A few quickies to wind up this interesting Tuesday
The Iowa caucuses have always been bad. Now we know just how bad they are – With its error-prone process in a disproportionately white state, Iowa doesn’t deserve to be the state to have the first say in who the Democrats should nominate. Despite this, the problem isn’t about corruption, nor do the slow release of results prove any kind of conspiracy. Caucuses are in theory run by the state parties, who rely heavily on volunteers. These are not trained professionals. The volunteers seldom get much in the way of training beforehand. And volunteers at these things tend to skew older, exactly the demographic that you don’t want carrying out important tasks with a smart phone app. To be fair, primaries have a lot of the same problems—poll workers again are not paid professionals, they are volunteers who often are not well trained. And with either system, election night results are always, at best, estimates. The real results aren’t known until all the paperwork from the precincts are processed, sometimes weeks later. And yes, there were all the usual paper documents signed with the entire precinct witnessing and so forth. The app wasn’t meant to be the official results, but rather to facilitate announcing estimates sooner.
Let’s move on to a differnt topic: Republicans scrap child marriage ban because they’re worried about a pro-LGBTQ proposal — Indiana could have stopped adult men from marrying 15-year-old girls, but Republicans wanted to be sure their marriage equality ban stayed on the books. Because nothing says freedom more than forcing teens to marry whom their parents chose. And heaven forfend that consenting adults are allowed to tie the knot…
‘Shocking Disrespect’ As Trump Acts Up During The National Anthem – Video of Trump behaving erratically while the Star Spangled Banner were played at his Super Bowl party have surfaced. This from the alleged president who called on people to be fired (and worse) for kneeling during the national anthem. And let me point out: kneeling is not disrespect! That’s the part that really gets me. Kneeling has always been a form of respect and deference. Whereas gyrating around, moving a chair, waving your arms in mockery of a choral conductor? That’s definitely not showing respect.
It’s No Exaggeration: Sweeping South Dakota Bill Aims to Eliminate All LGBTQ Rights. Again, because nothing says freedom like imposing your religious beliefs on others…
I am not going to watch the State of the Union. I don’t need to watch that buffoon lie while mangling the language for hours. If you do want to watch a good speech under 8 minutes, you might enjoy this:
LGBTQ State of the Union w/ Billy Porter | Logo TV:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
First up, this started as a twitter thread people were sharing. One woman who shared the tale of the disasters she and her husband witnessed when they volunteers as poll workers: Porter County’s 2018 Election Fiasco. The county disbanded its election board this year and put everything in the hands of the County Clerk’s office… and obviously they were not prepared. The post I’ve linked has more details than the twitter thread, as she added stuff when she converted it. It’s really an interesting look into just what a clanky and disorganized mechanism our voting system (not just this one county by any means!) is.
Another clunky thing: while millionaires and richer make up approximately 10% of the population of the country, more than half of Congresspeople are millionaires. And while a congress person’s salary is decent, there are some problems when someone who makes only $29 thousand dollars a year gets elected to Congress (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becomes youngest woman ever elected to Congress). She’s expected to head to Washington D.C. soon and start participating in orientation, hiring staff and such… but she doesn’t get her first pay check as a Congress person until February. And D.C. is famously very expensive to live in.Fox News Can’t Believe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won’t Sell Clothes She Doesn’t Own To Pay DC Rent. (The clothes thing is because Ocasio-Cortez did a little modeling a few years ago, and she wore some expensive clothes in a photo shoot. You know, clothes that were owned by the people paying for the advertising campaign the photos were for? Clothes the models wear long enough to be photographed in and are then taken back by the actual owners.
What pisses me off about this is the number of people who are Democrats and otherwise not clueless Fox News personalities who are also making fur of the fact that a woman who was working as a bartender in Brooklyn that the people of Brooklyn elected to represent them in Congress, isn’t secretly a millionaire or something. And people wonder why we keep winding up with slimy people as politicians…
And there are other weirdnesses. When, oh when will they start hiring actual designers to work on things like, say, ballots? Something Looks Weird In Broward County. Here’s What We Know About A Possible Florida Recount. As someone who has professionally designed user interfaces and documentation, as soon as I saw the picture of the ballot I realized immediately why 26,000 voters in one county skipped a race entirely: it looks like it is an example, and not an actual office to be filled in.
Finally, some good news for the future. I’m tempted to re-title this next story “Millenials Kill the Republican Party” but I realize that’s a bit of a stale joke, so I’ll still with their title< Trump celebrated the midterm results, but without millennials and women he could be headed for disaster in 2020. Despite all the gloom and doom predictions and the huge number of stories I saw over the last two years claiming that the polls can’t be believed because young voters respond to polls but then they don’t show up, or how Democrats were driving young voters away for reasons, young voters turned out in record numbers, and overwhelmingly they are rejecting what the Republicans in general and Trump in particular are selling.
