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11/16 open thread


This is an open thread. We’ll post any breaking news.


  • 1. VIRick  |  November 16, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Brasil: Marielle Franco’s Widow Elected to Rio City Council

    On Sunday, 15 November 2020, the widow of the bisexual Rio de Janeiro councilwoman who was murdered in 2018 was elected to the Rio City Council. Brazilian media reports indicate that Mônica Benício ran for and won a council seat as a member of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party. Ahead of the election, she noted her full support of LGBTQ rights.

    Benício’s fiancée, Marielle Franco, a woman of Afro descent who identified as bisexual, was a member of the same Rio de Janeiro City Council when she and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were murdered on 14 March 2018. Franco’s murder sparked outrage throughout Brasil and around the world. A year later, Brazilian authorities finally arrested two former policemen in connection with Franco’s murder. One of the men was arrested at his home in the same condominium complex in which President Jair Bolsonaro lived when he represented Rio de Janeiro in the federal Congress.

  • 2. ianbirmingham  |  November 17, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Democrats Went All Out Against Susan Collins. Rural Maine Grimaced.

    In the great Democratic heave to remove Susan Collins from her Senate seat in Maine, Matt Gilbert should have been low-hanging fruit.

    He is the son of a four-term Democratic state representative in one of Maine’s traditionally Democratic mill towns. As a high school principal, he had complaints about Senator Collins, a Republican, mostly centering on Trump-era education policy.

    But over the weeks leading up to Election Day, Mr. Gilbert was first put off, and then “disgusted,” by the negative tone of the Senate showdown, in which spending by candidates and outside groups totaled more than $180 million.

    The relentless television advertisements. The cold calls. The mailings, fistfuls of them every day, “crumpled up and in the recycling bin” before he even glanced at them.

    By the time the Democratic Party distributed yard signs, Mr. Gilbert refused to display one for Sara Gideon, Ms. Collins’s opponent, leaving a gap among the signs he displayed in support of Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Jared Golden, his Democratic congressman; and Black Lives Matter. He ended up voting for Lisa Savage, an independent candidate.

    “The approach on the ads and campaigning was disgusting enough that I didn’t want to vote for the person anymore, even though I agreed with the policy stances,” he said.

    “I don’t think you could sit there and say this is a classy way to do this,” he added. “I don’t think that’s what Maine represents.”

    Maine offers an example of how a nationalized, big-money effort can backfire. Maine’s media market is tiny and the cost of advertising so low that the campaigns were hard-pressed to spend the money they had.

    As a result, viewers were flooded with advertisements starting in the spring, accusing Ms. Collins of selling out to special interests or caving to Mr. Trump. And that spending — perceived as coming from outside the state — did not sit well with many Mainers.

    (Continued in next comment)

  • 3. ianbirmingham  |  November 17, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    (Continued from prior comment)

    Many voters complained that Ms. Gideon’s campaign tried to cast Ms. Collins through the lens of national politics, tying her to Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader — an approach that fell flat in towns that have relied on Ms. Collins for decades for constituent services, and to bring money into the state.

    “You don’t need to tell us who Susan Collins is,” said Mr. Gilbert, the school principal. “We’ve seen her for 30 years. She’s had a relationship that was before Trump, and it’s going to last after Trump.”

    Ms. Gideon is a relative newcomer, having moved to Freeport 16 years ago — “from away,” as Mainers call those born in other states.

    In the last weeks of the campaign, Ms. Collins deftly cast Ms. Gideon as an aggressive outsider in a series of advertisements that are now widely viewed as game changing. They featured Bill Green, a retired sportscaster with a snow-white mustache and an unassuming, salt-of-the-earth vigor.

    In his 47-year history on Maine television, Mr. Green had steered clear of political partisanship, preferring subjects like clam rakes and runner sleds. He is a registered Democrat. But starting last summer — specifically, with a bumper sticker that he saw around that read “Bye-Bye, Susan” — he was irritated by the tone of the challenge to Ms. Collins.

