ll bet the donors have a bird about spending tax money on hungry children. 🙄

************

In case you missed it…

The next obstacles on the course

Lots of news tonight. Let’s see. Oh! I know! While we are waiting to find out which criminal Trump associate made a campaign contribution to the Trump campaign in exchange for a pardon, did you hear that the House stripped down its request for Covid unemployment bennies and stimulus and Mitch McConnell still said No? Yeah, that actually happened today.

I think it’s going to be a bleak Christmas for a lot of little kids this year. Maybe we can do something about that.

And then there’s this I found. A lot of people are about to find out that if they make less than $75,000/year, their taxes are about to go up in January 2021. That’s before Biden takes office. And those taxes will continue to go up year after year for the next SEVEN years.

That’s right, we can drag him kicking and screaming from the White House but he’s going to make it uninhabitable for the next president.

Now, how to explain it to the Trump base, who simply refuse to believe that their party is capable of stiffing them for the bill? It’s probably going to go something like this:

I am so not looking forward to this.

So what?

CNN reports on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China. The Chinese didn’t realize they were dealing with a different virus at the beginning. They thought it was just a spike in flu cases. It took them 23 days to verify a diagnosis from a screening test. They weren’t forthcoming with information.

It sounds to me like they thought they had a particularly nasty flu on their hands initially and didn’t immediately make the connection to another disease like SARS, which is much more deadly than Covid. It was only when the tests for flu came back negative that they started considering other viruses.

This sounds so plausible I’m not sure why it’s news. I’m not letting China off the hook here. There may be cultural and sociopolitical reasons why the Chinese reacted the way they did. Maybe individuals try to avoid sticking their heads up because they’ve seen what happens to people who deliver bad news. Think of it as the Chinese version of Chernyobal. Yeah, go watch that on HBO. This behavior would be consistent with what I’ve observed working with Chinese colleagues. They tend to keep a low profile but there’s a Chinese Underground that passes information among itself, not for general consumption. Survival mechanism from years of communist rule, re-education camps, and trying to fit in the best way possible without drawing attention to yourself? Or using the new outbreak as a way to settle personal scores? Competition opportunities? A history of scientific or medical sabotage might have participants looking over their shoulders instead of sharing too much of what they knew. I could see those things happening.

But so what? Seriously.

By the middle of JANUARY 2020, while Trump was rage tweeting over his impeachment, the pandemic was already being tracked around the world. The Johns Hopkins tracker was reporting cases in Toronto shortly after Martin Luther King holiday weekend. I saw the two little dots on the map and wondered how close I got to exposure when I visited Canada that weekend.

I’m no freaking genius but if someone like me could be both fascinated and concerned, and if there was already a tracker available, then it’s incomprehensible to me that our governmental agencies that are supposed to be watching for this sort of thing weren’t aware of it also. It didn’t require Trump’s interest in it at that time to summarize that there was a very serious problem on our horizon.

When Biden takes office, we’re going to find out who knew what, when, and who went to the White House with their hair on fire to alert the Trump administration. We’ll learn when they decided to turn the response over to the private sector so they could make money on it. We’ll find out what the plans were with respect to the hoarded PPE and who decided to turn a global pandemic into a political hammer to pin the blame for the response on the Democrats in blue states.

There are some political observers who think that Covid hurt the president. When the dust settles, we may have found that the opposite was true. A change in political “leadership” may have been shown to be more necessary if Trump hadn’t used Covid as a naturally caused smoke screen to keep his other destructive actions hidden. We watched in horrified disbelief as he intentionally hobbled the response to the virus while he deliberately underplayed the seriousness, and confused and mislead his base.

Trump didn’t need the Chinese government in Beijing to tell him what to do or how to screw things up. He did that all on his own. He used Covid to enforce a sense of learned helplessness in his adversaries. Yep, the whole country could suffer illness and economic disaster and it would be impossible to get rid of Trump before the election and there wasn’t a damn thing any of us could do to dislodge him from sitting like a dragon on a hoard of federal response plans and money.

Tell me you weren’t angry and frustrated. That was the point.

So, I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass when, what and where the Chinese scientists knew about coronavirus or how they could have missed the clues. Even if there were no cultural or political barriers to China being more forthcoming, there was still plenty of warning before the virus hit our shores for Trump to mobilize a response. In fact, it would have been better for all of us if he had just delegated responsibility in an area he knew absolutely less than nothing about to the scientific professionals. Getting out of the way and just signing authorizations to trigger built in defense mechanisms would have saved us all a lot of grief.

