#COVID19Chronicles-239: December 3, 2020-Arizona reds load on their blues

The spectacle of the serpent eating itself continues as the Republicans find more ways to try to snatch victory from a clear defeat.

Former VP Biden carried Arizona and both Arizona Senate seats are now held by Democrats–the first time in six decades.

The results were certified on Monday (in a now famous moment involving Governor Ducey that was dismissive of POTUS). As a result, Mark Kelly was sworn into the Senate, yesterday, by VP Pence—itself a signal that the elections were valid. (It’s a fitting chapter in the tragedy that befell his wife Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in a Tuscon open-air constituency meeting in 2011; she was at the swearing-in).

The Republicans’ Senate majority was thus reduced by 1, now 52:48.

A runoff is due for both Senate seats in Georgia. However, some GOP officials are urging party supporters to not vote for their candidates unless they demand a special legislature to address alleged voter fraud.

If that transpires, it could hand the Democrats two seats to make a tie in the Senate; the casting vote would then rest with the Vice President, due to be Kamala Harris, a Democrat. Do the maths!

Meanwhile, GOP officials are serving law suits in Arizona for forensic audits of voting for the presidential election.

These include suits against Governor Ducey and his secretary of state.

All this after Attorney General Bill Barr declared that no fraud had been detected that would have affected any outcomes. (Reports are surfacing that President Trump is livid about this and Barr’s head may soon be on a Twitter chopping block.)

Still, President Trump used Facebook live to rant for 45 minutes about massive ‘vote dumps’ and other misinformation. Why Facebook? Well, the mainstream media of any stripe are now not taking on these toxic and unhinged outbursts.

The New York Times reported that what Trump stated “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made,” was filled with false allegations about voter fraud.

The ‘dumps’ were the massive votes coming for Biden from counties that heavily flavour Democrats, but they also included massive totals for Trump, and had been explained by Reuters in early-November.

Have the wheels come off the GOP bus?

The NYT report indicated that White House official stated the video was made last week.

So, why issue it now, especially after the official declaration from the Attorney General? Clearly, one reason is to keep eyes on a man who has been described as like the ranting and mad George III. Being ignored is like Krytonite to the body narcissistic called ‘Donald’.

#COVID19Chronicles-238: December 2, 2020-Arizona’s Governor ‘drops the deuce’ on POTUS

In urban slang, drop the deuce’ means going for ‘No. 2’. The ‘deuce’ may mean lots of other things, too, including, just playing cards with 2 images, eg the 2 of Spades, so could also refer to games of chance and gambling. However, I like the urban slang meaning for what took place, yesterday.

Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey was certifying his State’s election results on Monday evening, in front of TV cameras. He explained that as a result of the close support he’d gotten from President Trump and Vice President Pence for his State’s needs, he’d changed his phone ring tone to ‘Hail to the Chief’, so that he’d not miss any direct calls from The White House. Almost, on cue, his phone rang with that tone. But, he took it out of his jacket pocket and turned it over, to ignore the call. That seemed like a real deuce dropped from a great height onto the head of POTUS.

Trump was trying to get him to reconsider his timely certification of his State’s result, which would give former Vice President Biden 11 Electoral College votes and a Democrat win in a presidential election vote in Arizona for the first time in over 20 years. He was also inserting himself again into State voting processes.

But, the Governor bit back hard:

POTUS was upset at certification:

Governor Ducey was having none of it. His long defence of voting procedures was made in 9 succinct tweets:

In-fighting is now brewing amongst Republicans in Arizona, as it has done in Georgia, as Trump forces his party to start feeding on itself, which is the logical conclusion of all the disinformation spread about the integrity of the vote.

#COVID19Chronicles-236: November 30, 2020-Madness, they call it madness

William Shakespeare wrote a statement for Hamlet that is famous: “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” In short, Hamlet was saying he’s not totally mad, and there’s method in my madness.

I recommend reading this report in Sunday’s Washington Post:

Everyone can have their take on what the period since voting ended in the US presidential election has meant, politically, but I think it’s hard for anyone who is not a diehard partisan can see it as other than a public display of petulance by someone who has one of the most powerful leadership positions in the world.

Peter Wehner’s summary is on point, to me: “This story is a remarkable piece of journalism. It chronicles Mr. Trump’s descent into madness. America is fortunate to have survived this man — so broken and tortured, so damaged and dangerous, so cruel and detached from reality.” I think he’s absolutely correct to touch on the elements of derangement that have been evident to many.

