Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Last Call For Biden, His Time, Con't

The weird world of international internet betting markets seems to believe Donald Trump won't be president in 2021.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has surged past President Donald Trump in online betting markets tied to the outcome of the 2020 presidential race as the U.S. continues to grapple with a deepening financial crisis, spreading pandemic and historic protests over police brutality.

Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee, has taken his biggest lead over Trump to date in Smarkets, a U.K.-based online gambling platform, as well as PredictIt, an online betting platform established by researchers in New Zealand.

As recently as last week, Trump was favored to win on both platforms. Biden’s chances have risen to 50%-43% on Smarkets and 53%-46% on PredictIt.

Spokespeople for both companies confirmed that trading volume has risen to levels unseen since March, when the U.S. began shutting down major portions of its economy to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Betting markets are distinct from polls, which have for months consistently shown Biden leading Trump and currently show Trump behind by about 8 percentage points.

While polls typically ask voters which candidate they support, betting markets allow users to wager on whom they think will ultimately win November’s election, taking into account factors such as the Electoral College. Trump, who won the Electoral College in 2016 despite losing the popular vote, has typically performed better in betting markets than polls.

Representatives for the campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.

With easy victories in last night's primaries in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Indiana and five other states (plus DC), Biden wrapped up the nomination with the delegates he needed.

Hopefully we can move on.

You know, after the total chaos.

Retribution Execution, Con't

Defense Secretary Mark Esper doesn't have the balls to resign after the catastrophe of Trump saying he'll use the military against Americans on US soil on Monday, but apparently he's at least going to complain about the knife Trump put in his back.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Wednesday that he does not support using active duty troops to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd and those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort, comments that came after President Donald Trump recently threatened to deploy the military to enforce order. 
Esper's attempt to distance himself from Trump's view on using the military to restore order went over poorly at the White House, where he was already viewed to be on shaky ground, multiple people familiar with the matter said. 
"The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act," Esper said during a briefing at the Pentagon. 
Esper also addressed the killing of Floyd, calling it a "horrible crime" and said "racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it." 
"The officers on the scene that day should be held accountable for his murder. It is a tragedy that we have seen repeat itself too many times. With great sympathy, I want to extend the deepest of condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd from me and the Department. Racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it," he said.

It's going to be a moot point anyway.  As with Jeff Sessions and Jim Mattis, Trump will simply replace a cabinet member with somebody who will obey him, and Mitch McConnell will rubber stamp the transaction.

Trump and other top officials, including national security adviser Robert O'Brien, are "not happy" with Esper after his Wednesday remarks, three people familiar with the White House's thinking said. 
In the press conference, Esper also distanced himself from a maligned photo-op outside St. John's Church. 
One White House official said aides there did not get a heads up about the content of Esper's remarks, including most notably Esper's decision to publicly break with the President on the use of the military to address unrest in US cities.

The countdown until Esper is replaced begins in earnest, which may slow down Trump for a moment, but as soon as he finds somebody willing to carry out his orders as Acting SecDef, things could get ugly in a New York minute. Look at the havoc Richard Grenell wreaked as Acting DNI in just a couple of months.

Don't feel bad for Esper, however.  He made the decision to work for Donald Trump, and that makes you just as morally repugnant as Trump is, if not more so.

The King Is Gone, Long Live The Joker

The Republicans in Iowa, tired of being represented by racist Rep. Steve King for two decades, have decided that they need an all new racist to represent them in the House in last night's Iowa primary.

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party
House Republican leadership stripped the nine-term congressman of his committee assignments in 2019 after he questioned in an interview with the New York Times how the terms "white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization" became offensive.

The big picture: The Republican establishment coalesced around Feenstra beginning in January, when the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC became the first national GOP organization to publicly endorse and financially support him. 
Feenstra, who has consistently dominated King in fundraising, had sought to paint King as an ineffective ally to President Trump, rather than campaign on his history of white nationalist rhetoric. 
Feenstra's victory will likely move the seat into safe Republican territory for the general election in November.

Unfortunately, this does make things significantly tougher for Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, who came close to beating King in 2018.  On the other hand, things went so badly for Republicans in Iowa in 2018 that they lost all the other districts in the state.

I'm thinking Feenstra might not be so safe after all.
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