The pledge’s the thing

You may have heard that Joe Biden hit the campaign trail in Wisconsin yesterday. Having previously struggled to quote the most famous line in the Declaration of Independence — “you know the thing” — Biden wrestled with the Pledge of Allegiance. Once again, Biden lost. Didn’t they load the text into the teleprompter for him, or was Biden improvising?

Via Tristan Justice/Breitbart.

Coronavirus in one state (102)

The Minnesota authorities drone on as though nothing has changed. I have posted the audio of yesterday’s Department of Health press briefing below.

Case numbers are up, but deaths and hospitalizations are down — way down. In the data reported yesterday, for example, the authorities attributed four new deaths to COVID-19, two of which occurred among residents of long-term care facilities. LTC deaths now account for 72.3 percent of all deaths attributed to the epidemic in Minnesota.

At about 37:00 one of the reporters asks a question about declining deaths and hospitalizations. According to Commissioner Jan Malcolm, the state must remain under monarchical rule in order to protect residents of long-term care facilities from employees who spread the disease. Malcolm alleges that they have seen an uptick in cases among long-term care residents (“again…it appears quite strongly”) caused by health care workers unknowingly bringing the disease into the facilities.

The authorities repeatedly told us over the summer that these numbers would increase after a lag of a few weeks. They will never admit they erred. On the contrary, they will reiterate the importance of persisting in their train of thought, as Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann did in response to the question yesterday. Really.

Kevin Roche considers the quandaries in the state’s treatment of case data here. Jeremy Olson summarizes the briefing in the context of the current data here. On the failure of fatalities to track cases, Jeremy reserves judgment: “The key question is whether continued high numbers of new infections with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will lead to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths in Minnesota.”

The big news out of yesterday’s briefing is enough to make me spit. The state is in the process of opening ten “semi-permanent” centers for saliva testing. Jeremy unfortunately omitted this news in his account.

MDH issued a press release announcing developments in saliva testing. It faithfully reflects the tone of the briefings:

“Our battle against COVID-19 is far from over,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The high number of new cases we’ve seen in recent days shows the outbreak could quickly spread out of control, so it’s important to stay a step or two ahead. Innovative partnerships are one of the ways we do that. This next milestone allows us to expand and diversify our testing options available to Minnesotans. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to keep schools and the economy as open as possible. While testing alone will not suppress the virus, higher testing volumes are a central part of our strategy to manage the virus.”

There is more at the link if you want it.

DOJ joins challenge to New Mexico’s restriction on private school openings

In response to the Wuhan coronavirus, New Mexico has limited the capacity at which schools are allowed to operate. Public schools are permitted to operate at 50 percent of capacity. Private schools are allowed to operate only at 25 percent.

Given this severe limitation on its ability to operate, one academy decided not to open, but instead to rely on instruction online. The father of a student at that school filed a lawsuit alleging that New Mexico violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by using one rule for public schools and another for private ones.

Today, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the case. It argues that under Supreme Court law, parents’ educational choices for their children are a fundamental constitutional right, and that New Mexico has no grounds for abridging that right by adopting stricter rules for private schools than for public schools.

New Mexico defends the use of different rules apparently on the theory that public schools have greater oversight requirements than private ones. However, the rule seems to preclude private schools from operating at 50 percent capacity even if they adopt the same precautionary practices as public schools.

New Mexico also says that, in practice, very few public school students in grades 7-12 are receiving in-person instruction because state education officials are taking a hyper-cautious approach to reopening. New Mexico is afraid that, by contrast, most private schools would reopen under a 50 percent rule.

But the New Mexico rule assumes that it’s safe for schools to open at 50 percent capacity if certain social distancing practices are maintained. Thus, the state shouldn’t fear the opening of private schools that also practice proper social distancing.

The broader question, albeit not a legal one, is why New Mexico is so reluctant to reopen its schools. The state reportedly has the lowest average positivity rate for coronavirus testing in the western U.S. at roughly 2.1 percent and is among the leaders nationwide in tests administered per capita. Moreover, children and young adults face very little serious health risk from the virus.

Accordingly, a sound cost-benefit analysis would seem strongly to favor opening New Mexico’s schools — public and private — at 50 percent capacity or more. But the legal issue will be whether the state has sufficient grounds to treat private schools more restrictively than public ones.

