You Go, Joe

A Republic, if you can keep it.”

  • You go, Joe. Your election wasn’t a landslide; there’s still divisiveness; but it was an ethical, moral and strategic reset that we had to have. Four more uncivil, narcissistic years of Trump would not have been an aberration. It would have been a devolution. Congratulations—and thank you.
  • A Donald Trump win would have sealed the deal with the U.S. opting out of the Paris climate accord. Officially, the U.S. withdrew last Wednesday. But President-elect Biden has vowed to immediately rejoin the accord. Yet another reminder that elections have consequences. Nationally and globally.
  • “Flori-duh” wasn’t back in the electoral cycle. No chads hanging around this time. But Donald Trump topping his 2016 Sunshine State numbers and winning by 3.4 percent—and 370,000 votes—meant that “Flo-RED-a” was duly referenced.
  • Doesn’t it speak ominous volumes that what scares, infuriates and embarrasses so many Americans also pleases, excites and validates so many others?
  • “This election is far from over.” Donald Trump placating his base.
  • “He intends to fight.”—White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, placating his boss.
  • Trump and a graceful exit: Isn’t that an oxymoron?
  • “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country.” Finally, some Trump truth. Indeed, we’re still living through a national embarrassment until he is finally evicted from what has become the White grievance House.
  • How weird that as overseas congrats pour in for a president-elect, the present incumbent is refusing to concede and continues to play the “stop the steal” card. Isn’t this the MO of a shi* hole-country dictator?
  • The challenge, if it matters to Trump’s speechwriters, is beyond formidable. That is, to concede his opponent’s victory with a measure of class and say something transitionally appropriate without referencing “carnage” or encouraging insurrection with dog-whistling rhetoric.
  • Optics matter: Rudy Giuliani held a “voter-fraud” assessment press conference in Philadelphia last Saturday. It was next to an adult book store. Optics? Remember “Borat”? Rudy should.
  • Whether it’s on the golf course or during a Twitter storm, chances are Trump is trolling himself with more than a narcissist’s freak-out over becoming a “loser.” That’s because he knows that the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is continuing to probe into his finances. He also knows, as does Michael Cohen, the possible consequences. He could face charges as soon as he leaves office—and he won’t be federally pardoned.
  • So Scott Atlas, President Trump’s coronavirus adviser, appeared on Russian state TV (RT)—not knowing RT is a registered foreign agent. He then apologized to the national security community. No, we won’t miss any facet of this administrative fiasco.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains that he won’t be making a congratulatory call to Joe Biden until after all the Trump fraud charges have been dismissed. In other words, he’s still holding out hope that his favorite American president can autocratically hang on.
  • The incongruous value of an Electoral College is ever-more apparent as winning candidates losing the popular vote is no longer a rarity. One man, one vote should be reality—not a cliché. It’s hardly surprising that the Congressional Record Service has found “more proposed constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress regarding Electoral College reform than on any other subject.” Another may be coming.
  • The GOP doesn’t need a brand; it needs a backbone.
  • 210: Number of golfing days—so far—for Donald Trump.
  • Worth repeating: The only way Trump could get to 270 was to lose 50 pounds.

COVID Bits

#AloneTogether

  • Based on initial data from a major study, Pfizer Inc. announced that its experimental vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, are the first drug makers to show successful data from a large-scale clinical trial.
  • The U.S. October unemployment rate: 6.9 percent. In September, it was 7.9 percent.
  • Publix Super Markets Inc. posted third quarter sales revenue of $11.1. billion—an 18 percent increase from the third quarter of 2019. The Publix numbers reflect a national surge in grocery sales.
  • As of last Sunday, there were 2,732 people across Florida hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19. About 20 percent—or 597 of those patients—were in Tampa Bay area hospitals.
  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson has tested positive for coronavirus—as well as Trump sycophancy.
  • How sadly thematic and unsurprising that a new wave of White House coronavirus cases occurs in the aftermath of Trump’s pandemic-plagued loss. This transition will have an all-too-appropriate hazmat look.

Dem Notes

Yes, we did.”

