Open Thread and Link Farm, The Thing With Feathers Edition

  1. There Is Only One Way Out of This Crisis: Expand the Court | The Nation
    “Win the Senate. Win the White House. Pass a bill expanding the court. That is how democracies work. And if Republicans win in the future and pass a different bill and add even more seats, so be it. That is also how democracies work.”
  2. Kidnapping: A Very Efficient Business | by Anne Diebel | The New York Review of Books
  3. GOP Leaders Are Using Weasel Words To Avoid Rejecting Trump’s Attempted Coup | Washington Monthly
  4. Does Anyone Really Change Their Votes? – POLITICO
    Among many other tidbits: Some independent voters are more partisan than the partisan voters.
  5. Opinion | Correcting the misinformation about Breonna Taylor – Radley Balko, The Washington Post
  6. How Democrats Are Preparing for Postelection Chaos – The Atlantic
    In 2000 Republican thugs took to the streets to stop votes from being counted, while Al Gore stayed above it all. That won’t happen again.
  7. What Joe Biden Can Learn From Jimmy Carter – The American Prospect
    Arguing that we need to greatly expand the number of judgeships, which used to expand with the population but haven’t in decades, causing courts to be seriously overburdened. And also a chance to restore some of the Carter-era diversity in who gets to be judges that Trump and others have undone.
  8. Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”This Judith Butler interview – in which Butler adroitly and politely identifies and deflates the anti-trans assumptions hidden in the interviewer’s questions – is a joy to read.
  9. Christian Kroger employees sue for being forced to wear a heart on their uniform. They say it’s gay. / LGBTQ Nation
    The heart has like three colors on it, so they’ve decided it’s a rainbow, I guess?
  10. Democratic insiders set up a ‘war room’ to quickly kill the filibuster
    I find it interesting (and hopeful) that Harry Reid is now on the “kill it” side, although I wish he’d come to that conclusion 11 years ago.
  11. Legend of Korra is on Netflix: A look at its messy, complicated legacy – Vox
    I love Korra, but I have to admit that Avatar was a better show, mainly on the strength of better writing.
  12. Why You Should Trade Body Positivity For Fat Acceptance
    “…body positivity has forgotten its radical and political roots from when it first started as the fat acceptance movement.”
  13. Policing Is the Wrong Tactic for a Disease That Preys on Inequality
  14. Supreme Court: Why did liberals win so often in a conservative Court? – Vox
    Of course, if they succeed in getting a new justice seated to replace RBG, it’ll all become much easier for them.
  15. The Black American Amputation Epidemic
    “‘So what happens when a patient comes in and can’t afford a procedure that’s limb salvage? They eventually lose their limbs. They’ll present back to the emergency room with a rotten foot.’ And a surgeon would have no choice but to amputate.”
  16. Opinion | A ‘Safety Net’ That’s a Kafkaesque Mess – The New York Times And an alternate link.
    “Looking at the mess facing S.S.I. recipients who try to work, one feels that a terrible mistake has been made. But history tells a different story: this Kafkaesque nightmare was a deliberate choice.”
  17. Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals – The New York Times And an alternate link.

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52 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, The Thing With Feathers Edition

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Regarding #1, “There Is Only One Way Out of This Crisis:”

    What crisis? There’s no crisis. What qualifies as a crisis here?

    #3: “GOP Leaders Are Using Weasel Words To Avoid Rejecting Trump’s Attempted Coup”

    There is no “attempted coup” until Pres. Trump is adjudged to have lost the election by the Supreme Court and still refuses to leave office at noon on January 20th. The which I very very much doubt will happen, and if it does I would be the first to call for U.S. Marshals to pick him up bodily, haul him out and toss him in a cell while awaiting indictment.

    For his part, Trump himself was reportedly tickled silly by the fact that he had made liberal heads explode by threatening to plunge the country into chaos and political violence.

    If Trump wins in an indisputable landslide, does anyone here – especially those of you living in the Portland area – doubt that liberal heads will “explode” and that there will be chaos and politically-inspired violence? As far as #6 goes, while I won’t call them “Democrats” it’s my guess is that a lot of people intending to vote for Mr. Biden are preparing for post-election chaos by getting ready to cause it.

    I thought #5 seems well-written and I learned a few things. Those people in the streets and on social media claiming that those cops got away with murder would do well to read it, and to learn what the definition of murder is.

  2. 2
    Kate says:

    What crisis? There’s no crisis. What qualifies as a crisis here?

