Monday, November 9th, 2020


You Want Pfiz With That?

When Biden said it was a time to heal, he wasn't kidding. There are still many unanswered questions about effectiveness, duration, and timing, but we've all been waiting for good vaccine news and we've finally got our Pfiz on the prize. Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective. With hope on the horizon, it's even more imperative that we wear masks and flatten the now exploding curve. Towards the end of the Vietnam War, John Kerry famously asked, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" With a vaccine possibly in sight, let's work together so families aren't asked to say goodbye to loved ones because of avoidable mistakes. Scientists are doing their part. Citizens must do theirs. (And because the virus spreads via airborne droplets, it's vital that people know the P in Pfizer is silent.)

+ The more things change, the more they stay the same. Pence breaks silence to take credit for Pfizer vaccine - and drugs company immediately denies Trump involved. The truth is a couple clicks away. But the conspiracies are only one. So expect even this good news to further divide Americans.

+ Here's the truth. The hopeful vaccine signs are the product of a global partnership between an American company and a German company called BioNTech. And that German company is led by a married couple, both children of Turkish immigrants, both obsessed. "Tuereci, the daughter of a Turkish physician who had migrated to Germany, said in a media interview that even on the day of their wedding, both made time for lab work." And if this vaccine proves to work (and it's still early, but hope is a good thing), this moment will be a key one in human history: "The BioNTech story took a twist when Sahin in January came across a scientific paper on a new coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan and it struck him how small the step was from anti-cancer mRNA drugs to mRNA-based viral vaccines."

+ Hope, yes. Educated hope, yes: Stat: "Although it is a bright spot in the battle against the pandemic and a triumph for Pfizer and BioNTech, a German company, key information about the vaccine is not yet available. There is no information yet on whether the vaccine prevents severe cases, the type that can cause hospitalization and death. Nor is there any information yet on whether it prevents people from carrying the virus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, without symptoms. Because the vaccine has been studied for only a matter of months, it is impossible to say how long it will protect against infection with the virus."

+ A lot of interesting tidbits about RNA vaccines from MIT Tech Review: "One drawback of RNA vaccines is that they need to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, complicating their distribution. They are also cumbersome to manufacture. Pfizer said it would only have enough supply to vaccinate about 20 million people by the end of 2020. By the end of 2021, the company anticipates, there will be 1.3 billion doses—enough to vaccinate about 650 million people, considering each person gets two doses."

+ Joe Biden: "We're still facing a very dark winter. The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing." Trump: "STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!"

+ Ben Carson is the latest attendee of the Trump election night gathering to test positive.

+ And finally, the Biden transition team unveils members of Covid-19 task force.



"By Sunday evening, almost 36 hours after media outlets projected Biden as the winner, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had written no such letter. And the Trump administration, in keeping with the president's failure to concede the election, has no immediate plans to sign one. This could lead to the first transition delay in modern history, except in 2000, when the Supreme Court decided a recount dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush in December." A little-known Trump appointee is in charge of handing transition resources to Biden — and she isn't budging.


Four Season Totalitarian Landscape

The plan was always to lie about the mail in voting, delay the count in Pennsylvania, and use the time while all the votes were being counted to begin a disinformation campaign about a stolen election. This was all expected from Trump, and it's less about winning an election he lost by a wide margin and more about keeping Trump base loyal. Sadly, its working for many of his followers. But it won't change reality. And nowhere was that reality more stark than at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Philadelphia Inquirer: "What began five years ago with the made-for-TV announcement of Donald Trump's presidential ambitions from the escalator of his ritzy Manhattan high-rise ended Saturday with his aging lawyer shouting conspiracy theories and vowing lawsuits in a Northeast Philadelphia parking lot, near a sex shop and a crematorium." (If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Unless the shovel you're using was purchased at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.)

+ WaPo: "A pair of Trump's most loyal surrogates made a defiant stand on the gravelly backside of a landscaping business in an industrial stretch of Northeast Philadelphia, near a crematorium and an adult-video store called Fantasy Island, along State Road, which leads — as being associated with Trump sometimes does — to a prison." It began on a gold escalator. It may have ended at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

+ "Brooks was incarcerated in the 1990s on charges of sexual assault, lewdness and endangering the welfare of a minor for exposing himself to two girls ages 7 and 11." Man featured at Giuliani press conference is a convicted sex offender.