Invitation to Voter Fraud

I believe that President Trump will be re-elected in November, if only legal ballots cast by eligible voters are counted. What I don’t know is how many millions of fraudulent votes will be cast for Joe Biden.

My state, Minnesota, has made a point of facilitating voter fraud. Every registered voter in the state, of whom there must be several million, has received an application for an absentee ballot that promotes “voting from home.” Actually showing up at the polls is portrayed as a second-best alternative for “those who need or want to vote in person.”

If you receive this invitation, as I did, no identification is required to obtain an absentee ballot. You may have a Minnesota driver’s license, or maybe a Social Security number. (Who doesn’t?) But failing that, or if fraud is your object, you can check the third box. In that case, “Your identification number will be compared to the one on your absentee ballot envelope.”

“Your identification number” is not explained in the enclosed materials, but it can only refer to a bar code on the Business Reply Mail envelope that is included with each absentee ballot application. This obviously affords no ballot security. It merely will document that an application for an absentee ballot was submitted, and a ballot corresponding to that application was later cast. It provides no assurance as to who filled out that ballot.

This crude system has many flaws, the most obvious of which is that voter registration rolls are notoriously inaccurate. Earlier today I got a text from a friend with photographs of three absentee ballot applications that came to his residence. One was addressed to him. The other two were addressed to a couple who formerly owned his home, but moved to Arizona in 2017. There is literally nothing standing in the way of his checking the third alternative on question number 4, and obtaining absentee ballots in the names of those former residents, which he could then cast, thus voting three times instead of once. He won’t do this, because he is honest. He is also a Republican. I have gotten the same reports of erroneous ballot applications from several other friends.

How many Democrats will take advantage of the millions of invitations to absentee ballot applications that are now flooding the state, to vote more than once? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. But the Democratic Party, having promoted “voting from home” and having eliminated the requirement of a witness signature (via a “settlement” with left-wing groups entered into by Secretary of State Steve Simon, who does everything possible to facilitate voter fraud), is obviously counting on voter fraud to help swing Minnesota into Joe Biden’s column.

Who knows? In a hotly contested election, it might work.

The Democratic Party of the Past, and the Future

Collin Peterson is the closest thing to a conservative Democrat in Congress. He has represented Minnesota’s 7th District, the Northwestern and West Central portion of the state, since 1991. He is currently Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. At one time Peterson was an icon in the district, but his enthusiasm for campaigning has waned and in recent cycles, as his district moved farther away from the Democratic Party, his margin of victory has steadily declined. In 2016, the 7th District went for Donald Trump by 30 points. Peterson is one of the last Democrats in the House, possibly the last, to represent a rural district.

Last week, Peterson tried to distance himself from fellow Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar:

“Do you have any comment as to why you defended Ilhan Omar?” an employee with the National Republican Congressional Committee asked Peterson on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

“I don’t defend her. She doesn’t belong in our party,” the 16-term lawmaker responded.

When asked to clarify himself, a COVID-19-masked Peterson repeated, “She doesn’t belong in our party,” as he walked away.

But in this year’s primary, Omar easily defeated a well-financed, more moderate Democratic opponent. Her Republican opponent in the general election is Lacy Johnson, an excellent candidate who deserves your support. But in an overwhelmingly Democratic, and remarkably left-wing, district, Omar is the overwhelming favorite to be re-elected.

Collin Peterson, on the other hand, is likely closing out his political career. He has a credible opponent in Michelle Fischbach and, in a district where President Trump is wildly popular, Republican turnout should be huge. So most likely, Ilhan Omar will be returning to Washington after November 3, and Collin Peterson won’t be.

Peterson says that Omar “doesn’t belong in our party,” but in reality, it is Collin Peterson who doesn’t belong in the Democratic Party. It is Ilhan Omar’s party now.

Let the Winning Continue!

Trump famously boasted in 2016 that there’d be so much winning that we’d get tired of all the winning. The last week has seen so much winning that not even the most extravagant NFL end zone celebration can express it.