There is a lot more fight ahead. One election swinging to just half of one branch of government isn’t going to solve anything. And if we don’t remain engaged and call our representatives and urge them not to vote for somethings, things will get much much worse. But there is hope!
Democrats will control the House. And that means that there will finally be some Congressional hearings into the corruption and worse that the Executive branch has been committing under Cadet Bonespur. There isn’t much we can do about the destruction of the Judicial branch that is being perpetrated during the next two years, but the thing those of us who care about equal rights and, oh, the future of the planet have to focus on is that we finally have a way to put some brakes on the fascist uprising. It’s a long term fight. We lost big two years ago. We call ourselves the Resistance because the bad guys have already taken over. This is an important step in the fight to take back the country, but we lost in 2016.
There was a bunch of other good news last night. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Key West elected Teri Johnston, Florida’s first openly lesbian mayor
- New York elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress
- Colorado elected Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in the US
- Minnesota elected Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim woman (alongside Rashida Tlaib) elected to Congress
- Massachusetts elected Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman elected to Congress in Massachusetts
- Kansas elected Sharice Davids, an openly gay ex-MMA fighter and one of the first Native American women (alongside Deb Haaland) elected to Congress
- Michigan elected Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American (and first Muslim woman, alongside Ilhan Omar) elected to Congress
- Kentucky elected Nima Kulkarni, the first Indian-American elected to Kentucky House of Representatives
- New Mexico elected Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women (alongside Sharice Davids) elected to Congress
- Flemington, New Jersey elected Betsy Driver, the first openly intersex mayor of a city in the U.S.
- Indiana election J.D. Ford the first openly gay Indiana state legislature, defeating a long-time Republican incumbent in the process
- Kansas elected pro-gay-rights legislator Laura Kelly over pro-Trump and pro-voter suppression Republican
- Florida passed a constitutional amendment granting voting rights to about 1 million felons who have served their time
- Louisiana passed a constitutional amendment repealing a white supremacist policy regarding jury convictions
- Massachusetts voters soundly rejected a measure to strip away non-discrimination protections from transgender people
And election night isn’t the ending. Alexandra Erin put it very well on twitter earlier this week:
Let me be ridiculously clear about something: I am not counting on the Democrats, as a national organization, to fix anything.
Our country is on fire. We need them, but they are not the firefighters. We are.
They’re the water.
We are the firefighters. We can’t check out. This midterm wasn’t a fire and forget situation. We have to stay engaged. We have to call our congresspeople and demand that they stick to the guns, that they oppose Trump on everything. This is just one battle in the long war to take our country back. We can do it, but we have to keep fighting!
The rest of this post is going to be about a sexual assault, including details that I found disturbing when reading earlier coverage of the case, and disturbing again while summarizing before stating my opinion about why the recall was justified. Don’t click through if you don’t want to read about such a crime… Read More…
If you haven’t seen this story, or the viral images of the wrong number text message that led to a Thanksgiving meeting of former strangers: a woman send Thanksgiving dinner details to the wrong number. The guy who gets it replies, “Who is this.” The woman says, “Your Grandma.” The guy sends a selfie, “I don’t think you’re my Grandma.” She sends back a selfie and apologizes for the wrong number. He jokes, “Can I still have a plate?” and she says, “Of course! That’s what grandma’s do, feed everyone!”
And they kept texting and she said she was serious he should come to Thanksgiving dinner, and he didn’t have local family, and then, well, this happened:
In other news, after the phenomenal crowdsourcing campaign, the Green Party in Wisconsin has filed for a re-count and a paper ballot reconciliation:
I admit, I was one of the people saying I didn’t trust the Green Party’s effort. After asking the world to donate 2.5 million so they could demand recounts in three states, they changed the small print on the fundraising page several times, and changed the goal they were asking for several times. The fine print was the sorts of disclaimers you would expect, in one sense: they couldn’t guarantee the recounts would happen; if excess money was raised the part would keep the money to promote “voter integrity options” that sort of thing. But the wording kept adding more loopholes.
But the thing was, the first filing deadline (Wisconsin) was Friday. They had exceeded the original ask significantly, and the clock was literally ticking down, and they had not filed a petition for a recount. It was at a point where the Wisconsin Elections Commission was making snarky comments on it’s website and twitter account, because the Greens kept blasting out more money beg messages but hadn’t filed: Wisconsin Elections Commission Basically Calling Jill Stein Out for Not Filing Recount Petition Yet.
So I don’t think I was being unreasonable (or mean) when I retweeted another editorial that made the observation that the Green Party money beg was starting to seem as if it might be a scam. The word “seem” was in the title, so even if you didn’t click through and read the piece, (which was nuanced and balanced) it should have been obvious that I was only claiming suspicion.
As I exchanged words with some others on twitter afterward, I repeatedly said that if the Green Party actually filed all three petitions before the deadlines in each state, that I would agree that they weren’t merely fundraising for themselves off the issue.
