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(CNN)What a difference a year makes. Just before last Thanksgiving, we were focused entirely on the forthcoming impeachment of President Donald Trump over his efforts to pressure Ukraine into helping him damage Joe Biden.
I wrote a sort of guide on how to get smart on the Democrats’ investigation and politics before sitting down over turkey.This year, Biden is President-elect, and with the pandemic raging, the federal government is counseling Americans not to go to Thanksgiving dinner at all. You might give your crazy uncle, and anyone else you eat with, Covid. Or they might give it to you. That’s the truth, even though the way lies and conspiracy theories have taken root — thanks not just to social media but to new, fringe media outlets — makes it very difficult to counter fake with fact. It’s obvious, for instance, that Trump, who might spend the holiday thinking about the notion of a self-pardon, may never publicly recognize Biden as president or concede that he lost. And he’ll carry that fantasy into the next four years, along with a war chest of small-dollar donations he’s squeezed from supporters with countless fundraising appeals after his loss and which he’ll clearly use to fund his post-White House public life. Read MoreRelated: Read this CNN investigation into how dark money helped prop up three phantom candidates in Florida.Dow hits 30k! What is it thinking?Why would the stock market hit a record now, a time when: Wall Street expects the government to pump trillions more dollars into the economy as stimulusMillions of Americans are out of workThere are real questions about the health of US democracyNo one has actually gotten an approved Covid vaccine stuck in their armYou can buy into that wisdom of crowds stuff, or you can look at how the stock market is forever and increasingly distinct from the economy as a whole. This video with CNN’s Jon Sarlin does a really good job explaining how the market can do well no matter how the economy feels to actual Americans.It’s really a marker of indices, it’s loaded with surging tech stocks, it’s affected by speculation, it’s compounding inequality and more. So, yes, Tesla has soared more than 10x in a year and Elon Musk is almost as rich as Bill Gates. Best Buy is having its best year in decades. Amazon is on a tear. But that’s not the economy. It’s the market. And a picture of the economy must include the disgustingly long lines outside US food banks this Thanksgiving and the 12 million people about to lose expanded unemployment benefits in the new year. Note: The CNN Business Fear & Greed Index is now showing levels of Extreme Greed. What kicked the Dow to this new record? Trump emerged briefly to give a statement bragging about the market Tuesday, but it’s actually the acknowledgment by his government, without his consent, that Biden won the election, that appears to have triggered this latest bump. That, along with news of Covid vaccines and Wall Street’s comfort level with Janet Yellen, according to CNN’s Paul LaMonica.Virtual school still sucksExperts have been warning that virtual school will lead to a lost year for some kids and compound inequality in US schools.Here’s the proof, from CNN’s Elizabeth Stuart, writing about the largest school district in Virginia:The Fairfax County Public School District found a sharp increase in failing grades for the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year, especially among younger students, students with disabilities, and students who speak English as a second language, according to a study released this week examining student performance with virtual learning.Among middle and high school students, the study found an 83% increase in “F” marks, when compared to the number of students who got “F’s” during the first quarter of the 2019-20 school year. The increase was largest among vulnerable populations, including a 63% increase among Black students, a 106% increase among English learners, and a 111% increase among students with disabilities.”More students were failing courses during the (primarily) virtual instruction period than had occurred when instruction was delivered in-person,” the study said. This is horrible news if you’ve been following the growing number of school closures as states and districts deal with Covid outbreaks.