Building confidence in US elections (2005)

“Measures to encourage and achieve the greatest possible participation in elections”

“I wish that we could just have someone out there say in 2005, Jimmy Carter and James Baker did the Carter-Baker Commission to both tried to expand voting and make it more secure. They had 87 recommendations. Adopt them all. It means you won’t have ballot harvesting, but it means it will be easier to vote.”

I heard someone suggest this on one of those talking-heads shows two months ago. It made sense in building confidence in US elections.

The Commission had “five sturdy pillars.”

“Voter registration that is convenient for voters to complete and even simpler to renew and that produces complete, accurate, and valid list of citizens who are eligible to vote.”

This means not having wholesale purging of voter lists. Voters who move more often – students, renters, e.g. – should not be disenfranchised.

“Voter identification, tied directly to voter registration, that balances election integrity without introducing new barriers to voting, including the casting and counting of ballots.”

Prior to the pandemic, I never had to show my ID when I voted. The last two times, once involving early voting at a central location, and the other in an alternative site, I did. This is not to say it might not be onerous for others.

I’m suggesting something that’s a bit of a bugaboo for some: an option for people to receive an identification card that is FREE and not onerous to obtain. Or, in the alternative, a wider array of verification documents that don’t discourage the franchise.

When requiring, say, a driver’s license/non-driver’s license and the nearest DMV is two bus rides away with long lines, THAT is a barrier to voting. Too often, the ID requirements have been used to, de facto, disenfranchise.

More participation

“Measures to encourage and achieve the greatest possible participation in elections by enabling all eligible voters to have an equal opportunity to vote and have their votes counted.”

Having one drop-off box for ballots per county may seem fair in the abstract. But when one county has a few hundred and another has a few hundred thousand – well, no. People standing in long lines because there are too few polling places in “selected” communities.

I’ve been consistent in giving ex-felons the right to vote. It’s our duty as a nation to rehabilitate. How does that happen when the formerly incarcerated are denied the franchise?

“Voting machines that tabulate voter preferences accurately and transparently, minimize under- and over-votes,
restricting mail-in voting and allow for verifiability and full recounts”

This means non-hackable computers and paper records.

“Fair, impartial, and effective election administration.”

This would preclude a former elected person from asking an official to “find” him some votes.

My great fear is that if we can’t find a way to have elections that most people recognize as legitimate, the country will not exist. That may seem melodramatic, but I firmly believe it.

Amendments 15, 19, 24, 26

As I’ve noted many times, the arc of the Constitution bends towards greater participation in voting by its citizenry. Letting black people and women and 18-year-olds vote. Getting rid of the poll tax. Ultimately, we should be heading forward in making

BTW, the suggestion was offered up by Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department, who’s now a political analyst for “The Dispatch.” She suggested it on the July 11 episode of This Week

Read the 2005 report. It’s only 113 pages long, and it has pictures! What do you think can be done to create a more perfect union that enough people can get behind?

The backpack as organizational tool

A place for my keys

backpackBack many years ago when I was working full time, through June 2019, I used my backpack a great deal. It was a blue L. L. Bean item, which I kept until it started slowly deteriorating. At that point, my wife got me a new one, discounted because of credit for buying the original one.

I used it almost every weekday, most Sundays, and occasional Saturdays. In bicycle-riding weather, it contained my bike lock. My bus pass resided there, as did my keys; the latter was because, on two occasions, my keys fell out of my pocket and I didn’t notice. I backtracked hours later and, amazingly, found them! Sometimes, my wallet’s in there for a similar reason.

Even after retiring, this system worked well. But then COVID hit. I just didn’t go anywhere. Well, except that stretch in August to October of 2020 when I was working the Census, and I was getting around via a combination of my bike and the Capital District Transportation Authority. I kept my Census valise in my backpack when traveling.

Out of the habit

The result is that I would misplace my wallet and especially my keys somewhere in the house. Heck, I lost my keys for three full months in 2021. While I had another front door key, I didn’t have one for the shed, where my bicycle is kept. My wife had one but that didn’t help when I wanted to ride during the day.

Then, finally, I found my keys, which meant I could go to the shed. Nuts; only part of my bicycle lock was in there. But I vaguely, but accurately remembered that the other section was, for some reason, by the living room stereo.

Now, where’s the backpack? I didn’t know for a bit. Carrying the bike lock in a bag around my shoulder was inadequate. I finally found the backpack, stuck in the corner of the office, put there in order to try to tidy up the room.

I cannot explain the thrill, the joy of being able to ride my bike to the store, lock it up, pull out a mask (an addition to the backpack accouterment), buy some milk and cottage cheese, then ride home. It’s so damn…NORMAL. Joy I can find in the most mundane of tasks when it feels like the old times of 2019.

Sept. rambling: Suicide prevention

Way Less Sad

NAMI: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. “It’s Okay to Talk About Suicide”

Food insecurity soared roughly 9% last year for Americans

The LMNOPs of Caring for the Nursing Workforce: Healthcare systems can do more to prevent staff burnout

 A Guide on Racism, Inequality, and Health Care for African Americans.

