The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 15: Today’s the Day (and Maybe the Next Several Days)

In the last several elections I’ve live blogged the results of the Presidential campaign. Alas, four years ago I got so depressed the prospect of the Trump election that I gave up around 8:00 PM and went to bed. Today’s election may not be decided tonight given the large number of absentee ballots. I’ll stay up as long as I can. I get my information from a number of different venues. In the last few months I’ve been following Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight blog. He gives Vice President Biden an 89% chance of winning, but four years ago he gave Hillary Clinton a 71% chance of winning so we’ll see. I also follow 270 To Win. In terms of the media I follow CNN, NBC and National Public Radio. Fasten your seatbelts.

3PM West Coast, 6PM East Coast, 11PM GMT As of now, no polls have closed and we don’t have any projections. As in previous years there are states that are safe for President Trump and states that are safe for Vice President Biden, and there are states that are considered “swing states.” Victory will be decided by who wins those states. I’m currently looking at three states that Secretary Clinton was expected to win in 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. They all went to Mr. Trump and swung the election. Additionally there are states that are normally swing states: Florida and Ohio. Mr. Trump won both of them. Vice President Biden hopes to win most of these states and also hopes to flip Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona. Next post when I get more news. Some polls close in a few hours.

5PM West Coast, 8PM East Coast, 1AM GMT Polls closed in Georgia, Kentucky, Vermont, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia an hour ago. North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio closed 30 minutes ago. Now the polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. As of now, NPR has projected Kentucky and West Virginia for President Trump and Vermont and Virginia for Vice President Biden. No surprise, but most races are too close to call and I expect that won’t change for several hours, and perhaps not even tonight. I keep going back and forth from NPR and NBC and there are differences, but as for now I’m sticking with NPR (who is following the Associated Press).

6PM West Coast, 9PM East Coast, 2AM GMT Polls continue to close and several states continue to be too close to call. Here’s what NPR (who reports from the AP) are calling:

Republican States:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Democratic States:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington D.C.

There are no surprises, but some of the “leaning states” give me hope for the rest of the night. My biggest surprise? As I write this, Texas is reporting 63% of the vote is in and Vice President Biden is leading by a very small margin. If he wins Texas, it’s game over for President Trump.

8PM Pacific, 11PM Eastern, 4AM GMT The more I hear, the less I can predict. As I write this Vice President Biden is ahead in the AP forecast, 209 electoral votes to 112 for President Trump. Clearly some of these predictions are based on past voting patterns and that causes some concerns. The path to 270 electoral votes twists through several close states. One of the reasons we likely won’t have a declared winner tonight lies in the fact that several states will need a day or two to count absentee or mail in ballots. President Trump has spent months attempting to claim that these votes are invalid but he’s wrong. It’s hard to know how much longer I should stay awake and keep watching.

9PM Pacific, 12AM Eastern, 05AM GMT This election appears to be closer than we had hoped. President Trump has spent weeks claiming that absentee votes are fraudulent. They aren’t. But in the COVID world many of us chose not to vote in person. And since Democrats are more likely to listen to science we were more likely to vote by mail We can only hope that these ballots will count and Trump and his minions will not successfully use the courts to invalidate them.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 149: The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 14: This Time Next Week

It’s no surprise but a week from tonight we should start learning the results of the Presidential election. I’ve been quiet on this blog for the last few months because frankly, the news has been hard to watch. I make no apologies for being a strong Democrat and watching President Trumps mismanagement of nearly everything he touches has been painful.

I write this blog primarily to inform and to keep the President accountable but I live in a nation with a stunning willingness (and enthusiasm) to ignore the truth. But next Tuesday I will sit down and live blog as the election results come it, just as I did in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

There’s a good chance that because of the record number of absentee ballots we won’t know the results on Tuesday night. That’s not a problem except that the President has signaled that he will not accept the results of the vote if he loses and he has (falsely) claimed that absentee ballots are fraudulent.

Fasten your seatbelts America.

