Friday, November 20th, 2020


The Insane Clown Posse

Is a coup still a coup even if that coup is totally coup coup? Yes, Trumpist efforts to overturn the election have been laughable, lawless, and ludicrous, and have officially put the Lame into this Lame Duck session. Rudy Giuliani literally melting down during a conspiracy theory filled presser attended by his son who hours later tested positive for coronavirus certainly had elements of dark (running) humor. Was it hair dye dripping down the side of his face? Was it mascara? My guess is that it was snake oil. Whatever it was, it's rare that you can spring a leak from both temples and have it be the least embarrassing part of a public appearance. The assertions were so absurd that we felt nostalgic for Rudy's better days back at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. And yes, amid all the weird theories thrown out by what Jenna Ellis described as the president's "elite strike force team" there were only a few actual legal claims, all unsubstantiated, except those substantiated by the wrong data. For example, "the affidavit Sidney Powell hyped, which alleges that many precincts in Michigan have more votes than actual voters, is based on data from Minnesota." At least they picked two states that begin with the letter M. And M&Ms melt in your mouth not on your face. So yes, yes, it's all meme-ably hilarious. But this administration, with the backing of its party, is also launching very real attack on the core principles of democracy. The GOP's official Twitter account shared an excerpt of the instantly infamous presser in which Sidney Powell explains that President Trump won by a landslide. General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy, whose job it is to certify the clear election outcome, has still refused to do so. President Trump is meeting with Michigan officials in the White House to convince them to reverse the vote in their state. And he's trying to set up meetings with officials from Pennsylvania ahead of that state's Monday vote certification. Will any of this work? Almost certainly not. But if you try to shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and you miss because you're a lousy shot (or because your leaking mascara-sweat dripped all the way to your trigger finger), it's still attempted murder. And the president, with almost no pushback from his minions or his party, is attempting to murder American democracy. So it's funny. But in a very unfunny sort of a way. But for the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of illnesses, and incalculable damage to America and democracy writ large, this would all be funny.

+ "Trump's effort to subvert the election results has been made explicit and unmistakably clear. He is no longer merely pursuing spurious lawsuits in state courts; in recent days, he and his lawyers have confirmed publicly that Trump now is trying to directly overturn the election results and the will of the American people by pressuring Republican state legislators to appoint electors who will vote for Trump in the Electoral College instead of Biden. The fact that Trump is almost certain not to succeed in actually remaining in office past January 20th does not in any way make this less alarming." Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker: Trump's Clown Coup Crisis.

+ Why Trump's Attempts to Overturn 2020 Election Are Unparalleled in US History.

+ A long, long, long shot? Yes. Impossible? WaPo: Just because an attempt to steal an election is ludicrous and ham-handed doesn't mean it can't work.

+ Let the record show that Mitt Romney, from the impeachment to the coup attempt, is the one GOP senator to take a principled stand. He may not be your favorite. He may not have done the right thing every time. But as we remember the enablers, let's remember those who spoke out. Sasse, Romney pan Trump campaign's tactics in contesting election.

+ Meanwhile, after the hand recount, Biden (on his birthday) won Georgia again. (Does that mean Trump now needs two conspiracy theories for Georgia?)


Bram Stoker’s Coronavirus

California enacted a coronavirus curfew for a majority of the state's 40 million residents. I get that they want people to avoid getting drunk, yelling, hugging, and being up to no good, but these curfews are a little weird. We're fighting a virus, not a vampire. Maintain distance, mask the eff up. Here's a stat to convince you (and to explain that this is all less about personal responsibility and more about political failures): "Crazy to look at San Francisco (pop. 880k) versus North Dakota (pop. 760k) right now. San Francisco county, an urban area where most people wear masks, has reported 14k Covid cases. North Dakota, which resisted mask mandates for months, has 60k cases."

+ "We've never had to do anything like this. We are on an absolutely catastrophic path." Ed Yong in The Atlantic on what's happening at America's most well-prepared hospital. "In the past two weeks, the hospital had to convert an entire building into a COVID-19 tower, from the top down. It now has 10 COVID-19 units, each taking up an entire hospital floor. Three of the units provide intensive care to the very sickest people, several of whom die every day. One unit solely provides 'comfort care' to COVID-19 patients who are certain to die."

