Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Two Questions about the Election

 I am about to turn in and let the vote counting continue without me.  It will be a troubled sleep, since the election was mostly a disaster.  (Universal preschool won in Oregon, and if everywhere were like here I would be happier.)

Meanwhile two questions:

1. What went wrong with the polls?  They didn’t do too badly in 2016; the popular vote was close to the consensus prediction, and the electoral college was a squeeker within the margin of error.  This time though the polls were apparently way off.  Yes, the votes are not all in, but it doesn’t look like we’ll see the massive popular victory for Biden they foretold.  In fact, as I fade away tonight, it’s still possible that Trump could pull out a legitimate electoral college victory, something that seemed almost impossible a day or two ago.  Take Wisconsin (my home state) for instance.  We saw numbers ranging from 5-13% for Democrats, and now it’s nip and tuck.  Meanwhile, analysts were giving the Dems a better than even chance of taking the senate, but that looks out of reach now.  So what gives?  Supposedly the weights were adjusted to better reflect the role of education, and the “shy Trumpster” effect was taken into consideration.  But here we are.

2. And how do we understand the politics?  We’re dealing with a president whose failures were about as massive as could be, especially in the context of a pandemic.  He made a fool of himself in the first debate.  He is mired in corruption.  And the Republican senate has repeatedly blocked measures to support workers, small business and local governments devastated by the economic effects of the virus.  If this isn’t enough to expunge them from office, what is?

I hope the news is better when I wake up.

40 comments:

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Presidential election hangs in the balance, and the nation braces for a period of uncertainty.

NY Times - November 4

Biden Urges Patience as Trump Threatens Court Action

Dawn broke over the United States with the presidential election undecided and the specter of hours or even days of uncertainty ahead.

Several states counted millions of ballots in razor-thin contests that could tip the balance to President Trump or Joe Biden.

President Trump made reckless and baseless claims and said he would go to the Supreme Court before the vote count was complete. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It appears to me that those who voted for
Trump the last time to a great extent did
so again, to yet again poke the rest of
America in the eye.

That, or vote suppression efforts were
quite effective, and on-going most likely.
We may learn more about this in the coming
days & weeks. And the Supreme Court may assist.

One might also say, the USA is not yet done turning 'right'.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden breaks Obama’s popular vote record

via @BostonGlobe - November 4

According to vote totals listed by the Associated Press, former vice president Joe Biden now has received more votes than Barack Obama did in 2008, breaking the record for most votes ever received by a US presidential candidate.

As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Biden has received 69,544,968 votes across the country. Obama ended the 2008 election with 69,498,516.

Meanwhile, President Trump has 67,120,277 votes as of Wednesday morning, surpassing the 62,984,828 votes he got when he captured the presidency in 2016.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Peter,

And magic mushrooms are being decriminalizwed in Oregon! Plus, my second daughter and family are moving to Portland end of the year.

And it does now look like Biden will probabl win the electoral college, although not completely in the bag, and likely Trump will make a stink.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Hey! Bottom line is that Prairie du Chien went for Biden.

He who takes Prairie du Chien takes the White House!

ken melvin said...

We must face the fact that one-half of Americans are ignorant, misogynistic, racist, and completely self centered. Shining beacon, mearse.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Ken,

A little less than half, indeed, maybe a good deal less than half. I suspect there was a greater intensity by the Trump voters who turned out more, thus making it closer than it might have been. Look at their willingness to endanger themselves with getting Covid to show up at idiot rallies, not to mention militias and Trump trucks or whatever going around threatening and even killing people.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

The GDP-death-blow for the economics profession

“Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period.” And “GDP can be determined in three ways, all of which should, theoretically, give the same result. They are the production (or output or value added) approach, the income approach, or the speculated expenditure approach.” and “The second way of estimating GDP is to use ‘the sum of primary incomes distributed by resident producer units’. If GDP is calculated this way it is sometimes called gross domestic income (GDI), or GDP (I). GDI should provide the same amount as the expenditure method described later. By definition, GDI is equal to GDP. In practice, however, measurement errors will make the two figures slightly off when reported by national statistical agencies. This method measures GDP by adding incomes that firms pay households for factors of production they hire ― wages for labour, interest for capital, rent for land and profits for entrepreneurship. The US ‘National Income and Expenditure Accounts’ divide incomes into five categories:

1. Wages, salaries, and supplementary labour income
2. Corporate profits
3. Interest and miscellaneous investment income
4. Farmers' incomes
5. Income from non-farm unincorporated businesses

These five income components sum to net domestic income at factor cost”. (Wikipedia)#1

To reduce matters to the core, the list 1-5 is condensed to the straightforward formula National Income = Wages (1) + Profits (2). This formula looks plausible but, in fact, constitutes the foundational blunder of economics to this day. The conceptual blunder invalidates Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT, and Pluralism.#2-#6

The fact of the matter is that economists are too stupid for the elementary algebra that underlies macroeconomics. With regard to scientific incompetence, there is NO difference between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy ― it is the whole of academic economics.