  • A victory for America and American democracy and a win for the Democratic Party: In that order.
  • “America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country. The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a president for all Americans—whether you voted for me or not.” What really helps is that you know Joe Biden means it.
  • “The voters have spoken, and they have chosen Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be our next president and vice president. It’s a history-making ticket, a repudiation of Trump and a new page for America.”—Hillary Clinton, who would have made history if the popular vote meant what it should have.
  • BTW, federal law allows states more than a month after the election to finalize the results—and possibly satisfy the concession resistance.
  • Congress—in a joint session–officially counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021. The president of the Senate presides—and ultimately declares a winner. And, oh yeah, the president of the Senate is the sitting vice president. You can bet that the cold opening of “Saturday Night Live” will be all over the Mike Pence winner-declaring performance.
  • Joe Biden won more votes than any president in American history. Too bad that doesn’t impress–or assuage the Trumpster base.
  • “The United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”—Biden Spokesman Andrew Bates.
  • Nice touch for former President George W. Bush to give a congratulatory call to President-elect Biden. “I know Joe Biden to be a good man,” said Bush, “who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”
  • You have to wonder if the lack of a stimulus bill contributed to the Dems losing House seats and maybe coming up short in retaking the Senate.
  • Florida turnout–11 million–was encouraging; that’s 76 percent. But turnout also included enough democratic turncoats to make the state even redder. Another reminder that just showing up is too low a bar for a democratic republic.
  • That was a disappointing Latino vote in South Florida where the Trump “anti-socialist” message resonated at COVID-defying, festival-like rallies. Biden’s message—at socially-distanced gatherings–was about unity. Maybe that came across as more of an abstraction in an emotional, zero-sum rhetorical world of disingenuous and divisive labels. Surely those fleeing from authoritarian societies with government-directed economies would know the socialism of, say, Denmark—or the progressive, safety net provisions of America—are hardly similar to Cuban and Venezuelan “socialism.” Surely.
  • Welcome back, America.” That was Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, speaking for a sizable chunk of the international community.

Media Matters

  • “The news media, in general, has not done a good job of covering the Latino vote.”—Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post.
  • John King is CNN’s go-to, electoral-map guy. Two takeaways. He’s good at what he does–no melodramatics, no optics—not even rolled-up sleeves. Second, did he have his own air mattress in the CNN studio? What a week-long, around-the-clock slog on voting returns for network media monitors.
  • Other than Trump, the election’s other prominent loser was polling. Florida can attest. And it’s a lot more than Alessi “candidate cookie polls.” It’s fallout from a new societal normal—from push polls and cell/land line phone disparities to suspect sampling, “professionalism” of callers and the sheer receptivity—including candor—of respondees who increasingly don’t want to be bothered. No, this is not back-in-the-day Gallup, for whom polling to households was a calling–not a business-model adjunct.
  • “Many in the right-wing media bubble are marooned in a time warp in which the ‘other side’ is some Cold War-era Marxist caricature. (Hence the infatuation with the3 word ‘socialist.’).”—Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post.
  • “Our fight should be for a more perfect union and not against each other.”—NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt.

Sports Shorts

  • All Saints Day: Was that a Bucs debacle for the ages or what? A prime time, national game with Super Bowl and Tom Brady buzz devolves into a 38-3 loss to New Orleans–the worst home defeat in team history. Good teams with Super Bowl potential lose games, but they rarely, if ever, get humiliated. “Truly stunning,” as NBC announcer Al Michaels labeled it. And that was an understatement.
  • The skewed college football season is reflected in the AP rankings. Coastal Carolina and Marshall are ranked ahead of Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, Southern California, Texas and Auburn. And let’s not forget Liberty, now ranked in the top 25—even if Jerry Falwell Jr. isn’t celebrating.

Quoteworthy

  • “Congratulations, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Our two countries are close friends, partners and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • “I look forward to future cooperation with President Biden. Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we are to master the great challenges of our time.”—German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • “I think now with President Biden in the White House in Washington, we have the real prospect of American global leadership in tackling climate change. … There is far more that unites the government of this country and government in Washington, any time, any stage, than divides us.”—British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who knows that he and President-elect Biden still have differences on Brexit.
  • “I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing.”—U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.
  • “’Madam Vice President’” is no longer a fictional character.”—Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of the HBO show “Veep.”
  • “It is a situation of which experts rightly say it could lead to a constitutional crisis in the U.S. That is something that must certainly worry us very much.”—German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

The President-elect And The President-evict

Plus, Military Concerns, Gov. DeSantis, Fox

Trumpster Diving

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

* Legacy update: Not that it much helps, but we all saw the narcissist-in-chief’s temper tantrum coming. Early on it was the General Services Administration refusing to process paperwork needed to release funds for President-elect Biden to begin the transition process. That was classless and dangerous in a fraught world. But, as insiders and GOPster incumbents know, the vile egotist that is Donald Trump needs groveling enablers and political grief counseling after losses in the electoral and popular vote affirmed his “loser” status. “(Biden) only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA,” claimed Trump in another Twitter-flagged tweet. “This was a rigged election. I concede nothing.”

