Heather Cox Richardson

Just FTR, this garbage ain’t removed. It is displayed in a dumpster as a part of the exhibition.

Speaking out of the original: that one is highly toxic and should be disposed off bei professionals. You can’t just dump it. At least over here in Europe we have laws against that, and regulation how to deal with it.
I’m just glad it didn’t turn radioactive at some point, but then, a meltdown is still possible…


October 31, 2020 (Saturday)

The next three days will bring the culmination of the 2020 election season, as those of us who have not already cast our ballots will show up on Tuesday to vote in our local, state, and national elections around the country.

Lots of us are exhausted and discouraged, and after the chaos of the past four years, it seems entirely fair to be exhausted. As civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer said, we’re “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

But on this night of calm before the storm, I am the opposite of discouraged.

I am excited about our democracy and our future.

Our nation faces headwinds, for sure. We simply must get the coronavirus pandemic under control, and then address the extremes of wealth and poverty in this country. Fixing healthcare, systemic racism and sexism, climate change, and education all must be on the table as we move firmly into the twenty-first century. It sounds like a daunting list, but after years of apathy while a few wealthy Americans tightened their grip on the nation, Americans have woken up to the fact that democracy is not a spectator sport.

We are taking back our country, and once we have done so, we will find that no problem is insurmountable.

Democracy is rising. It might not win on Tuesday—no jinxing here!—but if not then, the week after that, or the month after, or the year after. After more than thirty years studying our country’s history, I have come to believe in American democracy with an almost religious faith.

And then, with our country free again, the future looks wildly exciting, full of different voices, races, religions, foods, gender identities, books, ideas, inventions, music, clothing, political identities, perspectives. In the past, when we have come through a period in which a small group of Americans has taken control of our society and ordinary Americans have taken it back, industry, art, science, and civil rights have blossomed. For my part, I don’t expect to like everything that happens in such a fertile world, but I do expect to learn, and grow, and feel privileged to watch the construction of a world that reflects our people at their best.

I know it’s frightening to hear the stories of Republican leaders trying to get ballots thrown out, and right-wing thugs intimidating Biden voters, and so on. But that Republicans feel the need to engage in such tactics despite their ongoing voter suppression and gerrymandering is a tell-tale sign that they know their party has lost any hope of winning a majority of voters, and that the only way they can win an election is to cheat.

That strategy is not sustainable.

In the past year, the people who have come to these Letters to read and chat and argue and bolster each other have built a community of more than a million strong. We are artists, nurses, scholars, potters, welders, moms, dads, photographers, lawyers, writers, politicians, teachers, landscapers, boatbuilders, bankers, and doctors, people from every imaginable background, brought together by our love for this country and what it has the potential to be. So tonight, as I fall into bed, I urge you all to keep the faith.

Because, I promise, you have enabled me to keep mine.

[Photo by Peter Ralston]


This has the ring of prophesy and truth today. We need encouragement because even after Tuesday, the battle is only just engaged. This all has been preliminary maneuvering and probing. Once the votes are cast is when the fight begins, because we know the other side will move heaven and earth to make sure voters are silenced. I feel a combination of excitement and fear. Never have I seen anything like this in 56 years.


Yes, I need encouragement not more doom and gloom. We all do.


Howard Roark, eat your heart out.

November 1, 2020 (Sunday)

There are two big stories this weekend: voter intimidation and the Trump campaign’s attempt to game the election by convincing people that the president should declare victory on Tuesday night.

There have been flashes of voter intimidation all along, with pro-Trump supporters blocking a poll entrance in Fairfax, Virginia, in September, for example. But that intimidation escalated on Friday when a caravan of trucks and cars sporting Trump flags surrounded a Biden-Harris bus in Texas, forcing it first to slow to 20 miles an hour and then forcing the campaign to cancel the rest of the day’s campaign events out of safety concerns. One of the trucks sideswiped a car as the two drove down the highway.

After the encounter, Trump cheered on the perpetrators, retweeting a video of the vehicles swarming the bus with the words “I LOVE TEXAS!” Last night, he retold the incident to his rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, suggesting it showed how popular he really is.

Also yesterday, Alamance County sheriff’s deputies and city police officers in Graham, North Carolina, abruptly pepper-sprayed about 200 people who were marching peacefully to the polls. The crowd included children and disabled people and, in what will likely turn out to be a problem for the officers in court, political pundit David Frum’s children, who filmed the encounter. The sheriff’s office said it attacked the march out of “concerns for the safety of all,” but Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson has such a record of racism and intimidation that the Department of Justice sent election monitors to the county in 2004, 2008, and 2012.