Macroeconomics has to be based on a set of objective and consistent axioms.#7 This is the correct core of premises

(A0) The objectively given and most elementary systemic configuration of the economy consists of the household sector and the business sector which in turn consists initially of one giant fully integrated firm.
(A1) Yw=WL wage income Yw is equal to wage rate W times working hours. L,
(A2) O=RL output O is equal to productivity R times working hours L,
(A3) C=PX consumption expenditure C is equal to price P times quantity bought/sold X.

The price P follows as the dependent variable under the conditions of budget-balancing, i.e. C=Yw, and market-clearing, i.e. X=O, as P=W/R, i.e. the market-clearing price is for a start equal to unit wage costs. This is the most elementary form of the macroeconomic Law of Supply and Demand.

By lifting the condition of budget-balancing one gets the saving/dissaving of the household sector as S≡Yw−C and the profit/loss of the business sector as Q≡C−Yw. S and Q are the balances of two flows. It holds Q≡−S, that is, profit of the business sector is equal to dissaving/deficit-spending of the household sector and loss of the business sector is equal to saving of the household sector. This is the most elementary form of the macroeconomic Profit Law.#8-#10

Profit Q is a balance, i.e. the difference of flows, and NOT a flow like wage income Yw. So, profit is NOT income. Economists not only confuse stocks and flows but also balances and flows. The Flow-Balance Inconsistency makes that the whole of established economics is proto-scientific garbage.
See part 2

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Part 2

It is obvious that the business sector’s loss is something quite different from income. Wage income is a flow from the business sector to the household sector. Loss is the difference between the two flows C and Yw. So it is inadmissible to speak of loss as a type of income. This conceptual blunder is called a category mistake. Wage income and profit are NOT two different forms of income. So, the inexcusable blunder of the representative economist consists of confusing balances and flows.

This blunder carries over to the concept of National Income as given above with 1-5 and thus ruins National Accounting and the concept of GDP. Because the foundational concepts of macroeconomics ― profit and income ― are ill-defined, the whole analytical superstructure of macroeconomics is provably false. Economics is a failed science for 200+ years now.#11

The inescapable Paradigm Shift consists of the move from false microfoundations and false macrofoundations to the true macrofoundations (A1)-(A3).

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Gross domestic product
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_domestic_product

#2 Debunking Squared
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2357902

#3 Ricardo, too, got profit theory wrong
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2018/02/ricardo-too-got-profit-theory-wrong-sad.html

#4 MIT dilettantes
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2015/04/mit-dilettantes.html

#5 The Common Error of Common Sense: An Essential Rectification of the Accounting Approach
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2124415

#6 MMT and Marxism ― blather as immunizing stratagem
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2019/02/mmt-and-marxism-blather-as-immunizing.html

#7 “Research is, in fact, a continuous discussion of the consistency of theories: formal consistency insofar as the discussion relates to the logical cohesion of what is asserted in joint theories; material consistency insofar as the agreement of observations with theories is concerned.” (Klant)

#8 Macroeconomics for dummies (II)
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2017/07/macro-for-dummies.html

#9 Wikipedia and the promotion of economists’ idiotism (II)
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2018/07/wikipedia-and-promotion-of-economists.html

#10 Profit
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2020/06/profit-axiomatic-economics.html

#11 See Ch. 13, The indelible scientific disgrace of economics, in SovereignEconomics
https://www.bod.de/buchshop/sovereign-economics-egmont-kakarot-handtke-9783751946490

Not Trampis said...

Yes it should have been a landslide so what did the democrats do wrong.

You Yanks have a lot of morons who are allowed to vote

Fred C. Dobbs said...


Biden says in Delaware that it’s ‘clear’ he will reach 270 electoral votes


NY Times - November 4

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday said it was “clear” that he would reach 270 electoral votes and win the presidency, though he stopped short of claiming victory.

“I’m not here to declare that we’ve won, but I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at an event center in Wilmington.

In his speech, he cited the turnout in Tuesday’s election and paid tribute to democracy. “Here, the people rule,” he said. “Power can’t be taken or asserted. It flows from the people. And it’s their will that determines who will be the president of the United States, and their will alone.”

The path to 270: Here is the state of play in states that could decide the presidency.

Anonymous said...

Regarding preschool, Peter - I think preschool is the solution to many problems. You might enjoy this NPR item about how one person worked to get Oklahoma to fund mandatory preschool:

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/477/getting-away-with-it/act-four-5

Here is a clip:

https://shortcut.thisamericanlife.org/#/clipping/477/2080?_k=aywlbh

2slugbaits said...

The polls did fairly well in 2018, but that was without Trump on the ballot. Trump is all about a cult of personality. His secret sauce is that he expresses the grievances of downscale rural whites. They are literally willing to die for him, as seen in those MAGA rallies.

