Just 40 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, Only 40 Bottles of Beer

For those of us concerned with how to improve the shining hour as we wait for election day, the song has many helpful suggestions. Here is one more.

I have just finished Carl Hiassen’s Squeeze Me—a humorous fictional look at life in a post-pandemic second Trump term.

If you know Mr. Hiassen’s oeuvre—and for shame if you don’t—this will be one more chance to meet Clinton Tyree, former governor of Florida, chased from office because he was the only honest politician in the state, now living on roadkill and revenge. In the new novel, you will learn all about what happens at Trump’s Florida resort, Casa Bellicosa, and how ex-Governor Tyree brings it about.

Spoiler: it all has something to do with Burmese pythons.

The Perfect Storm for White Anxiety

Nancy LeTourneau, Can Democracy Survive the Demise of the GOP? Republicans refuse to adapt to a changing America and are threatening to take the country down with them.

I’m not going to quote the prescient Ms. LeTourneau here, but I think her views are definitely worth a read.

In the immediately preceding post, I made my predictions about election day, which some of you will think are overly optimistic. But, even if Trump manages to leave office without succeeding in creating a constitutional crisis—a best case scenario—he is still going to leave a very large number of hopped up White people, continuing to suffer from the perfect storm for White anxiety.

Rather than conjuring up nightmare scenario after nightmare scenario for election day, our time might be better spent, IMHO, thinking about what will happen with all those embittered melanin-deprived voters in 2021 and 2022.

Who will represent them—because there surely are enough of them that they will demand and receive significant political representation?

How will their political representatives interact with the political representatives of the plutocracy? Will they all try to stay in one political party, or will there be a split between a rightwing White grievance party and a rightwing pro-plutocrat party?

And, very importantly, is there anything that progressives like us can reasonably, and effectively, do to get some of our rabid brethren and sistern to back off their White anxiety hysteria?

Order Ethiopian takeout, and invite them over to savor a delicious taste they had not previously experienced?

Join them for yoga class?

Those Nightmare Scenarios

If you are a progressive bed wetter and garment render, then, right now, you are having the time of your life reading all those dozens and dozens of pieces describing potential nightmare scenarios on election day. You are taking all the clickbait. And the advertisers who put up ads on the websites you visit are delirious with joy.

I, myself, am sick and tired of it.

Here are some of the things that might happen to you on election day. Your favorite child might be arrested for running a drug ring. You might be struck and killed by a deranged MAGA person as you drive home from voting. Your house might burn down. Your doctor might tell you that you have stage 4 cancer and refer you to hospice care.

Stuff like that happens to people.

All the time.

Here at Happy Acres, where we are all of a certain age, the siren is frequently heard. And, as I like to say to my fellow residents,

Ask not for whom the ambulance comes.

It comes for thee.

So, the long and the short of it is that your kid might be arrested, you might die in a fire or an auto accident, or your doctor might have some really bad news. Could happen. But is it likely to happen on election day? No, it is not.

So, what is likely to happen on election day?

As election night progresses, the Democrats are likely to be winning by some seven or eight or nine points nationally.

Biden is likely to be comfortably ahead in states with 290 electoral votes or thereabouts. (270 needed to win.)

Orange Man is likely to claim massive fraud.

Fox News is likely, for once, to tell its viewers the truth.

Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, along with most of their empty-suited confreres, are likely to run the other way when asked whether they think Trump “really won” the election. 

Importantly, the U.S. military brass is likely to send up a smoke signal to the effect that there ain’t gonna be no military coup.

And, in the period after the election, Trump—who loves to play the bully, but who is in fact a coward, bigly—will probably back down.

Because, if you have a problem that can be solved with lies and bullshit, then Trump is your guy.

But if you don’t have a problem that can be solved with lies and bullshit, Trump is no good to you, because lies and bullshit are all he has.

And it takes more to stage a coup than lies and bullshit.

So, just take a deep breath. And then rethink your diet to make sure that it doesn’t have too many carcinogens.

Old Man Fibber and the Supreme Court

Back in 2016, when Justice Scalia died in February, Moscow Mitch should have made this argument:

As a matter of raw political power, we rightwing Republicans are just not going to let Obama and his crowd put a moderate jurist in the seat occupied by Saint Antonin of blessed memory. Just won’t do it. If that’s “breaking a norm,” then, guess what, we’re breaking a norm. But we are following the letter of the Constitution and you can’t stop us.