It’s Been 19 Years and We Still Need to Remember

Nineteen years ago today most of us woke to horrible news: nearly 3,000 people woke up on the last day of their lives. We watched New York (NY), Arlington (VA) and Shanksville (PA) with horror as terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville.

I remember telling a friend that at the end of my life I’ll tell someone about this about who wasn’t even born in 2001. In the days following 9/11 I spend time listening to hospice patients who needed to tell me about their experience hearing about Pearl Harbor.

But they told me about how Pearl Harbor brought people together, how young men (and many women) lined up to volunteer to defend our nation. They told me that World War II was hell but at the end of the war they were proud to have contributed to victory over fascism and allowed Europe and Japan to embrace democracy.

In the following decades the United States helped rebuild Japan and Europe.

But in the nineteen years since 9/11 we’ve gone in a different direction. Many Americans turned anger against Muslims in the false belief that they hate us and were somehow complicit. They weren’t. Currently there are 3,000,000 Muslims in the United States and they overwhelmingly love the US as much as we do.

Unfortunately the current US President, Donald Trump, loves nothing more than blaming his troubles on “others.” We are a nation who deserves better than this. We are a nation who needs to continue to mourn our losses and at the same time looks forward to healing, peace, and reconciliation.

Next year we will commemorate 20 years since 9/11. Let us work toward being a nation worthy of their sacrifice.

The Election Chronicles, Volume 13: We’re Getting Close

As I write his we go to the polls in 71 days. At least some of us will: because of COVID 19 many will fill out mail in ballots and either mail them in or drop them off.

I haven’t written much about this because, frankly, it’s been a hard campaign to watch. Campaigns have always shown the differences between the candidates, and often times the divisions. But this campaign has been the worst I’ve seen.

I’ll confess by bias, but in the last 3 1/2 years President Trump has mishandled nearly every event of that time. My greatest fears of his Presidency have come true.

He has alienated our allies and fawned the approval of our enemies. He has exploded both the budget deficit and the national debt. He has chosen to used his power to settle scores instead of advancing American interests.

And finally, instead of listening to smart people about battling COVID he has advanced silly claims (e.g. hydroxychloroquin and oleander). He’s also attempted to divert attention by blaming the Chinese and calling it Kung Flu.

At this point Vice President Biden leads in the polls but I can’t relax for two reasons. First, four years ago at this time I was convinced Secretary Clinton would win and it didn’t. But also I fear that if President Trump is defeated he simply won’t leave the White House.

A few days ago Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked if the armed forces would move in if the President refuses to leave (they won’t). But the fact that he was asked the question is telling.

It’s going to be long 71 days (and perhaps longer). Stay tuned.

COVID Fatigue

Earlier this year we learned about COVID-19, a virus that likely originated in Wuhan, China.

Despite President Trump’s claim that the virus’ fault lies with China we are faced with a worldwide virus that we all need to deal with.

In the middle of March much of our nation “closed down.” We decided that some businesses needed to remain open and were deemed essential, among them grocery stores. Almost all of us listened to the voices of intelligence and reason.

Many people began working from home and they are the fortunate ones. Many more got laid off and needed to apply for unemployment insurance. Finally others, classified as “essential” kept working.

Everyone sacrificed but we hoped (at the time) that if we all pulled together we could “flatten the curve,” ie, prevent an increase of cases and get through the first wave by early summer.

Wave? In 1918 we suffered an enormous Influenza Pandemic (unfortunately misnamed Spanish Flu). The first wave started in March of 1918 with the first reported case in Kansas. It was thought to be a slightly more contagious version of the seasonal flu and by August there was reason to believe it was over.

But in November of 1918 troops began returning home from Europe after World War I and many carried the virus. By the time it was done it had infected 500 million people and killed between 20 million and 50 million.

When we started to learn about COVID-19 scientists from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases advised that the virus decides when the country will open back up.

I guess President Trump didn’t get the memo. On March 24th he suggested that we return to normal on Easter.

Fortunately we didn’t, but by the end of April many states (primarily in the South) began to reopen against the advice of nearly anyone smart enough to be part of the discussion. Georgia was the first, reopening on April 30th. Other states followed.

