Tuesday Reads: Reviewing a Momentous DayPosted: December 15, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bill Barr, Donald Trump, electoral college, Joe Biden, Moderna, PFizer, Russian hackers, vaccines 26 Comments
Yesterday “electors” affirmed that Joe Biden is our next president. After the votes in all 50 states, Biden addressed the nation. Fortunately, this time the winner of the popular vote also won in the outdated Electoral College.
Eric Bradner at CNN: Biden after Electoral College affirms win: ‘The rule of law, our Constitution and the will of the people prevailed.’
President-elect Joe Biden declared Monday, hours after the Electoral College made his victory over President Donald Trump official, that “the rule of law, our Constitution and the will of the people prevailed” over Trump’s efforts to undo the results of the election.
“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame,” Biden said.
In a speech Monday night in Delaware, Biden launched the most direct and detailed defense of his victory yet — and the harshest condemnation of Trump’s flailing efforts to change reality.
He catalogued the failures of Trump’s campaign and his allies in state and federal courts and state legislatures, and recounts that have not substantially changed vote tallies. He called efforts by Trump and his supporters to use the courts to overturn the election result “so extreme we’ve never seen it before.”
“Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort,” Biden said.
Biden’s speech came after the Electoral College had cast 306 votes for Biden and 232 for Trump, cementing Biden’s win. The Electoral College votes will now be sent to Congress to be counted formally next month. Though some House Republicans have indicated they will object to the results in key states, they can do little more than delay the process during a joint session of Congress on January 6. Then, Biden will be inaugurated at noon on January 20.
Aaron Rupar at Vox: Biden’s post-Electoral College speech was a stinging rebuke of Trump.
Over the past six weeks since Election Day, President-elect Joe Biden carried about his business while largely ignoring the circus surrounding President Donald Trump’s incessant lies about election fraud and refusal to concede. That changed a bit on Monday.
Speaking hours after the Electoral College officially voted to confirm his victory over Trump, Biden declared victory. He also criticized the president, whom he portrayed as on the wrong side of the struggle for democracy, for refusing to acknowledge the reality of his defeat.
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” Biden said. “We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And so now it is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal.”
At another point, Biden took an indirect shot at Trump, saying “the flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic, or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”
Biden addressed the flood of failed lawsuits the Trump campaign has filed since the election and the Supreme Court’s refusal last week to take up a flimsy case that could’ve overturned his victory. He also praised state and local officials on both sides of the aisle for overseeing a fair election while refusing to be “bullied” by Trump.
“In America, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of elections, those questions are resolved through the legal processes. And that’s precisely what happened here,” he said. “All the counts were confirmed … none of this has stopped baseless claims.”
Later, Biden noted that “respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy,” adding that when Trump won four years ago, “it was my responsibility to announce the tally of the Electoral College votes to the joint session of Congress … I did my job.” [….]
Biden, who sounded noticeably hoarse throughout, closed by noting that the joy of his win “is tempered by the pain so many of us are feeling today. Our nation [today] passed a grim milestone: 300,000 deaths due to this Covid virus. My heart goes out to each of you during this dark winter of the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Trump is still filled with self-pity and ignoring the desperate situation in the country he is supposed to be leading. Jonathan Swan at Axios: Scoop: Trump’s frenetic, fanciful, bitter final plea.
Right up to Monday’s Electoral College vote, President Trump held the false hope that Republican-controlled state legislatures would replace electors with allies who’d overturn Joe Biden’s win, two people who discussed the matter with him told Axios.
The big picture: Through the past week, the sources said, the president browbeat GOP legislators in multiple states, launched tirades against Republican Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Brian Kemp of Georgia, vowed to make Fox News “pay” for accurately calling the race, and tested ways to say he didn’t win without acknowledging he had lost.
Behind the scenes: One source who talked to Trump over the weekend said the president continued to insist that there was significant fraud in multiple states, paraphrasing him: “Do you think if the legislatures know this is all true, they would just act to overturn this?'”
There’s more at the link, but who cares? Trump is finished and we won’t have to put up with his childish behavior much longer.
