October 4, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 5:38 PM


Trump Didn't Disclose First Positive Covid-19 Test While Awaiting a Second Test on Thursday (Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus, Oct. 4, 2020, WSJ)

Mr. Trump received a positive result on Thursday evening before making an appearance on Fox News in which he didn't reveal those results. Instead, he confirmed earlier reports that one of his top aides had tested positive for coronavirus and mentioned the second test he had taken that night for which he was awaiting results.

"I'll get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning," Mr. Trump said during the interview. CBS News first reported that by that point, Mr. Trump had received a positive result on a rapid test. At 1 a.m. on Friday, the president tweeted that he indeed had tested positive. [...]

As the virus spread among the people closest to him, Mr. Trump also asked one adviser not to disclose results of their own positive test. "Don't tell anyone," Mr. Trump said, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Mr. Trump and his top advisers also aimed to keep such a close hold on the early positive results that his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, didn't know that Hope Hicks, one of the president's closest White House aides, had tested positive on Thursday morning until news reports later that evening, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Trump campaign said Friday evening that Mr. Stepien had tested positive.

The initial secrecy within Mr. Trump's inner circle has created a sense of anxiety within the West Wing. Publicly, the White House has issued evolving and contradictory statements about the president's health that has some officials worried about their own credibility.

"I'm glued to Twitter and TV because I have no official communication from anyone in the West Wing," an administration official said.

Yeah, but...he gave us exactly the same judges literally any Republican would have!
Posted by orrinj at 12:57 PM


Biden leads Trump by 14 points nationally a month from Election Day, NBC/WSJ poll finds (Jacob Pramuk. 10/04/20, CNBC)

Biden garners the support of 53% of registered voters nationally, versus 39% for Trump, according to the survey released Sunday. The advantage of 14 percentage points in the poll, taken after Tuesday's first presidential debate but before the early Friday announcement of Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis, compares with Biden's edge of 8 percentage points in an NBC/WSJ survey taken last month.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Joe Biden has foreign policy ideals that can work in this chaotic world (MICHAEL O'HANLON, 09/28/20, The Hill)

Then there is the issue of Russia and Europe since the Cold War ended. In this matter, Biden has argued consistently for the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and more recently, a prudent buttressing of its military capabilities in eastern Europe. On the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I believe Biden was largely mistaken, given the predictable effects on relations with Russia, but this notion sets me, not him, outside of the mainstream of foreign policy opinion. [...]

Finally, Biden supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and promoted the Trans Pacific Partnership. The latter, which Hillary Clinton and Trump both opposed in 2016, sought to raise standards in trade on issues like labor rights, intellectual property, and environmental policy. Ironically, despite his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, these principles were adopted by Trump in the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. Further, Biden wisely supports the latter as well.

What emerges from this partial review for the vast foreign policy record of Biden over the years is neither perfection nor consistent failure. The grade from Gates does not hold up. Biden has shown us consistent principles of military caution, multilateralism, support for democracy, and international engagement. Those sound mantras do not by themselves ensure the best decisions in difficult situations. But arguably, for this chaotic world which we find ourselves in today, they are not a bad place to start.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Choice blindness: Do you know yourself as well as you think? (David Edmonds, 10/04/20, BBC World Service)

Swedish experimental psychologist Petter Johansson loves magic. He's not formally trained but he's taught himself some basic sleight of hand techniques. Magicians have long understood the phenomenon of "change blindness". By distracting you, a magician can change a card, say the King of Clubs for the King of Spades, and the chances are you won't notice.

Johansson's rudimentary magic skills are useful for his experiments - for, some years ago, he and his colleagues decided to test not change blindness but "choice blindness".

Let me explain. In his earliest experiment, Petter Johansson showed participants pairs of pictures of faces. The subjects had a simple task: to choose the one they found most attractive. Then they were given the picture and asked to justify their selection. But unbeknown to them, Johansson had deployed his magic to make a switch; they were actually handed the picture of the man or woman they had not picked.

Petter Johansson showing a female participant two photographs of men
image captionPetter Johansson shows a female participant two photographs of men
You might assume that everyone would notice. If so, you would be wrong. Amazingly, only a quarter of people spot the switch. To repeat, the faces were of different people, and there were easily identifiable differences between them. One might be brown-haired and with earrings; the other might be blonde and with no earrings.

After the switch, the subjects explained why they had chosen the person they had actually not chosen! "When I asked them, why did you choose this face?" says Petter Johansson, "they started to elaborate on why this was the preferred face, even if, just a few seconds before, they had preferred the other face."

When he explained to them what he had done, he was usually met with surprise and often disbelief. The most intriguing cases were those in which people justified the manipulated choice by highlighting something absent in their original choice. "For instance, if they say, 'Oh, I prefer this face because I really like the earrings,' and the one they originally preferred didn't have any earrings, then we can be certain that whatever made them make this choice, it can't have been the earrings."