#COVID19Chronicles-233: November 27, 2020-New Zealand and Australia reap COVID control dividend as record crowds watch rugby during pandemic

A recent Washington Posts headline blared ‘Australia has almost eliminated the coronavirus — by putting faith in science’:

The Washington Post wrote: ‘Several practical measures contributed to Australia’s success, experts say. The country chose to quickly and tightly seal its borders, a step some others, notably in Europe, did not take. Health officials rapidly built up the manpower to track down and isolate outbreaks. And unlike the U.S. approach, all of Australia’s states either shut their domestic borders or severely limited movement for interstate and, in some cases, intra­state travelers.

…most important, though, leaders from across the ideological spectrum persuaded Australians to take the pandemic seriously early on and prepared them to give up civil liberties they had never lost before, even during two world wars.

“We told the public: ‘This is serious; we want your cooperation,’ ” said Marylouise McLaws, a Sydney-based epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales and a World Health Organization adviser.

A lack of partisan rancor increased the effectiveness of the message, McLaws said in an interview.

The conservative prime minister, Scott Morrison, formed a national cabinet with state leaders — known as premiers — from all parties to coordinate decisions. Political conflict was largely suspended, at least initially, and many Australians saw their politicians working together to avert a health crisis.

Perhaps, most important, Australia decided to follow advice from health experts: ‘Australia’s national response was led by Health Minister Greg Hunt, a former McKinsey & Co. management consultant and a Yale University graduate. Hunt and Morrison worked with the state premiers, who hold responsibility for on-the-ground health policy, to develop a common approach to the pandemic.’

The pay-off for that was that a record number of people went to watch a sports event during COVID. The Guardian wrote ‘The whole city was gridlocked: Brisbane heaves as fans allowed back en masse’:

‘Suncorp Stadium’s official crowd at the State of Origin finale between Queensland and New South Wales was 49,155. It is believed to be a world record since Covid-19 shut down sport.’ Competition had resumed in May, about the time that professional football resumed in Europe:

The country had got COVID under control.

Beforehand, however, New Zealand had staged the Bledisloe Cup rugby match against Australia in mid-October, lifting restrictions to allow fans to attend—46,000 attended.

Covid-19 restrictions in Auckland, which re-entered lockdown in August following a small outbreak of coronavirus cases, were lifted at the start of the month to allow crowds to return to stadiums.

‘New Zealand has been widely praised for its approach to handling the coronavirus and has reported fewer than 2,000 total cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began,’ CNN wrote.

From early October, it was planned to host matches in New Zealand with capacity crowds. Auckland was at a higher alert level than the rest of New Zealand for several weeks because of a small community outbreak of COVID-19, but moved to level 1 from the start of October.

All of this is in stark contrast with most of Western Europe, Latin America, and notably the USA–where COVID has spiralled out of control. As the Post wrote: ‘As North America, Europe, India, Brazil and other regions and countries struggle to bring tens of thousands of daily infections under control, Australia provides a real-time road map for democracies to manage the pandemic. Its experience, along with New Zealand’s, also shows that success in containing the virus isn’t limited to East Asian states (Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) or those with authoritarian leaders (China, Vietnam).

Notable amongst president-elect Biden’s early contacts with world leaders has been one with NZ’s prime minister, who has offered her nation’s expertise and advice on COVID. All is far from lost for the USA, though much time and too many lives might have been needlessly lost.

#COVID19Chronicles-231: November 26, 2020-Christmas curfew restrictions

On November 24, the PM announced in Parliament restrictions for the coming Christmas season. At present, the curfew kicks in at 9 p.m and ends at 5 a.m the next day. They will start at 10pm from December 1.

Christmas and Boxing days will see earlier curfews, from 7pm (till 5am):

Gatherings (public and private) will be limited to 15 people.

Curfews will revert to 10pm on December 27, start earlier at 7pm on January 1, then return to 10pm from January 2-15, However, if cases spike, the government will review measures.

Funeral provisions are being reconsidered, to take account of concerns about the inability to have the closure to which many Jamaicans have become accustomed.

Business endorsement of the measures has been quick, even though a push for easing had come recently, in an effort to help firms benefit from a push in Christmas sales.

For context, it’s worth recalling that, in early October, a possible Christmas relaxation of restrictions was being teased by the PM:

But, at that time, I’d wondered if that was the right message and approach. Because the country was then getting past the worst of a recent wave starting in August, but relaxing could have set things up for the start of a possible next wave. The moderation message had been telegraphed by the minister of health and wellness last week, so people should not be shocked.