Yesterday was also a turning point in the coronavirus pandemic, as the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine began. Peter Baker at The New York Times: A Day That Settled an Election and Brought Hope for Defeating a Pandemic.
When future historians close the books on the misery of 2020, a grueling year of disease, death, racial strife, street violence, economic collapse and political discord the likes of which have not been seen in the United States in generations, they may look back on Monday, Dec. 14, as a pivotal juncture.
It was on that day that Americans began rolling up their sleeves for a vaccine produced in record time to defeat a virus even as the death toll crossed 300,000. And it was on that day that members of the Electoral College gathered in each of the 50 states to ratify the end of the most polarized election in more than a century.
None of that erases the enormous damage of the past 12 months, nor does it mean there will not be pain and protest to come. Many Americans will get sick and die in the months before the vaccine is universally available. Many Americans will remain aggrieved by the result of an election they wish had gone the other way. It is still an era of hardship and division. But after so much uncertainty, after so much doubt, the way forward appears clearer at least in two major respects….
The day played out in a remarkable fashion as television viewers watched images of health care workers receiving lifesaving injections juxtaposed with live shots from state capitals around the country showing electors casting votes formally confirming the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.
It was the definitiveness of both developments that stood out after months of political, medical and economic turmoil: At last, Americans can look ahead to the day when they will be immunized from the Covid-19 virus even if takes until spring. And now they know despite all the postelection noise from the White House and its allies who will be president on Jan. 20.
Unfortunately, we learned yesterday that the Trump administration refused to order more vaccines from Pfizer in November. Mediaite: Former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb: Trump Administration Declined More Pfizer Vaccines as Recently as November.
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, now on the board of Pfizer, said that the United States was offered more of the company’s successful coronavirus vaccine as recently as November — but didn’t take the deal.
“There were multiple conversations with the U.S. government about taking more supply in the second quarter” of 2021, Gottlieb said. “The company wasn’t taken up on the offer as recently as November.”
The New York Times reported last week that Pfizer offered the Trump administration the chance to buy more than the 100 million doses agreed upon over the summer. In a baffling move, the Trump administration never made the deal.
Gottlieb, who was Trump’s FDA chief until April 2019, noted that the U.S. government said that the conversations with Pfizer happened in July, but that there was an offer for more vaccines on the table as recently as last month.
Gottlieb said other countries ended up taking those vaccines after the U.S. passed.
Another vaccine will soon be available from Moderna. The New York Times: Moderna Vaccine Is Highly Protective and Prevents Severe Covid-19, Data Show.
Newly released data confirmed on Tuesday that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is highly protective, setting the stage for its emergency authorization this week by federal regulators and the start of its distribution across the country.
The Food and Drug Administration intends to authorize use of the vaccine on Friday, people familiar with the agency’s plans said. The decision would give millions of Americans access to a second coronavirus vaccine beginning as early as Monday.
The review by the F.D.A. confirms Moderna’s earlier assessment that its vaccine had an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent in a trial of 30,000 people. Side effects, including fever, headache and fatigue, were unpleasant but not dangerous, the agency found.
The success of Moderna’s vaccine has become all the more crucial to fighting the pandemic as other vaccine efforts have faltered. The hopeful news arrives at a time of record-breaking numbers of coronavirus cases that are overwhelming hospitals and of an ever-increasing death toll, which reached a bleak milestone of 300,000 on Monday.
Six million doses of the Moderna vaccine could begin distribution next week. Read more details at the NYT link.
Two more momentous events happened yesterday. Bill Barr is leaving and news broke of a new Russian hack of multiple U.S. government agencies.
Ruth Marcus on Bill Barr: Barr failed at his job. His bootlicking resignation letter made that clear.
Monday “It’s official” Day ReadsPosted: December 14, 2020 Filed under: 2020 Elections | Tags: electoral college, Treasury Hack by Russians, Trump is a LOSER 30 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
Every one of the 538 Electoral College Members will cast their votes today. Joe Biden will officially be our President Elect and Kamala Harris will officially become the Vice President Elect. You can watch the votes come in at the NYT at this link.
