IUY Weekly Journal Vol 2 No. 14 – Week of October 17 – 23, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, October 17 through Friday, October 23, 2020 [Vol.2 No.14]

“People are tired of Covid”

The Week’s Most Notable

We were warned. Experts we trust such as Dr. Fauci and even those we’re not sure about like the CDC, warned us that the fall would see a major outbreak of the pandemic. It has begun. On Friday, new coronavirus infections hit 85,000 for the day, far outstripping the records for both the first (April-May) and second (June-July) waves of the virus. Already several states (Wisconsin, Utah, Idaho, North Dakota) are reporting crisis situations with hospital capacity. As a lagging indicator, deaths are now predicted to reach 2,000 a day in November. The situation is surreal: On the one hand, we are heading into a nationwide, this time including rural, outbreak bigger than anything we’ve seen before, and on the other hand Trump, the White House, the GOP Congress, and the right-wing media are denying that anything significant is happening. (Or worse, that the explosion of cases is a good thing by reason of herd immunity.) We are heading toward a quarter million dead around the time of the election with no viable, widely available vaccine or treatment for months. No wonder the coronavirus crisis is the issue of this election.

Biden’s got it!/Trump’s gonna steal it! How does anyone who is not a Trump voter feel about the coming election? Right now, the mainstream media is providing a cacophony of contradictory political messaging and analysis, much of which seems focused either on the good news for Biden in the polls, or the bad news from all the voter suppression efforts of the Trump-GOP. In terms of mood, it’s understandable that people are conflicted, if not outright schizoid. Some of this is normal for any consequential election, but this election Is way beyond consequential. There is hope for Biden, but mostly there is fear, anxiety, or even dread invoked by all the coverage that says there will be violence associated with the election, that voter suppression will be effective, that the mail will fail, and that ultimately the Supreme Court with its newly installed 6-3 conservative majority will undo any electoral results that don’t give Trump the win. The worry is particularly intense in battleground states, where the dirty tricks are concentrated and will persist beyond Election Day into what is now being called Election Fortnight. That is, if the election is close. If Biden rides a landslide, then the suppression efforts become marginal, irrelevant. So, what remains to be done is basic: Get. Out. The. Vote.

Saturday, October 17

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 8,354,585; Deaths – 224,303

[Election – 2020] Early Voting on Track to Break All Records – With more than 26 million people having already cast a ballot, projections put the number of early votes at between 70 to 80 million, or almost 2/3 of the total expected vote. It appears the majority of these voters are Democrats, avoiding coronavirus exposure, which prompts the observation that, as expected, most Trump-Republican voters will physically go to the polls on November 3, most probably without masks.

[Supreme Court – Protest] D.C. Women’s March Against Judge Amy Coney Barrett – There were coordinated marches throughout the country. Truth be told, these marches were a pale shadow of the original 2017 Women’s March. Speculation: The knowledge that Barrett will become a Supreme Court justice no matter what, combined with a general feeling of “vote and be done with it,” reduced the enthusiasm for mass demonstrations.

Sunday, October 18

[Coronavirus] Trump Campaign Pivots to Unspoken “Herd Immunity” – While not announcing it directly, it’s clear from what Trump says at his rallies and the behavior of most White House and campaign staff that ignoring COVID-19 mitigation rules, especially masks and distancing, is in line with the herd immunity policy of allowing unfettered spread of the virus in order to increase the number of people infected and presumably increase immunity. One small indicator, Trump’s newly elevated science advisor, radiologist Scott Atlas, wrote in a tweet “masks don’t work” for coronavirus. Twitter quickly blocked the tweet for violating a ban on sharing false or misleading information about COVID-19.

[Food Stamps] Federal Judge Blocks Trump Order to Drop Food Stamps for 700,000 – Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell of Washington D.C. Called the administration’s efforts to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during a time of pandemic and mass unemployment, “arbitrary and capricious.” The White House is expected to appeal. (Why not? They don’t care about ending the ACA for 20 million Americans during the pandemic.)

[Wildfires] Colorado Faces Largest Wildfires in Its History – Extremely dry and windy conditions have fostered at least two major wildfires, forcing several thousand to evacuate in Boulder County. One of the fires is progressing through Rocky Mountain National Park and threatens the city of Estes Park.

Monday, October 19

[Supreme Court] Ruling Allows Pennsylvania to Extend Mail-In Voting – By allowing officials to extend counting of mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day, the Supreme Court in effect ruled in favor of the Democrats. This happened because the vote was 4-4, Chief Justice John Roberts voting with the liberal justices; the tie meant the previous decision of the appeals court would stand. Because Pennsylvania is a crucial swing state, maybe even the crucial state, this “detail” of election protocol could be very significant.

[Coronavirus] CDC Recommends Masks for All Public Travel – Note: “recommends” not “requires.” This is a direct result of White House interference, which blocked the CDC from using an order instead of a guidance. Although most airlines and Amtrak already require masks, this change in mandate will likely cost lives.

Tuesday, October 20

[Coronavirus] CDC Announces Nearly 300,000 “Excess” U.S. Deaths during Pandemic – Excess deaths are those that occur above the number normally expected for a set period of time, in this case March through September 2020. Most of these deaths are attributed either directly or indirectly to the coronavirus, meaning that the impact of the pandemic is greater than reported.

[Coronavirus] Pelosi Backs off Tuesday Deadline for Coronavirus Relief Bill – It appears that the hocus-pocus surrounding another relief bill has gone up in smoke. Once again, Mitch McConnell, the master of ceremonies, made it clear that neither the $1.9 trillion White House offer, nor the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion approved by the House, were going to pass muster in the Senate. Basta, until after the election, possibly in the lame-duck session.