#COVID19Chronicles-227: November 22, 2020-When will he throw in the towel? Disgracing the office of The President

Bloomberg wrote yesterday: ‘A federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign that aimed to block certification of the state’s election results unless it tossed out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, rejecting the “startling” request due to a lack of evidence.’ It cited the judge’s ruling (my emphasis):

“This court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence…In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”

Bloomberg also wrote ‘It’s the latest and perhaps highest-profile courtroom defeat for Trump since the U.S. election Biden won by 6 million ballots. Suits filed by the campaign and its GOP allies have failed in Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona as judges declined to toss out millions of votes based on vague assertions by lawyers and sworn affidavits from voters who interpreted perceived irregularities as evidence of a Democratic conspiracy.’

In response, the Trump campaign said in a statement that it would seek an “expedited appeal” to the Third Circuit as a means to ultimately have the Supreme Court, and its 6-3 conservative majority, consider the case.

The court cases are now losing at a rate of 2 for 34.

Meanwhile, the president has checked out of governing, if he was ever checked in. As many noted, yesterday, instead of focusing on COVID with other G-20 leaders, he went golfing.

President Trump missed the virtual G20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness” event to visit one of his golf clubs on the same day that a record 195,500 new Covid-19 infections were reported in a 24-hour period in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins.

Much as I like being on a course, this is the metaphor that should stand as his legacy. His biggest care was about his golf score and handicap. The Guardian wrote: ‘According to a tally kept by CNN, Trump has visited one of his golf clubs on 303 occasions during his four years as president. During his 2016 campaign for the White House Trump regularly attacked his predecessor Barack Obama for hitting the links too often and insisted that he would have little time to play golf himself as president as he would be working too hard.’

Not surprisingly, this highlights yet another simple untruth uttered that has marked almost every day in office.

His biggest handicap was that he really doesn’t care for the people he is supposed to lead.

#COVID19Chronicles-226: November 21, 2020: You dare not look away from the post-presidential election shenanigans

Something is eerily fascinating about seeing disaster unfold. I’m not sure if it’s more thrilling than watching success unfold. What’s clear is that witnessing the opposite of expected outcomes is truly remarkable.

When I first encountered the USA, in the 1980s, if you’d told me that an actor would become president, I would have stuttered, badly. But, it did, and Ronald Reagan had the greatest of times with Margaret Thatcher during the early days of my working life during the 1980s.

If you’d told me when Martin Luther King was assassinated that the USA would elect a black man as president for two terms, I would have said, “Sure, and I will also be PM of the United Kingdom.” But, President Obama did it, and I never entered politics. 🙂

If you’d told me that a presidential candidate would win the popular vote by over 2 million and lose the Electoral College vote by a massive margin of 304-227–(7 faithless electors cast for others)—I would have shaken my head madly and wondered at the crazy system that undermines the popular will of the electorate. If the winner of that contest would be a man known as a reality TV star, while the other was a seasoned politician and former First Lady, I would have asked for a substance abuse test for myself as that must be an hallucination. But, that was 2016.

If you’d said that the winner of that same presidential election would claim to have won the next as incumbent, where he trailed by over 6 million votes and the Electoral College votes were 306-232 against him, and be trying to overturn that result with a flurry of court cases, I’d have thought it would be a pitch for a dystopian piece of fiction.

Yet, here we are, over two weeks past the final voting day, November 3, and the transition is notable by its lack of trans- anything, expect maybe transgressions in courts. The president comes out to the public after some 13 days—a post-election quarantine longer than when he was diagnosed with COVID19–and declares “Big pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements during the campaign, which I won by the way.” So, the world has conspired against him and he cannot acknowledge defeat.

When you have a White House press secretary who states things about the previous transition not being orderly, the opposite of what the current president stated publicly, then you know the alternative universe is real: 🤔😳😩

But, a recent poll shows that half of Republicans believe that the election was rigged and the win ‘stolen’ from Trump:

Most political analysts says there’s no constitutional path that can deliver another result for President Trump than defeat. But, he’s trying through court challenges and is 1 for 31. His lawyers can say anything in public but must speak the truth in court, including admission that they have no fraud cases.

One of the states whose votes are being challenged, took the steps towards certifying their results—in favour of former VP Biden—as Georgia did on Friday afternoon.

The Governor of Georgia will finalize that process today.

The nation still awaits the formal ‘ascertainment’ of the election results, which will open the door for formal transition to take place, including funding for the incoming administration team and access to intelligence and the Presidential Daily Briefing:

On Thursday, House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Appropriations Committee Chair Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), along with two other senior Democrats, Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL), demanded that General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy brief them by Monday on the delay in declaring President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

Trump seems to have tried to pressurize local Republicans in the Michigan state legislature but to no avail. The state has done its verification amid some drama.

