Trump’s coup attempt will be a very costly failure

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Today's Agenda

Rudy Giuliani, wreaking havoc and leaking product.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America

It's All Fun and Hair Dye Until Somebody Loses a Democracy

As enjoyable as President Donald Trump's refusal to accept his election loss has been — offering us more chances to practice deep-breathing techniques, learn the arcana of our dilapidated electoral system, and watch Rudy Giuliani melt on live television — this circus needs to end now.

And that's not just because of the danger to American democracy, which is very real. No, Trump can't overturn the election results, as we saw in Michigan earlier this week. Two Republicans tasked with the ceremonial job of rubber-stamping Wayne County's vote total refused, calling the tallies from Detroit suspect. They relented after a hailstorm of criticism, though a phone call from Trump may have inspired them to call backsies, which fortunately is not a thing in the electoral rulebook. So democracy held together for just another day, though Noah Feldman writes we should study the Wayne County incident as evidence of just how vulnerable its defenses really are. 

Meanwhile, most Republican voters don't think Joe Biden won fairly, despite election officials — including Republicans, who are now getting death threats from other Republicans — saying it might have been among the fairest elections on record. Trump and his enablers in Congress and right-wing media are treating their own supporters with sneering contempt, writes Jonathan Bernstein, but the damage is done: Many of these people may never accept a loss as legitimate again.

Meanwhile, There's a Pandemic

Still, the most emergent danger is a far more literal one: There's a pandemic raging across the country, with the death toll yesterday crossing 250,000. That's 84 9/11s. And the outgoing government is doing nothing to help the incoming government prepare to fight it, notes Bloomberg's editorial board. Trump is preoccupied with winning a second term, of course. But Vice President Mike Pence, the nominal leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, can and should give President-elect Biden's team whatever it needs to ensure more Americans don't die needlessly during the transition.

Spring's Coming, But Not Before a Dark Winter

Recent good vaccine trial results have many of us hoping vaccines will simply solve everything. And 95% effective vaccines really will do wonders for lowering Covid-19's death toll, writes Justin Fox. But we don't know for sure how useful they'll be at stopping the actual spread of the disease, warns Sam Fazeli

And it will be many months before significant numbers of Americans get vaccinated, during which millions will get sick and thousands will die. The magnitude of the latest wave is so powerful it even briefly gave the stock market pause, writes John Authers. The news spooking Wall Street was the closing of New York City schools. But the worst effects of this latest pandemic surge will be felt in rural America, which Adam Minter writes is especially vulnerable, given its chronic poverty, poor public health and creaky infrastructure. 

On the bright side, America's success at whipping up at least two highly effective vaccines in such a short time is a hint the country can still do great things when it wants to, writes Noah Smith. It just needs the political will. One worthwhile project that will take such will, and a lot of money, is turning the Department of Homeland Security into a pandemic-fighting machine, suggest Tim O'Brien and Nir Kaissar. This could help avoid many of the problems dogging the response to this pandemic. 

In the shorter term, something must be done immediately about the still-dismal state of Covid testing in this country. In order for tests to be useful, they must be plentiful, cheap and constant, writes Faye Flam. The current "system," if you can call it that, misses too many infectious cases and disrupts too many lives. 

Telltale Charts

Long-term unemployment is spiking, just as long-term unemployment benefits are due to expire, writes Claudia Sahm. Fortunately, Congress is … going on vacation. 

Poor Macy's is stuck in the worst of all possible retail worlds in this pandemic, writes Sarah Halzack. Like, who wants to go to the mall to shop for work clothes these days?

Further Reading

The EU shouldn't cave to Hungary and Poland's demands that it ignore the rule of law. — Bloomberg's editorial board 

Biden's pick of Gary Gensler as financial adviser is a good sign his SEC will protect investors instead of companies. — Joe Nocera 

Trump's plan to pull troops from Afghanistan could force Biden to send them back. — Eli Lake 

Less than a year after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Ethiopia's prime minister has dragged his country into civil war. — Bobby Ghosh 

VW has more cash and cars than Tesla, but less market clout. Its CEO is trying to change that, by emulating Tesla. — Chris Bryant 

ICYMI

South Australia banned outdoor exercise and dog-walking.

America still can't get enough Lysol.

Prince Andrew is in trouble again.

Kickers

Scientists discover a new, exotic, blue mineral in Russia. (h/t Ellen Kominers

These shrimp leave the water to walk around on land. (h/t Scott Kominers

Burning fossil fuels worsened Earth's worst die-off

Tiny owl rescued from Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. 

Note: Please send shrimp cocktail and complaints to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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