First, last Thursday, Constitution Day, Trump took direct aim at the pernicious 1619 Project, and announced his plan to have a 1776 Commission to confront the 1619 Project directly. The left naturally freaked out, but amazingly the NY Times is suddenly backtracking from a few of the more egregious claims the 1619 Project contained. (More on this in a separate post.)

Then on Friday we got Secretary Betsy DeVos’s letter to Princeton that Paul is covering, saying that if Princeton is serious about its complicity in racism then it may well be in violation of civil rights laws and risks forfeiting its federal aid. More of this please! I hope and expect that the general counsels of a great many virtue-signaling universities will receive similar letters soon.

Then today the Justice Department designated New York City, Portland, and Seattle to be “anarchist cities” that, because they fail systematically to protect the civil rights of their citizens, may have to forfeit federal aid:

“The U.S. Department of Justice today identified the following three jurisdictions that have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities: New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington. The Department of Justice is continuing to work to identify jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in the President’s Memorandum and will periodically update the list of selected jurisdictions as required therein. . . The list was published on DOJ’s website today in response to President Trump’s memorandum of September 2, 2020, entitled ‘Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities.'”

Finally, since screaming hysterically in your car is now a thing on the left, I think it is worth passing along this entry from Ron Coleman:

And this leaves out all of the leftist rage we’re sure to see on display over Trump’s forthcoming Supreme Court nomination.

UPDATE: Gad Saad is out with this preview of coming attractions and important news relevant to the next nominee to the Supreme Court:

The McSally conundrum [UPDATED]

Andy McCarthy points to a wrinkle that seems to diminish the likelihood the Senate will confirm President Trump’s selection to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the event that Joe Biden wins the election. Right now, Republicans hold the Senate by a 53-47 margin. This means that a nominee can be confirmed even if three GOP Senators refuse to go along. Barring exceptional circumstances, there would have to be four defectors to defeat the nomination.

However, one member of the GOP majority, Martha McSally, holds her seat by virtue of being appointed to replace John McCain. Under the rules, if McSally loses her election, she could be replaced before the end of November.

McSally is likely to lose. She trails Democrat Mark Kelly by 6 to 7 points in the poll averages. Kelly, a former astronaut, is the husband of shooting victim Gabby Giffords.

If McSally loses, once she is replaced three GOP defectors would be enough to defeat the nomination. Sens. Collins and Murkowski are virtually certain to defect. I doubt that all other Republican Senators would vote to confirm if Trump is a lame duck.

Mitt Romney, for one, might well vote against the nominee. Right now, his defection wouldn’t sink her. With McSally replaced by Kelly, it would.

Thus, unless Trump defeats Biden (or McSally pulls out a victory), the windows for confirming a nominee probably are only (1) before the election or (2) in the few weeks just afterwards. The calendar plus the electoral concerns of endangered incumbents like Cory Gardner conspire against confirmation pre-election. The optics of a lame duck Senate rushing to confirm the nominee of a lame duck president might well deter Republicans from acting in the few weeks following the election.

During that period, we might not know who will be declared the winner of the presidential race. Such uncertainty probably wouldn’t help in a confirmation struggle.

Kelly won’t be seated until the outcome of the Arizona race is known. However, Kelly’s margin may be such that we will know early in November that he won.

The bottom line, I think, is that Trump is probably going to have to be reelected to have his third Supreme Court nominee confirmed. For conservatives, there is little, if any, consolation in the fact that it would be quite unusual for a one term president to put three Justices on the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: A reader says I’m missing the fact that any GOP Senator who isn’t fully on board with confirming the nominee will have no future in Republican politics. It wouldn’t be the first time I missed something.

However, after the election, some of these Senators are going to be focused on a future at a D.C. law firm or in corporate America, not a future in politics. They will be concerned with how the D.C. establishment and maybe their kids and the mainstream media regard them — not with how the Republican base does. Recall how Jeff Flake behaved once he realized his political future was over.

Before the election, a vote on the nominee will be a lose-lose proposition for some GOP incumbents facing a difficult election. Vote no, and lose conservative support. Vote yes, and lose the support of swing voters, in some states anyway. (So far, polls suggest that voters favor having the winner of the election pick the next Justice.)

I’m not sure Mitch McConnell will want to force these Senators to vote. His overriding concern is always with maintaining a majority.