This afternoon, the FBI confirmed in a short, nonspecific statement that it is investigating the incident. After all, voter intimidation is a federal as well as a state crime.

Tonight, Trump tweeted: “In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”

Today, Trump supporters are building on yesterday’s disruption, but with little obvious purpose. They shut down the northbound side of the Garden State Parkway and the Mario Cuomo bridge over the Hudson River. Tonight, another Trump group appears to be disrupting traffic at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Writer Rebecca Solnit noted, “Reminder: They’re doing crazy s**t because they can’t win by the rules.”

Indeed, Americans continue to turn out to vote in record numbers. As of early this afternoon, voters had cast 93 million early ballots, almost twice as many as were cast in 2016. That’s about 68% of the total votes counted in 2016. Hawaii and Texas have already seen more votes cast than were cast in total in 2016. People newly engaged in the political process are turning out to vote, including young people, who are voting in record numbers. In Georgia, the voter rights organization Fair Fight, started by Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018, has registered more than 800,000 new voters. If those people show up to vote, University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock told NBC News, “it would be game over.”

As the tide appears to be running strong against Trump, he and his surrogates are trying to lay the groundwork to claim a victory before the actual votes are counted. Repeatedly, Trump and his people have insisted that the election should be called on Tuesday night, and that if it is not, as Trump adviser Jason Miller said on ABC this morning, the Democrats are “going to try to steal it back after the election.”

But you can’t win an election before all the votes are counted. As the New York Times put it tonight, counting all the votes by the evening of November 3 is “not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.” It is the states that certify the final votes, and none of them does so on Election Day. They have to take time to count all the ballots, and always there are late arrivals, such as those from deployed military personnel.

Ohio’s Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the swing state’s top election official, is already warning people that it is unlikely Ohio can call its election results on November 3. “That’s not the way elections work. It’s just simply not, it’s not the way elections work in Ohio or most any other state election night is a snapshot in time,” he told CNN. “Every legally cast [ballot] deserves to be counted and will be counted by our boards collections and reported as part of our final certified result at the end of the month.”

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss pointed out today that we did not have a certain presidential winner on the night of the election in 1960, 1968, 1976, 2000, 2004, and 2016. It would not be unusual at all not to have one this year, either.

The way it works is this: Each state has its own procedures for counting ballots. Some count early ballots when they come in, others alongside the ones cast on Election Day, and still others put them off until after in-person ballots are counted. Because early voting this year has skewed to Democrats, people watching this election expect that the in-person voting will be heavily Republican. So in Arizona, for example, where officials count ballots when they come in, it is likely that the first reports on November 3 will lean Democratic. Then the in-person ballots will be counted, shifting the state into the Republican column, then the late arriving ballots might well shift the state back to the Democrats.

Trump is hoping to call the election at the end of the evening, after the in-person ballots have been counted—meaning a shift to the Republicans-- but before the mail-in ballots which will likely favor Democrats have all been tabulated. He and his campaign are especially interested in getting things settled before results come in from Pennsylvania, a key swing state where Biden is leading, and which doesn’t count its mail-in ballots until Election Day. Picking a moment at the end of Tuesday night would let him capitalize on the high water mark for his campaign, but it would mean ignoring legally cast ballots. It is rather as if a soccer team captain got to choose to call a game at the precise moment her team was ahead.

Three sources close to Trump told Jonathan Swan of Axios that Trump indeed plans to declare victory if he appears to be ahead. Tonight the president told reporters: “I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over." He added: “I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election. … We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers.”

His campaign appears to be hoping to convince followers that Democrats have stolen the election if the results change after Election Day. At the same time, his lawyers will throw around lawsuits in key states. If the vote is close, these two things could create enough confusion that the election drags out until it ends up either in the House of Representatives or before the Supreme Court. This is highly unlikely, but it might be a way to game the system for a victory, and Trump’s campaign needs scenarios that do not depend on winning the election fair and square.

Tonight NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett reported news from a federal law enforcement source: Starting tomorrow, “crews will build a ‘non-scalable’ fence to secure the WH complex, Ellipse and Lafayette Square. 250 National Guardsmen have been put on standby, reporting to Metro Police officials.”

One astute reader commented: “You might be forgiven for thinking he’s planning on doing something that will be bringing mass protests to Washington & the White House.”