The party did file a petition in Wisconsin before the deadline (as the above headlines show), so that’s one down. I understand that the rules in each state about the petitions vary. And that sometimes an incorrectly worded form can cause a filing to be rejected. I don’t know if any of the remaining states have a process by which the initial filing can be amended or corrected after it is filed.
And heck, even the states don’t always know. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said they had their own lawyers double-checking the procedure while they were awaiting the petition. Turns out there’s a contradiction in the state law: one part says that the petitioner has to deposit money to pay for the recount when they file, another part says that the Commission has to give the petitioner an estimate of the cost of the recount after receiving the petition and the petitioner has to pony up the money within a very short timeline after getting the estimate. So, I understand that trying to make certain all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed means they can’t just slap down a petition right away.
Completely unrelated to all of this: while there are reasons to be skeptical about the vote count in some places, I’m not holding out a lot of hope that any of these recounts will change any results. Part of that is based on past experience. And the lack of clear evidence of wrong doing is the reason that organizations such as the Clinton campaign is loathe to expend the millions of dollars required for a recount. I’ve blogged more than once about the Republican gubernatorial candidate in my state several years ago who paid over a million dollars for a recount and audit, and succeeded only in discovering that there had been a total of four fraudulent ballots filed in the race–and all four had voted for him, not his opponent. So he and the party spent a lot of money to actually reduce their own vote count, and thus lose slightly worse…But I have to agree with Dan Pfeiffer, if the Green Party had done what so-called third-parties used to do: endorse the major party candidate who supported most of their agenda (earlier in the campaign the eventual Green nominee had claimed she would endorse Bernie Sanders if Bernie got the nomination, and since Hillary’s voting record when they were both in the Senate matched Bernie 90+ percent of the time you’d think that would be close enough). I get it, when I was younger I used to think that what we needed was more active third parties. That was before I understood a couple of very important things: while the Constitution says nothing explicitly about parties, the way the electoral college is set up to elect presidents means that we have a Constitutionally-mandated two party system; and for most of history both major parties are coalitions of unofficial smaller parties already.
Anyway, I don’t think that recounts and audits are ever a bad idea. So even if these efforts don’t change anything, I’m glad that we’re going forward with at least one, and hope at least two more.
Presidential campaigns in the U.S. are weird. Okay, let’s be honest, politics everywhere is weird, but the way Americans choose candidates has a particularly amazing number of eccentricities. We choose candidates through a patchwork systems of caucuses and primaries, which also generate the delegates who will eventually write state and national party platforms through an arcane series of district, county, and state meetings and conventions. And sometimes the arcane becomes literal (such as the time our state’s Republican party platform had multiple planks condemning witchcraft). Politics is supposed to be about compromise and finding solutions that a majority of people can get behind, which makes things very difficult for people who expect a candidate to agree with them on absolutely everything in order to get their support. The more voters involved, the less likely it is that you’re going to get your first choice. Which isn’t a pleasant realization. As I well know… Read More…
- All six openly non-heterosexual members of Congress who were up for re-election have won their races. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Rep Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep David Cicilline (D-RI), and Rep. Kysten Sinema (D-AZ) all retained their seats this week.
- The Citizens of Dallas, Texas, overwhelmingly voted to amend the city charter to include an anti-discrimination clause which included both sexual orientation and gender identity.
- The Duck Dynasty cousin (Zach Dasher) whose slogan running for Congress was, “My platform begins with God,” lost. It is important to not that he was running against an incumbent conservative Republican whose previous campaign was all about defending the sanctity of marriage (and lots of other anti-gay statements), because said incumbent was too liberal. While Dasher has lost, we don’t yet know the winner. The Sanctity of Marriage guy has a run-off with a moderate Democrat in a few weeks.
- Massachusetts has elected the first out lesbian state attorney general.
- The anti-gay governor of Pennsylvania whose poor choice of words and even more suspect legal arguments I’ve written about before, Tom Corbett, was defeated by a candidate who has pledged to sign a comprehensive hate crime law if the legislature passes it.
- Anti-gay crackpot (who is currently embroiled in a lawsuit about crimes against humanity for some of his anti-gay activities in Uganda), Scott Lively, failed to get even 1% of the vote in his bid for Massachusetts governor.
There were other bright spots here and there. Most of the local races I voted on went the way I wanted them to. There were other good candidates elected around the country. Despite the crowing of some of the anti-gay activists out there, there is little evidence of a change of heart of the electorate on equality issues. This election was more about who didn’t show up to vote rather than a change in the opinions of the majority.
And I’m not as bummed out as I was afraid I would be. Most of which I attribute to the fact that I started NaNoWriMo on midnight, Friday, and I written over 10,000 words already. So I’ve paid less attention to all the depressing news, rather than my usual level of obsessing over election stuff.