    So he offered Ms. Collins his help — for free. In the first advertisement, wearing an L.L. Bean jacket and a look of good-humored incredulity, Mr. Green said, “You are seeing more than $40 million in false attacks against Susan Collins by out-of-staters who don’t give a darn about Maine, and it’s shameful.”

    Toby McGrath, a former deputy chief of staff for Senator Angus King who headed Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in Maine, said there were messaging errors by “Gideon and D.C. Democrats,” who “wanted to make this race about D.C. and Mitch McConnell and Trump and tie Susan Collins to that.”

    Asked how Democrats could better reach voters in towns like Rumford, he said, “Know your audience.”

    Darlene Cormier, 53, said that in the end, all the campaign materials ended up in the same place.

    “We just put them in our pile, our burn pile, and burned them,” she said. “We knew who we were going to vote for.”

  • 4. VIRick  |  November 17, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Jalisco: First State to Recognize Gender Identity without Minimum Age Restriction

    Per Red Diversidad (de Guadalajara):

    Hoy día, el 17 de noviembre 2020, el Registro Civil de Jalisco emite primeros cambios de nombre y genero en actas de nacimiento a personas trans, sin restricciones de edad.

    Today, 17 November 2020, the Jalisco Civil Registry issued the first name and gender changes on birth certificates to transgender individuals without age restriction.

    Per Andrés Treviño:

    El día de hoy, el Gobierno de Jalisco publicó un decreto a través del cual se reforma el reglamento del Registro Civil; se Añaden 5 artículos en los que se reconoce el derecho a la identidad de las personas trans en todo el Estado. Hoy es un día muy emotivo, 14 niñas, niños, y adolescentes trans de varios estados de la República estuvieron en Jalisco para obtener sus actas de nacimiento acordé a su identidad de género auto-percibida.

    Today, the Government of Jalisco published a decree through which the Civil Registry regulations are amended; 5 Articles are added that recognize the right to identity of transgender individuals throughout the State. Today is a very emotional day, as 14 trans girls, boys, and adolescents from various states of the Republic were in Jalisco to obtain their birth certificates according to their self-perceived gender identity.

  • 5. ianbirmingham  |  November 17, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Democrats must move past their faltering, one-size-fits-all approach to Hispanics

    Trump’s success in peeling off Latino votes in South Texas had everything to do with not talking to them as Latinos. His campaign spoke to them as Tejanos, who may be traditionally Democratic but have a set of specific concerns—among them, the oil and gas industry, gun rights and even abortion—amenable to the Republican Party’s positions, and it resonated. To be sure, it didn’t work with all of Texas’ Latinos; Trump still lost that vote by more than double digits statewide, and Joe Biden won more of the nationwide Latino vote than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. But Trump proved that seeing specific communities as persuadable voters and offering targeted messaging to match—fear of socialism in Miami-Dade’s Venezuelan and Cuban communities, for example—can be more effective than a blanket campaign that treats people as census categories. And in the end, it was enough to keep Florida and Texas in his column. If the Democratic Party’s 2020 postmortem for Texas—indeed, for the whole nation—goes only as far as to try to increase their appeal to “Latinos” as an undifferentiated bloc, they’re going to experience even harsher losses in the next election.

    Chuck Rocha, who managed the Bernie Sanders campaign’s Latino outreach earlier this year, thinks South Texans’ votes are winnable—because he won them. Sanders, who ran to Biden’s left, got the highest vote share in most counties in the Rio Grande Valley region in the primary election. Rocha says it was because his campaign talked to South Texans about their issues, not just their identities. And Tejanos proved far more receptive to a pitch about a rigged economic system and health care than to generic appeals to their Hispanic heritage.

