Category Archives: 2020 Presidential

Now is the winter of their discontent… apparently

Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in "The Hollow Crown: The Wars of The Roses."

Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of The Roses.” We don’t need this…

This is a very dangerous time, a time no Americans have faced before.

A rough beast squats in the White House, refusing to move, even though it’s his time to slouch off (is it OK to mix references to Shakespeare and Yeats, or is that kind of like confusing metaphors?).

Almost half of the country (thank God less than half) voted for him, and has been brainwashed by him into utterly rejecting reality. And now he is rejecting his own rejection. We have never seen this before, ever. And we have never had so many people seemingly ready to accept something so profoundly, shockingly unAmerican. Now is the winter of their discontent, and they are acting as though they wish to bring the cold dark upon the whole country.

I referred to this in a tweet last night:

Four years ago, I flirted with the idea that maybe — in a vain attempt to embrace their duty as Alexander Hamilton conceived it — presidential electors should refuse to vote for Trump.

I realized I was wrong — partly in response to comments some of you, such as Phillip Bush and Dave Crockett, posted to correct me — and did something you seldom see me do: I wrote and published a separate post saying I was wrong, and why. In other words, I did what we’re all waiting for Trump’s supporters (not so much the man himself; let’s not expect too much) to do — I came to my senses.

Aside from the guidance from some of you, I was influenced by the fact that I had been watching the second half of “The Hollow Crown,” a brilliant compilation of eight of Shakespeare’s history plays — from Richard II to Richard III — telling the horrible story of the Wars of the Roses.

I highly recommend the two series. After watching that second one (the three Henry VI plays and Richard III) I put the first series (Richard II through Henry V) on my Amazon gift list, and someone in my family was was kind enough to get it for me. You really should try watching them, particularly the bloody second batch.

That, and my more personal wanderings through history compiling my family tree, impressed me more than ever how fortunate we were to be living in the world’s oldest and most stable liberal democracy. As I wrote at the time:

For so much of human history, no one had much of a sense of loyalty to a country, much less to a system of laws. They couldn’t even be relied on to be loyal to a certain lord for long. Everybody was always looking for the main chance, ready to kill to gain advantage even temporarily.

Our 240-year history, our country of laws and not of men, is a blessed hiatus from all that. We may descend into barbarism yet — and yes, the election of a man who shows little respect for the rule of law is not a good omen — but so far the Constitution has held….

At least, it had held up to that point. But it hadn’t been tested yet the way it’s about to be tested…

"Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens," by Henry Albert Payne

“Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens,” by Henry Albert Payne

Some scattered thoughts, three days later

NYT 435

I’m still scrambling to catch up with my day job after having been out for three days — in Memphis for my brother-in-law’s funeral, which was on Election Day — but I thought I’d post a few scattered thoughts about this scattered election. (Even though it’s Friday evening and traditionally, no one reads blogs then.)

Here are some nuggets:

  • Good News: Joe is going to win this. We are going to have a normal human being as president of the United States, the way we did for 227 years before January 2017. When it truly, finally happens — when the counts are official — it will be wonderful news.
  • Bad News: As Joe wins, Donald Trump will do everything he can to destroy, among the people who heed him, any remaining shreds of faith in our system, which absolutely requires accepting election results. He is behaving like a raving tinpot lunatic, as he gave us every reason to believe he would. He may be going, but on his way out he plans to bring down the United States as completely as he possibly can. Why? Because as we all know, he does not give a damn about the country, or about anything other than himself and his impulses.
  • Worse news: This country that I love did not stand up and soundly refute Trumpism by consensus. It did not itself, or other countries, or our children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren yet unborn, that this is not who we are. This is a profound tragedy of historic proportions, exceeding any of the ugliness we had seen previously in the past four years. Before, he was just an accident that happened because people didn’t like Hillary. This time, against a vastly more appealing opponent, he got more votes than he did in 2016. America is really, really fouled up, folks.
  • Things get worse in South Carolina: There are lots of things we could point to, such as the state going embarrassingly early for Trump, or the big victory of the most pathetic toady we’ve ever seen in the U.S. Senate. But the shocking thing is the way three moderate Democrats, whose records would be praised by virtually anyone — including Republicans — who know them, were unceremoniously thrown out of the Legislature. I speak of Vincent Sheheen, Mandy Powers Norrell and Laurie Funderburk. The General Assembly will be a less rational, more extreme, and let’s admit it, dumber place without these three people. I would say this shows South Carolinians have lost their minds, but it’s worse than that. It’s the fact that the majority will vote for the Republican in our state no matter who that Republican is, and no matter who the Democrat is. Which is worse than crazy. I’m convinced that most of these voters knew nothing, or next to nothing, about any of these three Democrats or their opponents. I’ll give you just one small example: Watch the short video on this Tweet, which from everything I’ve seen about that race is more or less representative. There is absolutely no way that any voter who paid the slightest attention to these candidates could have voted for this Republican over Mandy. There’s just no way.
  • The Democratic failures in Congress: I haven’t studied this enough to have a lot of observations to make, but here are a couple. Basically, the Democrats didn’t clearly take over the Senate, although they could still barely take very limited control once all the votes are in — now that Mark Kelly has won, no doubt thanks to the $5 I sent him. Meanwhile, they lost some, but not all, of their majority in the House — although as I said previously in a Tweet, some of the moderates (my favorites in that caucus) who gave the Dems a majority in 2018, such as Mikie Sherrill and Abigail Spanberger, managed to hang on. Joe Cunningham, of course, did not (which takes us back to the preceding bullet on SC). In the big picture, this means the total, sweeping power the Dems had hoped for has escaped their grasp. That means no dramatic new federal programs, most likely. I still hold out hope for Joe Biden’s plan for improving Obamacare, but a lot of the other stuff they wanted is out. Which will be fine by me, if this means they abandon plans to expand the Supreme Court. (If they hadn’t kept yammering about that, maybe they could have won big in the Senate.)
  • Celebrating normal and decent. Even if Biden has a Congress that is difficult to deal with, though, we will still have a normal, decent president. Which is truly the one big thing I wanted out of this election — we can talk plans and programs later. In fact, if all he can do is deal with foreign policy — which is the thing I tend to care most about when it comes to the presidency anyhow — I’ll be happy. That’s the main thing I wanted — just to have the White House stop embarrassing the country, at home and around the globe. That alone will be a big, big win.
  • Some people are being too careful. My main two national news sources have been a bit too careful for my taste. NPR — which goes by the AP, which declared Biden the winner in Arizona Tuesday night — has had Joe with 264 electors since at least Wednesday. The Economist does, too. Meanwhile the two national papers to which I subscribe — The Washington Post and The New York Times — are stuck at 253 still tonight (see above). But as wild and crazy as the AP was with Arizona, they were still about an hour behind Fox News — which really drove them nuts at the White House and had Jared Kushner on the phone to Rupert Murdoch complaining. Anyway, if you want to look at nice numbers for Joe, Fox is one of your best options. See below.
For really nice numbers, see Fox News.

