1. In total, 158,395,371 people voted this election cycle, according to the Cook Political Report’s National Popular Vote Tracker.
  2. The U.S. Elections Project estimates that the total voting-eligible population (VEP) in 2020 — the voting-age population (VAP), minus disenfranchised felons and non-citizens — was 239,247,182.
  3. The turnout rate, then (voters divided by VEP), was 66.2%. (The Elections Project, whose ballot estimates are slightly higher than the Cook Report’s, puts the rate at 66.7%, but the difference is negligible.)
  4. Sixty-six percent is an unusually strong turnout for an American election — the strongest, in fact, since 1900 — but fairly weak compared…

Wind turbines off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. (Peter Dejong/AP)

The 14-page Green New Deal (GND) resolution won more than a hundred cosponsors when it was introduced in the House last February. It generated a predictable media buzz and stirred heated debate among national political figures. But today, a year and a half later, the GND is not much more than a slogan. It is no closer to being codified in law than world peace or universal basic income.

Republicans — who control all but one branch of the federal government — talk about the GND roughly the way Evangelicals talk about the Antichrist. Democrats have largely ignored it. Most…

Brian Hook, senior State Department official and presidential adviser, gives a press conference on Iran policy, 4 September 2019. (AFP)

A hundred years ago, Ambrose Bierce, a now-forgotten American satirist, defined diplomacy as “the patriotic art of lying for one’s country.” Al-Monitor’s recent interview with Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s senior policy adviser to the Secretary of State, is a beautiful illustration of this ancient art.

The interview, conducted by Al-Monitor president Andrew Parasiliti, was a brief, congenial chat on Iran policy, of which Hook is the Trump administration’s public face. In a way it is unremarkable, a rehash of earlier statements by Hook himself and many other officials. …

A close-up satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the Benshangul-Gumaz region of Ethiopia. (Maxar Technologies via Reuters)

A strange war of words unfolded in East Africa this past week. On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s water minister, Seleshi Bekele, seemed to announce that the country was filling the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), only a day after negotiations over the dam’s operations with Egypt and Sudan broke down. Satellite images of the GERD, which showed its reservoir swelling, began to appear in news reports. The same day, however, even as Egyptian and Sudanese officials castigated Ethiopia, state media began to backtrack, claiming that initial reports were misinterpreted and seasonal rains were filling the reservoir naturally. …

Sen. Bernie Sanders (L) and Joe Biden at the tenth Democratic primary debate in Charleston, S.C. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

The “Unity Task Forces” — the six policy committees established by Democratic primary rivals Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to hammer out common policy ground — were announced on May 13th, a month after Sanders dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Biden. This week they released their recommendations.

Some on the left were deeply skeptical of the task forces, but in most quarters they were greeted with cautious praise. The consensus view on the Sanders side (which is apparently shared by Sanders himself, his campaign manager Faiz Shakir, and most of the progressives directly involved) was summed up

President Xi Jinping (C, front) addressing the nineteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Even in the face of an unchecked global pandemic and a potentially crushing economic depression, the Washington Post’s editorial board makes sure to spend at least one or two columns a week on foreign policy. Usually, that means indulging in one of its favorite activities: denunciation.

Last week, for example, the board fired off an outraged column on the bounties allegedly offered by Russian intelligence for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The editors were quick to denounce this latest episode of “President Vladimir Putin’s pursuit of asymmetric warfare against the West,” which ranges “from cyberattacks and interfering in the 2016 U.S…

A part of the wall separating Shuafat refugee camp (R) from the Israeli settlement Pisgat Zeev, near Jerusalem. (Baz Rather/Reuters)

On Monday the New York Times published a lengthy analysis of Israeli plans to annex major Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. David Halbfinger, the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, and Michael Crowley, a White House correspondent, pose what they call “a fundamental question” about annexation: “Is the prospect of annexation a pressure tactic to get the Palestinians to engage with the administration’s peace plan, or is the peace plan just a smokescreen for annexation?”

“American and Israeli officials,” they note, “are deeply divided on the question,” though “both American and Israeli officials support annexation in principle.” Some U.S. officials…

Desmond O’Halloran

Freelance writer based in Boston. Labor, politics, foreign policy, and everything in between.

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