Thursday Open Thread

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  1. VC Conspirators….a question for all of you. All of us I am sure do a lot of reading. What books have most influenced your outlook on life? I will go first: Torah, followed by Atlas Shrugged.

    Bonus: How did the book change your life in a positive manner?

    For me, Torah crystallized my moral code. Atlas Shrugged opened my eyes to the power of the state gone awry, and to be endlessly wary of big government.

    1. I guess Atlas Shrugged, though I could never have been a Randroid; An allergy to tobacco pretty much guaranteed I’d notice her irrationality on that topic, and being a libertarian led me to notice how controlling she was.

      But I thought she had one very crucial insight: The normal rules of logic, including non-contradiction, must apply to ethics as much as they do to anything else. A system of morality that, if consistently followed, would kill people, can not be a valid system of morality, because you have to be alive to be moral.

      Of course, not being able to derive an “ought” from an “is” means that doesn’t get you very far, but simply being able to rule out large classes of ethical theories is a pretty useful thing.

      Her problem was trying to transform a single big insight into a system. But still, many philosophers go their whole lives without one big insight, so she did pretty well.

      1. What I found Atlas Shrugged useful for is better understanding the logical implications of bad governmental policy (and bad ethical reasoning as well). It helped crystallize my libertarian leanings. Never fully bought into Objectivism.

        1. I was more of a (David) Friedman anarcho-capitalist. But eventually I was forced to conclude that E. O. Wilson’s quip about Communism, (“Wonderful theory. Wrong species.”) applied to anarchism, too. It was a reluctant admission, but a growing acquaintance with real people forced it on me.

          1. I was and still am a big fan of David Friedman’s outlook; I just do not use his terminology. (When analyzed, Friedman’s definition of government is the double standard that gives agents of the state immunity from some laws; thus, keep the state pretty much intact but take away that double standard, and in his use of the term you have anarchy. I too would get rid of the double standard, but I would not call the result anarchy; rather I would generalize the word “government” to cover the business of providing the protection and judgment services that today are, but don’t really need to be, fixed in a single great monopoly institution.)

          2. Francis Fukiyama described Communism as a regressive fantasy of a 5,000 year old, pre-civilization tribalism.

            That really stuck with me. Communism is pretty much how families live, but on the order of a society. It’s a fairy tale.

            1. Families don’t scale. Some people just can’t accept that.

      2. Non-contradiction *cannot* apply to ethics because there are too many moving parts, too many different sets of circumstances, and too many instances in which there is no clear answer. Plus, I’ll be very surprised if there is such a thing as an ethical system that never results in *anyone* getting killed.

        1. Non-contradiction applies to EVERYTHING. Claiming it doesn’t apply to ethics is just a dodge used when somebody likes an ethic that is self-contradictory, and doesn’t want to put the work in of finding a way to resolve the contradictions.

          The question is not whether the ethical system results in somebody, somewhere, getting killed. The question is whether it kills people who try to follow it consistently, or more generally, harms them. Rand asserted that an ethical theory for humans should logically be one that leads to human flourishing, not suffering on the part of anyone who tries to follow it.

          Like universal utilitarianism, which consistently followed demands that everybody in successful societies put themselves bare survival diets so that the surplus can help those who are worst off.

          1. Non-contradiction applies to things like math, science and logic. It does not apply to something like ethics which is partially subjective. Is it ethical to tax people to pay for health care for poor people? Depends entirely on your presuppositions.

            1. Right, it depends entirely on your presuppositions, but it can’t both be ethical AND not ethical at the very same time.

          2. The question is not whether the ethical system results in somebody, somewhere, getting killed. The question is whether it kills people who try to follow it consistently, or more generally, harms them.

            As a rule of thumb, sure. But any ethical system that says you shouldn’t spike the baby into the volcano to save the world† isn’t a winner in my book. Your ethical/moral code needs to have at least some utilitarianism/pragmatism in it lest you get tripped up in letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

            Or, more generally… fallible humans are incapable of creating infallible rules of ethics/morals (that is, rules that always lead to ethical/moral choices 100% of the time with no exceptions). If humans actually did manage to create such infallible rules, it would (A) be on accident, and (B) not be recognized as such. So since we can reasonably treat any existing set of moral/ethical rules as flawed, we shouldn’t expect them to have the answer in all cases.
            ________
            †Provided spiking the baby into the volcano will actually save the world, and there is not a non-baby-spiking option.

            1. I’ve always thought that ethical systems that tell you you can spike the baby into the volcano to save the world have the unfortunate feature of encouraging people who want to spike babies into volcanoes to think that it will save the world, and discouraging them from looking for alternatives.

              That is to say, the general problem with utilitarian ethics, (Aside from the calculation problem, and the idea of math being done on “utility” being metaphor gone cancerous. I mean, they can’t even agree whether “utility” is a scaler or vector quantity!) is that an ethic that says you can do X if Y ends up with your perception of “if Y” skewed by your desire/aversion to doing X. The worse what you’re fighting against is, the worse you can be in fighting it, and feel good about yourself.

              To use a concrete example: Suppose you face a President of the opposing party who is merely an ordinary politician advocating ordinary ideas within the mainstream, supported by possibly a plurality of the population, and at worst a quite large majority? You really can’t justify cheating, now, can you?

              OTOH, if you face Literally Hitler, a monster poorly disguised as a human, working to create a dictatorship where every human right will be extinguished, what can’t you do to fight him? It would be a moral wrong to refrain from cheating if cheating would improve your odds of beating him!

              And that’s why Orange Man Bad. Utilitarian ethics.

              1. The ethical systems that greenlight throwing the toddler into the volcano to save the world also suffer from the contradiction that throwing the toddler into the volcano has never, and could never, save the world.

                OTOH, throwing all the progressives into the volcano…..

                1. Stem cell research, vaccines developed using fetal embryonic cells, organ transplants…

                  There’s plenty of stuff derived from making good from a tragic death that’s loudly denounced by certain kinds of Christians in America.

                  So yes, the example is hyperbolic because the real world doesn’t play by fantasy rules, but philosophy problems rarely worry about such details.

                  Or to put it another way… in the real world, the Trolley Problem would result in an investigation as to who fucked up such that the situation happened in the first place. Whether the person flipped the switch or not would ultimately be irrelevant, because so many people had to fuck up first, and blame would be assigned to those people.

                  The person might feel guilty regardless of what they chose, but it wouldn’t be their fault no matter.

                  So yeah, it’s a hyperbolic example that doesn’t make sense in the real world… like all philosophy questions that are able to isolate whatever moral principle you’re trying to test.

              2. I have utilitarian tendencies though I’m probably not a purist. But utilitarianism assumes some reason-based inquiry into whether throwing the baby into the volcano will actually save the world. If you’re going to engage in conduct that would otherwise be unacceptable because you believe there’s some greater good, you damn well better be right on the facts.

                1. Reason dictates that even entertaining the question is folly.

                  1. Reason dictates that there must be some evidence before the question is entertained. If and when there’s actual evidence that tossing the baby into the volcano will save the world, get back to me.

              3. That’s not a utilitarianism problem, that’s a “garbage in, garbage out” problem.

                And every moral philosophy is vulnerable to that. If you start off with bad assumptions, then you’re much more likely to arrive at bad conclusions.

                That’s why it’s not enough to have a sound moral/ethical philosophy, but you must have a rational grasp of the actual facts. The more biased your perception, or the less accurate your facts, the more likely you are to arrive at bad conclusions no matter how good your logic.

                Or, to put it another way… if someone was arrested for trying to assassinate the president, and they seemed to sincerely believe that he was “Literally Hitler”, then their actions would be perfectly understandable, even if still obviously criminal.

              4. Aside from the calculation problem, and the idea of math being done on “utility” being metaphor gone cancerous. I mean, they can’t even agree whether “utility” is a scaler or vector quantity!

                In many situations, such as consumer choice, which would encompass, I suppose, policy decisions, utility is treated as ordinal. While you can certainly reason from ordinal utility, you don’t actually do normal mathematical operations.

        2. There’s good old economic analysis to buttress capitalism (as derivative of freedom) bringing the far and away greatest benefits in average health and wealth of a population.

          Last century had hundreds of many decades to century-long economic experiments proving this statisticly. There might be a role for smoothing the rough edges with a safety net, but even that should not be allowed as a net drag on the progress that advancing tech brings, as driven by economic freedom.

          1. But this is pure financial utilitarianism, which both Brett and I disagree with.

            1. In the sense that, if capitalism had to violate rights to accomplish this, (Spoiler: It doesn’t.) then the benefits wouldn’t much matter.

              Fortunately, capitalism works best if rights violations can be minimized, whereas socialism can’t even be done without rights violations. (Because free people immediately begin engaging in capitalism.)

      3. I’d agree. Atlas Shrugged was too dry and forced for my taste.

        Really Heinlein did a better respect in many aspects, with a focus on individual liberty, self reliance, and the nature of society to suppress non-conformist thought. Time enough for love is a good example on many of these points.

        1. Rand wrote for didactic purposes, and always let that triumph over storytelling. In some ways that was self-defeating, because she did, I think, have it in her to be a good writer, and if her works had been better literature, they might have had more effective reach.

          While we’re on the topic of Rand, I’ve always thought of Atlas Shrugged as kind of a prequel to Anthem; The revolt of the productive in Atlas Shrugged hadn’t led to mankind coming to their senses, but instead the ultimate triumph of the moochers. When “the Unconquered” finds that house in the wilderness?

          It’s Roark’s house in Galt’s gulch.

      4. “Of course, not being able to derive an “ought” from an “is” means that doesn’t get you very far, …”

        It seems to me that Sam Harris’s “well-being of conscious creatures” or some rough equivalent is a fundamental “ought” that a) is hard to argue with, b) when combined with our exploding knowledge of “is”s, allows quite a lot to be concluded about moral truth.

        1. Well, sure, you can reason from “ought+is” to “ought”. What you can’t do is get to “ought” without that initial “ought”.

    2. World Book encyclopedia.

      Got me interested in history and fueled my mastery of playing Trivia Pursuit.

      1. I loved World Book myself.

    3. My first ECON 201 book.

    4. Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein. More broadly, when I went on a Heinlein binge and devoured every book of his my parents had when I was around 10.

      Among other things, his books were the first time I read something that included queer characters where it wasn’t treated as a flaw, just part of how a person was. He didn’t really do much of anything with most of ’em, but just seeing them exist was a novel (ha) experience.

      His ideas about individualism vs. community, about how both are important and neither stands without the other, were also important. Also contempt for rigid societies, and the stark reality that platitudes, no matter how well intended, crumble when faced with reality.

      1. Yeah, Heinlein’s writings definitely influenced much of my belief system. The first book of his I read was Starship Troopers, which is to this day claimed to support a militaristic dictatorship. Of course, that’s not what Heinlein intended at all.

        My favorite Heinlein book was Stranger in a Strange Land. It aptly describes my feelings on liberty, technology, human interaction, and religion.

        1. The problem with Heinlein is that he wasn’t like Asimov, who would hit you over the head with the “moral” of the story. Which isn’t to say Heinlein’s stories didn’t have morals or themes, but more often he let them take a back seat to tell a good story first, and left the navel gazing as an exercise to the reader. And like most exercises left for the reader, that leaves a lot of room for stuff not-intended. Starship Troopers is uniquely vulnerable to this, I think, because it got a movie†, so it has wider exposure outside of Heinlein fans.

          Regarding Stranger in a Strange Land, my main problem with it was that I think I read it in the wrong order. By chance I’d read a lot of his later stuff before I got around to that one, so it felt off to me. I think I’d already ready Farnham’s Freehold and the Moon is a Harsh Mistress at that point.
          ________
          †Well, sort of. As I heard it, they basically had a script for an original story, and then someone got the license to Starship Troopers, and they tweaked it just enough to make it work. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’d explain why it was an adaptation in name only.

          1. I’m a fan of both, but Heinlein definitely influenced my morals and politics the most. I do have to credit Janet & Isaac Asimov for getting me into reading (Norby the Mixed-Up Robot). I’m not at 7 book shelves and counting (typically stacked 2 deep).

        2. No, in Starship Troopers, you didn’t have a dictatorship. You had a democracy where the franchise had to be earned by doing something risky for the public good. Two years “federal service”, where all the applicable jobs were nasty.

          It didn’t have to be military service. You could volunteer to be a medical test subject, or test survival gear, or even engage in particularly strenuous/risky physical labor. It just had to be something seriously unpleasant/risky.

          If you were handicapped they’d even find a job you could do, even if it had to be makework.

          The movie really seriously misrepresented the book.

    5. What books have most influenced your outlook on life?

      I would have to go with Meditations by Aurelius or Discourses of Epictetus by Arrian

    6. By “Torah”, do you mean the Judaic religious book? Or do you mean something else? Sorry, I’m used to it being referred to as “The Torah” if that is what you mean.

    7. The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins

      Dramatically changed how I see the world, both recognizing the beauty of it and its fundamental harshness.

      Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

      Dramatically changed how I see other people and myself. The right lesson would probably be to be more forgiving of others and more demanding of myself. But it’s mostly kind of demoralizing, while also extremely fascinating. Discovering truth and recognizing reality is just not the task for which our brains are built.

  2. Looking for pledges: what (legal, ethical things) will you do if the “wrong side” wins the Presidential election next week?

    1. Finally get that concealed carry permit, and put in more time at the range, I suppose. I think the election being followed by rioting is pretty much baked in at this point no matter which way it goes, and the riots continuing into next year is guaranteed if Trump wins.

    2. AtR….I will live my life simply, as before. Nothing will change, legally or ethically.

      However, I will leave the People’s Republic of NJ. Our abrogation of our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 10th amendment rights here in the People’s Republic did it for me. I am leaving, along with my tax revenue for someplace else in the US.