    I think this summary, from a post at Lawyers, Guns and Money sums it up quite well:

    A minority faction governing the majority with increasingly unpopular policies imposed through increasingly undemocratic means is not exactly a formula for democratic stability. And as Denverite observed recently, even the better case scenario of a majority governing an enthonationalist insular minority that doesn’t recognize the majority’s legitimacy to govern isn’t a lot better.

  3. 3
    Görkem says:

    Perhaps a genuine crisis is not yet upon us, but I think we definitely have what Gorbachev would have called a “pre-crisis situation”

  4. 4
    Kate says:

    There is no “attempted coup” until Pres. Trump is adjudged to have lost the election by the Supreme Court and still refuses to leave office at noon on January 20th.

    There is no reason for this to go to the Supreme Court. There is no reason to have Republican state legislatures overrule the will of the people in their states and send electors for Trump if the people of their state voted for Biden. Threatening these moves is anti-democratic. There is no evidence of voter fraud. None. Trump tried to prove there was in 2016, but his own commission failed to find any evidence. Nothing has changed. There is no evidence that the Democrats are cheating in any way, shape or form. If Biden wins, not only will it be 100% legitimate, it will be despite a clearly unlevel playing field.
    Trump has repeatedly used government resources, paid for by tax payers, for campaign purposes. This is blatantly illegal, and gives him an unfair advantage over Biden. The Russians are also illegally interfering on Trump’s behalf again. Any Trump win will be tainted.

  5. 5
    Corso says:

    Kate @4

    “There is no reason to have Republican state legislatures overrule the will of the people in their states and send electors for Trump if the people of their state voted for Biden.”

    Agreed, 100%, but is that what’s being suggested? When I read that everyone was ramping up for SCOTUS challenges, I assumed everyone was thinking of close races like Florida in 2000 (Bush v. Gore). Is there actually a movement to send completely faithless electors to the college?

    “Trump has repeatedly used government resources, paid for by tax payers, for campaign purposes. This is blatantly illegal, and gives him an unfair advantage over Biden. The Russians are also illegally interfering on Trump’s behalf again.”

    Do you have examples? It wouldn’t surprise me even a little bit, and I’ll probably end up agreeing with you, but I haven’t seen it. I have, however, seen chatter to the tune of “Trump signing peace deals in the middle east is unfair because it makes him look good in an election year.” and that can’t possibly count; There isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a rule against doing semi-competent things in an election year.

  6. 6
    Görkem says:

    @Corso: The speculation is that in close states like Ohio, Trump might be ahead on election night due to advantages with non mail-in voters (possibly due to EDO or Election Day Operations on the part of Republican party operatives), that the state governments might call into question the integrity of mail-in voting for partisan reasons, and that when the deadline to appoint electors comes, they might do so based on the count on election night even if the overall count favours Biden.

  7. 7
    Corso says:

    @6

    Yeah…. I’m on record that I think this push for mail-in voting was ill conceived specifically for reasons like that. This is still a close race, I favor Biden to win, but who knows, we haven’t seen a debate yet, and I think this race hinges on whether Biden shows up sharp and on point or falls apart in real time.

    But the most likely outcome if Biden wins is that it will seem like Trump won on election night, but Trump eventually loses as votes trickle in, and the most likely outcome if Trump wins is it looks like Trump wins at election night, and then 2020 happens all over again as his win margin shrinks but never quite makes it over the edge.

    The best scenario for American unity is a clear and decisive victory from either person. Again, I think Biden is going to win, and I would prefer that he wins, but if Trump’s going to win, I hope it’s by 50,000 votes in every swing state, and that matches (give or take) polling numbers. Anything less is going to be more violent than the blow-out victories (which are still going to be violent, I can’t see a way around that).

  8. 8
    Kate says:

    Corso @5

    Agreed, 100%, but is that what’s being suggested?

    It is actually in the article @3 which Ron and I were responding to:

    Trump officials and state Republican leaders had been in discussions about states with Republican leadership simply sending their state’s electors for Trump regardless of who had actually won the state.

    From the original reporting in the Atlantic (which is needlessly wordy…just meandering word salad for paragraph after paragraph…so I’ve pulled the quote out for you).

    According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires.

    And, to your second question….

    Do you have examples? It wouldn’t surprise me even a little bit, and I’ll probably end up agreeing with you, but I haven’t seen it.

    The relevant statute is the Hatch Act. Here’s a list of 15 violations just from the Republican National Convention. This article puts it in broader context. Note that I specifically chose sources from Forbes, which is quite a conservative publication.

  9. 9
    Görkem says:

    “I think this push for mail-in voting was ill conceived specifically for reasons like that”

    Firstly, it is only ill conceived because it gives the conservatives opportunities to raise spurious concerns about the legitimacy of democratic votes. But they do this anyway when the votes are in person, so let’s put the blame where it belongs, shall we?

