What I'm Thankful For

[ Posted Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 – 16:06 UTC ]

[I have to begin here with a short program note. There will be no new column tomorrow or Friday. I may rouse myself from the tryptophan haze to post a re-run on Friday, but as of now, no promises. Regular columns will resume on Monday. Have a happy weekend, everyone!]

Since it's Thanksgiving-eve (or, at least, Thanksgiving-afternoon-before), I thought the most appropriate thing to write about today would be all the things I am thankful for. So here's my list of things which -- even after the most bizarre year anyone alive has ever seen in America -- I am still very thankful for, in no particular order.

Ready? Here goes.


I am thankful for...

...the continued health of all my friends and family. Nobody I personally know has died as a result of the pandemic. My heart also goes out to everyone who (sadly) cannot make the same claim.

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Don't Give In To Trump's Final Racist Stand

[ Posted Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 – 16:49 UTC ]

President Donald Trump is not going gentle into that good night. Far from it. But when I say that, I'm not talking about him tilting at the windmill of his election loss, but rather of what (hopefully) will be his final battle with Congress.

Congress is supposed to pass budgetary bills before the federal fiscal year starts in October. Being Congress, they are almost always late in performing this basic civic duty. This year is no different, so among all the other crises we face, we're actually now staring into the void of yet another government shutdown if some sort of "kick the can down the road" omnibus budget bill isn't passed in early December. But throughout most of these sadly-now-regular fights over the budget and shutdowns, Congress usually manages to at least pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the Pentagon and our entire military.

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The Michigan State Board Of Canvassers Does The Right Thing

[ Posted Monday, November 23rd, 2020 – 17:22 UTC ]

I spent some time today watching the end of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers meeting on television. Now, I'm a pretty wonky guy when it comes to politics, but even I never thought I would ever spend any of my time watching a state elections board perform their rather mundane duties. Over the years, I've watched more congressional hearings than I can count, but not since the year 2000 has anyone paid such close attention to the nuts-and-bolts inner workings of how votes are counted and certified in this country. And I certainly wasn't the only one watching -- the streaming on YouTube reportedly had over 30,000 viewers. For the Michigan State Board of Canvassers.

In the end, the board fulfilled their duty, as both Democrats on the board and one of the two Republicans voted to certify the previously-certified results of Michigan's 83 counties. The state board's job consists entirely of adding up the already-certified county results and certifying the final statewide total. That's it -- that's their entire job. Add 83 sets of numbers together and come up with the correct totals, and then certify the final numbers. The other Republican on the board didn't even vote against certification in the end -- he abstained.

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Friday Talking Points -- The Keystone Koup

[ Posted Friday, November 20th, 2020 – 17:44 UTC ]

This isn't just the Keystone Kops, it's now a full-on Keystone Koup attempt. Before we get to any of it, however, we have to pause to wish Joseph Robinette Biden Junior a happy 78th birthday. Many happy returns, Joe!

Biden is now several steps closer to being sworn in as America's next president in less than nine weeks, as state after state certifies that Biden did indeed beat Donald Trump. Georgia did so today, and several other important states are slated to do so on Monday. By December 8th, all states will have done so and appointed their electors to the Electoral College.

Georgia officially going for Biden means, of course, that there is no viable route for Trump to get to the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College. The head of the General Services Administration (Keystone Division) has so far refused to sign an "ascertainment" verifying Biden's win, however, and just issued her first post-election tweet. We are not making this up -- here is what Emily Murphy tweeted:

Dcccf Rex zzz. @#z@smaan anaNN

This, of course, prompted much hilarity online, with the best response being: "Dcccf Rex zzz come in. This is Covfefe. Do you copy?"

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Ken Is The Only Possible Choice

[ Posted Thursday, November 19th, 2020 – 17:01 UTC ]

I have to apologize in advance, because today's column has nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Regular readers know that on exceedingly rare occasions, I feel the need to comment about something completely separate from the political world. Sometimes I'll toss in my two cents on the subject of sports, or grammar, or anything else I feel so strongly about that I am compelled to share my thoughts. But I certainly never thought I'd ever devote an entire column to a television game show.

Recently -- and tragically -- we all mourned the death of Alex Trebek. The host of Jeopardy! was loved by millions, and for good reason. The show has long been a totally different kind of game show, and no, I'm not talking about the "respond in the form of a question" part of it. Unlike virtually every other game show on television, Jeopardy! contestants do not spend time yelling and screaming and emoting. Also, half of the show's time is not taken up with chitchat and other irrelevancies. It is a throwback to a much older style of game show, because the show's complete focus is on the game itself -- the trivia questions (or, more properly, answers) and the knowledge and speed of the contestants. More questions are posed on Jeopardy! in five short minutes than are asked on any other such trivia show (The Weakest Link, for example) in an entire hour. That's one reason why it is so fun to watch -- because you don't have to wade through a whole bunch of jumping up and down or faux-serious discussions between the host and the contestant, or any of the other nonsense the other shows use as "filler." There's only one very short segment of Jeopardy! where the contestants are briefly interviewed, and then the entire rest of the show is jam-packed with trivia. In other words, the game itself is the important thing -- not the contestants' ability to scream or the host's ability to endlessly fill up time.