[Election – 2020] The 545 Kids Separated from Their Parents Resurfaces as Election Issue – As referenced in newly filed court documents, these are the border-asylum children who the government is unable to reunite with their parents. This was a major political issue in the 2018 elections, and often cited as one of the most damning of Trump-GOP actions.

[Antitrust] DOJ Files Antitrust Lawsuit against Google – This lawsuit, part of a broad investigation of tech giants including Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, has been expected for some time. It’s likely the case will be marched through the courts over a period of years. It is a bipartisan issue and there is no obvious political impact for this election.

Wednesday, October 21

[Coronavirus] Johns Hopkins University: Third Wave of Coronavirus Has Arrived – After two consecutive days with more than 60,000 new infections, the figures indicate that the long-predicted fall-winter surge in the pandemic is arriving. Other reports highlighted the issues confronting schools, especially at the high school and university level.

[Election – 2020] U.S. Intelligence Officials Claim Iran and Russia behind Election Interference – The announcement by the Director of National intelligence, John Ratcliffe, was immediately questioned, as most observers believe Russia to be the significant player. Ratcliffe’s point of emphasis is indicative of his Trump-oriented manipulation of intelligence analysis.

[Opioid Crisis] OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma to Pay $8.3 Billion Settlement – In a crisis, which is still ongoing and hasn’t received much attention lately, the settlement accompanies admitting to criminal charges including lying to the DEA. The opioid epidemic has claimed more lives, 470,000 over two years, than the coronavirus (to date).

[Government] Trump Issues Order Removing Civil Service Protection – In one of the most sweeping antidemocratic moves of his administration, Trump has ordered a change in status for potentially hundreds of thousands of federal civil service employees, moving them from “competitive service” (people who take exams to get their jobs) to “excepted service” (political appointees) categorization, which makes them much less difficult to fire. If Trump is reelected, this order makes it much easier to weed out people who are not Trump loyalists, or install loyalists.

Thursday, October 22

[Economy] New Unemployment Insurance Claims:  787,000 – Dropping from 875,000 last week, this represents a significant improvement, though not enough to warrant a brass band. Approximately 23 million Americans are still receiving some form of government jobless benefits.

[Supreme Court] Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Judge Amy Coney Barrett – As expected, with the Democratic members absent in protest, the committee voted to pass the nomination onto the Senate floor, where it is scheduled for a vote next week.

[Census] Appeals Court Blocks Trump Push to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants from Census – This issue is on a fast-track and expected to go before the Supreme Court by November 30.

[Coronavirus] FDA Approves Remdesivir for COVID-19 Treatment – The drug becomes the first fully FDA approved coronavirus treatment, mainly for reducing the term of treatment for moderately ill patients from 15 to 11 days. The drug has no effect on mortality, and an international trial found the drug had “little to no effect.” Recall that remdesivir was given to Trump and is high on his list of favorites.

[Elections – 2020] A Mostly Civil Final Debate – Alternative headline: Less Loud, More Lying. Trump cycled through almost every known GOP-right wing code/meme, with the notable exception of “Hillary,” which triggered fact checking by the dozens for his virtually copyrighted lies. As usual, right-wing media declared Trump the winner, mainstream media declared Biden the winner. Upshot: The debate didn’t move the voting needle, although who knows, maybe Trump gets a percentage point for showing up and staying mostly within the debate rules. So, the final significant event of the 2020 campaign is over and hopefully everything will smoothly coast to November 3. (It’s possible.)

Friday, October 23

[Coronavirus] Daily New Coronavirus Infections Hit 85,000, All-Time Record – With the new daily peaks consistently going above 60,000, it’s clear the U.S. is reaching a new niveau, a fall surge, higher than the two previous “waves.” Hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators by roughly two and six weeks respectively, although hospitalizations have already started to climb. The really bad news from this new wave is geographical: It is no longer concentrated in large cities but spread throughout the country, including rural areas that are least capable of handling a pandemic. The only good news in the figures is that early detection, better treatment, and a younger affected population has led to a lower death rate than earlier in the pandemic. A new study published in Nature Medicine estimates that by February 28, 2021 the COVID-19 death toll in the United States will exceed 500,000 – that’s with state-mandated mitigation efforts; otherwise, the death toll could pass 1 million.

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 8,827,932; Deaths – 230,068

Coronavirus Notes

Trump continues even this week to scream at his rallies “Open the schools, open the schools!” Of course, more than 95% of them are already open, and those that are not were mostly shut down after infection rates got out of hand, such as in the Boston school districts. New studies from the U.S. and the UK indicate that as drivers of the pandemic spread, elementary schools are the least problematic and universities the most, which indicates that age is a factor. More research is needed, particularly for middle and high schools, but at the moment it looks like at least elementary schools can be safely opened as long as they are monitored and their opening fits the pattern consistent with the infection status of the general community. All of this is part of the key point: We’re learning – this is science at work. What we knew about the coronavirus back in February and March is a fraction of what we know now; and what we know now is a fraction of what we will know later in 2021. Meanwhile public policy needs to be intelligently tied to the findings of science and medicine. Public safety messaging needs to build-in flexibility, making it clear that especially with a novel virus, best practices may change, and that’s okay. Overall, it’s important to note that the countries doing best in controlling the pandemic, such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore, are all countries that have dealt with many epidemics over the years.

Racism Protest Notes                 

Just one short note about what’s missing: Where are the riots occurring in every American city? Where are the hordes of antifa swarming through the suburbs? Race and social justice were a topic at the final debate but have become a weak echo in the Trump campaign. The issues now belong to Black Lives Matter and Joe Biden.

