Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Huge Early Vote in Georgia Run-Off Election Improves Democrats' Chances

In less than a week, on Tuesday, January 5th, control of the U.S. Senate will be decided by a dual run-off in Georgia featuring Republican Senator David Perdue v. Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler v. Democrat Raphael Warnock.  If the Democrats win both races, then the Senate moves from 52-48 Republican to 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris, the constitutional presiding officer of the Senate, who is able to vote in case of ties, giving the edge to the Democrats.

I have been on record before saying that too much is being made of the outcome of this election when it
Jon Ossoff

comes to legislation. Even with Democratic control of the Senate, a President Biden will have to pursue a very mainstream agenda anyway less he lose one of the several moderate Democrats in the Senate. Then you have the fact that the filibuster still exists, which means the threshold for many votes will be 60, not 51.

Nonetheless, control of the Senate is important in non-filibuster situations, such as votes to confirm executive branch nominees and federal judges.  Particularly judges.

Democrats are celebrating the incredible early turnout for the run-off election.  As of Tuesday morning, more than 2.3 million people have voted in Georgia via mail-in ballots or at in-person early voting sites.   That early vote total surpasses the 2.1 million who voted in the 2008 U.S. Senate election, which was previously the highest turnout for a run-off election in Georgia.   Early voting closes on Wednesday.  Then of course you have Election Day next Tuesday, when millions more will vote.  

Still 2.3 million compares to the 3 million Georgians who had voted early in the November general election at a comparable time.   It is not unexpected that there be a drop-off from the general election to the run-off.  In previous run-off elections, that drop-off has favored Republicans who have an undefeated record in Georgia in such elections.

Georgia does not register voters by political party.  (Like in Indiana, Georgia voters just register to vote....they don't register as a Republican, Democrat, etc.)  Georgia though does track race and thus far the 32% of the early voters in the run-off are non-Hispanic black, who vote heavily Democrat, compared to less than 30% of the early voters being black in the general election.  Likewise, another positive sign for Democrats is that the two Georgia congressional districts with the lowest early turnout are two heavily Republican districts in northern Georgia.

During the general election, Georgia Democrats had a 2-1 edge in mail-in votes and led Republicans, albeit by a substantially closer margin, in the in-person early voting.  Where Republicans trounced Democrats in Georgia was in the votes cast on Election Day.   But those Election Day votes were not enough to offset the in-person early vote and mail-in ballots that favored Democratic Biden. 

Expect on election night that Republicans Perdue and Loeffler hold a lead in the early count, only to see their Democratic opponents whittle that lead down as as the heavily Democratic mail-in votes are counted.  That is one reason why the Republicans are trying to aggressively use the signature match requirement in Georgia to toss out write-in ballots.  I've warned on these pages about how people's signatures evolve over time and few voter registration records are updated to reflect those changes.   It is not hard for poll workers, untrained in handwriting analysis, to find that signatures do not match, especially when those ballots are expected to favor a particular party's candidates in a contentious election.

Immediately after the general election, I would have given Perdue and Loeffler a 67% chance of winning.  With the early turnout numbers and Trump supporters like Lin Wood trying their best to discourage Georgia Republicans from participating in the run-off elections, I have lowered their chances to 55%.  The result of the race(s) may still be in limbo the next day when Vice President Pence is announcing Biden is elected President.

For the record, FiveThirtyEight's polling average has Ossoff ahead by .8% and Warnock ahead by 1.9%.  A poll released today by JMC Analytics (a B/C rated pollster) has Ossof up by 8 points and Warnock up by 9.  I don't much buy that.  What I do find more persuasive is a Trafalgar Group poll released yesterday that shows Ossoff up by 3 points and Warnock ahead by 1.  Trafalgar Group has been a very pro-Republican, pro-Trump polling outfit which almost always shows Republican candidates ahead in races even when other polls show them trailing.  

Note:  Much of the statistical information for this column came from an article in Five Thirty Eight and to a lesser degree one in Politico.