Household COVID-19 risk and in-person schooling

Fines Double for Refusing to Wear a Mask on a Plane

 ‘I’m learning firsthand how difficult it is to be shunned by people you love’: The vaccine wars are getting personal

 Once-in-a-Century Weather Events Every Week

 Why ‘I’ Hurricane Names Are Most Likely to Be Retired

What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind, -Grief, conspiracy theories, and one family’s search for meaning in the two decades since 9/11

How can America wake up from its post-9/11 nightmare?

Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy (Erik Prince, 2010)

A Dozen Observations about Abortion, Texas, and the Supreme Court

Power Move: Charles Blow wants Black people to reverse the Great Migration and form majorities in the Southern states.

Journey with Jesus: Richard Rothstein on “The Color of Law” 

Is it Better Not To Know?

‘SNL’ Alum Norm Macdonald Dead At 61

Sporting News
every_data_table
https://xkcd.com/2502/ Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Pittsburgh Pirates lineup from Sept. 1, 1971, the first time an AL or NL team had fielded an all-Black and Latino starting lineup.

60+ Key Stats About the Olympic and Paralympics

 The Woman Who Invented Stuffed Animals 

John Green:  My Two Favorite Jokes. From the comments: “I went into the library and asked the librarian for a book on turtles. ‘Hard back?’ ‘Yeah, with little heads.'”

How Much of the World’s Bourbon Is Actually Made in Kentucky?

Surf the Vintage Internet 

ZOOM:  Celebrating 10 Years of Zoom: “Some of you have only known Zoom since early 2020.” Including me.

What Is a Squinting Modifier?

A 13,654 stick bomb 

Now I Know: The Friend on the Bench and The Man Who Gets People Out of the Hospital and The Magical Place Where Everyone Can Play

MUSIC

Elegy by Mark Camphouse

I heard this song called Way Less Sad by AJR this week for the first time last week. It came out in February 2021. For the life of me, I recognized but could not immediately place the horn riff. No, not Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears or Earth, Wind and Fire. Finally, it came to me, without looking it up: the way too sad My Little Town by Simon and Garfunkel! Paul Simon even gets a writing credit for Way Less Sad.

Times Will Be Better – Elena Romanova 

I Bought Myself A Politician – MonaLisa Twins

Flivver Ten Million by Frederick Shepherd Converse, played by the Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by JoAnn Falletta

Michelle – Julian Neel

Arlington from John Williams’s score to JFK

17 Quotes on the Transformative Power of Music

Expedition, metaphor, universe, 4635

103 is a prime number

More prompts.

You are asked to join on an expedition. Where are you going? Why did they ask you to join? 

baseball batFirst off, is the word “on” necessary in the prompt? I don’t think so, and neither does Grammarly.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, expedition. Going to every Major League Baseball stadium in the same season to ascertain how difficult it would be to get to them via mass transit. For instance, I know I can get to Yankee Stadium via the B, D, or 4 subway lines.

But the last time I went there, my friend and I took the Metro North from Poughkeepsie, which gets you pretty darn close to the stadium as well. I’ve taken the #7 subway to see the Mets.

Similarly, I took Amtrak from San Diego to Anaheim, and the Angels’ stadium was not far away at all. Most of the other games I PROBABLY took by local mass transit: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Oakland, San Diego, and the now-defunct stadiums in Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, and Montreal.

The reason they want me is that I can navigate local and intercity mass transit surprisingly well.

Also

Invent a new metaphor. 

“His mind is a Doanish conundrum.” Hey, I understand it. At least one other person gets it. That’s enough.

You stepped into an alternative universe. One thing here is different here. Explain. 

It would be a place that would actually follow the Golden Rule. It is common in many places in this universe, but not often adhered to. This would mean making food, clothing, shelter, healthcare accessible to all who need it, a reasonable framework so that all could have the opportunity to thrive.

You have retrieved exactly 4,635 fallen leaves. Why?

Obviously, so that I can put them in 103 piles of 45 leaves. Or 309 piles of 15 leaves. Maybe 515 piles of 9 leaves. Perhaps 927 piles of 5 leaves. But definitely NOT 1545 piles of 3 leaves, because that would be silly.

The Call of Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

Big Lies

WisdomAt my church yesterday, the liturgical Old Testament lesson was Proverbs 1:20-33. It describes a personified Wisdom, and, not so incidentally, as a woman.

The New Revised Stand Version (NRSV) reads, in part:

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares, she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?”

But there is a Bible translation called The Message, by Peterson. It was the preferred translation by my late friend Keith Barber.

This take is far more pointed:

Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center, she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic, she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:

“Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?”

The birth of the Big Lie

And it feels like she’s addressing, oh EVERYTHING that is happening. Mark Evanier pointed to an essay by Lucian K. Truscott IV, and quotes this section:

“The legacy 9/11 has left us is that there is no common set of facts we can agree on about anything: Not about the COVID pandemic and masks and vaccines; not about the climate change that has killed hundreds and left town after town burned to the ground or underwater and destroyed by tornadoes and hurricanes.

“We cannot agree that votes counted amount to elections won or lost. We cannot even agree on the common good of vaccines that will save us, that science is worth studying, that learned experts are worth listening to.”

As a librarian who tries to find facts for people, this blatant disregard for truth has continually made me, at first, angry, but ultimately very, very sad. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Proverbs 1 (Peterson):

What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes? You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect an answer. No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me…

Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First, pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy-you’re in good hands.