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The Washington Report: November 20, 2020 … “It’s A Clown Show”
20 Nov 2020

The Washington Report: November 20, 2020 … “It’s A Clown Show”

Jet Fumes, The Official Scent Of Congress … Define “Covid Relief Talks’ … Shelbyovious … On An Island …Final Map … Trump’s Unprecedented Subversion of Democracy … ‘Autogolpe’ Definition … Dirty Little Secret Of Polling … Double-or-Nothing In GA … Pass The Gravy, Hold The Thanksgiving … Data Du Jour: Vaccines Work … and other news of the week.
Today is Joe Biden’s 77th birthday. the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials and the 45th anniversary of Francisco Franco’s death.
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners
P.S. From all of us on the Capstone Team … wishing you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Jet Fumes, The Official Scent Of Congress

Politico “The Senate left town Wednesday — yes, Wednesday — for the Thanksgiving recess, without passing much-needed coronavirus relief or a must-pass government funding bill. And at this point, it’s hard to imagine the former coming together: the Senate GOP didn’t even discuss a stimulus package at their weekly lunch that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said was focused on year-end planning.

Meadows put the onus on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reach a relief deal. On a funding bill … McConnell indicated that the White House prefers to do an omnibus instead of another continuing resolution.

SPEAKING of lame-duck items: the House and Senate have officially entered into formal negotiations on the annual defense policy bill. And Pelosi put out a statement suggesting the inclusion of language renaming Confederate military bases is a red line for Dems. Trump has threatened to veto such language, but both chambers passed defense bills with similar provisions — and had enough for a veto proof majority.


Define ‘Covid Relief Talks’

Politico “ON THURSDAY MORNING … representatives to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met to discuss government funding and coronavirus relief. Turns out that this meeting was simply about the end-of-year government funding bill, which is due for renewal on Dec. 11. The two sides did in fact discuss the expiration of Covid relief-related items like pandemic unemployment assistance, student loan forbearance and the Paycheck Protection Program — but they did not talk about a new Covid relief deal. It’s entirely possible that some existing programs get renewed in or alongside a government funding bill.

SO, did they discuss coronavirus relief? it all depends how you define “Covid relief talks.”


House Democrats Wake Up

“Four senior House Democrats are demanding that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy brief them Monday on the reason she has yet to ascertain Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, warning that her answers will determine whether they intend to haul her to Capitol Hill for a public hearing, along with other senior General Services Administration officials.

Who’s Holding Onto Her Gavel …

theSkimm “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “The Democratic leader is poised to be House speaker once again – but she suggested this might be her last term. She’s been the House Dem leader since 2002 and although her vote was uncontested (unlike in 2019), she could have a tough battle ahead of her. This year, Republicans gained at least eight seats in the House and left Dems holding on to a very thin majority. They’re also manifesting to win the majority in the 2022 midterms. But it’s not just the opposing party she has to worry about – it’s also her own. The Democratic Party has had infighting between progressives and moderates, who disagree on things like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. And although they put their differences aside to support President-elect Joe Biden, the party still remains divided, and it will be up to Biden and Pelosi to try to unify it.”


The Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Alabama Republican Richard C. Shelby, added $760 Million dollars — tucked deep inside the draft Senate Pentagon spending bill — for warships that were not sought by the Navy but are built by Shelby’s constituents. $500 million for an “LHA replacement,” amphibious assault ships and $260 million for an Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, a 330-foot-long troop transport vessel made by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.”

On An Island

Axios “Most of President Trump’s closest advisers have completely distanced themselves from his legal effort and are avoiding his lawyers to avoid being swept into their courtroom drama. Why it matters: Some of the president’s advisers act like they think he can still overturn the election results — because they remain on the payroll and don’t have another choice. But talk to them privately, and many say Rudy Giuliani and his team are on a dead-end path. The true believers are Giuliani and his sidekicks — Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell — and not many others. Even Jared and Ivanka think this is going nowhere, people who’ve spoken to them told Axios.

Final 2020 Map

More than two weeks after Election Day, the AP declared President-elect Biden the winner in Georgia, with a 0.3% lead.
AP won’t call a race that’s subject to recount. AP called the race after state election officials said a hand-tallied audit of ballots confirmed Biden leads President Trump by 12,284 votes out of nearly 5 million counted.
The big picture: Georgia voters hadn’t swung for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992. Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by five points.”