    Rocha believes that when it comes to campaigning for Latino votes, it’s all about knowing your audience. The Tejanos in the Rio Grande Valley “who wear a cowboy hat and belt buckle and drive their pickup trucks” aren’t the same as the “woke Latinos” in Dallas, he says.

    The biggest failure, Bruni says, was the Texas State Democratic Party never bothered to tailor a message to South Texans. Well before the election, Bruní asked party leadership in Austin, “What can you give me that would relate to people specifically in South Texas?” For a long time, she says she did not hear back.

    Eventually, Bruní said the state party sent her something to campaign with: blue posters, with the words “Todos con Biden.” [English: "Everyone with Biden"]

  • 6. Fortguy  |  November 18, 2020 at 12:49 am

    It's a good article except I have a few nitpicks with it. The writer, Jack Herrera, states that Zapata was the only county that flipped red. In fact, Trump also flipped Frio, Kenedy, Kleberg, Jim Wells, LaSalle, and Val Verde counties in South Texas that supported Hillary along with Reeves County in the Trans-Pecos, the other of the state's two border regions.

    Herrera also reduces the local Spanish to people intermingling English and Spanish in the same sentences. I'm sure there is a lot more nuance that he would have noticed if he had spent more time there encouraging people to speak with him in Spanish more socially. I haven't been to South Texas in years and never had the opportunity to socialize with locals during my brief trips. In the Trans-Pecos where I live, all of the long-time locals speak a dialect very similar to New Mexican Spanish. I'm sure that South Texans, especially in rural areas among families with multiple generations there, also speak differently from modern Mexican standard Spanish.

    Now that I've finished my rant, the Democrats have for years been guilty of horrible outreach to Hispanic/Latino communities. They have always taken their support for granted even though the community in Texas has always voted in anemic numbers that could have pushed them over the top in close races had they made a serious effort to campaign in that part of the state. The article also lays out how Biden made the mistake of nationalizing his messaging to all as a monolith. Bill Nelson lost his seat in Florida in 2018 by dismissing his state's Latinos as GOP-supporting Cubans refusing to notice that party support among Cubans is now generational and that Cubans are no longer the majority of his state's Latinos.

    I am disappointed that the Texas state party made such a poor effort at voter outreach along the border. The state chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, is from the Valley and knows better. I suspect he was hamstrung by others in the party leadership who tend to be insufferably pandering white liberals who bandy about smug, politically correct terms like "Latinx" which should be buried because everybody they're describing thinks that's a really weird thing to call them.

    These same pandering libs jumped at news that the key demographic this year was supposed to be college-educated suburban white women whom they found much more relatable. They otherwise must have been horrified at the prospect of organizing in South Texas which is very inhospitable to vegans. The tofu tacos with tortillas made from quinoa that they enjoy so much from Austin's food trucks and fusion restaurants are nowhere to be found along the border.

    For more postmortems:

    Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune: Analysis: Texans in many border counties voted for Donald Trump — and then for Democrats
    Mitchell Ferman, The Texas Tribune: Donald Trump made inroads in South Texas this year. These voters explain why.
    Cat Cardenas, Texas Monthly: Why Did Joe Biden Lose Ground With Latinos in South Texas?
    Arya Sundaram, The Texas Observer: Local Organizers Explain the Republican Surge in South Texas

  • 7. JayJonson  |  November 18, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Love this exchange on the problems Democrats faced in reaching Latino voters. I learned a lot from it, especially the linguistic information and the differentiations among the Hispanic/Latino communities even in Texas. Thanks to both of you.

  • 8. VIRick  |  November 18, 2020 at 9:01 am

    "tofu tacos with tortillas made from quinoa"

    Fortguy, you might consider posting advance warning signs on future commentaries because, having just eaten, I actually threw up a little when I unexpectedly encountered that vile concoction. Still, you could have made it even worse by throwing in some tempeh, seitan, kefir, jackfruit, and chia seeds.

