Just reviewing what I actually got up to yesterday, I'm surprised that I didn't post anything. I'm not surprised, however, that all of these articles piled up for me to read today:
- Dunn County, Wis., Democratic Party chair Bill Hogseth, writing in Politico, explains "why Democrats keep losing rural counties" like his.
- Ross Douthat asks, "why do so many Americans think the election was stolen?"
- Author Ben Judah explains why The Crown's portrayal of Prince Charles is wrong.
- The STBX administration's salted-earth activities include making the US citizenship test more political.
- The Federal Court for the District of Hawaii sentenced the corrupt former Honolulu police chief and his equally-corrupt ex-wife to prison for conspiracy, bank fraud, and other charges.
- The National Academy of Sciences has determined that a directed-microwave weapon sickened US diplomats in Havana, Cuba, but did not examine who fired it.
- Covid-19 has given us a whole new dictionary of workplace slang, according to 1843.
- The New Yorker's Alex Ross finds the moral closure of the 2004 film Downfall a little too facile.
- Divers in the Baltic Sea have found an Enigma coding device from May 1945.
- Though difficult to see from Chicago, a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn will cause a rare double-planet effect this month, peaking when the planets are 6 arc-minutes apart on December 21st.
While I'm reading all of that, I've got a stew going in my Instant Pot (on slow-cooker mode). Unfortunately, it seems I underestimated the bulkiness of stew ingredients. I think I'll have a lot of leftovers:
Today, for the first time, the United States had more deaths from Covid-19 in a single day (3,100) than the total number of deaths from the September 11th terror attacks (2,996).
To understand how this happened, one need only look at Iowa:
To visit Iowa right now is to travel back in time to the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in places such as New York City and Lombardy and Seattle, when the horror was fresh and the sirens never stopped. Sick people are filling up ICUs across the state. Health-care workers like Klein are being pushed to their physical and emotional limits. On the TV in my parents’ house in Burlington, hospital CEOs are begging Iowans to hunker down and please, for the love of God, wear a mask. This sense of new urgency is strange, though, because the pandemic isn’t in its early days. The virus has been raging for eight months in this country; Iowa just hasn’t been acting like it.
The story of the coronavirus in this state is one of government inaction in the name of freedom and personal responsibility. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has followed President Donald Trump’s lead in downplaying the virus’s seriousness. She never imposed a full stay-at-home order for the state and allowed bars and restaurants to open much earlier than in other places. She imposed a mask mandate for the first time this month—one that health-care professionals consider comically ineffectual—and has questioned the science behind wearing masks at all. Through the month of November, Iowa vacillated between 1,700 and 5,500 cases every day. This week, the state’s test-positivity rate reached 50 percent. Iowa is what happens when a government does basically nothing to stop the spread of a deadly virus.
South Dakota, Idaho, Kansas, Iowa, and Oregon all have positivity rates over 40% today. It's so bad in South Dakota that the Cheyenne River Sioux Chief likened it to being trapped in a house on fire. Illinois is at 10.6%, high enough that state, county, and city authorities have slammed on the brakes again and started talking seriously about mask mandates. States in the northeast that locked down early and hard and stayed that way, like New York and Massachusetts, have rates under 5%. If only there were some relationship in the data we could find...hmm...
I wonder what people sent to Hong Kong jails for merely advocating in favor of democracy think about Republicans' attitudes towards "freedom and personal responsibility." Maybe we should send some Republicans to Hong Kong to find out.
Winter began in the northern hemisphere this morning, which explains the gray cold enveloping Chicago. Nah, I kid: Chicago usually has a gray, cold envelope around it, just today it's official.
And while I ponder, weak and weary, why the weather is so dreary, I've got these to read:
Finally, if you haven't already heard our first virtual concert, go listen to it. We worked hard, and we gave an excellent performance.
To thoroughly depress you, SMBC starts the week by showing you appropriate wine pairings for your anxiety. In similar news:
Time to take a walk.
Every morning I get an email from The History Channel with "this day in history" bullet points. A couple stood out today:
And now, the sanity. Via author John Scalzi, (conservative) attorney T. Greg Doucette explains why the president will leave office on January 20th no matter what chicanery he tries to steal the election:
No, not a reference to a now-famous article of amendment to the US Constitution. One of my favorite movies, The American President, was released 25 years ago today.
I plan to watch it again tonight.
While I wait for my frozen pizza to cook, I've got these stories to keep me company:
Going to check my pizza now.
Happy Sunday. Tonight the sun sets in Chicago at 4:30pm, and won't set after 4:30 again until New Year's Eve. So in the few hours of daylight I have left, I'll read a few things:
- A low pressure area northeast of Chicago has brought 100 km/h winds to the area, but at least it won't snow today.
- Entomologists in Washington State eradicated a "small" nest containing several hundred murder hornets. They worry a couple of queens might have escaped.
- The BBC fact-checked rumors that 10,000 dead people voted in Michigan, and spoke with several of them without consulting psychics.
I'm going to return to doing nothing of value today, which is the point of Sundays.
The New York Times and NBC have called Georgia for Joe Biden and North Carolina for the president, giving Biden 306 Electoral College votes to the president's 232. This is the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has won Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. It also means that in addition to taking over 5 million more popular votes than the president, Biden has won exactly the same number of electoral votes as the president did in 2016.
In 68 days, we'll finally have a new president.
Andrew Sullivan recognizes he's hyperventilating, but he has an important point:
Secretary of state Pompeo insisted with a smile that there would be a transition to a second Trump term, even as he lectures other countries about respecting election results. He is treating the solemn democratic process as a joke. “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” echoed White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, this morning.
To put it plainly: this simply does not happen in a healthy liberal democracy. It is a sign of the deepest imaginable rot. It is the kind of thing that occurs in developing countries with warlord leaders and fledgling democratic processes. It violates the sacredness of a peaceful and consensual transfer of power in America — marked first by George Washington.
It renders the US an international outlier in terms of democratic practices, and makes a mockery of any American pretension to be a model for democracy. We’re not. We’re increasingly a cautionary tale. And the damage this past week has already inflicted on basic democratic norms is incalculable. More foreign leaders have accepted Biden’s victory than Republican officials. Think about that for a bit.
Trump’s threat has never been that he wants to set himself up as a new Mussolini. His idleness and incompetence render that moot. His threat is that his psyche requires him to break every democratic norm, to hold the rule of law in contempt, and to deepen polarization so intensely that America becomes ungovernable at a federal level, and liberal democracy surrenders to one man’s ego.
Meanwhile, the AP has called Arizona, and I'm going to call Alaska on my own, so the electoral map will look like this until North Carolina and Georgia get done counting (and re-counting) their votes: