Thursday, December 10



Texas, unhappy that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, filed a lawsuit with the US Supreme Court demanding that legislatures in four swing states disregard voter wishes and choose another slate of electors. Eighteen other states along with Donald Trump have joined the lawsuit.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims the states “exploited the Covid-19 pandemic” and made unconstitutional changes to their laws before the 2020 election.

Paxton who describes the election results as “tainted” holds a tainted background himself – facing charges “that he persuaded investors to buy stock in a technology firm without disclosing that he would be compensated,” reports the Texas Tribune.

The US Supreme Court ordered Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to respond by 3 pm today. 

Blue punching bag from Walmart; red boxing glove designed by Freepik.

Tuesday, December 8












Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order to ensure that vaccinating US citizens against Covid-19 takes priority over efforts to assist other countries, including close allies.

Failing to protect foreign workers will fail to protect the United States, a country of immigrants. Even before Covid-19 strained US health care systems, hefty percentages of health are workers were immigrants, reports Migration Information Source.

"Hospitals in at least 25 states are critically short of nurses, doctors, and other staff as coronavirus cases surge across the United States, according to the industry’s trade association and a tally conducted by STAT," reports Olivia Goldhill for STAT. "The situation has gotten so bad that in some places, severely ill patients have been transferred hundreds of miles for an available bed — from Texas to Arizona, and from central Missouri to Iowa."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed strategies to mitigate staffing shortages. And with a limited supply, the CDC recommended groups considered for early vaccination:

- health care personnel

- workers in essential and critical industries

- individuals with medical conditions that put them at high risk for Covid-19

- people aged 65 years and older. 

During the summer, the Trump administration arranged for enough vaccine from Pfizer to inoculate 50 million Americans, but declined an offer to reserve additional doses. The company now has commitments to other countries, reports the New York Times. “Any additional doses beyond the 100 million are subject to a separate and mutually-acceptable agreement. The company is not able to comment on any confidential discussions that may be taking place with the U.S. government,” noted a Pfizer statement.

The administration denied the New York Times report.

White House officials described the executive order as a "reaffirmation of the President's commitment to America first," reports CNN. Numerous companies continue to develop vaccines as well.

But as the old saying goes, beggars should not be choosy. Of course, Joe Biden, to be inaugurated as next US president as of January 20, 2021, can write his own executive orders. 

UPDATE: The executive order reads: "To ensure the health and safety of our citizens, to strengthen our economy, and to enhance the security of our Nation, we must ensure that Americans have priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government ('United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines')."

 Data source for graph is the Migration Information Source and the photo is from Jae C. Hong of Associated Press.

Wednesday, November 25


Most democratic leaders are wary about prosecuting a predecessor and rightfully so. Such attacks risk appearing politically vindictive and petty as Donald Trump did during the 2016 presidential campaign, when seen beaming as supporters chanted “Lock her up” about his opponent Hilary Clinton. 

Yet some behavior is so egregious and some bad actors are so shameless that prosecution is the only choice for ensuring accountability and discouraging similar behavior among future office holders.  Serving as president should make one “more accountable, not less, to the rule of law,” argues Andrew Weissmann, a member of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation of Trump, in an essay for the New York Times.

And some criminal activities are so egregious that other countries might consider charging Trump with human-rights violations and even war crimes. And those serving in his administration and in Congress who went along – continuing to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election, maintaining that Trump was cheated of victory without evidence – are complicit. 

The list of scandals for the Trump administration is long, and accusations represent flagrant violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, some of the articles of which follow:  

-    Mishandling the Covid-19 crisis by discouraging wearing of masks and promoting the dubious treatments along with the concept of “herd immunity.” Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
-    Separating young children from parents who attempted to cross the border without keeping records to allow for reunification. Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
-    Describing Haiti and African countries as “sh--hole countries.” Article 2: “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs…”
-   Approving of teargas for peaceful protesters. Article 20: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
-    Firing inspectors general who were investigating activities of his administration. Article 12: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
-    Interfering in elections by encouraging foreign interference, disrupting postal operations and disparaging mail ballots during a pandemic. Article 21: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

Almost half of the US electorate supported Trump and these policies. President-elect Joe Biden may not have to waste precious time and energy on such matters if New York pursues cases against Trump. Also, other countries could find Trump guilty of crimes against humanity. “Universal jurisdiction is an international legal concept that allows a national court to investigate and prosecute certain crimes, including crimes against humanity, torture and genocide, even if those crimes weren’t committed within its national territory. It hasn’t been invoked often, but it’s not an impossibility,” explains attorney Carli Pierson for the Independent.