    As for the comment regarding "eight generations," when I was a university student in Arizona, having recently arrived from "south of the border," I recall a statement made by a fellow student from the very Hispanic town of Gila Bend AZ: "We (meaning her family and her ancestors) were here before the border got moved," a basic point I have always remembered.

    Following the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, people in Gila Bend, like in Yuma, Tucson, La Mesilla NM, and everywhere else south of the Gila River, thought they were still safely in Mexico. And they were, until the Gadsden Purchase came along.

    When studying this entire region, there are 3 key moments in time to be remembered, centuries apart, and in this order: The arrival of the Indigenous people, the arrival of the Spanish, the arrival of the Anglos.

    Foreign immigration, especially from a Latin point of view, may be a major issue in other parts of the USA, but is not necessarily the most important one right along the border. Instead, for many, it is still the ages-old failure to recognize their very existence: We're here, we have been here, and we have been here for many generations. It parallels the situation of mainland Puerto Ricans in that outsiders often fail to recognize that they are already US citizens (and therefore can vote), born as US citizens, and are not immigrants. But even for that element of the Latino population who are immigrants, the key issues remain: Health care, jobs, and the economy. In fact, those are the same key issues in Mexico (plus not paying for the f..king wall), all along the border, and throughout the rest of the USA.

    And "Latinx" is not politically correct. It is just stupid.

  • 9. ianbirmingham  |  November 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    ‘Unapologetically Black and queer’ Tiara Mack is headed to the Rhode Island State Senate

    Last year, she testified alongside other women on behalf of the Reproductive Privacy Act, legislation that codified Roe vs. Wade — the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to an abortion — into Rhode Island law. That June, the RPA passed the Senate in a 21-17 vote and sailed through the House on a 45-29 vote before it was signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

    It was while testifying on behalf of the RPA that Mack began to play with the idea of a Senate run. She was surprised, she said, by how many Rhode Island Democratic senators were anti-abortion. In the Rhode Island state Senate, Democrats outnumber Republicans 33 to 5, according to Ballotpedia. However, many Democratic members of the state’s General Assembly are endorsed by the anti-abortion group Right to Life. Liberal voters in Rhode Island are largely unaware of this, Mack said, but she said this is changing.

    Testifying in the Senate on behalf of the RPA taught her much about state politics, Mack said, and introduced her to the senator she would later unseat: Harold Metts, one of the many Democratic senators who opposed the legislation. Mack said she later sent him a postcard urging him to reconsider his stance. In response, he sent her a letter citing Bible passages and saying he would not “support abortion bills.”

    “So that was really the catalyst. I was like, ‘I can't believe I'm getting this letter in 2019,’” Mack recalled. Five months later, she said, she launched her campaign.

    Determined to unseat Metts, Mack spent a year tirelessly knocking on doors in District 6, talking to residents, introducing herself as “Tiara Mack, a queer Black, formerly low-income educator and activist,” she said.

    “All of those identities are political, whether or not we see them,” she said, adding that a lot of residents challenged her about why those identities should matter to them.

    “I think it was important to be adamant on every single door, like ‘This is who I am, this is why I'm running, whether that's something that you resonate with or not,’” she said.

    Mack thinks they voted for her, she said, because voters “value people who are firm in their beliefs and who are not going to back down.”

    “I am not going to do that,” said Mack. “I'm going to be unapologetically Black, I'm going to be unapologetically queer, and I'm going to be unapologetically young, and I'm going to push back against the system that tells us we don't deserve justice now.”

  • 10. ianbirmingham  |  November 18, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    ‘I’m not a f—ing socialist’: Florida Democrats are having a postelection meltdown

    Even as Joe Biden heads to the White House, state Democrats know that President Donald Trump did more than just win in Florida. He tripled his 2016 margin and all but stripped Florida of its once-vaunted status as a swing state. His win, a landslide by state presidential standards, was built on record turnout and a Democratic implosion in Miami-Dade County, one of the bluest parts of the state.

