The conventional wisdom: Syria, Alex Jones

Scott Ritter, 2006

ITEM: Mark Evanier wrote:

“Once upon a time, weapons inspector Scott Ritter warned us that Saddam Hussein did not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction and we should not go to war there on the belief that he did. Ritter was widely denounced as foolish and gullible, and his warnings were ignored. He is now warning that Trump’s claims of chemical weapons in Syria are a lie that could be used to justify another war build on a false premise. Maybe someone oughta at least consider that this man could be right again.”

There are people who will dismiss what Scott Ritter says, based on issues having nothing to do with his expertise. But I heard him speak in June 2002 at an Albany United Methodist Society dinner. He said what was going to happen in the lead-up to the Iraq war in March 2003, and he was 100% correct.

ITEM: States refuse Trump commission request for U.S. voter data, as well they should. But it was the conservative Red State who writes that it is “simply another conspiracy theory that he’s bound and determined to use his office to pursue.”

ITEM: One of my good buds blasted NBC for the Megyn Kelly interview with the vile Alex Jones, “almost certainly the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America,” calling it “noxious behavior in service of the dollar.” And I didn’t see it that way at all.

I thought she pressed him on his bs. I’m not sure whether she “vivisected the bloated conspiracy hog”, but she gave it a go.

Does Alex Jones merit an interview? I like to know the enemy, so I say yes. And perhaps only Kelly, among the MSM folk, could have gotten it, a “Nixon goes to China” scenario.

Part of the problem was the tease from the previous week, which gave some the impression that the former FOX “News” personality was going to be buddy-buddy with this schmuck. I understand that, as a result of the backlash before the piece even aired, NBC re-edited it to be “tougher.”

ITEM: When a certain orange person said, “Comey better hope there are no tapes,” and then said there were no tapes, that is not a lie. (Unless there ARE tapes, in which case…) It was merely him saying words. It was an empty threat that, by itself, won’t reach the level of obstruction of justice.

The man should be held accountable for every ACTUAL falsehood he’s perpetrated, and they are SO many. But let’s pick the real prevarications.

ITEM: I was SO oversaturated with email, from both sides, regarding the expensive House race in Georgia’s 6th CD. And as If Jon Ossoff Wins… or Loses notes, the response to the outcome was predictable.

I hate Primary Day

conversationIn the general election in November, the polls are open at 6 a.m.; I’ve often voted by 6:15. The school budget vote in May allows voting by 7 a.m..

But the polls on Primary Day, which is Tuesday, September 9 this year, don’t open until noon, at least in that tiny part of New York known as upstate. In New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam (and Erie!) the polls open at 6 a.m.; very civilized.

Worse this year, I don’t think there’s been an inordinate amount of information on the judge races. The Democratic primary race for Albany County Surrogate Court Judge between Stacy L. Pettit and Richard J. Sherwood I know nothing about Continue reading

Governor Teachout? Governor Hawkins?

Wu and Teachout in June 2014 (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Wu and Teachout in June 2014 (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Professor Alan Chartock correctly notes that Governor Andrew Cuomo should have left Zephyr Teachout alone, rather than trying to get her thrown off the September 9 primary ballot in the Democrats’ race for governor. I’m not so sure that she “knows” that she cannot win, as Chartock suggests. She seems to be running a vigorous campaign, even though most people STILL don’t know who she is.

But they know who HE is, and it isn’t all pretty. Continue reading

The Mississippi US Senate runoff: a poster child for Instant Runoff Voting

LADYVOTING_000As you may know, there was a Republican primary for the US Senate seat between long-time incumbent Thad Cochran and Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel on June 3.

Chris McDaniel 155,040 49.5 %
Thad Cochran 153,654 49.0 INCUMBENT
Thomas Carey 4,789 1.5

The Democrats also had their primary for the seat. You probably didn’t know that because a Democrat is highly unlikely to win in the general election in November:
Travis Childers 62,545 74.2%
Bill Marcy 10,134 12.0
William Compton 8,261 9.8
Jonathan Rawl 3,399 4.0

Mississippi election law requires a candidate to win a majority of the vote to be nominated, and McDaniel barely missed the threshold. This meant a runoff election for June 24.

Runoff elections are particularly expensive because 37 of the 40 Senate run-off elections since 1980 have seen decreases in turnout from the initial primary, “reflecting the difficulty in getting voters to care about a primary election two times in a row.”

This, however, was a different beast. The race had “become a proving ground for some Tea Party groups… On top of that, add the deliberate effort by Cochran’s camp to turn out more black voters, mixing up the expected voter pool. That makes predicting turnout tough.” As it turns out, there was a much HIGHER turnout for the runoff.

Cochran * 191,508 50.9%
McDaniel 184,815 49.1

From the Ballotopedia: “Mississippi is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Voters do not have to register with a party, but they must intend to support the party nominations if they vote in the primary election.” One aspect is that voters in the Democratic primary June 3 ought not to have been able to also vote in the Republican runoff on June 24. McDaniel supporters have suggested that’s exactly what happened.