That, after disaster in court, with evidence cited for Minnesota not Michigan! 🤔😳😩

Guiliani horror show press conference that even Fox News called “light on fact”:

All that may be remembered will be it was a ‘hot mess’, literally:

But, it was a serious assault on truth:

Thankfully, late night comics have material for years:

So, bad that those who know Rudy called it a “train wreck” and worse:

To cap it all, the sons of the main protagonists is this ‘mummers play’, tested positive for COVID, yesterday, after a series of well-published maskless events, and have likely been in contact with many on the Trump legal team.

You just can’t make this stuff up!

Sadly, Coco the clown should be at the circus, but he’s running amok on American streets. Please, make him stop! 🤔😳😡😩🇺🇸🙏🏾

#COVID19Chronicles-224: November 19, 2020-Georgia on my mind: Recount and run-off elections driving the wheelless cart of presidential denial?

Ray Charles sang ‘Georgia on my mind’ live:

Right now, political double-think is on display in the state of Georgia, following the 2020 US general elections. President Trump is trying to contest the outcome of the presidential vote, where he trails by about 14,000 votes (0.3%).

At the same time the senatorial races were deadlocked with the Republican incumbent leading in one senate race, but no clear winner in the special senatorial vote, though the incumbent Republican is trailing; both seats will need run-off races. These races will determine the balance of power in the Senate.

The president is not trying to contest the senatorial votes. But, calling into question the outcome of the presidential vote must mean issues across the board, given that it’s a single ballot paper.

However, the votes are being hand counted in an audit to verify the voting machines, under new state law:

The hand recount is being monitored by the Carter Center:

It was expected to end on Wednesday evening and results issued by midday Thursday :

So far, it has resulted in the a lead for Biden of 12,781 votes, a margin that had shrunk by 1,375 votes over the past week as uncounted ballots were found in Floyd, Fayette, Douglas and Walton counties through the recount. But, few other issues have emerged:

Absentee ballots for the senatorial run-offs started going out on November 18:

The Georgia electorate may be swollen by new young voters who can register by December 7 for the run-off vote on January 5:

Voter registration concerns exist, despite the recent general elections:

Advance in-person voting begins December 14:

The state secretary of state had refused to endorse Trump from January and feels he’s now feeling retaliation.

He’s also indicated pressure from senior GOJ figures, including Senator Lindsay Graham, to toss out valid votes.

He and his family and other officials have also received death threats:

To his immense credit, Brad Raffensperger has been firm in his view that is role is to be neutral though added that Trump lost in Georgia by casting doubts on mail-in voting, which cost him over 20,000 votes based on Republican voting in the August primaries.

#COVID19Chronicles-223: November 18, 2020-Shoot the messengers, hiding behind a keyboard

The reality TV man who’s been living his own reality in a big White House on Pennsylvania Avenue has never ceased to amaze. He’s aggressive, plain and simple, as when he lambasts certain nations as “sh*thole countries” or Mexicans as “rapists”. He’s also often passive aggressive. His favourite form of displaying that is how he dismisses people from his administration. For that, he has no place for face-to-face, which may lead to some physical interactions that would make him seem lesser for the weakness of his arguments or poor judgement.

Yesterday, President Trump fired Chris Krebs (who served as the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security from November 2018 to November 2020) on Twitter:

This action comes after Krebs had certified that the recent elections were free from fraud. Krebs’s firing came after his agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, last week released a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” It added, in boldface, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Krebs did not back down and responded in fine form:

Then added a little drop of acid by retweeting Mark Hamill, who’d pointed out Krebs for being highly accurate and refusing to lie:

The Tweeter-in-Chief did the same last week with his defence secretary, Mike Esper, whom he “terminated”:

It’s clear that both of the Trump appointees committed the cardinal sin of doing their jobs properly and not as dictated by the president, on his whims.

I love what Krebs has since done with his Twitter account, which is just to show he’s going to chill, get back to his family and freewheel on his bike: 🙂

US Presidential election results called for all States and DC

Election results in all 50 States of the USA and the District of Columbia have been called and the Electoral College votes are Biden 306, Trump 232:

A recount is due in Georgia and President Trump has law suits running in a few of the ‘battleground’ states contesting ballots; few of these are serious and none has the potential to alter materially the results in the states or the overall results. But, so many suits have been filed no one knows how many, and most have failed:

Some law firms have turned away from working on the law suits:

For Congressional races, a run-off is due in Georgia, while the Republicans lead in 50 seats. In the House, the Democrats hold 219 seats to the Republicans’ 202.

The BBC produced a good summary of the outcomes by states (tap on tweet to see thread):