An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, October 5, 2020
Two things first: unlike recent weeks, I didn't start collecting links until Sunday afternoon, so this will (or at least should be) shorter than the last six or so record-breaking weeks; also, because I expect several major clusters, I'm going to try something new, and sort nearly everything by subject area (with a miscellaneous at the end, which will mostly hold topics until I decide they've reached critical mass). As a Table of Contents is handy for me, the topics this week are:
I basically stopped collecting links late Sunday night, but held up posting until well into Monday so I could write some introductory remarks. Music Week will also be postposed a day this week. While I wasn't working on Weekend Roundup last week, I made some progress toward a books post. I should finish that mid-week, and may also have a music poll list, and perhaps some answers to reader questions (could use more).
Late Thursday evening I was watching Borgen. Laura had gone upstairs, but came down and told me that Trump and Melania had tested positive for Covid-19. My first reaction was to feel sorry for them -- evidently there's still some merit to the old adage about not wishing some misfortunes on your worst enemy. That was followed by considerable unease about the fate of the world. Might his illness elicit a wave of sympathy? Or maybe just forgetting of the awful things he's done, let alone the hideous person he has shown himself to be? Or maybe he dies, and Pence reaps the sympathy vote, either as a blank slate or Trump's "better angel"? (Someone believed capable of delivering on the many promises Trump bungled?) Whatever else happens, it is more imperative than ever to vote for Joe Biden and Democrats down the ticket.
I decided then not to bother collecting this week's links until the dust settled down a bit. It soon turned out that Trump is still Trump, and Republicans are still Republicans. Laura spent the next few days watching Fox News, relishing how desperate they were wrap their brains around the news, looking to spin it into their usual propaganda, and coming up with very little. (I tried googling a phrase they used to suggest that people were laughing at Trump's misfortune, but couldn't find it -- perhaps remembering it wrong.)
My own sense of perspective was helped by watching Jimmy Kimmel on Friday night, who did a nice job of expressing concern for the Trumps' health while pointing out the context in which their illness was contracted and spread. When I finally started collecting the links below, I found many pieces highly critical of Trump's attitude as well as his handling of the pandemic, including ones which assigned a fair share of blame directly on Trump. I didn't find evidence of gloating or schadenfreude (although the latter was reportedly the most looked-up word at Merriam-Webster Dictionary over the weekend).
Moments ago I heard Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) insisting that Covid-19 just isn't that dangerous, much as Trump himself has done. Today's Covid in the US death count is 209,690, with 7.4 million cases. Intelligencer has a pretty extensive news roll on Trump's Covid-19 case. The plan is to return him to the White House Monday evening, which may sound like he's out of the woods, but is not anything like you or me getting sent home from hospital.
Lest you think Trump might have learned something from the illness, here's his tweet:
Assuming he doesn't relapse, he's promising to return even more dangerous than he's been so far.
Eliza Barclay: Trump's refusal to wear a face mask is a catastrophe.
Julia Belluz: Is Trump sicker than his doctors are saying? His treatment regimen raises questions. Isn't there an old joke about doctors examining your wallet before your body? The one clear thing is that the doctors are sparing no expense in treating Trump. What's less clear is whether all that attention, especially with the experimental treatments, will help him. But even if it does, don't expect to get the same care or attention. Health care is as inequal and unfair as any other aspect of America.
Isaac Chotiner: Maggie Haberman on the fallout from Trump's hospitalization. As you probably know, Haberman covers the White House for the New York Times.
Susan B Glasser: "There is zero reason to panic": On Trump's coronavirus case and the shredded credibility of his White House: "A report from Day One after the President's diagnosis."
Jennifer Jacobs/Josh Wingrove: Trump kept regular schedule after learning close aide Hope Hicks had Covid.
Peter Kafka: Who will tell us the truth about Trump's health? "We know it won't be Trump."
Dhruv Khullar: How to understand Trump's evolving condition: "Day to day, the news can be confusing. But the treatment of COVID-19 has steps, phases, and milestones that can tells us a lot about how the President is doing." There's a lot here, but this paragraph caught my eye:
Jen Kirby: 3 of the world's most powerful Covid-19 deniers have gotten the virus: "Like Trump, at points in their tenure, the UK's Boris Johnson and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro both downplayed the virus."
Amanda Marcotte: Trump has COVID-19: More evidence that he's always put his ego ahead of public health: "Relax -- Donny SuperSpreader can't benefit from catching a virus he has claimed affects 'virtually nobody.'"
Olivia Nuzzi/Ben Jacobs: The White House is spreading virus and lies.