All of this could have been avoided if Mississippi had instituted Instant Runoff Voting:

Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e. first, second, third, fourth and so on). Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish, but can vote without fear that ranking less favored candidates will harm the chances of their most preferred candidates. First choices are then tabulated. If more than two candidates receive votes, a series of runoffs are simulated, using voters’ preferences as indicated on their ballot.
The candidate who receives the fewest first choice rankings is eliminated. All ballots are then retabulated, with each ballot counting as one vote for each voter’s highest ranked candidate who has not been eliminated.

In the Mississippi GOP scenario, after the June 3 primary, Thomas Carey’s votes would have been distributed to Cochran and McDaniel, based on who was Carey voters’ second choice. Majority would have been reached. There would have been no need for the June 24 runoff, and no chance for the Democratic party supporters to vote in the Republican primary without foregoing their opportunity to vote in their OWN primary.

IRV is being used in a number US jurisdictions, sometimes only for overseas ballots, but sometimes more extensively. Several locales internationally use it as well.

I’d love to see IRV implemented in New York State. Even though New York does not have runoffs, it’s often been the case that a candidate has been elected with less than a majority of the vote. The The governor’s race this fall would be a real reflection of the Green Party support, since people would not feel that their vote was being “thrown away” on a candidate who could not win. Of course, it can’t happen that soon, but it’s still worth considering.

Why the 70th birthday; and why did they rig the student election?

Way back in 2012, Uthacleana asked:

What’s this “Turning 70” meme you’re promoting, Roger? Doesn’t anyone just turn 59 anymore?! ;-p

(I should note that he. and I, turned 59 that year.)
madein1944
I started doing the 70th birthday thing because the Beatles (Ringo and John by then; Paul and George followed) were all turning the big seven-oh. Other folks I admired were heading towards a milestone. I noted at the time too that three score and ten was noted in the Bible as well (Psalm 90:10).

But it occurred to me only recently that it is also Continue reading

Election Day (tomorrow)

I was at my allergist’s office last month for my every-28-day injection, and she asked if I wanted a reminder card. “Nah, just tell me the date.” “November 5.” “Oh, that’s Election Day, easy to remember.”

This led to me mentioing that Election Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, so it will fall on November 2 through 8, but NOT on the 1st. When asked WHY, I admitted that I didn’t know, but that it was probably tied to the fact that it was All Saints Day, and/or it’s easy to forget that a new month has started.

So what IS the real story why Congress (in 1845) select the first Tuesday in November as Election Day?
Continue reading

The Arthurian election reform article

After the 2012 Presidential election – thank every deity it is over – you may recall that only a handful of states were crucial to the decision – Ohio! Florida! Virginia! The Democratic “blue” states – New York, California – were not in play, nor were the Republican “red” states such as Texas. Candidates didn’t campaign in those because of most states’ “winner-take-all” mechanism when it came to the Electoral College. All the electoral votes of a state would go to one candidate. (The upside is that I missed the vast majority of the political ads.)

So the recent Republican plan to change states from winner-takes-all, the way every state, except Maine and Nebraska, does it, to awarding electoral votes by Congressional District, seems to be more fair. And it would be, if Congressional boundary lines were drawn equitably.

But as Arthur@AmeriNZ noted Continue reading

Nearly a parliamentary system

It’s Election Day in the US. At last. Thank whatever deity you believe in! The only people who will be upset about this are the local television stations, who have been raking it in with all the political advertisements. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t understand why the candidates often say at the end of the ads, “I’m Joe Blow, and I approve this message.” It’s because there are ads out there, sponsored by the political parties, or political action committees, supposedly (snicker) independent of the (chortle) political candidates.

As is my tradition, I will be voting as soon as the polls open, at 6 a.m. It’s not just that I am anxious to vote, or want to get it over with. It’s that, if I cast my ballot early enough, they won’t call me to make sure I get out there. Better get my wife to vote before work, too. I’m voting for Continue reading

40 Years Ago: My 1st Presidential Vote, for George McGovern

There were a LOT of people running for the Democratic nomination for President against Richard Nixon in 1972. The general consensus early on, though, was that Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine would be the selection. He had been the Vice-Presidential nominee in 1968, and had been a credible candidate in a close race. But he was sunk early on by the crying incident, which, to this day, I find utterly bewildering, and dropped out of the race early on.

This seemed to give segregationist Governor George Wallace of Alabama some momentum, much to the chagrin of all right-minded people. Continue reading

N is for National Elections on November 6

If you’re not from the United States, you may not be aware of the fact that the US is having its national election on Tuesday, November 6.

CONGRESS

Approximately 1/3 of the US Senate is up for election. Senators are elected on a statewide basis for six-year terms.

All 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election. The number of districts in each state is dependent on its population. The breakdown changes every 10 years, after the decennial Census. The results of the 2010 Census will alter the makeup of the House for the 2012 election. Continue reading