Downscale rural voters are caught in a trap. On the one hand they need to find downscale jobs to match downscale skills. But young people with talent can't wait to get out of that stultifying environment. Life's losers get left behind. But that means they have to look even harder for downscale jobs to match downscale skills. It's a vicious circle. The kinds of policies that would upgrade their skills for upscale jobs are policies that might work for their kids, but not for them. They resent it when their kids leave the farm for the big city. I live in a deeply red rural area and I see a lot of that. The rural/urban divide runs deep and red state politicians are masters at manipulating that divide.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Joe Biden wins Arizona, turns state blue for first time in 24 years

AP via @azcentral

... Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has won Arizona, the first presidential victory for a Democratic candidate here since 1996, but the national race is still too close to call.

The Associated Press declared Biden the state's winner shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday. ...

(Which would explain why the Boston Globe shows 264
electoral votes for Biden, up 11 from 253 previously,
with just 214 for Trump.)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden wins Mich., Wis., Ariz., now on brink of White House

(Nevada, with 6 electoral votes, would bring Biden to the victory mark.)

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Fred,

AZ back in play. Of course there is a completely absurd situation goin on there right now. Trump needs a full count going his way to catch up to Biden who is leading, but a bunch of his supporters, some of them armed, are outside a site of counting the votes demanding that they stop counting, which would seal the state for Biden. Just how messed up and stupid are these people?

Fred C. Dobbs said...

https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-race-and-ethnicity-mark-kelly-6841e27210770f59418bdc13a60ccec7">Democrats win big in Arizona, now a former GOP stronghold

PHOENIX (AP) — Democrats have been asking the question for a long time: Is this the year Arizona turns blue? In 2020, the answer was “yes.”

Joe Biden won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for president and Mark Kelly won a seat in the U.S. Senate, ushering in an era of Democratic leadership not seen since Republicans dominated the 1952 election in the state.

Whether Democrats would also dominate lower on the ballot was less clear — with key races for the U.S. House, the state Legislature and the state utility regulator up in the air but within reach for Democrats.

But Arizona voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana sales four years after rejecting it, going against the Republican political establishment opposed to having the state join other U.S. states with legal weed. ...

The outcome delighted Democrats and was sure to bring a reckoning for Republicans who have enjoyed decades of dominance in Arizona politics.

“Now people recognize that Arizona is in play, will always be in play,” said U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Phoenix Democrat who comfortably won reelection.

In turning toward friendly territory for Democrats, Arizona is following a path blazed by its neighbors Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. It’s also the Democrats’ brightest light among the Sun Belt states they tried to flip from the GOP this year.

A decade of work organizing Latinos to vote helped Arizona Democrats outperform other states where Democrats came up short, Gallego said.

Arizona Democrats benefited from the state’s changing demographics — with more young people and Latinos registering, an influx of new residents from more liberal states like California and unease among some suburban women about President Donald Trump.

Adding Democrats’ gains Tuesday to their victories in 2018, the party now controls both Arizona U.S. Senate seats, a majority of the U.S. House delegation with a possibility of leading it 6-3 and two statewide offices. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

AP: Democrats win big in Arizona, now a former GOP stronghold

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Fox’s Arizona Call for Biden Flipped the Mood at Trump Headquarters

NY Times - November 4

WASHINGTON — With Florida looking red early on Tuesday night, President Trump and his advisers thought they were witnessing a repeat of election night 2016, when a victory in Florida foreshadowed a victory over all.

Inside the East Room, the mood was upbeat as hundreds of people, including cabinet secretaries, ambassadors and former officials who have remained loyal to Mr. Trump, mingled and dined on sliders and French fries. Officials who had been pessimistic about the president’s re-election chances suddenly started to picture four more years in power.

That mirage of victory was pierced when Fox News called Arizona for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at 11:20 p.m., with just 73 percent of the state’s vote counted.

Mr. Trump and his advisers erupted at the news. If it was true that Arizona was lost, it would call into doubt on any claim of victory the president might be able to make.

What ensued for Mr. Trump was a night of angry calls to Republican governors and advice from campaign aides that he ignored, leading to a middle-of-the-night presidential briefing in which he made a reckless and unsubstantiated string of remarks about the democratic process. Standing in the East Room at 2:30 a.m., he dismissed the election as a “fraud” and claimed he wanted to stop the counting of votes and leave the results to the Supreme Court.

The Trump campaign knew Arizona could be up for grabs, but the Fox News call putting it in Mr. Biden’s column was symbolic, making it the first state that appeared to have flipped from the president’s 2016 batch of winning states. Gov. Doug Ducey, Republican of Arizona, had been on the phone all night with administration officials and campaign staff members, adamant that there were still Republican votes to be counted in his state.

Jason Miller, Mr. Trump’s political adviser, disputed the accuracy of the call on Twitter and frantically called Fox News, asking the network to retract it. He was unsuccessful. Instead of retracting it, the decision desk at Fox News doubled down on its call, putting Arnon Mishkin, the head of the desk, on air to defend the call. Several hours later, The Associated Press also called Arizona for Mr. Biden. (Other news organizations, including The New York Times and CNN, had not declared a victor by Wednesday afternoon because of absentee ballots that remained to be counted.) ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden closes in on Trump in Georgia, where the counting of votes continues

NY Times - November 4

ATLANTA — The presidential race in Georgia appeared headed for a photo finish as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. steadily gained ground on President Trump. The victor will be awarded 16 electoral votes.