For really nice numbers, see Fox News.

In these last days…

Here's some good news: Remember the Biden sign in my neighborhood I mentioned that seemed well positioned, but then disappeared? Now it's back...

Here’s some good news: Remember the Biden sign in my neighborhood I mentioned that seemed well positioned, but then disappeared? Now it’s back…

This is just a quick note to let y’all know why you’re not seeing much from me in these last days before the most critical election of our lifetimes.

My brother-in-law suddenly died in Memphis, and we’re preparing to get on the road and go there for the funeral. We haven’t been thinking about much but that, and won’t be until the election is over. This is all we have room or time for right now.

Not that the last-minute election insanity hasn’t been going on around us anyway:

  • My son who is going with us had planned to vote on Election Day, and had to go stand in line for two and a quarter hours Saturday. But he got the job done. Everyone in the family has voted now.
  • I’m glad I went ahead and did it last Tuesday. I had never, ever in my whole voting life had anything come up to prevent me voting on Election Day, but this time I was worried maybe something could. I had thought, “What if I get COVID?” I never thought anything like this would come up.
  • The sign vandals have picked up their pace again — and now in broad daylight. I’ve told you I’ve been bringing in my Biden signs every night, and putting them back out in the morning. Now, they’re striking in broad daylight. Once today, one of my signs was lying on the ground. I saw that the ground was torn up at the base, suggesting it had been deliberately knocked down. I set it back up. Within an hour, it had been knocked down completely.
  • I think I’ve seen indirect evidence that some Trump signs have been knocked down or stolen in the neighborhood. A few of those have appeared now — the Donald might be up to four or five yards in the neighborhood (nowhere near as many as Biden signs). One went up about 10 houses down our street just in the last few days, together with a Graham sign (those are rare). Today, when I walked by, there was only the Graham sign. I hope it wasn’t a case of theft or vandalism, but I can’t rule it out. Passions run high all around.

Anyway, I’ve had enough of it. I’m so ready for these horrible four years to be over. Maybe, by the time we’re back home, it will be. I hope and pray so.

I’ll end with this, one of my favorite things I saw today:

Would you hire this man?

Well, this is a particularly awesome ad on any level. I especially like it because when it comes to voting, or endorsements, I’ve always thought in these terms — I’m hiring someone for a job. It’s one reason I make such a fuss about people’s resumes — and also about their characters.

The thing about Trump is, I’ve always found it unimaginable that anyone would consider hiring him for anything, anything at all — much less the highest office in our land (in the world).

Oh, by the way — if you have hearing trouble the way I do, you might like this version with subtitles:

In any case, enjoy. And think. And run out and vote, if you haven’t yet…

interview ad

I’m glad I voted yesterday. Can we count the votes now?

I went with the bandanna rather than a surgical mask, in order to cover my beard. I'm going to mount that cotton swap on a plaque or something...

I went with the bandanna rather than a surgical mask, in order to cover my beard. I’m going to mount that cotton swap on a plaque or something…

I mean, come on, people — if you haven’t voted, that’s just too bad! I can’t wait now…

But seriously, folks… As I mentioned in comments on a previous post yesterday, I cast aside my firm preference for voting on actual Election Day — and I still prefer it — for a number of reasons:

  • I kept hearing things that made me worry that instead of taking the pressure off Election Day, the waves of people voting early (62 million as of the time I was standing in line waiting to vote) be a harbinger of a complete mess on that day. I stood in long, long lines in 2008. Those same lines would be much, much longer with social distancing, and I didn’t fancy standing in the heat or rain or whatever (it rained during the hour and forty minutes I was in line in 2008) with a mask on my face that long.
  • I didn’t feel great when I went to bed the night before. Probably just weariness from staying up half the night before, for the convenience of the West Coast, watching the World Series. But I thought, “What if this is COVID? What if I get sick and can’t vote?” I couldn’t take that chance.
  • When I found out about this satellite location — and found out about it in a way that made me hope not many people would know about it — I decided to run out and do it, suddenly and without warning.

And it worked. I got it done in less than an hour. I congratulated myself on a brilliantly successful coup de main operation. Trump and Lindsey never saw it coming. Not from me, anyway. Just BANG, and I had voted.

By the way, I voted as I reported I would — for Joe, Jaime, Adair and Nikki Setzler. Which should have taken only seconds, but I assure you I was more obsessive than usual about double- and triple-checking ever vote at ever stage — on the screen, and on the paper printout. I made sure there was zero chance of an error on my part.

Now, about the fact that the availability of this convenient polling place (about half the distance, for me, compared to the election office in Lexington) was kept such a secret…

That morning, thinking about getting out and voting, I had tried to find out what my options were. But when I had Googled “where to vote early near me” and entered my address, I was told that I had to go to Lexington. Other options weren’t offered. (Also, I could have sworn there was no info on the county election office website when I looked before, although it’s there now.)

I found out about it completely inadvertently. A friend sent me a flyer that she had gotten from a Facebook post that someone else had sent her. It was not from the Lexington Election office. It was from the page of the West Columbia Community Center, the place where I ended up voting. I went looking for that post later and couldn’t find it, but I did find a link to a WIS story about these places being opened. If The State, my main local source of news, posted it at any time, I missed it. (A search of thestate.com shows that the last time the full phrase “West Columbia Community Center” appeared in The State was 2015 — but that’s a notoriously bad search engine, so I don’t know.)

So, I can’t really say the county officials hid the information from the public. I’m just not terribly impressed by how well they got the information out. I think maybe it spread by word of mouth during the day yesterday. I voted pretty quickly, but the line grew substantially while I was there, and Bud says he saw something about it on WIS (thank you, WIS, for making the effort to help us know about this) that said people were waiting as long as 90 minutes. Although I don’t know when that was.

Then there’s the fact that the place where I voted — the only place anywhere near me — was only open yesterday, today and tomorrow. And only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., rather than full voting hours like on Election Day.

Look, I’m grateful for the opportunity I had yesterday. I want to thank the folks who manned this temporary site — including one of the folks I’m used to seeing at my own precinct on Election Days. I appreciate WIS trying to get the word out. Mostly, I appreciate the chain of people passing around the information that eventually got to me.

But you know, the folks in charge of elections in my county could have gotten the word out better. And they could have had these locations open the whole time, rather than these small snatches of time.

If they had, it would have helped more to keep the madness down on Election Day. I still worry there will be problems (although probably fewer in this county than in Richland — at least ours is an actual county office, rather than one of those notorious Special Purpose Districts).

But I’m glad I got the opportunity, and I’m glad I’m done…

ElWtKvUWoAYavaO

It was pretty exciting when I actually got INSIDE the building, and could see the little voting booths…

I’m thinking about doing this, too

No, not the dancing part, although it looks like it would be a lot of fun, for those who can do it.