Other politicians may hope to replicate Trump’s behavior and policies to entice his large and energetic base. Swift prosecution may be the only means to stop the lying, name-calling, belligerence and cruelty along with the treacherous rejection of education, science and common sense.

Source of photo: PBS

Friday, November 20











One side interfered in the 2020 presidential election, and it was not Democrats. 

● In April, tens of millions of stimulus checks, bearing Donald Trump’s name, were sent to US citizens, with the Associate Press noting, “It marks the first time a president’s name has appeared on any IRS payments, whether refund checks or other stimulus checks that have been mailed during past economic crises.” A similar ploy was tried with a drug discount card for Medicare recipients, but failed. 

● Louis DeJoy, an expert in supply-chain logistics, took control of the post office in June 2020 even as election officials around the country, in the midst of a pandemic, encouraged voting by mail . Soon afterward, postal employees and customers noticed a marked slowdown in the mail. Fourteen states filed a lawsuit alleging DeJoy misused his authority to aid the reelection of Donald Trump. Federal district judge Stanley Bastian wrote: “At the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement.”

● Far-right activists were charged for using robo-calls to target black voters in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. The calls discouraged voters from registering to vote by mail and giving information to the government that could aid with debt collection or tracking suspects with warrants.

● Election officials in Georgia report that Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina reached out to Georgia’s secretary of state to suggest finding ways to exclude or invalidate absentee ballots that had been legally cast. Graham insists he was worried about the “integrity of the election process nationally” and trying to understand the procedures in multiple states. Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush noted: “Bottom line, we have a senator calling a key election official in the middle of an election as they're counting the vote – in a state he does not even represent – and apparently making suggestions to toss ballots. I find that to be clear interference in the electoral process and it's troublesome if he's doing it in order to help Trump." Georgia certified its election results today, naming Joe Biden the winner in the presidential race.

●  Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes but some Trump followers hope to undermine that victory by invalidating the votes from Detroit. At least four Michigan lawmakers are meeting with Trump today: Mike Shirkey, leader of the State Senate, and Lee Chatfield, House speaker, along with legislators Tom Barrett and Jason Wentworth. “White House and campaign officials said the president was acting on his own with what amounted to a pressure campaign to meet with lawmakers in the hopes of changing the outcome of the election," reported the New York Times. "But this is fraught with risks for the Michigan Republicans meeting with Mr. Trump because there are other races that were called for Republicans in the state that also have to be certified.” 













Politico suggests that the meeting could be transactional in nature and possibly even an attempt at felony bribery. “Under Michigan law, any member of the Legislature who ‘corruptly’ accepts a promise of some beneficial act in return for exercising his authority in a certain way is ‘forever disqualified to hold any public office’ and ‘shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 10 years[.]’”

Losing power is hard, and Donald Trump is a desperate man. He faces criminal and civil probes, and he owes hundreds of millions of dollars: “Virtually all of Donald Trump’s debt - there is at least $1.1bn of it, according to his government financial disclosures and other documents - is backed by real estate, mostly linked to a small number of buildings and golf courses that form the core of the Trump business empire,” reports the Financial Times

Trump has run out of time for using his position to attract attention and leverage, and relies on stooges. The Oxford Languages dictionary defines a stooge as “a person who serves merely to support or assist others, particularly in doing unpleasant work.” 

A toxic boss regularly turns staff and friends into stooges. Researchers and career experts, according to CNBC, points to five warning signs of a toxic boss: poor communication skills, micromanaging, unrealistic expectations, incompetence and arrogance. They take credit for all successes and blame underlings for any failures.

Trump has lost the election but will continue to pull strings, treating Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, William Barr, Lindsey Graham, Nikki Haley and many other Republicans as his stooges. Republicans should be wary about signing on to do Trump's bidding. The demands will never end, and few come away with their reputations intact.

Source: Photo, Detroit News; toxic boss warning signs, CNBC

Tuesday, November 10


Georgia voters will determine which party controls the US Senate with the possibility of a January 5 run-off election for two Senate seats. Turnout will be key. 

Voters in democratic strongholds were generally more passionate, although Idaho as the exception. Close races in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Michigan demonstrate that every vote counts.