Mr. Biden had begun Wednesday morning approximately 100,000 votes behind Mr. Trump, but as county elections workers around the state continued the laborious tabulation of absentee ballots into Thursday morning, Mr. Trump’s lead narrowed to 24,000 votes, or 0.5 percent. Under Georgia election law, a candidate may request a recount if the margin is 0.5 or less.

In Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold and home to most of Atlanta, Mr. Biden narrowed the margin by more than 18,000 votes between 5 p.m. and midnight as the work of processing and tabulating the votes continued. In DeKalb County, also part of the metropolitan region, Mr. Biden narrowed it by an additional 5,000. The next update from Georgia’s secretary of state is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, said that as of 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday, there were about 90,735 ballots that still needed to be counted. More than a third of them are in Fulton and DeKalb counties. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(AP is most insistent. More even than Fox News?)

Biden pushes closer to victory in race for the White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden was pushing closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the “blue wall” battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing President Donald Trump's path.

With just a handful of states still up for grabs, Trump tried to press his case in court in some key swing states. It was unclear if any of his campaign's legal maneuvering over balloting would succeed in shifting the race in his favor.

Two days after Election Day, neither candidate had amassed the votes needed to win the White House. But Biden’s victories in the Great Lakes states left him at 264, meaning he was one battleground state away — any would do — from becoming president-elect.

Trump, with 214 electoral votes, faced a much higher hurdle. To reach 270, he needed to claim all four remaining battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada.

With millions of votes yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in history. At an afternoon news conference Wednesday, the former vice president said he expected to win the presidency but stopped short of outright declaring victory. ...

justsomeguy05 said...

1. Polls were pretty accurate, but did not account for vote suppression. Probably in the 5-10% range in some states.

2. Many folks that voted for Trump know that he is a jackass, but they think that he, and Republicans, care about them, and agree with them about some things that they have been indoctrinated to care about (guns, pro-life, rural folks, "Jesus", "business", "law & order", against change).

3. Basically, our problems, and inability to make the needed changes, are due to human nature.

In the US, as in all societies throughout history, money & power benefit from the status quo, and create an infrastructure that indoctrinates everybody into that set of beliefs. We have a media ecosystem that is profit based, and thus biased towards the status quo. Our economic system (capitalism), completely overwhelms its political system (democracy), and its every institution (politics, education, healthcare, religious, justice, media, etc) has been corrupted by money and "influence". Those in power, by repressing left economic populism, create the conditions by which the beleaguered serfs end up supporting right-populism (authoritarianism/fascism). The rulers always initially support this movement ... until it is too late. Our form of societal organization has become dysfunctional, in need of fundamental reforms, and is slowly being replaced by a new type of system. Perhaps it will be "social democracy", but more likely a surveillance, repression, & social media enhanced manufactured consent, that will be a form of neo-feudalism. I see no sign that our institutions (including "journalism", or the neo-liberal Democratic party), are capable of leading the US towards the major systemic changes that are needed to, at best, slow our decline.

justsomeguy05 said...


If things seem illogical or irrational, I need to take a step back, & evaluate my assumptions & perspective.

1. Realize that humans are often NOT rational creatures. My assumption about humans being intelligent & rational, is WRONG, thus explaining the result that had previously seemed incomprehensible.

2. My knowledge is incomplete, or my belief system is different than that of those "irrational" people or systems. There are facts or "world views" in which the seemingly irrational behaviors or results are quite rational.

So are those Trump voters irrational, or do they have a different perspective than "us". Or both. We can think that their perspective or knowledge is incorrect, and ours is "right", but - what does that accomplish ?
Can they be "educated" ? Can our systems be changed so that they, and future folks, are more enlightened ? What keeps us from making those changes ?

Fred C. Dobbs said...

With the presidency hanging in the balance, the counting continued, and Biden’s lead in Nevada grew

With the presidency hanging in the balance, attention shifted Thursday to a handful of states that remained too close to call but where, on balance, Joseph R. Biden Jr. seemed to have an advantage. President Trump’s campaign pressed ahead with lawsuits challenging the validity of the count in several states, and protests erupted in cities and outside some elections offices.

It was a tense day, as supporters of both candidates were riveted by the slow vote counts underway in several states. Mr. Biden needed 17 more electoral votes to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win, while Mr. Trump needed 56 more. As results trickled in from several states, Mr. Biden increased his lead in Nevada and slowly eroded Mr. Trump’s leads in Georgia and Pennsylvania while Mr. Trump made up some ground in Arizona, where Mr. Biden was ahead. ...

Georgia: Biden closes in on Trump, with a final result expected today

ATLANTA — President Trump’s lead in Georgia over Joseph R. Biden Jr. shrank to less than 14,000 votes Thursday afternoon, as election workers scrambled to tally the last 60,000 absentee ballots.