      My DW and I are systematically donating, selling, giving away and tossing our superfluous possessions.

      Memo to Phailing Phil Murphy: Up yours. We’re done.

      1. Commenter_XY – I’m looking for a new home too. Do you have any suggestions?

        1. Yes, someplace warmer. 🙂

          Ok, all kidding aside.
          From a tax perspective, NC, SC are a little better than the People’s Republic.

          I refuse to go to FL because to me, FL is just God’s Waiting Room. Too many old people.

          I looked pretty hard at NV, but the water problems they have there ruled it out.

          AZ is ‘meh’ tax-wise. But the dry climate would be good for me.

          The all-around ‘winner’ to date in TN. Good climate. Better on taxes. Knoxville has a pretty decent Jewish community (important to me). More IT is moving to that area.

          The nature of my current work is pretty flexible, meaning I can do my work as long as I have a decent internet connection.

          1. Let me suggest Nashville instead. I lived there for many years and loved it. Bigger than Knoxville, with much more in the way of various urban amenities, if you care about that. Excellent medical care.

            Quite prosperous, so if you’re not retired and looking for a job you should be able to find one.

            I’m guessing a bigger Jewish community than Knoxville, just by virtue of size. There was a decent-sized orthodox congregation when I lived there.

            Knoxville may be better for outdoor activities.

            1. bernard11, I will do that = seriously look at Nashville. You’re the second or third person who has mentioned Nashville.

          2. Flagstaff AZ is pretty and seems nice. But unless you plan on dying in the next 30 years, don’t move there.

            1. Ah…lot’s of old people?

    3. I pledge to complain thoroughly in the comments section of a blog

      1. Hell, you’ll be set if Biden wins – ever vigilant as you search for the first sign of that dementia you know (just know!) has to emerge eventually. (it just has to!!)

        1. “4 more years of George…uh George…”

          Jill Biden (whispers): “It’s Trump, honey”…

          1. You do know that Biden was being interviewed by the comedian George Lopez when he said that, right? Or maybe you don’t. Your handlers treat you like such a dupe……

    4. The wrong side will win next week, as it will be either Trump or Biden.

    5. Nothing.

      There is nothing that I can do to affect any changes to my life. Changes that will be years from now.

      I do nothing when the wrong side wins the Super Bowl or World Series. Politics is no different. Its just entertainment really.

      1. 1000% agree!

        Being white, American males means we decide what – and what not – affects us.

        And I say the exact same thing to my sons about the Super Bowl, etc.

        As a Boston fan, I celebrate the wins and let the losses affect me for about one minute, then move on since they don’t really affect my life at all.

        1. Bah, it has nothing to do with being white or male.

    6. Carve out more budget space for charity donations to civil rights orgs.

    7. Continue to reduce possessions, having too much stuff is a curse. I’ve found getting rid of books is much more difficult than any other item. I should likely work on a concealed carry permit in a state that has reciprocity to the areas into which I want to re-locate. I would like to double the amount of ammunition I have on hand, quadruple the 22lr, in case Biden’s stupid web/mail sales ban takes effect, but given the shortage, I will have to make due. Finish rebuilding my 1973 CB750 into a flat track style rigid, again -idle hands and all.

    8. Move money abroad.

  3. I propose to conduct a FantasyEotus (election of the United States) event. Here are the points for prediction:

    1. Winner for president (name)
    2. States for winner (number)
    3. Electoral delegates for winner (number)
    4. Control of House (R/D)
    5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary) (R/D)
    6. Presidential margin >2.0 (Y/N)
    7. Presidential margin >4.0 (Y/N)
    8. Presidential margin >6.0 (Y/N)
    9. Presidential margin >8.0 (Y/N)
    10. Presidential margin > 9.9 (Y/N)
    11. Winner in Pennsylvania (B/T)
    12. Winner in Arizona (B/T)
    13. Winner in Florida (B/T)
    14. Winner in Georgia (B/T)
    15. Winner in Texas (B/T)
    16. Winner in Iowa (B/T)
    17. Winner in N. Carolina (B/T)
    18. Winner in Ohio (B/T)
    19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y/N)
    20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y/N)
    21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? (Y/N)
    22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates (Y/N)
    23. House of Representatives chooses President (Y/N)
    24. Jorgenson >2% (Y/N)
    25. Hawkins >.5%? (Y/N)

    Please predict by responding to this thread with a single message providing all predictions.

    Winner (highest number of correct predictions, as determined solely by contest organizer) will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (or perhaps another card requested by winner); second-place competitor will receive a $50 Amazon gift card (or perhaps another card requested by winner). In case of tie, winner(s) will be chosen by lot and prize(s) divided, if necessary. Gift cards will be delivered by United States Postal Service.

    If winner wishes to receive an additional prize within 25 miles of a location specified by organizer, that additional prize will be a properly cellared 1.5 liter bottle of Stone-Evil Twin Saures Ubel Imperial Berliner Weisse (sour ale brewed with elderflower, ABVB 9.5%) from the Stone Berlin Groundbreaking Collaborations Series. If winner does not claim this prize, it will be offered to the second-place competitor. If second-place competitor does not claim this prize, it will be enjoyed by the contest organizer.

    Contest sponsor alone will determine correctness of predictions with unqualified finality. Complete predictions must be posted to this thread by noon on Nov. 2, 2020. Sample format:

    1. Trump
    2. 29 . . .
    4. Democratic . . .
    7. Yes . . .
    18. Biden . . .
    21. No . . .
    25. Yes

    Winner will be identified and announced by contest organizer when organizer concludes adequate information to assess predictions is available. There is no guarantee the winner will be identified on Nov. 4, 2020. We recognize this will severely disappoint and perhaps bewilder Justice Kavanaugh but that’s life in the reality-based world.

    Have fun, everyone!

    1. As a supplement to Arthur’s contest, I propose the following:

      If he loses the election, Trump will almost certainly issue a number of pardons before he slinks out the back door of the White House on or before Inauguration Day.

      Prepare a list of all the people you believe will receive presidential pardons. Accuracy counts. You will receive one point for each correct answer, and one point will be deducted for each incorrect answer. Answers must be posted to this thread by noon on November 2.

      1. How would you handle a pardon for former Pres. Trump issued by a Pres. Pence before the next inauguration?

        1. Sorry, I’m a little dense this morning: are you asking about a situation that might occur if Trump resigned between the election and the inauguration? In that case you would receive one point if your list contained Trump’s name, regardless of whether Pence pardoned him or he pardoned himself before resigning. Your question, of course, suggests that the parameters of the supplemental contest should be changed to include any presidential pardon issued between November 4 and January 20, regardless of who issues it.

          1. As there is nothing wrong apparently with the president pardoning himself, there will probably be an amendment after to prevent this in the future, should it happen.

            If it ever happens, now or in the future, it will be a one time deal.

            1. My understanding is that it’s questionable whether a president can pardon themselves (hence the suggested “resign, then have Pence do it” work-around). But it’s not unambiguous.

              But I suspect you’re right on the “one time deal” bit.

            2. there is nothing wrong apparently with the president pardoning himself

              There is everything wrong with the President (and I don’t mean this one in particular, any President) pardoning himself. And I don’t think the Constitutional argument is even close as to whether it is, nonetheless, allowed. It isn’t.

        2. I don’t see Trump getting a pardon from Pence. There’s no evidence that Trump has committed any federal crimes, or any identified purported such crimes, and a pardon can only be for federal offenses, and you would kind of have to identify the offense he was being pardoned for.

          I suppose in theory there could be some federal crime they’re keeping secret, but has this administration not been leaking like a sieve?

          Trump’s real legal jeopardy is state prosecutions, and a Presidential pardon can’t do anything about that. But I don’t see any of those going anywhere, they’re being threatened for political purposes, and after a Trump defeat the purpose goes away.

          1. Brett Bellmore : “There’s no evidence that Trump has committed any federal crimes, or any identified purported such crimes….”

            I dunno. I’m sure he’s up to his neck in the Giuliani/Derkach kompromat operation, and the cover story behind that has been crumbling since day-one. You really think the blind-trump-fanatic-computer-repairman story will survive serious scrutiny?

            1. I’m sure you’re sure of that, but you notice that you didn’t produce any evidence to justify that confidence?

              A lot of people have this free floating confidence that Trump is as corrupt as the day is long. But having a lot of people convinced you’re a crook does not actually amount to legal jeopardy.

              1. Brett Bellmore : ” …. you didn’t produce any evidence to justify …. (etc)”

                Well, there was that embarrassing incident when Giuliani shot a picture of new email “evidence” smearing Hunter and forgot to crop the MTS network header on the device the message appeared on. (that network runs exclusively in Russia). Don’t ya bet Rudy’s handler Andrii Derkach boxed his ears good over that screwup!

                But a more interesting development were the multiple accounts that Hunter dirt (emails and pictures) was shopped around Ukraine last year, long before the blind-trump-fanatic-computer-repairmen, magic laptop, and Hunterish-stand-in who can’t be identified (blindness only being a disability most of the time).

                Hey, Brett – all a coincidence, right? Like the fact Russia’s military intelligence service (the GRU) hacked into the computer systems of Burisma and stole a massive trove of documents per a report released by cyber security experts in January. Like the fact Giuliani regularly met with someone Trump’s own Treasury Department says is a Russian spy. Like the fact the FBI warned Trump that very spy would use Giuliani to spread dirt on Biden. All just just a happy coincidence!

                When asked, the blind-trump-fanatic-computer-repairman refused to say whether Rudy contacted him before the alleged laptop drop-off date. Don’t know what to make of that ….

                https://time.com/5902557/hunter-biden-rudy-giuliani-ukraine/

            2. “There’s no evidence that Trump has committed any federal crimes, or any identified purported such crimes….”

              If the NYT reporting is accurate there’s solid evidence he has significantly and deliberately misstated his tax liabilities. Whether that rises to the level of criminal tax evasion remains to be seen.

              Trump’s real legal jeopardy is state prosecutions, and a Presidential pardon can’t do anything about that. But I don’t see any of those going anywhere, they’re being threatened for political purposes, and after a Trump defeat the purpose goes away.

              The facts supporting state prosecutions came to the state’s attention for a variety of reasons, including politics, Cohen, other enemies of Trump.

              But that doesn’t make them innocuous. Do you seriously doubt that Trump would fiddle his state taxes, make false representations to banks, etc?

              1. Do you seriously doubt his taxes, both state and federal, are under continual audit?

                Right, the prosecutions just innocently got threatened after he had the bad taste to win. Maybe you even believe that, but I don’t.

                1. I do doubt that, especially the ones before 2017.

                  Besides,

                  1. Surprisingly few wealthy individual actually get audited. The audit division is massively underfunded.

                  2. More important, audits don’t turn up everything, by a long shot. Trump claims his estate in New York is commercial property, so he can deduct all his property taxes. Except it isn’t. It’s a personal residence. The audit isn’t going to find that. They don’t send inspectors around to check. He claims excessive “charitable contribution” deductions for conservation easements on land he can’t us anyway. The IRS doesn’t do an assessment. Lots of stuff like that they don’t dig into.

                  The thing is, Brett, that Trump is scum. He cheats on all kinds of things. You – specifically you – like to come up with rationalizations for whatever he does – tax fraud, serial bankruptcies, lawsuits, stiffing creditors – whatever. But that’s all they are – rationalizations.

                2. Here’s what I think, Brett : Trump ran a “university” that was a two-bit scam. It survived five years of indifferent scrutiny until someone finally looked it over closely & found a crude fraud.

                  And Trump ran a “foundation” that was little more than sleaze congealed into an amorphic mass. It survived eleven years of indifferent scrutiny until someone finally looked it over closely & found a crude fraud. The only board member who wasn’t a member of the Trump crime family (Alan Weisselberg) testified no one ever informed him of that fact the ten-plus years he “held” the position.

                  We can deduce two things from these examples : First, criminality is reflex to Donald Trump. Someone gifted/inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars really shouldn’t bother with petty huckster scams like above, but DJT just can’t help himself. Second, look closely into matters-Trump and you inevitably find lawbreaking. I’m betting District Attorney Cy Vance is a very bust man.

                  1. I’m perfectly willing to believe that Trump has cut corners at least as much as anybody else running for President. It’s pretty clear that Biden is’t clean as the driven snow, either.

                    But if you get pulled over for speeding, even if you are speeding, because the cop doesn’t like your politics, and maybe wants an embarrassing headline just before the election, and he’s letting other people whose politics he doesn’t like go by unmolested, that’s an abuse. Maybe the real abuse is the people who weren’t stopped, but still an abuse.

                    Silly stuff like the ’emoluments’ nonsense aside, I think that’s what is going on here. Selective prosecution is an abuse even if you only engage in justified prosecutions. Which I am not entirely convinced is the case here, you wouldn’t NEED silliness like the emoluments stuff if you had real corruption to go after.

          2. I would have expected bank fraud and income tax evasion to constitute federal crimes, but I have never practiced criminal law.

          3. […] you would kind of have to identify the offense he was being pardoned for.

            Nah. The president can give a blanket pardon for anything done up to that point. They can’t give pardons for future crimes, but they don’t have to enumerate offenses, limit themselves to investigations/trials/etc. in-progress, or give any indication as to what the pardon is for.

            And seeing as some of those state cases predate Trump announcing his run for president, your claim that they’re going to go away is kind of weird.

          4. Aren’t all equal before the law? How are there state prosecutions lined up, trivially done because he became president?

            1. I see the Trump U investigation prior to when he announced, but what state investigations threatening charges can you cite that were started prior to June 15, 2015? (Which is when he announced he was running for President.) I’m curious, I might have missed one.

              1. What difference does it make when it was started?

                Is he immune from investigation the day he announces?

                By the way, he got off easy on the Trump Foundation business. If the bookkeeper had helped himself to foundation funds the way Trump did he would be in prison for embezzlement.

    2. OK, I’ll bite.

      Trump wins with 34 states and 360 electoral votes. His popular vote total is 54%.
      The Republicans gain narrow control of the House and increase their majority in the Senate.
      Trump wins all the states listed in 11 through 18.
      CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS do not call a winner until after Nov 4.
      Fox does call a winner by noon Nov 4.
      Electoral College delegates — I don’t think any state legislature will select them (and if they try I don’t think it will be upheld).
      House chooses president — No.
      Jorgenson > 2% – No.
      Hawkins > 0.5% – No.

    3. 1. Winner for president Trump
      2. States for winner My 270towin map
      3. Electoral delegates for winner 315
      4. Control of House Democratic
      5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary) Republican
      6. Presidential margin >2.0 No
      7. Presidential margin >4.0 No
      8. Presidential margin >6.0 No
      9. Presidential margin >8.0 No
      10. Presidential margin > 9.9 No
      11. Winner in Pennsylvania Trump
      12. Winner in Arizona Trump
      13. Winner in Florida Trump
      14. Winner in Georgia Trump
      15. Winner in Texas Trump
      16. Winner in Iowa Trump
      17. Winner in N. Carolina Trump
      18. Winner in Ohio Trump
      19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 No
      20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 No
      21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? No
      22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates No
      23. House of Representatives chooses President No
      24. Jorgenson >2% No
      25. Hawkins >.5%? No

    4. 1. Winner for president (Biden)
      2. States for winner (31)
      3. Electoral delegates for winner (345)
      4. Control of House (D)
      5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary) (R)
      6. Presidential margin >2.0 (Y)
      7. Presidential margin >4.0 (Y)
      8. Presidential margin >6.0 (Y)
      9. Presidential margin >8.0 (N)
      10. Presidential margin > 9.9 (N)
      11. Winner in Pennsylvania (B)
      12. Winner in Arizona (B)
      13. Winner in Florida (B)
      14. Winner in Georgia (B)
      15. Winner in Texas (T)
      16. Winner in Iowa (B)
      17. Winner in N. Carolina (B)
      18. Winner in Ohio (B)
      19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y)
      20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y)
      21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? (Y)
      22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates (N)
      23. House of Representatives chooses President (N)
      24. Jorgenson >2% (Y)
      25. Hawkins >.5%? (Y)

    5. My predictions:

      1. Winner for president (Biden)
      2. States for winner (28)
      3. Electoral delegates for winner (356)
      4. Control of House (D)
      5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary) (D)
      6. Presidential margin >2.0 (Yes)
      7. Presidential margin >4.0 (Yes)
      8. Presidential margin >6.0 (Yes)
      9. Presidential margin >8.0 (No)
      10. Presidential margin > 9.9 (No)
      11. Winner in Pennsylvania (B)
      12. Winner in Arizona (B)
      13. Winner in Florida (B)
      14. Winner in Georgia (B)
      15. Winner in Texas (T)
      16. Winner in Iowa (B)
      17. Winner in N. Carolina (B)
      18. Winner in Ohio (T)
      19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y)
      20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y)
      21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? (Y)
      22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates (N)
      23. House of Representatives chooses President (N)
      24. Jorgenson >2% (N)
      25. Hawkins >.5%? (N)

      Thanks, Rev!

    6. 1. Yo mama
      2. Yo mama
      3. Yo mama
      4. Yo mama
      .
      .
      .
      25. Yo mama

      What’s my prize? Oh, yes, it’s yo mama.

    7. Going off of alleged Trump’s internal polling data (my 270 to win map)[https://www.270towin.com/maps/Y24Zw]:
      1. Winner for president (Trump)
      2. States for winner (28)
      3. Electoral delegates for winner (279)
      4. Control of House (D)
      5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary) (R)
      6. Presidential margin >2.0 (N)
      7. Presidential margin >4.0 (N)
      8. Presidential margin >6.0 (N)
      9. Presidential margin >8.0 (N)
      10. Presidential margin > 9.9 (N)
      11. Winner in Pennsylvania (T)
      12. Winner in Arizona (T)
      13. Winner in Florida (T)
      14. Winner in Georgia (T)
      15. Winner in Texas (T)
      16. Winner in Iowa (T)
      17. Winner in N. Carolina (T)
      18. Winner in Ohio (T)
      19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (N)
      20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (N)
      21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? (N)
      22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates (N)
      23. House of Representatives chooses President (N)
      24. Jorgenson >2% (N)
      25. Hawkins >.5%? (N)
      Going to the house raw on the election by voters itself feels quite unlikely: If my map in particular had everything stay the same but AZ go blue (unlikely to me since the 2018 midterms had R’s focus a lot on mail-in-ballots enforcements in AZ in particular), the 270-268 occurs, but I feel the final Nebraska district has a lot less flexibility than rest of the Rust Belt. Now before the third debate and the riots of Pennsylvania I felt Trump’s Rust Belt path went through the other states but now PA feels like a hold before the others. Pointing this out for the tie-scenario. Regardless, having within a vote increases tensions 10 fold since the faithless electors actually will matter (they tend towards Dems overall I believe, heard of a plan to throw Trump in 2016).
      Another thing I feel is MN + MI feels likelier than WI + MI this time around. Also I would pair NV with the first couple there.

    8. Ok….When I win his contest, I want to collect in-person. ????

      1. Winner for president: Trump
      2. States for winner: 30
      3. Electoral delegates for winner: 279
      4. Control of House: Team D
      5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary): Team R
      6. Presidential margin >2.0 (Y/N): Yes, Biden 50%, Trump 48%
      7. Presidential margin >4.0 (Y/N): No
      8. Presidential margin >6.0 (Y/N): No
      9. Presidential margin >8.0 (Y/N): No
      10. Presidential margin > 9.9 (Y/N): No
      11. Winner in Pennsylvania (B/T): Trump, with SCOTUS assist*
      12. Winner in Arizona (B/T): Trump
      13. Winner in Florida (B/T): Trump
      14. Winner in Georgia (B/T): Trump
      15. Winner in Texas (B/T): Trump
      16. Winner in Iowa (B/T): Trump
      17. Winner in N. Carolina (B/T): Trump, with SCOTUS assist*
      18. Winner in Ohio (B/T): Trump
      18a: Trump loses MI, WI, and MN
      19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y/N): Yes
      20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (Y/N): No
      21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? (Y/N): No
      22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates (Y/N): Yes
      23. House of Representatives chooses President (Y/N): No
      24. Jorgenson >2% (Y/N): No
      25. Hawkins >.5%? (Y/N): No

      Other:
      Popular vote: Biden 50%, Trump 48%, Jorgensen 1%, Other 1%
      Trump will win 11% of black vote, and 31% of Hispanic vote
      Trump loses support with 65+, white suburban women w/college
      Electoral college: Biden 259, Trump 279
      Trump wins FL, PA but loses MI, WI, and MN
      Senate: Team R 51, Team D 49
      House: Team D 243, Team R 192 (nevermind DC or PR)

      *SCOTUS will step in regarding PA, NC and rule that state judges cannot change election laws, only legislatures can.

      Finally….I hope as Americans we can all behave better after this election is over. I know if Quid Pro Joe wins, I will not be happy. But I am determined not to be a sore loser. We have had 4 years of sore losers. Let’s not do that to ourselves anymore.

  4. Is today the day we get a Conspirator post explaining how Kavanaugh’s concurrence in Wisconsin is actually a masterpiece of legal reasoning and the apotheosis of textualist principles?

  5. I am ineligible to win a prize (other than by reversion involving that magnificent magnum of beer), but my predictions:

    1. Winner for president (Biden)
    2. States for winner (27) (DC not a state)
    3. Electoral delegates for winner (359)
    4. Control of House (Democratic)
    5. Control of Senate (with VP if necessary) (Democratic)
    6. Presidential margin >2.0 (yes)
    7. Presidential margin >4.0 (yes)
    8. Presidential margin >6.0 (yes)
    9. Presidential margin >8.0 (no)
    10. Presidential margin > 9.9 (no)
    11. Winner in Pennsylvania (Biden)
    12. Winner in Arizona (Biden)
    13. Winner in Florida (Biden)
    14. Winner in Georgia (Trump)
    15. Winner in Texas (Trump)
    16. Winner in Iowa (Biden)
    17. Winner in N. Carolina (Biden)
    18. Winner in Ohio (Trump)
    19. CNN calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (yes)
    20. ABC, CBS, or NBC calls presidency by 2 a.m. Nov. 4 (yes)
    21. Fox calls presidency by noon Nov. 4? (yes)
    22. Any state legislature selects Electoral College delegates (no)
    23. House of Representatives chooses President (no)
    24. Jorgenson >2% (no)
    25. Hawkins >.5%? (no)

  6. Giving your address to a bigoted troll is really dumb. That is all.

    1. Perhaps we could use general delivery if you win, Bob? I also would consider electronic delivery, which I believe is available for Amazon gift cards.

      1. I myself have been the electronic recipient of an Amazon gift card like 8 years ago.

  7. On the filibuster:

    Will the filibuster survive if Democrats win the Presidency, House, and Senate?

    A lot depends on how the GOP Senators act. If GOP Senators use the filibuster as it has been used in the past to routinely filibuster the Democratic agenda, I think the filibuster will be nixed. If reserved for extraordinary disagreements, it might survive. Idealistic support of the filibuster has been reduced in both parties. I do not see a world where one party that obtains control of both the Presidency and Congress nonetheless allows its agenda to be derailed by the filibuster.

    Should the filibuster survive?

    I am a firm no on this question. The filibuster leads to dysfunction and allows Senators to campaign on ideas they know will most likely be blocked by the other side even if their party prevails. In this way, the filibuster contributes to ideological extremism, as there is less connection between what is said on the campaign trail and reality. Furthermore, the filibuster leads to dysfunction. And ultimately, will contribute to the relative decline of the United States. Doing nothing is not a very good answer just because a supermajority cannot be assembled. The threshold for overcoming a filibuster is closer to the threshold for passing a constitutional amendment than it is to the threshold for obtaining a simple majority. Such a threshold makes no sense for ordinary legislation.

    The only consequence of eliminating the filibuster is that an ordinary majority can pass ordinary legislation. It is true that ordinary legislation can be important. But it is also true that problems with ordinary legislation can be fixed. The filibuster not only prevents new problems from being created by misguided legislation, it prevents old problems from being fixed by wise legislation. Overall, the filibuster contributes to polarization, as it creates in the minority an expectation of being able to block legislation it does not like even after performing poorly in an election. This leads to irresponsible governance. It leads to the sense that one can be a Senator and say or do anything without consequence. But the position of a Senator is a responsible one. And consequences are needed.

    On Court Expansion:

    If Democrats win the Presidency, House, and Senate, will Democrats increase the size of the Court?

    If the Supreme Court decides to overturn the ACA, the Court will definitely be expanded. If the Supreme Court decides to overrule Roe v. Wade or drastically limit abortion rights, the Court will definitely be expanded. If it doesn’t do either of these things, there is a good chance that the court won’t be expanded.

    Should the size of the Court be increased?

    There is currently a 6-3 conservative majority that if nothing is done, will likely last for generations. This majority is not based on an electoral mandate, but instead a fluke. Trump did not even win the popular vote. There is no mandate for a major change in the composition of the court, much less one that will last for generations.

    In light of this, my view is that a “modest” court expansion may be justified. What is a “modest” expansion? Adding 2 justices is a modest expansion. This would create a 6-5 conservative majority instead of a 6-3 conservative majority. Decreasing the size of the conservative majority will restore the pre-Trump, pre-Scalia death status quo, with conservatives outnumbering liberals by exactly one vote. A 5-4 conservative majority would also reflect the situation where Garland was confirmed, but Trump also replaced Ginsburg with Barrett. In a way, this is still a gift, since Trump’s election lacks legitimacy since he failed to win the national popular vote. Without the fluke of Trump’s election, there would be a 5-4 liberal majority right now.

    But the problem with more aggressive court-packing to erase Trump’s election altogether is that it invites retaliation. It is possible, but not guaranteed that retaining a 6-5 conservative majority would tend to take the steam out of such retaliation. And, it would allow the composition of the Supreme Court to be decided by legitimate elections rather than entrenchment caused by the soon-to-be one-term Trump fluke.

    In case the Supreme Court overturns the ACA, more than a modest expansion is justified. Rather than expanding the Court by 2 justices, the court ought to be expanded by 4 or perhaps even 6 to create a cushion. A Court that overturns the ACA is one that has ventured outside the legitimate bounds of its powers to dictate the outcomes of democratic processes in a fundamental rather than incidental manner. Such a political decision cannot be tolerated or go unanswered.

    1. The filibuster has an easy solution: make them actually do it, rather then just backing down because someone threatened to do it.

      That said, provided the senate can do it in a way that binds future senates (Amendment, for example), I could see new rules that certain things require super-majorities. For example, If a judge has to get at least 2-3rds yay-votes, then partisan appointments will be much more difficult… and importantly, it makes it more difficult for both parties.

      And that’s the two key things I see as necessary for any meaningful changes: the solution has to be genuinely bi-partisan, in that that it will hurt both sides equally (now and in the future, regardless of who is in the White House and control of the Senate), and that future Senates can’t easily circumvent it.

      Any changes that obviously help only one party, and won’t be in effect when the party control next swaps, are basically pointless grandstanding.

    2. “Should the filibuster survive?”

      No, its always been dumb. No other legislative body in the world has such a rule.

      In a split congress like now, doubly dumb. The virus relief bill was filibustered last week, but of course passage would not have made a law because of the House so it was just theater.

      Let the majority legislate if it can.

      1. This goes along with my general view that procedural obstacles to getting to an actual recorded vote should be minimized.

