An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, December 14, 2020
Table of contents:
I've been paying more attention to EOY album lists, this week than to news. Started collecting this late Saturday evening, but got swamped Sunday with my work compiling Jazz Critics Poll ballots, and that pushed my schedule back a day. Even so, I prioritized collecting links for possible future interest, and refrained from commenting much on them. Perhaps I'll come back mid-week and add some notes, as there is much to talk about here.
The extra day means that the Electoral College has now done its duty and elected Joe Biden president (see: Electoral College vote officially affirms Biden's victory). Also: William Barr is out as Attorney General. And: US virus death toll crosses 300,000 as vaccinations begin (more figures further down, in the usual place).
Jamelle Bouie: The 'Trump Won' farce isn't funny anymore: "Republicans are now seriously arguing that elections are legitimate only when their side wins."
Ronald Brownstein: The Republican Party's widening assault on American democracy.
Garrett Epps: Disbar Ken Paxton -- and then some: Texas Attorney General, who filed the Trump fraudsters' "Hail Mary" lawsuit to overturn elections in states that try harder to practice democracy than Texas does.
Rosalind S Heiderman/Elise Viebeck: 'The last wall': How dozens of judges across the political spectrum rejected Trump's efforts to overturn the election.
Harold Meyerson: Will it really be all over on December 14? That's when the Electoral College votes.
Ella Nilsen: Everything that needs to go right for Democrats to win the Georgia runoffs, explained. More on Georgia:
Jim Rutenberg/Nick Corasanti: 'An indelible stain': How the GOP tried to topple a pillar of democracy.
David Siders: Trump unleashes an army of sore losers.
See Building Biden's Cabinet for a survey of who's been selected for Biden's top administration positions, and who's being considered for still open slots.
Medea Benjamin/Nicholas JS Davies: Can Joe Biden's America figure out how to stop creating terrorists? Tempting to quote the whole article for its many examples where the insertion of US forces has only led to more resistance and terror (not least by the US itself). But I'll limit myself to the end:
Alex Pareene: Is Joe Biden just being stubborn? "A theory about his strangest nominees and appointments." Interesting example:
Dylan Scott: What Joe Biden could do to bring down drug costs.
Emily Stewart: The debate over Joe Biden cancelling student debt, explained: "45 million Americans have student debt." More on student debt:
Latest map and case count: 16.4 million+ cases (14 day change +30%, total up 1.6 million in last week), 300,051 deaths (+67%), 109,331 hospitalized (+19%). Dec. 9 was the first day where deaths topped 3,000, the round number above and beyond such infamous days as 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.
Laurie McGinley/Carolyn Y Johnson/Josh Dawsey: FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in the deadly pandemic. Generic headline, but the link I followed to this article focused on the dirty hand of politics: White House orders FDA chief to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Friday or submit his resignation.
Given that bureaucrats have an innate tendency to drag their feet under the guise of caution, the political pressure might have been a good thing. Still, much can go wrong in a process driven primarily by profit-seeking and political advantage, where much of the relevant data is kept closed off as proprietary.
Whet Moser: The pandemic's final surge will be brutal.
Achal Prabhala/Arjun Jayadev/Dean Baker: Want vaccines fast? Suspend intellectual property rights.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg: Trump and friends got coronavirus care many others couldn't: "Rudolph W Giuliani became the latest in President Trump's inner circle to boast about the treatment he received for Covid-19, as hospitals across the country ration care."
David Wallace-Wells: We had the vaccine the whole time.
F Perry Wilson: A doctor on 9 things that could go wrong with the new vaccines.
Sarah Zhang: The next six months will be vaccine purgatory: "The period after a vaccine is approved will be strange and confusing, as certain groups of people get vaccinated but others have to wait."
Jonathan Chait: How Michael Anton's 'Flight 93 Election' essay defined the Trump era.
Sean Illing: A book critic read 150 Trump-era books. Here's what he learned. Interview with Carlos Lozada, author of What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era.
Rachel Ramirez: The high rate of executions during Trump's last weeks in office, explained: "Trump has scheduled more federal executions than any president in at least a century."
William K Rashbaum/Ben Protess/David Enrich: Manhattan DA intensifies investigation of Trump.
Matt Stieb: Trump's last-minute execution spree has begun.
Jonathan Zimmerman: What Donald Trump can learn from Grover Cleveland. Premise here is that if Trump runs and wins in 2024, he'll join Cleveland as the only person to win two non-consecutive presidential terms. So how did Cleveland manage to win an election after losing one? Strikes me that the author is overly concerned with the duo's sex scandals, but there are other striking differences -- Cleveland actually won the popular vote in the election he lost -- as well as similarities (Cleveland was probably the most conservative president the US ever had, at least until Trump redefined what that meant).
Jane Mayer: Dianne Feinstein's missteps raise a painful age question among Senate Democrats. Related:
Mark Joseph Stern: The Supreme Court rejects opportunity to roll back marriage equality.
Jessica J Lee: How we an build on Trump's North Korea policy.
Trita Parsi: House Dems united to support the Iran nuclear deal.
Cameron Peters: Iran's execution of journalist Ruhollah Zam, briefly explained.
Mitchell Plitnick: Israel-Morocco agreement plants long term seeds of conflict.
Elizabeth Shackelford: Why Trump's Somalia gambit won't make anyone happy.
Tariq Ali: On John Lennon and Mick Jagger.
Bryce Covert: How monopolies have taken over our everyday lives: Review of David Dayen's book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power. By the way, some recent pieces by David Dayen:
Melissa Gira Grant: Nick Kristoff and the holy war on Pornhub: "When Kristof turns his notebook in the direction of women with stories of trauma, the resulting narratives most often fall somewhere between beneficent voyeurism and journalistic malpractice."
Daniel A Hanley: The FTC's strong case against Facebook. More on Facebook:
Nathan J Robinson:
Peter Hammond Schwartz: Why the Democrats failed again: On the cosmological emptiness of liberalism: "Right-wingers have a theory of human nature and the universe. Without such a narrative, liberals will keep losing."
Alex Shepherd: Fox News is in trouble: "The network is facing real, sustained competition from the right for the first time in its history."
Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: negative creep. His usual snark about Democrats (not without reason).
Still, lots more here, like a chart which shows that the top 1%'s share of income in India has risen from 6% in 1980 to 21%.
New York Times: This week in obituaries (a few names from a long list):