Saturday, January 29, 2022

New Attempt to Delegitimize Wisconsin Election Results Comes Up Short

William Doyle, an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Dallas, has penned an article Friday in The Federalist titled "Why the Wall Street Journal Is Wrong About The 2020 Election."   The WSJ had published an editorial on Tuesday, saying that while some election rules were bent, there was no massive voter fraud that cost Trump the election.  He lost it because GOP voters defected on his race.  Doyle apparently concurs on the lack of fraud, but demurs on the WSJ's conclusion, instead pointing to a new boogeyman to disbelieve Wisconsin's 2020 election results - the involvement in the election by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his evil non-profit, the Center for Technology and Civil Life (CTCL).

As an aside, I get a chuckle every time Trump and his allies attack Mark Zuckerberg and former FBI Director James Comey.  They are the two people most responsible for electing Donald Trump in 2016.  MAGA world ought to be building statues to honor Zuckerberg and Comey.

At the bottom of the Federalist article, Dr. Doyle is billed as the "principal researcher" at the "Caesar Rodney Election Research Institute," which says it is located in Irving, Texas.  I've never heard of the organization, so I began clicking through the Institute's website.  The Institute's "Our Work" seems to involve nothing more than attacking Zuckerberg and the CTCL on such Trump-friendly media outlets such as the NY Post, The Federalist, Red State, American Thinker, and, unbelievably, RT, a TV network run by the Russian government.  

Another of the Institute's pages is beyond creepy - it lists, with photos and contact information - the people who work at CTCL.  Publication of this information seems little more than an attempt at harassing and intimidating those folks.  Undoubtedly, many people who learn of the Institute's attacks on the CTCL will seek out the Institute's website. Some, finding the CTCL staff information, may target those people for harassment.

Doyle's rebuttal to the WSJ article is actually a follow-up to a longer piece he wrote titled "The Wisconsin Purchase" which appeared in The American Conservative on December 24, 2021. 

Instead of going down the fraud rabbit hole, Doyle launches a new argument to undermine the validity of the Wisconsin 2020 presidential election results - that there was a sinister "shadow campaign" run by CTCL, and funded by Zuckerberg, that pushed Biden over the top in Wisconsin.

Here is a portion of Doyle's pitch:

What happened in 2020 involved a highly coordinated and privately funded “shadow campaign” for Joe Biden that took place within the formal structure of the election system itself. Through the injection of over $419 million of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s money, laundered through the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), the professional left presided over a targeted, historically unprecedented takeover of government election offices by nominally nonpartisan, but demonstrably ideological, nonprofit organizations and activists in key areas of swing states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Our research shows that CTCL spending in Wisconsin generated enough votes for Joe Biden to secure him an Electoral College win there in 2020. We estimate that CTCL spending in Wisconsin purchased Joe Biden an additional 65,222 votes, without which Donald Trump would have won the state by 44,540 votes.

Although CTCL and CEIR are chartered as non-partisan 501(c)(3) corporations, our research shows that the $419.5 million of CTCL and CEIR spending that took place in 2020 was highly partisan in its distribution, and highly partisan in its effects. Targeted CTCL and CEIR spending played a decisive role in building a “shadow” election system with a built-in structural bias that systematically favored Democratic votes over Republican votes.

Big CTCL and CEIR money had nothing to do with traditional campaign finance, media buys, lobbying, or other costs that are related to increasingly expensive modern elections. Rather, it had to do with financing the infiltration of election offices at the city and county level by Democrat activists and using those offices as a platform to implement preferred administrative practices, voting methods, ballot harvesting efforts, and data sharing agreements, as well as to launch intensive multi-media outreach campaigns and surgically targeted, concierge-level get-out-the-vote efforts in areas heavy with Democratic voters.

Yeah, that is called democracy. Next, Dr. Doyle moves on to outline CTCL's four major (and sinister) "strategic objectives."

The Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan lists CTCL’s four major strategic objectives.

  • First, to “encourage and increase Absentee Voting (By Mail and Early, In-Person),” mainly through providing “assistance” in absentee ballot completion and submission, and the installation of ballot drop boxes.
  • Second, to “dramatically expand strategic voter education & outreach efforts, particularly to historically disenfranchised residents.”
  • Third, to recruit new election workers, mainly from among paid young activists who would replace the usual, older election day volunteers.
  • A distant fourth, both in emphasis and level of funding, was the funding of Covid-19 related safety measures.

Again, that's called democracy.

