Radio silence on Election night

poli sci major breaks his pattern

radio silenceOne of the smartest things I’ve done recently was to declare radio silence on Election night. This meant going off the grid from 6 pm EST that Tuesday until 6 am Wednesday. No cellphone, no email, no live TV or radio. In fact, as it turned out, I saw no television at all. Since the cable defaults to the local news, I was afraid I’d accidentally learn something. So I just read.

I should note that it was not my idea. The Weekly Sift guy, Doug Muder wrote on the day before: “I’m probably not going to watch the returns come in. I just can’t picture that experience being good for me.” Surely, I know the feeling, as did Arthur and Chuck. Mark Evanier was not unhappy that his power went out.

I wonder if others felt the same way. The television ratings for the midterm elections audience fell by double digits compared with 2018. As Variety noted, the “coverage provided [is] just the latest example of the broadening gap between polls of voters’ intentions and how citizens actually lean when they get to the booth.” The news anchors expected a “red wave” but did not anticipate a “blue wall.”

Here’s the weird thing from this old political science major, who always, well, at least since 1972, ALWAYS watched the returns: I didn’t miss it. Getting most of the results at 6 a.m. the next day didn’t alter a thing.

I say most because there were so many races that weren’t settled for a while. The US Senate race in Georgia will be a December 6 runoff. I’m going to quote Muder again. “49% of Georgians want Herschel Walker to represent them in the Senate. Seriously?” Now that the Senate will be in Democratic hands, punditry predicts a Warnock rout; probably yes, but I’ll wait for the actual votes.

A few trends

I was pleased that Kentucky voters rejected a ballot measure to deny any constitutional protections for abortion. Meanwhile, voters in Michigan, Vermont, and California enshrined abortion rights in the states’ constitutions. FOX “News” guy Steve Doocy noted on November 3 that the Democrats would regret emphasizing abortion and democracy instead of “pocketbook issues.” On November 9, he said, “Abortion and democracy were foremost in people’s minds.”

One of the disappointments was the loss by Congressman Sean Maloney  (D-NY) in a district just north of NYC. Ultimately, I blame the state legislature’s Democratic overreach in their gerrymandering. The lines for the Congressional districts were tossed, and some Democrats ran in districts far different from where they ran two years earlier.

Did these consultants help the Democrats’ message? The Russian hacktivist group that called on its members to target the American Democratic party website on Election Day was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, a certain former President was quoted as saying about candidates he supported, “Well, I think if they win, I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all.” Apparently, he’s blaming everyone who advised him to back Mehmet Oz, including his wife.

Oct. rambling: total Latin dorks

Rebecca Jade, Death Cafe, and the embarrassing Herschel Walker

Movie Love #16
Angela Lansbury was in the movie Mutiny (1952), set during the War of 1812. She’s on the cover of Movie Love #16, only rarely offered by Heritage Auctions

CEO Pay Has Soared by 1,460% Since 1978

The Onion advises the Supreme Court’s ‘total Latin dorks’ on parody

Decomposing HUMAN remains can legally be used as compost from 2027 thanks to new California law aimed at tackling climate change

Someone is pretending to be me, and Internet Trolls Have Tormented This Sci-Fi Writer for Years—and He Can’t Stop Them

Cheating scandal at an Ohio tournament rocks the competitive fishing world

NY-CT Border Disputes and The Kidnapping of Freedom-Seeker Peter John Lee

Against All Odds – Building Albany’s Free Black Community in the Early 1800s

The U.S. Just Renamed 650 Sites Around the Country—Here’s Why It Matters

MAD magazine’s oldest active artist is still spoofing what makes us human. Sergio Aragonés has drawn for the publication since he arrived in New York from Mexico 60 years ago. At age 85, he’s contributed to its 70th-anniversary issue: “Drawing has become like walking.”

Charles Fuller, Playwright, and Screenwriter Behind A Soldier’s Play, Dies at 83

Robbie Coltrane, Comic Performer Who Played Hagrid in Harry Potter Movies, Dies at 72

Sacheen Littlefeather, Who Delivered Brando’s Oscar Rejection Speech, Dies at 75

Kitten hailed a hero for saving a family poisoned by carbon monoxide

Daniel Abesames-Hammer of D III Cornell College is among the smallest college football players ever

Hitchcock Talks About Lights, Camera, Action

Mark Evanier: Blackhawk and me

Variety Intelligence Platform’s Level Up report examines the interrelated sectors within the near-$200 billion global gaming market

All aboard!

Now I Know: When a Lot of Wine Had to Defend Itself in Front of the Supreme Court, and How a Lot of Typos Led to Late Emails and The Intentionally Bad Song That Accidentally Worked and We Are All Invisible Pinocchios

POLLY TICKS

The Making and Remaking (and Remaking) of MAGA Heir Ron DeSantis

Florida GOP’s Assault on the Freedom to Teach

What is a MAGA Republican? and Racism, Lies, and Hypocrisy Are Now Seen as Electable Qualities in GOP Candidates

Herschel Walker says forget about him holding a gun to his wife’s head because Jesus and Does anything matter?