Electors started to meet at 11 a.m. Eastern in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Illinois and South Carolina.
You may also watch the some Elector’s vote on CSpan today. This should seal the deal. Let’s hope some Republicans stop protecting the Toddler-in-Chief’s delusions and start to work to get things done to help our Covid 19 -inflicted country. We could also use some help kicking Russian Ass from a cybersecurity standpoint.
From the Vox Link:
The next big date is Monday, December 14, when the Electoral College votes. In each state and the District of Columbia, the 538 electors who make up the Electoral College will cast the votes that will technically make Biden the next president. There’s little drama here. The states Biden won have appointed elector slates of Democrats, who are certain to vote for Biden. But it’s the next step in making things official.
Then, on Wednesday, January 6, Congress counts the electoral votes. This is also mainly ceremonial. We’ll know the count in advance because the votes will be public on December 14. The one minor hitch is that a Trump ally in the House plans to challenge that count. But for that challenge to succeed, both the House and the Senate would have to agree to overrule the electoral votes. The Democrat-controlled House obviously wouldn’t go along with this, so the challenge won’t change the outcome.
Two weeks after that, on January 20, Biden will be inaugurated as the next president.
Additional information on those plans to challenge the count are further down the page.
On January 6, 2021, a joint session of the newly elected Congress will convene to count the votes cast by the Electoral College the previous month. This congressional count is the final formal step in making the presidential election results official before the inauguration itself.
Usually, this is a formality. But sometimes, there’s a last-minute kerfuffle because there is a process by which members of Congress can challenge the vote count. We likely will get such a challenge — Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has said he will file one, though he needs to find at least one senator to join him for the challenge to advance.
This would not be unprecedented. In 2005, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) made such a challenge to George W. Bush’s win in Ohio. (In 2017, some House Democrats tried to challenge Trump’s win in certain states, but the attempt was fruitless because no senators would join them.)
If a representative and senator support a challenge, what happens next is that the joint session of Congress splits up, and the House and Senate will each hold a vote on the challenge. Here’s the key part, though: Unless a majority in boththe House and Senate vote to sustain the challenge, it will fail.
So because Democrats control the House, any attempt to overturn the election for Trump will surely be voted down by them. It may well fail in the Senate as well; several Republican senators have recognized Biden’s victory.
That means this challenge will basically just be a stunt and it won’t actually overturn the outcome. What it would do is guarantee a recorded vote in both the House and Senate about whether they should allow Biden’s win, which could put some swing state or swing district Republican members of Congress in an uncomfortable position. (This could be a particular issue for some Senate Republicans in 2022 — do they risk a primary challenge by recognizing Biden’s win or do they back Trump’s challenge and endanger their general election chances?)
So, how long are we going to deal with Trump supporters who deny this reality? Sabrina Tavernise writes this for the NYT today. “What’s Next for Trump Voters Who Believe the Election Was Stolen?Some are certain the election was fraudulent. Others aren’t so sure. What becomes of their skepticism has important implications for American democracy.”
But interviews with dozens of people who voted for Mr. Trump reveal a more fluid picture. Some were die-hard supporters who were hungry for any information to support Mr. Trump’s claims — against all evidence — that he won the election. For these voters, no data could convince them otherwise.
Others were more uncertain. Nearly all of the people interviewed said they believed at least some fraud had been perpetrated, but whether that added up to Mr. Trump’s being the true winner was much harder to know.
The reasons for doubting the outcome were many. Misinformation played a role. So did signaling by Republican leaders, first among them Mr. Trump.
Partisanship was powerful, too: Some were so distrustful of Democrats that they were open to arguments about fraud in large part because Democrats were not. Still others said election fraud was simply not that unusual a phenomenon. And in a sign of how much Americans of both parties are living in political bubbles, many expressed surprise that Mr. Biden could have won, given that they knew no one who voted for him.
It looks rather bad when you lose Faux & Fuckers.
“You have an alternate slate of electors in a state like say Wisconsin or in a state like Georgia and we’ll make sure that those results are sent up side by side to Congress,” Miller declared. “So that we have the opportunity, every day between now and January 20, to say that slate of electors and the contested states is the slate that should be certified to uphold a fair and free election and an honest result.”