Constitutional, Political, Election Notes

During the presidential debate and by the right-wing media thereafter, Biden has been pushed to define his policy toward “packing the courts.” Since he did promise a statement before the election, in a sense he did one better by issuing a promise to set up a bipartisan commission to study possible changes to the courts. This, of course, did not please anybody, but it did get him off the immediate hook and probably guarantees a lively controversy if and when he becomes president.

Trump-bits. T: “People are tired of COVID. People are tired of hearing about Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong, . . . This guy’s a disaster.” T: Owes Rudy Giuliani a big kiss for circus level appearances with “Hunter Biden’s laptop computer” and for fondling his junk in an appearance in the new Borat 2 Sasha Baron Cohen film. Coronavirus redux: T: “We’re learning to live with it.” Biden: “We’re learning to die with it.”

Quotes of the Week

[Joe Biden] will listen to the scientists [which will lead to a] massive depression.

Trump at rally, 10/18/2020.

Watch [Lesley Stahl’s] constant interruptions & anger. Compare my full, flowing and ‘magnificently brilliant’ answers to their ‘Q’s.

Trump tweet, re “60 Minutes” interview, 10/22/2020.

 

[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are passingly familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search (Google it).]

 

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IUY: Weekly Journal Vol. 2 No. 13 October 10 – 16, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, October 10 through Friday, October 16, 2020 [Vol.2 No.13]

Dueling Town-Halls

The Week’s Most Notable

It’s hard to call Thursday night’s dueling town halls a highlight. From the moneygrubbing political cynicism of the scheduling to the awkward and sometimes painful juxtaposition of styles and content, the contrast between Trump and Biden could very well be an apotheosis, a crowning moment of a sort. Skillfully and resolutely pushed by moderator Savannah Guthrie, Trump eventually sweated and spluttered his way into conceding a few things like owing $400 million to somebody, and yet again failing to denounce QAnon. Perhaps Trump’s negative impression was not as striking as in the first debate, but he was consistently nerve-wracking. For his part, Biden finally got to finish a sentence and even present an issue accompanied by a précis of a plan. It would’ve been helpful to actually debate some of his ideas, but the 2020 election is based on impressions, not facts and arguments. Biden’s impression was good. He likes talking to people, he really does. For the most part he kept his facts and figures together, he didn’t sound radical, and he didn’t sound like a doddering old man – scratch two big Republican talking points. Overall, between the two events – for those voters who could one way or another catch a glimpse of both – it was a good opportunity to get a measure of the men.

It is truly amazing that for more than six months Trump and the GOP have been essentially representing the idea that the coronavirus is insignificant (sort of doesn’t exist) and that mitigation efforts, such as masks or those that cause economic disruption, are not only unnecessary but authoritarian. In short, they made a political issue out of facing a national medical crisis. This week it became clearer that the U.S. is heading into another wave of COVID-19 as new cases topped the mark of 70,000 per day – with more than 8 million already infected and 215,000 dead. The Trump-GOP-right wing media have created cognitive dissonance on an epic scale or, put more meaningfully – have used lies that have already killed thousands of people. This is not hyperbole.

Saturday, October 10

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 7,681,140; Deaths – 206,135

[Coronavirus] Trump Holds His First Post- COVID-19 Rally at White House – Billed as an official event about the coronavirus and Trump’s recovery, Trump’s opening line from the Blue Room balcony was “we got to vote these people into oblivion.” The 300 to 400 attendees, mostly wearing MAGA caps, not wearing masks, and not socially distanced, applauded. The use of the White House as a campaign prop has become routine and is still illegal.

[Armenia-Azerbaijan – War] Fragile Cease-Fire Not Holding – In normal times, people in the U.S. would know when there’s a war going on somewhere in the world. In this case, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting a very hot war for several weeks with apparently only Russia taking much notice. The dispute is over the Nagorno-Karabakh region – a hotspot in a region of hotspots. It could further destabilize the Middle East, depending on how much Iran gets involved.

[Racism – Protest] Denver Left-Right Face-Off Results in One Death – Protests and violence are still occurring, whether overhyped by right-wing media or underplayed by mainstream media. In this case a protester being maced by a participant in the right-wing “Patriot Rally,” pulled out a handgun, shot, and killed the mace wielding man.  Such an event is rare, but it’s still happening.

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IUY Weekly Journal – Vol. 2 No. 11 September 26 – October 2, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, September 26 through Friday, October 2, 2020 [Vol.2 No.11]

Trump’s Covid-19

The Week’s Most Notable

Trump is in Walter Reed Hospital with symptomatic COVID-19. A more stunning, ironic, and potentially fateful piece of news can hardly be imagined. Not that it should have been difficult to imagine, given the publicly cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus demonstrated by the entire White House staff, most Republican officeholders, and a large majority of Trump’s base – not to mention the arch virus-denier himself, Donald Trump. The outcome of Trump’s infection is at this early point medically difficult to assess and ranges all the way from a few days in the hospital to Requiescat in Pace. Politically, the illness pretty much destroys the Trump-GOP coronavirus-denial strategy. This may not change the minds of many Trump-base voters, especially given a monumental right-wing media spin effort. Nevertheless, there is now hope for a reversal of contrarian attitudes toward mask wearing, social distancing, and other forms of coronavirus mitigation.

The presidential debate, otherwise now known in the colloquial as “The Shitshow,” stands in the memory of somewhere between 70 and 90 million people worldwide (not counting maybe 20 million Trump supporters), as the most foul, ugly, and antidemocratic performance in the long line of such performances by Trump. It was clear from the opening that Trump’s only mission was to destroy the debate. He burnished his best bullying skills, pumped himself into a red-faced sweat-streaked rhetorical state, and proceeded to out-shout and out-interrupt Biden and moderator Chris Wallace 128 times. Right-wing media immediately declared it a great victory because, after all, aggression is its own justification, and not a single substantive issue was actually debated. The rest of the world, recognizing the ghastly reality in front of them, pronounced it the most off-putting and worst “debate” in American history. Again, like so many utterly novel and shocking Trump performances, it’s difficult to say whether this changed many votes. It did, however, leave a very bad taste in many people’s recollection. Sometimes that kind of emotional response has powerful last-minute effects in the ballot box.

