Working as an election inspector

poll worker

voting.womanFor the second time in two years, I engaged in a civic engagement that I hadn’t done in decades. You may recall that I worked the 2020 Census as an enumerator after having engaged in the same task back in 1990.

This past Election Day, I worked as an election inspector, a/k/a poll worker. That was something I hadn’t done since the mid-1970s, when I lived in my college town of New Paltz, NY.

I must have gotten an email on October 24 or 25 from the state Board of Elections stating that they were seeking people to work the polls. Still, I was surprised to get a call from the Albany County government phone number almost immediately. The gentleman said that there was training for folks on Wednesday, October 27 from 10 am until noon. Could I make it? Sure.

The last time I was a poll worker, they had heavy machines with mechanical buttons, and a lever to cast one’s vote. For the past few years, they’ve used an optical scan paper ballot system: “Voters mark their votes by filling in an oval…on a paper ballot. The paper ballots are scanned… at the polling place.” But the paper ballot still exists in case of an audit.

They also had a ballot-marking device, “used primarily to accommodate voters with disabilities.” To the latter point, our trainers made it quite clear that we should not reference the machine as one only for people with handicapping conditions.

The Gospel

We had a 48-page manual describing it all. The Seals Report involves all of the sealed compartments that needed numbers recorded at the beginning and the end of the day. This function alone would make anyone thinking an election could be fixed quite likely to reconsider. Although we could not ASK for ID, if it – driver’s license or card from the verification mailing – were offered, it’d make the process simpler. We wouldn’t have to ask for their address and date of birth.

The requirement was to get to our respective polling places by 5:30 a.m. I went to bed early, around 9:45, and lay there for an hour. So I got up checked my email for about 75 minutes, then went to sleep. I woke up about 3:45, too late to go back to sleep. So I got dressed and eventually rode my bicycle to the polling place at Maria College, which was only 1.2 miles (about 1.9 km) away, a very up and down path, of course in the dark.

One of our original trainers said that there would be election inspectors who would act as though they were in charge, but they’re not. Except, of course, those who’ve done it more often will inevitably take over. This was particularly true in this room with these large computer screens overhead. I wouldn’t have configured the room so that the monitors could whack us if we stood up too quickly.

The day

In any case, we were more or less ready by 6 a.m. despite the building not being opened until 5:38. The voter traffic waxed and waned, of course, with a good crowd around 7:30, almost no one at 10 a.m.,. and a line out the door at 6:30 p.m. There were four tables of poll workers, two from the 14th ward, and two from the 9th, where I sat. One of our team was a regular, but the other three were newbies, including a woodworker who was 80, and a politically interested young man of 18.

80 was in competition with other tables to give out the most stickers. He was fairly new in town, so he didn’t recognize Kathy Sheehan, the mayor when she briefly came in. I talked politics with 18 since I had lived through a half-century of events he had heard of (Watergate, Newt Gingrich, et al) before he was born; of course, that didn’t make me feel old at all, did it?

We were all supposed to take 45 minutes off for lunch, and another 45 or 60 minutes (I heard both) for dinner. But I doubt anyone even took the 45 the second time because the lines were so crowded.

We ended the process at about 9:30. I got home around 10. Though exhausted, I was so wound up that I didn’t get to bed until midnight or later. But it was worth it because I had supported democracy. And the training and the elections were the only days this year I actually worked for pay.

Why people reject Christianity, part 38

an abomination

forked tongueAs a Christian, I know that there are a lot of understandable reasons why people reject Christianity. Pedophile priests, homophobic preachers… do I need to haul out the litany? That said, a couple of recent examples have distressed me more than usual.

ITEM: “Believe in Divine Immunity”: Trump-Supporting Megachurch Pastor Tells Congregation NOT To Take COVID Vaccine

“Guillermo Maldonado, the Florida megachurch pastor, and self-declared apostle… told his congregation not to take the soon-to-be-available vaccine for the COVID-19 virus because it is part of a plan to prepare people to accept the biblical Mark of the Beast.

“Maldonado, who mocked members of his own congregation for staying away from church in the early days of the pandemic, used his Sunday sermon to warn that the COVID-19 vaccine will ‘alter your DNA’ as globalists set about ‘preparing the structure for the Antichrist.'”

I’ve long found the obsession with the apocalypse to be theologically obscene. This one mixes in absurd technological blather.