“I am prayerful that we can get to a resolution by the end of the day,” Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s statewide voting system implementation manager, said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

He said the state would also have to process an unknown number of overseas, military and provisional ballots. It was unclear how many of those were still outstanding. “The election is not over just on the absentee ballots,” Mr. Sterling said.

Mr. Trump’s lead over Mr. Biden has dwindled to 0.3 percent. If the race ends with a margin of less than half a percentage point, contestants can ask for a recount. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden takes lead in Pennsylvania

USA Today - November 6

Democratic nominee Joe Biden edged ahead of President Donald Trump in the all-important battleground of Pennsylvania for the first time Friday, adding to a sense of inevitability that the Scranton native would reach the 270 electoral votes he needs to capture the presidency.

Biden leads the president by 5,594 votes as of Friday morning, a difference of 0.1%.

Votes were still being counted and Biden had not been declared the winner in the Keystone State. Republicans argued that at least some of the outstanding ballots would go for Trump.

But the momentum and the math increasingly appears to be on Biden’s side.

Pennsylvania, with its 20 electoral votes, was part of the so-called “blue wall” that had carried past Democrats to the White House until 2016. Two other states in the wall, Michigan and Wisconsin, were called for Biden on Wednesday. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Also in Georgia

USA Today - November 6

Biden takes the lead from Trump in Georgia

Democratic candidate Joe Biden officially took the lead in Georgia Friday, after a new round of results were released.

As of 4:30 a.m. EST, the former Vice President leads by 917 votes with thousands of ballots remaining to be counted.

Biden caught then passed Trump in the traditionally red state due to an onslaught of mail-in ballots from Democratic-leaning counties. Democratic voters utilized early voting and mail-in ballots across the nation more so than Republicans.

Georgia is critical to Trump’s reelection, but not necessary to Biden’s path to the White House.

The state has not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, when Bill Clinton won the state by 13,000 votes. Trump beat Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Georgia in 2016 by 211,141 votes, or 50.4% to 45.3%.

Clayton County, which was represented by the late Rep. John Lewis, was one of the counties that put Biden over the top in Georgia.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Moving on... Mitch McConnell determined to veto Biden Cabinet picks (News Item)

Is America Becoming a Failed State?

NY Times - Paul Krugman - November 5

As I write this, it seems extremely likely that Joe Biden has won the presidency. And he clearly received millions more votes than his opponent. He can and should claim that he has been given a strong mandate to govern the nation.

But there are real questions about whether he will, in fact, be able to govern. At the moment, it seems likely that the Senate — which is wildly unrepresentative of the American people — will remain in the hands of an extremist party that will sabotage Biden in every way it can.

Before I get into the problems this confrontation is likely to cause, let’s talk about just how unrepresentative the Senate is.

Every state, of course, has two senators — which means that Wyoming’s 579,000 residents have as much weight as California’s 39 million. The overweighted states tend to be much less urbanized than the nation as a whole. And given the growing political divide between metropolitan and rural areas, this gives the Senate a strong rightward tilt.

An analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight.com found that the Senate in effect represents an electorate almost seven percentage points more Republican than the average voter. Cases like Susan Collins, who held on in a Democratic state, are exceptions; the underlying right-wing skew of the Senate is the main reason the G.O.P. will probably retain control despite a substantial Democratic victory in the presidential popular vote.

But, you may ask, why is divided control of government such a problem? After all, Republicans controlled one or both chambers of Congress for three-quarters of Barack Obama’s presidency, and we survived, didn’t we?

Yes, but. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

In fact, G.O.P. obstruction did a lot of damage even during the Obama years. Republicans used hardball tactics, including threats to cause a default on the national debt, to force a premature withdrawal of fiscal support that slowed the pace of economic recovery. I’ve estimated that without this de facto sabotage, the unemployment rate in 2014 might have been about two percentage points lower than it actually was.

And the need for more spending is even more acute now than it was in 2011, when Republicans took control of the House.

Most immediately, the coronavirus is running wild, with new cases exceeding 100,000 a day and rising rapidly. This is going to hit the economy hard, even if state and local governments don’t impose new lockdowns.

We desperately need a new round of federal spending on health care, aid to the unemployed and businesses, and support for strapped state and local governments. Reasonable estimates suggest that we should spend $200 billion or more each month until a vaccine brings the pandemic to an end. I’d be shocked if a Senate still controlled by Mitch McConnell would agree to anything like this.

Even after the pandemic is over, we’re likely to face both persistent economic weakness and a desperate need for more public investment. But McConnell effectively blocked infrastructure spending even with Donald Trump in the White House. Why would he become more amenable with Biden in office?

Now, spending isn’t the only form of policy. Normally, there are many things a president can achieve for good (Obama) or evil (Trump) through executive action. In fact, during the summer a Democratic task force identified hundreds of things a President Biden could do without having to go through Congress.

But here’s where I worry about the role of a heavily partisan Supreme Court — a court shaped by McConnell’s norm-breaking behavior, including the rushed confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett just days before the election.