I just mean I’m still thinking about going out and voting ahead of Election Day. The turnout projections I keep hearing about keep prodding me in that direction.

Just haven’t decided yet.

Yeah, I know — there aren’t many days left.

I’ll end this with something I tweeted this morning:

And I’m not even a Bob Marley fan. I don’t know where that came from — divine inspiration, perhaps — but I thought I should share it…

dancing

Glad to help. But what, or where, or who, is ‘Ambler?’

This is Lindenwold Castle, which Wikipedia tells me is located in Ambler, PA.

This is Lindenwold Castle, which Wikipedia tells me is located in Ambler, PA.

I’m getting so many fundraising emails from campaigns that they’re getting all crossed up and confused. Texts, too. For instance, my wife has been getting texts intended for someone named “Eugene” for about a year. She can’t make them stop, but has learned a lot about “Eugene.”

I was puzzled today by one from Joe Biden — actually from the Democratic Party, but pretend-signed by Joe — which, under the headline “I am respectfully asking 86 people from Ambler to contribute before Saturday’s deadline,” said:

Brad, I’ve come to you to respectfully ask for your support ahead of countless big moments during this campaign. It’s not lost on me that Kamala and I come to you often. But today, I am asking you to please be one of the 86 people from Ambler needed to support our party and my campaign, because this fundraising deadline is the final deadline of this election — and we won’t get another shot at this…

The team has briefed me on the numbers, and we can reach our party’s final fundraising goal if 86 people from Ambler chip in. Please, Brad: Will you split your first $10 donation between my campaign and the DNC before the final deadline of the race on Saturday?…

We have our work cut out for us, but we know what we have to do: If 86 members of this team from Ambler step up to donate what they can, we’ll hit our goal, fully fund the party programs we need to cross the finish line, and be in the best position possible to defeat Donald Trump and his allies. That’s why I must ask you…

I responded:

Joe, I’ve already given, and glad to do it.

But I have to ask: What, or where, or who, is “Ambler?”

And yeah, I finally did make a direct donation over the weekend. I had to set up Apple Pay — which I had resisted up to now — on my phone to do it, but I did it.

I guess this is the Ambler he meant. I hope those 86 folks step up. Because Joe really needs to win there…

I can’t vote for a single Republican this year. I just can’t.

sample ballot

I don’t when this has happened before. Or if it’s happened.

I know it didn’t happen during my years as a guy who made endorsements and shared them with the world (or in the years since). I know that because I kept records. And with one or two exceptions, I pretty much voted a straight editorial-board ticket. If we endorsed them, I almost always voted for them. So, I know that at no time between 1994 and 2008 was there a year when I couldn’t support anybody of one party. Or the other.

Oh, there were those awkward years at the paper in which we supported — for that one year — mostly Democrats or mostly Republicans. For instance, in 2006 we endorsed 12 Democrats and only 5 Republicans. That was the most lopsided ever, exceeding even 2000, when we backed 10 Republicans and only 7 Democrats.

But I didn’t really worry about those lopsided years, because I knew — and reminded everybody — of what the mix had been the time before. And that it would likely be balanced to some extent in the next election. For instance, the election year after the one when we went with 12 Democrats was 2008, when we supported eight Republicans and only five Democrats.

It worked out. And anyone with a halfway fair mind could see that what we said was true — that we didn’t consider party. Not even to make it work out evenly in a given year — which we could have done, had we chosen to stack things. We just made determinations as to who was the better candidate in each contest, and let the chips fall.

Of course, the partisans on both sides accused us of being partisans for the others side — because like Donald Trump, they didn’t let facts get in their way.

But now, I’m out here alone, and people are going, “Let’s see what Brad really is, when he’s not speaking for an institution.”

I haven’t really kept track of every vote since 2008, the way I did at the paper. But I know I’ve voted for Republicans as well as Democrats, mainly because I usually have voted in Republican primaries. (If you live in Lexington County and don’t vote in the GOP primary, you don’t get any choices.)

Since leaving the paper, of course, I actually worked in a campaign — for a Democrat. Which didn’t mean I was a Democrat. The Democrats understood that. Some of them are still ticked at James for hiring me when I obviously wasn’t a member of the tribe. I don’t know if he still hears about it — probably not — but I do. It was my fault he lost, you see. That’s what I occasionally hear, anyway. Because I wasn’t the real deal.

Of course, I’m just talking about serious Democrats. And just some of them. Republicans, and other people who are not partisan Democrats, think, “You worked for a Democrat, so you’re a Democrat. You ever work for a Republican? No? OK, then you’re a Democrat.” Because, you see, we (including the media, or course) have trained people to think you can only be one of two things. So if you’re not one, you’re the other. Even when you’re not.

So anyway, it would have been great — now that I’m a guy who puts signs in his yard — if I could have put a Republican or two out there this year, the way I did the first time I had signs, in 2018. It might not persuade anybody, but to quote Tippi Turtle, it would “bother those hammerheads.” Anything I can do to get partisans to scratch their heads is in theory good, because the stimulation might lead to thought.

But Donald Trump made that impossible. I cannot possibly support someone who actively and regularly supports him, so there go all the Republicans I used to support in the past on the national level. My hero John McCain stood up to him, but he’s gone. And I wouldn’t have had a chance to vote for McCain again anyway, after I did in 2008 (and back in the 2000 primary — which is one of those times I didn’t vote a straight editorial-board ticket, since I lost that endorsement debate).

Let’s look at the Republicans on my ballot.

Did Joe Wilson vote to impeach Trump? No, he did not. There are plenty of other problems with Joe, but that would be enough. He’s my representative, and I couldn’t trust him to do something that really shouldn’t have taken any thought, for anyone who believed there should be standards for the office of president. I have no problem applying that as the bare minimum for my vote. We didn’t even need an impeachment investigation, after Trump put out the official White House summary of that phone call. That, without anything else, would have caused you to vote for impeachment if you were someone I would have represent me in Congress.

Is that an unfair standard to apply to a poor ol’ Republican? No, it is not. Yes, it sounds absurd for me to expect that of a South Carolina Republican. Of course it does. And that fully explains why I can’t vote for any Republicans now. None of them will consider for even a second doing the right thing.

So I’m voting for Adair. I’m not crazy about everything she runs on — too populist for me — but I think she’ll do a better job than Joe, if we give her a chance. If she’d say, “I would have voted to impeach Trump,” I’d put up a sign for her in a second.

Then, of course, there’s Lindsey Graham. I don’t think I’ve ever been let down to this extent by anyone, especially someone I used to respect as much as I did him — as a stand-up guy, a guy who actually took political risks to try to address the worst excesses of partisanship (such as the insanity over confirming judges), and even the worst impulses within his own party (think “immigration”). We could respect and admire Lindsey as recently as 2016, when he was such a no-holds-barred critic of Trump that he was fun to have around. No more. That’s all gone, and he’s the guy who threw it all away — with extreme prejudice.