That’s why they allow firing squads?

ITEM: Trumpkin pastor calls for Democrats and journalists to be executed 

“On the day before Thanksgiving, [Rick Wiles] called for Trump to have Democrats and journalists lined up and shot [because] they are secretly in bed with Beijing.

“The Christian [sic] pastor made the remarks during an episode of his TruNews program… as he discussed Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Wiles also pointed out that the Justice Department has created a new rule allowing for firing squads to be used in federal executions…

“We already knew that Wiles is nothing more than a Nazi masquerading as a pastor… This is domestic terrorism, straight up.”

ITEM: An Ohio group called We the People Convention took out a full-page ad in the Washington Times (a flagship conservative newspaper).

They are asking Trump “to immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law, and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.

“OK, any crazy group can publish an ad in any paper that will take their money. But recently pardoned felon Michael Flynn retweeted the ad with the comment ‘Freedom never kneels except for God.'” The fact that they don’t have a prayer of a chance of reversing the outcome of the election doesn’t seem to stop them from trying anyway.

For those of you who think everything will change come 20 Jan 2021, I’m afraid not. We’re dealing with an extensive toxic mindset. And when it’s conflated with a sense of “God’s will”, we’re in deep trouble. This  Newspeak is an abomination. The definition of abomination is “a thing that causes disgust or hatred.”

These purported men of God are disgusting purveyors of hate. If their goal is to “bring people to the Kingdom”, they are failing miserably.

Working towards a Trump detox

Newsmax suckup

The Week.20201204My attempt to create a Trump detox has started. I’ve found it necessary to say repeatedly to myself that virtually all we are hearing now from him and his dwindling pool of supporters is crap. If it weren’t so much a threat to democracy, it would be absurdly funny.

ITEM: Check out the Instagram of Rich Ragsdale. His “Incredible Sulk” is great.

ITEM: Sit Down, You’re Blocking the Vote –  Brad Oscar 

ITEM: Per the LA Times: “The Justice Department is investigating whether there was a secret scheme to lobby White House officials for a presidential pardon as well as a related plot to offer a hefty political contribution in exchange for clemency.

“Most of the information in the 18-page court order is redacted, including the identity of the people whom prosecutors are investigating and whom the proposed pardon might be intended for. The document from August does reveal that people are suspected of having acted to secretly lobby White House officials to secure a pardon or sentence commutation and that, in a related scheme, a substantial political contribution was floated in exchange for a pardon.”

Whining about DeWine

ITEM: The National Review (!) calls his post-election behavior  disgraceful and dishonest

ITEM: Even U.S. Attorney General William Barr “told the Associated Press that the Justice Department has not found any evidence of voter fraud that would impact the result of the 2020 presidential election… Barr.. had boosted Trump’s baseless attacks on the security of voting by mail ahead of the election and amid a pandemic.”

ITEM: IMPOTUS’ “hostility toward yet another sitting Republican governor once again risks begetting yet another primary challenge: In a bonkers interview on Fox News on Sunday…, he complained bitterly that Gov. Brian Kemp hadn’t sought to overturn the results of Georgia’s elections and moaned, ‘I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.'” He’s also declared war on Ohio’s Mike DeWine.

ITEM: State after state is verified for Biden yet again, including Arizona and Wisconsin, which cost IMPOTUS $3 million to find more votes for the President-elect.

Those leftists at CBS

ITEM: Newsmax, his new favorite media outlet, now that he’s on the outs with FOX, is blaming the “left-wing news media” for his “alleged” defeat. The MSM “refused to give airtime to important arguments of the Republican campaign.” Ah, they weren’t shills.

The argument is that “millions of voters cast their ballots knowing only what the media permitted them to know about the candidates.” I’m not buying the premise, but I share it to show its flawed logic.

If these voters had only known about “the financial scandal enveloping Biden and his son, Hunter,” enough folks would have changed their ballot to swing the election. Wait. The incumbent had brought up repeatedly at the first debate with Joe, though it didn’t serve him well. He also mentioned the charge regularly at his COVID-spreading rallies.

Meanwhile, those voters weren’t informed about the record number of jobs “created in the extraordinary snapback from the pandemic recession.” Boohoo. ALL of his advisers told him repeatedly to run on the economy, and yet he spun conspiracy theories instead. The brokered peace agreements with Israel and several of its Arab neighbors made MY mainstream media newsfeed.

