#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-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: 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-220: November 15, 2020-A hard COVID autumn and winter coming?

Predictions of a hard COVID winter are beginning to look right. Much of Europe is now bracing for an extended second wave of COVID infections:

Most European countries have decided to impose a range of national lockdowns. Germany, which had managed its situation well, is preparing for maybe five months of restrictions:

By contrast, the USA, which has gone through a wave of new highs of cases and deaths over the past two weeks is far from any sort of national restrictions. CNN reported:

‘More than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported in the United States on Saturday, the 12th day in a row the country saw new cases of the virus rise by six figures.

Friday saw the highest daily case count since the pandemic began with 184,514 new cases. 

As of Saturday afternoon US time, 116,716 new Covid-19 cases and 917 additional deaths had been reported. 

The US has reported more than 10.8 million cases and more than 245,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.’

Texas is way out in front, and President Trump refuses any such national measures, emphasizing last week that “this administration” wont do that, citing the financial/economic costs and lost jobs. (This was also his near ‘acceptance’ moment that he had lost the election.)

In fact, yesterday saw El Paso’s lockdown deemed illegal by courts. Newsweek reported:

‘Texas state appeals court rejected a stay-at-home order in El Paso County on Friday despite the community seeing a surge in new cases and rapidly decreasing space in morgue trucks and tent hospitals.

The Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the state and local restaurant owners, who sued El Paso District Judge Ricardo Samaniego for issuing a city-wide shutdown after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a reopening order on October 7.’

Asian countries are also ramping up restrictions:

What is also clear, is where life has moved back towards ‘normalcy’ has seen recent difficulties, with sporting and educational activities having to be curtailed as cases spike among playing and coaching personnel as well as with students and teachers.

Cancellations are starting to mount and affect fixtures:

Plans to adjust to COVID-affected schedules are coming into play in an otherwise full US fall/winter sports calendar:

#COVID19Chronicles-213: November 8, 2020: PNP presidential race

So, while most eyes were on the US presidential elections, Jamaican eyes were also on the People’s National Party (PNP) presidential race. Mark Golding won with 1740 delegates votes, over Lisa Hanna with 1444 votes, with a 96% turnout. Voting took place yesterday, at various constituency locations nationwide, and results were declared by late-afternoon :). Golding will become the formal Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives.

Golding’s rebuilding message resonated better:

Hanna still has PNP people disliking her JLP antecedents, though her opponent has said that should not matter, even though all previous party leaders were PNP ‘purists’:

She also faces much party opposition in her constituency, with some councillors supporting Golding.

She’d denied such internal opposition.

#COVID19Chronicles-212: November 7, 2020-The world’s media call it for Joe Biden—‘president elect’ in Election 2020

The major media houses have reached their acceptance thresholds and called the US presidential election for Joe Biden:

The result in Pennsylvania took him past the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the title of ‘president elect’:

Steve Kornacki has been standing for a week analyzing charts and numbers for MSNBC and needs to sit down. He says the total may be 306 Electoral College votes, which would be the same as President Trump in 2016.

The president was playing golf at the time that media called it, so I hope he’s having a good round. Rain washed out my golf this morning, as torrential rain hit early.

Crowds are now gathering in celebration all over the US and elsewhere, including outside the White House. It’s occupant may object, but, let’s see what he does when he’s back from golfing. We know acceptance will not come immediately:

I’m taking nothing for granted, after four years of division being sown and lies become the currency of a president that is traded so readily by many supporters.

The fundamentals of the USA as a democratic place were deeply shaken and need to be re-established.

The Caribbean has the music for this moment: ‘Hold him. Joe’:

Analysts will pore over many details to see what went right and what did not, but a key point made earlier today was that Biden was more a man of the people than the incumbent could ever claim to be (coming from the elitist background that he does) and had the real ability to be empathetic, rather than confrontational.

#COVID19Chronicles-211: November 7, 2020-Not quite a victory speech

Joe Biden has not yet gotten the 270 Electoral College (EC) votes needed to be officially ‘president elect’, but he signalled that he’s about to assume the duty of care for all Americans.

He spoke to the nation at about 10:45pm, with 253 EC votes according to some media house or 264 according to others (adding Arizona). He has over 74 million votes, some 4 million votes over his opponent. He’s leading in enough states to get about 300 EC votes, though some are close.

His words were soothing and sought to also praise electoral workers trying to uphold democratic rights. He set the tone for his coming administration: “We may be opponents but we’re not enemies.”

Ballots remain to be counted, some of which were legally unavailable for counting earlier. The patient waiting continues and the final numbers must await the weekend, after final voting took place on Tuesday.

#COVID19Chronicles-190: October 18, 2020-New NIDS Bill to be Tabled in Parliament Shortly…and be Passed by Year End?

The following post by Susan Goffe needs no additional comments, at this stage.

At the first session of the new Parliament on September 29, 2020, Prime Minister Holness made a statement about the National Identification System (…

New NIDS Bill to be Tabled in Parliament Shortly…and be Passed by Year End?

#COVID19Chronicles-174: October 2, 2020-President Trump and First Lady test positive

Befitting the age and the politician who lives and loves to tweet, some tweets about this major political news.

In their own words:

The proximite contact was Hope Hicks:

The White House issued a statement:

Some media reactions include concerns about the president’s health and weight that may affect his dealing with the infection:

This is the first major health concern of an incumbent president in decades:

Clear and present danger existed weeks before and many occasions occurred when the president exposed himself and others to viral spread, eg when the Secret Service was affected:

Cynics have been quick to take their jabs:

But, even harsh critics are showing compassion:

Though many will not show even an ounce of sympathy, as he has often not.

#COVID19Chronicles-168: September 27, 2020: Better the devils we know?

I expect little from politicians, personally. I also don’t hold them in great reverence; most don’t show me reasoning capacity of the highest order; their emotional outburst make me question the balance of their views; and in Jamaica, I’m concerned about their constant attempts to appear be the source of all good things people want, but sadly too often, primarily, for their own supporters.

What I expect is a good ear and a real appreciation of national and local issues. So in that vein, I wonder what they really understand about mask-wearing resistance.

Do Jamaicans respect noise abatement rules? Most do; many don’t. Do Jamaicans respect road traffic rules? Most do, many don’t and a particular subgroup—-taxi and minibus drivers—don’t to a degree far greater than the rest of us. Do Jamaicans expect to be given concessions, let off and given second chances for egregious behaviour? Yes, and with good reason, based on actual experience with government.

So, with a background of patchy compliance with most things, what should we expect over something as seemingly trivial as wearing masks?

I’m just going to take a look at what COVID19LIFE is getting us to accept and understand in that regard.

I went to play golf at dawn, yesterday, as I often do on Saturdays. After weeks of heavy rain, the club had warned about mosquitoes in abundance and urged long-sleeved shirt and long pants. I’d forgotten that last week and found I was the special on the menu 🤔😳😩🏌🏾‍♂️Fool me once…

I had the picture taken because I dress like this only at this time of year; the mosquitoes at Caymanas are savage.😩😳

Golf allows lots of human interactions but with lots of social distancing. Those working at the course adhere to COVID protocols; caddies and course maintenance staff wear masks most of the time as they move around the course. Naturally, when far from anyone one can see their masks in place other than covering their faces. Players are usually good at compliance; on the course, they are the same as those who work there, and many have added not using caddies as a form of added protection—not having additional personal interaction (bad for the caddies’ pockets, though). Many players do not mingle in the bar areas but sit on the balcony, well-spaced and ventilated and use the hand sanitizters before heading on into the main building. I tackled someone entering the bar last week without a mask (not a man I recognized, so I assume a visitor)—the sign stated clearly no mask no service—but he had to be an exception: “I’m just paying my tab.” I gave him the choice of 7 iron or 3 wood up his a**e. 🤔😡Sorry, I’m not tolerant!

After golf, I headed home with two errands in mind, get cash and buy bananas. Well, the two Scotia ABMs by the gas station at Washington Boulevard/Molynes Rd had a dozen people waiting outside them so I didn’t stop there. (I noticed though that they were mostly masked and about 2m apart; some couldn’t help being up under armpits, though.) That meant I had no money for bananas. Aargh! I could use Qwisk or my credit card? What’re you smoking, bro? 🤔😂😩So I drove though the small street market at Grants Pen Rd/Shortwood Rd and just observed. Masks were more evident than last week, though this was a spot check not a structured survey.

My observations last week (scenes in the video) had triggered a response from the MP:

My ABM errand had to wait till closer to home. The line at the Texaco gas station was short but the mask issue loomed large:

It’s obvious some people don’t get what ‘personal responsibility’ means, so despite efforts by others, we’re worse off than we need be:

Mask wearing is proving to be a bigger test than many expected; it’s also pushing at boundaries of personal liberties for some—the USA seems to be the main battleground. It could also indicate some mental problems:

It’s also about messaging. It’s also about if incentives are needed, either sticks or carrots. When pushed, governments have gone for sticks. It’s hard to think what carrots would work. In using sticks, some governments have also pushed closer to dictatorial measures. That’s not been tried in Jamaica, and I’d not think it’d be well received.

Is some cognitive dissonance at work?—conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behavior, as displayed when people know the bad effects of certain ‘recreational’ drugs but still take them.

When Jamaicans have been asked by health officials about their understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic, they answer overwhelmingly that they understand what it is and how it spreads, but…many believe they wont get it. That belief is bolstered, I imagine, because deaths have been low in relative terms and even the number of cases is low, relatively speaking. So, it’s a mild form of denial, I guess. However, that’s why many feel they have nothing to spread as well as nothing to catch. The important feature that most people will be infected by not show symptoms either hasn’t factored in, or people really believe that unless you see or hear the symptoms, nothing is being passed around. That said, we’ve heard stories of near panic when someone sneezed in a confined space.

Government officials in many countries have dug their own graves on messages by being as mixed up as fruit salad in how they’ve followed rules or been the arch buffoon in how not to wear masks.

What know is those who understood the need apply it. Mark Wignall wrote about this behaviour in today’s Sunday Gleaner. He noted the denials: ‘One said to me, “Missa Wignall, big respect. None a wi right here so know anybody whey sick wid di virus, so right now, wi feel safe. Respect.”’ He also pointed to what I have noted, that ‘personal responsibility’ if for others to practice: ‘So we are stuck with what we know. Jamaicans know, to a large extent, that we all need to protect ourselves, but from my talks with many at street level, they somehow believe that if ‘others’ do what is right, all will, in time, be okay. That is plainly dangerous.’ (my stress).

That final point, is for me, too true and points to a grave and obvious danger, because the fight in Jamaica against the pandemic is not even and is for everyone but ourselves to fight, in the mind of too many.