He didn’t. He used it to his own ends.

Don’t look now but he’s using the outcome of the election in the same way. He’s spreading and reinforcing misinformation intentionally to mislead and anger his base and confuse everyone else. You think that all of the state certifications will put the matter to rest that Biden won? Did you miss the way he persuaded half of the US to ignore and downplay a deadly virus and jeer the rest oh us for wearing masks?

Never underestimate the ruthless and unscrupulous to take advantage of a crisis.

Don’t blame Beijing. To suggest that the Chinese made us behave this way makes us look stupid and powerless before our Chinese overlords.

No American should accept that our government cowered before Beijing while South Korea and New Zealand got its shit together. It’s time to face up to the fact that Trump did this to us deliberately.

Gotta love him

Our lieutenant governor at work:

Ouch.

What do you call this anyway?

I still can’t get over how gobsmacking the Trump lawsuits in Pennsylvania have been. It’s hard to believe they thought they could actually get away with the arguments they’re making. Here’s a review of the most recent smack down from the State Supreme court’s ruling yesterday.

Justices on the state high court ruled unanimously late Saturday that Republican petitioners waited too long to file their suit challenging Act 77, the 2019 law that established universal mail voting in Pennsylvania. Trump allies had asked the court to invalidate all votes cast by mail in the most recent election or direct the majority-Republican legislature to choose a slate of presidential electors. The ruling with prejudice means that the plaintiffs are barred from bringing another action on the same claim.

The court’s written order called the latter option “extraordinary,” noting that it would disenfranchise 6.9 million voters.

“The want of due diligence demonstrated in this matter is unmistakable,” the justices wrote, noting that the lawsuit was filed “more than one year” after no-excuse mail voting was enacted in Pennsylvania. The order blamed petitioners for a “complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing their facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77’s enactment.”

Concurring, Justice David N. Wecht noted that the GOP petitioners “failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted.”

This follows the Friday ruling from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals where Trump appointed justices looked at the case and in essence asked “what the hell is this thing??”

The Trump lawyers aren’t even alleging fraud. Oh, they might be suggesting that strongly and pounding on the tables about it at their publicity tour “hearings” in the conference room of a moderately priced hotel in Gettysburg. But they won’t make that accusation with evidence in court. And why is that? It’s because there is no evidence of fraud or unequal treatment of poll watchers. They’d have to provide proof and witnesses and signed affidavits. And Giuliani and Ellis have none of that. All they can do is present lies. They know it. The judges know it. It’s all written in the rulings. Don’t come into court crying fraud without evidence and don’t present evidence that isn’t evidence of fraud. Capisce?

So, Giuliani and Ellis are not claiming Fraud that isn’t fraud. No, it’s weirder than that. They are claiming that because a few counties in PA allowed voters to cure their ballots but other counties did not allow that, that voters were treated unequally. Secondly, they just don’t like mail in ballots so ALL of the ballots in PA have to be thrown out.

I can’t wrap my head around this. It’s hard to believe that even the most hardened Trumper believes that all 6.9 million votes cast in PA have to be thrown out because some of them arrived through the mail. You don’t see this kind of crap happening in Seattle. Oh, that’s right, Washington doesn’t have a possibly persuadable Republican legislature. I guess Trump just assumes that Republican legislative bodies are stupid or corruptible or both.

Meanwhile, the massive tons of evidence of fraud that Trump and his lawyers swears went on here, where is it? Just because you call a press briefing and sit on a tiny chair behind a tiny desk and whinge for 35 minutes that somebody spit in your cereal doesn’t make it true. There will always be a certain number of people in your audience that might believe you. But the rest of us will be surprised that you know just how many ways there are to fraudulently hack a voting machine.

Luckily for PA, our voting machines now have paper trails unlike in 2016. And the Republican legislature passed a bill in 2019 to allow mail in ballots, which are the very definition of paper trails.

As the state Supreme Court notes in this ruling, the Trump campaign could have objected to the legislation before the election. It didn’t. It just made delivering the ballots to the board of elections more difficult by slowing down the mail and limiting drop boxes and narrowing the window of time for the ballots to be received and counted and reported. It tried every trick in the book to make mail in balloting hard to do but they didn’t try to lobby the legislature to revoke the mail in ballot process that was approved in 2019. And they probably didn’t try to do that because even if the revocation could get past the legislature, it was likely to be vetoed by the Democratic governor.