    Secondly, this idea of a ‘push for mail-in voting’ is itself a piece of subtle conservative propaganda. Mail-in voting is not some new thing. As has been frequently pointed out, it goes back to the civil war. What we are seeing is not some deliberate push to create mail-in votes but simply the fact that we are objectively in the kind of situation that mail-in votes are supposed to deal with, with large numbers of people unwilling or unable to physically go to the polls.

  10. 10
    Corso says:

    @8
    Thanks Kate! I missed the reference to Story 3, and it’s absolutely in there. I don’t think that Republicans will actually try that during the election, but if they do, I’ll be right there beside you.

    @9
    “Firstly, it is only ill conceived because it gives the conservatives opportunities to raise spurious concerns about the legitimacy of democratic votes.”

    No, it’s ill conceived because it’s not uncommon for countries that have tried mail-in-balloting to either scrap the option entirely, or put serious restrictions on the practice. I’m working from memory, but I believe that slightly more than half the EU bans mail in balloting unless you are overseas. Someone in the previous discussion said that there were countries that had success. Sure. Perhaps their post system is better than America’s. Perhaps they had more time to plan. I can’t tell you exactly why it worked in some places, and not others, but we do have a preview into American mail in Balloting; This year, a fifth of New Jersey’s primary ballots ended up spoiled, and they are still finding uncounted ballots crammed into corners. The problem is not fraud (although, the system is probably more vulnerable to it) so much as the problem is that votes get spoiled at a *vastly* disproportionate rate to in-person voting and ballots get lost. It also bears noting that those countries that did attempt large-scale mail in balloting and then restricted it had years to plan, motivation to succeed, and still failed.

    “What we are seeing is not some deliberate push to create mail-in votes but simply the fact that we are objectively in the kind of situation that mail-in votes are supposed to deal with, with large numbers of people unwilling or unable to physically go to the polls.”

    Citation please. Because while it makes sense that mail in balloting would increase the institution of voting in normal circumstances, I doubt very much that it was designed to deal with a rapid, unexpected influx of voters at a time when USPS is already stressed, during a global pandemic.

    Even if there were a very self-interested Democrat in office, this would be a rough fact pattern, but you have Trump and that makes it worse. This, as it is, cannot do anything but fail. The worst part is that this isn’t rhetorical, you don’t have to agree with me, we can all wait a couple of months and see who was right.

  11. 11
    Görkem says:

    You want a citation for the fact that we are in a situation where many people are unwilling or unable to physically go to the polls?

    We have already extensively discussed the use of voting by mail in the world outside North America so forgive me for not going over it again.

  12. 12
    Petar says:

    If Trump had half a brain, he would be asking his followers to vote in person, and spending his efforts to increase the ratio of spoiled mailed-in votes through all the mechanisms available to him, including the 6 on 3 Supreme Court that’s likely to exist on Election Day.

    It may be enough for him to win.

    Sure, it would also lead to increased Covid-19 spread, and avoidable deaths among his followers, and eventually all American citizens. But does anyone still think that it would bother him?

    I am actually surprised that Russian trolls are not flooding the Internet with conspiracy theories about a coordinated effort by the Trump administration to allow the spread among Blue states for political gain. Maybe they are waiting for the elections to be over. After all, the damage from such a campaign would be less than the damage from four (or eight, or …) more years of Trumpism.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Mail in voting works fine in Oregon, and has done so for many years.

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    Because while it makes sense that mail in balloting would increase the institution of voting in normal circumstances, I doubt very much that it was designed to deal with a rapid, unexpected influx of voters at a time when USPS is already stressed, during a global pandemic.

    Barring deliberate sabotage, the post office’s capacity is fine. The volume of mail expected, even if we have a huge turnout, still won’t be as big as the Christmas rush they do every year. (Because people vote only once but send out multiple Christmas cards and gifts). And ballots are far more uniform, which makes it easier (uniform both in size and shape, and in the tiny number of addresses filled-in ballots are going to). And I think there are so many eyes on the post office now that deliberate sabotage isn’t as likely – they’ve already backed down on many of the changes they were making.

    This year, a fifth of New Jersey’s primary ballots ended up spoiled, and they are still finding uncounted ballots crammed into corners.

    It seems to be more like 12%. And New Jersey is working on correcting many of those problems.

    But that does bring up a counterpoint to my Oregon example: Oregon has years of experience running elections this way, and that might make them run smoother here than they do in states that haven’t done it before on a large scale.