Biden’s Win – Reality Check

TO SUMMARIZE: Axios “President Trump’s frantic post-election machinations are actually hurting him. He’s documenting his demise with court fights and recounts showing President-elect Biden’s victory to be all the more unassailable.
Reality check:
  • In Georgia, the largest hand recount in U.S. history is underway (final count due this evening), with some counties finding exactly the same vote tallies they reported two weeks ago. AND Politico “Another bid by an ally of President Donald Trump to overturn the results of this month’s election was roundly rejected in court on Thursday, as a federal judge appointed by Trump turned down a bid to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden as the victor in Georgia. At the conclusion of a three-hour virtual hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Grimberg delivered a withering assessment of the suit … [he] also emphasized that evidence of improprieties seemed limited to isolated cases and far short of what would be needed to justify a federal judge stepping in to alter the state’s election results.”
  • In Michigan, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified Detroit’s election results on the last day possible, after initially deadlocking in a party-line vote.
  • In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign paid $3 million this week for recounts in two counties – Milwaukee and Dane.
  • In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Philadelphia did not violate the law by restricting poll observers’ proximity to ballots.
  • In Arizona, the Trump campaign’s lead lawyer acknowledged last week that the vote count was not affected by fraud but “good-faith” errors that did not approach Biden’s 11,000-vote margin of victory.”

Unprecedented Subversion of Democracy

WaPo “After courts rejected the Trump campaign’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, the president is now trying to remain in power with a wholesale assault on the integrity of the vote by spreading misinformation and trying to persuade loyal Republicans to manipulate the electoral system on his behalf. JUST A REMINDER … neither Trump, Giuliani nor other Trump attorneys have furnished evidence to support that or any other claim of widespread fraud. Thursday’s show by Trump’s lawyers disquieted many, including Christopher Krebs, the Trump-appointed director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency whom the president fired Tuesday after he stated publicly that the election had been secure. “That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest,” Krebs wrote on Twitter.

JR’s Vocabulary Word Of The Week (… just spoke to me)





Mitt And Ben Speak … Where Is The Rest of the Republican Party?

Politico “As Trump and his allies continue to sow confusion and distrust, so far a few  elected Republicans appear willing to take on the president.”

“President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence. Wild press conferences erode public trust. So no, obviously Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.”
— Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska)


It’s Not Your Imagination …

President Trump is trying to cling to power by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Black voters. … WaPo “In Wisconsin, Trump’s campaign has paid for recounts in just two counties, one of which is Milwaukee County. In Michigan, Trump personally called two Republican officials who now want to decertify the vote in Wayne County, which includes Detroit. In Pennsylvania, Trump’s legal team has challenged vote-counting procedures and made unsupported allegations of fraud in two cities: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Georgia, the Trump team filed a lawsuit targeting absentee ballots in Savannah, and another suit took aim at the state’s ballot-curing process.
The pattern is obvious and appalling: Trump and the Republicans are trying to invalidate votes in cities with large African American populations — cities that happen to have voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. “Trump is a racist” is hardly breaking news. But it is shocking and inexcusable that so many GOP officials … are aiding and abetting the president’s attempt to negate Black voting rights — either with their weasel words or with their silence.”

Dirty Little Secret Of Polling

WaPo “There’s a dirty little secret that we pollsters need to own up to,” writes David Hill, director of Hill Research Consultants. “People don’t talk to us anymore, and it’s making polling less reliable.” In the 1980s, Hill says, pollsters could call five people and expect that one of them would be willing to be interviewed. Not anymore: “I offer my own experience from Florida in the 2020 election to illustrate the problem. I conducted tracking polls in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. To complete 1,510 interviews over several weeks, we had to call 136,688 voters … only 1 in 90-odd voters would speak with our interviewers. Most calls to voters went unanswered or rolled over to answering machines or voicemail, never to be interviewed despite multiple attempts.”

Double-or-Nothing In The Peachtree State

Cook Report “A pair of runoffs in Georgia in 50 days, on Jan. 5, will determine whether the 117th Congress will feature a divided legislative branch, with Democrats holding their narrowest House majority in most of our lifetimes and a Senate with a one- or two- seat Republican majority; or if Democrats will hold onto both chambers by their fingernails. Nevertheless, the election cycle that seems to never end will finally, after a billion dollars in spending, come down to this.

In the Senate, Republicans entered the cycle with 53 seats. The Nov. 3 results guarantee that the GOP will hold at least 50 Senate seats in the next Congress. Should they win at least one of the Georgia seats, Mitch McConnell will remain Senate majority leader. Only if Democrats win both, pushing the Senate to a 50-50 tie broken by the new vice president, Kamala Harris, would they take over control of the chamber. Under those circumstances, Harris had best not be looking forward to using Air Force Two much on days when the Senate will be in session.

Under any of these scenarios, we should probably use the word “majority” instead of “control.” There probably will not be a lot of controlling going on, whether it is Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer holding the title of majority leader.