And we know, because we knew him in 2016 and all those years before, that he knows better.

He’s got to go. He’s disgraced himself, and the rest of us, enough. And fortunately, his opponent is someone I’ve liked for years. And he actually seems to have a chance. Which is something of a miracle, and if that miracle happens, I’m going to be part of it. You go, Jaime.

And of course, of course, I’ll be voting for my senator, Nikki Setzler. I even have a sign for him in the yard, too.

So that just left my own incumbent state House representative, Micah Caskey, as the one Republican I’d be happy to vote for. I had a sign for him in my yard in 2018, along with the one for James. Ditto with bumper stickers. So imagine my dismay when I realized, just before the primary, that Micah had no opposition. Meaning he wasn’t going to be spending money on yard signs and bumper stickers this year.

Oh, I could vote for him anyway, or one of the many other Republicans on my ballot who are unopposed. But it doesn’t really mean anything unless unless you’re choosing somebody over somebody else.

So I’m still going to be voting for just Democrats on the 3rd. Which is weird, and uncomfortable, if you’re me.

Why do I care? Why does it matter whether people think I’m a Democrat, or a Republican, or whatever?

Because, on one level, I absolutely cannot stand to be misunderstood. I want people to place some value in the precise reasons I give for voting the way I do in a given race. Otherwise, I wouldn’t offer them. And frankly, if I always vote for the Democrat, or always vote for a Republican, my reasons don’t matter. They only matter if I go into it fairly, and judge based on the relative merits of each candidate in the race. At least, that’s the way it was before now, before the Republicans I had supported for years suddenly make it impossible to keep doing so.

That’s the selfish reason.

But it’s not just an ego thing. What I’m trying to say, in this instance, matters. It actually matters that a guy like me is telling you this: That we have reached a moment in which there is not a single Republican out there in a contested race that a guy like me, with my track record, can vote for. So you should pay attention. This is serious.

But if I’m not what I say I am, then never mind. Just ignore the partisan. (That’s what I do with partisans.)

Also, there are so many Democrats out there I would never vote for — and I don’t want anyone thinking I would. (The clash between those Democrats and the ones like Joe and Jaime is probably going to be a huge issue after the election. But we can’t worry about that now. The house is on fire, and we have to put it out. We can worry about how it’s decorated later.)

That’s why I care. But I can’t help it. The Republicans in contested races on my ballot have made it impossible even to consider voting for them.

And that’s on them…

 

Finally, we’re done with the stupid ‘debates’

kennedy nixon

Was there ever a time when presidential debates were useful?

Sure, we can go back and watch the Kennedy-Nixon debates, and mourn for a time when candidates stood there (or, as you see in the awkward photo above, sat there) and talked maturely and coherently about actual issues, and even showed signs of having a few brain cells between them. Halcyon days.

And yet, even those may have turned on such things as the fact that Kennedy was tanned and relaxed, while Nixon was not.

Which is idiotic.

Why do we have these things? So many people consider them to be critical. I don’t see why. They in no way measure skills that are relevant to being president of the United States. Presidents don’t operate in an environment in which people are throwing zingers at them and watching to see how they react.

Life in the Oval Office is the opposite. First, you have time — limited time, but time — to consider what you are going to say and do. Not only that, but you have a vast army of people to whom you can delegate the work of saying and doing — and of doing the research necessary to intelligently decide what to say and do. And those people defer to you. They’re there to do whatever you say, and they deal with you with tremendous respect. They’re not there to trip you up and see how well you recover, as though you were on a TV game show.

Sure, public speaking is an important and relevant skill. But that is tested and tested and tested with unbelievable repetition during a campaign. Debates add nothing to our ability to assess their speaking skills.

I’m not just talking about the extent to which these things have deteriorated intellectually since the days of JFK and Nixon (even if they were valuable then, they aren’t now). That startling decline would be reason enough to abandon them. Basically, they’ve been reduced to something that only has value as fodder for SNL skits. Or rather, it would have such value if SNL had any writers who possessed a sense of humor. (Go back and watch this one if you want to see the potential; there’s been nothing as good since. Yeah, I know I refer to that one a lot. That’s because it was really funny. To see the opposite, watch anything from this season.)

I just wonder whether they were ever useful, even in the Quemoy and Matsu days.

Anyway, they’ve been astoundingly tedious and trying in this round — from the first one in which Kamala Harris nearly scuttled her chance to get on the ticket (fortunately for her, Joe is more forgiving than I am) to last night, when the president of the United States hurled a bunch of attacks that were unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t watch Fox News.

(The amazing thing is that many people today are remarking on how very well Trump did. Which would be astounding to anyone — especially a time traveler from, say, 1960, but really anyone — who hadn’t seen the raving insanity of the previous event. Basically, he said the usual stupid stuff in a more normal tone of voice. And for him, this was progress.)

Yes, it’s finally over. No more crowd of nobodies taking a wild shot at the Democratic nomination and trying to attract attention. No more listening to Trump rant while everyone waits with eagerness to pounce on any imperfection, any at all, from a lifelong stutterer.

If you want to examine Joe Biden’s words, examine these, and vote accordingly:

you know who I am. You know who he is, you know his character, you know my character, you know our reputations for honor and telling the truth. I am anxious to have this race. I’m anxious to see this take place. I am … The character of the country is on the ballot. Our character’s on the ballot, look at us closely.

We can now get on with the election. There are 11 days left….

debates over

Should I go ahead and vote? Have you?

A friend who voted today took this picture while waiting in the queue.

A friend who voted today took this picture while waiting in the queue.

I’m starting to feel doubts. They may not affect my behavior, but I’m having them.

Y’all know how strongly I feel about the importance of turning out and voting with one’s neighbors (which is way communitarian), in person, on actual Election Day. It is to me a major, deeply meaningful ritual of life in America.

But… this is an extraordinary situation, is it not?

First, we have the most important election in my lifetime, one in which we will either save our republic by electing a normal, decent human being as our highest elected official, or drag the country — and the rest of the world, which has been holding its breath for four years waiting for us to fix this — down further and deeper into the mire, the utter degradation.

So, you know, I need to vote, and it needs to count.

Second, we’re in the strangest situation of my life, in which so much about normality has gone out the window. For instance, I may never again go to work at an office, or anywhere other than my home — which overthrows thousands of years of human social and economic behavior. And that’s just one piece of it. I mean, 220,000 Americans are dead from this thing, and it’s far, far from over.

So… maybe I should make an exception in this instance.

Up to now, I’ve held to my resolve to wait until Nov. 3. But each day, more friends and family members go out and vote early — or technically, vote “in-person absentee.”

Which on the one hand supports my plan, by taking pressure off and reducing crowds on the day of. But what if that day is still even more insane, and things break down? I’m pretty sure I’ll get to vote anyway, but what sort of societal breakdown will occur while we’re waiting for all the votes to be counted, and a clear winner to emerge and be accepted?