And the curve, which was flattening in early May, took off again. As I write this the United States has reported over 4 million cases.

For those of us who have followed directions about wearing masks and keeping 6 feet of distance, it’s been frustrating beyond words. I had hoped by this time I wouldn’t have to wear a mask but with this resurgence it appears we’ll have to keep doing this until scientists develop a vaccine.

Now we’re talking about Covid Quarantine Fatigue. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s real. Covid fatigue describes the weariness of having to work from home, wear a mask, and socially distance.

But I will also give another symptom: anger. I’m angry at all those who refuse to follow guidelines and wear masks when shopping or getting coffee.

Some claim that this is a matter of personal freedom (but are willing to avoid a ticket by wearing a seatbelt while in a car). Others claim that they have health conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. I have asthma and I can tell you that wearing a mask is a burden. After a few minutes I start sweating from my head and back (which I don’t understand). But I wear it anyway. I wear it because I’m willing to sweat to keep the people around me safe. I have no no patience for those who claim an exception.

And I know that I’m going to have to wear a mask for the foreseeable future because those who claim the mantle of personal freedom refuse to acknowledge personal responsibility.

In 1940 ordinary citizens of England suffered nightly bombing raids from Germany in the Battle of Britain. Germany believed that nightly bombing raids on major English cities would break the spirit of England and they would negotiate a peace treaty. It didn’t work. Instead all households were ordered to turn off all their lights at night ensuring that the German bombers couldn’t find their targets.

I write this because it worked. British homes “blacked out” their homes and won the battle. But imagine if ordinary British households believed in individual rights over corporate responsibility. Imagine that some percentage of British citizens claimed that they had the right to keep their lights on and were willing to take the chance of being bombed.

That’s fine but turning on your lights not only endangers you but your neighbors. Your irresponsible decision not only puts you in harm’s way but also those unfortunate enough to live next to you. It doesn’t matter that they’ve sacrificed for the common good because you refuse.

So for all of those who refuse to wear a mask, I hope you’re happy.

Happy Birthday America

On this day 244 years ago something amazing happened. A 33 year old farmer and scholar, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), wrote an essay that declared that the 13 colonies were independent from England. King George III (1738-1820) looked on this as nothing more than a rebellion that his troops would crush.

But Mr. Jefferson and others like him put their lives on the line. They argued that human rights were not given at the pleasure of the king, but instead human rights are given by God to everyone.

It hasn’t been an easy 244 years. For our first 89 years our country claimed that we are all equal while we held displaced Africans as slaves. Even when they were freed from their chains their lives were far from equal and it’s a fight that continues to this day.

Our 244th birthday recognizes the fact that we are led by a racist President who enjoys the support of many Americans who justify their racism by claiming victimhood.

But the good news is that our core values as Americans remain the same. We work hard, we innovate, we welcome, and we celebrate.

It wasn’t easy to celebrate our birthday during the Civil War but we did because we knew that Mr. Jefferson’s vision would win out. We can do it today.

The Justice Chronicles, Volume 37: Hail To the Redskins? Time for a Change

I grew up in Woodbridge Virginia, 25 miles south of Washington D.C. I inherited from my father a love of football and especially the Washington Redskins. As a teenager my bedroom was filled with Redskins posters, bedsheets, and clothes. I knew that the term referred to American Indians but I didn’t understand the racism.

To be fair Washington D.C. has a long history of racism. Until 1850 slaves were bought and sold on the National Mall.

The Redskins began in 1932 in Boston as the Boston Braves. The next year their owner George Preston Marshall changed the names to Redskins and moved the team to Washington D.C. in 1937.

Mr. Marshall envisioned his team as wholly white and refused to sign a player who was African American. By 1962 the Redskins were the only NFL team with no black players. Only when he was threatened did he sign Bobby Mitchell (1935-2020).

