1

Coup Clutz Clan

Today when asked at what point the administration's transition delays could hamper national security, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration." And then smirked. And what could be a better gag than the shameless lying that damages the country, our reputation abroad, and democracy? This adds to William Barr's hilarious move: "The nation's attorney general and a Trump ally, on Monday wrote a memo authorizing federal prosecutors to pursue any 'substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities.'" Get it? Well, Richard Pilger didn't. The "head of the DOJ's election crimes branch, stepped down from that role in protest over Barr's memo. He announced the departure to colleagues Monday evening." And McConnell, the grand wizard of the Coup Clutz Clan, is in on it too. Here's a sampling of leaders who have not yet congratulated Biden on his win: Putin, Kim Jong Un, Erdogan, Bolsonaro, McConnell. (Oh wait, Erdogan just did.) You'd be accurate in making the point that McConnell wants to use this delay to rile up the base in Georgia to make sure turnout is high for the Senate runoffs that will determine the only thing he cares about: His power. You can connect the defiance to efforts by the Trump campaign team to raise money to pay off campaign debts and position their deranged boss for four years of Twittering followed by a run in 2024. And you can safely assume that on January 20th, Joe Biden will be giving his inauguration speech. But this wanton attack on America's core democratic value, the sacredness of our vote, is doing long lasting damage inside the country (70% of Republicans say election wasn't 'free and fair' despite no evidence of fraud), and maybe irreversible damage to our leadership role in the world. So laugh it up.

+ Atlanta Journal Constitution: Citing no evidence, Georgia's U.S. senators demand elections head resign. (The elections head in Georgia is a Republican. It's all a show.)

+ "There was Big Tobacco. There was the Bin Laden family. There was even the hated owner of the Cleveland Browns football team as he moved the franchise to Baltimore. Now Jones Day is the most prominent firm representing President Trump and the Republican Party as they prepare to wage a legal war challenging the results of the election. The work is intensifying concerns inside the firm about the propriety and wisdom of working for Mr. Trump, according to lawyers at the firm." Ooh, concerns. Call me when someone quits or takes a stand beyond telling the NYT there are concerns. There are concerns about the friggin republic.

+ Dan Pfeiffer: McConnell et al backing Trump's absurd election claims is about something much bigger than sensitivity to a bruised ego. "Trump contesting the results and making himself feel better with fever dreams of imaginary fraud was to be expected and can be discounted as the natural result of a sad, insecure loser. But the response to Trump's loss by the rest of the Republican party is very notable — and frankly, quite concerning."

2

Cooler Foreheads Prevail

"If a vaccine that is 90% effective can truly bring COVID to an end, the return to work and school could subsequently bring sales in these categories back down to normalized levels." A particularly American headline: Gun stocks tumble after upbeat vaccine news, lack of civil unrest.

3

Care-icature

"Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, among the conservative justices, appeared in two hours of arguments to be unwilling to strike down the entire law — a long-held Republican goal that has repeatedly failed in Congress and the courts — even if they were to find the law's now-toothless mandate for obtaining health insurance to be unconstitutional." From most of what I've read about today's oral arguments, SCOTUS seems likely to leave to health care law in place.

+ The Conversation: Conservatives backed the ideas behind Obamacare, so how did they come to hate it?

4

The Human Race

With 50 million world Covid-19 cases reported (certainly an undercount), and 10 million cases in America (with new peaks raging), a vaccine can't come soon enough. In the meantime, Doctors may be better equipped to handle latest virus surge.

+ Facing 2,000 cases a day, Utah's outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert has declared a state of emergency and issued a mandate for all residents to wear masks in public until further notice.

+ "Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems. The researchers from Britain's Oxford University also found significantly higher risks of dementia, a brain impairment condition." One in five COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days.

5

The Scorching Continues

Yesterday, Trump canned the Sec of Defense. And now, an official who once called Obama a ‘terrorist leader' takes over Pentagon policy. Meanwhile, Trump just fired one of the country's top climate scientists (taking scorched earth to literal levels). This trend will continue. And it's more than just sour grapes. Fred Kaplan on more moves and what it means: "President Donald Trump's campaign to challenge the results of the election is not merely a salve to his wounded ego, but a serious attempt to stay in power—if not from inside the Oval Office for another four years, then through confederates well placed in what he has called the 'deep state.'"

6

Oh Capitan, My Capitan

"The climb went smoothly until she attempted a difficult pitch in the sun around noon on Wednesday. Her fingers were so slick with sweat that she slipped off, she said, so she rested for 30 minutes and tried again. She slipped off again, this time smacking her head against the wall as she swung on the rope. Suddenly, she said, there was 'blood everywhere, spewing out from my head.'" Emily Harrington's quest to become the first woman to free-climb the Golden Gate route up El Capitan in under 24 hours set off on election night. Through that lens, she had a less stressful night that most of us. NYT: A Record-Setting Ascent of El Capitan.

7

Lost Hiker

"The dude, though, seemed to have followed, to near perfection, the hiker credo of 'Leave no trace.' None of the clues panned out. Nothing actually got people close to solving the mystery. An industrious writer named Jason Nark spent more than a year obsessively tracking down leads and then wrote an elegy to the hiker that began, 'Sometimes I imagine him falling through space, drifting like dust from dead stars in the vast nowhere above us.'" Nick Thompson in Wired: A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can't Crack.

8

They Know What You Did Last Supper

"The grocery store is a miracle. It offers a continuous, dreamlike bounty of products at prices that get lower each year, even as the quality gets higher and higher. And as a customer, this bounty all appears completely frictionless, like some suburban American birthright. Of course, from the inside, it is the opposite of frictionless. It requires tremendous power to maintain. And when you scratch the surface of that power, you realize there is something slightly menacing underneath it. And if you scratch further, you get suffering — from our factory-farmed animals to the many workers in our food supply chains." The Secret Life of Grocery Stores.

9

Crazy Like a Fox

How ridiculous are the voting irregularity claims being made by the administration? Fox News actually cut away from Kayleigh McEnany making false and unsubstantiated claims. And this is what Fox hosts sound like when they don't know the mic is hot.

10

Bottom of the News

"What are the odds, you know? Donald Trump starts out playing around with Stormy Daniels, and next thing you know, one of his final hurrahs is going to be down the street from an adult bookstore that's been there for 40 years. You can't write this stuff. Basically, I was pretty much in awe of the funniness of the whole situation." An interview with the owner of Fantasy Island adult bookstore and sex shop next to Four Seasons landscaping in Philadelphia.

+ Hope for hackers everywhere as Jon Rahm hits a hole in one, by way of the water, during a practice round at the Masters. (Even Jesus was like, "Wow, I didn't know that was possible...")

+ SNL Had 85 Minutes to Re-Create Kamala Harris's White Pantsuit For Maya Rudolph — Here's How They Did It.

+ The Scranton Comes Alive T-Shirt is selling like crazy. Get yours and spread the word (especially to folks in Pennsylvania!)