But is that the argument that Moscow Mitch actually made in 2016? No, ladies and germs, it is not. The argument he made, in words or substance was

We’re not breaking norms, we’re just establishing a new norm, and it is this: no Supreme Court nominees should or will be considered by the Senate during any year in which a presidential election is held.

And now, surprise, surprise, he’s breaking his own new norm. And what will be the effect of Moscow Mitch’s breaking of his own bogus norm?

First of all, will it cause a single solitary one of us to switch from Trump to Biden or from Biden to Trump? I doubt it very seriously.

Second, will it really, really piss off the liberals—and maybe motivate a few more of them to show up at the polls? That’s what I would bet.

Third, what will be the long term effects of Moscow Mitch’s gambit? I think Jennifer Rubin has a lot of insightful things to say:

The notion that Republicans will “win” and capture the Supreme Court for a generation by jamming through a highly partisan justice during an election on a strictly partisan vote is preposterous. It will simply be the starting gun in a race to dismantle the Supreme Court as we know it. …

The Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in all other cases — the ones we commonly associate with the court — are controlled at the complete discretion of Congress. (Per the Constitution: “In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”) The Supreme Court has huge, wide-ranging jurisdiction because Congress granted it, not because of some constitutional preordained scheme.

The next Congress could, for example, decide that the Supreme Court will have no jurisdiction concerning the constitutionality of federal statutes. Congress could create a separate court for that or simply allow circuit courts to reach their own decisions. (The notion of having different laws in different circuits is not unprecedented. The Supreme Court does not take every case in which circuit courts have disagreed.) Congress could peel off other classes of cases — e.g., the constitutionality of state laws, disputes between Congress and the executive — as well. Conservatives in the 1970s and 1980s, increasingly worried about an imperial Supreme Court, considered all sorts of measures to limit jurisdiction (e.g., taking away school busing cases). …

The Supreme Court could also be expanded by two or even four justices. The number of justices is a matter of statute, subject to the will of Congress. Since the Merrick Garland stunt, former attorney general Eric Holder has supported this approach. “If, in fact, they are successful in placing a justice on the court,” Holder said recently, “we need to think about court reform. And at a minimum, as part of that reform package, I think additional justices need to be placed on the Supreme Court.”…

The mistake that Republicans make is thinking there is some permanent victory they can obtain in defiance of popular will that is increasingly hostile to their agenda. As undemocratic as our system has become, a substantial majority of voters can ultimately work their will by electing a president and congressional majority of their liking. …

The permutations and possible outcomes are endless, but two things are not up for debate. First, Democrats will need a convincing win to achieve any of these measures, not to mention the rest of their agenda. An army of Ruth Bader Ginsburg admirers marching to the polls can increase their chances of a convincing victory.

Second, let’s stop the silly moaning that “Republicans cannot be stopped” or that “the right will own the Supreme Court for decades.” Nonsense. Ultimately, the people decide — and there is every reason to believe that the people have no stomach for a Republican world in which millions lose health-care coverage, abortion is criminalized in many states, LGBTQ rights are undone, states can eviscerate voting rights and the executive branch gets a free pass to do whatever it pleases. November will become a referendum not only on all these issues, but on the Republican effort to impose minority rule of overwhelmingly White conservative states on the rest of the country.

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

OR, IF YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE A GOAL THAT CANNOT BE ACHIEVED, THEN YOU WILL NOT ACHIEVE IT

This morning, the talking heads—or at least the talking heads I watch will consuming my English muffin, my coffee, and my blood pressure pills—were all speaking of Fascistic superspreader rallies in Pennsylvania and Germany in 1933.

So, just for the sake of the discussion, let’s say you are a diehard White Nationalist—and, naturellement, a fervent Trump supporter. And, continuing the counterfactual hypothetical, let us say that you regularly shit your pants when you think of the coming demographic changes.  Let’s say you thought the 2016 election was “the Flight 93 election”—the last chance to preserve White Christian purity—and you think the current election is Flight 93 on steroids.

OK, fellow, what’s your game plan?

What exactly do you want Trump to do in the next four years—what exactly do you expect Trump to do—to keep the percentage of White people from shrinking over time?

What exactly do you want Trump to do in the next four years—what exactly do you expect Trump to do—to keep all those pesky brown people from exercising any power in politics, in business, or in other aspects of society?