+ "Patty Schachtner took masks to funeral homes and installed showers for sheriff's deputies. No amount of preparation could ready her for what followed." Great NYT piece: A Wisconsin Medical Examiner Fought to Prepare Her County for the Virus. Then It Struck.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: The Undoing on HBO is just the high production, well-acted, but pretty goofy crime series we need during a holiday week. Enjoy Nicole Kidman doing her thing and Hugh Grant, amazingly, going full Hugh Grant in the least Hugh Grant role imaginable.

+ What to Rock: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is always a good show. This year's edition is greatly limited by the lack of live performances, but the minidocs on the inductees made up for what was missing. The Eagles on manager Irving Azoff are amazing, and it's great that the Doobie Bros finally got their due. If not for the goofy name, that band would regularly be in the discussion of the top five or six American rock acts of all time.

+ What to Read: "Little-known fact: Denmark—the land of hygge, well-designed furniture, and generous parental leave—is also the world's largest exporter of mink fur. Or at least it was until earlier this month, after a new and potentially dangerous mutation in the coronavirus, called "cluster 5," was discovered to have jumped from mink to humans. In response to the perceived threat, Denmark's Social Democrat–led government ordered the country's entire flock—up to 17 million animals—destroyed." Vanity Fairs Lisa Abend with a look at How COVID Caused Denmark's Historic Fur-Industry Disaster. This one has a lot of different aspects to it, almost all of which are interesting and a bummer.


Bright Spots in a Dark Year

Time has an interesting and fun list of the best inventions of 2020. I dig the idea behind Krisp, an app that can mute out all the household noise around you and just highlight your voice during Zoom chats, but I gotta give the top prize to mRNA vaccines...


Pfiz on the Prize

"Submission of the request kicks off an orchestrated series of reviews at the FDA, which oversees the safety of new vaccines, and the CDC, which oversees their distribution. If authorized by the agencies and their counterparts in Europe, 50 million premanufactured doses of the Pfizer vaccine can begin to be distributed globally. Preliminary US plans are to start with the roughly 20 million healthcare workers across the country, given approval of a CDC advisory panel." Pfizer Is Submitting The First US Coronavirus Vaccine To The FDA For Emergency Approval Today. 248 days to a vaccine and a whole new way of preventing viruses. It's a miracle (in the scientific sense of the word).


Hazard Signaling

"By the end of the summer, Amazon, Walmart, and several grocery chains had all quietly ended hazard pay for their workers; Kroger, incredibly, even claimed at one point that some employees had been overpaid and asked them to return the money, prompting a public backlash." TNR: Hazard Pay Was Just a Brand Exercise.


Daniel’s Day

"Federal Judge Esther Salas is on a crusade. In July her husband and their son were gunned down at the family's home in New Jersey. Her husband survived. Her son did not. On Friday, she will attend the New Jersey governor's signing of a new state law that makes it a crime to publish online or elsewhere personal addresses and telephone information about state judges or their families. Salas will be there even though the law protects only state judges, not federal judges, because the law is named after her son, Daniel."


Looking for Mr Good Barr

"Garland oversaw the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and gained significant management experience inside the sprawling department in the 1990s. More recently, Garland was nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia." Merrick Garland Among Biden Candidates For Attorney General.


The Way to Alt Right

"Bradley chose the keys by location—with the del key across the keyboard from the other two, it seemed unlikely that all three would be accidentally pressed at the same time. Bradley never intended to make the shortcut available to customers, nor did he expect it to enter the pop lexicon. It was meant for him and his fellow coders, for whom every second counted." The History of CTRL ALT DELETE.


Feel Good Friday

"Nikic, a 21-year-old who lives with his parents in an Orlando suburb, had started the day with determination. If he could overcome the challenge of this race — a 2.4-mile open-water swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run — and do it under 17 hours, he would be the first competitor with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon."

+ Outside: Waves for Change Helps Kids Cope with Trauma.

+ Rachel Maddow reveals that her partner, Susan, tested positive for Covid-19 and is still recovering, and implores viewers to consider their loved ones when they calculate their own Covid-19 risk. But it's really more of a love letter.

+ Immigrant families pay tribute to Alex Trebek for helping them learn English.

+ Community Saves DC Restaurant Known for Serving Less Fortunate.

+ How I Became The Guy Who Waves. "During the pandemic, Sam Waring put a sign in his yard: 'If the Curtain's Open, Give Us a Wave, Eh?' Passersby obliged." (I have the same policy, but my curtain has never been opened. And I don't have a window.)