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Reading: Opinion | His spell is breaking. – The Washington Post

From Opinion | His spell is breaking. – The Washington Post

> While suggesting that Democrats “can try to steal the election from us” and that “our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away in secret,” the president sounded bored rather than enraged.

Appearing in person ought to have put more visceral force behind Trump’s charges; his in-person statement did the opposite. His delivery lacked the all-caps, exclamation-marked energy of his Twitter broadsides. The effect was to undercut the incendiary allegations Trump was making. He was a man checking a box, not one fighting for his political life.

And while Trump was speaking, something rather extraordinary happened: Three major broadcast networks stopped airing the president’s address live.

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Reading: Brett Kavanaugh foreshadows how Supreme Court could disrupt vote counting – CNNPolitics

From Brett Kavanaugh foreshadows how Supreme Court could disrupt vote counting – CNNPolitics

It’s a puzzle that the other justices are going along with Kavanaugh’s facile and faulty line of reasoning.

Kavanaugh’s language overall mirrors President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about calling a winner on election night.

States that require mail-in ballots to be returned by the Election Day, Kavanaugh wrote in his concurring opinion, “want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after Election Day and potentially flip the results of an election.”

But those announcements are in no way official: They are projections made by national broadcast networks and wire services, based on how partial results compare to historical outcomes — not by the states themselves, which typically take weeks before certifying elections.

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Reading: ‘Sue if you must’: Lincoln Project rejects threat over Kushner and Ivanka billboards

From ‘Sue if you must’: Lincoln Project rejects threat over Kushner and Ivanka billboards

Let’s see what happens when a group stands up to bullying.

On Friday, Marc Kasowitz, an attorney who has represented the president against allegations of fraud and sexual assault, wrote to the Lincoln Project, demanding the “false, malicious and defamatory” ads be removed, or “we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages”.

The Lincoln Project responded that they would not remove the billboards, citing first amendment rights of free speech and the “reckless mismanagement of Covid-19” by the Trump White House.

In a legal response on Saturday night, attorney Matthew Sanderson told Kasowitz: “Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster … your clients are no longer Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities.”

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Reading: 9 COVID-19 cases linked to Minnesota Trump rally last month, with 2 hospitalized – ABC News

From 9 COVID-19 cases linked to Minnesota Trump rally last month, with 2 hospitalized – ABC News

Puts an edge on our local politics.

The Minnesota Department of Health has identified nine coronavirus cases in people who reported attending President Donald Trump’s rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, last month, with one patient currently in the intensive care unit.

While the health department cautioned it is uncertain whether those individuals contracted the virus at the rally or somewhere else, spokesperson Scott Smith told ABC News that “based on case characteristics” in Beltrami County, where Bemidji is located, the Trump rally on Sept. 18, along with a wedding that took place on Sept. 19, appears to be “likely drivers of increases in COVID-19 cases” in the county.

“We cannot definitively say for those cases who did not report either attending a political rally and/or attending a wedding where they were exposed to SARS-CoV-2,” Smith said. “However, these events appear, based on case characteristics, to be likely drivers of increases in COVID-19 cases in Beltrami County.”

[…]

Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed Bemidji as one of the rapid risers in terms of the coronavirus spread.

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Reading: Demon vs. Monster: The Vice-Presidential Debate and an Historian’s Harassment

From Demon vs. Monster: The Vice-Presidential Debate and an Historian’s Harassment

from Hank Reichman on Academe Blog

The scare quotes are disdainful when they come from a university president.

But what is really shocking is how this alleged “educational leader,” a college president, could evidence such rank disdain for the academy’s and society’s most precious core values by placing the words academic freedom and free speech in scare quotes.

What signals danger, however, is that the president was so easily drawn by trolls.

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Reading: Kamala Harris grilling prompts doubtful claim from Amy Coney Barrett

From Kamala Harris grilling prompts doubtful claim from Amy Coney Barrett

> Harris also tackled Barrett’s views on abortion, making a carefully laid-out case that despite Barrett’s equivocation and insistence that she is unbiased on the issue of reproductive rights, she is far from it.

Barrett was a member of a “right to life” organization that in 2016 promoted a crisis pregnancy center in South Bend, Indiana, that has been criticized for misleading and misdirecting vulnerable women seeking abortions. She has signed off on a newspaper ad calling Roe v Wade – the landmark 1973 ruling protecting the right to choose – “barbaric”. A Notre Dame Magazine article from 2013 describes a lecture series during which Barrett “spoke … to her own conviction that life begins at conception”.

As a federal judge, she has considered three laws restricting abortion and expressed misgivings about rulings that had struck down the laws. She joined the dissent against a decision to strike down an Indiana abortion rule – signed into law by Mike Pence when the vice-president was Indiana’s governor – that mandated the fetal remains be buried or cremated.

“I would suggest that we not pretend that we don’t know how this nominee views a women’s right to choose or make her own decisions,” Harris said. The senator noted that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Barrett has cited as her model in declining to give any hints on how she would vote on future cases, was, unlike Barrett, much more forthcoming with her own personal views on abortion.

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Reading: Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

From Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

John Gruber has become my favorite tech critic – speaking truth to less-than-legitimate power.

This is Facebook’s political/PR strategy on this issue: (1) to ask everyone to ignore the plain truth that Apple’s changes to IDFA tracking are for exactly the reason Apple states: to give users control over their own privacy; and (2) to claim that Apple’s actions aren’t hurting Facebook but instead are hurting “small businesses”. Small businesses are taking advantage of privacy invasive user-tracking ad placement, but if their ads are less effective without privacy invasive user-tracking, then so be it, they’re less effective. The idea that we don’t dare do anything good for privacy that might reduce the efficacy of user-tracking ads because “pity the poor small businesses” is sophistry.

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Reading: Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

From Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

I usually don’t want to be flip about trump’s waste of time, but this one begs for it. The wording of this directive reveals that the training is needed – even to understand the directive.

“All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

“Structural” is not “inherent.” Discuss.

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Reading: Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

From Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

Ars reports on Georgia Gov Kemp’s mandate that undercuts local mandates to wear masks:

Kemp also went on a tour of various cities to encourage mask wearing, but he has said, “we don’t need a government mandate to do the right thing.”

Kemp’s executive order attempts to void rules that “at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks,” the Associated Press wrote. Kemp has declined to impose a statewide mandate for Georgia,

A mandate that declares we don’t need a mandate, used to undercut a mandate to do The Right Thing. ‘Pataphysics thrives in the time of chaos.

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Reading: US hits 40K COVID-19 cases in a day, experts brace for rise in deaths, Pence delivers an encomium to a virus

From US hits 40K COVID-19 cases in a day, experts brace for rise in deaths, Pence delivers an encomium to a virus

As Ars reports it, Pence’s encomium for a virus stirs up some deep deception.

“As we see the new cases rising—and we’re tracking them very carefully—there may be a tendency among the American people to think that we are back to that place that we were two months ago, that we’re in a time of great losses and great hardship on the American people,” Pence said. “The reality is we’re in a much better place.”

How so?

Pence also noted that though cases are increasing, deaths are decreasing. He noted that treatment and care have improved for severely ill patients and many new cases are seen in people under 35—who are at less risk of developing severe disease and dying.

There’s something both irresponsible and reality-denying about this. It certainly smacks of Trump’s trope, “just lay back and enjoy the ride.” But put a mask on, ok?