    “We have turnout problems, messaging problems, coalitions problems, it’s up and down the board,” said Democrat Sean Shaw, a former state representative who lost a bid for attorney general in 2018. “It’s not one thing that went wrong. Everything went wrong.”

    While Democratic losses were particularly devastating in Florida, the party fared poorly across the country at the state level. The timing couldn’t be worse. Political redistricting begins next year and Republicans in control of statehouses across the country will have a chance to draw favorable maps that will help their state and federal candidates for the next decade.

    As Trump made the state his official residence and his top political priority for four years, lavishing resources and attention on it, the Democrats again neglected to build an infrastructure for talking to voters outside of campaign season. The Biden campaign chose to forgo voter canvassing in the state because of the coronavirus pandemic. And outside money that the party apparatus couldn’t control sometimes worked against its own candidates.

    Democrats also failed to counter GOP messaging that branded them as anti-cop and pro-socialism, an expected and effective — albeit misleading — message aimed largely at South Florida Hispanic voters.

    “The state leadership of the Biden campaign failed us,” said Daniela Ferrara, co-founder of Cubanos con Biden. “I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that Georgia was able to turn blue but we weren’t.”

    (Continued in next comment)

  • 11. ianbirmingham  |  November 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    (Continued from prior comment)

    Progressives say the Election Day drubbing is proof that centrism and party pandering to corporate donors doesn’t work.

    “Systematic change is what we need,” said Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat and a leading voice on the left who is considering a run for governor. “We can’t win more seats unless we lead with values and fight back and challenge corporate interests. Money was not a real problem this cycle, and we still lost.”

    The Biden campaign, too, failed the state party and itself. Miami-based Democratic operatives have long sent warning signs that the party begins outreach too late and is insufficiently ingrained in the South Florida Hispanic community.

    “If we are waiting until September to do voter contact when the mail ballots are already arriving, we have lost already,” Brown said. “At that point, folks are filling out ballots without hearing from us.”

    Ferrara, the co-founder of Cubanos con Biden, said leading Democrats and the Biden campaign also did not take seriously the disinformation spread in Miami-Dade, a problem that has plagued Democrats in past election cycles.

    Her group monitored Spanish-language radio stations that fed a constant diet of attacks on Democrats as socialists. She asked the campaign for talking points and help to push back against the message, which was going out to not only Cuban Americans, but Nicaraguan Americans and Venezuelan Americans as well.

    No one paid attention, she said. “There was always an excuse,” Ferrara said. “It was almost if they didn’t care. They didn’t see the impact of the socialism message.”

    The Biden campaign also saw no point in sending surrogates or volunteers to voting sites in Cuban cities. The Biden campaign had “a lack of cultural competency,” sending Chiva buses — a colorful vehicle used in rural Colombia — into Cuban neighborhoods of Miami-Dade.

    Ferrara accused the Biden campaign of “political malpractice.”

    Eskamani and others say small-dollar donors, not transactional donors whose contributions flow to political power, are the way to transform the party, while aligning it with what she says is the party’s philosophical core.

  • 12. VIRick  |  November 18, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Quintana Roo State Congress Approves Gender Identity Law

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Today, 18 November 2020, the Quintana Roo state congress passed the law allowing trans individuals to change their name/gender on their birth certificates:

    El Congreso del Estado de Quintana Roo aprobó por unanimidad reformas al Código Civil donde se establecen procedimientos sencillos, expeditos, y gratuitos para el cambio de datos de nombre y género en el acta de nacimiento de las personas trans que así lo deseen.

    The Congress of the State of Quintana Roo unanimously approved reforms to the Civil Code whereby simple, expeditious, and cost-free procedures are established for the change of name and gender data on the birth certificates of transgender individuals who so desire it.

    With this change in law, Quintana Roo has become the third Mexican state in 2020, behind Sonora and Jalisco, to allow transgender individuals to self-determine their gender identity on governmental documents. It is now jurisdiction #14 (of 32) in Mexico to do so.