So, this is what they’re left with, pounding the table, making up stories about fraud and asking courts to just chuck 6.9 million votes because Trump wants it.

Words fail me.

Perspective.

You don’t get a true feeling for how utterly bizarre this picture is until you zoom out.

For example:

Where is all the furniture?

Why is there a huge expanse of green carpet in the room? Why is there wall to wall carpet anyway? I thought the White House has beautiful hardwood floors and lush acreage of expensive area rugs. Is this even the White House?

I see Melania has decorated the tree in the traditional “Fu#% Christmas” style.

That’s a very small desk. Where is the Resolute? Why wasn’t this done in the Oval Office?

What have they done with the RESOLUTE??

Why is there a presidential seal the size of a dinner plate attached to the front of this teeny tiny desk? Is he feeling threatened by the image of Biden standing in front of a backdrop with “president-elect” scattered all over it? (If so, nice work, Joe!)

Let me guess, the eagle carving on the front of the Resolute was too non-specific. He then shakes his tiny fists and demands the presidential seal be affixed to it. But they tell him that that would risk marring the surface of a priceless antique. His fury hits the roof. They give him this desk with seal instead. (It appears that this desk is for signing ceremonies on the road)

And that mural, is it just me or does that mural content seem out of place?

I want answers for why Trump would choose to portray himself as a overgrown brat at the kiddy table, eating by himself and probably getting mashed potatoes and gravy ground into the tacky green carpet.

There’s got to be a reason.

In spite of it all…

Dinner was beyond delicious. The company was so good. We listened to Alabama Shakes and Rush.

We followed up the Turkey and stuffing with this. Everybody sing:

Yep.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This has been a year without milestones. Weddings have been very private, birthdays can go unnoticed. My Muslim coworker spent all of Ramadan by himself while his wife and daughter were stuck in India and couldn’t come home in time. It can leave you feeling flat and demotivated.

Those of us who grew up without holidays know exactly how you feel.

But this will be the last thanksgiving like this. It will be back to business as usual by this time next year.

I am looking forward to Independence Day 2021. Keep your eyes on that prize. If all goes well with the vaccine, we will have barbecues, fireworks, parties, orgies. Ok, maybe not orgies. But we should be able to satisfy our skin hunger by then, with care.

I’m lucky to be able to attend a small thanksgiving dinner. Can’t wait. But I also bought a Turkey that’s thawing in my fridge right now. By Saturday, it should be ready to throw on the Weber and grill to a smoky deliciousness.

I need recipe recommendations for side dishes for a barbecued Turkey. Put your favorites down below.

And I’m going to be making this bed:

My goal is to make this bed for about 1/10th the price that it would cost to buy it. I mean, I could buy this bed for $3000 (no I can’t) but I like the challenge (yes I do).

So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Except for you, Baltimore Ravens, who didn’t follow the Covid prevention rules and have deprived the undefeated Steelers from kicking your asses. We’ll see YOU on Sunday.

In News: GA SOS thrown under bus by Trump. Water is wet.

Brad Raffesperger, GA Secretary of State is being thrown under the bus by Donald Trump:

“…my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him.”

In tweets, Trump has referred to Raffensperger as a “so-called Republican” and questioned why more ballots were not disqualified, claiming he would have won Georgia if they had been.

Well, there was your first mistake, Brad. You actually considered Trump presidential material after 2020.

Let me guess, Brad is a generational Republican. He got to his present position playing by Republican rules. He’s got a good reputation. It sounds like Brad might have just a touch too much integrity though.

While Brad was still a Republican, his party had become Trumplican and loyalty is strictly enforced from the top down.

It doesn’t go in the opposite direction.

********

In other news, yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the certification for the slate of electors for Pennsylvania. They are certified for Biden/Harris. Winner take all. That’s the way we roll here.

So, today, Trump and Giuliani are going to Gettysburg for a “hearing” on the election results. As far as I know, there’s no court involved. I think it’s more like an “airing of grievances” one month early.

The location is significant. Gettysburg is in the middle of Trump country. He’s looking for attention and support from his fellow “victims” of this cruel, cruel election process. Oh, the yumanity!

The media shouldn’t cover it. It only encourages him. Plus, it’s cold, grey and drizzly in PA today. Plus plus, there’s a pandemic.

I’d just stay home.

Update:

Dang!