But the last example is the most absurd. “Operation Warp Speed, which even before the election was well on track to deliver 300,000,000 doses of a safe vaccine as soon as next year.” True enough. “Our poll found 36.1% of Biden voters said they did not know about the administration’s key role in promoting vaccine research… If they had, 5.3% told us they would have abandoned Biden, flipping Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, giving the President 295 electoral votes.”

Who showed up at COVID press conferences for 40 days straight at the beginning of the pandemic? He shared useless or even counterproductive mutterings about not wearing masks and taking unproven remedies. Then he disappeared for weeks at a time, seemingly giving up on fighting the pandemic. He had the bully pulpit and failed to use it.

The October Surprise in 2020

“autocratic malarkey”

hydrochloroquineI woke up in the morning, and suddenly, it made sense, in a Bizarro world sort of way. Many pundits said there was no October surprise in 2020. I would disagree. The surprise was djt getting COVID.

He flies on Marine One to the hospital on a Friday. By Sunday, he’s riding around in a limo, waving to supporters. And on Monday evening, he’s back at the White House, defiantly ripping off his mask, saying “Screw you, COVID.” A week or so later, he’s off doing dozens of his rallies before tens of thousands of his adoring acolytes, including five events in four states in one day.

Now, you and I may see this as grossly irresponsible behavior, creating a bunch of possible super-spreader events. But to his fans, he is portraying Strength and Resilience.

It’s like in that old Saturday Night Live skit. He is the Arnold clones, Hans and Franz. He’s going to “Pump you up.” Meanwhile, the other guy, he says, is hiding in his basement like a “girly man.”

Never underestimate the appeal of toxic masculinity, especially mixed with half-truths. My gut says that the big blue wave didn’t come because those mysterious undecided voters leaned red. And possibly because his supporters lie to pollsters.

“The unhinged, dangerous, Democracy-destabilizing thing”

He gave a speech at the White House around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in which he prematurely declared victory. This despite the fact that “millions upon millions of legitimate votes were still being counted. As Vanity Fair noted: “The goal, in all of its authoritarian bluster, was to get out in front of a result that might not land in his favor.”

Now, “the networks quickly and aggressively called bulls**t on Trump’s remarks, either breaking away from the speech or butting in with fact-checks. ‘We are reluctant to step in but duty-bound to point out when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that’s not based in the facts at all,’ said MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

His colleague Nicolle Wallace put it this way: ‘It’s straight-up autocratic malarkey, and what we have to keep in mind is that he’s not the boss of the counting…”

“CBS threw up a graphic stating, ‘CBS NEWS IS NOT PROJECTING A WINNER IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE,’ and Norah O’Donnell described Trump as ‘castrating the facts…’

“But perhaps the most noteworthy analysis was that seen on Trump’s frenemy network, Fox News… At a historic and uncharted moment like this, it was crucial to have a respected veteran newsman like anchor Chris Wallace telling the viewers what they needed to hear.

“‘This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,’ Wallace said. ‘He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.’

“The question is, did the viewers believe him?”

Where he leads, they will follow

Apparently not. Because the media, he keeps telling them, is fake. This despite the fact the shift in vote count was predictable.

“Dozens of [his] angry supporters… converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix as the returns went against him Wednesday in the two key states. The folks pounding on the Plexiglass in Detroit chanting “Stop the Count” made the NBC News on Wednesday. I feared for the wellbeing of the election workers inside.

Demonstrators, some armed, gathered at the government office in Maricopa County, AZ yelling, “Kill Fox,” and “Count the Vote.” Reportedly, the group became so threatening that the work of counting the vote had to be ended for the evening.

What does one want in a president? I found this four-minute video from John Green (no relation) about the decency of Joe Biden rather touching. And this 20-minute piece of John Oliver on the incompetence of the coronavirus response infuriating.

But djt apparently overcame the COVID. So he must be America Strong, even if he leaves it to his idiot son-in-law to “Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate.”

His fans appreciate his disdain for “political correctness.” He orchestrates his rallies as places to express their anger: “Fire Fauci,” “Lock Her Up.” Yet they’re OK with him lying to them about the seriousness of the pandemic, pushing conspiracy theories, dismissing climate change, pandering to racists, using the government for personal gain, and ruining our international reputation.

