The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Democrats Will Control Senate As Ossoff Wins Georgia Runoff

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

As violent Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent Congress from counting the electoral votes that made Joe Biden the president-elect, Jon Ossoff has been projected to defeat David Perdue, winning his Georgia Senate runoff and giving Democrats the narrowest possible control of the Senate. Ossoff's lead is larger than Biden's win in the state in November, and is expected to grow outside the one-half percent margin under which Perdue could request a recount.

Ossoff joins Senator-elect Raphael Warnock in making history, as Georgia will send to Washington, D.C., its first Black senator and its first Jewish one. Just over a century ago, Georgia was the site of the anti-Semitic lynching of Leo Frank. His win comes on a day when we are reminded of the nation's history of white supremacist violence.

With Ossoff and Warnock, the Senate's partisan split will be 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, in her role as president of the Senate, breaking ties. This makes Biden's job in the early weeks of his presidency much, much easier—rather than a series of protracted confirmation battles, with Mitch McConnell in the majority leader role refusing to even give some nominees a vote, Biden can make the nominations he wants and focus on other things. But, again, the events of the day are a stark reminder of how much damage there is to undo.

Rev. Raphael Warnock Defeats Kelly Loeffler In Georgia Senate Runoff

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The Rev. Raphael Warnock is now Senator-elect Raphael Warnock. He is projected to defeat Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of Georgia's two runoff elections.

Warnock, the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, will become Georgia's first Black senator. He kicked off the runoff campaign with one of the more memorable and effective ads in recent election cycles, and then followed it up with another one using the same themes, just as effective.

Loeffler was appointed to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson when he retired, so she cannot be said to have lost reelection. Rather, she failed ever to be elected—and she failed on the basis of a racist campaign in which she relentlessly pandered to Donald Trump and the worst of his base. In a last-ditch pander, Loeffler promised Monday night to join the Republicans objecting to the counting of electors from battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden. (And after it became clear she was going to lose, late on Tuesday night she announced she was heading to Washington to follow through on that pledge.)

A Democrat won the presidential race in Georgia. A Black Democrat is going to the Senate from the state. Holy wow, and a big thank you to Stacey Abrams, Nse Ufot, and so many other tireless organizers.

’The Numbers Are Real’: Fauci Rebuts Trump On Denial Of Pandemic Death Toll

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Donald Trump again showed that his problem with COVID-19's staggering death toll in the United States is not that more than 350,000 people are dead, but that the public knows that more than 350,000 people are dead. And Trump will absolutely do his best to convince people that the death count is lower.

Sunday morning Trump paused trying to pretend that he didn't lose the election for long enough to try to pretend that U.S. coronavirus deaths are overcounted, tweeting "The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov's ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low. 'When in doubt, call it Covid.' Fake News!"

In reality, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are undercounted, possibly by more than a third. But on Meet the Press Sunday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn't get into the question of undercounting. He simply affirmed that "The numbers are real."

"We have well over 300,000 deaths," he continued. "We're averaging 2,000 to 3,000 deaths per day. All you need to do, Chuck, is go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths."

Trump responded by lashing out at Fauci for stating those facts.

Fauci is a career civil servant, not a Trump political appointee, and has served under six presidents. Trump is not responsible for elevating him except to the extent that a nation seeking sound counsel and not getting it from Trump or his political appointees has turned to Fauci as the most credible prominent person in government.

Why does Trump get no credit for his "work"? Maybe because he lies about the number of deaths and then attacks the scientist who says "The numbers are real." Maybe because he works a lot less than he golfs.

Thousands of people are dying every day—people whose family members are forced to say goodbye over FaceTime and Zoom, people beloved and needed by their communities. Donald Trump only cares about their deaths insofar as, by becoming known, they make him look bad. And he's fighting to overturn an election so he can keep presiding over the incompetence and contempt for life that brought us to this place.

‘Conservative’ Groups That Opposed Local And State Relief Took Millions In Federal Aid

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Conservative groups have long railed against government assistance, including even against economic stimulus during the coronavirus pandemic, but—surprise!—that hasn't stopped many of them from taking millions in the aid themselves, an analysis conducted as part of Accountable.US's CovidBailoutTracker.com project shows.

Back in May, a long list of right-wing groups signed a Conservative Action Project letter opposing "federally funded bailouts for states and local governments." At least eight of those groups were just fine with federally funded bailouts for their own bank accounts, though: They collectively took more than $2.25 million in CARES Act aid, with three taking money both from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, but wasn't a giant hypocrite about it.)

Read Now Show less

Alabama’s Ignorant New Senator May Disrupt 2021 Transition

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Donald Trump may have found the senator he needs to challenge the election results in Congress—and it's the guy who can't name the three branches of government. Alabama Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville said Thursday he might join with some far-right members of the House to challenge the results as Congress certifies the results of the Electoral College. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not going to like this, having already warned Senate Republicans that it would be a "terrible vote," forcing them to look anti-Trump by voting to uphold the election results.

But Tuberville's plan to try to help overturn the election results had the intended effect: a barrage of glowing tweets from Trump. Tuberville is "a great champion and man of courage. More Republican Senators should follow his lead," according to one tweet. "We had a landslide victory, and then it was swindled away from the Republican Party - but we caught them. Do something!" Every part of this is false, of course.

Less than an hour later: "Tommy will be more popular than ever before - a hero!" And "Thank you!" And then a barrage of retweets of Trump supporters exulting in Tuberville's plan. A little later, "I am very disappointed in the United States Supreme Court, and so is our great country!" The man was really in a desperate false hope/grief/rage/denial spiral Thursday evening.

Around the same time Trump went off on this tear, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany put on her campaign hat and lied about the election, insisting that the results had been suspicious in ways they simply were not and holding out hope to supporters that "litigation is ongoing"—despite those multiple rejections from the Supreme Court and dozens of rejections from lower courts.

Tuberville can definitely complicate the vote certification process in Congress, making it take hours longer and creating kind of a mess. He can't stop Joe Biden from becoming president, given McConnell's refusal to go along. But Trump's refusal to acknowledge reality is getting new fuel, priming the country for weeks more ugliness and for Trump's supporters to continue digging in in the belief that Biden's presidency will not be legitimate. The only good that can come out of this is if Trump's base turns against congressional Republicans who vote to uphold the will of the voters, and even that is not what you'd call a good outcome.

In Georgia Runoff, Republicans Attack Absentee Voting, Again

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Absentee voting worked well for Republicans for years. Then Democrats won one election through heavy absentee voting, and now Republicans are trying to crack down on that. The effort is most pressing in Georgia, thanks to the two Senate runoff elections there on January 5, 2021, and Georgia Republicans are all in.

More than 378,000 Georgia voters have already sent in their absentee votes, and another 846,000 ballots have been mailed out but not yet returned. But Republicans are in court trying to make it easier to toss out ballots over signature matching questions and trying to end the use of drop boxes for turning in absentee ballots.

"Let me be clear: Before an absentee ballot is ever cast, a signature match is confirmed twice," Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has explained, referring to the signature matching when an absentee ballot application is received and when the ballot itself is received. "Not once, twice. As in the signature is matched twice. I don't know how much clearer I can make that for everyone to understand."

However, Republicans are targeting the fact that under current signature-matching procedures, two of three election officials inspecting an envelope have to say that a signature doesn't match the one on file before it will be rejected. Instead, they want to reject ballots based on the say-so of one out of three officials. Talk about a situation ripe for abuse.

That's one lawsuit. Another challenges drop boxes, takes its own whack at signature verification, and wants to delay absentee ballots from being processed until Election Day, just to make sure the vote-counting process drags out as long as possible. And then, reports Politico, "A third suit filed in state court by the Republican National Committee and state Republican Party seeks to restrict the use of drop-boxes to business hours and suggests changes related to poll observers."

Phew. That's a lot.

Democrats are filing their own suits, with Marc Elias suing four counties on behalf of the New Georgia Project, trying to get early voting times extended.

On Fox Business, Sen. Rand Paul (of Kentucky, not Georgia) spewed out a lot of lies about voter fraud and then explained some of the logic behind attacks on absentee voting—which, again, was a big Republican voting strategy right up until Donald Trump decided he didn't like it and Republicans stopped doing it but Democrats won by doing it a lot—saying "I'm very, very concerned that if you solicit votes from typically non-voters, that you will affect and change the outcome."

All the lies about voter fraud and the crux of it is still the concern that people will vote who don't usually do so. Not people who shouldn't be allowed to vote. Just people who don't always do so. That's the danger Republicans are worried about. That's the reason to fight to make it harder to vote. It's literally just about keeping people from voting. Which we knew, but it's still amazing that they say it right out.