    Another thing about that 12%: We don’t know what number to compare it to. Because while spoiled ballots are less common with in-person voting (3% or so, iirc), the main ways the GOP deters in-person voting – unreasonably long lines, closing neighborhood places to vote in person, purging voters – stop people from voting before they turn in their ballot, so wouldn’t be included in that statistic.

    The worst part is that this isn’t rhetorical, you don’t have to agree with me, we can all wait a couple of months and see who was right.

    Why do you think the Democratic party – which has the help of experts on this stuff – is so for mail in voting, while the GOP – who has their own experts – is desperately against it? It’s possible that the experts on both sides have no idea what they’re talking about, of course. But I think it’s also possible that you’re mistaken.

  15. 15
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Petar, you might be interested in After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard, sequel to Carter and Lovecraft.

    There’s a subplot which centers Nazi genocide of Poles seriously. It’s a small subplot, but it’s there.

  16. 16
    Görkem says:

    Enigma by Robert Harris has the Russian genocide of Poles as a major plot point.

  17. 17
    Petar says:

    Enigma by Robert Harris has the Russian genocide of Poles as a major plot point.

    Which one?

    I am aware of at least three relatively separate events that could be viewed as Russian genocide of Poles. One was part of the prewar purges, and targeted mostly Soviet citizens, the second was conducted during the war and targeted mainly military officers and civic officials, and the third was during the unrest, if not civil war, which followed the Communist takeover of Poland.

    Judging from book’s title, it’s probably the second one, which, when it comes to numbers, is probably the least significant. And to be honest, while the first one is the least well known, it is the one that best matches the definition of genocide. The second and third were more of a political purge of the opponents of the regime. The first was pure ethnic cleansing. Being Polish was enough to get you disappeared. Hell, it was enough to be suspected of being Polish.

    ———–

    This said, all three combined pale compared of the massacres of three or four other ethnicities conducted during the same period. It would not surprire me if they get remembered better than all but the one conducted against the Jews.

    My wife was reading an article about WWII rapes the other day. The Russians starred in all the photographs and were listed as perpetrators the most often, the Germans were only listed as victims, and Japan was mentioned once, together with a number of ‘thousands’ of victims.

    For comparison, Germans actually enslaved hundreds of thousands of Slavic women, brought them home, got 80% of them pregnant, and killed off the children. How many rapes they committed while killing over 10,000,000 civilians, no one knows. As for the Japanese, they raped and enslaved hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Chinese, but I guess those do not count. The ‘thousand’ numbers must have only counted real people, i.e. the Dutch and Brits.

    ———–

    Doesn’t all this make you proud of being human? By the way, what brought genocides to this thread?

  18. 18
    Görkem says:

    @Petar: Katyn.

  19. 19
    Corso says:

    @11

    “You want a citation for the fact that we are in a situation where many people are unwilling or unable to physically go to the polls?”

    No, although you might not be able to get that either. I’d like a citation for this being the kind of situation mail in voting was designed to deal with, because I think that’s unlikely. Mail in voting was designed to increase voter turnouts, or give options to people overseas, or to respect the time of the working public, but it was never designed to fill the gap when a significant chunk of America is nervous about going outside. More, regardless of what the process was designed to do, that’s nothing more than dust and dreams if there isn’t any infrastructure to back it up.

    “We have already extensively discussed the use of voting by mail in the world outside North America so forgive me for not going over it again.”

    You’re forgiven, but I still think you’re wrong. I feel like you’ve been very selective with which facts you’ll take in, and the facts you’re ignoring are that countries all around the world have had very mixed results with mail in balloting, despite having the time to plan for it, the political will to make it work, and the funding to support it. All three of those things are missing here, and if you want to act like this is going to work in November, we only have a couple of months to wait and see. I believe this is going to be a disaster. to an extent, it already is. Who knows, maybe I’m reading this completely wrong, in that case, I have the privilege to watch this unfold from North of the 49, and I’m more than willing to admit when I’m wrong, so I’ll apologize then.

    @14

    “Why do you think the Democratic party – which has the help of experts on this stuff – is so for mail in voting, while the GOP – who has their own experts – is desperately against it? It’s possible that the experts on both sides have no idea what they’re talking about, of course. But I think it’s also possible that you’re mistaken.”

    To be fair, it’s absolutely possible I’m mistaken, but like I said, I got to watch systems like this fail in real time while I was overseas, and perhaps that biases me. At the end of the day, if I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and apologize, I’d love it if your election went off without a hitch… I just don’t think it will.