Those “alternate” results, however, will not be certified by any states’ secretaries of state, therefore rendering them worthless.
Noting that polls show Trump supporters overwhelmingly believe Trump’s baseless claim that the election was “stolen,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Miller what the next “arrow in your quiver” is now that the Supreme Court rejected the Texas lawsuit to throw out swing state votes.
“Well, we have open election challenges in all the contested states,” the Trump adviser insisted while echoing Trump’s unfounded allegations about widespread voter fraud.
Kilmeade, who confronted Trump over the weekend about his legal team’s failure to provide any proof of election fraud in court, then pressed Miller on the resounding defeats that Trump and his allies have suffered in court.
“Stephen, so if there were underage people voting and criminals voting, if there was illegal ballots cast, your legal team [has], in almost every state, 50 times lost, so do you have the worst legal team who just don’t seem to be presenting a good case? Or [are] you just too late in this case should have been brought before the election?” Kilmeade wondered aloud.
Miller, meanwhile, blamed the repeated rejection of Trump’s legal challenges on the “corrupt corporate media” placing “overwhelming” pressure on the courts and elected officials.
Some other interesting headlines from this weekend continue to amaze. John le Carré died of pneumonia at the age of 89. His obit from the Guardian explains his importance in the spy novel genre.
He was in his late 20s when he began to write fiction – in longhand, in small red pocket notebooks, on his daily train journey between his home in Buckinghamshire and his day job with MI5, the counter-intelligence service, in London. After the publication of two neatly crafted novels, Call for the Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962), which received measured reviews and modest sales, he hit the big time with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963).
Its publisher, Victor Gollancz, secured a puff from Graham Greene (“the best spy story I have ever read”), and the widely-rumoured belief that the author was an insider in the secret world of intelligence helped his third novel become one of the great bestsellers of the postwar period.
Le Carré’s subject was the human and political ambiguities of the cold war. His book was gritty, stripped of glamour. Reviewers talked of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as a grown-up answer to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. It was more than that. His taut, complex plot, strong storytelling gifts, and distinctive characterisation made his book a memorable literary achievement.
This happened the same day it was announced that Russian Hackers had broken into the US Treasury and Commerce Departments. This is basically what happens when you put a Putin lover in the White House that then basically opens the backdoor by removing all the folks at the NSA that know what they are doing.
Joseph Marks has this analysis at WAPO today. “The Cybersecurity 202: A Russian mega-hack is further damaging Trump’s cybersecurity legacy”.
National security officials are still scrambling this morning to determine the scope of that campaign, which officials say was going on for months and impacted government, consulting, technology, telecom, and oil and gas companies in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
It likely represents the largest known Russian data theft in half a decade and is a sign Trump administration efforts to constrain Russian hacking have been spotty at best.
The hackers were able to access victims’ email accounts and probably made off with reams of sensitive information about internal government deliberations. At the very least, the investigation and cleanup operation will continue well after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
“This is a big deal, and given what we now know about where breaches happened, I’m expecting the scope to grow as more logs are reviewed,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, told my colleagues Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg. “When an aggressive group like this gets an open sesame to many desirable systems, they are going to use it widely.”
The breach prompted an emergency meeting Saturday of the National Security Council, Reuters reported. The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive early this morning for government agencies to protect against the breach in probably the fastest-ever turnaround for such an order.
So, that’s enough from me today. And the countdown before they have to fumigate the White House is 37 days. If Joe and Jill are lucky, he’ll go to Mara Logo for the holidays and they can just dump his stuff on the sidewalk and fumigate starting January 1.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Dreary Monday Reads: Je prends le MaquisPosted: December 19, 2016 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: electoral college, Maquis, Maquisards, resist the trump agenda 51 Comments
There are many things going on in the world today. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was just shot in Ankara and the hope of the majority of the USA rests on faithless electors since our election system rewarded the minority this year. Here is a state by state list of when they vote. You can follow it if you still have the nerves for it. I frankly don’t.