Yes, he suggests he’s for individual liberty, but it’s for those who agree with him. Lower taxes but really for the rich. Smaller government when it involves human services or the environment, but not the military. 

My rational brain says his fans are crazy. But I also have to admit I’m just not experiencing his persona the same way as they do. And it’s not just the one person but Trumpism I just don’t grok.

Octoberish rambling: Road to 270

Many Tom Lehrer lyrics to the public domain. 

election screen time per xkcd. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Road to 270 map

He’d Waited Decades to Argue His Innocence. She Was a Judge Who Believed in Second Chances. Nobody Knew She Suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Franklin Graham Goes Apoplectic Over Pope’s Push for Civil Unions for Gays.

Talk To Your Boss About Burnout Before It’s an Emergency.

Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up


MyHeritage vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA – Battle of the Titans 2000

The Town That Went Feral

Yeah,  thanks, Zoom

The Commercial that Killed a Fast Food Chain – Rax

Game show legend  Tom Kennedy, host of ‘Name That Tune,’ dies at 93

Five Nouns You Didn’t Realize Were Also Verbs

The 25 most spectacular branding fails of the last 25 years

Mistakes You’re Making When Reheating Leftovers  That Could Make You Sick

These Are America’s Favorite Halloween Candies By State And Starburst Tops The List

Now I Know: The Most Dangerous Pole Dance and Why Penguins Are a Laughing Matter and The Greatest Soccer Player Who Never Was and The Cheetos Challenge and Where the Cows Go and When Abraham Lincoln Lost New Jersey (and Won Anyway) and  Big Yellow Man Washed Ashore  on the Beach and  Where Men and Women Literally Don’t Speak the Same Language


How to fight the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Dynamic Change of COVID-19 Seroprevalence among Asymptomatic Population in Tokyo

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The  World Health Organization

Evidence Points to  Role of Blood Type in COVID-19

The US Is Missing a Chance to Tackle Climate Crisis and Pandemic Relief Together

Airport enlists Sniffer Dogs to Test for COVID-19

Analysis Shows Spike in Cases After Numerous Trump Rallies

Wear A Mask (Be Our Guest Parody)

IMPOTUS’ scorched earth policy

Executive Order Letting Him Purge Thousands of Federal Workers for Disloyalty

He demands Barr arrest foes and it hardly makes a ripple

Kavanaugh Parrots His Mail-In Ballot Lies as SCOTUS Bars Extension of Wisconsin Deadline

Lincoln Project Burns Fox News Phonies And Their ‘Trump TV’ National Memo

John Oliver on his immigration policies -‘Truly disciplined about being truly evil’

In the deluded mindset of Trumpworld’s denizens,  wearing a mask is: a) a sign of weakness, and b) a sign of, somehow, being a woman—which is itself seen, by them, as equivalent to weakness.

 He Confides His Feelings About ‘A Female President’  

Columbia University study shows that over 130,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided with a more robust pandemic response

Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants “Herd Immunity.”

He’s their monster.  But suddenly Senate Republicans have never heard of him

A Radical Proposal  for Dealing with His Supporters After Biden Wins

The Administration’s Racial Bias — As a Black veteran, I can’t remain silent

The NYT’s shocking report on family separation


British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read


Eddie Van Halen, Hall of Famer Who Revolutionized the Guitar, Dead at 65

Coverville:  1329: The Eddie Van Halen Tribute and 1330: John Lennon Cover Story V 

Live From SpragueLand Episode 11: Peter Sprague Plays The Beatles 

Rhythm’s In the Melody  – Soulsha

Brahms – Sextet in G major  – Park | Yoo | Chang | Ullery | deMaine | Kim

i carry your heart by Eric Whitacre.

Pop Psalms: Once in a Lifetime  – Talking Heads

Italian folksong The Carnival of Venice, played by Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble

Sounds from St. Olaf – Episode 2:  Cubano Be, Cubano Bop  Jazz at St. Olaf

My Old Flame – Spike Jones, with Paul Frees imitating Peter Lorre

Tom Lehrer is officially releasing the lyrics to many of his songs into the public domain. 

Sean Ono Lennon talks with Elton John, Julian Lennon, and Paul McCarney about John Lennon. Part 1 and Part 2