OOP's short takes:
  • Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has announced he will join with House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College results during the announcement of the vote at the January 6th joint session of Congress.  It's not a surprise that Hawley, who desperately wants to be President and who will do anything to please MAGA world (even supporting non-conservative positions and undermining American democratic values), has decided to do this.  
  • On the Bulwark podcast, Charlie Sykes has speculated that only at best 7 Senators total will support casting aside Biden electors for Trump electors.  No, I think it will be 20+ in the Senate and more than 100+ in the House.   Why?  Because it is a free vote. Those House and Senate Republicans can cast votes for Trump while knowing it won't change the result - that Biden is going to be the next President of the United States.  Sykes believes at some point those Trump-supporting members of Congress are going to rediscover their honor and integrity and do the right thing because it is the right thing.  I don't think so.
  • President Trump sought to embarrass McConnell (he's still mad at Moscow Mitch for recognizing Biden as President-Elect) by insisting that the stimulus check (hate that term) be raised from $600 to $2,000.  Trump also wanted a commission to investigate election fraud in the 2016 election and a repeal of Section 230 which shields internet services like Facebook and Twitter from liability should they allow to be published on their website something that is defamatory.  
  • So, McConnell lumped all of Trump's wishes in a single bill knowing the "poison pill" provisions regarding the fraud commission and Section 230 would kill off the much more popular $2,000 stimulus proposal.  Check Mate.  One would think Trump would have learned something about legislative procedure in four years, but apparently not.  That McConnell outsmarted dim-witted Trump is not exactly something to brag about though.    
  • A 41 year old, healthy looking Congressman-elect died of Covid-19 before he could take office.  Sadly, it is an occupational hazard that politicians have to meet a lot of people when campaigning. It is inevitable that some of the people they meet will turn out to have Covid-19.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Trump World Wants VP Pence to Disregard Biden Electors and Declare Trump the Winner

On January 6th, VP Mike Pence will preside over a joint session of Congress as electoral votes for President and Vice-President are counted.  It's a ceremonial responsibility, outlined in the Constitution, one that has been carried out for over 220 years.

Trump's Kool-Aid drinking supporters now see this as an opportunity to give Trump a second term!  They are pushing for Pence to exercise his supposed authority to refuse to acknowledge the electoral votes of several swing states that, not coincidentally all voted for Biden.  Ted Noel, who is
Vice President Mike Pence

apparently an "MD" of some sort, lays out the argument in an article published in the "American Thinker":
On January 6, a joint session of Congress will open with Vice President Pence presiding as president of the Senate.  His power will be plenary and unappealable.  You heard that right.  As president of the Senate, every objection comes directly to him, and he can rule any objection "out of order" or "denied."  His task will be to fulfill his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.  This is a high standard of performance, and V.P. Pence will have two choices.  He can roll over on "certified" electors, or he can uphold the law.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution gives state legislatures "plenary authority" as enunciated in Bush v. Gore.  This is key, since the counting of votes is discussed in Article II, the 12th Amendment, and 3 USC 15.  To this we must add the history of counting and objections recounted by Alexander Macris (here and here).  Put bluntly, it's as clear as mud.  Add to that the fact that the contested states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have sent dueling slates of electors to D.C.  This means that the V.P. has to decide how he will handle the situation when two sealed envelopes are handed to him from any of those states.

Macris points out that in 1800, even with constitutional deficiencies in Georgia, Thomas Jefferson blithely counted defective electoral votes from Georgia, effectively voting himself into the presidency.  This demonstrates that the president of the Senate is the final authority on any motions or objections during the vote-counting.  There is no appeal.  That doesn't mean there won't be any outrage.  Whatever Pence does, people will be angry.  But what does the law demand?

Seven contested states clearly violated their own laws.  Rather than list the facts, which have been detailed in multiple articles, we must consider the following:

An election is a process of counting votes for candidates. Only valid, lawful votes may be counted.  A valid lawful vote is:

  • Cast by an eligible, properly registered elector as prescribed by laws enacted by the state Legislature.
  • Cast in a timely manner, as prescribed by laws enacted by the state Legislature.
  • Cast in a proper form as prescribed by laws enacted by the state Legislature.

Any process that does not follow these rules is not an election.  Anything that proceeds from it cannot be regarded as having any lawful import.


If there are a handful of improper votes, we can suggest that there was in fact an election, perhaps tainted, but the election wasn't materially harmed.  But when the people charged with managing the election decide to ignore the law, whatever process they supervise is not the process defined by the law.  Therefore, it is not an election.

This leaves V.P. Pence with a dilemma.  He is a gentleman who regards our governmental traditions with a degree of reverence, so he will be reluctant to take any bold action.  But as an honorable man, faced with massive illegality, he must act to protect the law.  Consider how things might go down as the two closed envelopes from Georgia are handed to the V.P.  Rather than opening them, he says:


The central point is that the VP, as the presiding officer and final authority, has the unquestionable authority to declare that the states in question have not conducted presidential elections.  There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, but no one has the authority to override his decision.