According to Doyle, the CTCL funded election offices in Wisconsin aimed at courting a coalition of "people of color, single women, young people and...members of the LGBTQ community" to "replace white working class voters who have abandoned the Democratic party." Doyle goes on to talk about the CTCL's "Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan" which was aimed at encouraging low propensity voters to cast ballots.  He highlights the "extravagant wish list of far-left Democratic election concerns and priorities" the plan would address.

  • Concern was expressed about “voters who, understandably, were completely confused about the timeline and rules for voting in the midst of a pandemic and required considerable public outreach and individual hand-holding to ensure their right to vote.”
  • Concerns were also expressed that many targeted Democratic voters would have no idea how to cast absentee ballots. WSVP participants lamented the fact that “countless voters” in their municipalities attempted to submit cell phone “selfies” as valid photo ID. Explaining to them that this was not a valid form of photo ID and instructing them on how to properly submit valid ID “took considerable staff time and resources.”
  • Green Bay planned to spend $45,000 to employ bilingual “Voter Navigators” to help residents properly upload valid photo ID, complete their ballots, comply with certification requirements, and offer witness signatures.
  • Racine wished to create a small corps of “Voter Ambassadors.” Racine officials said they would use their grants to recruit, train and employ paid Voter Ambassadors who would set up at the City’s community centers to assist voters with all aspects of absentee ballot requests, including photo ID compliance.
...
  • Madison officials sought $160,000 to provide 18 in-person absentee voting locations for the four weeks leading up to the November election. Madison officials also proposed the use of carts for their ExpressVote ballot marking devices for curbside voting so that the use of ExpressVote could be “normalized” to help voters with disabilities feel “less segregated” during the voting process.
  • Green Bay sought to motivate potential voters through a CTCL-funded multi-prong strategy utilizing “every door direct mail,” targeted mail, geo-fencing, billboards, radio, television, and streaming-service PSAs, digital advertising, and automated calls and texts. The City guaranteed that these efforts would be undertaken in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. Additional grant funds to fund voter outreach from within Green Bay’s election office would be “distributed in partnership with key community organizations including churches, educational institutions, and organizations serving African immigrants, LatinX residents, and African Americans.” The total amount that Green Bay sought for this initiative alone was $215,000, or about 64 percent of their entire pre-CTCL election budget.
  • Milwaukee wanted to develop a broad-based voter outreach strategy that would appeal “to a variety of communities within Milwaukee, including historically underrepresented communities such as LatinX and African Americans, and would include a specific focus on the re-enfranchisement of voters who are no longer on probation or parole for a felony. Additionally, this campaign would include an edgy but nonpartisan and tasteful communications campaign to harness the current [Black Lives Matter] protests’ emphasis on inequity and ties that message to voting.”
  • Madison planned to launch “a robust and strategic poll worker recruitment effort, focusing on people of color, high school students, and college students” to replace older, experienced poll workers.
  • Milwaukee promoted a similar plan to increase staffing by launching a recruitment campaign aimed at “a new generation of election workers to sign up and be involved in their democracy.”

Indeed, it is not unusual in the slightest for 501(c)(3) organizations such as CTCL to engage in voter registration and voter engagement activities.  That such efforts may accrue to the benefit of one party over another doesn't make that work illegal or a violation of the organization's tax status. Conservative and liberal leaning nonprofit organizations have done such work for decades.

At one point, Doyle complains about a clawback provision CTCL includes with its grants which says the recipient must the money for voter engagement type efforts or refund the money to CTCL.   Again, cue sinister music.  But wait...that's an IRS requirement.  If CTCL is handing out grants and the money is used for such non-allowable purposes such as promoting particular candidates or partisan political activities, that could cause CTCL to lose its charitable status as a 501(c)(3) organization.

While Doyle is suggesting wrongdoing by CTCL, it is actually Doyle's Caesar Rodney Election Research Institute which might be running afoul of the law.  Although it bills itself as a 501(c)(3) organization, it seems its only mission is political campaign activity, i.e. attacks on Zuckerberg and the CTCL.  That might violate IRS rules and make contributions to the organizations non-deductible.

If the accusations against CTCL weren't laughable enough, Doyle's analysis becomes even more of a joke when he tries to quantify the effect CTCL's work had on the outcome in Wisconsin.  His chief complaint is the mail-in ballots (he uses the term mail-in ballots and absentee ballots interchangeably) that were cast heavily for Biden.  He notes CTCL money going to five large Wisconsin cities and says that those cities had more a much higher mail-in vote rate than the rest of the state in 2020.  In particular, he cites the 59.8% statewide mail-in rate and that Dane County (Madison) was at 74.4% and Milwaukee County checked in at 70.6%.  Cue sinister music.

But wait.  If Democrats are more inclined to use mail-in votes than Republicans, doesn't it stand to reason that the Democratic areas like Madison and Milwaukee would have a much higher mail-in vote rate?  Indeed, I'm surprised that there isn't more of a disparity between the heavily Democratic cities of Madison and Milwaukee and the statewide mail-in rate.

Doyle estimates that CTCL's investment in seven Wisconsin counties resulted in an additional 65,222 votes for Biden, enough to more that make up the 20,800 vote deficit that cost Trump the state in 2020.  In reaching this conclusion, Doyle puts together a table in which he lists the 2020 vote results for certain counties, the number of absentee votes and then seeks to quantify the "excess" Biden votes received doing a comparison to the 2016 election featuring Trump and Hillary Clinton.  


In his response to the WSJ editorial, Doyle singles out Dane (Madison) and Milwaukee counties, recipients of CTCL money as being the chief culprits in the swing of Wisconsin from red in 2016 to blue in 2020.  Doyle notes that Biden ran 364,372 votes ahead in the two counties in a state in which he won by less than 21,000 votes.  How can this be?  Cue sinister music.

A quick review of the two counties do not show anything unusual going on.  In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 75.4% of the vote in Dane County.  In 2020, Biden received 76.8%.  That's a rather small increase and not at all surprising.  Dane County, home to the University of Wisconsin, is dominated by upper middle class suburban whites, a demographic that is increasingly moving to the Democratic column.  

As far as Milwaukee County, in 2016 Hillary Clinton received 69.6% of the vote.  In 2020, Biden won 70.2% of the vote, a miniscule increase in an urban county that also is not surprising.  In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by 22,746 votes.  In 2020, Trump lost Wisconsin by 20,682 votes.  Contrary to Doyle's assertions, the results in Wisconsin were not in the slightest bit suspect.  If anything, the numbers suggest CTCL's expenditures and work didn't make a huge difference.  (Note, to make things simpler, the percentages cited in this analysis do not include thee third party vote for President in 2016 and 2020 which was miniscule.)

I would mention too that Doyle does not even attempt to assert that CTCL did something illegal in its work in Wisconsin?  The fact is, with the claim of voter fraud falling, Doyle is seeking to find another way to de-legitimize the 2020 Wisconsin election results.  He's hoping that the Trump rubes will buy the snake oil he is selling.  And they probably will. 

Here is the real reason why Trump lost Wisconsin.  According to exit polls, 4% of Wisconsin Democrats voted for Trump, while 7% of Badger State Republicans crossed over to vote for Biden.  If Republican Wisconsin voters had simply matched the Democrats 4% crossover rate, Trump would have received 36,401 more votes and won the state.

Trump didn't lose Wisconsin because of Mark Zuckerberg or CTCL.  Trump lost Wisconsin because a sizable percentage of Republicans did not like Trump and wanted him gone.  I am proudly one of those people.

FOLLOWUP:  To be clear, I don't support private money going to government entities to fund operations.   Years ago, we had a state official in Indiana whose salary was paid for by the private sector.  I thought then, and still think today, such a practice is a terrible idea.  While CTCL is certainly free to engage in voter engagement activities, the organization should be doing so on their own or through other private entities, not through the government.  But to be clear, CTCL played by the rules that existed at the time and did absolutely nothing illegal.  What is more, from the election results it doesn't appear the organization's efforts made much of a difference at all in the outcome.  Trump lost Wisconsin because a significant percentage of Republicans crossed over to vote for Biden before voting for GOP candidates down ballot.  

Monday, January 24, 2022

Two Years Into the Worst Pandemic in Over 100 Years, Why Haven't We Figured Out Testing Yet?

On Sunday, I went to visit my 90-year-old mother at her retirement community.  When I arrived, I found her on the couch coughing.  I decided to go out and look for a rapid Covid-19 test and was pleased to find my local Walgreens had several tests in stock.  I obtained one (which actually had two tests inside) and went back to test her.

She tested positive.  I reported the result to my family.  Then a friend suggested I use the second one to test myself.  I had not planned on doing that since I didn't have any symptoms, but I figured why not?  I was surprised when I also tested positive.

Surely that wasn't right, so I returned to Walgreens and obtained another Covid-19 rapid test, this time a different brand.  But once again my mother and I tested positive.

My mother's only symptom then and now is the cough, which by now has decreased.  My only symptom is a very slight nasal congestion and an occasional cough which I believed, and still believe, is the result of an environmental allergy I always get this time of year.  Other than that, my mother and I feel perfectly fine.  I should mention we are both vaccinated and have been boosted.

I have a mistrust for the home rapid (antigen) tests.  They have a high error rate, although the most common error is false negatives, not false positives.  So, I called my doctor to schedule a more accurate PCR test.  I drove out to the clinic and was tested.  After the nurse took my sample, she told me it would take four days to get the result.  Apparently, some chemical used to conduct the PCR test is in short supply. 

Four days?  Are you kidding me?  Covid-19 might well run its course in five days. The test result will be so dated by then, it will be worthless.

So, we are two years into the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu and we still haven't figured out testing?  First, President Trump doesn't want to test because doing so will inflate the case numbers.  Then President Biden bets everything on vaccinations while ignoring testing.  Only lately has Biden switched gears, a necessary move because so many people have refused to get vaccinated, many of whom choose to believe ridiculous conspiracy theories over science.

Probably the Covid-19 pandemic will end this year.  When it does, we need some serious reflection on how our government leaders dropped the ball in protecting Americans and how we can make sure it never happens again.

Indiana House Republicans Support Quack Covid Medicine, Oppose Free Markets

An Indiana legislator has proposed a bill to make Ivermectin, a drug often used to deworm horses, more readily available to Hoosiers who want to prevent or treat Covid.  Rep. Curt Nisley (R-Goshen), the author of the bill, cited Wisconsin physician Pierre Kory, who has claimed that use of Ivermectin could reduce COVID-19 deaths by about 75%.  That Dr. Kory himself contracted Covid-19 despite his use of Ivermectin apparently was not a red flag to Rep. Nisley.

Indy Politics reports that "House Bill 1109, if implemented, would prevent distributors of packaged nonalcoholic beverages with a weight volume of 8 ounces or more from offering differing sales prices to retailers, seasonal promotions and other discounts to Indiana retailers unless they are extended to every store in the state."  It would apparently be the first price control on nonalcoholic beverages in the country.  A Republican authored the bill which passed a GOP-controlled House committee on an 8-4 vote.   

Then you have House Bill 1001, also pushed by Indiana Republicans, which tells private businesses they can't mandate Covid vaccines for their employees, despite the threat those unvaccinated workers pose to other workers and customers.  Add to that the fact that unvaccinated workers who end up being hospitalized for their political stance ends up causing group insurance premiums to rise for employers and employees.  The bill passed the House 58-35 and is on the way to the Senate.

I guess Indiana Republicans don't believe in the free market anymore.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Unvaccinated Rising Star in California Republican Party Succumbs to Covid

USA Today reports:

Kelly Ernby, a deputy district attorney in Orange County, California, and vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, died at the age of 46. Her death comes a week after telling friends she was sick with COVID-19.

Ernby spent the past 10 years in her role with the county, specializing in environmental and consumer law, according to District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

...

In 2020, the Huntington Beach resident ran for the California State Assembly and vowed to "bring back conservative values in California." After she lost the primary race, she became active in local GOP politics, eventually being elected as a central committee member for the Orange County GOP. She was expected to once again run for the Assembly this year.

Kelly Ernby

...

In the past year, Ernby had become a vocal critic of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the Associated Press reported.

In December, the Daily Titan reported Ernby was a speaker at an anti-vaccine mandate rally put on by Cal State Fullerton and the University of Californina, Irvine chapters of Turning Point USA. At the rally, Ernby compared the vaccine issue to the 1960s when "people faced losing freedoms to socialist ideas."

"There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,” she said at the time. 

Her husband, Axel Mattias Ernby, dismissed a claim by a Facebook user she died because of blood clots she got from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, according to SF Gate.

"She was NOT vaccinated," her husband wrote. "That was the problem."

...

Indeed.  

In 1980, I was drawn to the conservative movement because of its high ideals and well-developed principles.  I find it appalling that the movement has regressed to the point that people think being a conservative in 2021 means opposing vaccines that will help end a pandemic that has claimed over 800,000 American lives.  That is not what conservativism means.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Indianapolis' Outdated Approach to Mass Transit is Doomed to Failure

A few years ago, Indianapolis began an expansion of its lightly used bus system by adopting rapid transit routes throughout the city.  The idea was to take away traffic lanes to create bus only lanes, which would speed up trips and thus encourage more people to take the bus.  The first rapid bus lane installed was the Red Line, a route that leads from downtown to the northside.

Even advocates of the rapid transit routes admit that the Red Line has been a bust.  Even when the bus trips were free during the pandemic, few riders were taking the Red Line. The loss of two travel lanes, primarily along narrow College Avenue, has caused more traffic congestion and hurt businesses.  Drivers trying to navigate the downtown streets find extraordinarily confusing signage and traffic signals.  And it's not just because of the bus system.  We also have dedicated bike lanes that also has signage and signals.

Because the Red Line has been such a failure, two State Senators, Jack Sandlin and Mike Young, introduced a bill which would effectively stop the next stage of the expansion of Indy's bus system, the Blue Line.

The idea for the Blue Line makes the Red Line look like a stroke of genius.  The Blue Line would run from downtown along Washington Street to the airport.  It will remove two traffic lanes, turning Washington Street, one of the major thoroughfares in Indianapolis, into a two lane road.  It will devastate businesses in the area, cause considerable traffic congestion, and increased pollution from idling cars.  

Even though Star columnist James Briggs sees the Red Line as a failure, he is offended by the Sandlin/Young bill which will, in his mind, halt progress.  Briggs has never seen an Indianapolis corporate welfare scheme that he wouldn't support.  In that regard, he is exactly like his predecessor, the late Matt Tully.  What Briggs does not seem to get is that the rapid bus expansion was never about serving the needs of Indianapolis residents.  It was always about Indy taxpayers funding economic opportunities for the well-connected developers and contractors who have for decades dominated Indianapolis politics, regardless of which party runs things.

When engaging in city planning, Indianapolis' leaders always assume the future will look like the past.  The overhaul of the city's bus system still utilizes large buses to transport people using a spoke-and-hub system, a design straight out of the 1970s.  As is typical of Indianapolis, the sole nod to the future is to use (overpriced) electric buses to service those new rapid routes.

Mass transit does extremely well in cities that have highly dense populations, cities like Chicago and New York City. Indianapolis though has the second least dense population of any large city in the country (Jacksonville, Florida is #1).  Yet, Indianapolis city leaders insist on using an approach to mass transit that requires a high degree of population density to succeed.

In addition to the lack of density, Indianapolis' transportation needs are quickly evolving.  Indianapolis' current bus system is geared toward hauling white collar workers from the outer reaches of Marion County to their downtown jobs.  With telecommuting many of those workers no longer need to regularly travel downtown to work in a cubicle located in some high-rise building. They can work from home.

The workers who need mass transit in Indianapolis are blue collar workers.  For example, you have a worker who lives in a Castleton apartment but works at the Amazon facility on the west side of Indianapolis.  That person is not going to ride on a bus downtown and transfer to another bus to ride to the westside.  Even if those buses are "rapid," the trip is going to be lengthy.

Instead of large, heavy buses, Indianapolis needs a mass transit system that utilizes smaller vehicles that transport people from point to point.  Take people from where they live to the employers where they work.  Right now, Indianapolis is using a "Build It And They Will Come" approach to mass transit that has failed everywhere it's been tried.   You build mass transit systems to respond to a demand for mass transit.  You don't build mass transit to create that demand.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Democratic Analyst Explains Why President Biden is Pursuing Wrong Strategy on Voting Rights

Ruy Teixeira is an American political scientist and commentator who has written several books on political strategy.  Teixeira, a longtime Democratic activist, runs a blog called The Liberal Patriot.  In response to President Joe Biden's floundering on voting rights, Teixeira, a longtime Democratic activist, offers some wise observations on his blog, The Liberal Patriot:

The Democratic focus in the new year has been on trying to pass some version of voting rights reform. President Biden went down to Georgia and put the effort in stark terms: “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?

Aside from the unhinged level of hyperbole here, is this choice of focus wise? Democrats seem to believe both that this focus will produce big electoral dividends and, more grandiosely, that it is the key to saving democracy in the United States.

Wrong. Oh so very wrong. Here are five reasons why.

1. As a practical matter, it will fail. The Democrats will not succeed in breaking the filibuster to pass either the For the People Act or the somewhat more modest Freedom to Vote Act. There are no indications that Manchin and Sinema will relent on this, not to mention the various moderate Senators hiding behind them....

2. The second thing wrong with the current focus is it’s not what the people want. In truth, it’s passing strange that Democrats would choose to elevate this issue at a moment when their political fortunes have declined drasticallyeconomic pessimism is rampant, inflation has been spiking and we are in the midst of another covid wave. What voters desperately want is a return to normality and, therefore, an administration that is focused laser-like on making that happen. A quixotic crusade for voting rights bills that will not pass does not exactly send that message. As Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report points out:

The fact of the matter is that voting rights barely register as a public concern. In a recent AP-NORC poll, respondents could mention up to five problems for the government to work on in the coming year; just 6 percent of the public placed voting rights anywhere in their top five. This issue may be a top priority for the progressive wing of the Democratic party but it’s just not for ordinary voters.

Even among the black population, a Morning Consult poll found that only 41 percent think the bigger problem with American democracy is that it’s too hard to vote, rather than voting regulations are not strict enough (among Hispanics the analogous figure was even lower at 34 percent). In a Monmouth poll, 84 percent of nonwhites said they supported requiring a photo ID for voting....

3. The third problem is that, even if one of these bills managed to pass, Democrats would be unlikely to reap significant electoral benefits. The assumption Democrats make is that, since Republican attempts to change voting procedures appear to be motivated by a desire to reduce Democratic leaning turnout, voting rights reform would buoy Democratic fortunes by preventing such attempts.

This logic is highly questionable. The key source of confusion here is the failure to distinguish between intent and impact. It is a reasonable contention that Republican intentions are not benign. They would like to depress the turnout of Democratic-leaning constituencies. That is the intent, but what is the impact likely to be?

Here we have data, especially on voter ID laws. The story, as told by relevant research, rather than the wishes of Republican operatives or the fears of Democratic activists, is simple: these laws just don't have much effect. They don't deter voter fraud, a minuscule problem to begin with, but they also don't depress turnout, including among nonwhite voters....

4. A fourth, and highly significant, problem is that if that the intent is to “save democracy” the voting rights bills under consideration do not take aim at the main problem: election subversion. That is, the real threat is not how easy or hard it is to vote but rather in certifying the results of the voting process. This is what Donald Trump was attempting to interfere with and what the January 6th riot at the Capitol was all about.

The voting rights reform bills under consideration would not solve this problem. And of course they won’t pass. A far more promising approach is reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to seal off a number of channels for election subversion. This approach has some bipartisan support and therefore some chance of actually happening. Sure, it’s not all that Democrats want but if their goal is truly to safeguard democracy this compromise is worth making....

5. Finally, the idea that voting rights reform is some sort of get out of jail free card for the Democrats as they roll into 2022 and 2024 is ridiculous. Their problems cannot be solved by even big changes to voting procedures. Their brand is in tatters, they are associated with a variety of unpopular causes and, as noted above, they seem neither focused on, nor effective in, addressing the most pressing concerns of voters. Their problem is less getting people out to vote than in getting people to vote for them.

Teixeira is five for five on his observations.  As I've written before, Democrats are obsessed about election changes made by Republican state legislatures that in reality won't make much difference at all.  Given what we're finding out about the attempted theft of the 2020 election, Democrats should instead be worried about election subversion.  Republicans are changing the rules on how votes get counted and certified and replacing those honest Republicans who, in 2020, refused to cheat to help Donald Trump get re-elected.  There may well be bipartisan support for changing the Electoral Count Act, which is an essential step to ensuring the results of the 2024 presidential election are not overturned by Congress.

OOP's short takes:

  • The Australia immigration minister canceled tennis player Novak Djokovic's visa.  Great news. Not only did that fool not get vaccinated, he also knowingly exposed others to the virus after he knew he tested positive for Covid-19.  
  • Good to see eleven Oath Keepers get indicted for seditious conspiracy for their role in planning and coordinating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th.  Hopefully, the Justice Department won't hesitate in going after the politicians who were involved.  I don't have a lot of faith in Attorney General Merrick Garland though.
  • South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds statement that they couldn't find any widespread election fraud and that Trump simply lost the 2020 election has gotten a lot of coverage and earned the Republican legislator criticism from the MAGA world.   But I was more interested in another comment from Rounds...
  • Senator Rounds said that if Putin invades Ukraine, Republicans in Congress will back up President Biden in taking action against Putin.  Wanna bet?  The minute Biden takes action against Putin, he will be criticized by the Orange God King and former President residing in Florida.  The MAGA world will fall in line and come out against Biden and in support of Putin.  Rounds may be unaware that murderous dictator Vladimar Putin is a lot more popular among Trumpers than President Biden.   There will be a significant number of Republicans in Congress who will oppose Biden in any confrontation with Putin.  They are afraid of their voters and won't want to cross them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Learn a Lesson from Larry - Get Vaccinated for Covid

Although Covid has killed over 800,000 Americans in nearly two years, I personally do not know of anyone who has died from the virus.  That all changed a few days ago when I was helping my elderly mother with her computer and ran across an email saying that "Larry" had died.

Larry was not a family member or a friend.   He was an acquaintance, a professional who over the last several years had been helping my mother out with some of her personal matters.  (Trying not to be specific, or use his real name, in order to protect the privacy of Larry's family.)  

My elderly mother, who is now 90, and I are no fans of Donald Trump.  However, I picked up signals early on from our meetings with Larry that he was a big supporter of the now ex-President.  Apart from his comments, Larry's education and church activities indicated to me that Larry was likely a died-in-the-wool moral conservative, the type of voter who, for reasons I do not understand, is enamored with the most immoral man to ever occupy the White House.  Larry though, being the consummate professional, would always temper his comments to us when it came to politics.  

During one of our last meetings, held via Skype, we got on the topic of the precautions Larry and his office were taking to avoid the spread of Covid.  Larry said that the only step they had taken was to make the client meetings remote.  Otherwise, Larry's office operated the same way as it did before Covid.  The employees came to the office and interacted without masks.  

Larry explained his philosophy about Covid was that it was dangerous to someone like my Mom's age (late 80s), and she should be vaccinated and take precautions. But to younger people, getting Covid was no worse than getting a bad cold or the flu.   He said the concern about Covid was blown way out of proportion.

A month ago, I called Larry's office and learned he had Covid.  I found out from the subsequent email that Larry had, in fact, gone into the hospital in early December and passed away on Christmas.  

Sadly, Larry, who was 49, left behind a wife and two young children.

Don't take chances. Get vaccinated.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Democrats Poised to Blow Political Opportunity on Insurrection Anniversary

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the violent assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters, a last ditch effort to stop Congress from counting the electoral votes.  More than 140 police officers were injured during that clash.  Several deaths, directly and indirectly, are tied to the events that day. 

In the immediate aftermath of that insurrection, Republican members of Congress took strong stands condemning what happened that day.  Shortly afterwards, they began the process of backing away, with some elected Republicans even some going so far as to now praise the action of the Trump supporters in storming the Capitol. 

Republicans are boxed into a political corner because of January 6th.  While many in the GOP base celebrate the violent assault as a patriotic act, the general public finds the violence, and Republicans' support of it, appalling.  

Tomorrow, the airwaves will be filled with video footage reminding people of the violent, and thankfully unsuccessful, insurrection that took place last January.  The video montage will be interspersed with live action from the floor of the United States House and Senate as members of Congress debate several resolutions honoring the Capitol police officers who risked their lives that day, condemning the violence and condemning the attempt to stop the counting of electoral votes.  

Kidding. Congress won't be in session!  

Democrats could use the one-year anniversary to force Republicans into defending the extreme positions of their most fervent and lunatic supporters or taking the heat by voting against those positions.  Instead, Democratic congressional leaders have decided to give Republicans a pass.

That is called political malpractice.

When I brought up the Democrats' failure to take advantage of the one-year anniversary in a newsletter forum, I received a response that my proposed resolutions wouldn't change anything, people will believe what they want to believe.

Indeed, those resolutions, by themselves, won't change hearts and minds.  But those resolutions should be part of the Democrats' messaging on the issue.

Democrats simply do not understand messaging.  They believe if their message doesn't get through the first time or two, it is hopeless and they walk away.  GOP strategists understand that for a message to be believed, it has to be repeated over and over and over again.   Most Republicans didn't wake up on November 4th thinking the Democrats stole the election from Trump.  They came to that conclusion after being repeatedly told that by Trump and the right wing media.  

The fact that survival of American democracy may well depend on the political competency of Democrats is truly frightening.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Some Good News About 2021

I wrote many of these comments on another blog.  I thought they'd make a good separate post.  

  • The Vaccinations:  We could very easily be facing a pandemic with no vaccine. But thanks to American medical ingenuity, we have multiple vaccines that can prevent the worst effects of Covid-19.  That's kind of a big deal.  Now if we can just stop people from being stupid about taking the vaccine."

  • Medical Advancements: 2021 witnessed scientists getting closer and closer to curing neurological and other diseases. CRISPR, if you haven’t read about it, is truly fascinating. Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, etc. may be cured within 10 years or less.