Today is the day we formally begin our resistance here in La Nouvelle-Orléans. I’ve been following more than just a few folks familiar with the last fight against fascism in keeping with my Mood Indigo. I’m also reading about the other places it’s popping up in an area of the world that should know better. Take Poland for example.
Cheered on by religious conservatives, the new government has defunded public assistance for in vitro fertilization treatments. To draft new sexual-education classes in schools, it tapped a contraceptives opponent who argues that condom use increases the risk of cancer in women. The government is proffering a law that critics say could soon be used to limit opposition protests.
Yet nothing has shocked liberals more than this: After a year in power, Law and Justice is still by far the most popular political party in Poland. It rides atop opinion polls at roughly 36 percent — more than double the popularity of the ousted Civic Platform party.
“The people support us,” boasted Adam Bielan, Law and Justice’s deputy speaker of the Senate.
I continue to be shocked which is why I have dusted off my old university Philosophy books and sought out the writings of Hannah Arendt. I find I am not alone.
“Origins,” first published in 1951, was based on research and writing done during the 1940s. The book’s primary purpose is to understand totalitarianism, a novel form of mobilizational and genocidal dictatorship epitomized by Stalinism in Soviet Russia and Hitlerism in Nazi Germany, and it culminates in a vivid account of the system of concentration and death camps that Arendt believed defined totalitarian rule. The book’s very first words signal the mood:
Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining superpowers. This moment of anticipation is like the calm, that settles after all hopes have died . . . Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena — homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth . . . Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest — forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.
How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and “Origins” raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.
I just wanted to also explain a bit about what “I take the Maquis” means in terms of history and metaphor. I know I’m getting obsessive about how to resist the incoming Ugly American and his band of Robber Barons but I’m truly worried.
“Take to the maquis” became widely known in World War II, when French guerrillas, called “the maquis,” carried out … The literal translation is “take the bit in the teeth,” the explanation behind this phrase reflecting the behavior of horses.
The Maquisards were a group of French Resistance Fighters in rural South France during the NAZI occupation. We’re going to need all the help we can get so I am White Rose Society and I am Maquis. I love how the Big Dawg put the situation into perspective:
President-elect Donald Trump “doesn’t know much,” former President Bill Clinton told a local newspaper earlier this month, but “one thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.”
Clinton spoke to a reporter from The Record-Review, a weekly newspaper serving the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York, not far from the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York. The former president held court on Dec. 10 in Pleasantville, New York, where he took questions from the reporter and other customers inside a small bookstore.
The electoral system was made to protect white men and it still appears to do its job. The Civil war is being fought again. Paul Krugman opines today on How Republics End. As you can see, this is very much on my mind.
Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.
But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.
Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.
I’m not sure we will even be able to maintain the facade. The Republicans have been rewarded for stalling all processes for 8 years. All political norms were called off the day Obama took the oath of office. I doubt they’ll miss the opportunity to tear it all down and put up something fiercely oppressive to women and minorities of all types. Meanwhile, Orangeholio and his cabinet of Robber Barrons will loot us. Beware the pennies on your eyes!
Here is a link to “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” I sincerely it hopes us all.
Je prends le Maquis!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
GOP Electoral Vote-Rigging Scheme Is Losing SteamPosted: January 29, 2013 Filed under: Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: electoral college, GOP electoral vote-rigging scheme, Michigan, Ohio, state legislatures, Virginia, Wisconsin 6 Comments
It looks like the Republican plans to change the way electoral votes are assigned in swing states may be dead in the water. This afternoon, a Virginia Senate committee voted to kill the state’s proposed bill and Republicans in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin are expressing serious doubts about similar bills in their states.
The measure appeared headed for defeat after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) came out against it Friday, as did two GOP senators who sit on the committee that would decide the bill’s fate.
Earlier Tuesday, McDonnell said during a televised interview that he was “afraid people will ignore Virginia” if the commonwealth switched to an electoral college system that picked winners by congressional district.
The governor told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the winner-take-all system most states use is the way to go, and that splitting up electoral votes by congressional districts is a “bad idea.”