The statement says nothing about who might or might not have "won" the contested states.  Rather, by not following their own laws, as enacted by their own legislatures, they have violated Article II, Section 1.  Thus, they have not conducted an election, and their results are void.

If the votes of all seven contested states are registered as zero, President Trump will have 232 votes, and Joe Biden will have 222.  The 12th Amendment says, "[T]he votes shall then be counted[.] ...  The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President[.]"

In plain language, Donald Trump will be re-elected, since he has a majority of the actual electoral votes.  There will be no need to involve the House of Representatives to resolve a contingent election.


So Dr. Ted's position is, screw federalism, screw democratic elections, the Vice President of the United States has the absolute power to judge the winner of a Presidential election by simply disregarding the election that took place in certain states, and there is nothing anyone can do to challenge his decision.  Silly me. 

When I taught political science, I told my students that the Vice-President had two jobs: to preside over the Senate and take over as President should he resign or die in office.  Apparently, I overlooked the fact that the Vice-President is the absolute and final judge of all presidential elections, which makes him the most powerful officeholder in the country.

One of President Trump's lawyers, Jenna Ellis, who curiously bills herself as a "constitutional law attorney," retweeted Dr. Ted's article with the notation that it is an "Interesting piece."   To which "Doctor Ted" tweeted that his idea is "in the White House now."  Meanwhile, Trump had more than one meeting with Pence last week.  Given Trump's obsession with his effort to overturn the election, those meetings were almost certainly about Pence's role on January 6th. 

For the first time in his life, Pence is going to have to stand up to Trump and tell him "no."  That won't win him support in the Trump world, but it may let him win back some of the respect he's given away these past four years as Trump's boot-licking sidekick.

OOP's short takes:

  • Trump has announced that he is holding a rally in Georgia the day before the state holds the two run-off races which will decide control of the Senate.   Unfortunately, for Republicans Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, 2 million Georgians have already voted by absentee (Georgia is a no excuse absentee voting state) or at early voting locations.  (Early voting ends in Georgia on Thursday.)  In the November 3rd election, more than half of the 5 million votes cast in Georgia were done by mail or early voting.   Democrat Joe Biden won 65% of the the 1.3 million absentee ballots returned during that election.
  • While the Georgia Republican Party has tried to push absentee voting, the party has been undercut by Trump's demonization of the mail-in votes.  Thus, it looks like once again the Republicans will have to rely on heavy election day turnout, in the midst of a pandemic, to offset the early and absentee ballots which favor the Democratic Senate challengers Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
  • Atlanta Lawyer Lin Wood suggested via tweet that Purdue and Loeffler should be arrested, apparently for not supporting sufficiently President Trump's claims of voter fraud in Georgia.  Wood also encouraged Republicans to "break" the election in the state by refusing to vote because of voter fraud in the state and then real conservatives could be appointed after the United States Supreme Court invalidates the election.   Interestingly, while Wood is a fervent Trump supporter, he has long identified as a Democrat and has contributed to Democratic candidates.  Of course, that also describes Donald Trump up until 2015, when he decided to pretend to be a Republican in order to seek, successfully, the GOP nomination.  

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Republican Candidates Outperformed Trump in Large Cities

There is no doubt where Donald Trump lost the 2020 election - in the suburbs of swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Indeed, throughout the country, suburbanites were pulling the Biden lever while then crossing over to vote for Republicans down ballot.  

Trump's strength remained in rural America.  He not only increased his vote share of the country's rural counties, he also increased rural turnout.

Which brings me to an unexpected phenomenon of the 2020 election...Trump substantially improved his numbers in large cities compared to 2016.  For example, Trump's percent in New York City improved from 17.9% in 2016 to 22.6% in 2020.   That improvement reflected Trump's marginal improvement with non-white voters, particularly African-American and Latinos.

It is easy to make too much of the trend.  The fact is Republicans, and Trump, still do simply awful with most minority groups and, in particular, African-Americans.   Republicans are still nowhere near getting the numbers they need to win in black majority districts.  However, GOP improvement with Latinos might have helped Trump hold on to Texas and Florida, while improvement with African-Americans might have kept North Carolina, narrowly, in the Republican column.                  