Don’t expect much ticket splitting in the Peachtree State. Putting the Georgia races aside, in every Senate race this year, save the one in Maine, voters chose the same party for president and Senate. In 2016, every single Senate and presidential contest went the same way.

Simply put, anyone voting for Republican incumbent David Perdue in the race for the full-term, regularly scheduled Senate race is almost certainly going to vote for the appointed Senate incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, in the special-election runoff, and vice versa. Anyone voting for Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in the regular-seat contest is also likely to vote for Raphael Warnock in the special, and vice versa. These two pairs are package deals.

And the races are going to be very, very close.

On Nov. 3, with 4.9 million votes cast, Perdue pulled 49.7 percent of the vote, Ossoff 48 percent, and Libertarian Shane Hazel 2.3 percent. Warnock, the pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church (where both Martin Luther King Sr. and Martin Luther King Jr. preached), pulled 32.9 percent of the vote, and seven other Democrats pulled 15.5 percent, bringing the Democratic total to 48.4 percent. Loeffler won 25.9 percent of the vote, Rep. Doug Collins another 19.9 percent, and four other GOP contenders pulled 3.5 points for a GOP total of 49.3 percent—nine-tenths of a point more.

Factor in Joe Biden’s 14,000-vote win (pending the recount) in the state, and toss in the 1.4-point margin between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams in the gubernatorial race two years ago, and a good case can be made that Georgia is the most evenly divided state in the country.


Pass The Gravy, Hold The Travel

11.7 Million Americans have tested positive for Coronavirus.  252,555 Americans have died.


theSkimm “Health officials recommend against traveling for Thanksgiving. This year is just getting better and better Truly. Right now, almost every single state is seeing an uptick in cases. While the holidays are right around the corner, the CDC says traveling not only increases your chance of getting the virus, but also of spreading it to friends and family. Reminder: You may not feel sick or show any symptoms, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. And tests aren’t foolproof. All this comes as states across the country have implemented restrictions on gatherings.
So, what do I do?
The CDC’s recommendation? Stay home. Many Skimm’s already got the memo and are planning to sit tight over the holiday. But one report found that up to 50 million Americans are still expected to travel. If you’re one of them, and considering having a tough conversation with family, here are some tips. If you can’t cancel plans, keep in mind that renting a car may be safer than traveling by train. And for air travel, pay extra attention to safety (think: masks, social distancing) at the airport. Yes, you can bring hand sanitizer.
I’ll be staying put, thanks. Good news then: If you were planning for a Zoom Thanksgiving, it can now last more than 40 minutes. Just enough time for another helping of dessert. There are also plenty of games and trivia you can play virtually as a group (see: Drawful, Among Us, and Kahoot). Also, now may be a great time to create new traditions, donate to orgs, or test out a new recipe.
This week brought really promising news from not one, but two vaccines. We all want to spend quality time with loved ones. But we’re finally, maybe, in striking distance of beating this thing. Stay safe.
“Understanding the pandemic this week requires grasping two thoughts at once,” my colleague Robinson Meyer writes with the COVID Tracking Project. “First, the United States has never been closer to defeating the pandemic. Second, some of the country’s most agonizing days still lie ahead.”
  • The end of the pandemic is in sight. “The most tenuous moment is over: The scientific uncertainty at the heart of COVID-19 vaccines is resolved,” Sarah Zhang reports.
  • But how many Americans will die between now and then? “With cases rising as fast as they are, the U.S. could cross the threshold of 2,000 daily deaths within a month.
  • That makes this the final surge—and it’s looking deadly. “Almost every major metric of the pandemic stands at or near record levels.”

Boeing’s Boarding Pass

theSkimm “Boeing’s troubled planes have been cleared to take to the skies. I’m checked in. Great, now let’s get you up to speed. Last year, Boeing grounded all 737 Max jets – its best-selling model – after deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people. Since then, investigators and lawmakers have learned that a fleet of problems including design flaws, lack of federal oversight, and mismanagement (in part to save money) led to the accidents. But the main cause: a faulty sensor that pushed both planes into nose dives. Now, after 20 months on the ground, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Boeing’s jets the green light to take flight again in the US.

So, the planes are safe now?
That’s what the FAA is saying since Boeing made software, design, and training changes. But don’t expect US airlines to be jetting off on these planes soon. … So far, only American Airlines expects to fly the planes as early as next month. Others like Southwest and United are holding off until next year. As for international travel, regulators in other countries are still working on their approval process for the Max.

Idk, I’m still a little wary.
You’re not the only one. … And Boeing recognizes the need to rebuild its reputation with the public. … Boeing was once sitting in first class in the world of aviation. But the devastating crashes that claimed hundreds of lives have tainted the company’s reputation. Now, it’s facing an uphill battle to build trust when people aren’t flying as much.”

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