Six of nine justices were chosen by a party that has won the popular vote only once in the past eight elections. And I think there’s a substantial chance that this court may behave like the Supreme Court in the 1930s, which kept blocking New Deal programs until F.D.R. threatened to add seats — something Biden wouldn’t be able to do with a Republican-controlled Senate.

So we are in big trouble. Trump’s defeat would mean that we have, for the moment, avoided a plunge into authoritarianism — and yes, the stakes are that high, not just because of who Trump is, but also because the modern G.O.P. is so extremist and anti-democratic. But our skewed electoral system means that Trump’s party is still in a position to hobble, perhaps cripple, the next president’s ability to deal with the huge epidemiological, economic and environmental problems we face.

Put it this way: If we were looking at a foreign country with America’s level of political dysfunction, we would probably consider it on the edge of becoming a failed state — that is, a state whose government is no longer able to exert effective control.

Runoff elections in Georgia may yet give Democrats Senate control; barring that, Biden might be able to find a few reasonable Republicans willing to pull us back from that brink. But despite his apparent victory, the Republic remains in great danger.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

McConnell reportedly eyes constraints on possible Biden cabinet picks

via @msnbc - November 5

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Eyes on Pennsylvania, where a further morning count could prove decisive

NY Times - November 7

No state was attracting as much attention Saturday morning as Pennsylvania, where Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign hoped further counting could push their lead above 0.5 percent, obviating the need for a mandatory recount there and potentially setting the stage for television networks to declare Mr. Biden the winner in the state and, as a result, the president-elect.

In Allegheny County, a predominantly Democratic area that includes Pittsburgh, election workers were tallying roughly 20,000 mail-in ballots and another 17,000 provisional ballots on Saturday, Rich Fitzgerald, the county executive, said in a morning televised interview.

The county’s mail-in ballots have so far overwhelmingly supported Mr. Biden, as have the provisional ballots. He said the county could begin reporting votes by the late morning or early afternoon. With 96 percent of votes reported by 7:30 a.m. Eastern time, Mr. Biden led in Pennsylvania by nearly 29,000 votes. The size of the lead — approaching 0.5 percent — was crucial because the state automatically holds a recount for votes within that margin.

Remaining mail-in ballots are expected to widen Mr. Biden’s lead and potentially make him the winner of a state whose 20 electoral votes would vault him past the 270 needed to become the next president.

Mr. Fitzgerald cautioned that the last ballots to be counted would be the trickiest, requiring additional checks to ensure they are not duplicates, which could delay the tally. Responding to baseless allegations by the Trump campaign of vote-counting secrecy, he said that observers and journalists had access to the vote-counting site and that there were as many surveillance cameras there as in a casino.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden beats Trump

(It looks like Pennsylvania put him over the top.)

Biden Wins Presidency, Ending Four Tumultuous Years Under Trump

NY Times - November 7

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, promising to restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises, and making Donald J. Trump a one-term president after four years of tumult in the White House.

Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump by millions of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration, and was delivered by an unlikely alliance of women, people of color, old and young voters and a sliver of disaffected Republicans. Mr. Trump is the first incumbent to lose re-election in more than a quarter-century.

The result also provided a history-making moment for Mr. Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, who will become the first woman to serve as vice president.

With his triumph, Mr. Biden, who turns 78 later this month, fulfilled his decades-long ambition in his third bid for the White House, becoming the oldest person elected president. A pillar of Washington who was first elected amid the Watergate scandal, and who prefers political consensus over combat, Mr. Biden will lead a nation and a Democratic Party that have become far more ideological since his arrival in the capital in 1973.

He offered a mainstream Democratic agenda, yet it was less his policy platform than his biography to which many voters gravitated. Seeking the nation’s highest office a half-century after his first campaign, Mr. Biden — a candidate in the late autumn of his career — presented his life of setback and recovery to voters as a parable for a wounded country.

The race, which concluded after four tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds, was a singular referendum on Mr. Trump in a way no president’s re-election has been in modern times. He coveted the attention, and voters who either adored him or loathed him were eager to render judgment on his tenure. Americans rarely turn incumbent presidents out of office, but from the beginning to the end of the race, Mr. Biden made the president’s character central to his campaign.

This unrelenting focus propelled Mr. Biden to victory in historically Democratic strongholds in the industrial Midwest, with Mr. Biden forging a coalition of suburbanites and big-city residents to claim at least three states his party lost in 2016.

Yet even as they turned Mr. Trump out of office, voters sent a more uncertain message about the left-of-center platform Mr. Biden ran on as Democrats lost seats in the House and made only modest gains in the Senate. The divided judgment — a rare example of ticket splitting in partisan times — demonstrated that, for many voters, their disdain for the president was as personal as it was political. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden projected as winner, per major news organizations

via @BostonGlobe - November 7

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden edged ever closer Saturday to a victory over President Donald Trump as the long, exacting work of counting votes extended into a fourth day after the election.

