Thursday, October 29, 2020

-Rudy Giuliani, with logic as tightly zipped as his pants

The polls look good! The early voter turnout is huge! Your worst uncle in Michigan said he’s voting for Sleepy Joe, which was confusing, but you’ll take it! Five days out, there’s good reason to feel confident, but it’s worth taking a good long look at Pennsylvania to see how quickly this could go south if we don’t turn out every last voter.

  • With Donald Trump continuing to lag behind Joe Biden in Pennsylvania polls (currently by around six points), the Trump campaign has escalated a three-pronged effort to effectively wipe Pennsylvania off the electoral map. The campaign has pressured the GOP legislature to prevent election officials from processing mail-in ballots before November 3, pursued litigation to limit how late ballots can be counted, and intimidated people trying to vote early—in person and at drop boxes. You know, basic democracy stuff.
  • The Supreme Court has declined to hear an emergency plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to block an extension of the mail-in ballot deadline, but three conservatives on the Court left a wide-open window to declare those late ballots invalid after the fact, if it turns out Trump has lost the election by a thievable margin. The good news is, Pennsylvania’s Democratic secretary of state has advised election officials to keep late-arriving ballots separated, so that the state’s GOP-controlled legislature can’t later pretend the whole election is void and directly appoint a slate of Trump electors, like in our collective recurring nightmare. The bad news is, this is what we call good news now.
  • These efforts are more about manufacturing an ~atmosphere of doubt~ than actually winning Pennsylvania; here’s Trump at a rally in Allentown on Monday: “A lot of strange things happening in Philadelphia. We’re watching you, Philadelphia. We’re watching at the highest level.” (Full disclosure, we said the same thing when Philadelphia unveiled Gritty.) The Trump campaign has some overseas partners in that effort. Election officials are bracing for “perception hacks” from our friends in Russia and Iran over the final days of voting and after November 3—small attacks on election systems or secretary of state websites that wouldn’t change vote tallies, but could give Trump and his base a foothold to call the whole thing rigged, if the rest of us decide to fall for it.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is out here (checks notes) appealing to voters in order to (squints at notes, pulls out magnifying glass) win the most votes.

  • Biden is leaning into the fight against climate change as his closing message in an effort to turn out the Youngs, with two new national ads attacking Trump’s science denial. This animated ad airing on Adult Swim and Comedy Central is particularly worth a watch. Trump has obligingly offered a fresh, awful reminder of that distinction, having just stripped protections from more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest—one of the world’s largest intact rainforests—to open it up for logging and development. 
  • The Youngs, thankfully, have already been turning out in droves. But we still have our work cut out for us: As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 42 million out of the 92 million mail ballots requested by voters across the country had not yet been returned. Many of those probably belong to voters who requested a ballot early on before deciding to vote in person, but it’s impossible to know how many. The time to vote by mail is now very much behind us, and everything could hinge on whether a few thousands voters who still have ballots sitting on their desks know to deliver it in person. Particularly in Pennsylvania

That’s where you come in. As infuriating as it is to read about the president openly trying to undermine the election, it all falls apart if people vote in overwhelming numbers, and do it on time. Keep your foot on the gas, run through the tape, mix your metaphors, do whatever you need to do. Five days left

If you read this newsletter, you've probably already voted. Amazing! But your job isn’t over. Now we have to make sure everyone else votes. How do we do that? It’s easy. We take a few minutes out of our days—minutes that we’d otherwise be spending anxious about polls, or scrolling through Twitter aimlessly, or whatever it is—getting out the vote. Go to to find all your options to get involved between now and Election Day. 

President Trump moved to shut down a Justice Department investigation into a Turkish bank at Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s request, in the latest edition of The President Put His Own Interests Ahead of the Country’s, Which Would Normally Be Pretty Big News. When Trump came into office, the Justice Department was investigating Halkbank, a Turkish bank suspected of violating U.S. sanctions and funding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Erdogan, who had already asked then-Vice President Joe Biden to shut down the investigation (to no avail, because that’s not how DOJ works), asked Donald Trump to step in. Two attorneys general then pressured prosecutors to go easy on Halkbank (because that’s how DOJ works, now). At the same time, Trump was receiving income from his private businesses in Turkey, and former White House officials said they worried Trump was kowtowing to foreign strongmen in anticipation of personal favors down the road. There probably isn’t time to impeach him again five days before an election, but that’s what this warrants.

Given what we now know about the aerosol transmission of coronavirus, we need to adjust how we think about the risks of indoor settings. A group of scientists has used real outbreaks to develop a tool that estimates the risk of transmission depending on the measures taken, which you can see here in action in a living room, a bar, and a classroom. When masks are consistently used and the spaces are well ventilated, the risk of transmission drops dramatically in all three settings—even in scenarios that would otherwise create a superspreading event, like an infected teacher speaking loudly to a roomful of students. Superspreading events increasingly look to be a critical way that coronavirus spreads, and as colder weather forces people indoors, mitigating risk by controlling the things we can will be key to containment.

Abortion is a constitutional right and The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting to make sure it stays that way. As President Trump has vowed to only appoint justices to the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the future of legal abortion is at stake.

Already, anti-abortion politicians have succeeded in pushing abortion out of reach for too many people across the country. We have work to do to make sure everyone can get an abortion who needs one, regardless of race, class, or zip code. The ACLU will continue to fight so that all people are able to access reproductive health care, including abortion, without obstacles, shame, or stigma.

You can help by joining the fight. Click here to add your name today to help protect the right to abortion.

As a side effect of spending millions to unseat Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Democrats have been helping save local newspapers. 

Michael Bloomberg will donate an additional $600,000 to mobilize Black voters in Florida, to round out his $1 million spending pledge.

Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossof bodied Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) so hard in Wednesday night’s debate that Perdue canceled their final debate. 

Paul Rudd’s out in the rain handing out cookies to people waiting in line to vote.

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