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Pinback's Journal
Pinback's Journal
December 7, 2020

Vote Forward: All Georgia Senate GOTV addresses adopted!

Tweet from Vote Forward, 9:01 pm today: "You did it! All of our get out the vote letters for Georgia have been adopted. We have one more night to get them written and prepped for our big send day tomorrow (Dec. 7th). Thank you all so much!"

As of noon today, there were more than 30,000 Georgia voters to be "adopted" for Vote Forward's GOTV letter writing campaign for the 1/5/2021 U.S. Senate runoff election. This evening, they've all been claimed.

My 60 letters are done -- signed, sealed, stamped -- and will be mailed tomorrow. I sent 150 for the general election and another 50 for the first wave of the Senate runoff campaign. 260 seems like a lot to me, but there are a lot of participants who've done way more! Well, we all do what we can.

It was fun being part of these efforts this year. In a post-pandemic world, I'll probably do more volunteering that involves interacting with other people close up. But for 2020, this was the perfect activity for me.

If you're interested in learning more about Vote Forward, check them out here:

Donate to Vote Forward: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/vote-forward-c4

December 6, 2020

Jon Ossoff debates empty podium

Since David Perdue was too chicken to show up for the debate, Ossoff is taking questions from journalists and Perdue is represented by an empty podium. The moderator made this clear at the outset.


December 3, 2020

Donors Exceed Goal To Help Save Beloved Manuel's Tavern In Less Than A Day (Atlanta)

No doubt many if not most Atlanta-area DUers are familiar with Manuel's Tavern, the iconic watering hole and progressive-friendly oasis at the corner of North and Highland, where portraits of John F. Kennedy and FDR hang on the wall. Faced with oblivion due to the stresses of COVID-19, the bar appears to have been rescued by an influx of cash from habitues and fans.

WABE Radio, Atlanta, 12/3/2020 - On Wednesday, when news broke that the much-loved Atlanta bar and meetup spot Manuel’s Tavern was in danger of closing its doors due to the pandemic, Atlanta residents said “not so fast.”

A GoFundMe, set up by Manuel’s regular Angelo Fuster, exceeded its $75,000 goal on Thursday after being active for less than 24 hours.

More than 1,000 people have donated thus far and commenting things like, “That bar is sacred ground. Hang in there, Manny’s,” and, “I plan to celebrate election night 2022 at Manuel’s.”

According to the Saporta Report, the tavern, which has been an Atlanta institution and meet-up spot for everyone from blue-collar workers and policemen to politicians and the press for over 64 years, has seen business drop an average of 62% and is losing $25,000 a month despite pivoting their business model to take-away options.

The report went on to say that Manuel’s has been able to keep its doors open in part due to funds received from the Paycheck Protect Program, but that the aid was running out.

More at link: https://www.wabe.org/atlanta-exceeds-goal-to-help-save-beloved-manuels-tavern/
November 28, 2020

Howlin' Wolf - mesmerizing live performance, 1964

Here's the great Howlin' Wolf in concert in London, performing "Smokestack Lightnin'" and "Don't Laugh At Me":

That's the legendary Willie Dixon on bass and the dynamic Hubert Sumlin on lead guitar. I'm not sure, but I think the drummer is probably Sam Lay, who played with Wolf at the time. Maybe somebody else has that information.
November 25, 2020

New Vote Forward campaigns opened for letters to Ga. voters!

As many of you already know, Vote Forward is orchestrating campaigns to send GOTV letters to Georgia voters for the all-important Jan. 5, 2021 U.S. Senate runoff election. Now that all voters in the first two runoff campaigns have been "adopted" -- 1) encouraging Georgians to register to vote and 2) encouraging Georgia voters who requested a mail ballot this year in the general election to request and return their runoff ballots as soon as possible -- volunteers are now writing letters to encourage Georgians who are likely to vote in person (either early in-person or on election day).

There are currently more than a million addresses available for "adoption" in this campaign. You can adopt as few as five at a time, or 20 at a go if you're feeling more motivated. There are guidelines on the Vote Forward site to help you get started:

Please note: You do NOT use your return address on these letters, and you only need to sign with your first name and last initial, so there are no privacy concerns for volunteers. And the voters' names and addresses come from public voter registration records, so this is not an invasion of their privacy, either.

The letters we're sending for Vote Forward include non-partisan handwritten messages. The letters go to voters who are registered Democrats who haven't necessarily voted consistently and may need a little extra motivation to tip them over the edge to actually take the step of voting. Research by Vote Forward and Swing Left has shown that these voters may be turned off by partisan or guilt-tripping messages, so we keep the letters positive and encouraging. (Also, as anybody with a Georgia mailing address, TV, or phone number knows, the whole state is already awash in partisan and guilt-inducing propaganda.)

If you want to do something to help, this campaign is a great option. I sent 150 letters before the November general election to voters in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, and I've adopted 50 Georgia voters (so far) for the Senate runoff. As I write these, I love thinking about each recipient reading my letter and making a plan to vote, maybe even telling friends and family to do the same. If we boost turnout by just a little bit, combined with all the other efforts going on, we can really win these two Senate seats!

To register with Vote Forward: https://votefwd.org
More information about the Georgia letter-writing campaigns: https://votefwd.org/posts/Georgia-Runoff-campaigns

Happy epistolizing! (Yes, I looked it up, and that is a real word!)

