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:
Eight days after the country resoundingly turfed out the president, it seems people still have overactive endocrine systems. I understand; coming down from a stressful experience can take some time. But seriously, we have to take a collective chill.
The president will leave office at noon Eastern time on January 20th whether he believes he lost the election or not. Mike Pompeo, Bill Barr, Betsy DeVos, and every other Cabinet-level officer will go as well. I expect, in fact, that Biden will have an executive order prepared for his signature, and minutes after he takes the Oath, every political appointee in the current administration will be fired.
None of the crap coming from the president, Pompeo, Barr, et alli, has anything to do with the election. If you look at their behavior from the perspective of a medium- or low-information voter on the other side, from the perspective as someone just as wound up about things as you are but with less ability than you have to tell truth from fiction, it makes a lot of sense. Because all of these lawsuits, personnel shifts, harping about a stolen election—it's all a big fundraising effort.
These people are grifters. They're thieves. They're the most corrupt batch of public officials the country has ever known, and I'm including the Harding, Jackson, and Andrew Johnson administrations. And the president will leave office with $400m in debts that he has to pay back personally within a few months. I will bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that when his re-election committee files its disclosures later in the year, somehow a lot of the money the Republicans have raised post-election will go to pay some of those debts.
Maybe my feelings about Parker have depressed my ability to feel strong emotions about anything else. If so, it's one last gift he's giving me: an inoculation against the crazy that we will have to roll our eyes and live through for the next 70 days, 1 hour, and 11 minutes.
Author John Scalzi posted two missives on his blog over the weekend that sum up a lot of what I'm thinking lately. He concludes the second one:
Trump is a virus and he infected our body politic, a body that the GOP spent four decades lowering its immune system so that it could receive just the sort moral and political sickness that Trump personifies. And it worked! We got very sick, and we’re very sick still.
But it turns out our antibodies were stronger than suspected. We rallied despite the best efforts of the virus. And now we have the opportunity to get better. It’s not a done deal; the GOP is still out there trying to get us sick again, and our viral load is still regrettably high. But now, at least, there is a chance to rout it and get our body politic healthy again. That works for me, today.
Yes. And he has some particularly choice words for the 70 million people who voted to re-elect the president.
The Independent's Richard Hall attended Rudy Giuliani's press conference at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Of course, this turned out to be at the Four Seasons Landscaping Company...
It’s hard to explain the confusion I experienced as I sped along the highway out of downtown Philadelphia towards Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Was this one last act of revenge by the president against the lying fake news media while he still had our enrapt attention? Was it a ruse to get all the journalists out of town for when the results were announced?
Truth be told, it didn’t matter. However this turned out, Four Seasons Total Landscaping was the story now.
I arrived to see a media scrum around a chain link fence that led into the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping. The building itself was one-storey, with a neat lawn and a row of hedges at the front. It was in that part of town that every town has, where businesses which have no right being grouped together nonetheless gather due to one reason or another — usually the cheap rent. Across the street from Four Seasons Total Landscaping was a crematorium. Next door to it was an adult book store with a bright yellow sign that displayed its offerings: DVDs and lotions, novelty gifts, viewing booths. It was called Fantasy Island. In retrospect, it was an omen of what was to come.
As we waited outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping, we began to wonder what had led us to this point. Had a Trump campaign booked the wrong Four Seasons and diverted to the landscaping company as a quick fix? Was the owner of the business a witness to this massive voter fraud the president was alleging?
We're the most powerful country in the history of the world, folks.
Slate has a lovely series of short goodbyes to outgoing administration figures we won't miss, starting with Dahlia Lithwick on Ivanka:
If and when you look back at your life, maybe you will realize that this is where it all went wrong: You were superb at the pitchman stuff, and maybe if your creepy dad hadn’t decided to run for president, you could have stayed in that branded plastic world of warehouses and factories and skyscrapers. But transactional justice words pressed through gauzy Instagram filters are not the stuff of democracy or morality, equality or faith. You’ve had great fun with this whole governance lark, to be sure, but frankly, the pain and suffering your dad so relishes make for bad influencer vibes. And in the end, when things became desperate, you committed fully to his side, changing your position on abortion and even voting itself. You would preserve your proximity to power at the expense of American democracy. Despite all the years of breathy talk of equality and dignity and empowerment, you—like your dad—think justice is the thing you alone are owed.