You know, coming from a PRSTV system I have to tell you, it’s a glorious thing when the vote count is long and complex and nobody knows how it’s going to end up but it all happens in public and it is pure theatre. And nobody moans at the end because, while it can be long and hard, and the result is really tight, the tallies are there, the ballots are there, and everybody from all sides has been looking at it right from the start. So they all shake hands and go home to try again next time.


and… for those who don’t want to google this like perhaps i just did… :wink: “proportional representation single transfer voting”


Sorry! Was probably on the phone and it’s far too long to type.

But yes, if you ever nerd out at all more complex votes than FPTP (first past the post) is really fun.


I just want to get rid of the electoral college. Actual one person one vote would be nice.


November 2, 2020 (Monday)

Today, in the last hours before Election Day, Trump careened from one wild tweet to another, threatening, lying, promising, and cajoling. He flew to rallies in a number of states, making up for his campaign’s lack of money by hitting states in person and counting on local media to do the advertising he cannot afford to.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign—still flush with cash-- released slick videos and tweets promising that Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris will bring America together again; govern for the whole country, not just partisans; and address the nation’s problems, beginning with the coronavirus.

But the big story tonight is us.

Americans are voting in record numbers. About 98 million people have already voted. This number is about 71% of the total vote count of 139 million ballots cast in 2016. In 9 states, the early voting is already 90% of the total 2016 vote. In Texas and Hawaii, early voting has made up more votes than all the ballots cast in 2016.

Trump is the first president since Gallup polling began who has never broken 50% in its polling of job approval. Trump knew that it would be difficult to attract enough voters to win in a free and fair election, so his plan for reelection has always been to energize his base to show up at the polls while suppressing the votes of those who oppose him. (Note I did not say “Democrats”: there are unusually high numbers of Republicans crossing the aisle to get rid of Trump.)

This summer, as coronavirus ripped across the country, Republicans tried to make it hard to vote by mail. They hoped to depress turnout, since high turnout usually helps Democrats. Trump’s big donor Postmaster General Louis DeJoy changed rules at the United States Postal Service, slowing mail delivery significantly just as the country would need to rely on the USPS to deliver ballots. And now, cheered on by the president, “Trump trains” – caravans of trucks and cars flying Trump flags, often with their license plates covered—are intimidating voters, while this weekend law enforcement officers in Graham, North Carolina, pepper sprayed a group of about 200 voters and their families walking to the polls.

And yet, Americans are voting in record numbers.

For his part, Biden has run a solid, drama-free campaign. For all that he has been known for his gaffes in the past, there were none on display in the past several months. He has stayed calm and relatively quiet, letting Trump take the headlines, while he demonstrated competence. Many Americans have not bothered to learn Biden’s policies, though: it is enough that he is not Trump. He is a man of character and an institutionalist, prepared to honor the national principles and rebuild the government that Trump has gutted.

The polling numbers in the presidential race have stayed remarkably steady, so Trump’s team is trying to win the election through lawsuits to throw out votes presumed to be Democratic. The president has hammered on the idea that mail-in ballots will flood polling places with fraudulent ballots—this is false—and that votes must be tallied and a winner declared on Election Day itself or Democrats will “flip” the election. This, too, is false. No state certifies the results of the election the day it occurs, and there is no outcome to flip until all the ballots are counted.

No matter what Trump says about the election, Americans are voting in record numbers.

Tomorrow is the final day of polling for the 2020 contest, one which many Americans—including me—believe will determine whether we will keep, or lose, our democracy. On the ballot are fairness, equality before the law, and the future of our country. While Biden has promised to be the president for all of us, and has called for us to put aside our differences to work together to defeat the coronavirus and move our country forward, Trump is letting the coronavirus rage across the nation, is riling up anger and hatred, and has barricaded himself behind an unscalable wall at the White House. Out of concerns that violence might erupt, workers have boarded up storefronts nearby. In other cities, other storeowners have taken the same precautions.

And yet, Americans are voting in record numbers.

They are able to do so thanks to the election officials, who began preparing for this election a year ago; their neighbors, who are working at the polling stations; their friends, who are helping each other to get to the polls; and law enforcement officers, who are keeping the domestic terrorists at bay. These teams are working together to make sure that what is not simply a presidential election, but also a patchwork of our state and local elections, can be held safely and efficiently. They are trying to guarantee that the most fundamental principle of our government is honored: that we all have a say in our local, state, and national governments.