Charles P Pierce: The chaos has to stop with the President's doctors: Reason I linked this is the photo. Evidently it takes 10 doctors (well, people in white lab coats) to give a confusing and probably misleading press conference on Trump's medical status.
Andrew Prokop: What happens if the president is too sick to do the job? "The 25th Amendment, explained."
Brian Resnick: Was the White House reception for Amy Coney Barrett a superspreading event?: "The event is at least a stark example of what not to do during a pandemic."
Brian Resnick/Julia Belluz: How the White House became a coronavirus breeding ground.
Dylan Scott: While Trump gets the best health care in the world, he wants to eliminate coverage for millions: "Trump's positive coronavirus test underscores the stakes of his fight against Obamacare." I'm not so sure about "the best" but he's certainly getting the most expensive health care in the world.
Dylan Scott/Christina Animashaun: Covid-19's stunningly unequal death toll in America, in one chart. "Black Americans are dying at twice the rate of white Americans."
Peter Weber: The October Surprise nobody wanted.
Richard Wolfe: We should wish Trump well. But he's been astoundingly irresponsible at every turn. But isn't blaming people for the consequences of poor lifestyle choices something conservatives do?
Patricia Kelly Yeo: COVID-positive Trump ignores CDC advise to take joyride, with grim Secret Service agents in tow: "The president left Walter Reed's presidential suite in a motorcade to wave to supporters, potentially exposing several Secret Service agents to the coronavirus." And yes, there are pictures. Wasn't that the whole point? By the way, this is another instance of how Trump is getting special treatment. Who else sick enough to be in hospital would be allowed a temporary pass for a publicity appearance? More:
Matthew Yglesias: Trump has consistently mocked adherence to public health guidelines.
The first debate between Trump and Biden was held on Tuesday, moderated by Chris Wallace. It was by all accounts a pretty ugly affair.
Vox (Matthew Yglesias, German Lopez, Alex Ward, Li Zhou, Zack Beauchamp): 3 winners and 4 losers from the 2020 presidential debate. Format rules evidently prevent them from scoring it 7-0 Biden, so they sorted it by issue: Winners: Cross-talk and malarkey; China; Speaking directly to the American people. Losers: The "Biden has dementia" theory; Racial justice; Chris Wallace; America's safety. Yglesias followed up with Exclusive poll: Biden won the debate convincingly.
Fabiola Cineas: Trump was asked to denounce white supremacy. He wouldn't.
Matt Ford: Trump never answered the debate's most important question: "Let there be no 'both-sidesing' of the primary cause of American anxiety."
Ezra Klein: Joe Biden's most surprising, and possibly important, answer of the debate: "Biden disavowed a lot of ambitious progressive policies on Tuesday. But there were two he refused to reject." He refused to commit on ending the Senate filibuster or "packing the Court," saying "Whatever position I take on that, that will become the issue."
Robert Kuttner: Biden: Notes for next time.
Harold Meyerson: Four more years of this jerk? "Trump does his re-election campaign no favors."
John Nichols: Joe Biden should propose a $75 tax credit tonight -- then drop the mic: This is the week's dumbest piece of debate advice. Why $750? Just so Trump can reduce his tax burden to $0? While a lot of people could use a tax credit, pegging it to a number that Trump somehow hit on twice is meaningless outside of a few twitter circles. And drop the mic? Who even knows what that means? QED is more recognizable. Plus having a 77-year-old drop a microphone may suggest something other than a definitive dis.
Aaron Rupar: 3 debate moments that showed how unsuited Trump is for the presidency: "Don't let Trump's debate bullying distract you from his ignorance and malevolence."
Dylan Scott: If Trump wins, 20 million people could lose health insurance. If Biden wins, 25 million could gain it. "The enormous stakes for Americans' health insurance in the 2020 election, explained."
Steven Waldman: Actually, it was a good debate. Seriously.
Most of this week's campaign stories were tied to topics above, but a few slipped into this section, as did the dystopian speculation about election shenanigans and what happens as and after the ballots are counted. I've generally been avoiding stories on polling, also on down-ballot races (even the very important battle over the Senate). I did flag one piece on the Kansas senatorial race, because it's rare a local race from my home state gets national attention. It also looks like the Senate races in Georgia and South Carolina are tightening up. Also included the bizarre Brad Parscale story here. I'm surprised there's not much more on it, as it suggests unplumbed depths of dementia and violence in the campaign. Also note that Parscale's replacement as head of the Trump campaign, Bill Stepien, is on the list of White House Covid-19 victims. Trump will have no shortage of people to blame for losing this year.
Jane Coaston: The Proud Boys, explained: "The far-right street fighting group has embraced violence -- and Donald Trump." More on Proud Boys:
Eric Cortellessa: Republicans are slowing down mailed-in vote counts in key swing states.
David Dayen: The winter of our discontent: "Projecting the 78 harrowing days after the election: "This is a horror story."
Constance Grady: The bizarrely aggressive rhetoric of Trump's fundraising emails, explained: "Rhetoric scholars explain why Trump's campaign emails feel like someone is yelling at you."
Charlotte Klein: Texas Governor orders ballot drop-off locations closed across state.
Nancy LeTourneau: This woman could be the first Democratic Senator from Kansas since 1932. She means 1938: Democrat George McGill was elected to finish a term in 1930, then re-elected to a full term in 1932. Barbara Bollier is running for an open seat being vacated by Pat Roberts, who nearly lost to an independent six years ago. She's an ex-Republican, which plays well in Kansas, a woman (Nancy Kassebaum won three Senate terms), has quite a bit of money, and is running against Roger Marshall (like Roberts, an agribusiness shill from Western Kansas).
Walter Shapiro: Biden should be worried: "Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis has scrambled the presidential race irrevocably." Everyone's worried, but the spread between Trump's best-ever and worst-ever days is about four points, so the main thing Biden has to be worried about is doing something stupid, and even then we're talking about doing something stupider than Trump has already done.
Gabriel Sherman: "The family is worried Brad will start talking": Trumpworld panics over debate fiasco as campaign turmoil mounts: Any other week this story would have been huge, as Trump's digital guru and recently deposed campaign manager staged a public meltdown, threatening to kill himself, before he was subdued and carted off by police.
More on Parscale:
Last week's big New York Times exposé on The President's taxes continued to produce revelations and reaction. "Lock him up" may not yet be a campaign chant, but is on the minds of more than a few prosecutors.
Helena Bottemiller Evich: Trump requires food aid boxes to come with a letter from him: "'In my 30 years of doing this work, I've never seen something this egregious,' one food bank director said."
Molly Jong-Fast: Donald Junior's Hunter Biden obsession is creepy, and telling.
Casey Michel: Ivanka Trump's starring role in her father's financial troubles: "If the president's tax shenanigans land him afoul of the law, the first daughter could go down with him."
Anna North: The Melania tapes bust the "Free Melania" myth: "Turns out the first lady is a lot like her husband."
Luke Savage: Attacking Trump as a "fake billionaire" is a dead end: "The real scandal isn't that Donald Trump is secretly poor -- it's that our system let such an obvious fraud get so rich."
Matthew Yglesias: Trump could be in a lot of legal hot water if he loses the election: "The presidency shields him from charges of tax fraud, campaign finance violations, obstruction, and more." Details a long list of just the most obvious potential charges and liabilities, concluding:
Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is still up in the air, as Republicans in the Senate plot to confirm her before the election. Although the biggest twist this week was that a promotional meet and greet for her looms large in the White House Covid-19 cluster outbreak. Also a few other stories relating to justice and not.
Erwin Chemerinsky: The Court: How did we get here and what will it mean?
Fabiola Cineas: Kentucky AG releases Breonna Taylor grand jury audio recordings. More on Breonna Taylor:
Adam Cole: The Supreme Court is about to hit an undemocratic milestone. The US Senate accords two votes per state, regardless of population, so it is possible to form a majority of Senators who represent only a minority of the population. Indeed, four Supreme Court justices have been confirmed by minority-vote Senators (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh). If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, she will probably be the fifth.
Patrick Radden Keefe: The Sackler family's plan to keep its billions: "The Trump administration is poised to make a settlement with Purdue Pharma that it can claim as a victory for opioid victims. But the proposed outcome would heave the company's owners enormously wealthy -- and off the hook for good."
Dahlia Lithwick: The deranged, dangerous push to still seat Amy Coney Barrett: "For the GOP, entrenching minority rule is more important than human life."
David Sirota: The US Supreme Court may soon become plutocracy's greatest defender. Isn't it already? Not that it's needed as long as Trump is president and McConnell runs the Senate.
Paul Starr: How to rebalance the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the economy churns, as some people return to work, but others are getting laid off -- especially as the earlier stimulus program job protections have expired. There appears to have been a little progress toward a compromise on a new relief bill, but now that the stock market has recovered, that's not much of a priority for Senate Republicans.
Timothy Noah: Trump's "greatest recovery in history" is wheezing out.
JC Pan: Our plutocratic tax system was built for rich cheaters: "The Times exposé was a blunt articulation of how things work for people like Trump -- and against everyone else."
Kaila Philo: Noam Chomsky does not think the planet is doomed (yet). Interview, on a new book Chomsky co-wrote with Robert Pollin: Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal.