Ideals...both practical and lofty


Coupla things...

Much to my great surprise, I had two very similar exchanges about politics today -- one with a brilliant conservative scholar and one with my cousin, an electrician who's a Republican-leaning independent in Maryland -- that both ended well.

In both cases, these wonderful people were pointing out that property destruction during protests that happened during protests by people who would consider themselves on the left politically is bad. They seemed to be (and I might be misinterpreting their intentions) suggesting that such acts were the equivalent of what happened on Jan 6, that these things in some way balance each other. The scholar was talking about the protests in summer and fall in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and others; my cousin was mad about a limo that was set on fire by rogues during a protest of the 2016 inauguration.

The scholar also noted that there was "credible evidence of fraud in the election (which is not to say enough to alter the outcome)," in response to my urging him to be clear that the election results were not in doubt.

Here's an abridged version of my response to the scholar, which I'm delighted to note garnered a positive reception:

For the record, yes, I agree completely that no damage to property is excusable in the name of any cause, and anyone found in a court of law to have caused destruction should be fully liable and accountable under the law. For sure. Right there with you on that. 

I do still feel that as inexcusable as threatening a court building and burning down an Office Depot are -- and again, to be totally unambiguous on this point, they ARE inexcusable acts -- I am very wary of equating that with a mob of thousands violently forcing their way into the US Capitol (with the associated vandalism and theft and beatings of police officers), planting bombs at political party headquarters, and stopping the proceedings of Congress based on lies. 

Both are bad and illegal and deserving of prosecution in court and condemnation by all reasonable citizens; one is orders of magnitude more devastating to our constitutional representative democracy, especially if the lies that led to it are left to fester. 

And I agree that there's fraud and mistakes in every election, and surely this one as well. Yes. 

The important part of the "fraud" point is that there is not evidence that there was enough fraud or mistakes to alter the outcome; if there were, that would have come out in court, and there were dozens of lawsuits in which that would have happened if the evidence were there. Trump is alleging *massive* fraud, and the Georgia officials -- lifelong Republicans, by and large -- went over the allegations one by one and showed that they were either completely unfounded or off by orders of magnitude and could not have altered the outcome in their state. Trump has millions of people convinced that there was so much fraud that if not for that fraud he would have won by millions of votes. And a not-small number of those people he has convinced are also convinced that violence is, or might be, necessary to correct what they believe was a fraudulent election. That's what we saw at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

If we believe in our system -- which I know you do, obviously, you are one of its greatest champions! -- we have to stand by the judges who threw out all those flimsy cases. (Which I'm sure you do.) We have to accept the results as certified by the states -- very much including Republican-dominated state legislatures whose members were elected on those same ballots. (No doubt you agree with that, too.) And we have to ensure that people are given the information, in no uncertain terms, that this election result is correct and verified -- verified by more counting and recounting and checking and investigating than 2016 was, probably more than any election in US history. (Maybe 2000 had more, but I doubt it because in 2000 there was only one state in question; this year, it was multiple states that Trump accused of fraud and they each did all that recounting and checking and investigating.) 

As conservatives especially, we owe it to our representative democracy to be 100% clear about this election result being accurate and verified. If we aren't clear about that, we risk letting these lies perpetuate, increasing the risk of more violent disruption like we saw on Jan. 6. That's why I pushed for clarity on that point in your important piece. 

There's some amount of fraud and mistakes in every election, and we should do everything we can to address that, immediately! Most importantly we must ensure that there is NO ELECTION WITHOUT A PAPER TRAIL! (No more voting machines with no paper trail! Optical scan is best, but at the least every voting machine should print out a detailed receipt that the voter verifies is correct before that receipt is put with all the other receipts that can then be used in a hand recount.) 

And if you want to write about this at any point, by the way, I am 100% on board and will dive into that with gusto. It's really important that we get our elections right. 

That said, part of getting our elections right will involve maintaining mail-in voting and early voting. It's nuts that we expect an entire country of 240 million voting-eligible adults (even just the ~160m who actually vote) to go somewhere to vote in the span of 10-13 hours on a Tuesday. Given people's work schedules and family responsibilities -- and, we now realize, the possibility of pandemic that makes shuffling thousands of people through a single room in one day potentially deadly -- spreading out the vote over multiple days is the most voter-friendly thing we can do to ensure everyone who wants to vote and is eligible to do so has the opportunity to do so, safely and conveniently. 

I would very much like to see the credible evidence you reference of fraud in the election, so please do send that along when you have a chance. Having that information will help me refine what reforms I think will be necessary in order to ensure the reliability and accuracy of our elections going forward.



January 10, BC49: "Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon without disbanding his army, signalling the start of civil war in Rome." -BBC


A moment of levity

"TRUMP Jeopardy" would be a hilarious SNL sketch

Trump is host, only his flunkies get to play, the clues are things like "GREATEST PRESIDENT OF ALL TIME" and "HAS THE BEST WORDS" -- but then he flies into a rage because people keep asking "Who is Donald Trump?"


It's only the beginning

The key piece of Trump's "orderly transition" statement is this:

"it’s only the beginning of our fight" 

Qanon folks believe the president is always sending them hidden messages. Whether or not those messages are intentional, how the phrase "it’s only the beginning of our fight" will be received is clear. 

I said this yesterday morning, but imma say it again now because it bears repeating in the light of yesterday afternoon-&-night's events...

Here's one thing our local officials must do RIGHT NOW: Audit all public weapons caches. I'm talking about police weapons and ammunition, tear gas and stun guns and riot gear, domestic military stocks, and more.

Know where everything is, what it is, and how much of it there is. 

Over coming weeks and months, we the people need to be vigilant in keeping track of police and military weaponry. There's a strong chance that bugaloo-wannabees who are currently in law enforcement and other positions with access to weaponry will attempt to bolster their so-called militias with arms and ammo from those stockpiles to which they have access. BEWARE. 

Also worth looking back over the past year with a careful audit to ensure all such weaponry is accounted for, and if not, to find out where it went. 

Tell your local officials -- those who are rational supporters of our democratic republic, not those who are sympathetic to the insurrection -- that this is a serious concern requiring immediate action. Because it is.


A Humble Suggestion: Let's Keep Track of Our Weapons Caches

Over coming weeks and months, we the people need to be vigilant in keeping track of police and military weaponry. There's a strong chance that bugaloo-wannabees who are currently in law enforcement and other positions with access to weaponry will quietly drain those stockpiles to which they have access. BEWARE.

Also worth looking back over the past year with a careful audit to ensure all such weaponry is accounted for, and if not, to find out where it went.


The Duty to Speak Truth to Power

Hopefully the Republican assault on the electoral college (raise you hand if back in 2016 you thought you'd ever hear that news item) will fail to overturn the results of the election but will highlight just how potentially dangerous the electoral college is.

Apparently consistently having a leader elected by a minority of the population doesn't raise alarm -- and fair enough, because in a representative democracy that's not necessarily a bad thing. But in a system of minority rights with majority rule, the minority has the same rights as everyone else -- but rights don't include the right to have whomever you personally want in power. Whoever is in power has to protect your rights, but if a right of everyone was that the person you vote for gets elected, that system inherently wouldn't work.

Trump's unhinged call to Georgia officials, who were unfailingly patient in responding to the president's unceasing flinging of fallacies, included too many ridiculous statements to cover here, and they've been covered plenty elsewhere. But one sticks out to me:

"We won very substantially in Georgia. You even see it by rally size, frankly. We'd be getting 25-30,000 people a rally, and the competition would get less than 100 people. And it never made sense."

IT NEVER MADE SENSE?? THERE'S A FUCKING PANDEMIC RAGING! All rally-turnout numbers tell us is how well-informed each candidate's staff and supporters are. The more well-informed, the less likely one would be to even consider holding or attending a superspreader event, which every single one of Trump's rallies was. Indeed, it is certain that covid was spread at those rallies, and that they -- and the misinformation upon which they rely -- contributed to the worsening of the pandemic.

Of course there were more people at Trump's rallies, because they somehow -- in the face of all available evidence -- believe that mass gatherings are totally fine when a voraciously contagious deadly disease is running rampant. Of course there were fewer people at Biden's events, by design -- because Biden did not wish to endanger his supporters or their communities. I wish SOMEONE on that call had pointed that out to him.

Speaking truth to power is vitally important; our system is based on that, and depends upon it. Our leaders -- official and unofficial, elected and appointed, current and former, whether in government, military, or private sector -- must do as Jim Mattis did and call out anyone who would put his own interests over the unalienable rights of the people.  The recent letter from every living former Secretary of Defense is also a good example of standing up for the Constitution and the principles upon which this country was founded. Life, liberty, and the exercise of franchise are the most fundamental and vital rights we have. When special interests and despots claim disenfranchisement as defined by their candidate not winning, and they advocate as a solution ACTUAL disenfranchisement of voters who voted for the winner, EVERYONE should be standing up and calling them out for their antidemocratic efforts.

Silence is complicity.



Dear President-Elect Biden,

Please don't pull a William Henry Harrison.








Vote early in person!

Avoid the lines AND make sure your vote is ready to be counted on election day.

Early voting options, in order of reliability:

1) Vote early/absentee in person. Many states have that option, and it's a great choice. Your vote will be in, you'll know it's in, and it'll be ready to be counted on election day.

2) Dropbox BUT confirm that that dropbox is really official; there have been cases already of boxes labeled "Official Ballot Dropbox" that are NOT. Forking shenanigans.

3) Mail it, as soon as possible.

If you go with option 2 or 3, use whatever means your state/locality provides to check that the ballot was received and accepted. If you can't confirm that it was, consider going to the polls on election day to check; if they have a record of your ballot already having been cast, you're good. If not, vote right then.

Sidebar: It is HORRIFYING that we have to even be having this conversation. We should be enfranchising, not disenfranchising. Obviously. #15thAmendment #19thAmendment #24thAmendment

Job for the next two years:
FIX THIS. We are the United States of America, dammit. We should be able to handle millions of people voting, however they choose to cast their ballots.


A Better Way to Debate

If you won't STFU, the tech will do it for you

A longlong time ago, I published my idea for a new and improved structure for presidential debates.

I'm a bit less sure it would work now due to the "Gish Gallop" problem (that it takes significantly longer to disprove a litany of lies than it does to spew the lies), but there's one aspect of my original proposal that I am still CERTAIN is necessary: The candidate whose turn it is to speak has a live microphone, and the other candidates' microphones are OFF during that time.