        Legislators should vote. That’s their fundamental job. Their job is not fund-raiding, or going on TV, or whatever. It’s to vote. Yes or no, up or down, confirmed or not. It’s the best way to establish a concrete record on which the voters can evaluate their performance and their views.

        1. Agreed. Basically the only vote that shouldn’t be recorded is a vote for leadership positions, which should be by secret ballot for the same reason regular elections use secret ballots.

          I especially despise phony “votes” like the voice votes where they routinely don’t give anybody time to call out “Yea” or “Nay”, but just proceed straight to the result.

          The members have electronic voting with “clickers”, roll call votes are perfectly feasible for everything. The chief reason they avoid them, aside from pretending they’ve got a majority when they don’t, is because they’re routinely conducting business without a quorum.

          Roll call votes make it hard to hide the lack of a quorum…

    3. This is a thoughtful post, but I respectfully disagree with your assessment on court packing; 6-5 would be insufficient. From any democratic perspective, only a seizure of the majority will suffice.

      It is true that it would restore the 1-vote conservative majority on the court, but the median vote would still have moved right–from Kennedy to Roberts. Losing ACA, Roe, and the voting rights bill that dems will pass if they win 6-5 is no more tolerable to liberals that losing them 5-4.

      That fact is that the Roberts court has been transformative in a way that liberals cannot tolerate–and reasonably could not have been expected to tolerate. It is true that court-expansion will inevitably lead to further expansion when republicans hold the trifecta next. I do not feel, and I believe most liberals do not feel, that the certainty of retaliation makes court expansion an inferior option to the status quo.

      That said, if I were a senator my court-packing plan would be delivered alongside an olive branch: a constitutional amendment restoring the court to 9 judges with 18 year terms, and providing a means for presidents to fill vacancies even if the senate refuses to cooperate (while still maintain some checks and balances). Over time I think this would reduce the stakes of supreme court nominations, or at least the acrimony that has come to be associated with them.

      1. The Court packing proposals I’ve seen would go straight to 15 members, so a majority would be 8, and the left would win votes even if they lost one of the current Democratic Justices.

        1. If you’re gonna pack it, might as well build in some cushion so the other side has to pack it to get control back.

          1. Oh, if you’re going to pack it, the other side never gets the chance to pack it. The next thing you do after packing it is rig the electoral system so that they’ll never be in a position to return the favor.

            The actual point of the cushion is that your rubber stamp will still work even if you do something one of your justices can’t stomach; It takes TWO of your justices rebelling to lose a vote.

    4. My thoughts are Roberts will retire if Biden wins in a plea not to pack the courts, his loss of a court position will bring it back to 5-4 conservative majority.

      1. But perhaps this isn’t enough for the libs, since there would be no “swing vote” of this court on the R’s side, though more particularly Gorsuch has shown to not just be a partisan in the courts, he isn’t a swing vote it moreso devolves into a Gorsuch court honestly if the proposed scenario occurs.

      2. I think he’d be more likely to just openly flip. He seems the sort who can rationalize voting either way depending on extra-judicial motivations.

  8. “If the Supreme Court decides to overturn the ACA, the Court will definitely be expanded. If the Supreme Court decides to overrule Roe v. Wade or drastically limit abortion rights, the Court will definitely be expanded.”

    In other words, if the court rules in a way that the political branches don’t like, it will be packed. Once court-packing is on the table (as it already is), the independence of the court is gone. Unless, of course, the court finds that court-packing is prohibited by the good behavior clause.

    1. TwelveInchPianist:

      Court expansion is definitely constitutional. This is no serious doubt about this.

      1. There have been proposals aside from simply adding new seats, however, which would run into good behavior problems. But, yes, just adding seats would be perfectly constitutional. Not all bad ideas are contrary to the Constitution.

        1. Those who propose to pack the Court assume that the Court would not lose respect in the eyes of the people, and could continue to issue policy edicts that the public will demurely respect. This is insane. Nothing in the Constitution give the Supreme Court the final word on interpreting the Constitution. As soon as they become a political body then the president will assert his right to interpret the constitution, and the public will agree that it’s all politics.

          1. The people who propose to pack the Court don’t CARE if it loses respect in the eyes of the people. They pack the Court, then the packed Court lets them rig elections, and then what the people think doesn’t matter anymore.

            1. Or maybe even that authority lost by the Court goes to the legislature, where they are counting on clear majorities, helped along by immigration policies that favor dependent immigrants.

      2. We’ll see. “Serious doubts” can crop up pretty quickly, as we’ve seen a few times. And it hasn’t happened since the civil war, so it’s not like the issue has been seriously considered recently.

        1. Expansion based on purely political motives is unconstitutional because it affects the independence of the Supreme Court. Opinion by Thomas, concurrence in judgment by Roberts.

        2. And it seems like a slam dunk. Being 1/9th of the Supreme Court is hardly the same office as being, say, 1/18th of the Supreme Court.

        3. Maybe it’s the word “serious” that confuses you?

          1. Supreme Court just ruled 6 months ago that gays are protected by a civil rights law passed in 1964 when it was a criminal offense in many states.

            Serious is no longer a serious impediment to decisions.

    2. Who sets the rules for the day to day operation of the Court?
      Could the Court, prior to being packed, create a rule that only the 9 most senior justices carry a vote (only need a 5-4 majority to do that), and that junior associate justices function like overpaid interns to the senior justices. Junior justices would replace vacancies in the voting justice pool as they might arise.

  9. One thing that bothers me about cyberpunk is that they always get the portrayal of corporations wrong. Invariably cyberpunk corporations are still depicted as 80s stereotypes, openly aggressive, unconcerned with anything but the bare minimum of PR, and with loads of direct power. Many times they are the actual direct rulers.

    In reality corporations are kind of like the Pope. Powerful and influential yes. But more of the soft power variety and with the threat of the secular authorities constantly looming behind them. They can control the sword and sometimes do it easily but it will remain in the governments hand. Its hard to imagine a realistic scenario where people would let corporations become the rulers in the crude way its portrayed in cyberpunk and if they did the corporations would probably start looking more like a traditional ruling body since government is the biggest racket of them all.

    1. Corporatism run amok as dystopia is common in science fiction. But it could only get that way with a corrupt government that was basically a dictatorship not securing rights.

      Businesspeople are greedy, and bringing stuff to the masses is a great way to get rich. That companies would somehow not care to even try to provide for the guttered masses in these stories, when they’re historically far and away the best way to raise up the health and wealth of the poor smacks more of a broken, politically-serving worldview than any actual measurements of reality.

      1. “Failure to secure rights,” whatever that means, is not how you get amok-running corporations. You get those by chipping away at and degrading government and the institutions that keep corporations honest-like (honest-ish?). And one of the tools used for that is a steady and persistent campaign insisting government can do nothing right and that “privatization” of government services and responsibilities is the only path forward.

      2. How’s class mobility lately, Krayt? How has it been since the 1980s?

        1. Relative or absolute?

    2. As a disproof I offer Google.

    3. “One thing that bothers me about nearly all fiction is that they always get the portrayal of corporations wrong.”

      FTFY. BIG BAD BUSINESS is the most maligned trope in all of storytelling. Even wolves don’t have it so bad.

    4. The cyberpunk genre really is a product of its time and you just kind of have to go with that.

      But think about this:

      Suppose governments become profoundly ineffective and dysfunctional. All politics is taken over by very superficial lifestyle/grievance/identity/values issues and no effective policy is actually made. Public officials can no longer maintain law and order because of shrunken budgets, public distrust, strong legal limits, and impossible goals. Basically, it’s a huge mess. Except contracts are still enforced and you can protect your own property.

      Into this situation step corporations which can provide security and comfort. Just sign the contract and you can live in corporate housing protected by corporate guards and do something productive at your corporate job. This puts you largely outside the chaos and idiocy of the public sphere, such as it is. And of course you get your information through the corporation and it’s a lot more important to you which executive heads your division and what your division’s balance sheet looks like then which party holds power in whatever country theoretically has sovereignty over your enclave.

      The corporations regulate conduct among themselves through contract. They may pay token taxes and obey a few laws, but they’ve managed to keep politicians and judges focused on other issues, leaving them a free hand.

      Basically, think of how business is done in, say, Nigeria by multinational companies. And then imagine that everywhere is Nigeria.

      To me, none of this is all that far-fetched.

  10. Here’s a question : There are scenarios where Trump wins – as in 2016. But the polling errors back then weren’t in the overall vote; the last projections were only slightly below Clinton’s final popular vote percentage.

    So if Trump wins it will probably be in conjunction with a Biden popular vote margin of +6-8 percent, along with better than 50% of the overall vote. Some pollsters think that combination is impossible (and we all hope that’s the case) but let’s say it is :

    Is there a serious effort to eliminate the Electoral College then, and how does a president govern if he lost the popular vote by 8 percent?

    1. I was pondering various outcomes. IMO, the absolute worst outcome, in all aspects, would be a landslide Biden victory in the popular vote (landslide being used loosely here, but in these partisan times, 8% would qualify) combined with some sort of disputed/EC Trump victory.

      That would be a disaster in so many ways, and I don’t think it would go well. If there was another 2-3%, or less, it would be rough, but that? Ugh. That would be the worst possible outcome in terms of unrest.

    2. An EC win for Trump with a 1-2% PV victory for Biden would just require that the pollsters’ turnout models were wrong: If Republicans turn out in unexpected numbers, that’s what you’d expect.

      An EC win for Trump with an 8% PV victory for Biden would require not just the polls being MASSIVELY wrong, but would also require the vote to be distributed in an extremely unlikely way: Republicans would have to turn out well over expectations in swing states, and in ‘red’ states just not bother voting beyond the minimum necessary for Trump to carry them. While Democrats would have to turn out massively in “blue” states, and just blow off the swing states. That’s not what the polls are projecting, and it’s not normal political behavior.

      But, to address the question: How does a President govern if he lost the PV by 8%? The same way he governs if he lost it by 2.1%. The popular vote is legally irrelevant.

      In a Biden landslide you’d expect that the Democrats would take the Senate. It’s hard to say off the top of my head what the really weird vote distribution necessary to produce a Trump EC victory with a Biden PV landslide would do to the Senate. But let’s say Democrats take the Senate.

      They won’t have the votes to remove Trump, and likely not to override vetoes on really consequential issues like admitting new states, or changing campaign laws. So he remains President unless they just up and assassinate him. (Which I wouldn’t discount!) The Court will remain 6-3 or 5-4 conservative, depending on what Roberts does.

      But no new nominations get confirmed, legislative gridlock, and they probably impeach him again a half dozen times just to be spiteful.

      1. I guess I should add that there would be a lot of rioting, maybe increased terror attacks against Republicans. But that’s in the cards in any Trump victory scenario, regardless of what the PV looks like.

      2. I agree with Brett that the scenario of a landslide popular vote victory by Biden combined with a electoral vote loss is extraordinarily unlikely, and honestly not worth worrying about.

        I do agree that this scenario would pose a lot of questions about the structure of our government, but given that Trump would be President and a set of states constituting the majority of the Electoral College supported that decision, there’s no mechanism to do much about it.

      3. The will have to be a Truman/Dewey or Reagan/Carter sized error for Trump to get within 2%-points in the popular vote.

        1. The entirety of the popular vote discrepancy (and then some) is made up of the massive blue/red gap in 1 extremely lopsided, populous state.

          Screw the wall on the southern border, we need a wall, a Great Wall even, on the eastern border of California (lol).

          1. That was true in 2016, but very unlikely to be true in 2020.

            Also, I’m not sure what the point of this observation is, other than to highlight how diluted Californian’s political influence is overall due to the structure of the Senate and the Electoral College.

      4. Brett : “An EC win for Trump with a 1-2% PV victory for Biden would just require that the pollsters’ turnout models were wrong..”

        Nope. That just mean a Republican won the electoral college, nothing more. In presidential elections the GOP has won the popular vote just once since 1988, and that was with a president enjoying support from the 911 attack and an fresh unblemished new war. They won’t win the popular vote this election nor the next, if running with a tired act like Tom Cotton. Maybe after forty years they can pull it off a second time, but I have my doubts. Today’s right-wing may not yet be a freakish fringe-cult minority, but it’s not for want of trying…..

        1. I think you misread me? EC win for Trump, 1-2% popular vote advantage for Biden. Same scale as 4 years ago. All that takes is a mistake in their turnout models, they don’t have to be wrong about the distribution of opinion, just who will show up to vote. If Republicans are better motivated to vote than Democrats this year, it would be feasible.

          Getting to an EC win for Trump with a 8% popular vote win for Biden requires the polls to be wildly wrong about public opinion AND its distribution.

          1. I indeed misunderstood your point. Still, the difference between the two examples you provide isn’t so stark. For Trump to win he needs Ohio and Texas, both of which he’ll probably get. Beyond that, he would need Florida, Iowa, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

            Biden is leading in those states, but with the exception of Pa, every lead is within a couple of points per 538. You’ll say it’s impossible Trump gets those two points without an overall popular vote shift and to an extent you’re right. But we’re looking at a broader range of possibilities than your two options allow.

            (Trust me on this. I somewhat of an expert on Trumpian paths to victory. They keep me awake at night seized with terror)

            1. Didn’t say it was “impossible”, I’m pretty stingy with that word. Unlikely.

              I live in a “red” state, South Carolina. I assure you Republicans are pretty motivated to vote. I really don’t see a plausible scenario where Republicans carry the swing states and have a poor turnout elsewhere.

    3. The possibility of getting the elimination of the Electoral College ratified is almost non-existent.

      I’m not even sure some reforms would be possible since the Constitution leaves the process in the hands of the states.

      1. I do not support elimination of the Electoral College.

        I support enlargement of the Electoral College, by 200 delegates or so, which not only would reflect the nation’s increased population but also diminish the undeserved amplification of backwater votes at the Electoral College.