Trump’s Taxes: so much for fake populism. The reason Trump pays so little in federal taxes is the federal tax code, which he and his supplicant GOP friends continued to stack in favor of the rich with that infamous 2017 tax-giveaway legislation (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act). It was supposed to cut loopholes, instead it created hundreds of new ones and generated $2.2 trillion in additional national debt. So no, Trump’s tax returns are not a populist document, they are a ne’er-do-well rich man’s monument to a rigged tax system. In Trump’s view, people who pay taxes are “suckers.”

Saturday, September 26

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 7,290,867; Deaths – 209,177

[Supreme Court] Amy Coney Barrett Nominated for Supreme Court – Mentored by former Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett is a putative strict constructionist, ultraconservative, Catholic-visioned, and highly competent jurist. By word and ruling she is the complete antithesis of her predecessor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which seems to be appropriate as a deliberate finger in the eye of liberal justice. The opening of her hearings is scheduled for October 12 with a final vote sometime in the week before the general election on November 3. The Democrats will attempt to block or at least delay her confirmation, probably without success. In any other week her nomination would have dominated the news, but not this week – her White House Rose Garden nomination party became more famous as the potential origin of a calamitous coronavirus outbreak that perhaps started the president on his way to the hospital.

[Coronavirus] Midwest Becomes Focus of Coronavirus Surge – After peaking for a while in the South, the current wave of COVID-19 cases has moved up to Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, which all recorded record one day increases. In fact, Wisconsin will quickly reach saturation of hospital beds and is making plans to open auxiliary treatment centers. Nationwide the number of new cases is back up to around 50,000 a day, with a lagging death rate of about 800 to 900 a day. Without major changes in mitigation behavior, the CDC says the U.S. is on track for around 400,000 deaths by the end of the year.

[Racism – Protest] Portland: Proud Boys Rally Fizzles, Demonstrations End Quietly – Prior billing by right-wing militia groups promised thousands of armed demonstrators would convene on the streets of Portland. According to Fox News propaganda, they would be met by hordes of antifa. Fortunately, only a few hundred militia appeared and antifa or BLM demonstrators were conspicuously low-show. Police reported almost no violence. Other than demonstrations in Louisville for the killing of Breonna Taylor, this was an extremely quiet week for protests. Trump’s “violence in the streets” campaign also seems to be fizzling.

Sunday, September 27

[Trump – Taxes] The New York Times Exposes Trump Tax Information – Americans woke up on Sunday morning to find that after all these years The New York Times, not the government, had finally broken through and acquired 15 years of Trump tax information, a major journalistic achievement with potential election-altering revelations. In the event, it was a major achievement although much of the information was already “known” albeit without documentation or specific figures. The massive work of research revealed a pattern of tax avoidance (legal) with potential tax evasion (illegal) and the politically hot meme that Trump paid little or no federal taxes most years and in 2017 and 2018 paid about $750 in federal taxes even while he was president. The other major finding: Trump personally owes more than $420 million, due within the next four years. The salient question: Owes to whom? In any other week, The Times’ story would’ve been like opening Pandora’s box for a looksee, but this week all the story did was linger a little more than two days. There will be follow-up, especially by ongoing New York state investigations, and expect more media-based Trump financial revelations between now and the election.

[Election – 2020] Poll: Majority Want Election Winner to Fill Supreme Court – The New York Times/Siena College poll showed what other polls have indicated – the winner of the November presidential election should pick the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. The margin for this referendum was 56% to 41%. Public sentiment will not affect what Mitch McConnell does in the Senate, nor delay the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, but it sets the stage for anger against Republican senators who participate in this blatant exercise of power and hypocrisy.

Monday, September 28

[Coronavirus] Worldwide Coronavirus Death Toll Now Exceeds 1 Million – Infection rates are now climbing in almost all Western countries, especially in Europe and the United States. The worst record still belongs to the United States, with more than 7 million cases and more than 209,000 deaths. For contrast, Taiwan, with a population of about 25 million, has had 517 cases and 7 deaths; Florida, with a population of about 22 million, has had 715,000 cases and 14,628 deaths.

[Wildfires – California] California Wine Country Hit by Fast Spreading Wildfires – After a brief respite during the week, record heat returned to California, this time causing an outbreak of wildfires in counties such as Sonoma, Napa, and Shasta, the heart of California’s wine country. So far more than 34,000 people have been ordered to evacuate.

Tuesday, September 29

[Election – 2020] The Debacle Debate – It was billed as the presidential debate of the century. Democrats were fearful that Joe Biden might not be up to snuff. Republicans, at least some of them, were concerned that Trump might go too far on attack. By the end, Biden was more than adequate and Trump not only went off the rails but blew the bridges and tore up the track. Most importantly, this seemed to be Trump’s strategy from the outset. The chaotic contretemps was so bad that there were immediate calls to never have another debate like it, and the Commission on Presidential Debates promised to revise the rules (as if that would make any difference). Take away line for the debate: Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, saying about the right-wing militia group Proud Boys, they should “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys immediately adopted that line as their motto.

[Election – 2020] U.S. Security Officials Warn of Extremist Threat to Elections – As if on cue for Trump’s threatening peroration at the close of Tuesday’s debate, officials at Homeland Security, the FBI, and other agencies warned of a buildup in political tensions, civil unrest, and foreign disinformation to create a toxic environment that could erupt in violence.