In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder isn’t bullish on the proposed changes.
In another blow to the push to replace the winner-take-all method for awarding electoral votes, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said he is “very skeptical” of a Republican proposal in his state to adopt the congressional district system for allocating the votes.
“You don’t want to change the playing field so it’s an unfair advantage to someone, and in a lot of ways we want to make sure we’re reflecting the vote of the people, and this could challenge that,” Snyder, a Republican, said today on Bloomberg Television’s “Bottom Line.”
“I don’t think this is the appropriate time to really look at it,” he said.
And the Michigan Senate majority leader has indicated the measure probably won’t be put up for a vote. Michigan Live reports:
Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville is wary of a proposal to split up Michigan’s Electoral College votes by district, suggesting that such a move could diminish the state’s importance in presidential elections.
“I don’t know that it’s broken, so I don’t know if I want to fix it,” Richardville said Tuesday, becoming the first high-ranking Michigan Republican to question a bill that state Rep. Pete Lund is poised to reintroduce in the House.
“We’ll take a look at it,” Richardville said. “I’ve heard these things before, all or nothing versus splitting it up. I want to make sure that Michigan’s voice is a loud and clear voice, so I’d be a little concerned if we ended up splitting the difference.”
Other Michigan elected officials noted that presidential candidates would be less likely to campaign in the state if they knew they could win only a small number of votes in favorable districts.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker says the plan is “risky.”
Walker said Tuesday it’s an interesting idea, but not one he spends time thinking about. He says because Wisconsin is a battleground state, presidential and vice presidential candidates have an incentive to make repeated campaign stops here. He says he’s wary that changing the system could dissuade candidates from visiting.
Finally, in Ohio, several GOP leaders, including Secretary of State Jon Husted, oppose the plan.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Count Ohio’s Republican leaders out of a GOP-backed effort to end the Electoral College’s winner-take-all format in the Buckeye State and other presidential battlegrounds.
Spokesmen for Gov. John Kasich, State Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William G. Batchelder told The Plain Dealer this week that they are not pursuing plans to award electoral votes proportionally by congressional district.
Batchelder went a step further, saying through his communications director that he “is not supportive of such a move.” And Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief elections administrator, emphasized that he does not favor the plan either, despite Democratic suspicions based on reported comments that he said were taken out of context.
“Nobody in Ohio is advocating this,” Husted said in a telephone interview.
That just leaves Pennsylvania and perhaps Florida. Would those states want to discourage candidates from coming in to campaign?
It certainly looks as if the GOP electoral vote-rigging scheme is a loser.
Saturday Reads: Hillary’s Glasses, Neanderthal DNA, Violence Against Women, and Much MorePosted: January 26, 2013 Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Media, misogyny, Mitt Romney, morning reads, U.S. Politics, War on Women, Women's Rights | Tags: abortion, electoral college, fetus fetishists, GOP vote-rigging, Neanderthal DNA, rape, Senator Ron Johnson, violence against women 48 Comments
Every Friday, Chris Cillizza names the winner of the “Who had the worst week in Washington” award. This week’s winner was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson for claiming that Hillary Clinton faked her emotional response to his ridiculous and annoying questions during the Senate Beghazi hearing.
So who had the best week? I’d say it was Hillary Clinton. Everyone except the most out-there wingnuts could see how brilliant she looked as she testified in Congress and made Republicans like Johnson and Rand Paul look like lightweights.
After the hearings, the media wondered why she was wearing those big glasses with the thick lenses. The Daily News explains:
Closeups of Secretary of State Clinton taken during her Senate testimony Wednesday revealed that her head injury last month left her with lingering vision problems.
As she testified about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, the secretary of state appeared to have tiny vertical lines etched onto the left lens of her new brown specs.
Clinton’s spokesman confirmed Thursday night she is wearing the special glasses as a result of the fall and concussion she suffered last month, but he did not elaborate.
Experts told the Daily News that Clinton likely has a Fresnel prism placed on her glasses. The adhesive panel is used to treat double vision.
“If she’s wearing a Fresnel prism, then she has double vision without it,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, medical director of Fromer Eye Centers.