    Note to Wikipedia editors: No one has yet updated this page ,"LGBT Rights in the Americas," to account for the 3 additional states of Mexico to have passed gender identity legislation so far in 2020:

    Full details concerning the change in law in Jalisco are higher up in this same thread, as we have just won 2 states in 2 days.

  • 13. VIRick  |  November 18, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Japan: 5th Anniversary of Municipal Same-Sex Partnership Registration System

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    It has now been five years since the November 2015 launch of the partnership certificate system recognizing same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage in the Tokyo municipalities of Shibuya and Setagaya. A survey conducted by Shibuya and the non-profit organization Nijiiro Diversity showed that 59 local governments nationwide had introduced the partnership system by 30 September 2020 and that 1,301 couples had already applied for and had been issued such certificates.

    In October 2020, the municipalities of Sakado, Saitama Prefecture, and Koganei, Tokyo, also introduced the system, followed in November by Tochigi in Tochigi Prefecture, Matsudo in Chiba Prefecture, and Kitamoto in Saitama Prefecture. This brought the total number of local governments using the system to 64.

    In addition, 2 more municipalities are slated to follow suit in December, and 10 more intend to do the same by April 2021. Thus, in another 6 months, the total number using the system will have jumped to 76. A complete list of every municipality, and the number of same-sex couples already registered in each, can be found here, together with a map of Japan locating every jurisdiction (including two entire prefectures, Osaka and Ibaraki) to have adopted this same-sex partnership registration system:

  • 14. VIRick  |  November 19, 2020 at 10:10 am

    US House of Representatives Status Report

    As of today, 19 November 2020, the Democrats have secured the majority in the House, having obtained 222 seats to the Republicans' 209, with 4 seats yet to be determined. However, the Democrats have already lost 13 seats which they had previously held, almost all of which had been flipped in their favor in the 2018 mid-term election. As consolation, in 2020, they gained 3 seats previously held by Republicans, GA-7, NC-2, and NC-6, the latter two due to court-ordered redistricting. Still, with a net loss of 8, the Democrats are also in danger of further losing 3-4 more of those still to be determined.

    The 13 seats won by Democrats in 2018 that flipped back to the Republicans in 2020 are:
    CA-39 (Orange County)
    CA-48 (Orange County)
    FL-26 (Miami-Dade)
    FL-27 (Miami-Dade)
    IA-1 (NE Quadrant)
    MI-3 (Grand Rapids) (but counted as Independent to R)
    MN-7 (West) (the sole long-term loss)
    NJ-2 (Atlantic City/South) (already counted as R)
    NM-2 (Las Cruces/South)
    NY-11 (Staten Island)
    OK-5 (Oklahoma City)
    SC-1 (Charleston/Coast)
    UT-4 (Salt Lake City)

    In NJ-2, Van Drew ran and won in 2018 as a Democrat, then switched parties to join the Republicans. He ran and won in 2020 as a Republican. In MI-3, the seat was held by Amash-I who caucused with the Ds. It flipped to the Rs.

    Not all 40 seats that were flipped blue in 2018 were lost, as Democrats continued to hold these 28 recent gains in 2020: AZ-2, CA-10, CA-45, CA-49, CO-6, GA-6, IA-3, IL-6, IL-14, KS-3, ME-2, MI-8, MI-11, MN-2, NJ-3, NJ-7, NJ-11, NY-19, TX-7, TX-32, VA-2, VA-7, VA-10, WA-8, and the 4 seats gained in PA due to court-ordered redistricting, PA-5, PA-6, PA-7, and PA-17. In 2018, Republicans flipped 3 seats, MN-1, MN-8, and PA-14, and retained them in 2020.