But integrating the team didn’t entirely eliminate racism. Native Americans have always found “Redskins” to be racist. George Preston Marshall and successive owners can be given a bye as most of us didn’t recognize the racism in the word Redskins. But in 1999 Dan Snyder purchased the Redskins. Soon after that he began to hear about how offensive Native Americans felt about the word Redskins. He responded by refusing to change the name.

It’s changed in the last week. FEDEX owns the rights to the Redskins stadium and they are pushing to change the name. Other sponsors have done the same.

I have to confess that I’ve had a hard time watching football because of chronic traumatic encephalopathy but I still support changing the name of the Washington Redskins.

Happy Juneteenth!

June is a good month for equal rights. On June 12th I celebrated the day when it was ruled that states can’t prevent people of different races from marrying. In 2013 the Supreme Court struck down prohibitions against gay marriage in Windsor v. Obergefell that I wrote about here. A few days ago later in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County the court ruled that you can’t be fired because of your orientation.

And today we celebrate Junteenth. I have to confess that I didn’t learn about this day until I was adult but I’m glad I know about it now. On January 1, 1863 President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that the slaves in all states in rebellion against the United States (ie, the Confederate States) were now free. To nobody’s surprise, slave owners in those states declined to inform their slaves. When the South surrendered on April 9, 1865 word did not get out right away.

Union troops then began to travel the South to liberate slaves. On June 19, 1965 word was proclaimed in Galveston, Texas. From that day forward, June 19th has been known as “Juneteenth.” since 1980.

Happy Loving Day!

Long time readers of my blog know how much I love June 12th. It was on this day in 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled that states could not criminalize marriages between people of different races. Richard Loving (1933-1975) wished to marry Mildred Jeter (1939-2008).

But they lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia where I grew up. Oh yes, Richard was white and Mildred was black. In 1958 they drove to Washington D.C. to get married. When the returned home they broke Virginia’s law and were arrested.

They soon got the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union who representative their appeals. Eventually their case made its way to the Supreme Court in the case (and I’m not kidding) of Loving v. Virginia.

On June 12, 1967 they ruled that Richard and Mildred could marry.

I know it’s been 53 years and it’s easy to see that people of different races should be able to marry but it wasn’t true then. But it wasn’t at the time. Most Americans opposed this because they felt that God didn’t want people of different races to marry.

Fast forward a few decades when most Americans thought God didn’t want people of the same sex should marry. The Supreme Court case of Obergenfell v. Hodges ruled that in the same way that states can’t prevent marriages between whites and blacks, they can’t prevent marriages between people of the same sex.

I admire Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter because they fired the opening salvo in the quest for marriage equality.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 148: Black Lives Matter (As Much As Ours Do)

The death of George Floyd continues to bring into focus how people of color face different scrutiny and that makes them more vulnerable to police violence.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m a 60 year old white man who lives with white privilege. I’m a hospice chaplain who (frankly) looks like a doctor and I’m able to take respect for granted.

But when I was about 14 I went on a bike ride with my next door neighbor Andy who is black. It was a hot day and we stopped at a convenience store to buy a soft drink. There was a sign on the door that stated that only one teenager at a time was allowed in the store but we ignored that and went into the store together. The woman behind the counter demanded that we stop immediately and one of us needed to leave and pointed to the sign.

Enraged, we both left. I couldn’t believe that this woman, who knew nothing of us, looked at us as possible thieves. She knew nothing about us. She didn’t know that we were both honor students with strong moral compasses who were guilty of nothing more than thirst. She didn’t know that my friend was a boy scout who, a few years later, would blast classical music when he worked on his car in the driveway.

I’ve thought about this a great deal in the last 46 years. As an adult I know that I can enter a store and not be followed by an employee who wants to make sure I’m not there to shoplift. I know that even if I do something suspicious they will assume I’m OK.

But here’s the thing: my black friend never had the luxury. My bike riding companion who became an Eagle Scout is now a 59 year old black man who now knows that if he tries to spend a $20 bill that turns out to be counterfeit he may die.

This is wrong. I haven’t seen him in nearly 40 years but I think of him whenever I hear about black men who are killed by law enforcement for actions that would have been different if they were white.

I pray he’s OK.