Lowen Liu sending off Stephen Miller warmed my heart, while Ashley Feinberg's dismissal of Junior simply added evidence about the well-known damaged psyche of his father.
Joe Biden's inauguration is just 73 days away.
Both US Senate races in Georgia have gone to mandatory runoffs on January 5th as none of the candidates got more than 50% of the vote. Right now, the most likely outcome is that incumbent David Perdue (R) defeats John Ossoff (D), while Raphael Warnock (D) defeats appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R)—the only sitting senator with a perfect record of voting with the outgoing president. If those races split, as of January 6th the Senate would be 51-49 in favor of the Republican Party, and it would be nearly impossible for incoming President Biden to pass anything even remotely progressive.
What if Biden offered Pat Toomey (R-PA) the Treasury Department? Toomey is starting the 5th year of his third Senate term and has said he has no plans to run for re-election or for Governor—and he wouldn't win if he tried. Toomey sits on the Senate Banking, Budget, and Finance committees, giving him experience with the Treasury. Plus, he's fairly moderate (for a Republican), voting with the soon-to-be-former president 88% of the time. Toomey can run Treasury, have a seat at the table he doesn't have as a retiring US Senator, letting Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf appoint a Democrat to his seat. Voilà! The Senate is now 50-50, with Vice President Harris getting the tie-breaking vote.
The other two US Senators in similar circumstances are Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Johnson is a full-throated MAGA clown and all around wing-nut. He should under no circumstances ever get near real power. So, no, he stays in Wisconsin.
Collins defeated Sara Gideon 51-43 on Tuesday, returning her to the US Senate for a fifth term. But Maine as a whole went to Biden by 80,000 votes and Maine's Democratic US House delegation got re-elected by over 110,000 votes. In other words, Collins is out of step with Maine as a whole. Maine also has a Democratic governor, Janet Mills. But Collins likes her job. And why would she give up six years as a senior US Senator, on the Appropriations Committee no less, to take a job for the other party that might only last a year or two? She would never accept the deal.
So, yes. Let's give Toomey a job he would enjoy, one he would probably be good at, but where he can't do too much damage to Biden's agenda. And the next day, by a vote of 51-50, let's make DC a state.
The AP has called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden. My neighborhood has just erupted in cheers.
(No, really, people in my neighborhood are cheering. I know this because all of my windows are open, which is in itself pretty nice for November.)
Note that Biden is not yet President-Elect. The Electoral College convenes to certify the state votes on December 14th, and the 117th Congress meets in joint session on January 6th to count the votes. Then he will be President-Elect. Right now he's the putative winner of the election.
And hey, I believe I can toot my own horn for a second, because here's how I predicted things on Tuesday night:
Unless something really weird happens in Alaska, 100% of my predictions came true. I am now blowing on my fingernails.
The record for consecutive 21°C-plus days in Chicago is 5, set 15-19 November 1953. Today will be the third in a row, with the forecast showing the fourth, fifth, and sixth coming this weekend and on Monday.
In other sunny news, the electoral map has shifted a bit overnight:
Arizona's count has slowly shifted away from Biden while in both Georgia and Pennsylvania the count has put Biden ahead. In Georgia, Biden now leads by 1,200 votes, with a few thousand absentee ballots from heavily-Democratic areas near Atlanta. In Pennsylvania, Biden's 6,000-vote lead will likely grow as the final votes come in from Philadelphia, which has gone 90-10 for him in some places. And, of course, Biden leads in the national popular vote, by about 4 million. Both candidates have so far received more votes than any in history.
Note that if the six undeclared states solidify in their current colors, the Electoral College vote will exactly mirror 2016's: 306 to 228. That would be a delicious irony, showing that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.