Notes for October 3, 2020

Diagnosis a Disaster for Trump's Campaign and Coney Barrett Nomination

Obligatory get well-wishes.

Trump's contraction of COVID-19 is a total disaster for the President's re-election. The candidate is in the hospital for a week if all goes well. If he takes the path of Boris Johnson's illness, it could hinder him until Election Day before recovering. His campaign manager, Bill Stepien, chief aid Kellyanne Conway, and the RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, have tested positive. These are four crucial people in managing a sprawling organization such as a Presidential campaign requires.

I have not had a test, but an IU Telehealth nurse told me in April that I likely had COVID-19. I had mild symptoms. Even so, I was fatigued and barely able to work for the week. It was two weeks before my energy came back. Losing effort from key people and a candidate in the month before the race is devastating for his chances. The President is now losing the money race, and desperately needed the cash his rallies and fundraisers generated.

This puts COVID-19 back in the headlines. That is terrible for the President. Not only does it highlight his failures at managing the virus, but it also reminds Americans of the lack of sympathy he's generally displayed for those that suffered COIVD-19.

It allows his opponent to display empathy and care, a particular selling point to voters for the Biden campaign.

It also reminds voters of his fundamental dishonesty. It puts a glaring spotlight on his credibility gap. Can we trust anything said about his health when we've routinely had our intelligence insulted by his past doctors? The positive test came on the 101st anniversary of Woodrow Wilson's stroke, which left his wife in charge of the government. It is a reminder that Presidents rarely tell us the truth. At first, it was a mild case. Then he was receiving experimental drugs. Despite the state-of-the-art medical facility in the White House, he needed to go to the hospital. The usually leaky and transparent White House is mum.

Trump may not get the third justice now. Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are positive (Lee and Tillis) are positive, as is a third Republican Senator (Johnson). If I were a Republican, I would be continuously pissed at the blown opportunities that pride has caused these past four years. Fortunately, they can just blame the Democrats instead of taking responsibility.

I keep seeing that this is a ploy to help his campaign. Why would Trump make up a COVID-19 diagnosis given all of these factors? It means sitting in a room alone a month before the election for weeks when he enjoys rallies. It undercuts the strongman image he likes to project. If Biden were in this position, Trump and his allies would use it as evidence of his frailty.

All of this brings to the forefront of the power of the Presidency. I am told libertarianism is an absurd idea, yet the alternative political system is currently depending on a single 74-year-old man's immune system. It depends on a fundamentally dishonest and vain politicians telling us the truth despite every evidence that he won't. The President has power over every American, and there is a real chance we will never get truthful updates on his health. It depends on the weak-willed Mike Pence making moves he might now have the stomach for. All of this should lead us to the conclusion that any President should have less (or no) power.


As 'the clock starts ticking' after coronavirus infection, Trump faces an uncertain road ahead

One of the common early symptoms among elderly Covid patients is a drop in mental acuity or periods of mild confusion — which would be a disconcerting turn of events, if it were to happen to a sitting president.”

Ranney noted the risk of death from the infection for a person Trump’s age is 8%. While that means most people his age will survive this infection, that fatality rate is very high for a viral respiratory infection.

Not 1%

Rules Exist for What Could Come Next, but They Won’t Prevent Total Chaos - Things could get very ugly, very fast.

There is no real possibility of delaying the election. That would require legislation—the House, the Senate, and the president agreeing quickly on new dates—which is politically unlikely, and would be legally awkward when voting has already started. Instead of postponing or redoing the election, the system relies instead on replacing candidates. The rules for doing so are clear, but what will happen under those rules is anything but.

The obvious replacement for a presidential candidate who dies or drops out is the person’s running mate—who, after all, is running for the post of presidential understudy. But neither party would be formally bound to move the vice-presidential nominee up to the top of the ticket. With the stakes as high as they are, no one should be surprised if other candidates were to make a play for the top spot. And if the running mate were to be chosen, the party would need to pick a new vice-presidential nominee—a process that would necessarily be wide open. Drama would surely ensue.

It is too late to reprint ballots at this point. Not only have millions of people voted already, but the process of printing and distributing ballots is simply too time-consuming to try to squeeze it in before November 3. The law recognizes that at a certain point, the ballots say what they say, even if what they say is no longer accurate. As a political matter, it would be crucial for the party replacing its candidate to broadcast its choice to the public with speed and clarity, so that people would know as clearly as possible whom they were voting for (or against), even if that’s not literally who is on the ballot. If people have already voted but want to change their mind, in some states they would be allowed to spoil their ballot and cast a fresh one, but this would add stress to a system that is already beleaguered this year. Some voters would be stuck, casting a vote for one candidate that ends up getting counted for another. This would put pressure on the party to choose the vice-presidential nominee to move to the top of the ticket—if early voters cannot change their vote for president, at least their vote would go to the person they had simultaneously voted for to be the presidential candidate’s understudy.