Trump's better than expected numbers with minorities living in the inner city was of interest to me, especially given Trump's flirtation with white nationalism.  Then it suddenly occurred to me that the improvement in the inner cities might be a Republican phenomenon rather than a Trump phenomenon.    Maybe Trump was simply riding in the GOP boat when it was lifted by better Republican numbers in the inner city.

Let me rephrase.  In the suburbs, Joe Biden clearly ran well ahead of other Democratic candidates.  So, in large cities, did Trump run ahead of GOP candidates?  If Trump had a particular appeal to people, particularly minorities, living in large cities that other GOP candidates lacked, then Trump would run ahead of other Republican candidates in those cities.

Going into my research, I assumed that is exactly what I would find.  What I found though is quite the opposite.  Looking at election results in Philadelphia, Detroit, Phoenix, St. Louis and Indianapolis, Trump ran behind virtually every GOP candidate.  Trump was merely receiving the benefit of improved Republican popularity in the cities.  

That Republicans are doing better with minorities, many of whom live in the nation's largest cities, actually isn't a new phenomenon.
What changed in the racial and gender dynamics this cycle to produce these apparently extraordinary results? The truth is, absolutely nothing. These trends have been underway for the entirety of Trump’s public life.

In fact, Democrat losses with minority voters precede Trump’s candidacy. Over the course of Obama’s tenure in office, Democrats saw attrition with black and Hispanic voters in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Trump won in 2016 precisely because of this long-running erosion. Despite lackluster support among whites for the Republican candidate, Asian, Black and Hispanic voters continued to defect from the Democratic party – tipping key swing states in Trump’s direction, and handing him the election.
The Guardian article goes on to highlight where Republicans have been losing support - among white voters.  
Contrary to the prevailing narratives, the Republican party saw continued attrition with whites throughout Trump’s tenure in office. Almost all the losses Republicans saw in 2018, for instance, were due to defections by white voters. As compared to 2016, Republicans slightly improved their numbers with Blacks and Hispanic voters during the midterms. However, the margins among whites shifted 10 percentage points in the other direction, helping Trump’s opposition win the House.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Republicans might at some point start doing better with African-American and Latino voters.  Both minority groups tend to be more conservative, especially on social issues, than white voters.  And, frankly, the GOP was doing so badly with African-American voters that there was nowhere to go but up.

OOP's short takes:

  • Santa keeps a list of "naughty and nice" and rewards the children who have been "nice" with toys.  Donald Trump keeps a list of "naughty and nice" and rewards those who have been "naughty" with pardons.  Seriously, we need to find a way to reform the pardon power.   Contrary to what  some legal experts say,  I just don't buy the argument that there is a way to do that via statute.  It would have to be a constitutional change.  
  • There is no more perfect metaphor for the incompetence and poor deal-making abilities of Donald Trump than his sending out Treasurer Secretary Steve Mnuchin to negotiate a Covid-19 relief bill with the House and Senate, only to pull the rug out from under the deal his own administration negotiated when right-wing media expressed opposition to the bill.  

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Trumpers Peddle Fake News to Smear Chief Justice John Roberts

Every where on social media, Trumpers have turned their ire on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The social media circulated story that has Trumpers so riled up was repeated by Texas elector Matt Patrick in support of the inclusion of the word "cowardice" in a resolution criticizing the Supreme Court's dismissal of the Texas case.

"I wish I could give you a specific citation for this but I didn't make note of it because it was something that I read this morning and I did not know we were going to be presenting this amendment yet. But there's a report, available online. It was written by someone who's a current staffer for one of the Supreme Court justices. And I'll just describe the report to you what I read and you can make of it what you will."

Chief Justice John Roberts

“He said that the justices, as they always do, went into a closed room to discuss cases they're taking or to debate. There's no phones, no computers, no nothing, no one else is in the room except for the nine justices. It's typically very civil. They just debate what they're doing.

“But when the Texas case was brought up, he said he heard screaming through the walls as Justice Roberts and the other liberal justices were insisting that this case not be taken up. And the reason — the words that were heard through the wall when Justice Thomas and Justice Alito were citing Bush versus Gore — from John Roberts were ‘I don’t give a (brief pause to omit obscenity) about that case. I don't want to hear about it. At that time, we didn't have riots.’

“So what he was saying was that he was afraid of what would happen if they did the right thing,” Patrick told fellow electors. “And I'm sorry, but that is moral cowardice.”
The resolution passed overwhelming, but the "moral cowardice" language Patrick wanted was not  included.