    In all 4 of the undecided remainder, the Democrats are slightly behind. However, both California and New York State are still counting mail-in ballots, so there is a good chance that these 3 could flip back to the Democrats (all 3 were flipped D in 2018), as the last mail-in ballots are finally added in:
    CA-21 (Central Valley) In a re-match, Cox-D is behind Valadao-R by 1796 votes.
    CA-25 (N LA County) Smith-D is behind Garcia-R by 422 votes for Katie Hill's seat.
    NY-22 (Utica/Binghamton) In a re-match, Brindisi-D is behind Tenney-R by 2670 votes. Tonight, with Chenango County reporting its absentee votes, Brindisi is behind by only 131/339 votes, depending on who is keeping count.

    Technically, CA-25 would be a "gain" for the Ds, as Garcia-R currently holds the seat, having won it in a special election to fill Hill's vacancy after she resigned.

    A fourth seat is anyone's guess, as it is insanely close, but is currently held by a retiring Democrat, thus making this another potential long-term loss. The district is presently undergoing a re-count:
    IA-2 (SE Quadrant) Hart-D is behind Miller-Meeks-R by 47 votes.

    A fifth seat in NE Louisiana is weird, having just undergone a "jungle" primary, one where the top two contenders will have to face each other in a run-off on 5 December. The top two are both Republicans, but #3 is a Democrat who is only 428 votes behind #2. Still, this seat will remain Republican, as the run-off has just been declared, and will be R v. R.

  • 15. ianbirmingham  |  November 19, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Georgia Runoffs: How You Can Help Flip the Senate

    Here’s what you can do to make the biggest impact in this make-or-break fight, which will determine whether we take back the Senate from Mitch McConnell:

    — Georgians have until December 7th to register to vote in the runoffs. You can make calls to Georgia voters to help them get registered before the deadline. 17-year-old Georgians who turn 18 by January 5, 2021 are eligible to vote in the run-off election that will be held on that date. Please spread the word.

    — Let locals lead. Donate directly to the candidates’ campaigns and to grassroots organizations led by communities of color, who worked tirelessly to register new voters and mobilize the state for Joe Biden. FairFight Action, New Georgia Project, and Black Voters Matter Fund are a few of the organizations to support in this moment and beyond. You can split a donation between FairFight and the two campaigns by going to, and donate to New Georgia Project ( and Black Voters Matter Fund ( at their websites.

    — Volunteer with the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns. You can find all the information you need by heading to,, or [Non-Georgia residents can help by making texts, making phone calls, and doing other remote-work, which frees up Georgia residents to go door-to-door, to speak in person at important events, etc.]

  • 16. ianbirmingham  |  November 20, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Nevada becomes first state to protect same-sex marriage in its constitution

  • 17. ianbirmingham  |  November 20, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    11th Circuit holds (2-1) that law prohibiting nonaversive LGBT conversion therapy for minors violates the First Amendment

    Boca Raton and Palm Beach County prohibit therapists from engaging in counseling or any therapy with a goal of changing a minor’s sexual orientation, reducing a minor’s sexual or romantic attractions (at least to others of the same gender or sex), or changing a minor’s gender identity or expression—though support and assistance to a person undergoing gender transition is specifically permitted. These restrictions apply even to purely speech-based therapy.

    Two therapists argue that the ordinances infringe on their constitutional right to speak freely with clients. They appeal the district court’s denial of their motion for a preliminary injunction.

    We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial. But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech. We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny.

  • 18. VIRick  |  November 20, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Someone should point out to Judge Grant, who wrote the opinion, that there is no such word in the English language as "carveout." What does that even mean???

    And it is not "controversial speech." It is fostering lies.

  • 19. ianbirmingham  |  November 21, 2020 at 7:38 am

    "Carveout" actually is a word, and it's widely used in law and in finance. It represents a situation in which part of a whole object is removed from that whole object.

    In law, it often refers to an exemption for certain groups. The recently passed California amendment exempting Uber from having to legally treat its workers as employees (allowing them to instead treat those workers as independent contractors who have fewer rights) is an example of a carveout (also spelled as carve-out).

    In finance, it refers to "the partial divestiture of a business unit in which a parent company sells a minority interest of a subsidiary to outside investors", aka a "spin-off".

    As for lies, in 2012 the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Alvarez that there is a First Amendment right to make false statements, limited only when there is "defamation, fraud, or some other legally cognizable harm associated with a false statement".

  • 20. ianbirmingham  |  November 20, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    IBM Apologizes For Firing Computer Pioneer For Being Transgender…52 Years Later

    You’ve likely never heard of 82-year-old computer scientist Lynn Conway, but her discoveries power your smartphones and computers. Her research led to successful startups in Silicon Valley, supported national defense, and powered the internet.

    Long before becoming a highly respected professor at the University of Michigan, Conway was a young researcher with IBM. It was there, on August 29, 1968, that IBM’s CEO fired her for reasons that are illegal today. Nearly 52 years later, in an act that defines its present-day culture, IBM apologized and sought forgiveness.

    Published in 1980, Introduction to VLSI Systems set down fundamental principles for future microprocessor chip design in the era of Moore’s Law. Conway’s VLSI research at Xerox PARC and her textbook and teachings at MIT created standards that fueled many of the Silicon Valley startups in the 1980s.

    “. . . Among [Conway’s] many foundational contributions to computer architecture are the scalable digital design rules she invented for silicon chip design and the ARPANET e-commerce infrastructure she developed for rapid chip prototyping – thereby launching a paradigmatic revolution in microchip design and manufacturing . . .,” explains John L. Anderson, President of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

    In 1983, the Department of Defense recruited Conway to join the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as Assistant Director for Strategic Computing. Spearheading DoD research into machine intelligence technology, she received the Secretary of Defense’s Meritorious Achievement Award from Secretary Caspar Weinberger for her work.

    Conway then brought her skills and insatiable intellectual curiosity to academia. In 1985, the University of Michigan hired her as a professor of computer science and electrical engineering and associate dean of its engineering school. She spent 15 years with the university, helping its engineering college become one of the foremost in the nation, retiring in 1999 as professor emerita of electrical engineering and computer science.

    For over 30 years, from 1968 onward, Conway never revealed she was transgender (excepting close friends, relatives, HR offices, and security-clearance agencies). However, in 1999, when computer historians began investigating her early innovations at IBM, she foresaw the inevitability of public outing. With the support of her husband Charlie (they’ve been together since 1987) she chose to reveal her gender history online, including the reason she had left IBM.

    Many of Conway’s colleagues were amazed by the disclosure, never suspecting Conway was transgender. In 2000, her former Michigan colleague Charles Vest, by then President of MIT and a member of IBM’s board of directors, relayed the story to Louis V. Gerstner, IBM’s CEO at the time. Gerstner was appalled at what IBM had done but was unable to bring about a resolution. IBM avoided the issue for the next two decades.

    Freed from fear of exposure, Conway gained a strong voice in transgender activism, regularly sharing the story of overcoming adversity after IBM’s firing. She jokingly says, “From the 1970s to 1999, I was recognized as breaking the gender barrier in the computer science field as a woman, but in 2000, it became the transgender barrier I was breaking.”

    Since then, she has won awards from many advocacy organizations, including being named one of the “Stonewall 40 trans heroes” by the ICS and NGLTF in 2009. She was also recognized by Time Magazine in 2014 as one of the most influential LGBTQ figures in American Culture.

  • 21. JayJonson  |  November 21, 2020 at 10:32 am

    What an extraordinary story. Thanks for posting it. I had heard of Conway as an activist, but did not realize the breadth of her achievement as a computer scientist and academic. IBM's action 52 years ago was terrible, but at least the company now recognizes its mistake and has apologized. For all the pain and suffering IBM caused Conway, she persisted and, indeed, triumphed.

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