I dunno. What do y’all think?

For that matter, what do y’all do? What have you done already? Some of you have reported in, but what about everybody else? Who’s voted by mail? Who’s done the “in-person absentee” thing? Who’s waiting for Election Day?

And why?

I would find it helpful to know…

On the subject of these hearings today…

Barrett

I have a lot of my plate today, but in case y’all want to discuss the hearings going on today, here’s a place to do it.

I provide this with mixed feelings, since I believe any time spent on the explosively divisive issue of confirmation hearings takes away from what we should be talking about, which is the election three weeks from tomorrow.

This morning, my wife had the hearing playing on the radio, and I heard Lindsey Graham speak and then turn the floor over to the very last Democrat we should want to hear from right now, Dianne “Dogma” Feinstein. We turned it off shortly thereafter, thank goodness, because my wife had to do a Zoom call.

Look, folks, the latest poll shows Joe leading by 12 points — nationally, which of course doesn’t matter, although it’s encouraging. Here’s how I reacted:

That’s pretty much how I react to everything right now.

Every word spoken, every action taken from now on by people who want to save this country should be aimed at increasing the victory margin for Joe Biden — in the battleground states first, and then nationally as well. Even if we somehow know that Joe’s going to win — which we don’t — we should work like crazy to double and then triple his victory margin, because we so badly need for Trumpism to be resoundingly, undeniably rejected.

And I don’t see any way that anything said about this court nomination helps in that goal.

But yesterday, Clark Surratt asked me to comment on the Barrett matter, and I obliged, and now I’m going to turn that comment into a post, in case y’all want to talk about this. Which I hope you don’t.

Actually, I didn’t completely oblige Clark, because he said, “I wanted to get your opinion on whether the sub-group (or groups) under the Catholic banner that she belonged to should be grounds for questioning her qualifications for the court.”

Since I haven’t spent time thinking about that, I stepped past it. I’ll come back to it, though, after I share what I did say to Clark, which was the following:

I don’t know much about them, Clark.

As for Judge Barrett, what do I think of her? Not a lot one way or the other. She seems to me to be fairly well qualified, which is what matters. Just as I considered Merrick Garland to be qualified. I’m not a cheerleader for her, nor am I opposed to her being on the court, from what I’ve seen so far.

But then I haven’t studied her that closely. For me, the issue isn’t her. The issue is that I don’t want this supremely politically divisive fight happening right NOW. And I’m pretty furious at the scummy behavior on the parts of McConnell and our own Lindsey Graham that has brought us to this pass.

If McConnell hadn’t done the unforgivable thing he did in the Garland incident — and then reversed himself and then some when HIS priorities were on the line — I wouldn’t be AS upset about it. But this would still be a very unwelcome thing to be happening right now.

I’m very unhappy about this process starting tomorrow, for a lot of reasons. One of them is this: A story in the Post this morning about how Kamala Harris will be in the spotlight, thanks to her role in the Kavanaugh hearings.

Boy, do we not need that right now: Spectacularly divisive hearings in which Joe Biden’s running mate plays a starring role.

Oh, the partisans in the Democratic base might clap and cheer if Sen. Harris is at the forefront of intense grilling of this woman. Yes, partisans will be energized.

And at least as many partisans on the other side will be at least equally energized.

And as I keep saying: Things that divide us benefit Trump. This is why he is always as divisive as possible.

Joe is the antidote to what’s tearing our country apart. But it will be harder to motivate people to vote for that antidote if his running mate is seen as being in the forefront of the thing dividing us.

That’s ONE way this situation is dangerous to the country. There are loads of them out there, most of which I can’t possibly anticipate at this point.

She is going to be confirmed, barring something so far unforeseen. All I can hope for now is that the process will be as calm and quick as possible, and we can put it behind us and be thinking about other things by Election Day.

But with only three weeks left, that is going to be tough…

That’s what I said last night.

But now that I read Clark’s question again, I realize he wasn’t asking what I thought of her affiliations — which is the way I answered, or didn’t answer, him (since I didn’t have any thoughts about them). He was asking whether those affiliations “should be grounds for questioning her qualifications.”

And my answer to that is “No.”

In fact, I hope the hearings don’t go within miles of her religious affiliations. Got that, Sen. “Dogma?” Please, please, please don’t do or say anything that starts Trumps yammering again about how Biden and the Democrats want to “hurt God.” It’s stupid and outrageous, but it stirs up some people, and those people are likely to vote for him.

Anyway, the questions should be about her qualifications, period. Not her religious beliefs or associations. Not her thoughts on the ACA (folks, that’s for Joe to talk about on the stump — we are not adjudicating the ACA in that hearing room today), or Roe, or anything else. The purpose is not to judge her on the judgments she may or not render from the bench.

Judicial philosophy? Sure, OK. Talk originalism or whatever, as long as you stay away from particular cases. But really, the best thing you can do is show that this process is performing its constitutional duty by checking to make sure this lady is prepared to do this job. And, I’m about as sure as I can be, the Senate is going to decide in the end that she is. Keep that in mind, and please don’t do anything stupid and futile to wreck Joe Biden’s chances.

Because that’s what matters.

Thank you.

Let’s talk about ‘real Catholics’

Back in the middle of last month, I tweeted this about a group that was planning to spend millions trying to prevent the election of our second Catholic president:

That led to a somewhat extended discussion with Chad Connelly, former chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina and founder of Faith Wins, a group that aims to engage Christians in the public arena. I’m not sure of Chad’s denominational beliefs, but he seems to have a sharply defined idea of what we Catholics are supposed to believe. It has to do with one issue — actually, one monolithic aspect of one issue. Guess which one:

The Catholic Church still condemns abortion though right, so it makes sense the church and Christian leaders within would denounce Biden’s 47 year history & consistency of being okay with killing babies? I’d hope any catholic group would work against his policies.

My first response was: “Chad, that’s right. Our opposition to abortion is one of many, many important teachings of the church. So yes, many people grab onto that one in order to allow themselves to ignore all the ways Trump ignores and violates other profoundly fundamental teachings.”

If you want to read the full discussion, it’s attached to the tweet embedded above.

Anyway, readers of this blog know of my unwavering opposition to abortion. Some of you might even realize that’s one aspect of Cardinal Bernardin’s Seamless Garment — a fully-developed respect and reverence for human life, to which I also try to adhere. Among the many things the cardinal said and wrote about it:

Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker.

It’s kind of what, you know, the pope teaches:

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly…. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in (the) world.

Is the pope Catholic? I tend to think so, because I’m Catholic, and that’s what I believe. (Other, far more authoritative, sources would also, I believe, support his being about as Catholic as one gets — hence the joke.) Being pro-life means caring about all sorts of things, all sorts of people — including, for instance, those who live in “shithole countries,” to quote the man whom some people inexplicably believe Catholics should follow. You know, the guy who said “I am pro-choice in every respect,” until it was to his advantage to do a 180.