The story was obviously fake. Due to the pandemic, the justices, most of whom are elderly and very susceptible to Covid-19, have not met together for nine months.  They were not in a closed, sealed room room shouting at each other.  Media Matters did the work and tracked down the origin of the silly hoax:
A hoax from a far-right message board about a rejected pro-Trump Supreme Court case went viral, drawing millions of views on social media and tricking a presidential elector in Texas and multiple right-wing media outlets and figures after a known white nationalist shared it.

...[A case] brought by Texas’ Republican attorney general, urged the Supreme Court to throw out the election results in four states that went to Biden. On December 11, the Supreme Court rejected the case.

That evening, a user on “/pol/,” a far-right message board on 4chan, posed as a “Supreme Court Clerk” and claimed they heard that the justices had been “arguing loudly behind closed doors” about the Texas case in a “closed and sealed room, as is standard.” The user claimed that during a “screaming” match, Chief Justice John Roberts told the other justices that hearing the Texas case would cause “riots” and that he would tell them “how to vote.” The post was clearly false, as the justices have not met in person for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the Roberts' shouting story was obviously fake and quickly debunked, nonetheless it continues to be circulated via social media, including being amplified by prominent Trumpers such as Atlanta attorney Lin Wood.   Indeed it is a hard story for Trumpers to let go.  It fits the narrative they like  -  were it not for the intervention of "deep state" actors, people like Chief Justice Roberts, Trump would have won the Texas case and the election results favoring Biden overturned. 

Now photos are being circulated on the social media trying to link Chief Justice Roberts to the Jeffrey Epstein pedophilia scandal.  One is a picture of a flight log which lists a "John Roberts" as a passenger purportedly on a flight to Saint Thomas island where Epstein had a house.    Even if the photo is legitimate, the Chief Justice has a very common name, no doubt shared with thousands of other men.  

Then there is another photo of a man sitting on a couch with his arm around Ghislaine Maxwell, who is awaiting trial on charges that she procured underage women for her "boyfriend" Epstein. The man looks, at best, remotely like Roberts.  Even if it is Roberts, there is no way of knowing if the photo was altered or, if not, the circumstances behind the picture.   

The fact no mainstream conservative media outlets will touch the supposed links between Roberts and Epstein (and no "Gateway Pundit is not a legitimate news source) suggests there is nothing to it.  Yet that has not stopped Trumpers, such as Lin Wood, from disseminating the story to prove Chief Justice Roberts' "corruption."  

Wood also had another baseless Roberts' rumor that he posted on Twitter feed:

“In discussing @realDonaldTrump in phone conversation in 8/19, Justice John Roberts stated that he would make sure ‘the mother f#*ker would never be re-elected,” the tweet said. “Roberts engaged in phone conversations with Justice Stephen Breyer discussing how to work to get Trump voted out.”

Trumpers are trying everything they can, including lies, in an effort to force Chief Justice Roberts to resign.  Yeah, good luck with that one.  I'm going to bet on the guy who has lifetime tenure to win that one.

OOP's short takes:

  • Earlier Secretary of State confirmed that the massive cyber attack was almost certainly done by Russia.  U.S. intelligence officials are also pointing their fingers at Russia.  Breaking news:  Donald Trump late this morning tweeted sent out a series of tweets deflecting blame from Russia and instead suggesting China did the hacking.  Oh, and he also claims China may have hacked the voting machines to give the election to Biden.
  • Can we stop pretending that Vladimar Putin doesn't have something on Trump?  The President defends Russia at every turn.
  • I don't expect the controversial pardons of Trump's family and friends will happen until after Christmas.  Perhaps after the January 5th Georgia run-off and the January 6th counting of electoral votes in Congress. But it will happen. Guaranteed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Georgia Senate Race, Russia Cyberattack; Biden's Approval Rating and Cabinet

Some OOP's short takes and assorted predictions:

