Tuesday, September 15, 2020

-Jim Cramer using a term he "would never use," to Nancy Pelosi's face

The climate crisis has emerged as a central 2020 campaign issue, as Donald Trump and Joe Biden stake out opposing positions on a conundrum we all thought we nailed down during the Age of Enlightenment: “Science??? (Y/N)”

  • Toxic smoke from the west coast wildfires has reached the opposite side of the country. Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR), whose initial calls to the White House went ignored, is pleading for more federal assistance. Gulf coast residents are bracing for potentially devastating flooding from Hurricane Sally, and this year’s hurricane season has been so active that meteorologists have nearly exhausted their list of names. (We humbly offer some free suggestions.) 
  • While Trump tries (largely unsuccessfully) to convince suburban voters that leftists armed with bags of soup are on their way to destroy the cul de sac, Joe Biden used a climate speech on Monday to contrast that lie with the genuine crisis that Trump has routinely dismissed as a hoax: “If we have four more years of Trump's climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?” 
  • Trump’s twin failures to address the accelerating climate crisis and pandemic stem from the same pathological blend of science denial and self-interest, and each crisis has deepened the other. On the west coast, smoke has forced testing sites to close, residents who’ve been forced to flee their homes have been struggling to maintain coronavirus-related safety precautions, and the early releases of incarcerated populations to reduce prison outbreaks have weakened California’s firefighting efforts. (The state’s reliance on prison programs to fight wildfires is disturbing in its own right, but formerly incarcerated volunteer firefighters at least now have a pathway to professional work.)

Even for voters who haven’t been keeping close tabs on climate change, the parallels between Trump’s public comments on climate and coronavirus alone should raise some alarms.

  • Here’s Trump on Monday, as California state leaders begged him to recognize the consequences of climate change: “It'll start getting cooler. You just watch...I don't think science knows, actually.” In April, as he was baselessly telling Americans that the coronavirus would disappear in warmer weather, here’s what Trump told Bob Woodward: “This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you’re the wrong person, you don’t have a is the plague.” Who wants to find out if hydroxychloroquine works against floods?
  • Recognizing that this election is “literally a matter of life and death,” Scientific American has endorsed Biden for the president, marking the first presidential endorsement in the magazine’s 175-year history. The editors wrote that Trump’s rejection of science has “badly damaged the U.S. and its people,” citing his pandemic response in particular, along with his efforts to tear down the Affordable Care Act and dismantle environmental protections. 

Trump has made no secret of his disdain for science (or facts of any stripe) during his presidency, but the overlapping crises sweeping the country have foregrounded the danger of that worldview in the White House, and make clear that we don’t have another four years to spare. Vote Save the Planet → 

On this week's Missing America, Ben Rhodes takes a look at the seemingly endless war in the Middle East and talks to two former political prisoners, Mohamed Soltan and Jason Rezaian. Go check it out and subscribe—new episodes come out on Tuesdays 

Facebook has repeatedly failed to act on evidence that political leaders around the world use the platform to manipulate voters, according to a memo by a former Facebook data scientist. In the 6,600-word memo, Sophie Zhang detailed examples of governmental leaders and political parties in Honduras and Azerbaijan creating fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway the public, as well as evidence of coordinated campaigns to influence elections in India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Zhang attributed the failures she observed to a lack of resources and a company tendency to focus on global activity that posed public relations risks, rather than civic or electoral damage: “Facebook projects an image of strength and competence...but the reality is that many of our actions are slapdash and haphazard accidents.” We're not sure about that "image of competence," but the whole "prioritizing good PR over a functioning democracy" thing sounds about right. 

Health insurance coverage in the U.S. contracted last year, before the pandemic hit, according to newly released Census data. Nearly 30 million Americans lacked coverage at some point during 2019, an increase of one million over 2018. That marks the third year in row that health insurance became more scarce, with decreases that reversed years of gains under the Obama administration. Much of that is attributable to Trump’s efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act. As much as we all freak out about things like “the president spewing batshit conspiracy theories” and “fascism,” polling data has consistently found that swing voters are primarily concerned with traditional issues like health care, and this Census data will likely hold more political weight than a year’s worth of unhinged tweets. 

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The Biden campaign has set up a major new legal operation that it’s billed as the largest election protection program in campaign history.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State has informed counties that absentee ballots can’t be thrown out solely because an election official thinks the signature doesn’t match.

A growing number of companies have committed to giving employees paid time off to serve as poll workers on November 3. 

More than 400,000 people have registered to vote through Snapchat this year.

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