Excuse me for using such language while discussion religion. But as jarring as that is, it helps express just how far Donald Trump is from being someone a Catholic, or any follower of Jesus Christ, should support. And indeed, half of Catholics voted against him in 2016. I hope more of us will this time.

But don’t just listen to me on this.

I loved this piece by Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of the comedian Jim Gaffigan. I’ve even started watching some of his standup on Netflix, for the first time, since reading it. But I’m more a fan of his wife. She’s the one I now follow on Twitter. Anyway, she just recently wrote this great column for the Jesuit magazine America headlined, “My loved ones told me ‘real’ Catholics vote for Trump. Here’s my response.” Some excerpts:

My critics seemed to conclude: If you don’t support Mr. Trump, you, Jeannie Gaffigan, mother of five, are a pro-abortion, “fake Catholic.”…

Jeannie Gaffigan

Jeannie Gaffigan

Here is my confession: I am a real Catholic, and I am not going to vote for Donald J. Trump….

My faith, family and Catholic education have given me the belief in the innate dignity and worth of every single human being. Human life is sacred, and all humans have equal value. Of course, this means it is wrong to intentionally take a human life under any circumstances, but it is also wrong to disregard human life through racism, unjust social and economic structures, providing inadequate access to health care, wantonly harming the environment, abusing or neglecting anyone—a child, a mother, a father, a grandparent, an immigrant. I am not sure how one thing that harms a life can be weighted more strongly than another, but based on the reaction to Jim’s now-infamous tweetstorm, it is abundantly clear that there is a segment of the Catholic Church that feels that the single issue of abortion, for lack of a better word, trumps every other evil…

Actually, I just want to quote the whole thing, but I don’t want the Jesuits coming after me for violating their copyright. So I urge you to go read the whole thing yourself. If you don’t read anything else about how real Catholics should approach this election, read this.

Oh, I can’t hold back. One more quote:

As much as some of my well-intended fellow Catholics will hate to hear this, it is crystal clear to me that the right thing to do is vote for Joe Biden. I believe it will be impossible to tackle these other issues with a president who is working overtime to sow division and hatred in this county through insults, intimidation, fear and blatant racism. This venomous “us against them” mentality is trickling down, seeping into our churches and poisoning our pulpits. To a culture of life, vipers are deadly….

Are you seeing a consistent theme (say, a consistent ethic of life) running through what she, the pope and Cardinal Bernardin said? Yeah, me too. And if you go read the Gospels, you’ll see Jesus was pretty much in keeping with this point of view as well. Or rather, they’re in keeping with him.

Let me finish with a column E.J. Dionne wrote in recent days. It was about something Pope Francis just wrote — and, as previously mentioned, the Pontiff is way Catholic.

It was headlined, “The pope’s unexpected election message.” You should read that, too.

We are not accustomed to a hearing from a pope, a month before Election Day, who criticizes “myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalism,” and castigates those who, through their actions, cast immigrants as “less worthy, less important, less human.”

E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne

Nor is it in our political playbook that a pope would call out an “every man for himself” worldview that “will rapidly degenerate into a free-for-all that would prove worse than any pandemic.”

Or say this: “The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith. Whatever the challenge, this impoverished and repetitive school of thought always offers the same recipes … the magic theories of ‘spillover’ or ‘trickle’ — without using the name.”

These are all Pope Francis’s words from his encyclical letter released Sunday, “Fratelli Tutti.” It translates literally “Brothers All,” words drawn from St. Francis of Assisi, although Francis was quick, in his first sentence, to address “brothers and sisters.” His purpose was to advance a worldview that stresses, as he put it, “the communitarian dimension of life” and values “fraternity and social friendship.”…

E.J. quickly adds that there is “no evidence that the pope is trying to influence the contest between President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden.” Basically, the Holy Father (that’s something we Catholics call the pope, you see) says stuff like this all the time.

Which kind of makes you wonder why some Catholics don’t listen when he does…

St_Patrick's_cathedral_NY

Now they just STEAL the signs

stolen

Remember when my Biden signs were vandalized, so I replaced one of them with a blue one I had in my garage?

Well, a few nights later, that one just disappeared, as you can see above. So I guess they’ve moved on to just stealing them.

So I went on Friday to state Democratic headquarters and picked up a couple of their Biden/Harris signs with the map of South Carolina. They’re not as nice as my old Biden signs, but they’re something.

I told the lady at the door what happened, and she asked me I needed two, or four? I said just two for now, but it was nice to know I could go back for more. I also picked up some Jaime Harrison bumper stickers while I was there. They were out of them at the Harrison HQ.

And I put them up Saturday. But I took them down last night before bed — and put them out again this morning. I don’t mind going downtown to get more, but if I can avoid it by taking them in at night, I will — if I can remember.

Other neighbors keep putting them up.

Other neighbors keep putting them up.

By the way, I saw my second Trump sign in my neighborhood yesterday. Between the first and second ones, of course, more Biden signs had gone up in my Republican precinct. I think there’s about eight Biden or Biden/Harrises — no, seven, because one house that had had them vandalized took all signs in a couple of days ago. Which is a shame.

Of course, while some Democratic signs are placed back away from the street — to make the vandals a little more reluctant to approach them — the two Trump signs are closer to the street, where they show up better.

And I guess what that tells us is that even Trump supporters understand that Biden supporters aren’t the sort to deface or steal other people’s signs… (WHOOPS! Had to correct myself on that!)

One of my new Bidens is in the distance. I also now have a Nikki Setzler sign.

One of my new Bidens is in the distance. I also now have a Nikki Setzler sign.

Did you see that ludicrous display last night? (Thoughts?)

chart

Major national newspapers — I’m thinking here of The Washington Post and The New York Times, since I subscribe to them and read them every day — have to go way out of their way to find opinion writers who will defend Donald Trump. No established, accomplished writer with a reputation — whether on the left or right — will do that, so they’ve had to dig.

For instance, the Post enlisted this guy who made news in 2016 when his little paper actually endorsed the guy. So they’ve been running columns by him ever since. And we’ve also gotten used to the Trumpist stylings of former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen. We sort of knew who he was before, but he’s gotten a lot more play since the disaster that befell our nation four years ago. The State, which is also desperate to find people who will say such things, has run him a good bit.

I had not heard of the Chris Buskirk guy who was the only person the NYT could find who might applaud Trump’s behavior last night — behavior that would cause a 4-year-old to be sent to stand in the corner in preschool. He is described as “the editor and publisher of the journal American Greatness and a contributing opinion writer.” That’s from the NYT; he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page or anything. Anyway, mission accomplished! They got somebody to occupy the right-hand side of that chart.

You’ll note that the only one of the NYT’s most prominent conservatives who participated — Ross Douthat — is over in the middle of the “Biden won” crowd. No actual thinking conservative can stand up for Trump’s increasingly more outrageous boorishness. You have to go hunting for relative unknowns. Preferably ones who are hungry, I would guess.