  • Several Republican members of the U.S. House are ready to challenge the Electoral College vote on January 6th.  The trouble is they need one Senator to dispute the vote and Majority Leader McConnell is trying to discourage any of his GOP Senators from doing so.  
  • Expect Trump to soon put pressure on to Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to join in the House objection.  I think they do it.  They would rather risk the wrath of McConnell
    Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)

    than a nasty tweet by Trump which turns Trumpers against the duo.
  • I would not be surprised too if Vice President Mike Pence's role on January 6th leads to some Trumpian pressure.  Pence's job is simply to announce the Electoral College vote, a ministerial job.  However, since the election, Trump has demanded that Republicans at the state level not perform their ministerial jobs such as certifying vote totals.  I could see whether Pence announces Biden to be the winner becoming a litmus test for Trump and/or his supporters.
  • Not sure when, or if, I will ever be ready to predict who will win the two Georgia senate seats.  I'm inclined to guess Republican Perdue and Loeffler are victorious because Republicans tend to do better in low turnout elections.  However, I do think the attacks on the legitimacy of November's election in Georgia is probably turning off Republican voters who may stay home.  If Trump attacks Perdue and Loeffler for a lack of support before January 6th, that could hurt them. But tying themselves too closely to Trump could turn off Atlanta suburbanites which voted overwhelmingly for Biden.  
  • The polls have the two races as a dead heat.  But the result will depend entirely on which camps get their voters to the polls.  It is extremely difficult for pollsters to guess who will be voting, especially in low turnout elections.
  • Expect in late January that Biden's average approval rating to be in the low 60s.  Trump's rating never reached 50% during his entire presidency.   The problem for Biden is that, no matter what he does, even if he cures cancer, 35% of the country will never support him.
  • Between March and May, the computers of several U.S. agencies were hacked into and data stolen.  While Russia has not been formally identified as the culprit yet, several United States officials have confirmed that Russia was behind the biggest cyber raid in 5 years.   It is interesting to see whether Trump brings up the hack with his buddy, Vladimar Putin.  My guess is "no."
  • In this country, cabinet secretaries do not directly make policy. Rather they are carrying out the policy of the President of the United States.  Therefore, Republicans in the Senate should confirm Biden's cabinet choices as well as other appointees, unless they are found to be unqualified for those positions.  
  • The Republican attacks on Neera Tanden as OMB director are pure silliness.  Yes, she is a Democratic partisan and, yes, she wrote nasty tweets slamming some Republican Senators.  When it came to Trump's which were much worse than Tanden's, those same Senators would always claim to have not read them or, if they had, not been offended by them.  Republican Senators need to put their big boy pants on and confirm Tanden.  If they don't, we are going to end up with someone in that position who is much more liberal than Tanden, who is considered more of a moderate on fiscal issues.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Cleveland Indians Baseball Team Announces It is Dropping its Nickname

Cleveland Indians major league baseball team, which was established in 1901 as one of the founding members of the American League, announced yesterday that it would be choosing a new nickname following the 2021 season.

Although the team had several nicknames between 1901 and 1914, in 1915 the Cleveland franchise settled on "Indians," hoping the name would bring it some of the same success the Boston Braves were having at the time in the National League.

In conjunction with the decision, the Cleveland Indians released the following statement:

The Cleveland Indians today announced our decision to begin the process of changing from our team name "Indians." Since July, we have conducted an extensive process to learn how our team name affected different constituencies and whether it aligned with our organizational values. As a result of that process, we have decided to move forward with changing the current team name and determining a new, non-Native American based name for the franchise. We believe our organization is at its best when we can unify our community and bring people together - and believe a new name will allow us to do this more fully.

Team Owner and Chairman Paul Dolan said, "Hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them.  We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community.  I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful.  When a sports team is aligned with its community, it unlocks the ability to unite people from different backgrounds and bring people together in support of their home team. While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name.

I can understand how the "Redskins" name is considered offensive. I too can see why the Cleveland Indians got rid of its Chief Wahoo mascot years ago.  Chief Wahoo was a derisive nickname given to generic Indians and the smiling appearance of the mascot was more mockery than flattery.

But simply because a sports team is named after Native Americans doesn't make it derogatory.  If anything, it can be viewed as laudatory. Team owners generally don't choose a nickname for the purpose of insulting the home team.

Of course, post Cleveland Indians, we still have the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Kansas City Chiefs football team.

I live in Indiana which means "Indian land."  I live more particularly in Indianapolis, which combines "Indian land" with the Greek word for "city," i.e. Indianapolis means Indian City.  Are we now going to require the renaming of the Hoosier state and its capital city?

Indiana is hardly alone.  There are 25 other states whose names have a Native American origin.  Should we rename them too?