And do you actually expect the majority of this country to roll over and just let you do it?

You come out to the superspreader events and delight in collectively baying at the moon.

But apart from making a lot of noise and making yourselves sick with the virus, what’s your actual game plan?

You are fools.

Trumped Progressives’ Choice

Mark Joseph Stern, Expand the Court: Mitch McConnell established new rules. It’s time for Democrats to play by them:

In February 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made up a rule that presidents may not install a Supreme Court justice in the last year of their terms. Most Republicans fell in line, endorsing this principle on the grounds that the American people should decide who gets to pick the next justice. Many of these same lawmakers are now backing McConnell’s plan to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the midst of a presidential election. They have abandoned any real effort to justify their reversal.

This about-face, while degrading, presents Democrats with an opportunity. After more than four years of gaslighting, Republicans have stopped pretending that their blockade of Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was rooted in anything other than sheer partisanship. In the past, the Senate considered a president’s nominee then provided its advice and consent by taking a vote. But Republicans killed that process in 2016 and are now stamping on its remains. They have now established a new rule: The party in power can use every tool at its disposal to seize the Supreme Court, within constitutional limits. If Democrats win unified control of the federal government in November, they must draw from the Republicans’ new rule to expand the court.

Every justification for McConnell’s Supreme Court brinkmanship, in fact, doubles as a justification for court expansion. Republicans’ rationalizations now hinge on the claim that because Republicans can replace Ginsburg, they must do it. “The Constitution gives senators the power to do it,” explained Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, and “no one should be surprised” when they do. “The Constitution gives the President the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees,” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney agreed. Republicans have a responsibility “to ensure we have an impartial judiciary that upholds the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. “Both the White House and the Senate have some obligation to do what they think in the majority in the Senate is the right thing to do,” Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri announced on Meet the Press. …

Faced with this onslaught of disingenuity, Democrats have two options. They can accept a half-century of far-right, partisan jurisprudence while protesting that Republicans are hypocrites. Or Democrats can stop complaining about the new rules and start playing by them. The first choice rests upon the theory that it is possible to shame politicians who’ve demonstrated, over and over again, that they have no capacity for shame. The second rests upon the theory that Democrats have an obligation to play constitutional hardball—not just to protect their agenda, but to save the court’s legitimacy and preserve democracy itself. And if that obligation does exist, the proportional response is immediate and unapologetic expansion of the Supreme Court.

41 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, 41 Bottles of Beer

Meanwhile, In Other News

Lindsey Graham still has the support of 58 percent of likely White voters in South Carolina. (Congratulations to the 42 percent of White South Carolinians who are a credit to their race!)

32 percent of South Carolinians are not White. Their enthusiasm for their incumbent senator is more restrained.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: AJC poll: Race for president, Senate contests in Georgia ‘too close to call’

Finally, you will surely be gratified to learn that as we pass 200,000 deaths, the virus affects virtually nobody, per Orange Man in Ohio last evening.

Among the virtual nobodies sure to be affected are the mob of spittle-spewing unmasked people whom Orange Man was addressing.

The Supreme Court and the Election: Some Morning Thoughts for Bed Wetters and Garment Renders

So, here’s a fun factoid that I learned from listening to the Morning Joe segment below. From the Washington Post, January 22, 2020:

A majority of Americans (59 percent) said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, and about 7 in 10 said that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, according to the survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those figures have remained relatively stable through decades of debates and protests. Likewise, the poll found the public overwhelmingly believes abortion should be legal if the patient’s life is endangered (82 percent) and in the case of rape or incest (80 percent). Seventy-nine percent believe the decision is best made by women themselves in consultation with their doctors, rather than by lawmakers.

I commend to your attention this analysis of the likely political impact of the present Supreme Court fight. The discussion begins about six minutes into the video.

The Greatest Hits of 1972

Yes, 1972 was the last year when a majority of melanin-deficient Americans voted for the Democratic candidate for president. I hope you enjoyed the music.

This morning, Politico sucks its thumb at some considerable length over Trump losing ground with white voters:

Donald Trump is making modest inroads with Latinos. Polls suggest he’s pulling slightly more Black support than in 2016.

But Trump is tilting at the margins with those groups. His bigger problem is the demographic that sent him to the White House — white voters, whose embrace of Trump appears to be slipping in critical, predominantly white swing states.