Anyway, I have nothing to add about that ludicrous display last night, except to thank Joe Biden for standing there for all that time rather than walking out — which is probably what I would have done, and which would not have helped my electoral chances.

I cannot believe there will be two more of these. There must be a way that our country can be spared that. As I’ve said so many times before, if only we could just vote today and have an end to all this!

If you want to know what I had to say when I was forcing myself to watch last night, here’s my Twitter feed.

Other than that, if you have thoughts to add, please go ahead…

ludicrous

Sounds like Joe gave a great speech yesterday

Joe speech

I haven’t had time to go back and listen to Joe’s whole speech yet — although I’ve heard highlights — but I’m eager to do so when I get caught up.

In the meantime, I thought I’d bring your attention to the very encouraging Jennifer Rubin column that brought his address to my attention, which begins, “Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gave his most compelling speech of the campaign Sunday, blowing away the notion that the Republicans’ effort to jam through a confirmation to fill the seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in any fashion a plus for the right….”

As you know, I was pretty depressed at Justice Ginsburg’s untimely death Friday — not because I knew her personally or anything, but because of the effect it was likely to have on the election.

The crux to saving this nation by electing Joe Biden to replace Donald Trump is getting everyone to focus on the fact that Joe represents, is all about, the things that unite us as Americans. And Donald Trump lives to divide us, as he sees dividing us further as his one chance to hold onto power.

And nothing in modern American political life is more divisive than a fight over a Supreme Court opening.

But reading this piece was very encouraging, because Ms. Rubin was essentially saying, “Have more faith in Joe, and in his ability to appeal to our better angels.”

Sure, a lot of people — like me — were out working in the yard, or going to Mass (or, as in my case, both — I had some yard work left over from Saturday and had to get it done by 5:30 Mass) or whatever. So they didn’t catch the speech.

So I’m posting this to spread the word a bit more. I’m going to track down and listen to the whole thing when I get a little more caught up. In the meantime, I celebrate this passage, and urge you to check it out as well:

To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power, and I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it. President Trump has already made it clear this is about power. Pure and simple. … Action and reaction. Anger and more anger. Sorrow and frustration at the way things are in this country now politically. That’s the cycle that Republican senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path they have put us on.

We need to de-escalate — not escalate. That’s why I appeal to those few Senate Republicans — the handful who will really decide what happens. Please, follow your conscience. Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created. Don’t go there. Uphold your constitutional duty — your conscience. Let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.

This is a terrible time for an opening on the court

First, I pray for God’s blessings and comfort upon the family of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She fought a long, hard and brave fight not only to stay alive, but to stay at her post, doing her duty. I honor her, and I feel for her loved ones.

After that, I pray for the country. Because this is an awful time to be having a big fight over a Supreme Court vacancy. I’m sorry for the country’s sake that we’ve lost Justice Ginsburg. But I’d be saying that, and feeling that, if it were Justice Roberts, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, or, yes, Gorsuch or Kavanaugh.1920px-Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_2016_portrait

We just do not need this now. Our attention needs to be on saving our country, by electing Joe Biden to replace Donald J. Trump.

Joe Biden is the candidate of the things that unite us. That’s what he’s about, and what he appeals to. Donald Trump is precisely the opposite. He has based everything he is, politically, on the things that divide us. He needs us to be at each other’s throats.

And of course, nothing divides us like a battle over a Supreme Court seat. On that we can rely, and it has been thus ever since 1973.

This is why he so absurdly released a list of potential court nominees last week. We all ignored him, because it’s hard to imagine much that he could have done that would be less relevant — last week. He and his supporters were so upset that they didn’t get to provoke Biden into putting out a list, so we could all have a great, big fight over the lists — a huge, divisive fight over something that might happen next year, or the year after or the year after.

Of course, the stage was fully set for this to be horrible even without Trump in the White House. Even before that great misfortune befell us, we had learned that Mitch McConnell was a man without a conscience, a man with absolutely no sense of duty or responsibility to his country. For him, all that matters is his party and its ideology.

His refusal to even consider a qualified nominee put forward by the president of the United States — his clear responsibility under our Constitution — was one of the most shocking, nakedly unprincipled things I had seen in our politics for many a year. We’ve put it out of mind with the multiple daily outrages of the current president. We’ve gotten used to thinking, several times a day, “Is it all falling apart? Can someone actually do these things to the country with impunity?” But at the time of what McConnell did, those were fairly new questions to be asking ourselves.

And now, it’s hitting the country with full force, right in the face. If there was a single GOP loyalist out there who sincerely believed that it was a matter of principle for McConnell not to consider a nominee only eight months before a presidential election, that fool now knows what he is.

Oh, for those of you who don’t know who I am writing this: What I say is not about Merrick Garland. To me, there’s not a great deal of difference between a Garland and, say, a Gorsuch. Both were, as far as we could see on the surface, qualified nominees. They both deserved the same careful, deliberate courtesy from the Senate. (Oh, and for those who really don’t know me — if it’s about where a nominee stands on abortion, I’m on the pro-life side. But it’s not about that, to me. It’s about qualified justices deliberating and deciding difficult issues based on the law — not us deciding it all for them ahead of time. If we do that, we’re betraying the Constitution. No, I don’t think the Court was right on Roe, or on Griswold. But I don’t think ideologically stacking the Court is the answer. Both sides trying to do that has driven us to this moment.)

If McConnell had a ghost of a point in his favor in 2016, it would have been that a Senate nomination should not be rushed.

But we’re assured that, while it’s unlikely that the Senate would do the deed before the election, it seems clear that McConnell intends to see to it that a lame-duck Senate confirms the nominee of Donald J. Trump. Even if Trump has lost the election, and McConnell has lost his majority.

Of course, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the election. But we now know that the bitterest warriors of left and right are going be be charging out onto the field, and that everything just got uglier…

Well, my signs are out now. Happy Labor Day, y’all!

I live on a corner, and if you look over the hill to the right, you can see one of the signs I have posted on the OTHER street.

I live on a corner, and if you look over the hill to the right, you can see the very top of one of the signs I have posted on the OTHER street.

I had a nice surprise this morning. My mobile rang, and it was E.J. Dionne! I hadn’t spoken with him in a while, so assuming he was looking for a quote about S.C. or something, I took another swallow of coffee in a desperate and vain effort to make myself sound intelligent.

John

One of my neighbors’.

But no, he had just called to chat. Turns out he is, like me, obsessive about getting his steps in every day, and this is what he has taken to doing while walking — calling people. (I find myself doing the same — that, and listening to podcasts.) We had a wide-ranging conversation. At one point, we got to talking about yard signs. He mentioned having recently discovered a commonality with Rep. Abigail Spanberger — the former CIA officer who was among the cadre of moderates who gave Democrats their House majority by winning purple districts in 2018. They are both big believers in yard signs.

