Dan O'Heirity

It’s Been a While So I’d Better Say Something About Covid-19

These posts will always be titled “Covid-XX” because Covid-19 is going to define the world for years to come. However, fair to say that I have been somewhat side-tracked of late by the American presidential election. What can I say? Like so many others I just cannot help myself. That said, Covid-19 is very much still with us and it represents a major problem in the United States. Using my preferred data source – which is updated in real time for new daily cases and deaths with the data being reset at GMT+0 each day – there have been 53,739,304 confirmed Covid-19 cases across 217 countries and territories. There have been 1,309,160 confirmed deaths. So Beijing, through covering up the virus in its early days and through sending its citizens around the world, has murdered well over 1,000,000 people. As of today, the United States has recorded 11,064,364 confirmed cases of the virus. There have been 249,975 deaths from the virus. Furthermore, the number of new daily cases and daily deaths in the United States is just staggering. Yesterday there were 183,527 new cases and 1,395 new deaths. Two days ago there were 162,229 new cases and 1,186 new deaths. Assuming a constant infection and death rate, a 10 day period would see at least 1,000,000 new cases and at least 12,000 new deaths. If you want some more details, take a look at this story from ABC News which examines huge increases of Covid-19 cases at a state level.

Its’ Complicated to Figure Out How Trump is Doing With His Many Lawsuits

The answer to the question of how Trump is doing with his lawsuits really depends on which news outlets you follow because, basically, the media does not report the news. Rather these outlets seek to frame perspectives. This fact has become startlingly obvious in the case of the United States presidential election race. For example, if you were to read an article by The Guardian, dated 14th November, then you would come to the conclusion that Trump’s lawsuits are not going to get him anywhere. For example, a law firm that was a part of Trumps campaign in Pennsylvania has withdrawn from proceedings. Lawyers for Trump’s campaign in Arizona have conceded that their case would not result in sufficient gains for Trump to take the state. Finally, a judge in Michigan refused to halt the certification of Detroit-area election results. In summarizing the fact that Trump has started multiple lawsuits across different states, The Guardian does acknowledge that Trump had a minor win with Pennsylvania to set aside ballots received after election day in case they are later ruled invalid. However, the number of votes is said not to be enough for Trump to win the state of Pennsylvania.

Now take a look at this story from Fox News, dated 12th November, that is reporting on Pennsylvania’s decision to set aside the votes received after election day.

Whilst The Guardian sees the Pennsylvania decision as relatively minor, Fox reported a major victory for Trump. To be precise. Fox News and Trump are referring to a “Big Win” in Pennsylvania. I would have to note here that the Fox story seems to me to be garbled to the point where I had a great deal of difficulty in determining the points that the story is actually making. This is true to the extent that I actually wondered whether Fox News had adopted a strategy of throwing out a ton of information just to confuse viewers. However, I have done my best to make sense of the story. According to the Fox Story, the Pennsylvania Common Wealth Court has ruled that the Pennsylvania Secretary of State had no authority to extend the voting deadline by three days to November 12th. Fox News goes on to report that according to the ruling, the state cannot count now count mail-in and absentee ballots in which voters provided missing information after November 9. This fact, including the cut-off date of November 9th, is confirmed by ABC News meaning that whilst The Guardian reported that Trump had a minor win with Pennsylvania to set aside ballots received after election day in case they are later ruled invalid, the actual fact is that these ballots will not now be counted. Trump’s lawyers are pursuing other cases in Pennsylvania including one case to have thousands of ballots they claim were improperly counted because they did not have all the required information.

Next I came across a story from the BBC published one hour ago that states that, “In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign’s requests to invalidate several batches of mail-in ballots were rejected“. So, basically, So it looks to me like Trump has lost this lawsuit. Will Trump supporters take this on board. Not likely, as they will continue to get their truths from social media. Case in point.

Here’s another example from Trump’s camp. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said that one million Trump supporters turned out to protest the election result. However, social media “went off” with people reporting that the number of protesters was nowhere near one million. Furthermore, CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reported that whilst he did not have an exact figure, the number of protesters was nothing like one million people. Trump countered that in his view news stations were having their reporters stand in empty streets to give the impression that the protest was relatively minor. The sad thing is that Trump’s supporters believe him even though Twitter has flagged him for misinformation 49 times in a recent week.

So, Where Exactly Are We With the Presidential Election Results?

The answer to that question really depends on which news outlets your read. As far as I can see, no one is disagreeing that, on paper, Biden has got over the line with 290 electoral votes. Trump has 232 electoral votes. However, beyond those basic facts matters just get messy. The key issue is, of course, that Trump is calling massive electoral fraud and he is trying to have decisions overturned in a number of states across America. Sky News is helping Trump out to some degree by giving air time to the idea of a fraud. That said, the report does note that there is not much in the way of evidence of fraud right now.

This brings me back to my point that news outlets are out not out to report facts. They are seeking to create a perspective and they want you to buy into the perspective. Less than 12 hours ago, BBC News reported that Biden had won the state of Georgia. The BBC headline reads, “US election 2020: Biden takes Georgia to solidify victory”. However, the reality, as reported by ABC News, is that Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia is so small that there is going to be a recount which is due by Friday 20th November. It might just be me but I’m pretty sure that a recount means that Biden has not officially won in Georgia. However, even if Trump were to win Georgia on a recount, it would make no difference to the result as Trump would not have sufficient votes for a second term as president. ABC news says, “It might make Mr Trump feel a little better about his loss, but a victory in the state will not secure him enough electoral college votes to retain the presidency“.

Meanwhile, Trump is putting the security of America at risk through refusing to give Biden access to intelligence briefings. Biden has also been denied access to Federal funds which means that Biden has no access to office space or governmental resources. Surely, this is the point that should be of most concern to the voters. Trump is not behaving as a president might be expected to behave. Rather, on my reading at least, he is being childish and churlish. Sure, he can contest the election result and throw out a raft of lies to try to secure a second term. But, at the same time, he should not be putting his own interests and agendas ahead of the safety and security of the United States. No matter Democrat or Republican, voters really should grasp this point. There is another dimension to Trump’s childish behaviour. He is signalling to the world that America is broken, that social media lies and falsehoods have the power to derail democratic processes. This will remain the case no matter who ultimately wins the election. Finally, where does America go from here? The country is clearly deeply divided and if Biden wins then Trump’s supporters will shout “electoral fraud”. If Trump were to win then Biden’s supporters would point to the lies that put Trump back in the Whitehouse. Basically, it seems to me that America is “screwed” no matter the outcome. Meanwhile China waits in the wings to emerge as the primary world super power.

First Published November 14th, 2020

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