To See How Cruel Trump Republicans Are, Look At Other Countries

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The failures of the United States to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant economic challenges is well documented. More than that, millions of Americans are living those failures every day: The $600 in expanded unemployment insurance that expired in July and wasn't renewed. The Paycheck Protection Program that didn't reach many of the businesses that needed it most. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.) The state unemployment benefits extension that will expire soon, and the eviction protections similarly expiring. The struggling industries that didn't get bailed out. It's disaster after disaster, and "failure" is a generous word since it's the result of a refusal by Senate Republicans and Donald Trump to do the right thing.

Read Now Show less

Michigan Judge Scorches Latest GOP Effort To Overturn Election

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Another effort to overturn Donald Trump's election loss failed in a Michigan court early Monday morning, with U.S. District Judge Linda Parker not only rejecting the attempt—"The People have spoken," she wrote—but seeing through to the lawsuit's real goal. The suit by six Michigan Republicans, represented by Sidney "Kraken" Powell, was "more about the impact of their allegations on people's faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government" than it was about actually winning.

Read Now Show less

Trump Won’t Concede But Says He’ll Leave White House In January

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Yesterday, in things that should in no way be news but are, Donald Trump said he would leave the White House if (when) the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden. Trump took questions from reporters late Thursday afternoon after speaking remotely to military service members.

Read Now Show less

Democrats Demand Answers From GSA Chief On Transition Holdup

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

It took them a little while, but House Democrats have gotten around to asking General Services Administration head Emily Murphy to explain just why she's holding up the transfer of power at great risk to the nation.

"We have been extremely patient, but we can wait no longer," wrote Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), in a letter calling on Murphy to brief lawmakers by Monday, with the possibility of a public hearing involving Murphy and her top deputies to be held later.

Read Now Show less

Georgia Senate Special Will Go To Runoff

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rev. Raphael Warnock leads the special election for the Senate seat currently held by Kelly Loeffler (who was appointed), but thanks to a Georgia law requiring a winner to break a 50 percent threshold, the race will be going to a runoff. In the multiway race, Loeffler has held on against Rep. Doug Collins to take the second slot in the runoff.

That runoff will be held January 5, 2021.

WATCH: Trump's Final Campaign Promise Is To Fire Dr. Fauci

Donald Trump is again doing the villain-in-a-bad-movie-giving-away-his-plan thing, coyly telling a rally crowd that yes, he plans to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci. Voters have a much more positive view of Fauci's handling of the coronavirus pandemic than of Trump's, so this is an interesting move in the final days before the election.

At a Sunday night rally in Opa-Locka, Florida, when Trump again falsely promised that the United States is "rounding the turn" on the pandemic, the crowd responded by chanting "Fire Fauci." No doubt just a spontaneous, organic kind of thing. Trump's response: "Don't tell anybody, but let me wait 'til a little bit after the election."Fauci is a career civil servant who Trump cannot directly fire. He would have to pressure a political appointee into doing so, and Fauci could then appeal.

Trump's exchange with the crowd comes after Fauci told The Washington Post that Joe Biden's campaign is taking the pandemic "seriously from a public health perspective," while Trump is "looking at it from a different perspective." The U.S., Fauci said, is "in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation" as COVID-19 spreads, and: "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."

White House spokesman Judd Deere was outraged at the nerve, saying it was "unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President's Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President Trump's actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics." (Where "playing politics" = describing reality.)

But Trump has been taking aim at Fauci for weeks or even months, angry that someone is pushing back against his desire to pretend the virus will go away, and polling better than he is while doing so. Now we have confirmation from his own pursed lips: The post-election plan includes trying to fire Fauci and do away with one of the few prominent voices in the federal government reliably pushing for a true public health response.


Biden, by contrast:


Trump Campaign Leaves Thousands Stranded And Freezing, Several Hospitalized

At least seven supporters were taken to hospitals after Donald Trump's rally in Omaha Tuesday night, when temperatures plunged and buses intended to return them the several miles to the parking lot were unable to get through, leaving people stranded in freezing temperatures.

Trump took off in Air Force One around 9 pm local time, and the last of his supporters didn't make it out until after midnight. Tweets from the scene reported elderly Trump supporters getting cold and weak and disoriented as police struggled to help them.

Beyond the extremely poor planning, two things stand out. One, Nebraska has a more than 20 percent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests, and Trump was there for a crowded rally with mostly mask-less attendees. Naturally, he used this potential super-spreader event to claim "we're making that final turn" on the virus.