What a coincidence, I said. This being Labor Day, I’m about to put out my yard signs! And now I have, as you can see above.

This, of course, is only my second time ever. My first was 2018, when I dramatically broke with a lifetime in which I was not allowed to do such things. I put out the signs, and proclaimed, “I refuse to be an ‘idiot.’ I’m joining the ranks of the involved.” Those signs were for James Smith (this was a few weeks before I joined his campaign) and Micah Caskey. This time, my Republican state House member has no opposition, so the two candidates are ones James, too, would enthusiastically support: Joe Biden and Jaime Harrison.

I’m hardly the first in my neighborhood. Others didn’t quite wait for this official start of the general election season. Two of my neighbors already had up signs for Joe and Jaime. They had obtained them from me. A couple of months back, one of them — a retired Methodist minister — stopped me on one of my walks to say he needed some signs, and he figured I knew how to get them. I said I’d try to help.

Another neighbor.

Another neighbor.

The Jaime Harrison sign was easy. His finance director had the same job in James’ and Mandy’s campaign, so I reached out to her, and she fixed me up with several. But Biden had shut down his Columbia campaign office immediately after the primary (the resources being needed elsewhere), so I wasn’t sure where to go. As it turned out, another fellow Smith/Norrell veteran — now-college student Noah Barker — drove over and dropped some off in the bed of my truck.

So I gave them to John and Jim, and they put them out, so that’s three of us now in my Republican neighborhood who have signs out for both Joe and Jaime.

And when I took my own walk after talking with E.J., I saw a new Harrison sign on my street, which was great, as this was five minutes after I’d put out my own. And it hadn’t been there yesterday. (Obviously, this neighbor is also strict about following the traditional calendar.)

The new one on my street.

The new one on my street.

But no Biden sign. Which reminds me of my brother’s yard in Greenville. We went to see him back in the first week of August, and he already had a Harrison sign out. Which both pleased me and made me feel guilty. I had obtained one for him when I got those from my friend on the campaign, but had forgotten to take it to him. He got this one from a neighbor who had an extra.

And that one, and the new one in my neighborhood, bring up a worry: I think maybe it’s easier to get Jaime Harrison signs than Joe Biden signs here in South Carolina. Jaime has an active, well-funded, energized campaign going here in the state (and I celebrate all of that), but Joe had no reason for a campaign office after Feb. 29. Those resources were needed elsewhere.

So where do you get Biden signs? Well, I suppose you could get some from the state Democratic Party, but I don’t know; I haven’t checked. Having my own sources, I haven’t needed to — but I suppose that’s where I’d have gone next. But if you live in a Republican neighborhood, like mine or my brother’s, do you think in those terms? Probably not.

I’m going to poke around on this a little more. If there are people out there who would put up Biden signs if they had them, they need to be more available than they are now. Because like E.J. and Rep. Spanberger, I think they help…

My brother had this one up a month ago, in Greenville.

My brother had this one up a month ago, in Greenville.

Obscene foolishness on the lawn of the People’s House

White House desecrated

I guess the McCloskeys were right when they warned that mobs of crazed people were coming for all of us. There they were Thursday night on our own lawn, the lawn of the White House. A great mass of people crowded together, mostly without masks, in the midst of the pandemic, standing repeatedly to cheer lie after trite lie coming from the strange orange man who is their master.

A truly disturbing display.

I had wisely taken Jennifer Rubin’s advice and stayed away for most of two nights. When I clicked it on sometime well after 10 and saw one of the orange man’s children — the only supporters he fully trusts — standing on that monstrous platform in that location, I figured he’d be out soon, so I kept the tube on with the sound off until he made his big entrance with OUR house as his backdrop.

I saw all the comments out there about the listlessness of his delivery, which I chalked up to the fact that he was reading a speech put together by people with a passing familiarity with the English language. Which is not his thing. Later, I started hearing the kinds of things he says on his own, as he built toward the end, and the suicidal crowd tried their best to evince enthusiasm, apparently hoping to please him.

I heard the usual lie after lie as he faithfully followed the Bernie strategy. He and his campaign had failed to come up with another approach after the Democrats rejected Bernie and went with Bernie’s opposite, the very personification of what their party traditionally stands for. But what were they going to do? There’s nothing frightening or outrageous about Joe, so they have to fulminate about the socialists.

Beyond that, nothing is memorable.

But I’ll share some things I read this morning, so you can have the benefit of other views.

Fact Checker: First the boring business of reviewing some of the lies themselves and dissecting them. As the Fact Checker says, “President Trump ended the Republican National Convention on Thursday with a tidal wave of tall tales, false claims and revisionist history. Here are 25 claims by the president that caught our attention, along with seven claims by speakers earlier in the evening.” Unfortunately, they don’t do Pinocchios in these roundups, which removes some of the fun.

The rage that fuels Trumpism still burns — David Ignatius provides a warning for everyone to heed, that “smoldering at the center of the populist Republican Party, there’s still the bright orange ball of fury that is Donald Trump — wounded and angry and promising White men in his trademark, code-worded slogan that he’s going to ‘Make America Great Again.'” He warns Joe Biden as well as the rest of us that we have to do more than beat Trump; we have to address the loss of hope among uneducated white men that brought us to this pass. (Of course, now we have a bigger problem than that. Those guys might have brought Trump to prominence, but then the entire Republican Party decided to prostrate itself at his feet. I doubt you’d find many in the audience at the White House who fit in the demographic Ignatius is describing.)

Trump presented the mother of all fabrications on the White House lawn — Dana Milbank addresses the weirdest falsehood on display this week: “Four years ago, when the United States was in the eighth year of an economic expansion and enjoying a time of relative peace and prosperity, Donald Trump saw only carnage. ‘Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,’ he told the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, describing a nation full of ‘death, destruction . . .’ and ‘weakness.’ Now, America actually is in crisis… And Trump, accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term on Thursday night, offered a most counterintuitive assessment: Everything is awesome!”

Biden needs a Sister Souljah moment — George Will’s column basically says that Joe needs to find a way to distinguish himself from the more extreme elements in his constituency. Of course, he’s done that over and over, contrary to all the lies this week about him wanting to “defund the police” and such. But I think Will is trying to tell us he needs to do it in a way that will be understandable to the kind of people who are actually susceptible to Trump’s lies, such as those Ignatius wrote about. Not sure he’s right, but I can see how that would occur to someone this week.

The perfectly logical case for Donald Trump — Alexandra Petri makes similar points to Dana Milbank, but as is her wont, has more fun with it: “Under Donald Trump, America has never been safer. It has also never been more dangerous. We must elect Donald Trump to make us safe again, which he has already made us, never more than we are now, although we also aren’t, and won’t be, unless we elect him! If you see.” Yeah, that’s pretty much what I heard.

And now I look forward to YOUR thoughts…

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