"Though it is poised for a recount, Georgia surprised America and the world when – on the basis of the first count –the Democrats outpolled the Republicans last week," reports the Guardian. "If the result survives the recount then Joe Biden will become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia in 28 years. He could not have done it without Stacey Abrams.

Georgia's turnout, at 68.1 percent, was above the national average of 66 percent, and an even higher turnout may be required to secure a Democratic victory.   

It's an uphill battle in the race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, who so far took 49.7 and 47.9 percent of the vote, respectively. Ongoing vote tallies or even a recount could put Perdue over the necessary 50 percent. The Libertarian candidate won 2.3 percent, and if a runoff race is required, many of those votes could go to Perdue.  

The race between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler is more complicated after receiving 32.9 percent and 25.9 percent of the votes, respectively, according to the most recent results from the Associated Press. Other Democrats in the race took 15.5 percent of the vote, and other Republicans took 23.5 percent - and such votes could be expected to bring Warnock's total to 48.4 percent and Loeffler's to 49.4 percent. Then, add in the 0.3 percent of votes cast for the Green candidate, 0.7 percent for a Libertarian and 1.3 percent for independents. 

Displeased with the tight election results, Loeffler and Purdue have called on Georgia's secretary of state to resign.

Of course, some voters will cross party lines, and others may be unwilling to wait in long lines on January 5. And some new voters could be eager to show up for their chance to influence history.   

Georgia's turnout increased by at least 1 million people since 2016, suggests Michael McDonald who runs the US Elections Project.  

Youth contributed 21 percent of Georgia's votes, an increase from the national average of 17 percent, reports the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement. Young voters and voters of colors tended to cast votes for Biden. reports Time Magazine.

Source for Nov 2020 election turnout data: Statista.

Monday, November 9


History offers a reminder that candidates for the US House of Representatives and the US Senate do not always ride on the coattails of the presidential candidate, and 2020 was no different. 

President-elect Joe Biden handily won the popular vote, yet as was the case for Democratic candidates John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton and Republican candidates George H.W Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, he lost some seats in the House of Representatives. The exact count is still unknown with not all races yet called.

Biden gained at least one Senate seat, with two more seats yet to be decided in January by voters in Georgia. Democratic candidates Lyndon B. Johnson and Barack Obama along with Republicans Richard Nixon and Ronald Regain also gained seats. Kennedy, Carter, the two Bushes and Trump lost seats.  







Democrats blamed bad polling, the media and extremism among their ranks for the losses. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi disagreed with one congresswoman who called the election a failure: "I do disagree that it was a failure. We won the House. And we won the presidency."

Many voters in Nebraska and Maine split tickets to vote for Biden along with Republican candidates for Senate and the House - a repudiation of Donald Trump.

Friday, November 6


UPDATE: The networks have called the race for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as of noon November 7.

Leading in the vote counts for Pennsylvania and Georgia, Joe Biden is poised to become the 46th president of the United States. Despite thin margins and three days of counting, with more to come, Biden's vows to restore decency, honor, dignity and personal integrity to the White House should not become an afterthought.

Biden has promised to be a president for all Americans - “I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me. That’s the job of a president” - even as the incumbent increasingly appealed to his narrow base, deriding opponents and suggesting, “Lock them all up.”

The pandemic ensured uncertainty about the outcome, disrupting the 2020 presidential campaign and flipping old stereotypes – as some seniors who long supported Republican candidates gave the nod to Biden while young adults, who once might have voted for Democratic candidates, approved Donald Trump’s rush to open the economy. The true extent might not ever be known because polls failed in providing accurate, meaningful counts.

The Covid-19 pandemic and a devastated economy emerged as leading concerns for voters, two issues that did not have to diverge. Trump's supporters do not see the connections between health and the economy and reject pandemic restrictions as a route to reopening the economy. Trump, by his own words, downplayed the virus early on, repeatedly promising that it would gradually disappear and suggesting the media would stop covering the pandemic once election day had passed. Instead, the country reports more than 100,000 new infections and 1,200 deaths, and the country can expect to endure pain with the approach of winter, as people spend more time indoors and are more susceptible to contagious diseases. The country is, in “a bad place,” warns Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the disease that is far more contagious and deadly than the flu.