Alabama is the name of an Indian tribe native to the state. This tribal name may have come from the word albina, which means "campsite" in their own language, or from the words alba amo, which mean "clearing brush."


Alaxsxix, which is a name from the Aleut language. This name means "place the sea crashes against."


Arizonac, which is a Spanish corruption of a local Indian name-- possibly the Tohono O'odham word alishonag, which means "little spring."


Acansa, which is the name of a Quapaw Indian town. Literally the name means "southern place."


Quinnitukqut, which is the Mohegan Indian name for the Connecticut River. Literally the name means "long river."


Illiniwek, which is the tribal name of the Illini tribe. Literally the name means "best people."


Ayuhwa, which is one of the tribal names of the Ioway Indian tribe. Literally the name means "sleepy ones."


Kansa, which is the name of the Kansa Indian tribe. Literally the name means "south" and is a shortened form of their own tribal name for themselves, People of the South Wind.


Kentake, which is an Iroquois placename meaning "meadow land."


Massachuset, which is a Wampanoag Indian name meaning "by the range of hills."


Mshigem or Misigami, which are the native names for Lake Michigan in the Potawatomi and Ojibwe languages. Both names mean "great lake."


Mnisota, which is the native name of the Minnesota River in the Dakota Sioux language. Literally the name means "cloudy water."


Misiziibi, which is the native name of the Mississippi River in the Ojibwe language. Ojibwe is not actually a native language of Mississippi state-- the language is spoken near the source of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, which is where the river got its name, and the state was later named after the river. Literally the name means "great river."


Missouria is the name of an Indian tribe native to the state. Their tribal name came from the word mihsoori, which means "big canoe people."


Nibthaska or Nibrathka, which are the native names for the Platte River in the Omaha-Ponca and Otoe languages. Both names mean "flat river."

New Mexico

Of course, New Mexico was named after the country of Mexico, but since Mexico itself is named after an American Indian word, the state of New Mexico is also! Mexico is a placename from the Aztec Indian language (Nahuatl.) It literally means "city of the Aztecs."

North Dakota

Dakota, which is the tribal name of the Dakota Sioux Indians. Literally the name means "the allies."


Ohiyo, which is the name of the Ohio River in the Seneca Indian language. Literally the name means "it is beautiful."


Okla Homma, which means "Red Nation" in the Choctaw Indian language.


This was a name given by early American settlers to the Columbia River. It was probably a Native American name which the settlers brought with them from another state, since it does not resemble names from the Native American languages of Oregon. It may have meant "beautiful river" in an eastern Algonquian language.

South Dakota

Dakota, which is the tribal name of the Dakota Sioux Indians. Literally the name means "the allies."


Tanasi, which was the name of a Cherokee Indian town in the region. Although "Tanasi" was recorded as the Cherokee name of this town, it does not specifically mean anything in the Cherokee language (just as many English place names are not specific words.) It may have been a shortened form of a longer Cherokee word or phrase, or it may have been named after a Cherokee person.


Taysha, which means "friend" in the Caddo Indian language.


Ute is the name of an Indian tribe native to the state. This tribal name may have come from the word nuutsiu, which means "the people" in their own language.


Wishkonsing, which is the Ojibwe name for the Wisconsin River. However, this word does not have a specific meaning in the Ojibwe language, and none of the Ojibwe Indians in our organization knows any oral traditions about where the name came from.


Chwewamink, which means "by the big river flat" in the Lenape Indian tribe. The Lenape Indians never actually lived in Wyoming-- it was originally the name of a town in Pennsylvania, and white settlers from that area brought the name with them when they moved west.

OOP's short takes:

  • Early this morning, Donald Trump retweeted Atlanta Attorney Lin Wood's claim that the President would be soon locking up Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.  Wood is spearheading the effort to encourage Georgia Republicans to not vote in the Senate run-off election because Kemp and Raffensperger supposedly helped Joe Biden win the state by allowing voter fraud.  Trump's tweet was not helpful to the GOP turnout cause.OOP's short takes:
  • Politico has a story about how Trump's new "leadership" political action committee Save America is using the Georgia run-off elections to solicit political contributions for the two Republican Senate candidates, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler But in reality 75% of the money is kept by Save America (which Trump can use for basically anything he wants) while 25% goes to the Republican National Committee.  Although the RNC is making a sizable contribution to the two Senate candidates, none of the money Save America is passing along to the RNC has to be spent on the race.
  • Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor to congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.  It would be nice too if McConnell would disavow the election fraud nonsense Trump is peddling to his most gullible supporters, but I won't hold my breath on that happening.
  • President Trump is angry that the investigation into Hunter Biden possibly not paying taxes on $400,000 in income was, per Justice Department policy, kept under wraps by Attorney General  Bill Barr until after the 2020 election.  Of course, Trump himself benefited from that very same policy in 2016 when it was not revealed until after the election that his campaign was under investigation for its many contacts with Russia relating to the election.
  • Of course, Bill Barr doing the right thing doesn't wipe out all the dishonest and disreputable things he did as Attorney General, maybe the most serious one being how he held on to the Mueller Report for weeks so he could lie to the American public about what was in it.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Ivanka and Jared to Relocate to Florida as Rumors Swirl About Ivanka Running for U.S. Senate