Democrats Warn That Republicans Will Turn US Into a Fascist Hellhole If GOP Prevails in Midterms

Speaking Out Against Hate: SPLC Intelligence Project Director tells a congressional panel that white supremacy threatens communities, education, and democracy

Inside the S–tshow That Was the Trump-Biden Transition

Why ‘Veep’ and ‘The West Wing’ Plotted a Crossover Reunion (Hint: to Save Democracy)

Someone named Gregory purchased http://www.governorgregabbott.com/ and built for him his very own (not very complimentary) website. “More content is on the way.” He also bought the following:
EliseStefanik2022.com
KevinMcCarthy2022.com
TheLaurenBoebert.com
GymJordan2022.com
SenatorRonJohnson.com
SenatorMarcoRubio.com
OfficialSCOTUS.com
DevinNunes2022.com

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:  Bolsonaro, Brazil’s terrible leader

MUSIC

Some Controversial Classics From Loretta Lynn; One’s On The Way

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzola.

Tired Of Waiting – MonaLisa Twins (The Kinks Cover)

Democracy – Leonard Cohen.

Coverville 1416: The Motley Crue Cover Story

Autumn Gardens by Einojuhani Rautavaara.

Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now from Hairspray

Portland, Oregon – Loretta Lynn and Jack White

Loretta Lynn, Feisty First Lady of Country Music,  Coal Miner’s Daughter, dies at 90. Living in her America. Over her long career, she documented the highs and lows of rural life in an incredibly complex emotional register.

Official release date of Rebecca Jade’s newest album, A Shade of Jade

For more than 40 years, taxpayers funded the FBI’s fruitless surveillance of Aretha Franklin

Linda Ronstadt on Her New Memoir, Feels Like Home, and Her Mexican American Heritage

Questlove and Black Thought Know Much More Than Music

DEATH CAFE in Albany, NY

The parking lot in the back of the Library and the street parking meters are free on Saturdays.

Learn more about this international movement at DeathCafe.com

Folks will break into small groups of 4-6, as always. Please wear a mask inside until you are seated with your small group, and your group chooses to be masked or not. Homemade treats and cold and hot water for tea; feel free to bring your own mug and/or beverage.

As always – it is not a support group. We just talk about whatever our group chooses and respect each other’s views.
Please RSVP by emailing to DeathCafeAlbany@gmail.com

2021 Ballot Proposals: statewide, local

I looked on the ballot from both sides, now.

Before I could vote on November 2, 2021, or earlier, I needed to get up to speed on the 2021 Ballot Proposals. There are five statewide items in New York State, and two in the city of Albany.

There may be other local propositions where you live. They will likely be on the REVERSE side of the ballot from the candidates’ listings, so check out both sides!

The five state proposals are found here.

Ballot Proposal 1

Amending the Apportionment and Redistricting Process
This proposed constitutional amendment would freeze the number of state senators at 63, amend the process for the counting of the state’s population, delete certain provisions that violate the United States Constitution, repeal and amend certain requirements for the appointment of the co-executive directors of the redistricting commission and amend the manner of drawing district lines for congressional and state legislative offices. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

The Census guy in me supports:
Requiring that state assembly and senate district lines be based on the total population of the state, and require the state to count all residents, including non-citizens and Native Americans if the federal census fails to include them.
Provide for incarcerated people to be counted at their place of the last residence, instead of at their place of incarceration, for the purpose of redistricting. This practice is already established by state statute for Senate and Assembly districts.

I’m ambivalent about this:
Freeze the number of state senators at the current number of 63. Currently, under the state constitution, the number of senators was originally set at 50 and thereafter increased over time to 63.
On one hand, I would support Congress getting larger to counteract the unfairness the current system is applied to larger states. On the other hand, we’re talking about the historically dysfunctional state legislature.

All in all, I’m still thinking about this. Notably, the League of Women Voters of the City of New York recommends a NO vote. This is due, in part, because, “The proposed amendment would unfairly empower the majority party by preventing the minority party from having input into the final proposed maps.” Help me with this one, people.

Ballot Proposal 2

Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment
The proposed amendment to Article I of the New York Constitution would establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment.

Of course YES. But how would this work, exactly?

Ballot Proposal 3

Eliminating Ten-Day-Advance Voter Registration Requirement
The proposed amendment would delete the current requirement… that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election and would allow the Legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than ten days before the election.

YES.

Ballot Proposal 4

Authorizing No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Voting
The proposed amendment would delete from the current provision on absentee ballots the requirement that an absentee voter must be unable to appear at the polls by reason of absence from the county or illness or physical disability.

YES. People oughtn’t have to lie about how sick/infirm they are.

Ballot Proposal 5

Increasing the Jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court
The proposed amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court’s jurisdiction by allowing it to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current jurisdictional limit of $25,000.

Sure. It seems to be a response to inflationary pressures. The NYC LWV is YES on Props 2-4, and takes no position on 5.

The local items

Proposition: Council residency requirement
Shall the Charter of the City of Albany be amended to require any person seeking election as a member of the Common Council to be an elector and resident of the ward for which the person is seeking election for a continuous period of at least three hundred sixty-five (365) days prior to taking office and during the entire term of office, except in limited circumstances following reapportionment of Common Council wards?

What? That’s NOT the law already? YES.

Proposition: Increase Community Police Review Board Authority

Shall Article XLIV of Chapter 42 of the Code of the City of Albany be amended to increase the Community Police Review Board’s authority and ability to conduct investigations and to exercise oversight, review, and resolution of community complaints alleging abuse of police authority?

The IDEA of the CPRB was grand. But it has been a paper tiger. “The law was already affirmed by the Albany Common Council, in a unanimous 14-0 vote, in March but requires a citywide referendum from the public to go into effect. That would be a YES.

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 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.

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