Also conceding nothing (and unmoved by electoral ambulance chasing): the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency. “The Nov. 3 election was the most secure in American history,” notably declared the CSISA. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Then there was the recent Trump motorcade that cruised down Washington streets lined with sign-toting, mostly maskless, cult-leader supporters–before rolling on to the outgoing president’s Virginia golf club. How incongruously fitting that there are still post-election, “stop the steal,” de facto campaign rallies during a post-election, pandemic-preying, presidential transition.

* “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump Administration.” That was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo somehow equating transition smoothness with the narcissistic avatar of self-serving chaos.

* (Un)friendly fire: “Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.” That was the demander-in-chief thanking, as only he can–via tweet–his defense secretary. Esper may have stayed longer had he not indicated that the military should remain an apolitical institution and that he opposed invoking the Insurrection Act to place active-duty troops on the streets to quell possible post-election protests. It’s also a reminder that Joe Biden’s defense secretary will have a damage-control and morale-agenda at the outset.

* Speaking of the military, it knows that President Biden will not be prioritizing the partially-built U.S.-Mexico border wall that has cost $15 billion so far. The military also knows that this means no more money diverted from the military budget to compensate for Mexico not paying for it.

* Still speaking of the military, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, was hardly nuanced about presidential “fealty.” “We are unique among militaries,” he underscored. “We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual.”

* Timing matters: The Trump Administration is advancing plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the inauguration of Joe Biden. The president-elect has vowed to block oil exploration in the Alaska wilderness.

* Yo, Philly: Pennsylvania turning blue was critical to Trump’s loss. The Philadelphia vote count went to Biden by about a 4-1 margin. Still wonder how many “Iggles” fans are Trumpsters.

* Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is one of 10 Republican attorneys general calling for a Pennsylvania election ruling on late-arriving absentee ballots to be overturned by the Supreme Court. Pam Bondi would have done no less.

* “I do believe the election is over–and we do have a new president.”–That was Ted Olson, who successfully argued for George W. Bush in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case.

* Advisers have tried to persuade Trump to drop the “fraud” talk. It has obvious legal implications that his team has been unable to back up. So Trump has dialed back; the election, he’s now asserting, was, uh, “rigged.” Whatever.

* Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is fawningly supportive of Trump’s efforts to avoid conceding defeat. Hypocritically ironic that when he won his gubernatorial race by 0.4 percent, he declared victory four hours after the polls had closed.

* “A matter of weeks.” That, according to the prevaricator-in-chief, is the time frame until a vaccine is shipped to vulnerable populations.

* More than 130 Secret Service officers who helped protect the White House and the president have been ordered to quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers.

* The rationales for questioning the electoral college are more than manifest. The ultimate bottom line: Without it, there would have been no minoritarian Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Dem Notes

“Yes, we did.”

* Joe Biden and Donald Trump: the president-elect and the president-evict.

* The president-elect had the highest number of popular votes–some 78 million–in U.S. history.

* Prominent among world leaders who have yet to make a congratulatory call to President-elect Biden: Brazil, China, North Korea, Russia and Turkey. No surprise: Biden is no autocrat’s favorite choice for America’s president.

* “The Democratic blue wall of the past might have been factory and union workers in the Midwest, but in the future it might be sprawling subdivisions in the exurbs of Phoenix and Atlanta.”–Conor Sen, Bloomberg.

* Only once in the last 30 years have GOPsters won the presidential popular vote. There’s a reason.

COVID Bits

#AloneTogether

* The CDC currently defines a high-risk contact in need of a 14-day quarantine as an individual who has been exposed to an infected person for a total of 15 minutes.

* “Everyone trusts their family. But no one knows where Uncle Tommy has been.”–Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

* 60 percent: The minimum threshold to achieve herd immunity in a population.

* The Walt Disney Co. has posted an annual loss of $2.8 billion during the 2019-20 fiscal year.

* At Southwest Airlines, overall passenger revenue is down 70 percent; business travel is off 90 percent.

Media Matters

* “Downcast Trump makes baseless election fraud claims in White House address.” That was the headline on the New York Post’s website on the Thursday after the election. Coming from the Trump-friendly tabloid, that had to sting.

* “The Fox News Decision Desk can now project that former Vice President Joe Biden will win Nevada and Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes he needs to become the 46th president of the United States.”–That was Fox anchor Bret Baier on the Saturday after the election–further stoking Trump’s sense of embarrassment, anger and outrage over a media minion’s disloyalty.

* “It’s like we’re living in the Roman Empire, and Mark Zuckerberg is Caesar. At least that would explain his haircut.”–Sacha Baron Cohen.