CNN reports:

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are currently in the final stages of purchasing a plot of land in an exclusive enclave nicknamed "billionaire bunker," near Miami Beach, Florida, according to a source familiar with the transaction.

The lot, which is just shy of two acres and sits on Biscayne Bay, was listed at $31.8 million and the couple offered somewhere in the range of $28-30 million, the source said. The sale

Ivanka Trump

is pending under contract, meaning the buyer's offer has been accepted by the seller, who happens to be legendary Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias.

A spokesperson for Trump declined CNN's request for comment on the transaction.


The dollar amount is stunning, but comparable to the other 29 estates and 11 lots that make up Indian Creek Island, an ultra-private "village," as one local real estate expert describes the area.

"(Indian Creek Island) is one of Miami's most private and sought after neighborhoods, frequented by high net-worth individuals seeking privacy," said Dora Puig, who has during her career sold more than $3 billion worth of real estate and is the owner of a luxury boutique brokerage in the area. (Puig was not involved in the sale or purchase of the Trump-Kushner transaction.)

It turns out that the move might coincide with Ivanka's interest in running for political office.  The article continues:

Ivanka definitely has political ambitions, no question about it," the source told CNN. "She wants to run for something, but that still needs to be figured out."

Putting down roots in Florida is certainly a first step.

"Assuming she's not interested in a low-profile political office, that would leave the United States Senate as a possibility," said Adam C. Smith, former Tampa Bay Times political editor and now consultant with Mercury Public Affairs. "Marco Rubio is up for reelection in 2022 and is expected to run again. But I wouldn't think Rubio would deter her if she wanted to run. The last time Marco Rubio ran against a Trump in Florida, in the 2016 presidential primary, Rubio was crushed by 19 percentage points."

"Normally, you'd expect a credible candidate for US Senate to spend years building a political and financial network, but those normal rules would not apply to Ivanka," he said. "I think she'd be the immediate frontrunner if she ran for US Senate against Rubio, given her father's popularity in the Sunshine State."

That Ivanka would even consider running statewide in Florida as a Republican shows how conservative ideas and principles are no longer central to the Trump-dominated GOP.  While living in New York City, Jared and Ivanka were considered liberals who gave to liberal causes and supported Democratic candidates.  It wasn't until October 22, 2018 that Ivanka and Jared switched their party registration from Democrat to Republican. 

I just don't buy Mr. Smith's assumption that Ivanka, or any other of  Donald Trump's intellectually and ethically-challenged children, are going to be able to assume his popularity within the party.   While Florida Democrats no doubt would love to see Ivanka win the nomination over Rubio, I doubt it would happen.  Still it would be fun watching Rubio battle it out with Ivanka.  Rubio, after all, made a deliberate choice after 2016 to sell out his political soul to go all in on Donald Trump, thinking it would earn him some loyalty.   Who knew "loyalty" with Trump was a one-way street?  Pretty much everyone.

OOP's short takes:

  • Monday was the first day of the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. Finally, light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Monday also is the day the Electors cast their vote for President.  Biden won three states - Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia - by a combined 43,000 votes.  If Trump had won those states, then the electoral college vote would be 269-269.  With no candidate having a majority, the U.S. House of Representatives, voting by delegation, would have picked the President.  Given the Republicans have a majority of delegations, that would have meant a second term of President Trump. 
  • Politico has an excellent article on the Jerry Falwell, Jr.'s use of millions of dollars in Liberty University funds for what appears political activity.  Liberty is a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious and education.  While it's often a gray area in terms of what is political,  501(c)(3) non-profit organizations cannot be engaged in politics.