        That would require a House majority, a Senate majority, and a presidential signature (or lack of veto). State governments would be irrelevant with respect to enlargement of the House of Representatives, as they should be.

        1. ‘Undeserved amplification of backwater votes at the Electoral College.’ Spoken like a true ochlocrat and glorifier of those who cannot sustain themselves, Kirkland.

        2. Oh yeah, that’s another Amendment I’d want to see passed.

          (A) an amendment that gives an additional senator to each state, such that each state has one senator up for election for each congressional election. The weirdness of a third of the states having no senators up for election a third of the time is ridiculous. Control of the senate should not ride on whether it’s a “good map for the Democrats this year”.
          (B) Lock in a target number for the representative to population ratio, such that the House regularly grows every ten years to match. I’d prefer the 1918 levels of representation, but something between 1918 levels and 2020 levels is acceptable.
          (C) This is probably a really hard swing, but we need a DC 2.0. Move congress (or at least the House of Representatives) out of DC, and to some other part of the country. Preferably also move the Senate and SCOTUS, so that the White house, Senate, House of Representatives, and SCOTUS are all in different parts of the country. Having all the government in one place made sense two hundred years ago, but with modern telecommunications there’s no reason to be restricted such now.

    4. “Is there a serious effort to eliminate the Electoral College then”

      How do you get 2/3 of each house and 3/4 of the states to change the Constitution even under that situation? GOP just going to roll over?

      “how does a president govern if he lost the popular vote by 8 percent?”

      Same way he did the last 4 years.

      1. Simple: You pack the Court, and then they find the EC as presently arranged to be ‘unconstitutional’. Sure, they couldn’t point to any actual text a reasonable person would read that way, but there are penumbras and emanations, and switches between levels of abstraction, and all sorts of other BS they could use to justify it, if they didn’t give a care if anybody believed the BS anyway.

    5. I think if Trump wins again, and again it’s while losing the electoral vote, then yeah, there’s going to be serious efforts to eliminate the Electoral College. It’ll take a while† (after all, Trump just won the presidency again), but it’ll just be a question of “when”, not “if.

      As far as “how does a president govern if he lost the popular vote by 8 percent”… I imagine we’ll have another four years of Trump claiming that it’s just all that fraud (that his own commissions can’t find), and that the absolutely bonkers lies from the administration are going to get ratcheted up to 11. I expect the administration to basically ignore the Hatch Act, gut civil service protections that are meant to ensure senior government employees are serving the country and not the president, and there to be a lot of unrest.

      If he loses the popular vote by a more reasonable amount (comparable to 2016) I expect it’ll be about the same, grumbling, but not unrest.

      _______
      †especially if a conservative SCOTUS rules that the Interstate Vote Compact is unconstitutional, in an unconstitutional infringement on state rights to apportion votes according to their legislatures)

      1. No, I think unrest is baked into any Trump victory, regardless of what the popular vote looks like. Not just because the plans are already in motion for rioting next week. Because the more radical faction of the left have been so activated over this summer that they’re in all out revolution mode.

        1. You’re bonkers.

          1. Right, and our cities weren’t burning this summer, too.

      2. I think there is a good argument the IVC is unconstitutional without congressional approval per Article I, Section 10, Clause 3.

        1. This would be the argument that ignores there is no actual compact that has multiple signatories binding the parties, but similar pieces of legislation being passed independently in independent states?

          Yeah, I can imagine certain SCOTUS justices agreeing to that. They’d be obviously letting their personal policy preferences bias their decisions to do so, but I’m assured that never happens.

          1. “This would be the argument that ignores there is no actual compact that has multiple signatories binding the parties, but similar pieces of legislation being passed independently in independent states?”

            That’s because believing this is even crazier than Trump on a bad day.

            1. *Ahem*

              That’s because believing this makes the “totally not a compact compact” actually not a compact is even crazier than Trump on a bad day.

            2. Right…

              If Republicans actually thought it was that crazy, they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to undermine it.

          2. The Congressional Research Service reasonably argues otherwise (start on page 20).

            1. Sure.

              It also reasonably argues that the states are right. Shocking, I know.

              Regardless, if it winds up in court, it’ll be because enough state legislatures wanted it. Most likely because of another upset where the popular vote is contrary to the electoral vote. And every time that happens, more folks are going to come around to the “banish the EC” side.

              1. It never gets in court because the last few states never ratify. They started out with the most lop-sided Democratic states, and worked their way down the color spectrum, but as they approach purple, the anger at Republicans winning the EC goes away, and concerns about ceasing to matter as swing states increase.

                The last state never signs on. Probably the last two or three don’t.

          3. “no actual compact that has multiple signatories binding the parties”

            Well, they call it a “compact” for one thing.

            Implied contacts exist at law based on the actions or conduct of independent parties. All the acts are triggered by a certain number of other states agreeing so its not to much of a stretch to find an implied contract. Compact is just another term for contract or agreement.

            Plenty of comments about the purpose of the legislation from supporters in the legislatures to support the argument.

    6. “…and how does a president govern if he lost the popular vote by 8 percent?”

      He governs like he won the election in one of the two way that a president can win an election. Win the electoral college, or win a majority of the states in the House.

      For an example of the alternative, governing by virtue of the popular vote, witness Hillary’s last 4 years.

  11. Interesting site on early election results in Florida.

    https://joeisdone.github.io/florida/

    R ahead in Miami-Dade? What year is this? Right. 2020.

    1. So, the gist of Florida is pretty simple.

      Biden is underperforming in Miami-Dade and South Florida (that is why, for example, Obama was sent there).

      Trump is underperforming with seniors.

      No one knows which factor matter more. But some recent polls have Florida narrowing and equal to Georgia (!!!!) with a slight Biden lead, although the best polls (Marist) continues to show a sizeable Biden lead.

      Source:
      https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/florida/

      1. Is Trump that bad that people actually will vote for a lunatic ticket like Biden/Harris? I refuse to believe it.

        1. The question is, is the coverage of Trump so bad that people will actually vote for a ticket that’s not being reported as lunatic. Remember, a lot of voters don’t live in the real world, they live in the fantasy world CNN reports on.

          1. Honestly, this is absurd. Trump is running around the country saying that we’re turning the corner on Covid despite the fact that we’re now at a new peak in terms of infections. The current argument against Biden is apparently that his son has bad judgment and/or that he tried to profit on business deals that seem to have never happened after he was out of office.

            It’s not CNN viewers that live in a fantasy world; anyone taking what Trump says seriously at this point is delusional.

            1. We are turning a corner with Covid. Just like many things, that corner means things will get bad before they get better. But, he is right, we are turning a corner. Don’t expect light to be right at that pivot point though.

              1. that corner means things will get bad before they get better.

                That makes no sense whatsoever. We’ll “turn a corner” when things start to get better, and continue doing so. Right they’re getting worse.

            2. “despite the fact that we’re now at a new peak in terms of infections.”

              We’re at a new peak in terms of positive tests. In as much as the rate of testing and the selection criteria for who gets tested has not been remotely constant, that’s not the same thing as a peak in infections. Let alone serious infections.

              I’ve looked at graphs of death numbers in every state. Only Louisiana is showing any significant second peak. You see somewhat of a dual peak thing going on for the country as a whole because when each state has peaked has been somewhat bimodal.

              My considered opinion is that there isn’t going to be any significant increase in deaths from this point out. It’s just going to peter out as each state achieves herd immunity the way the NE has.

              1. “My considered opinion is that there isn’t going to be any significant increase in deaths from this point out. It’s just going to peter out as each state achieves herd immunity the way the NE has.”

                Sorry, do you mean won’t see an increase in deaths per day or total deaths? Because lots of people are dying every day, so clearly we’re going to see more deaths.

                I think the rest of your points are actually fair if perhaps overly optimistic, although the trend in hospitalizations is clearly up at the moment and that’s likely to imply a trailing increase in deaths per day as well:

                https://covidtracking.com/data/charts/us-currently-hospitalized

                But even with your fairly generous reading, Trump’s statements on Covid do not match reality. You can forgive him for just spouting his usual bullshit, but it’s ridiculous to try to do so while implying that half the country is just being brainwashed.

                1. Well, duh, of course people who’ve already died aren’t going to rise from the dead, so why did you even ask that?

                  I mean that the rolling average of day to day deaths is not going to go up significantly anywhere, relative to the previous peak. You might have secondary diminished “peaks”, though, but the worst is over everywhere.

                  By the way, you do realize that you “turn the corner” at the point when things are worst?

                  1. “Well, duh, of course people who’ve already died aren’t going to rise from the dead, so why did you even ask that?”

                    That’s plainly not what I asked. I asked if you meant that literally no more people were going to die, not if people were going to be reincarnated.

                    “By the way, you do realize that you “turn the corner” at the point when things are worst?”

                    Sure. Do you really believe that things are now steadily going to get better starting from Tuesday?

                    1. No, I think they’ve unsteadily been getting better for a couple months now, and I expect that to accelerate.

                      I’ll grant that my grammar on that initial sentence could have been a little better. I meant I expected the death rate to keep declining, though not monotonically.

                    2. Of course deaths are going to continue to be reported.

                      The absolute floor for ongoing daily deaths is the number of tests per day multiplied by the false positive rate of the test as employed in the field.

                      In the real world, that number will never reach zero until you stop testing.

                    3. * number of tested people who die per day.

                    4. “In the real world, that number will never reach zero until you stop testing.”

                      Man, Trump has really melted Republicans’ brains on this testing thing. Zero people died of the black plague in the US this year. That’s not because no one ever gets tested (5 people tested positive!). It’s because we’ve made the disease very rare and can treat it. Same with measles, polio, smallpox, etc. Stopping testing doesn’t eliminate death from diseases any more than walking through traffic with your eyes closed prevents you from getting run over by a car.

                    5. “The absolute floor for ongoing daily deaths is the number of tests per day multiplied by the false positive rate of the test as employed in the field.”

                      Pretty much already there in NY, they’re down to single digit deaths per day.

                    6. Stopping testing doesn’t eliminate death from diseases any more than walking through traffic with your eyes closed prevents you from getting run over by a car.

                      You had to work really hard to distort what I said that badly. Congratulations.

                  2. Also when thing are best. That’s not a corner you want to turn, of course, but it is one we turned recently.

              2. The NE has not achieved herd immunity. New cases have risen sharply in MA, for example. During the summer the daily tab was in the low hundreds. Yesterday it was almost 1200.

                1. Again, “cases”, when I was talking about “deaths”.

                  Because they’re not doing random testing, or testing a large fraction of the population on a regular basis, positive test results are not a good proxy for how the pandemic is going.

                  “New cases have risen sharply in MA, for example.”

                  Where are you getting your numbers? As you can see, hospitalizations and deaths were enormously higher during the summer than now.

                  “Yesterday it was almost 1200.”

                  That number checks, but again, that’s “cases”, which includes everything from people on their death beds, to people who are asymptomatic. That’s why everybody reports cases, it makes things sound more dramatic.

                  Every meaningful measure of pandemic severity (Deaths and hospitalizations.) looks hugely better than the summer.

          2. Yeah, it’s pretty tough when one side controls not just legacy and social media, but the dictionaries as well.

          3. Brett Bellmore : “The question is, is the coverage of Trump so bad … (etc)”

            We’ll get a snowflake symphony of whining like this when Trump loses. Please remember : Just after swearing the oath of office, Trump was already lying about his inauguration crowd size. In his second week he explained he wouldn’t cut ties to his businesses because : “The president can’t have a conflict of interest”. By week three, he had moved on to lies about winning the popular vote and “millions of illegal voters.” A month into his presidency, Trump was asked why he had only attended 4 of 31 intelligence briefings: “I’m, like, a smart person”

            Barely a day has passed these last four years that Trump hasn’t wiped his fat ugly butt on the office of the presidency, showing contempt for the position and any chump who respects it.

            People like Brett have lost the ability to see that. They’re like parents who watch the brat-child screech & wail, all the time smiling indulgently and saying, “isn’t he so cute?” Meanwhile, everyone else is grinding their teeth.

            Just a few weeks ago Trump was peddling garbage that Obama had Seal Team Six murdered. Any other president acting so contemptibly would get a month of brutal press. Instead, it was all forgotten within the week. Coverage of Trump isn’t anywhere near as harsh as any normal person would face, if an actual human being acted the same.

            1. Didn’t you skip over Trump’s almost immediate claim that he in fact won the popular vote, but votes cast by illegal clients for Clinton distorted the reported tallies? And those people who managed to vote over and over by going through voter lines in one set of clothes, then leaving and coming back repeatedly in different clothes, that wasn’t true? Damned, sure fooled me.

              And do you include pre-2016 election prevarications, e.g., would release taxes as soon as audits finished?

              Maybe instead of speaking of the frequency with which the Dotard lies in terms of weekly, or even daily, maybe you should do it in terms of hourly, though he may do it at a greater rate when twitters in the early AM and circa MN. >20K significant lies, some very significant ones, though they are ever less surprising divided by 365 x 4 plus Leap Day 2020 and pre-election run-up = rate per day. Divide by 24 to convert to per hour average. Pretty simple arithmetic, though no longer so meaningful a number, the shock having passed years ago.

              Too bad we can’t bring Roy Cohn back for a day to get his prospective on his protege. I expect he would have been impressed by the improbable 2016 nomination and election, but less and less so up to the 11/3/20 trouncing. (Too horrible to entertain the notion of his re-election. H.L. Mencken notwithstanding, there must be some lower limit to the intelligence of the American people. And we don’t deserve so devastating a blow of “democracy.”)