November 24, 2020

Four Seasons Total Manscaping

Cartoon by Barry Blitt, from The New Yorker - prints available!
November 20, 2020

State Legislatures Don't Have the Power to Subvert the Election for Trump (Ari Berman)

State Legislatures Don’t Have the Power to Subvert the Election for Trump
Trump’s new strategy to undermine the will of the voters is illegal and doomed to fail.
By Ari Berman, Mother Jones

After losing nearly every major legal case seeking to throw out ballots cast for Joe Biden in key states, the Trump campaign has pivoted to a new strategy: seeking to persuade GOP-controlled legislatures in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania to nullify Biden’s victory and appoint their own electors for Trump. The Republican leaders of Michigan’s legislature have been summoned to the White House on Friday to discuss this plan.

Such a move would not only be a breathtaking nullification of the will of the voters without parallel in American democracy, it is almost certainly illegal and unconstitutional.

“No state legislature in our country’s history ever has done with Donald Trump is apparently agitating for the Michigan state legislature to do, which is to ignore the results of a popular vote election and wrest control from the voters,” Biden campaign lawyer Bob Bauer said on a press call Friday. “The Constitution does not permit a state legislature to do what Donald Trump wants the Michigan state legislature to do.”

Berman proceeds to point out the most significant flaws in the Trump scheme:
  • State legislatures have no authority over how election results are certified

  • State electors must be based on the popular vote

  • State legislature can only appoint their own electors if voters “failed to make a choice”

  • Governors have the authority to override state legislators
More detail for each of these points at link:
November 18, 2020

We came much closer to an election catastrophe than many realize

(Opinion by Paul Waldman, Washington Post - Nov. 18, 2020)

As President Trump refuses to concede that he lost the election, and his dead-enders trot out increasingly bizarre conspiracy theories and legal tantrums, we are witnessing an attack on democracy that is at turns sickening and comical. But as it turns more the latter than the former, we should be aware of how close we came to catastrophe.

You may look at President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-to-232 lead in the electoral college, and his popular vote lead of 5.8 million votes and growing, and say that, thankfully, the results weren’t that close. As my colleague Greg Sargent wrote before the election, Trump’s legal strategy was predicated on getting within “cheating distance,” with the margins narrow enough that he could convince Republican judges to intercede on his behalf and hand him the election. It hasn’t happened.

But it was closer than you think. And it raises the frightening possibility that if Trump’s team were not such a bunch of buffoons, and if Republican officials at the state level were just a little more corrupt than they already are, he might have been able to steal the election after all.

That’s because the 2020 election was, in one critical way, even closer than 2016.

Waldman goes on to point out that much has been made of the 77,000-vote margin in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that gave Trump the electoral votes needed to prevail in 2016. But in 2020, all would have needed would have been 45,000 votes in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

Final tallies are being completed; Georgia is conducting a hand recount, and there could be a recount in Wisconsin if the Trump campaign decides to pay for one. But here are the margins by which Biden won three critical states, as of Wednesday morning:

Arizona: 10,457
Georgia: 14,028
Wisconsin: 20,565
Total: 45,050

If we’re thinking about whether Trump could make up any of those deficits in a recount, the answer is almost certainly no; recounts seldom find mistakes that move more than a few hundred votes in one direction or another, and could just as easily make Biden’s leads larger.

But if Trump had managed to get those 45,000 votes, he would have won 37 more electoral votes, making the electoral college a 269-to-269 tie. Under the Constitution, the election would have then been decided by the House of Representatives, with each state delegation getting just one vote. Even though Democrats have a majority in the House, more state delegations have Republican majorities. Trump would have been reelected.

That’s the bullet we just dodged, all because of 45,000 votes.

Terrifying indeed. More at link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/18/how-2020-election-was-closer-than-2016/
November 18, 2020

What's really interesting is the increased Democratic turnout in several rural counties.

The Atlanta suburbs get a lot of credit in the press, but the maps in the NY Times piece referenced in the linked Tweet show a dramatic Blue shift from 2016-2020.

Cohn et al. point out that overall Black turnout as a percentage of the vote declined this time around, and sure, that's true, if only because the number of White voters from both major parties was dramatically higher as well (and there are more White voters than African-American or Latinx voters in Georgia). But if you look at the county-by-county results, there are several rural or semi-rural counties where Trump still won, but he won by less. A few hundred votes here, and a few hundred votes there, and pretty soon -- in an election this close -- those little counties suddenly are no longer inconsequential. And it's Black voters in those areas who made the difference, I'm almost certain.

The map published by USA Today (scroll to bottom of page to How counties shifted from 2016) shows 2016-to-2020 differences in every county in the United States. Lee County, in southwest Georgia, for example, voted for Biden at a rate over 8% higher than for Clinton. Catoosa County, in northwest Georgia, went for Biden at a more than 4% higher clip.

I think the statewide GOTV efforts by Stacey Abrams and others are responsible for these modest gains in counties with lower populations than the heavy hitters in metro Atlanta, and they deserve credit for contributing to Biden's 14,000-vote lead in Georgia.

November 14, 2020

Happy 81st birthday, Wendy Carlos!

- from a 1989 BBC documentary (when she was age 50)


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Hometown: GA
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