Perhaps more important, the party would need to coordinate its Electoral College designees—the people who cast the actual electoral votes when the party’s candidate wins a state. If a presidential candidate dies or drops out before the day the Electoral College casts its votes (this year, December 14) the party would coordinate its electors to vote for a chosen replacement. Again, the process by which they would do so is up to them.

As the inauguration grows closer, things do get clearer. If a winning candidate dies after the Electoral College votes, the Twentieth Amendment would kick in. Section 3 of the amendment provides that if the president-elect dies, the vice president–elect swears in as president in his stead on January 20. If both the president-elect and vice president–elect die, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 dictates that the Speaker of the House would resign from the House, swear in as acting president, and serve out the term.

What Did You Expect of Donald Trump? - The Atlantic

Americans are dead who might have been alive if Trump had met the challenge of COVID-19 with care and responsibility—or if somebody else, literally almost anybody else, had been president instead. Millions are out of work, in danger of losing their homes, living in fear. Tens of millions of young people have suffered disruption to their education, which will follow them through life. The pandemic was not Trump’s fault, but at every turn, he made things worse than they had to be—because at every turn, he cared only for himself, never for the country. And now he will care only for himself again.

Trump should never have been allowed anywhere near any public office. Wish him well, but recognize that his deformed spirit will never be well—and that nothing can be well for the country under his leadership.

Reality Ends The Reality Show - The Weekly Dish

It’s a terrible thing for an elderly person to get this disease, and Trump’s obesity puts him in an even more vulnerable category. No one deserves this, even those, like Trump, who openly defied prudent measures to reduce risk, and thereby helped infect and kill countless others. The president, like any human being, deserves sympathy and support.

But there is something salutary in the Trump era about reality reasserting itself in this last twist of the viral knife. The man has spent years at war with reality: living in delusions, perpetuating fantasies, imagining hoaxes, constructing conspiracies, accruing debt, rewriting history constantly as self-serving myth. At some point, reality was going to get personal in return.

And it has. Like all tyrants, Trump lives in an alternate universe where his will, tempered only by his whim, determines everything. And like all tyrants, Trump will eventually be defeated by the distance between his universe and the real one. The question has always been how long that would take, and how much damage would be done in the process. But the toll has been piling up of late. 205,000 dead, a stalled economy, a broken constitution, a bankrupt treasury, a ravaged environment, and the most toxic political culture in memory have not, exactly, made America great “again”. And, with his tax returns now public, the reality that Trump is a failed businessman and tax dodger is as inescapable as the truth that he is a serial sexual abuser.

Just as inescapable is the reality of the epidemic. The winter looms, as cases surge in Europe once again. The pandemic economy has been absolutely brutal for the working poor, compared with the middle and upper classes, intensifying dangerous, destabilizing levels of inequality. It has torn the social fabric apart, sequestering the elderly in heartbreaking solitude, compounding the opioid crisis, deepening depression and anxiety, increasing suicides among soldiers, keeping loved ones away even from a deathbed. It cannot be willed away.


From the fringes:

Alex Jones: White House staffer may have poisoned Trump’s Diet Coke and then told him he has COVID-19

America is in a war for its very survival and now our president battling against the Communist Chinese, the globalists, and others in open worldwide economic war is being told he’s got to stay locked up for 14 days legitimizing this entire giant fraud. What we know is 90% of the tests are false positive, conservatively. What we know is there are people inside the White House that want to lock the president down. There have been all these coup plans by people in the White House. You had Mattis trying to organize a coup. And I said all along one way to do it with this COVID-19 is to give him a false positive test. They could then poison his Diet Coke or something, he gets really sick and they said it’s COVID-19. So I would also advise the Secret Service to be extra diligent about what the president ingests because they could now use COVID as the cover to kill the president.

I found this video odd. Trump always talks to the media. This video is super controlled, short, and his voice is very weak.


Recklessness

GOP donors ‘freaking out’ after coming close to Trump at fundraiser hours before his positive Covid-19 test

  1. Hope Hicks gets symptoms on the trip back from a rally in MN and is quarantined on Air Force One Wednesday.

  2. She tests positive the next morning.

  3. Trump ignores this and goes to a fundraiser with 50 people that gave up to $250,000.

What I Saw at the White House


What I am Reading

Could the Libertarian candidate for governor go on TV—and the Democrat doesn’t? by Lindsey Erdody of the IBJ in their Rundown Newsletter

What effect does Trump have on the media? Radley Balko explains.

Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus

Redistricting Overview: Over Half of House Seats Can't Be Gerrymandered


From around the WAL Network:

NHT: Theresa Anderson of Fairbanks Shares an Update on the Pandemic’s Impact on Those Struggling with Addiction

BNS 141: Breaking Boundaries with Brad Polumbo

OTR: Achieving the Simple Life w/ Gary Collins