              BTW, the guy I’m talking about is someone who evaded (not avoided) the draft, then dissed John McCain as not his idea of a war hero. I suppose that isn’t the worst of the bigoted, cheating, stealing, ignorant sociopath, but it’s beyond me too specify his worst attribute(s). I’ll just say every last one and leave it to someone else to come up with a positive attribute.

        2. Trump voters are basically deranged.

          Biden is a standard issue mainstream Democratic politician. He’s not Stalin reincarnated. You don’t like some of his polices? OK. Fight them. Argue. make your case. But don’t elect the absurd Donald (“We’re turning the corner”) Trump to another four years. He wrecks everything, and will wreck the country, and more, in a second term.

          How anyone can vote for as destructive, dishonest, ignorant, and incompetent as Donald Trump is amazing to me. He is one of the most contemptible human beings I’ve ever heard of.

          1. “He’s not Stalin reincarnated. ”

            No, he is President von Hindenburg, a decrepit figurehead manipulated by advisors.

            1. “a decrepit figurehead manipulated by advisors”? Yeah, the same could have been said on behalf of the greatest monsters of all times (you know the ones). There’s just no scaling Trump in historical terms. He doesn’t measure up as a GOAT, but his horribleness as a POTUS, in particular a self-styled “war president,” shouldn’t be understated either. (The Dotard, as the North Koreans so aptly labeled him, has compared himself to Lincoln. IIRC, though not certain, think he once mused about his likeness to Churchill too.)

          2. “Biden is a standard issue mainstream Democratic politician. He’s not Stalin reincarnated.”

            So he’s not a standard issue mainstream Democratic politician then.

      2. It really all comes down to whether the turnout models are accurate this year.

    2. This is only looking at in-person voting. Democrats are well ahead in mail-in voting and as a result slightly ahead overall in ballots cast/received:

      https://electproject.github.io/Early-Vote-2020G/FL.html

  12. In light of proliferating voting controversies, I offer a substitute for the voting rights act. Perhaps people more familiar with law than I am will critique it, or offer improvements:

    Sovereign Powers Act

    1. Voting by citizens is not a right, nor is it an enumerated power. Voting is a sovereign power which citizens in their joint sovereignty exercise at pleasure. Governments may not constrain exercise of sovereign power, but are instead required by the sovereign People to support their power, guard its exercise, and maximally facilitate its effect. No court in the United States, whether federal, state, or otherwise, shall decide any case on voting except in compliance with those goals.

    2. In every question put before the citizens to be decided by election, courts shall consider cases only to review qualifications of electors individually. Or otherwise, to bar actions by governments which burden voting on any basis except adjudicated personal qualifications of particular electors.

    3. Otherwise, citizens registered to vote, of sufficient age and established residence within the jurisdiction of the election, who present themselves at the polls, or who submit ballots by other approved and generally practiced means, will be permitted to vote without unreasonable impediments, and have their votes counted with all others.

    4. For votes verified as cast in a timely manner, on or before election day, no matter when those ballot arrive to be counted, there shall be no limitations on counting the ballots, whether time limits or otherwise, except for a reasonable interval to accommodate the final deadline for certifying election results. Election results shall not be announced in any voting jurisdiction until all qualified ballots have been counted.

    1. So I remember, back in the pre-Before Times (the Before Times are before Covid, and the pre-Before Times are Before Trump) I had a long conversation with another poster here about voting suppression, or as he would put it, voter fraud and vote dilution.

      And what I realized during the conversation is that there are two types of Republicans. The first is unreachable; they are the ones who genuinely don’t want other people to vote, who are in favor of pure “gamesmanship” against voters, or just think we should have property requirements and poll taxes to keep undesirables (poor people, people not like them) from voting.

      But the vast majority of them aren’t like that; despite the heated rhetoric, they support it for two reasons. The first is the obvious; indoctrination. They’ve been told, over and over again, by their echo chambers (just like we have our echo chambers) that people are stealing ballots, that they are voting illegally, and so on. And they have an earnest belief that there is fraud, which is constantly being stoked by the usual suspects.

      But the other reason they support these measures is more subtle. It’s an inability to understand that the situation that they have is not the same as it is for everyone. For someone who has a good job (or is retired) where you can easily take time off to vote, who can’t imagine life without a driver’s license, who lives in a suburban or rural community where there are no lines for voting … the idea that voting is either difficult or a hardship seems absurd! The inability to imagine the obstacles other people have to overcome is what stops the conversation.

      Anyway, once I realized it, the long conversation went well. I kept emphasizing that I wasn’t against “ballot security” (even though most of it is apocryphal in terms of individual voters). And he understood that the states shouldn’t be erecting barriers for people to vote- that if they are requiring ID (which can be reasonable), that the states should ensure that voters have the ability to get ID easily, or otherwise verify their identity. And so on.

      That’s really what it should come down to. Compromises. In the end, both parties should win not by trying to eke out narrow victories with electorate that is depressed (in all senses of the word), but by offering a compelling vision of the future that appeals to the most Americans; and if the other party loses, then they will have an incentive to compete, not to suppress.

      1. I like the idea of voter ID combined with an aggressive effort by the government to get people, especially those in poorer neighborhoods, their IDs and registered to vote.

        1. That has a lot of paternalism there. Poor people are capable of both getting an ID and registering to vote. Poor people are capable of most things any average American can do. It just gets lost of some people in the upper classes that poor people have different priorities (for better or worse.) They are not a class that requires pandering.

          1. When a class of people face additional barriers to activity X that other people don’t face, it’s not “paternalism” to try and find ways to ease those barriers so that class of people can still engage in X.

            This is like that old cartoon where you have an array of animals (cats, dogs, birds, snakes, fish, etc.) and someone with a clipboard saying “first one to climb the tree gets the job”.

            1. What additional barrier do poor people face? Maybe a fee waiver to get an ID would be all that they need, but not constant hand holding which is what was implied.

              Again, poor people are perfectly capable of almost anything that is required to live an adult life. They can file taxes, fill out forms (including navigating government benefits), get insurance, buy property, rent property, take employment, enter into contracts, sell/buy automobiles, etc.

              Poor people tend to be poor though not because they lack basic adult capabilities, but because of other life circumstances. Sometimes that includes having priorities other than voting or caring about politicians. I know that will “aghast” some who live their life to virtue signal the willingness to jump on to the next liberal cause, but it is in fact, how many choose to live their life.

              1. What additional barrier do poor people face?

                Time (which is money) and money, mostly.

                Let’s consider a simple task: go to the DMV to get a new ID.

                For me, this is an easy thing. I go to the DMV’s site, schedule an appointment in a few days, duck out of work for an hour to drive over and take care of it, and it’s done.

                Now consider if my local DMV office doesn’t have the option of making appointments. Even without other considerations, that might make it a multi-hour affair as you wait in lines.

                Throw in that while my nice white-collar job doesn’t care if I duck out for an hour to take care of an errand, many lower-class jobs do care, and are often deliberately difficult about time-off, and it can become a case of lost wages.

                Throw in that if a person doesn’t have a car, and have to either rely on someone else driving them, or using public transportation. That can turn a short drive (I’d guess it’s ten minutes from my office to the DMV) into a lengthy affair… you have to figure out the bus schedule, possibly make jumps from one bus line to another, wait around… and you have more time/money costs on it all.

                Two people trying to get an updated ID. For one person, it’s an hour affair with no real cost. For another, it’s a multi-hour affair with lost wages.

                And that’s just on the simple side of things.

                Many of the supposed “voter ID” laws explictly made it even easier for the “right people”, where IDs that conservatives were likely to have counted, while IDs that liberals (or rather, who they thought were more likely to be liberal) were likely to have didn’t count. Then there’s things like closing government offices in poorer neighborhoods while keeping plenty open in richer ones. That goes double for polling places: how many times do we hear stories out of Georgia and Florida where you go from 5+ hour waits to 1 hour waits based on which neighborhood you’re looking at?

                Pretending that time and money aren’t barriers to accessing services doesn’t make you “wise”, it makes you malicious.

                1. But lack of ID is such a problem in and of itself, that a program of subsidized ID would be widely beneficial even apart from election security. Voting rights activists should never have opposed voter ID, they should have simply demanded that obtaining it be subsidized.

                  But, realistically, “voting rights activists” are virtually all Democrats, they don’t permit Republicans to join the gang, so their activities tend to be warped a bit by the political interests of the Democratic party. And the Democratic party simply doesn’t want voter ID on any terms.

                  1. But lack of ID is such a problem in and of itself […]

                    Off the top of my head, the only time I’ve had to offer an ID in the last five years was when I bought alcohol and when I’ve been pulled over.

                    If you don’t drink, and don’t drive? Then no, you really don’t need IDs for much.

                    […] a program of subsidized ID would be widely beneficial even apart from election security.

                    Which is why, of course, Republicans take care of the problem of people not having IDs first.

                    Wait, no, they’ve never done that. For that matter, despite all this nonsense about “how do we know you’re *really* a citizen?!”, there has been no effort, at any level, to create an actually accurate registry or database that keeps track of who is and who isn’t a US Citizen. Instead, what we saw, over and over again, was Republicans insisting that it was perfectly fine to cancel voter registration months before an election (with no notice) based on a list that was known to have many false positives.

                    So yeah, any claim that Republicans have been acting in good faith is bullshit. They knew what they were doing.

                    1. You don’t drink, and you don’t drive, and you don’t work in the above ground economy, or have a SS account, or a bank account, or cash food stamps, apply for welfare, unemployment…

                      Yeah, you don’t need ID if you don’t participate in the (legal) economy.

                    2. You don’t need a photo ID to have a legal job, SS # or bank account. I wouldn’t know about welfare.

                      Seriously dude, I accidentally let my driver’s license expire for something like two years because I didn’t think to check when it expired (college, y’know?). My life was not impacted until I went to renew it, and because of the lapse I had to provide way more documentation then for a normal renewal.

                      We are not in a “papers please” state. You do not have an obligation to carry identification with you at all times, or even have it.

                    3. You don’t need a photo ID to have a legal job, SS # or bank account.

                      I must admit I’ve never refused to produce a photo ID when requested for jobs, bank accounts, utilities, mortgage applications, etc., so I can’t swear that they’re “needed.” But I’d love to hear about your experiences where you refused and how that went for you.

                    4. But I’d love to hear about your experiences where you refused and how that went for you.

                      Assumes claims not in evidence. It is possible to know about things you haven’t experienced, ya know.

                      That said… yeah, I got my first bank account when I was twelve I think. Years before I had a driver’s license (even a learner’s permit). There was no problem. School applications never required ’em, nor did student aid applications (I know, because I had friends in college who didn’t have a driver’s license).

                      Regarding the other stuff… last time I set-up a utility, I did it over the phone. They didn’t ask for my Driver’s License #. You don’t need a mortgage, and depending on who you’re renting with they might not care either.

                      And that’s ignoring that one of the groups hit by voter ID laws were old people that had stopped driving years prior (and thus had no reason to renew their driver’s licenses).

                      Y’all seem to think you need a photo ID to survive, and anyone that doesn’t have one must be a criminal. It’s weird.

                    5. “I got my first bank account when I was twelve I think. ”

                      The 21st century happened since then.

                      Banks have a responsibility to “know their customer” under federal law {USA Patriot Act] by verifying identity.

                      I just had to establish an escrow account yesterday for a customer. Since my company is the signer, I had to provide a government issued photo id. Choices were driver license, state id card [non-drivers in Ohio] passport “Green Card” or Visa. One form for citizens, two for non citizens.

                    6. “If you don’t drink, and don’t drive? Then no, you really don’t need IDs for much.”

                      …or open a bank account, or visit a bank to make a deposit or withdrawal, or see (many) health care providers, or get on an airplane, or get a job, interact with any government services from welfare to social security, test drive a car, buy a gun (or ammo in some states), get into an R rated movie, rent an apartment, pawn anything, pick up your held mail, or … I’m probably forgetting a few.

                    7. “You don’t need a photo ID to have a legal job,…”

                      ?????
                      So, in 2010 or so, I had been employed at the same university for a couple of decades. And then they said they had to verify citizenship for all employees. Your choices were a passport or a drivers license+original birth certificate. Some people squawked. They were told they only had to provide the specified ID if they wanted to stay employed. So, I guess it is optional.

                      If they refused, does the unemployment benefits office ask for ID? If they don’t, how do they avoid being scammed?

                2. You make up a lot of “facts” to make it sound like the plight of poor people requires your paternalism.

                  It is actually pretty simple to go to the DMV and get a license. It is even easier if you are a shift worker and can do it during normal working hours. I can inflate anything to make it seem like an arduous task, but sometimes a simple task is a simple task.

                  Now if I would rather sit on my coach instead of get an ID, then the problem isn’t that I need to make an appointment or get on a bus to do it. The problem is my lazy ass wants to sit on the coach and I use the logistics as an excuse. There is a big difference between “can’t” and “won’t” which get lost on many people.

                  1. You know, you could have just said “I’m not here in good faith”. Saved us both a bunch of trouble.

                    1. what is not in “good faith” or accurate about what I said?

          2. Some years ago Georgia proposed a voter ID Bill. In the debate the usually suspects yelled ‘voter suppression” and rolled out a serious of objections. The drafters of the bill proposed to send state employees to peoples residences to provide the IDs and that wasn’t good enough.

          3. Jimmy, let’s not pretend we don’t know what’s going on. It isn’t the inconvenience, significant as that is. It’s about what the right wing robo-calls are trying to take advantage of, when they dial addresses in black neighborhoods, and tell folks that if they vote by mail, their names and addresses will go into a database to be used to collect unpaid parking tickets, bad debts, and serve outstanding warrants. Two Republican operatives just got charged with felonies for doing that.

            Republicans understand that people who live chaotic lives commit more than their share of petty infractions, and that the last thing someone like that is likely to do is show up somewhere with the police in attendance, and announce their name and address to get an ID.