The delay in producing a verdict can be attributed to high turnout, a massive number of mail-in ballots and slim margins between the candidates. Biden held leads in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, putting him in an ever-stronger position to capture the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House.

There was intense focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 28,000 votes, and Nevada, where Biden was up by about 22,000. The prolonged wait added to the anxiety of a nation facing historic challenges, including the surging coronavirus pandemic and deep political polarization.

When Biden addressed the nation Friday night near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, he acknowledged the sluggish pace of the count “can be numbing.” But he added: “Never forget the tallies aren’t just numbers: They represent votes and voters.”

He expressed confidence that victory ultimately would be his. “The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” the former vice president said.

Standing alongside running mate Kamala Harris, Biden wasn’t able to give the acceptance speech at that time that his aides had hoped. But he hit notes of unity, seemingly aimed at cooling the temperature of a heated, divided nation.

“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare,” he said. “No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”

Trump stayed in the White House and out of sight as the results gradually expanded Biden’s lead in must-win Pennsylvania. In the West Wing, televisions had remained tuned to the news amid trappings of normalcy on Friday, as reporters lined up for coronavirus tests and outdoor crews worked on the North Lawn on a mild, muggy fall day.

Trump’s campaign was mostly quiet. It was a dramatic difference from earlier in the week, when officials vocally projected confidence and held news conferences announcing litigation in key states. But his inner circle was touched once again by the coronavirus. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden wins Nevada’s 6 electoral votes

NY Times - November 7

The New York Times is projecting that Joseph R. Biden Jr. will win the state of Nevada and its six Electoral College votes, further putting him above the 270-vote threshold needed to win the presidency.

Mr. Biden is now projected to win 279 electoral votes. He is also currently leading in Georgia and Arizona, as counting continues in those states.

Mr. Biden was ahead of President Trump by about 25,000 votes in Nevada by noon on Saturday.

---

Trump disputes Biden’s victory and says he does not believe the election is over.

President Trump on Saturday issued a statement challenging Joseph R. Biden’s win in the presidential campaign, accusing the Democrat of falsely claiming victory and criticizing the media for projecting the race before all votes were counted.

“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Mr. Trump said in the statement, which was sent by his campaign at around 11:45 a.m.

By that time, The New York Times, The Associated Press and every major TV news network had called the race for Mr. Biden after projecting he would win Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes, giving him more than the 270 required nationally to win the presidency.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden & Harris Win

via @BostonGlobe - November 7

Joseph R. Biden Jr., wielding a conciliatory message to end a turbulent presidency that purposely fueled a nation’s bitter divisions and failed to blunt the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, has defeated Donald J. Trump to become the 46th president of the United States.

It is a victory, harder fought than many had anticipated, steeped in history. Biden, at 77, will become the nation’s oldest person to ever serve as president, the fulfillment of a decades-long quest that makes him the rare challenger to knock off an incumbent. His running mate, Kamala Harris, will attain the highest-ranking position for any woman in American government and become the first person of color to be vice president.

Biden’s clinching of the Electoral College came four days after the polls closed, after the Associated Press on Saturday declared that Pennsylvania, always considered the tipping state, had swung decisively in his favor. If Biden holds on to Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, three states where he maintains narrow leads, he will exceed 300 electoral votes, along with a lead of more than 4 million in popular votes, and project as a convincing winner.

“They’ve given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism,” Biden said Friday night of the more than 74 million people who voted for him and Harris. “They want the country to come together, not continue to pull apart.”

He will be sworn in on Jan. 20, assuming office at a time of once-in-a-century crisis: a pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 in the US, and an economic crisis that has forced millions out of jobs and disrupted every corner of American life. A longtime moderate, Biden has built up a sweeping range of plans to address the pandemic, the economy, health care, and more, ideas that could bring New Deal style changes to American life — but only if Republicans, who have a good chance of controlling the Senate next year, are willing to work with him in an era of deep polarization. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...


First Candidate to Beat an Incumbent in More Than a Quarter-Century


NY Times - November 7

After several tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds,
Joe Biden achieved a decades-long ambition in his third attempt at the presidency.

Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of President Trump by millions
of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration.

The result also provided a history-making moment for Kamala Harris, who became
the first woman — and first woman of color — on a winning presidential ticket.

... This election represented the culmination of nearly four years of activism organized around opposing Mr. Trump, a movement that began with the Women’s March the day after his inauguration. Indeed, Mr. Biden’s election appeared less the unique achievement of a political standard-bearer than the apex of a political wave touched off by the 2016 election ...

But Mr. Trump’s job approval rating never hit 50 percent and, when the coronavirus spread nationwide and Mr. Biden effectively claimed the Democratic nomination in March, the president’s hopes of running with a booming economy and against a far-left opponent evaporated at once. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The darkness lifts

via @BostonGlobe - editorial - November 7

In rejecting Donald Trump and electing Joe Biden, millions of people around the country have affirmed a version of America that can still serve as a model for democracy around the world. A majority of — though, notably not all — Americans have just upheld standards once taken for granted: that a US president must have both integrity and the capacity to lead in crisis — and that ours is a nation that strives to be compassionate, inclusive, grounded in reality, and in pursuit of the ideals of freedom and justice.