  • The Rise of Telecommuting: Fewer cars on the road, less commuting time, less pollution, more time at home. Of course, this trend will likely reshape cities dramatically (many will choose not to  live in the city if they don't have to) as well as decrease the need for public transportation.

  • Rising Wages: If you are new to employment, unskilled or moderately skilled, your employment opportunities have soared this past year or so. Employers have substantially increased pay and are offering bonuses for new workers. They are also offering benefits. I’ve never seen a job market where employees, instead of their corporate bosses, are the ones with all the power. The increasing pay has obliterated the notion that we need an artificial floor (i.e. minimum wage) on what people are paid by their employers. A reporter went out to find people who are working for $7.25 an hour (the federal minimum) and couldn’t find anyone working for that wage. The reporter had to settle for a few people she found working at $9 or $10 an hour.

  • Rethinking Life/Work Balance: Closely related to rising wages is another trend.  Employees are rethinking work/life balance and demanding that employers give them more freedom, more flexibility, and more time off. The days when people worked 40 hour jobs for nearly 50 years, hoping to have a few years left at the end of their lives (when they may not be healthy) to do what they want to do, may be coming to an end. I have to hand it to millennials and Gen Zers in the workforce who have led this movement. We Baby Boomers missed the boat on this one.

  • The January 6th Select Committee:  Most commentators thought the Committee would have little success in uncovering details behind the January 6th insurrection.  Despite desperate attempts by Trump and his allies to derail the Committee's efforts, the truth appears to be coming out anyway.  

Sunday, January 2, 2022

OOPs 2022 Political Predictions

OOP's predictions for 2022.  Bet the farm.
  • Political Violence:  Expect 2022 to be the worst year of political violence ever.  Several politicians will be targeted by terrorists as well as members of the media.  Some will be killed.  While most of the violence will be by right wing extremists, look for left wing violence to increase.

  • Republicans Take Control of the U.S. House:  No brainer that House Republicans regain a majority in 2022. The issue is how much the gain will be.  I say 15-20 seats.  On Election Day, the projections will be as many as 30 but the Republicans will miss that mark but still comfortably win enough seats to take control.

  • Democrats Win Outright Majority in the U.S. Senate:  The seats that are up favor the Democrats.  But that should be more than offset by what is likely to be a good Republican year. The trouble for the GOP is candidate recruitment.   I think, by going full MAGA to win primaries, Republican lose in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, giving the Democrats a very narrow margin in the Senate.

  • Both Biden and Trump will be hospitalized for rather serious procedures during 2022, raising doubts about whether they will be candidates in 2024.  Of course, the Trump camp will try to keep his medical procedure a secret, but word will leak out.

  • The January 6th Select Committee will issue a report detailing the efforts of several Republican members of Congress and President Trump to overturn the 2020 election.  

  • In light of its findings, the January 6th Select Committee will make a criminal referral of Donald Trump and several members of Congress.  

  • Attorney General Merrick Garland though will decline to prosecute Trump or any members of Congress: Thanks in part to the decision not to prosecute, Merrick Garland will become the most unpopular member of the Biden cabinet by years end up and may end up resigning before 2023.

  • Covid-19 will finally flame out during the Summer of 2022.

  • Roe v. Wade will be overturned...kind of:   Expect the Court in the Dobbs case to modify Roe to allow states to regulate and even ban abortions during the second trimester but prohibit states from banning first trimester abortions.  Four justices will write a concurring opinion wishing to go further and turn the issue completely over to states.

  • Texas abortion law will be held unconstitutional:  At the same time the Court hands down Dobbs, it will hand down another decision finding the Texas abortion law to be unconstitutional.  The vote will be at least 7-2, though some of the conservative justices will focus on the vigilante provision of the law.  

  • Abortion will not prove to be a factor in midterms:  Although Democrats will try to capitalize on the abortion issue, the Court's decision essentially modifying Roe, rather than overturning it, will neuter that effort.

  • Inflation will be the No. 1 issue in the 2022 midterms.

  • Rokita and Banks Announce Candidacy for Indiana Governor:  After the November 2022 midterms, Secretary of State Todd Rokita and Hoosier Congressman Jim Banks will announce they are running for the GOP nomination for Indiana Governor.   Both candidates make a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the Orange God King's ring.  Democrats will see an opening to win the Governor's Office but finish the year still scrambling to find a high-profile Democrat to run.