At New York Magazine, Dan Amira noted the many faces of Hillary adjusting her glasses during the Benghazi hearings and added captions to suggest what Hillary might have been thinking at the time. Here a couple of them:
I know everyone has heard about the latest Republican scheme to rig future presidential elections so Republican candidates win even if they lose the popular vote in a landslide. I’ve got a couple of useful reads for you on that effort. Josh Marshall writes about it at TPM under a photo of a nuclear mushroom cloud: This is a Big Big Deal.
The US electoral college system is based on winner take all delegate allocation in all but two states. If you get just one more vote than the other candidate you get all the electoral votes. One way to change the system is go to proportional allocation. That would still give some advantage to the overall winner. But not much. The key to the Republican plan is to do this but only in Democratic leaning swing states — not in any of the states where Republicans win. That means you take away all the advantage Dems win by winning states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and so forth.
But the Republican plan goes a step further.
Rather than going by the overall vote in a state, they’d allocate by congressional district. And this is where it gets real good, or bad, depending on your point of view. Democrats are now increasingly concentrated in urban areas and Republicans did an extremely successful round of gerrymandering in 2010, enough to enable them to hold on to a substantial House majority even thoughthey got fewer votes in House races than Democrats.
In other words, the new plan is to make the electoral college as wired for Republicans as the House currently is. But only in Dem leaning states. In Republican states just keep it winner take all. So Dems get no electoral votes at all.
Another way of looking at this is that the new system makes the votes of whites count for much more than non-whites — which is a helpful thing if you’re overwhelmingly dependent on white votes in a country that is increasingly non-white.
So now the GOP wants to go beyond making voting incredibly difficult for anyone who isn’t rich and white to making the votes of rich white people count more than anyone else’s. At The Atlantic, Molly Ball reports on her interview with a “Republican operative” who is leading the effort to “Take the Electoral-Vote-Rigging Scheme National.”
Jordan Gehrke, a D.C.-based strategist who’s worked on presidential and Senate campaigns, is teaming up with Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio Republican secretary of state, to raise money for an effort to propose similar electoral reforms in states across the country, he told me this week.
Gehrke and Blackwell have been talking to major donors and plan to send a fundraising email to grassroots conservatives early next week. The money would go toward promoting similar plans to apportion electoral votes by congressional district in states across the country, potentially even hiring lobbyists in state capitals.
Gehrke isn’t saying which states the project might initially target. He says he’d like to see the plan implemented in every state, not just the ones where clever redistricting has given Republicans an edge, and he justifies it in policy, not political terms.
A presidential voting system where the electoral college was apportioned by congressional district might not be perfectly fair, he says, but it would be better than what we have now. It would bring democracy closer to the people, force presidential candidates to address the concerns of a more varied swath of the American populace, and give more clout to rural areas that are too often ignored. And while it might help Republicans in states like Virginia, it could give Democrats a boost in states like Texas. Ideally, this new system, implemented nationally, would strengthen both parties, he claims.
Uh huh. Sure. Read the interview at the link.
Connie from Orlando sent me this link to an article about violence against women at Truthout by Rebecca Solnit of TomDispatch: A Rape a Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year: Hate Crimes in America (and Elsewhere)
We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.
Here I want to say one thing: though virtually all the perpetrators of such crimes are men, that doesn’t mean all men are violent. Most are not. In addition, men obviously also suffer violence, largely at the hands of other men, and every violent death, every assault is terrible. But the subject here is the pandemic of violence by men against women, both intimate violence and stranger violence.
It’s impossible to give the gist of this article with a few excerpts, so I hope you’ll go read the whole thing. Here’s a bit more:
Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage some men lay down as they attempt to control some women, and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they’ve gotten so used to they hardly notice — and we hardly address. There are exceptions: last summer someone wrote to me to describe a college class in which the students were asked what they do to stay safe from rape. The young women described the intricate ways they stayed alert, limited their access to the world, took precautions, and essentially thought about rape all the time (while the young men in the class, he added, gaped in astonishment). The chasm between their worlds had briefly and suddenly become visible.