[Wall Street – Corruption] J.P. Morgan Chase to Pay $920 Million for Spoofing the Market – It’s the largest settlement ever imposed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for market manipulation – spoofing – where traders call in massive buys and then almost immediately cancel them in order to affect short-term market statistics. The chaotic Wall Street market, awash in Federal Reserve cash, is a ripe target for scams.

Wednesday, September 30

[Election – 2020] Strong Ripples in Reaction to Raucous Debate – It may not move the partisan percentage of voters very much, but the ugly vituperative tone of Trump’s attacks and interruptions left a very bad impression with the majority of viewers,  especially in the international community. One sign of the reaction: by 9:30 AM on Wednesday Democrats had hauled in $25 million in contributions. Most snap polls showed Biden winning by at least 60-40.

[Government] U.S. Government Funded until December 11 – Trump signed a temporary bill that keeps the government open through December 11 and avoids a temporary shutdown. On the other hand, it’s temporary and what happens next depends very much on the outcome of the election, although the current membership of Congress and the presidency will be the same on that date. However, political dynamics could be quite different.

[Mueller Investigation] Comey Grilled by Senate Judiciary Committee – As part of Lindsey Graham’s Trump-prompted investigation into the origin of the Mueller investigation, former FBI director James Comey for the third time in as many years testified about the FBI’s decision to open the investigation. Considering all that is going on in American politics at the present time, it’s debatable whether anybody cares about a rehash of a rehash of former investigations.

Thursday, October 1

[Economy] New Unemployment Insurance Claims:  837,000 – No significant change from the previous week (about 36,000 fewer). The indicators continue showing that new employment is hitting a plateau and layoffs are in the offing, particularly for the airline industry. Without further stimulus many small businesses and a few large ones will reach the end of their financial capacity in the next month or two, leading to bankruptcies and increasing unemployment.

[Coronavirus] White House Advisor Hope Hicks Tests Positive – One of the people closest to Trump announced she was tested and has symptomatic COVID-19. In fact, she was placed in quarantine on Wednesday while flying back from the Trump rally in Minnesota aboard Air Force One. (It turns out she was the canary in the coal mine.)

[Coronavirus] House Passes $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Proposal – Keeping the flame alive against the smothering of Mitch McConnell, House Democrats pared down their earlier offer of $2.4 trillion in the hope that Senate Republicans wanted to go back home with some kind of relief deal. The Trump administration responded with an offer of $1.6 trillion, which was promptly rejected by McConnell. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin will continue negotiating through the end of the week under less than optimistic circumstances.

Friday, October 2

[Coronavirus] Trump and Melania Test Positive for Coronavirus – Trump made the 1 AM announcement, via Twitter of course, and triggered a day of chaos at the White House – if not the country and the world. Given his record of coronavirus denial, mitigation avoidance, and the campaign strategy of evading the pandemic issue at all costs, his illness changes the already tempestuous course of the election. (It also produces a massive moment of irony if nothing else.) Unfortunately, before the day was out seven more people in or near Trump’s entourage – especially those who participated in the Rose Garden ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett – tested positive, including three senators, Trump’s campaign manager, Chris Christie, and Kellyanne Conway. The scramble was on to trace and track with the White House ill-prepared to follow Trump’s hundreds of contacts from the Saturday at the Rose Garden, through the debate in Cleveland, to the rally in Minnesota, to the donors meeting in New Jersey. As of Friday, Joe Biden and his wife, Mike Pence and his wife, Kamala Harris, and Trump’s immediate family have all tested negative.          

[Election – 2020] Trump Flown to Walter Reed Hospital – The sequence of events into the early morning of Saturday are still fuzzy, particularly because the information provided by the White House medical team is a paragon of imprecision, contradictory statements, and obvious rosy-colored obfuscation. As best as we can tell prior to a detailed investigation: Trump was showing symptoms as early as Wednesday during the Duluth rally, was even more symptomatic when he met with 100 people at his Bedminster golf course in New Jersey, and by Friday was in considerable distress, particularly with his breathing – enough so that it was necessary to occasionally administer oxygen. Two things indicate the seriousness of the incident: Trump was given Regeneron monoclonal antibodies, a cocktail that is in the very earliest stages of clinical trials (they needed a “humanitarian emergency approval” from the FDA to use it); he was also given remdesivir, another experimental drug not yet FDA approved. The use of these drugs usually reserved for desperate cases, much less for a president of the United States, could indicate the seriousness of his condition. Whatever his condition, he was airlifted to the hospital as a “precautionary measure.” None of this is indicative of a mild case of coronavirus.

[Election – 2020] Trump to Remain in Hospital at Least 6 to 10 Days – Regardless of optimistic statements by Trump and/or his White House staff, doctors say two crucial things: One, many coronavirus cases take a turn for the worst 6 to 10 days after infection, which for Trump extends from this weekend into the middle of next week. Two, he will normally need to stay in the hospital for observation, and probably for recuperation, typically at least 10 days. If he makes a quick recovery, he might be able to go back to the White House sooner than that, but he will likely not be fit for active campaigning for several weeks. In short, his personal campaigning is all but over.

[Election – 2020] Texas Governor Closes Many Mail-Ballot Drop Boxes – Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation limiting each county to one drop-off point for mail ballots. Some small counties had only one drop point, but most larger counties like Harrison (Houston) had many drop boxes. This obvious alteration of voting conditions, which will affect mostly Latino and black voters, infuriated Democrats. It should be pointed out that polls have recently shown Texas to be a tossup. The change in drop boxes was immediately challenged in court.

[Coronavirus] Pelosi Says Coronavirus Relief Package Negotiations Regain Momentum – She didn’t put it this way but Trump’s illness creates a whole new environment for negotiations. She has in her hand the newly passed $2.2 trillion House stimulus bill. She has Steve Mnuchin concerned about Trump and the election. She even has GOP senators worried about how the deteriorating state of the economy, combined with the collapse of the GOP coronavirus denial policy, will play with voters back home.