Despite Biden's win, more than 40 percent of the country fervently supports Trump. Following the president’s lead, his supporters resist wearing masks or avoiding crowds. They mock and even threaten those who aim for caution, rejecting public-health initiatives, including testing and contact tracing, and claim that the media and public health officials have exaggerated the threat. Trump even suggested at one rally that doctors inflate Covid-19 deaths: "You know, our doctors get more money if someone dies of Covid." Earlier this year, media fact-checkers labeled as false reports claiming that Trump had called the pandemic called the pandemic a hoax,” Instead, they explained, the hoax to which Trump referred was media criticism of his handling of the pandemic rather than the virus itself. By October, Trump posted a Tweet, suggesting, “Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST. A Fake News Media Conspiracy. Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high.”

Such hair-splitting overshadowed the overriding argument. Trump's comments have motivated his supporters, representing almost half the population, to disregard advice from health experts. Hence, numerous reports emerged of shoppers berating and attacking store staff for asking customers to abide by local health regulations and wear masks. One security guard was even killed. Eventually, the CDC had to balance multiple threats: “The CDC recommended that businesses institute policies such as mask-wearing, social distancing and customer limits but warned that workers could be threatened or assaulted for enforcing them. "

Simply put, half the US population, not to mention millions of onlookers around the globe, struggle to trust the common sense of large numbers of citizens who belittle expertise and science and refuse to treat the pandemic seriously. Individuals worried about the virus must now reconsider going to restaurants, gyms, salons and other service providers with owners who support Trump. Customers cannot help but wonder if financial advisors, car mechanics, construction workers, landscapers, child care workers, accountants, farmers, nurses, physicians and many more – so willing to reject expert advice on the pandemic – also cut corners and cheat on other regulations?

Citizens are paying attention, and some businesses can expect to lose many customers for good.  

Wearing a mask demonstrates not subjugation but respect and common courtesy for others, a willingness to avoid unnecessarily exposing colleagues and strangers alike to a brutal disease that can kill the most vulnerable among us. The divide over Trump versus Biden has not only divided communities but has also broken many friendships and family ties.

From the start, Biden said the campaign was not about winning votes but repairing a nation that has lost its way. “It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America,” he said, in accepting the Democratic presidential nomination. “Winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish. Winning it for workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top. Winning it for those communities who have known the injustice of a knee on the neck. For all of the young people who have known only America being a rising inequity and shrinking opportunity. They deserve the experience of America’s promise. They deserve to experience it in full. No generation never knows what history will ask of it. All we can ever know is whether we’re ready when that moment arrives. And now history has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America’s ever faced.”  

He repeated that sentiment soon after the election as counts continued and signaled victory was within his grasp: "To make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies. We are not enemies. What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart. So let me be clear. I, we, are campaigning as a Democrats, but I will govern as an American president." Biden acknowledged the obvious challenges after a heated campaign. 

Yet some issues are too big for compromise, as noted by Abraham Lincoln, in June 1858, when he accepted the Republican nomination to run as the Illinois candidate for the US Senate against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas sought compromise on the issue of slavery and, to the alarm of some fellow party members, Lincoln insisted some issues, like slavery, pose moral imperatives. His fiery speech borrowed a phrase from the Bible to reject strategies of unending compromise: 

"Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new - North as well as South." 

Lincoln lost that Senate race, but historians later suggested the sentiment of  the "house divided" speech  propelled him to the presidency. In that speech, he pointed out that the Supreme Court would make far-reaching decisions on slavery based on laws:  "We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free; and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty, is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation."

Some Americans display similar passion today, ready to fight on some issues, including climate change and abortion. They embrace Lincoln's conclusion: "if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise councils may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later the victory is sure to come." 

The nation's divisions today are far more pervasive today than the regional disagreements of the civil war, and cannot be resolved with violent extremism as suggested by Steve Bannon, a former advisors for Trump. He called for the firing of FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dr. Fauci in a YouTube show that has since been removed from the platform: 

“Now I actually want to go a step farther, but I realize the president is a kind-hearted man and a good man. I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England, I’d put the heads on pikes, right, I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you’re gone – time to stop playing games.... The [American] revolution wasn’t some sort of garden party, right? It was a civil war. It was a civil war.” 

Joe Biden has inherited a mess, including a pandemic out of control, a ruined economy and a divided citizenry. The country must wait until January 20 for  Biden's inauguration, but in the meantime, he can continue to listen, focus on policy, offer consistent messages, and calmly lead by example rather than showmanship, misinformation and a mob mentality. 

Rebuilding trust will take time with each of us striving to be fair, kind, empathetic and strong. As Mahatma Gandhi once noted, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” 

Photo of Biden courtesy of Carlos Barria, Reuters; Covid-19 data, Worldometers.