Mostly, however, we don’t talk about it — though a graphic has been circulating on the Internet called Ten Top Tips to End Rape, the kind of thing young women get often enough, but this one had a subversive twist. It offered advice like this: “Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone ‘by accident’ you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.” While funny, the piece points out something terrible: the usual guidelines in such situations put the full burden of prevention on potential victims, treating the violence as a given. You explain to me why colleges spend more time telling women how to survive predators than telling the other half of their students not to be predators.
To continue the violence against women theme, Amanda Marcotte gives her take on the crazy proposed law in New Mexico that would jail women if they try to abort a pregnancy caused by rape because the fetus must be preserved as “evidence.”
Of course, the entire idea that having a rapist’s baby would somehow be treated as proof of a rape is beyond silly. After all, the defense against the charge of rape is rarely to claim that the penis didn’t go into the vagina, but to accuse the victim of consenting and then, due to the unique viciousness of women, claiming it was rape for the lulz. Or to conceal her epic sluttiness by having the police grill her about her sex life, the defense attorney question her about it for the public record, and the entire community gossip about what a big slut she must be to press rape charges. I suspect Brown knows this, coming from the same anti-choice circles as Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin, where the belief is that women are deceitful creatures who will lie and kill to conceal how much fun sex they’re having.
To understand what’s going on here, you have to understand that anti-choicers primarily understand abortion as an attempt by women to hide how naughty they are. Never mind that most women getting abortions are in their 20s and are mothers already; the myth that abortion patients are young girls having all this sexy fun they’re not supposed to have and then hiding the “evidence” with abortion is so erotic and enticing for anti-choicers that they’re not letting it go. That’s why hanging out in front of abortion clinics and yelling at patients is so crucial to the movement: They believe you’re trying to hide your shameful non-virgin status, and by gum, they’re going to be there to make sure they get a chance to see your face and cast judgment. You will not get to hide your non-virginity from them! They are entitled to pass judgment, and if they don’t get to do it by shaming you for being a single mother, they’ll show up and yell at you at the abortion clinic. And probably masturbate about it later. You laugh, but when you see behavior like this enough, you begin to realize that this anti-choice obsession with abortion is so profound that “sexual fetish, no matter how sublimated” is the likeliest explanation.
I really think she’s right about the fetus fetishists.
Remember that story about the scientist from Harvard who wanted to find an “adventurous woman” to bear a Neanderthal child? Turns out it was just a bunch of media hooey. From the LA Times: ‘Cloned cave baby’ stories missed the mark, scientist says.
Let’s be clear: That Harvard scientist you heard about is NOT seeking an “adventurous woman” to give birth to a “cloned cave baby.”
But that was the juicy story making its way around Web on Tuesday.
The blowup began when the German magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with Harvard synthetic biologist George Church, who is well-known for his genome sequencing effort, the Personal Genome Project, and for all sorts of other unusual and creative projects such as encoding his new book, “Regenesis,” in actual DNA.
In his interview with Der Spiegel, Church discussed a number of ways “DNA will become the building block of the future,” as the magazine put it. The interview touched on back-engineering dinosaurs, by first identifying the mutations that separated ostriches, one of the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs, from their long-extinct forebears. It discussed the possibility of using DNA to build gadgets in the future — “cars, computers or coffee machines,” as Der Spiegel put it. Church also talked about the possibility of synthesizing genes to promote virus resistance or longevity.
As for the Neanderthal baby? It did come up — as a hypothetical. Church said that the speed at which technology was evolving might make such a project possible in the relatively near future, depending on “a lot of things.” He also observed that before any woman served as a surrogate for a cloned Neanderthal fetus, society would first have to accept human cloning.
I’ve got several more reads for you, in link dump fashion.
Stephanie Fairyington at The Atlantic: The Lonely Existence of Mel Feit, Men’s Rights Advocate
Lawyers, Guns & Money: Neoconfederate Judges Rule NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional
Mia Fontaine at The Atlantic: America Has an Incest Problem
WaPo: Mitt Romney is back. But he never really left.
The Advocate: Law Professor Challenges Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction Over DOMA