What can we conclude from this? Well, it turns out that we don't have a clear understanding of why we choose what we choose. We often have to figure it out for ourselves, just as we have to figure out the motives and reasons of others. The window through which we try to observe our own soul is dim and murky.

Our choices just don't much matter.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Other Democratic Party: To Understand Trump's Appeal Look to the Tradition of Boss Politics in the Democratic Party. (STEPHANIE MURAVCHIK AND JON A. SHIELDS  OCTOBER 4, 2020, The Bulwark)

The local patron-or boss-has long embodied the Democratic Party for his loyal voters in the places we studied. Elliott County's judge/executive (an elective executive position) David Blair was the Democratic machine for decades. He remains popular there, even after being forced out of office in 2011 due to corruption charges. Mayor Joe Polisena, meanwhile, controls Johnston's powerful Democratic machine. In Ottumwa the boss tradition faded years ago when city reformers pushed Jerry Parker out of the mayor's office. Yet it lives on in the fond memories of the city's old-timers. To the dismay of many in Ottumwa's small professional class-whom Parker calls the "Indian Hill people" (after the local community college)-they continue to elect him to the office of county supervisor.

The boss and his supporters are held together by a paternalistic social contract, one that exchanges promises of protection and provision in return for respect and loyalty. It's a model of politics that grows up from the patriarchal, working-class family. Boss rule also includes a degree of tolerance for corruption. "Getting the job done" in the service of loyal supporters is what matters, which means that scrupulousness about the law or maintaining tidy distinctions between public and private boundaries can interfere with good governance.

In these communities, the "Democratic" label does not even suggest a commitment to progressive views on race, gender, guns, or immigration. On many such issues, in fact, the Democrats we spoke with are moderate, some even staunchly conservative. Rather to be a Democrat long meant that one was part of a paternalistic social contract, one brought to life through an informal network of alliances.

For almost three decades, for example, David Blair was Elliott County's judge/executive until he was forced out of office by the federal government on corruption charges. Blair was indicted for currying favor with voters by providing them public gravel for the upkeep of private backroads on their farms. But he remains popular. A number of county residents we spoke to lauded him for personally helping constituents out, including hiring them when they needed jobs and using his own company's equipment to clear snow.

He first became a local patron decades ago through his connection to the carpenter's union, which allowed him to become a critical gatekeeper for jobs. "All the boys came to me who wanted in the carpenters' union," he told us. "They were just farm boys. I'd take them up there [to union headquarters] and get them a union card, and send them to Cincinnati to work. They could earn good money up there then." Later Blair continued this strategy when he bought his way into a pipefitters' union. And when Blair eventually acquired a coal business, his ability to offer jobs to loyal supporters expanded once again.

Like Blair and machine politicians everywhere, Polisena is inundated by a constant stream of favor seekers. Unlike boss rule in Johnston's old days, Polisena says he tries to help his constituents, so long as they don't ask him to break the law, which they sometimes do. "People come in here. They'll ask for something off the wall. I tell them . . . . 'I can't do that [often because it's illegal], but I can do this," the mayor told us.

In exchange, Johnston's Polisena-much like Blair in Elliott County-demands loyalty. "If you're not a Democrat in Johnston, you would never get anything, you wouldn't even get your street swept," one local told us. True or not, that's what Johnstonians believe. For this reason, Johnstonians often only expressed reservations about the mayor's rule "off the record." One accounted for their reluctance by saying,"You know how this town is."

Trump fashions himself more an old-style Democratic boss in the mold of a Blair or Polisena than a modern Republican. Like these men, Trump offers his supporters not a grand ideological vision, but rather a promise to take care of them by cutting deals-and corners if need be.

These boss-centered Democratic communities and the Trump White House have also indulged in nepotism. Many are appalled that Trump was set to appoint his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who are neither public health experts nor economists, to the Council to Reopen America. But in the towns we visited, extended family ties are often the basis of common enterprises, including politics. In Johnston a handful of family cliques control town politics. Thus, it seemed normal to people we talked to that Trump's relatives would play important roles in his administration. As one Johnstonian told us, "What do you want his kids to do?" "They're backing their father."

The Democratic machine in Johnston has been stitched together by extended ties that link families across generations, including the Lombardis, the Uccis, and the Delfinos. Mayor Polisena's son-Joe Polisena, Jr.-was just recently elected to the town council. This continuity of families in politics builds trust and familiarity among local supporters.

Donald would have been an ideal governor of IL.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump in Walter Reed Photo-Op Signs Blank Paper to Show He's Well and 'Relentless'
(KHALEDA RAHMAN, 10/4/20, Newsweek)

President Donald Trump was seen in a photo taken at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center apparently signing a blank piece of paper with a marker, further undermining the credibility of the White House when it comes to the president's health.