Two, in the final week before Election Day, the Republican incumbent was campaigning in Nebraska. Now, yes, Nebraska divides its electoral votes by congressional district, and one of them is up for grabs. But that tells us that Trump thinks his path to victory might depend on a single vote.

And in fighting for that single vote, Trump showed what a well-oiled campaign concerned for its supporters he is running.





Is Trump Camp Complaining About Rules So They Can Ditch Final Debate?

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump is claiming that he will still debate despite the rule change that will cut off the candidates' microphones while their opponent delivers his initial two-minute response to each of the debate's topics. But everything else Trump and his campaign are saying sounds like they're laying the groundwork to back out.

"I will participate," Trump told reporters Monday night. "But it's very unfair that they changed the topics and it's very unfair that again we have an anchor who's totally biased." At his Arizona rally Monday, Trump attacked moderator Kristen Welker as a "radical Democrat" and claimed she had "deleted her entire account," which is false. Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, went further in his whining about the debate.

Stepien touted a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates as "Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission)." That letter came before the CPD announced that it would mute microphones for portions of the debate in response to Trump's constant interruptions at the first debate, though Stepien knew such a decision was likely coming, writing, "It is our understanding from media reports that you will soon be holding an internal meeting to discuss other possible rule changes, such as granting an unnamed person the ability to shut off a candidate's microphone. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden."

Shooooot, here I thought it was generous to Trump that the microphones will only be cut to give each candidate two uninterrupted minutes, leaving Trump the remainder of each 15-minute debate segment to interrupt.

But what did Stepien mean by "other possible rule changes," you ask? What was the first rule change? Well, it wasn't one. Stepien wrote to strongly complain that "We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the 'Foreign Policy Debate' in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign many months ago." Welker's announced topics include "Fighting COVID-19, American families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership," Stepien complained, using this as a launching pad to attack Biden on foreign policy.

Except this debate was never billed as a foreign policy debate. It's true that in past years, the third debate has sometimes focused on foreign policy, but here in 2020, the CPD's original announcement of debate formats and moderators said of the third debate, "The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate," and the first debate "will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator."

So even before the CPD finalized the decision to prevent Trump from interrupting for two minutes in each of six segments, so 12 minutes out of a 90-minute debate, Team Trump was falsely complaining that the debate was rigged. No wonder—as a Biden campaign spokesman noted, the Trump campaign is upset "because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response."

Trump has lost one debate and backed out of one debate. If he goes into this one with the attitude he's showing now—attacking the moderator, attacking the topics, enraged that he can't interrupt for two entire minutes at a time—he's going to lose this one, badly, once again hurting his already weak reelection prospects. So which will it be? Back out and have that be the story, or alienate one of the largest audiences of the entire presidential campaign by showing what kind of person he is?

GOP Judge Smacks Down Trump Campaign In Pennsylvania

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee's efforts to steal the election in Pennsylvania were handed a setback on Saturday by a Trump-appointed judge. The Trump campaign and RNC were trying to block Pennsylvania from having ballot drop boxes, force signature matches between voter registration records and ballots, and pave the way for bringing in an army of nonresident "poll watchers" to intimidate voters.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Ranjan wasn't having it. "While Plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is 'certainly impending.' They haven't met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions," he wrote in a 138-page opinion.

Read Now Show less

California Republicans Promoting Phony, Illegal Ballot Drop Boxes

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

California Republicans are so concerned about voter fraud that they're flagrantly breaking election laws. They're promoting "official ballot drop off boxes" that are not only not official, they're illegal. Republicans are promoting the "official" drop boxes on social media, with the boxes reportedly located at churches, gun stores, and candidate campaign offices in at least three counties.

Republicans have claimed that the practice is legal under a 2016 California law that allows people to designate a person to drop off their ballots—a benefit to people who have disabilities or are elderly or otherwise might not be able to return their ballots in person. Republicans actually sued to overturn this law, but now they say it allows their unofficial drop boxes. Except it doesn't. Leaving a ballot in an unsecured box does not equal giving it to a designated person.

Read Now Show less

Nothing But Bad News For Trump In New Covid-19 Poll

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The United States has learned how much to trust Donald Trump: Just 12 percent of people in a new CNN poll say they trust almost all of what the White House is saying about Trump's health. By contrast, 69 percent said they trust little of what they're hearing from the White House.

People also know how we got to this point: 60 percent disapprove of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and 63 percent say Trump was irresponsible in his handling of the risk of infection to people around him. Women in particular say Trump was irresponsible.

Read Now Show less