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 7,549,323; Deaths – 213,524

Coronavirus (Crisis) Notes

The firestorm over the COVID-19 infection of the U.S. president will go down in medical history. (Regardless of the eventual outcome.) Other than Woodrow Wilson’s dementia and Spanish flu, Trump’s case is the most serious and far-reaching of presidential illnesses. It will take some time to piece together a correct sequence of events, but even now it looks like the parade of contacts and victims is epic. The medical handling of his case already appears to be plagued with contradictions, mystery, and potential malpractice. The implications of his illness on his personal demeanor, not to mention the unquestioning loyalty of his followers, are likely to be unpredictable and significant. The political fallout of this incredible failure by Trump, the GOP, and the White House staff to deal with an immediate personal emergency, so highly representative of the ongoing national emergency of the coronavirus pandemic, will be book, movie, and legal fodder for the ages.

Constitutional, Political, Election (Crisis) Notes

Quo Vadis? Likely fallout of Trump’s illness: Another presidential debate is unlikely; it was unlikely even before Trump’s hospitalization as Trump already said he would not attend any debate if they change the rules. The GOP potentially may have trouble railroading a Supreme Court justice through the Senate before the election. The COVID-19 spread may take out enough GOP senators (three or four) to affect committee or floor votes. Fox News and other Trump-GOP media outlets will need to spend millions generating counter propaganda about Trump’s hospitalization. In a related vein, there will probably be propaganda “distractions” cooked up by AG Barr, Fox News, and other Trump-media outlets and whatnot. Democrats who think about it should want a full recovery by Trump; as Michael Moore put it, “We want to beat Trump fair and square.” Will Trump’s illness depress his base and GOP turnout? Maybe, depends on how it plays out.

Trump-bits. T on NYT tax exposé: “fake news,” turned into “illegally obtained.” From a Trump letter inserted into Farmers to Families Food Boxes (Ivanka’s idea) T: “As part of our response to coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America.” T: “Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third debates when I easily won last time?”  Melania T: “Who gives a f***about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”

Quotes of the Week

We published two fact checks [of the debate], for a total of 53 claims. (Biden: 7. Trump: 46.)

                “The Fact Checker,” The Washington Post, 10/2/2020.

 

Reminder: White House physicians are public servants. It is not their job to be politically evasive. Ducking important questions (e.g., supplemental oxygen, last -ve test, location of infection) like a politician is inappropriate.

Saad B. Omer, Director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, 10/3/2020.

 

[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are passingly familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search (Google it).]

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IUY Weekly Journal Vol. 2 No. 10 – September 19 – 25, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, September 19 through Friday, September 25, 2020 [Vol.2 No.10]

Get Rid of the Ballots

The Week’s Most Notable

[This was an exceedingly item-dense, significant, and complicated week. Even media professionals were left gasping by the weekend. There should be sympathy for the engaged citizen.]

“We’ll want to have – get rid of the ballots and you have a very – we’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” With this word-salad began the most threatening Trump-meme of the week. He all but said, he can’t lose. Like almost all such memes, this one was designed to jab liberals and the media into a knee-jerk response. In other words, at least part of it was intended to be a distraction from Trump’s ongoing coronavirus and other failures. On the other hand, it was part of an orchestrated gaslight-the-vote barrage coming not only from Trump but from AG Barr and others. The intent is to set up a moment, post-election, when Trump can cry “Rigged election!” As White House Coronavirus Task Force escapee Olivia Troye said, “When you’re the president, words matter.”

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a double shock: Her death is a palpable loss for the court and for women’s rights (among others things). It also produced a naked power-play by the GOP to immediately replace her with a Ginsburg antithesis. To the very core of his twisted ego, as Trump desires to undo the entire Obama legacy, so the conservative right yearns to undo the entire Ginsburg legacy, which is essentially the legacy of the once liberal court, including but not only Roe v. Wade. The Democrats will not be able to stop it; the question is what will they do afterward?

Saturday, September 19

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,997,444; Deaths – 203,845

[Election – 2020] RBG’s Passing Prompts Massive Democratic Donations – As one measure of the response to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, donations to ActBlue, the Democratic Party’s donation-processing site, broke all records with $91.4 million from 1.5 million donors in 28 hours. During the week the total exceeded $160 million, also a record. The significance: Most of this money, according to officials, will be targeted at down-ballot contests – especially Senate.

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IUY Weekly Journal vol. 2 No. 9 September 12 – 18, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, September 12 through Friday, September 18, 2020 [Vol.2 No.9]

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

The Week’s Most Notable

What comes next is about a woman who made her mark and is now history, but her legacy is for all women. That’s what the men with power, in this case U.S. senators, may woefully underestimate. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lately known as RBG, made legal history for women as a lawyer and a judge. she went to the Supreme Court and made more history becoming the doyenne of dissent and eventually an icon of so much that women aspire to be – authentic, powerful, effective. By the end she was even labeled “a rockstar,” which was okay with her. More than anything she wanted women to strive for, to achieve, to enjoy the maximum of their abilities. Her death, though not unexpected, will carry waves of emotion through millions and millions of women voters across the country. These millions will instantly recognize whether her memory is respected, or not. Her dying wish was that she not be replaced until after the next swearing in of a president. Millions of women voters, if the polls are right a majority of women voters, will know this is more than sentimentality. They want the next justice to follow the path of RBG, if not her exact steps. The men of the Republican Senate may fail to understand this and taking up positions or even votes under the banner of power-hungry hypocrites, and will risk well justified defeat in the coming election, if the Democrats don’t miss the opportunity.