+ So far very few to Republicans have ceded the election and congratulated the winner. The few include W and Mitt Romney.


Esper Diem

"Mr. Trump announced the decision on Twitter, saying in an abrupt post that Mr. Esper had been 'terminated.'" NYT: "Trump Fires Mark Esper, His Defense Secretary
Mark T. Esper broke with President Trump in June over sending active-duty military troops to control demonstrations against police brutality." Esper was reportedly planning to resign. Expect much more of this.


The Peep State

Our American civil servants, especially in cyber command, just enabled us to have a free and fair election after working nonstop, under very difficult conditions, for several years. They're underpaid. They're under-appreciated. We yelled, we cried … they just worked. Thanks. I've tweeted this, and if you could amplify it, I'd appreciate it. They'll appreciate the message. And while we're thanking people who do a thankless job that makes democracy possible, let's not forget the counters. WaPo: We will not allow anyone to stop us': Day and night, under historic scrutiny, the nation's vote counters carried on.


Cover Charge

"From the beginning, TV news far too often took his public rallies and speeches as live feeds, letting his misinformation pollute the ecosystem. And we took far too long to call his falsehoods what they often were: lies. And far too long to call his worldview what it clearly was: racist. Instead, we danced around — for years — with euphemisms like 'misstatements' and 'racially tinged comments.' Maybe worst of all, we employed the time-honored method of treating both sides of a controversy as roughly equal. This might have been fine at an earlier moment of history. But it was almost criminally misleading in the Trump era, particularly when it came to the coverage of his Republican enablers in Washington." (A thousand times, yes.) Margaret Sullivan: The media never fully learned how to cover Trump. But they still might have saved democracy.

+ NYT: The Trump Presidency Is Ending. So Is Maggie Haberman's Wild Ride. "For the last four years, the Times reporter has been the human incarnation of a nation riveted, like it or not, by Donald Trump." (It hasn't exactly been easy on me either. 4 years ago, history began checking my prostate. The exam just ended.)


I Doug Deep

"Doug Emhoff will not only become the first 'second gentleman' but will also be the first Jewish person married to a president or vice president." As a Jewish man married to a a much more attractive woman of color, I am embracing this moment.

+ Think some states kept you and Kornacki waiting too long? In Alaska, they don't even start counting the mail in votes until Tuesday. "Alaska's Senate race is also still in limbo. Republican incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan has more than 53,000 votes more than Democratic Party-endorsed challenger Al Gross as of Monday morning." In case Jewish dudes need something else to celebrate, Al Gross had the first bar mitzvah in Southeast Alaska.


Asking For a Friend

"Hours after millions of Americans finally felt joy and relief, a beloved host died during this year." What is 2020, Alex? Alex Trebek, Longtime ‘Jeopardy!' Host, Dead at 80. "During his Jeopardy! tenure, Trebek won six Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host, while the organization also honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2011. In 2012, he accepted a Peabody on Jeopardy!'s behalf, and in 2014, he broke the Guinness World Record for 'the most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter (same program)' with a whopping 6,829 episodes. He has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada's Walk of Fame, and in 2017 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada." He was also, by all accounts, an extremely good guy.

+ Some memorable facts about Trebek.


A Tree Grows in McDonalds

"The world's biggest restaurant company said its new McPlant line of products could eventually include plant-based chicken and meat for breakfast sandwiches. It will be 'crafted exclusively for McDonald's by McDonald's,' International President Ian Borden said on a call Monday. Some markets will test the burger next year." Can McDonald's make plants unhealthy? We're gonna find out. (Come on, even McDonald's salads aren't plant based...)


Bottom of the News

Pennsylvania sealed the deal in a presidential election won by a guy from Scranton. Hence, it's time to wear one of the greatest shirts in NextDraft history: Scranton Comes Alive!

+ In the Early 1900s, the United States Postal Service Would Let You Mail a Child. (I wonder what the return policy was...)