            It’s vote suppression and intimidation. It’s illegal. And anyone in favor of it ought to be ashamed.

        2. I think you’d find little objection to such proposed ideas, provided you could convince people that the second part was going to be carried out in good faith.

          But as we repeatedly see, when voter ID is a partisan issue, it’s because there will not be a good faith attempt to make sure eligible voters are properly registered and ID’ed.

          And as we saw in 2012, a lot of red-state legislatures pushed these changes the year of the election, to be implemented immediately. They purged voter rolls, using known-faulty lists, with no notification to voters that were purged, within months of elections. They took no effort to make sure that people weren’t unintentionally disenfranchised, and in some cases openly gloated that their partisan election changes were going to win them seats.

          It wasn’t subtle.

          1. Somewhat like there wasn’t a good faith effort to purge voter rolls after Motor Voter was enacted? Even though that was as much a part of the bill as registration in DMVs?

          2. If one is able to (re)register to vote or confirm past registration, one has not been disenfranchised. It’s dishonest rhetoric such as this, surrounding the issue, that doesn’t help.

            1. If one is able to (re)register to vote or confirm past registration, one has not been disenfranchised.

              Then do the purges in December after the vote, and send notices to everyone.

              Doing them in August and not notifying anyone? Yeah, that’s disenfranchisement.

          3. The simple fact is that Republicans are, pretty much everywhere, trying to stop people from voting. What was that business in TX and OH about one dropbox/county if not outright suppression? And some guy in AL says “No curbside voting,” and SCOTUS says.”Hey. If he says so.”

            And the pretense? Fraud. Despite the fact that numerous investigations, some by Republicans, including Kobach who is building his career around bullshit claims, don’t find evidence to support the claim.

            Why would they? How many individual voters are going to risk jail, or even just a fine, to cast an extra vote which in all likelihood isn’t going to change anything? How can you organize a conspiracy to conduct any sort of large-scale fraud without it leaking out?

            Read some of the scenarios people posited here on the subject. Platoons of vote fraudsters fanning out at 11PM on election night to wake voters up and have them fill out fraudulent ballots, which the fraudsters then rush to submit. It’s fucking ridiculous.

            Nobody believes it.

            1. And the fact is that Democrats, pretty much everywhere, are trying to disable every security feature of voting.

              And the pretense? That secure elections are vote suppression.

        3. Josh R…I do too.

    2. Parents to cast votes for infant citizens of course.

  13. This summer, the CDC stated that, based on serology surveys, there may be as many as 10x’s as many Covid infections as those known through testing. In other words, 90% are asymptomatic or mild enough that people don’t get tested. But nobody knows because the prevalence was still low and antibody tests had many false positives.

    We’re not at the point where infections are so bad in some communities that we can test this out. According to the CDC tracker, some counties have >15,000 infections per 100,000. Unless those were found through community-wide testing, we know that the 10x figure isn’t correct. It has to be something under 6x (since at ~70% infection, you’d see herd immunity kick in).

    As we see continued growth, we are going to see naturally what the ratio of detected/overall cases is. We also may well see areas of the Dakotas and other Great Plains states hit herd immunity.

    1. The antibody tests also have false negatives: If you get a mild case, and your body stomps it fast enough via T cell mediated immunity, you never develop antibodies at detectable levels.

      But T cell mediated immunity is still real immunity, and may even be the primary form of immunity for viruses like Covid 19.

    2. Except that we have a growing body of evidence† that “immunity” doesn’t last: you can get Covid-19 multiple times.

      Lacking anything to counter that evidence, it really looks like “herd immunity” –absent a vaccine‡– is impossible.
      ______
      †That started in Q1 of the year.
      ‡Most likely with regular booster shots.

      1. We have nothing remotely like evidence that any significant number of people can contract it multiple times. I’ve seen one case where somebody had the confirmed bad luck of catching two strains, but the second infection was much less serious. “Multiple” times, where the number is greater than 2? I’ve heard of no reports of that.

      2. Yes, but we know that immunity lasts at least several months. In the communities I cited, they’ve ramped up to those numbers over the course of a couple weeks. So they would have herd immunity now, but that would wear off as everyone’s natural immunity fell away.

        So we should still see a leveling of the numbers on those rural communities soon. Either that or the CDC’s estimates are way off.

  14. Gah — we’re now at the point where we will naturally see what the ratio is. I trust everyone gets it in context.

  15. Why did Kavanaugh vote to stop Pennsylvania, but not North Carolina, from counting ballots that arrived after election day?

    1. In Pennsylvania, the state supreme court just up and ordered the state election laws violated. In NC, the legislature had arguably delegated this sort of discretion to the state board of elections. It’s not clear cut that they did, but arguable.

      1. The distinction makes sense in general, but harder to explain for Kavanaugh given his statement on the Pennsylvania case, where he seems to be saying that the legislature can’t delegate.

        This whole area of election law feels like a mess at the moment. It would be nice if there was an expedited way to have real cases with proper precedential decisions rather than everyone squinting at results from the shadow docket and trying to figure out the pattern.

        1. It was the Wisconsin case, where Kavanaugh joined an opinion written by Gorsuch:

          The Constitution provides
          that state legislatures—not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials—bear primary
          responsibility for setting election rules.

          1. Oops, good clarification on both points.

          2. Yes, but that’s not a question of delegation, particularly in Presidential elections, where the legislature is free to chose any approach to picking electors they want, including throwing darts at a list. Just holding elections instead of picking them themselves is a delegation itself.

            If the legislature wrote a law saying that the elections board can extend the counting period in emergencies, then it’s not a constitutional violation for them to extend the counting period.

            1. Unless, of course, those state legislatures decide to appoint electors to whoever wins the national popular vote, right?

              Or at least, that’s what y’all are arguing upstream.

              1. They can certainly, independently, decide to do that. It only becomes constitutionally dicey if they call it a compact, and make it contingent on other states doing the same.

          3. Which argument is not entirely persuasive. Does the Constitution really give state legislatures the power to violate state constitutions? It is certainly possible to read “the Legislature” as “the state government, through its normal law-making procedures.”

            Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution empowers Congress specifically to do certain things.

            The Congress shall have Power To ….

            Does that mean the President can’t veto these things, the courts can’t find them unconstitutional?

            1. No, because the Constitution then goes on to specify that the President can veto things, and that laws have to be pursuant to the Constitution.

              Yes, the federal Constitution really can give state legislatures the power to violate state constitutions, because of this little thing called “the supremacy clause”.

        2. jb, perhaps I can suggest where to look for the needed pattern.

          Kavanaugh and Gorsuch ought to try to remember who they work for. Their boss is the sovereign People of the United States, not some state government. To whatever extent the Constitution—the People’s decree—empowered state governments to manage elections, we can be sure the People’s delegation of empowerment never went so far as to authorize states to thwart the People themselves in the exercise of their sovereign power.

  16. They’re making me do actual work at work today; peer review discussion will be next Thursday!

    Hopefully an oasis from electionchat. Which will be a vice I am steeling myself not to participate in for a week or so.

  17. What do people think the looney left wing media will do if Trump isn’t in office?

    1. Continue to cover the assassination attempts from the looney right wing?

      1. And what fantasy attempts are those?

    2. Go full state media, and spend there time targeting random citizen unfortunate enough to catch the attention of the beast?

      We’re a population of 300 millions, its easy to only select news items that match your political view point.

      1. It wouldn’t surprise me that they go full on “cancel culture” becoming the politically correctness enforcement secret police of the Left.

        1. It’s a role many of them have been auditioning for, and realistically with the technological barriers that allowed them to gatekeep information gone, it’s just about the only way to maintain their elevated role in society.

          1. A.K.A. evolution does make creatures better. Its the death of any that fail to survive, and the same is true for businesses and ideas.

            1. does not make creatures better…freaking need an edit button

          2. Also an easy one for lazy journalists. Wake up in the morning, Go on social media. Find someone who posted something controversial. Inflate and conflate what they said. Call up their employer and ask for a comment. Fire up the daily outrage machine for the day. The job could practically be automated at this point using AI it is so easy and predictable.

    3. I think that anyone asking such a question won’t entertain realistic responses.

  18. Should Cash have removed Blake Snell or not?

    I’m about 51-49 “No,” but could be convinced.

  19. So do people think more folks are going to vote in the election this Tuesday than in 2016 or less?

    1. Fewer will vote on Tuesday than in 2016, but more people will vote overall.

  20. (As usual, please avoid personal insults of each other, vulgarities aimed at each other or at third parties, or other things that are likely to poison the discussion.

    You say this every time. It’s pretty comparable to saying “okay guys, play nice now!” before a match in a dog-fighting ring.

    1. This thread tends to be less attack-filled than many others.

      1. AK must be taking a nap in his cave.

        1. He is busy setting up an Amazon Gift-Card money-laundering scheme (Joking!).

  21. Assuming the polls are right and the Democrats sweep Congress, the White House, and make a lot of in-roads into States, what do you think will be their national agenda? And do you think they will get over-eager like they did in 2008 which will cost them Congress in the mid-terms?

    1. Consolidating power so that they can’t suffer losses in the midterm? The part of the Dem base the that’s gaining power at the moment is all in on victory at any costs, and the elected Dems aren’t exactly the sort to turn down eternal power based on principle. If they think they can get it, they’ll go for it. Having Dem media willing to run cover for anything you do, makes that possible.

    2. I doubt Dems are going to sweep enough state legislatures, but I think it’d be a good time for some new Constitutional Amendments.

      Of course, any new Constitutional Amendments, in order to get 33 states to sign on, will have to actually be fair to both sides, even if it’s changing the status quo.

      1. I think you mean 38 states.

        1. Yup. I was thinking the 2/3rds rule which a lot of stuff has, but even that would have been 34.

    3. I expect diminution of the undeserved magnification of yahoo votes and voices in our system (Senate, House, Electoral College, filibuster) to be an early, important objective if Democrats control the federal government.

      At a practical level, this would involve admission of states, enlargement of the House (with it, the Electoral College), and elimination of the filibuster (or use of the threat of elimination to curb Republican obstruction).

      Arranging a Senate, House, and Electoral College (and Supreme Court) that better reflect the preferences of Americans would be a worthy achievement.

      1. I recommended against ending the filibuster in the future, last week, four years ago, and earlier still. Nobody listens and keep suffering punches in the nose by the other side.

        Sooner or later the shoe is always on the other foot.

        1. I am in your boat. I personally think we need to restore the filibuster to what is was before Harry Reid screwed around with it.

        2. I advocated for abolishing the filibuster in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019.

          Coalitions are elected to govern, and to take responsibility for governance while they are in power. The filibuster frustrates both purposes. It must go.

  22. A picture of a naked Hunter Biden and with his underage niece laying on the bed behind him was released the other day. Supporting evidence includes text messages where Hunter states he’s not allowed to be alone with certain family members due to sexual impropriety and that “pop” was in on this restriction.

    How is Hunter not a national security risk to a President Biden?

    1. So we’re still going with the theory that Rudi Giuliani has been possessing and distributing child porn for months, huh?

          1. How else would you describe photographs and text messages?

            1. Well, with no indication that they’re real and the general theory that they’re part of a trove of stuff that includes child porn but nonetheless has been handed around for months, I’d go with “nonsense”. But maybe we can generously call them “props” which is probably a good general purpose description of something used for visual effect, but without any requirement that they be real.

              1. But there’s tons of support that they are real.

                I mean, the picture really is Hunter Biden and Natalie Biden. Many emails have been verified by the recipients. There is at least one very credible business partner verifying some of the text message content.

                There’s no evidence that they are fake. Yet here you are genuinely believing they are fake.

                1. The fact that some other e-mails are real has no bearing on whether or not any of this particular material is real. Is anyone involved in any of these messages or pictures agreeing that they’re real?

                  Also, the Gateway Pundit story is pretty careful not to name anyone or include any identifiable elements in the picture of “the minor”, so I’m struggling to understand how you think it’s verifiably Natalie Biden.

                  1. So the pictures of him naked with his niece are real.

                    The verified emails and text messages of influence peddling are real.

                    But the text messages of them trying to protect an underage family member from Hunter are Russian disinformation.

                    I bet you still believe the Steele Dossier is real.

                  2. Natalie was identified by analysis of the blurring, and context provided by journalists who have seen the material as well as context provided by the text messages.

              2. Uh…they’re real, jb. That is pretty clear. The silence and lack of denial from either Hunter or Quid Pro Joe are damning.

                1. Right, if they were fake, they’d be denying it. It has been obvious from the beginning that the laptop was the real deal, because they didn’t deny it.

                  1. “Do you deny it?”

                    “I’m not going to dignify that with a response.”

                    “Do you deny it?”

                    (Someone from offscreen) “Of course he denies it!”

                    “Do you deny it?”

                    “Look at the provenance of that laptop.”

                    “Do you deny it?”

                    “Come on, man.”

                    It’s sketchy as hell to be sure, but and could have been assembled from various hacks. But the constant non-denials are also sketchy as hell.

                    1. What is exponentially more fishy is the refusal of most of the media to look into the allegations.

                      Forget the kink, what about the influence-peddling business with, among others, the Chi-coms?

                      What about Tony Bobulinski?

                      A decent journalist would probe and not accept lame responses like, “Russian disinformation.”

                    2. People from the media have looked into the “evidence” and found it lacking (“corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden”):

                      https://www.wsj.com/articles/hunter-bidens-ex-business-partner-alleges-father-knew-about-venture-11603421247

                      It’s hard for anyone to actually respond to the “story” because the allegations change basically every day. Is it corruption? Is it Hunter’s drug habit? Child porn? Incest? If you want people to take the influence-peddling angle seriously, the rest of it just makes the whole thing look like a circus.

                    3. I mean, I wouldn’t normally go so far as to say that Fox News doesn’t have a single “decent journalist”, but I respect your gumption here.