Saturday, September 12

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,680,563; Deaths – 198,251

[Wildfires] Dozens of Fires Continue on West Coast, At Least 35 Dead – The smoke plume from the western United States will soon be arriving in Europe, one small measure of the scope and impact of the record fires in Washington Oregon and California. During the week the fires ebbed and grew with the variations in weather, but they did not fully come under control. Keep in mind that the fire season in the West is only about half over.

[Election – 2020] Bloomberg Puts up $100 Million to Help Biden Campaign in Florida – Fulfilling his campaign promise from the Democratic primaries, Bloomberg’s contribution, which is said to be targeted for Latinos, represents a substantial boost for Biden in a habitually close race.

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IUY Weekly Journal – September 5 – 11, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, September 5 through Friday, September 11, 2020 [Vol.2 No.8]

The Woodward Tapes

The Week’s Most Notable

Will the “Woodward Tapes” have the impact of the “Nixon Tapes” that dramatically tipped public opinion against Nixon? The revelations from Woodward’s recorded nine hours from 18 telephone conversations with Trump provoked the obvious question “Will this, finally, move the needle for voters?” After all there is, for example, Trump’s admission that he knew about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in January, did nothing, and in fact lied to the American public by claiming that it was a hoax. The Trump-GOP-right wing media can scream the usual “fake news,” but there are those recorded statements in Trump’s own voice. All true. However, keep in mind approximately 40% of voters will hear little or nothing about Woodward’s book or the tapes. Much of what they do hear will be defensive propaganda. In any case, most of them are not inclined to believe anything but their tribal media and Trump himself. So, no, this “smoking gun” won’t have the same impact as the Nixon tapes. Marginally, that is among the approximately 5% of voters who are still undecided, the Woodward book (Rage), the tapes, and up to two weeks of media coverage might be influential. Overall, Woodward’s work sings with the Democratic choir, which right now is a good thing.

The conflagration-nation: The look of climate crisis apocalypse. As anyone knows who has had to breathe smoke from a fire, even a campfire – watery eyes, choking, and coughing follow.  Imagine this being the condition all day, for days on end. The images of orange skies and towering columns of flame are now daily background to news from the West Coast. Imagine living this, as across the west millions now do, and make that very small step toward imagining climate change as it affects weather in environmental conditions around the world. Could there be a more dramatic representation? (E.g., Will hurricanes in the East and South become more devastating?)

Saturday, September 5

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,429,148; Deaths – 192,818

[Racism – Protest] New York AG Starts Grand Jury in Daniel Prude Case – Nearly 6 months after the incident in Rochester, New York – where the police arrested Prude, covered his head with a hood,  and his subsequent death from the effects of suffocation – New York AG Leticia James announced a grand jury would be convened to investigate. Revelations this week concerning the case sparked street protests, highlighting yet another city where police violence triggered public outrage.

[Wildfire – California] California Wildfires Burn 2.1 Million Acres, Trap 224 Campers – As the state erupts in a record number and size of wildfires, campers at Mammoth Pool Reservoir had to be rescued by helicopter. The official fire season begins in October.

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IUY Monthly Meeting – September 2020

     EVENT      
 
 
Indivisibles,
 
Indivisible Upper Yellowstone Monthly Meeting
ONLINE via Zoom – Wednesday September 9, 2020 6:30 PM

If you wish to participate, please RSVP by email using either this message or 
indivisible.upper.yellowstone@gmail.com
We’ll send you the login for a zoom conference session the day of the meeting.
 
With a little less than two months to go to the November 3 general election, people with any political pulse at all marked the last 3 1/2 years as one immense trial, our trial. A trial by outrage; a trial by moral decay; a trial by watching the obvious rot of corruption, a trial by degradation of the rule of law and democracy; a trial by the ugliest of people performing in the most self-serving ways. And we know at least 1/3 of the country mirrors the feelings of our trial, mirrors as in reversed and inside out. Sometimes their reactions seem manipulated, but not always. In the election season at hand, from the earliest voting, to the mail-in ballots, to the risky voting in person, to the days and possibly weeks of vote counting and verifying – we hope all Americans will be counted in this clash of cultures (if it can be called that). And we surely hope 2/3 of American voters, our voters, show up. Let’s help make it so.
 
Topics for the meeting:
– Counter-demonstration in Livingston
– Violence in the election season
– Postcard campaign
– Voter registration ideas
– Ads?
 
See you in 2-D.
Nelson and Dixie
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IUY Weekly Journal Vol.2 No. 7 – Aug. 29 – Sept. 4, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, August 29 through Friday, September 4, 2020 [Vol.2 No.7]

‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’

The Week’s Most Notable

The credibility of Trump’s disdain for the military. As a man who avoided service during the Vietnam War on the strength of five deferments (one medical, four college), Trump has said and done many things over the years that make him unpopular with the military, or more specifically the officer corps.  The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has tied together all of the bits and pieces, anecdotes and observations, from many incidents and many people that make it clear the Commander-In-Chief does not understand military service or service to the country. While some items of evidence have been challenged (“fake news”), it doesn’t seem to matter – Trump’s antipathy for the military and his inability to understand why people do things that don’t make them rich, famous, or powerful – are credible. However, as usual, even this will probably not shift voter opinion appreciably – except – potentially except – among the millions of military service people, their families, their friends, and people associated with them. That is the cause of what appears to be a real panic in Trump’s campaign and its desire to move beyond this as quickly as possible.

Saturday, August 29

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,124,984; Deaths – 186,829 [25,000,000 cases worldwide]

[National Security] ODNI to End In-person Congressional Briefings – In a blatant pro-Trump maneuver, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced there will be no more verbal briefings to Congress – which means congressional committees will not have the opportunity to question Director John Ratcliffe or other ODNI officials. The briefings will be in written form only. The blanket move was “justified” by alleging congressional leaks of sensitive information.

