Heather Cox Richardson reminds us that the origins of Thanksgiving as a national holiday lie in the Civil War. Read more in her November 25 Letters from an American.
This can’t be good for America (or the world); consider a national Monmouth poll released yesterday where the specific wording of the question was, “Do you believe Joe Biden won this election fair and square, or do you believe that he only won it due to voter fraud?” Overall, 60% of the public agrees that Biden won “fair and square” (!only 60%!). Then consider this: 58% of conservatives, 70% of Republicans, and 77% of Trump voters said they believe Biden only won the election due to voter fraud. If you are worried about how the president-elect can hope to govern effectively, I am too. I suggest the following:
Yuval Noah Harari’s “When the World Seems Like One Big Conspiracy” Excerpt: “A recent survey of 26,000 people in 25 countries asked respondents whether they believe there is “a single group of people who secretly control events and rule the world together.” Thirty seven percent of Americans replied that this is “definitely or probably true.” So did 45 percent of Italians, 55 percent of Spaniards and 78 percent of Nigerians.”
Farhad Manjoo’s “I Spoke to a Scholar of Conspiracy Theories and I’m Scared for Us” Excerpt: “I have become consumed with an alarming possibility: that neither the polls nor the actual outcome of the election really matter, because to a great many Americans, digital communication has already rendered empirical, observable reality beside the point…What makes digital lies so difficult to combat is not just the technology used to spread them, but also the nature of the societies they’re targeting, including their political cultures.”
Letter from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to Emily Murphy, the administrator at the GSA
We have been incredibly patient, @GSAEmily, but we can wait no longer. Your refusal to follow the law is active and existential threat to our democratic norms and institutions.
You owe us, and the American people, an explanation. We are demanding you provide one. By Monday. pic.twitter.com/lcMfJNrp2P
— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) November 20, 2020
Thank you, thank you, to the millions who voted to fill the American leadership vacuum with someone actually fit to do the job. Future Americans are in your debt.
• If you have not already voted, please remember to vote today. I hope you will choose to do so in a way that preserves our democracy.
• Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz tells the truth about taxes in the NYT – Republicans, Not Biden, Are About to Raise Your Taxes (except if you’re rich, in which case they will go down). The law initially lowered taxes for many, but there are automatic stepped increases starting after this election year, increases every two years through 2027 for people making under $75K (about 65% of the population). Some excerpts:
• The current poverty line for a family of four is $26,200: People with incomes between $10,000 and $30,000 — nearly one-quarter of Americans — are among those scheduled to pay a higher average tax rate in 2021 than in years before the tax “cut” was passed. The C.B.O. and Joint Committee estimated that those with an income of $20,000 to $30,000 would owe an extra $365 next year — these are people who are struggling just to pay rent and put food on the table.
• By 2027, when the law’s provisions are set to be fully enacted, with the stealth tax increases complete, the country will be neatly divided into two groups: Those making over $100,000 will on average get a tax cut. Those earning under $100,000 — an income bracket encompassing three-quarters of taxpayers — will not.
• At the same time, Trump has given his peers, people with annual incomes in excess of $1 million dollars, or the top 0.3 percent in the country, a huge gift: The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the average tax rate in 2019 for this group to be 2.3 percentage points lower than before the tax cut, saving the average taxpayer in this group over $64,000 — more than the average American family makes in a year.
Adding to his seemingly unending stream of self-serving lies and distortions, the current president this weekend claimed that since doctors and hospitals “get more money” if they report a death as COVID-related, they are inflating COVID-related numbers, and he continued to claim that the pandemic “is going away.” The recent spikes in reported cases and ensuing deaths (as predicted by the same scientists the president has disparaged) make the latter claim ridiculous on its face. In a statement issued Sunday, the American College of Emergency Physicians called the president’s assertions “reckless and false.” The American College of Physicians, which represents internal medicine doctors, denounced the president’s allegations as “a reprehensible attack on physicians’ ethics and professionalism.” The Council of Medical Specialty Societies said Trump’s claims “promulgate misinformation that hinders our nation’s efforts to get the Covid-19 pandemic under control.” The number of excess deaths in the US has to be attributed to something, and it’s not traffic deaths.
William McRaven, from a 10/19 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal:
“We need a president who understands the importance of American leadership, at home and abroad. We need a leader of integrity whose decency and sense of respect reflects the values we expect from our president. We need a president for all Americans, not just half of America.
This week I went to the polls in Texas. Truth be told, I am a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, small-government, strong-defense and a national-anthem-standing conservative. But, I also believe that black lives matter, that the Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship, that diversity and inclusion are essential to our national success, that education is the great equalizer, that climate change is real and that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy. Most important, I believe that America must lead in the world with courage, conviction and a sense of honor and humility.
If we remain indifferent to our role in the world, if we retreat from our obligation to our citizens and our allies and if we fail to choose the right leader, then we will pay the highest price for our neglect and shortsightedness.
I voted for Joe Biden.”
McRaven was a Navy admiral and commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011-14.
This is a thoughtful essay in the NYT by John Barry, writing on the numerous flaws implicit in the arguments advocating population immunity as the solution (e.g. the “Great Barrington Declaration”) to the pandemic: “Herd Immunity? Or ‘Mass Murder?’”
We don’t need to add more than a million additional deaths to the toll in order to get through this (not to mention the destructive effects on overburdened health care workers and systems, long term ill effects on survivors, and inequitable effects on less fortunate societies whose populations do not have access to advanced health care measures).
From the NYT: “The Trump administration has rejected California’s request for disaster relief aid for six major wildfires that scorched more than 1.8 million acres in land, destroyed thousands of structures and caused at least three deaths last month.” The depths of Trump’s petty vindictiveness are breathtaking.