                    4. You think Biden is going to have official records of his corruption?

                      C’mon man.

                  2. Right, if they were fake, they’d be denying it. It has been obvious from the beginning that the laptop was the real deal, because they didn’t deny it.

                    Oh bullshit. Giuliani and the RW noise machine can gin up all sorts of crap. If Biden went around denying it all it would use up all his time, and give unjustified life to the story.

                    That’s exactly what the NY Post and Giuliani and the Russians want. Fuck them.

                    1. Glenn Greenwald’s take on that:

                      “Why is the failure of the Bidens to claim that these emails are forged so significant? Because when journalists report on a massive archive, they know that the most important event in the reporting’s authentication process comes when the subjects of the reporting have an opportunity to deny that the materials are genuine. Of course that is what someone would do if major media outlets were preparing to publish, or in fact were publishing, fabricated or forged materials in their names; they would say so in order to sow doubt about the materials if not kill the credibility of the reporting.

                      The silence of the Bidens may not be dispositive on the question of the material’s authenticity, but when added to the mountain of other authentication evidence, it is quite convincing: at least equal to the authentication evidence in other reporting on similarly large archives.”

                      I haven’t been putting too much credence into laptop-gate, but Greenwald is neither a lightweight or a right winger.

                    2. (I’ve tried to post a link to Greenwald’s article a bunch of times, and they don’t post …trying a google link )

                    3. So . . . Birthers Ep. II — Only This Time It’s Legit.

                      This time, we’ve gone directly to the ‘Obama’s failure to deny as we wish proves he’s a Kenyan’ phase.

                      Republicans, conservatives, bigots, and clingers deserve everything that is coming to them.

                    4. “Birthers Ep. II”

                      Well, I was today days old when I learned Greenwald was a birther.

        1. Do you want to refute the evidence presented here?

          As a country we decided that “grab them by the pussy” wasn’t that serious, so it’s kind of weird to act like sexual impropriety, even if it actually happened, is such a big deal now.

          Throw in that everything about this laptop story stinks to high heaven (neither the FBI nor Fox News wanted the story)…

          And, well, I voted weeks ago.

          So nah, not gonna bother. If it’s real, that’ll be born out with more time. But given how Guilliani is acting, that’s probably not going to happen. Face it, even if everything Guilliani is claiming is true, he’s presenting it in a way to maximize doubt and suspicion. So since the person most invested in this being treated seriously isn’t… why should I bother? Especially since, as I already said, I’ve already voted, the story sounds super fishy, and the country has already made it clear that we don’t care about sexual impropriety.

          Or does that last one only count if you’re a Republican?

          1. I perswouldn’t diminish underage incest by describing it as “sexual impropriety”, but hey that’s just me.

            ¯\\_ (ツ)_/¯

            1. personally wouldn’t*

            2. “Sexual impropriety” is literally how you characterized it, so yeah, you literally did.

              Supporting evidence includes text messages where Hunter states he’s not allowed to be alone with certain family members due to sexual impropriety

              1. Haha, this is like when Sam accused me of being dishonest for copy and pasting the entire text of a Tweet he linked to.

              2. Thats how Hunter himself describes it in his text messages.

                I should’ve put it in quotes since that was my intent.

                I don’t consider underage incest as mere impropriety.

              3. So to be clear…

                You took a jab at me for saying “sexual impropriety” even though that’s all you called it, because you feel I should have used my latent telepathic abilities to read your mind and know what you actually mean (but didn’t actually type)?

                That’s where we’re at? You trying to insult me for not being a mind-reader?

                1. To be clearer, when I made that comment I had an incorrect conversational context which should’ve been clear to you from my clarification.

                  But instead you seem to want to try and spike some ball because you finally scored some point or something.

                  Its like that Georgia vs Cumberland where I’m up 222 to 0 and you finally kick a field goal and your whole team and fantasy rushes the field and tears down the goalposts.

                  1. But instead […]

                    Instead of what? You tried to insult me because you apparently had the “incorrect conversational context” of what you wrote. I’m pretty sure “flabbergasted” is an appropriate response to this thread.

                    I mean, it’s not like there’s any sort of actual conversation going on here. You’re just trying to insult me for reading what you wrote (rather then what you thought you wrote).

                    1. Jesus dude. Get over yourself. I made a mistake and stated so now three times.

                      What a baby.

                    2. I made a mistake and stated so now three times.

                      Far more then that, actually, seeing as you’re still doubling-down on the random insults.

                      And since you seem to have missed it, there’s nothing for me to “get over”. I am not hurt. I am laughing at your repeated attempts to insult.

                    3. But I told you what need to get over. Yourself.

                      Pay attention dude.

                    4. C’mon dude, how much you betting.

                    5. What is this, the 8th grade?

            3. Gateway pundit is not above lying.

              1. …or, more generously, is just really credulous and willing to publish stuff that turns out to be completely wrong:

                https://www.mediamatters.org/gateway-pundit/20-plus-times-jim-hoft-and-gateway-pundit-were-absurdly-wrong

                1. Hey remember when NYT published that anonymous op-ed from that “senior administration official” and it turned out to be some low level fraud?

                  1. That would be a reason to disbelieve the NYTimes, not to believe the Gateway Pundit.

                    1. Do you disqualify everything from NYT like you do gatewaypundit?

                  2. LOL if you think chief of staff to the head of DHS is low-level.

                    1. If we were talking about chief of staff to the head of DHS during Obama administration, he would have been identified as someone very high up in a key national security agency. But Miles Taylor served in that position in the Trump administration, so his revelations become those of an inconsequential “deep state” person according to the Fox crowd. (Since a “political” appointee, can’t really be a “deep state” person, can he?)

                      Didn’t a former Marine 4-star serve as DHS head, then a Trump’s request mover over to be chief of staff at WH, before finally throwing in the towel and letting it be known that Trump was impossible to serve under because he was a “child”? Gee, I guess he knew little about what leadership required. And there was a 4-star Marine, the one Trump liked to call “Mad Dog,” who quit on Trump as Sec DoD before reluctantly bailing too. 4-star Army guy serving as head Joint Chiefs, hasn’t he cast shade on the C-i-C too? And the 3-star Army guy who was NSA before Bolton (no not the 3-star traitor who Obama fired from DIA) who quit before Bolton quit. Adm. McRaven, top of Spec Ops, he doesn’t think well of Trump either, does he? What is it with all these hard-core military types who don’t seem to appreciate what a great C-i-C Trump has proved and how much he loves the troops?

              2. You think the naked pictures of him with his niece are lies?

                1. I think if there was actually a picture of a naked Biden, the link you provided wouldn’t have said “half naked”.

                  Even your source, which is a notoriously unreliable peddler of conspiracy theories and hoaxes, doesn’t go as far as you are here.

                  1. His robe is wide open. You can see for yourself.

                    My article clearly implicates Hunter and an underage family member.

                    1. I could… but to quote myself:

                      nah, not gonna bother. If it’s real, that’ll be born out with more time. But given how Guilliani is acting, that’s probably not going to happen. Face it, even if everything Guilliani is claiming is true, he’s presenting it in a way to maximize doubt and suspicion. So since the person most invested in this being treated seriously isn’t… why should I bother? Especially since, as I already said, I’ve already voted, the story sounds super fishy, and the country has already made it clear that we don’t care about sexual impropriety.

                      Or does that last one only count if you’re a Republican?

                      So yeah, if you want me to care, you have to try harder.

                    2. How much of the Steele Dossier you still think is true? I have no f’n idea, but I’d wager most of it.

                    3. No, how much are you wagering.

                      I want to know how much bank I can make off your partisanship.

                  2. Meanwhile, I bet you still believe the Steele Dossier is true.

                    If you can’t be assed to look at my evidence, I can’t be assed to read your comment

                    1. Meanwhile, I bet you still believe the Steele Dossier is true.

                      How much.

        2. I don’t click on Gateway Pundit, or other gutter RW sites.

  23. A local university is threatening to fire (even tenured) faculty who miss a small number of symptom attestations (3-5), which are required daily. Any thoughts on the legal principles invovled?

    1. Probably OK as long as it is a bona fide health and safety requirement. Tenure or employment contract workers might need to prove “cause” but generally ignoring or flaunting compliance with health and safety requirements (after sufficient notice, due process, and perhaps progressive discipline) is “cause” in most jurisdictions.

  24. “No, I think they’ve unsteadily been getting better for a couple months now, and I expect that to accelerate.”

    So you’re hoping that the increase in hospitalizations doesn’t turn into an increase in death rates? That seems …optimistic.

    I guess we’ll see soon. If deaths follow hospitalizations by about four weeks, we’d expect to see the deaths tick up again early next month.

    1. Sigh. Not sure how that got detached by the comment thread above.

      1. The site’s been acting all buggered up. Happened to me too.

        1. You mentioned Guiliani. Is he the guy who looked forward to plunking Borat’s purportedly 15-year-old daughter? (Oh, he laid back on the bed to tuck his shirt into his pants.)

  25. Many states have allowed early voting of some kind, by mail or in person or both. My state, NJ, sent out mail-in ballots to everyone. Our town then set up a drop-box for them at City Hall, to make sure they are not lost in the mail.

    In any event, there is one problem with early voting. What if the voter changes his or her mind? If you are allowed to vote, say, two weeks early, then in that two weeks a lot can happen. It can be revealed that one candidate is a crook or did some other terrible deed. Or one candidate can die, leaving his or her VP insteaad.

    Should early voters be allowed to change their vote? Do the logistics allow this (I can imagine the logistics would be a nightmare, given that the vote is supposed to be secret.)?

    Discuss.

    1. I have learned much of my state’s system since deciding that being an election judge might be an interesting way to spend a day (and letting my university pay my salary just the same as if I was a reservist on duty)
      In Missouri, there is a distinction between early voting and absentee voting, early voting having been a new creation.
      The early voter is screwed if they want a do-over.
      The absentee voter has the option of showing up at the poll next Tuesday, where it will show that they have requested/received an absentee ballot. They will be permitted to cast a provisional ballot, which is not fed into the ballot counting machine (lacks a critical barcode for the machine to read it), and goes into a separate container. Once back at county headquarters, their provisional ballot will be held until it is confirmed that their absentee ballot has not yet gone through a counting machine. The absentee ballot gets tossed, and their provisional ballot gets counted.
      Shit load of work for folks downtown having this hybrid system.

    2. Same problem with voting on election day. What happens if a week later something happens to change your mind?

      I mean, the day is arbitrary. The moment you vote you surrender the chance to change your mind. This is no different than voting at 8AM on election day. No matter what you hear on the news at noon, you’re done.

      1. That’s certainly an approach. “Speak now and forever hold your peace.”
        But I don’t agree that it is “no different” than voting at 8 am on Election Day. The chance of anything significant being revealed in one day (acutally about 12 to 14 hours) is minimal. Especially Election Day, where the news tends to be, “look, each candidate voted.”
        In two to three weeks there is a much greater chance of something significant happening that would change some people’s mind. Especially in a close election.

  26. 4chan found Hunter’s pornhub account where he uploaded some of his videos that we’ve been seeing from his laptop.

    The dates on the uploads predate any laptop drop off. (2018ish).

    This is incredible. He must’ve thought he was invincible.

    1. Wait, so is pornhub hosting child porn now too?

      1. Well, if Rudy Guiliani is putting his own credibility on the line, it must all be credible, right?

      2. These are with a family member, an appropriate aged one this time.

        Fortunately.

      3. I’d assume only until somebody points it out. It’s not like they’re under any legal obligation to look at everything anybody uploads. Just to remove it if it comes to their attention.

    2. It is indeed incredible. Unbelievable even.

    3. 4chan is where QAnon started out and white supremacists abound? (I really don’t know, so fell free to enlighten me if you can about this part of the netherworld.) Got a link for us to see?

      I lost faith in light of the Comet Pizza story. Not unimaginable that HRC was involved in a satanic child pedophile ring, but I lived in Chevy Chase (MD) a few miles up CT Avenue at the time and knew there were no dungeon cells for children there (no our southern border holding pens) because no basement there! How sad that simpleton from NC had to go to prison because he believed he had to save the non-existent children. I guess the HRC claim gave the story a lot of credibility, indeed enough to fake out our former DNA chief and his dim-witted son.

      Anyway, back to those pictures. Rudy is personally vouching for them?

      1. >4chan is where QAnon started out and white supremacists abound?
        Yes.
        >Got a link for us to see?
        Sure? I’ll link it in a subcomment if it isn’t flagged.

  27. Jill Biden did an interview. She says that her son did nothing wrong because he’s her son and she knows him and knows he wouldn’t do anything wrong. “And that’s the bottom line.” All she had to say. Not particularly compelling but that’s okay.

    She also said that “You can never say anything against someone’s child. That’s just wrong. You know that’s bullying.” She then compared criticism of her son Hunter with attacks on “that 16 year old girl, Greta.” Hunter is 50 year old attorney and graduate of Yale Law School who has multi-million dollar business dealings in Ukraine, Russia, China, and I have no idea where else. Jill concluded, “You can’t attack children. And that’s the bottom line.”

    But the biggest thing she said that stuck out to me was before that, when the interviewer was asking how it must be so tough on them to have their family drawn into politics. She said, “When Joe and I decided to run for President . . we knew it was going to be tough. . But we never could have imagined that it would turn into — that Donald Trump would be asking a foreign government to get involved in our elections.”

    What I want to ask is, remember when sixteen foreign governments and spy agencies were deeply involved in the origin of, cooperating with and providing information in the investigation of Trump Russia collusion that the media blared about nonstop for years? What about that? Or is that different? I want to hear how it’s different.

    1. “her son did nothing wrong because he’s her son”

      Not her son, the dead first wife was his mom.

      1. Ah. Well, perhaps that makes what she said even a smidge less compelling.

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