[Racism – Protest] Portland Protest: One Shot and Killed – This apparent murder of a right-wing Patriot Prayer member by someone from Antifa lingered as an open issue for most of the week. The initial cause was a clash between a caravan of armed right-wing militia groups and BLM protesters. The incident was fodder for media coverage, especially right-wing media. [Update: The purported perpetrator was shot and killed near Olympia, WA on Thursday during an arrest attempt.]

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ACTION CALL ALERT 

 
Trump campaign and GOP file Montana suit 

On Wednesday (9/2/20) the Trump campaign and three GOP groups filed suit in Helena Federal District Court to block Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive that counties are permitted to hold the November 3 election by mail ballot..

This is a blatant partisan effort to obstruct and obfuscate the voting process to the benefit of Republican candidates, and especially the campaign for Sen. Daines (which is specifically named in the lawsuit.)
 
Bullock responded, in a statement, that “this template lawsuit appears to be part of a pattern of lawsuits across the country by Republican party operatives to limit access to voting during the pandemic. Voting by mail in Montana is safe, secure, and was requested by a bipartisan coalition of Montana election officials seeking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep Montanans safe and healthy. This is the same directive that the Republican President of the Senate and Republican Speaker of the House said was the right thing to do for the June primary. Today, we have many more active cases of COVID-19 than we did back in June.”
 
Daines is trying to have it both ways

The response from the Dames campaign:
Campaign spokeswoman Julia Doyle said that “the senator strongly supports giving Montanans the option to vote by mail” — which is what Bullock’s directive does. She said Daines supports the lawsuit because Bullock did not work with the Legislature, repeating the lawsuit’s contention that the directive is an overreach of power.

We need everybody to persistently call Daines’ offices
 
We need everybody to call upon Daines to uphold his support for voting by mail, and demand the Trump-GOP lawsuit be withdrawn.

Remind him of his support to vote by mail, including the mailing of ballots and complete voting by mail that was carried out for this year’s primary elections. Mention that governor Bullock’s directive was a result of bipartisan approval by the majority of Montana Clerks and Recorders.

Senator Steve Daines  406-587-3446 (Bozeman)  202-224-2651 (DC)  

Urgent – do it now – and keep it up, please.

Nelson and Dixie
 
 
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IUY Weekly Journal Vol. 2 No. 6 – August 22 – 28, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, August 22 through Friday, August 28, 2020 [Vol.2 No.6]

Alternate Reality Convention

The Week’s Most Notable

Propaganda vs reality. To paraphrase Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, “We are now engaged in a great civil war testing whether this media, apotheosis of mendacity, or that media, conceived in honesty and dedicated to facts, can long endure.” Has it come to that? Prime evidence: The Republican National Convention. The gavel-to-gavel propaganda forces us to confront a world constructed by Trump-Fox News-right wing media, the only significant source of information for roughly 40% of Americans. In this world Trump was utterly successful in controlling the COVID-19 virus and the pandemic is now behind us; he arranged the  support for a dramatic economic recovery; he has identified violence in the streets as the preeminent national emergency; warned of the destruction of suburbs by people of color; and claimed that his Democratic opponent is led like a slave with a ring in his nose by radical left-wing Democrats. Without apology, it feels absolutely right that mockery and sarcasm is the appropriate coin of return for this inverted fantasy world.

Vigilante kills in Kenosha. Similar to the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis, the big impact of this incident began with a recording of a white policeman grabbing the shirt of a black man attempting to enter his car and pumping seven rounds into his back. Whatever the context, and it was complicated, this looked like murder and was more than enough to touch off rioting. Protests continued for several days and involved a shooting by a 17-year-old self-appointed vigilante who killed two people and injured a third. The facts of the event-sequence will probably take years to disentangle, but one salient observation is that while “mainstream media” continued to cover the origin and motivation of the protests, Fox News/right-wing media covered mostly the rioting (a.k.a. violent protests). From the Republican National Convention to routine right-wing pundit coverage, the incessant emphasis was on protester violence. By Tuesday this was headed toward a profoundly polarized perception of what was happening in Kenosha. Then the National Basketball Association entered the picture and, by causing a cascade of game cancellations in several leagues, forced all media to recognize the athletes’ emphasis on police violence and shooting of black men. It was a perfect media epitome for clash of cultures: Black man’s grievance versus white man’s defense. We knew this was coming. Unfortunately, In the short run, it can only get uglier.

Saturday, August 22

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 5,797,599; Deaths – 179,200 [World deaths surpass 800,000]

[Post Office] House Passes $25 Billion USPS Bill – In addition to the money, which was originally requested by the USPS Board of Directors, the House legislation requires reversal of measures that slow down mail processing. The bill passed the House with some Republican votes, but in the Senate, McConnell rejected the bill before it even arrived. In any case, the Senate is not yet back in session. The Democrats contend the Trump linked USPS leadership has created a deteriorating Postal Service; the Republicans call it “a baseless conspiracy theory.” The Postal Service continues to have significant mail delivery delays. Expect news and political focus to move away from this issue during the week.

[Climate Crisis] Record California Wildfires to Grow with New Storm – A new “dry thunderstorm” weather system will increase the threat of fires for the next several days. [Update: Trump declared a major disaster for California fires; however, by the end of the week cooler, wetter weather allowed better control of fires.]

[Racism – Protest] Clashes Between Police and Protesters in Portland – The situation is complicated by armed far-right military groups such as the Proud Boys. There’s almost a rhythm to the ebb and flow of protesting crowds, confrontation among groups, and either police passivity or police pushback. Whatever the level of violence, it provides fodder for the right wing “chaos in America” campaign.

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