Read the whole thing for a full treatment of the data. While you’re doing so, please enjoy one of my favorite songs of all time, released in 1973.

My September Book Report: “It Was All a Lie”

Here at Happy Acres, we have a book club. We don’t all read the same book. Instead, we pick a topic for each monthly meeting, and everybody who chooses gives a report on a book related to that topic. Our topic this month was politics and race relations. For reasons that will become apparent, I have embellished this post with songs that were popular during the last year when a majority of white people voted for the Democratic candidate for president.

Here is the report.

My book is It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, by Stuart Stevens. The book was published this year.

Mr. Stevens is 67 years old, Since the 1970’s, he has worked as a political consultant for a wide variety of Republican candidates. His Republican consultant career culminated in his role as chief political strategist for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign in 2012. Stevens opposed Trump’s nomination in 2016.

At some recent point, after some 40 years as a Republican strategist, Mr. Stevens took a stroll down the road to Damascus, whereupon he miraculously acquired the blinding insight embodied in the book’s title: speaking of three decades of Republican propaganda, It Was All a Lie.

At the age of 67, Mr. Stevens apparently does not believe that his career of public service has come to an end. In a recent TV interview, I saw him express a desire for future gigs as a consultant to candidates of theDemocratic Party.

The report continues:

Mr. Stuart’s books is well written, and progressives will revel in what he has to say. Let me read a passage in which Stuart explains where the rubber truly meets the road.

Before 1964, Republican presidential candidaes could expect to get between 30 and 40 percent of the African Ameerican vote. … In 1964, Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act, and his black support plummeted to 7 percent. Since 1964, no Republican presidential candidate has broken 17 percent with African American voters, and by 2016 only 3 percent considered themselves Republican.

Politics is in many ways a perfect marketplace. Candidates and parties learn very quickly what works and what doesn’t and focus time, energy, and money on the share of the marketplace that pollsters tell them is accessible to persuasion or motivation. Since 1964, Republicans have learned that they will have little success in appealing to black voters. It’s not that most campaigns didn’t make at least some effort, but it was always done with the knowledge that breaking 10 percent would be a significant achievement.

What happens if you spend decades focused on appealing to white voters and treating nonwhite voters with, at best, benign neglect? You getg good at doing what it takes to appeal to white voters. That is the truth that led to what is famously called “the southern strategy.” That is the path that leads you to becoming what the Republican Party now proudly embraces: a white grievance party.

43 Days to Go

Tyranny of the Majority

With the Republicans having broken norm after norm after norm—all to the end of preserving minority rule—why the hell would we not break some norms too?

A, they started it.

B, we’re the majority, not them. They’re the minority.

So, yes, end the filibuster, and pack the Supreme Court too.

And, guess what? While you’re at it, go ahead and pack the courts of appeal as well.

The Republicans have effectively presented us with a choice: tyranny of the minority, or tyranny of the majority.

Well, if that’s the choice, then I say: tyranny of the majority.

The Polls

We’re close to the election, and the results will be what the results will be. So I have stopped saying much about the polls. As an exception, I note the following, from today’s fivethirtyeight.com:

Note that when the bottom data set is switched to average of likely and registered voters, the numbers become 52.8 and 44.0, for a difference of 8.8 points.

So … if you are willing to tell a pollster that you “approve” of Trump, then you will almost surely tell another pollster that you plan to vote for Trump. No surprise there. (Of course, it’s a huge surprise that so many continue to “approve” of Trump, but that’s a different issue.)

That suggests that Trump has pretty much no room to grown his support.

On the other hand, while 52.7 percent “disapprove” of Trump (or it could be 52.8 percent, take your pick), only 50.3 percent plan to vote for Biden. What gives?

Certainly, it could be there’s something screwey about the polls.

But a more plausible explanation is that there are about 2.4 percent of our population who won’t vote Democratic, but whose stomachs are will and truly turned by Trump, so they plan to stay home on election day. And, if so, that’s fine.

“Well,” you respond, “maybe that 2.4 percent of Democrat-despising, Trump-execrating voters might be encouraged to change their minds by the prospect of a right-wing replacement for Justice Ginsburg.”

And you could be right. But consider this: if Trump nominates and wins confirmation for a nutjob of his choice before the election, he has pretty much rendered himself obsolete for the packing-the-courts crowd.

Pollyanna warms to the thought.