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No Longer Just Funny Or Pathetic -- Trump Is Endangering National Security

[ Posted Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 – 17:15 UTC ]

President Donald Trump is the lamest of lame ducks right now. He is so lost in his fantasy that he somehow didn't lose the election to Joe Biden that he has almost completely stopped even any pretense of doing his job. He rouses himself out of his funk to occasionally fire someone who has annoyed him in some way, but that's about it, really. Otherwise his time is consumed by all the sour grapes served up at his giant pity party.

Of course, whether Trump concedes to Biden or not is really immaterial. Trump can refuse to do so right up to 11:59 on the morning of January 20, and he will still cease to be president one minute later. Concessions have no legal value at all, in other words, they are merely a polite tradition. So why would anyone have expected Trump to do the polite and gracious thing?

However, Trump's royal snit is also having real-world consequences. He has refused to allow the transition of power to move forward, which doesn't just impact Joe Biden and his team, it affects all of America. By refusing to allow an ascertainment that Biden won, Trump is endangering our national security, plain and simple. Which is exactly what he swore an oath not to do.

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The Basement Tweets

[ Posted Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 – 17:27 UTC ]

President Donald Trump has spent the past two weeks tweeting from his basement. If you ignore these tweets, he hasn't done much of anything else at all for that entire period of time. He laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Veterans Day, and he gave a very halfhearted announcement on the progress of the vaccine trials... and he's also played a lot of golf. So much golf. But you know what? Trump golfing or sulking in the basement is actually a lot better than Trump in a fit of rage, trampling things all over the place like a deranged Godzilla.

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Looking At What Went Wrong With The Polls

[ Posted Monday, November 16th, 2020 – 17:12 UTC ]

The public polling industry is not exactly seen in a good light right now. In fact, they are probably at the lowest point in public confidence and trust ever, since modern polling began. Maybe they should take a poll to figure this out, or something.

Snark aside, however, it is indisputable that they've now blown two presidential elections in a row. Not everywhere, to be sure -- some of the state-level polling was indeed accurate. The national polling showed Joe Biden would win with a healthy margin, and he did. But they got this margin wrong -- outside their own vaunted "margin of error," in fact. We won't know by exactly how much until all the final vote counts have been recorded and published, so it'll take a few more weeks to even get all the data that needs sifting through to determine what went so wrong -- again.

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Friday Talking Points -- Trump Fiddles Around While The 'Rona Burns

[ Posted Friday, November 13th, 2020 – 18:50 UTC ]

OK, that subtitle is a bit of a stretch, we fully admit. It's supposed to be a pun on "Nero fiddled while Rome burned," but we know it kind of falls short. Hey, some weeks it's easy to come up with these, and some weeks it is harder, what can we say?

Bad puns aside, though, the dereliction of duty shown by President Donald Trump this week should stun us all. It doesn't, of course, because: he's been derelict on so many duties over the past four years already; he's been especially out to lunch on the coronavirus pandemic; and most people are paying more attention to his extended tantrum about losing the election to Joe Biden. But we should be paying a lot closer attention to what Trump is failing to do right now -- and our guess is that we will, very soon now.

Over 10,000,000 Americans have now been diagnosed with COVID-19. The last million of these happened in the first 10 days of this month. The infection rate is going through the roof, topping 120,000 a day... then 130,000... 140,000... and now 150,000. That was yesterday -- today might top 180,000 (final numbers were not in, as of this writing). At this rate, the next million new cases will appear in only a week's time... or even less. Some experts are now predicting that this will rise to a jaw-dropping 400,000 new cases a day by Inauguration Day. That will mean adding a million cases will only take two-and-a-half days, come January. This is what exponential growth looks like, folks.

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Dialing Down Expectations For Biden's Agenda

[ Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2020 – 17:23 UTC ]

While Democrats are rightly excoriating President Donald Trump for his extended hissy fit over the election results (who's hiding in his basement now, Mister President?), they should also be in the process of dialing down expectations for what Joe Biden will be able to accomplish as president. Because in all likelihood, Democrats are not going to win both Senate seats in the Georgia runoff elections. It could happen, but even if it does it will still mean lowered expectations for what comes next.

I realize this is not a fun thing to contemplate, but it is the reality of the situation. Let's say Democrats do win both Senate races in Georgia, as a best-case scenario. They will then have 50 senators caucusing with them, and with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie, they will gain control of the chamber. But this puts them in a situation where any one Democratic senator can upset the applecart with his or her vote. Remember Joe Lieberman? That's what Democrats will face for each and every vote. And there are some rather conservative Democrats in the Senate (Joe Manchin immediately springs to mind). So grand plans to get rid of the legislative filibuster or tinker with the Supreme Court are almost certainly not going to succeed.

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