It is in our hands, not the hands of our leaders, to decide the nation’s future.

We are voting in record numbers.


By using US tax dollars and a plane owned by the federal government.


Another loophole that needs to be closed. If the president or any of his surrogates are campaigning but have no governmental reason to be there, the campaign foots the bill.


that should be the trigger alone. im sure he already says he was meeting with x, y or z local officials. not that it would matter with bunkerboy. he’s hosting a party at the whitehouse tonight which is most definitely not allowed. who can actually take his credit cards away?


Technically? Congress. They just don’t have an enforcement arm.


As someone who grew up in Western Germany, even the word patriot is alien to me, but today, I would happily concede that it is the patriotic duty of every American to vote.

Oh boy, I wish you all would. Every single one who is legally able to.


I overslept today.

I wish I was still fast asleep.


It isn’t over yet. There are uncounted early and mail-in votes. Biden may still win.

Granted, it’s depressing as hell to have further proof that millions of my fellow countrymen are racist dipshits.


November 3, 2020 (Tuesday)

Tonight, we wait, as returns from this year’s election are about what we expected. In-person ballots cast today are weighted toward Trump, while the uncounted mail-in and early ballots are expected to favor Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Tonight, few states except the rock-solid Democratic or Republican states have yet been called by the Associated Press.

This is the scenario we all foresaw. Tonight, the election returns look relatively good for Trump, which is why he talked about claiming a victory at the end of election night. This is the so-called “red mirage.” But as the mail-in ballots get counted, everyone expects the Democratic numbers to climb fast and far.

As they do, the Trump team will fight every single ballot. They will try to claim that counting the mail-in ballots is “fraud,” or that Democrats are “stealing” the election when, in fact, election officials are simply counting all the ballots.

Remember that no one is arguing that Trump will win the popular vote. He wants to win in the Electoral College.

What we are seeing in this election is the result of voter suppression across the southern states, along with an Electoral College that has been corrupted from its original intent and is now artificially skewed toward rural states.

In 2018, for example, people in Florida voted overwhelmingly to restore voting rights to felons. This would have added about 1.5 million people back to the rolls, many of them African Americans. But the Republican legislature passed a law saying the former felons could not vote unless they had paid all their court fines and fees. A federal judge said that law was essentially an unconstitutional poll tax, but an appeals court overturned that decision. Five of the six judges who upheld the law were appointed by Trump.

Today, as well, there are problems with ballots. This summer, the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a major fundraiser for the Republican Party and a key ally of Trump, changed the rules for mail delivery, slowing it significantly. It turns out that more than 300,000 ballots were checked into the USPS mail system but not checked out of it. U.S. District Judge Emmett G. Sullivan ordered the USPS to sweep 27 processing centers for the missing ballots, but USPS officials refused, saying they already had a system in place and that changing it would be disruptive. Sullivan has called the parties in tomorrow morning to discuss the issue.

The problem of voter suppression is compounded by the misuse of the Electoral College. The Framers originally designed delegates to the Electoral College to vote according to districts within states, so that states would split their electoral votes, making them roughly proportional to a candidate’s support. That system changed in 1800, after Thomas Jefferson recognized that he would have a better chance of winning the presidency if the delegates of his own home state, Virginia, voted as a bloc rather than by district. He convinced them to do it. Quickly, other state officials recognized that the “winner-take-all” system meant they must do the same or their own preferred candidate would never win. Thus, our non-proportional system was born, and it so horrified James Madison and Alexander Hamilton that both wanted constitutional amendments to switch the system back.

Democracy took another hit from that system in 1929. The 1920 census showed that the weight of the nation’s demographics was moving to cities, which were controlled by Democrats, so the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives refused to reapportion representation after that census. Reapportioning the House would have cost many of them their seats. Rather than permitting the number of representatives to grow along with population, Congress then capped the size of the House at 435. Since then, the average size of a congressional district has tripled. This gives smaller states a huge advantage in the Electoral College, in which each state gets a number of votes equal to the number of its senators and representatives.

These injuries to our system have saddled us with an Electoral College that permits a minority to tyrannize over the majority. That systemic advantage is unsustainable in a democracy. One or the other will have to give.

We should know the results of this election by Thursday night, I would guess.

Biden is still projected to win.


This needs to be posted everywhere, and often. Every vote needs to be counted before there is a winner.

As I write, Il Douche’s lead in GA is down to 104k votes, MI has switched to a Biden lead. Still looking good.