2020 was already a historic election year amid the worst pandemic in more than a century and a reckoning that has galvanized more Americans to agitate for racial justice than ever before. An unprecedented reliance on mail-in and early voting, combined with attempts at voter suppression from the GOP, left many wondering whether a credible electoral process could take place. The outcome is no less historic than the buildup: Biden has sought the presidency twice before and is now, at 77, the oldest US president-elect ever. (He’ll be 78 when he takes the oath of office.) Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman to serve as the country’s vice president in our 244-year history, will also be the highest-ever ranking Black woman and Asian-American woman in political office in the United States.

It is also rare in our nation’s history to defeat a sitting president without a third-party candidate splitting the vote. Biden has done so with more votes than any presidential candidate in US history, with an ample margin of the popular vote as well as key victories in swing states won by his opponent in 2016.

For many Americans, as profound as these firsts is the end of the most destructive presidency in our history. No, Trump did not drop a nuclear bomb on another nation or instigate an actual civil war. But he abused the power of the Oval Office with his blatant and unapologetic corruption, whether extorting foreign nations for personal favors or enriching himself and his family with White House business. He trampled on democratic norms, using the Justice Department to punish his enemies and reward his friends. He lifted protections that prevent the poisoning of our air and water while eviscerating policies to combat the climate crisis. He dog-whistled to white supremacists and fanned the flames of right-wing extremist violence. He catastrophically mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 234,000 Americans, and he has been callous about its toll on American families and communities. He devastated the economy, which has impoverished 8 million Americans since May and left 1 in 4 Americans reporting that they or a member of their family has lost a job during the pandemic. He desecrated the United States as a model for freedom of the press and the rule of law. He damaged citizens’ faith in government and institutions and closed America’s borders to refugees and immigrants, and therefore neutered America’s compassion for suffering and human rights abuses around the world.

Ending this nightmare is only the beginning, however. It’s easier to sow seeds of destruction than it is to solve problems. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Some of the damage will be lasting. The Trump presidency transformed the federal judiciary into an institution that threatens voting rights. And it welcomed ongoing catastrophe: allowing the United States to become the epicenter of a deadly pandemic and postponing a reckoning with a climate crisis that gets more costly to address with each passing year and each rash of wildfires, storms, and droughts. It also eroded the trust of allies and America’s standing in the world.

And make no mistake: even with Trump voted out of the White House, Trumpism in America will not die. The president didn’t create racism in America, but he called white supremacists out of the shadows and they won’t likely crawl back into them easily. His worst enablers in the Senate may still be in charge of the upper chamber come January.

But Trump’s election in 2016 also shocked many people out of complacency about politics — from suburban women taking to the streets, to the people who ran for office at the local and state level for the first time to assert a distinct non-Trumpian model for public service. That shouldn’t end with the election of Biden and Harris.

State legislatures do the critical work of drawing up congressional districts that determine whether the majority is well represented. Local officials run elections and take on utilities to make sure cleaner energy sources power our homes and don’t pollute our environment. State governments can secure women’s right to choose and take on police unions that resist reforms that would make officers of the law more accountable to the communities they serve. Leadership is needed at all levels of government to take on the inequality underpinning the alienation of working-class people and to condemn fear and hatred of immigrants and people of color.

Despite these formidable challenges and the time and lives lost, much of what Trump represents has now been decisively repudiated — despite the fact that many people wanted to give him another term and despite the president’s legal challenges to the voters’ verdict.

The nation must now start anew its quest to become a better version of itself. The fight continues for an America that protects the vulnerable, celebrates freedom of expression, acts on scientific evidence, corrects racial injustice, takes care of the health of its people, nurtures the next generation, quells violence, renews itself through immigration and invention, and stands for equality and human rights around the world. Voters have spoken up to say that come January, there should be an ally instead of an enemy of these aspirations in the White House. The task will not just be Joe Biden’s, however. It is all of ours.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Mr. President, you’re fired

via @BostonGlobe - editorial - November 7

The American people have spoken. Trump must concede the election. ...

Jared Kushner said to approach Trump to urge him to concede defeat

Fred C. Dobbs said...

A White House official disputed reports that Kushner had advised Trump to concede

A White House official disputed ... who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Kushner had abided by Mr. Trump’s desire to continue trying to fight the results of various contests through court challenges. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, has strongly encouraged this path, while most other advisers have said privately that the chances of the results changing are exceedingly slim.

White House aides and political advisers met at the Trump campaign headquarters on Saturday. When campaign officials laid out the small chances of changing the outcome of the election, Mr. Kushner asked a group of the political advisers to go to the White House to lay it out for Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the meeting.

When people asked Mr. Kushner whether he should be there as well, he said that he would be part of the next level of discussions, the people briefed on the meeting said.

Mr. Kushner’s advice on “legal remedies” was reported earlier by Axios. ...

Anonymous said...

Oregon has made mushrooms legal - I will have to take a trip out there!