    As to why the two political parties have such a different take on the topic? Politics. Democrats have always been interested in expanding the voter base, because they do better when more people vote. I think that they think that their base is less likely to risk voting in person than the Republican base, and so they’re worried about a disproportionally low turnout and are trying to come up with alternatives, regardless of whether the alternatives are likely to actually work. Frankly, they’re grasping at straws. Conversely, I think the Republicans have always been interested in spending less on USPS, and that it might weigh the election in their favor is a cherry on the top for them. That USPS probably won’t be able to handle the process is a talking point, sure, but it also happens to most likely be true. I can’t stress this enough: Just because a Republican says it doesn’t make it automatically wrong.

  20. 20
    Görkem says:

    Mail in voting is designed to deal with situations where people find it difficult to make it physically to the polls. That includes people who work or are overseas, and in the past these have been the majority of people who have practiced mail in voting, but that is not an exhaustive list.

    Let me ask, Corso, are you advocating that mail-in voting be somehow banned? Because that would be a very radical departure from previous elections. If not, what is your problem with the current situation?

  21. 21
    Corso says:

    @20

    “Let me ask, Corso, are you advocating that mail-in voting be somehow banned? Because that would be a very radical departure from previous elections. If not, what is your problem with the current situation?”

    No. There are going to be people who could only vote by mail, and having that option is still better than the alternative, I just think we need to be realistic about the efficacy of it, and I think it should be used as a measure of last resort.

    A little bit of napkin math: Assuming that Amp’s numbers above are correct, and the spoilage rates on mail in ballots for districts unfamiliar with the mail in process is something around 12%, and the rate of spoilage for in person ballots is something like 3%, then you’re left with the reality that mail in balloting is 400% more likely to result in your vote not being counted. (At least in places with less than ideal conditions, which I think describes America currently)

    Can we at least admit that’s not good? And that’s not even taking into account ballots that are never marked as spoiled because they get lost (like the 2000 ballots found in New Jersey). What I said earlier? I meant it:

    Democrats have always been interested in expanding the voter base, because they do better when more people vote. I think that they think that their base is less likely to risk voting in person than the Republican base, and so they’re worried about a disproportionally low turnout and are trying to come up with alternatives, regardless of whether the alternatives are likely to actually work.

    Let’s take that one step further though; I believe that Democrats think their voters are less likely to risk in-person voting, and are worried about a blowout, so they’re pumping the tires for mail in voting, the problem with that is that it’s September 29th, we’re running out of time, the infrastructure is not in place, and spoilage is (probably) going to be an issue.

    This is going to be a close election. In swing states, the winning plan for Democrats will be to encourage in-person voting. They need their votes to count.

  22. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Assuming that Amp’s numbers above are correct, and the spoilage rates on mail in ballots for districts unfamiliar with the mail in process is something around 12%, and the rate of spoilage for in person ballots is something like 3%, then you’re left with the reality that mail in balloting is 400% more likely to result in your vote not being counted.

    Actually, what I wrote is that this sort of direct comparison doesn’t fully capture the situation.

    Another thing about that 12%: We don’t know what number to compare it to. Because while spoiled ballots are less common with in-person voting (3% or so, iirc), the main ways the GOP deters in-person voting – unreasonably long lines, closing neighborhood places to vote in person, purging voters – stop people from voting before they turn in their ballot, so wouldn’t be included in that statistic.

    I see a lot of democrats encouraging people to use their mail-in ballots but turn them in on person rather than mailing them. I’m not sure how it works in New Jersey; in Oregon, we have the choice of either mailing our ballots in or dropping them off in a ballot box in a library. (This year, libraries are closed, but you can drop ballots in the book return slot for the librarians to put in the ballot box.)

    It may be that the best system is to allow voters to choose, and trust that voters will pick the means of voting that makes them most likely to vote.

  23. 23
    Kate says:

    Mail in voting was designed to increase voter turnouts, or give options to people overseas, or to respect the time of the working public, but it was never designed to fill the gap when a significant chunk of America is nervous about going outside.

    It is ridiculous to make generalizations about what mail in voting was ‘designed for’ in the United States. We have 50 different election systems!
    In five states, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Hawaii, mail in voting was designed to handle ALL the voting before COVID.
    In ten additional states, mail in voting was designed to be open to anyone who wanted to use it for any reason before COVID.
    Two additional states have not changed eligibility requirements for mail in voting in response to COVID.

  24. 24
    Corso says:

    @23

    I don’t think “Mail in voting wasn’t designed with a pandemic in mind” is a generalization.

    Here…. Let’s get the cards out on the table:

    Do you actually think this is going to work? You can think I’m wrong for all kinds of reasons, and we can discuss them, but do you actually think when rubber hits the road and ballots start flowing in November, that the balloting system will:

    1) function.
    2) not lose ballots.
    3) have spoilage rates similar to other forms of voting.
    4) not disenfranchise Democrats compared to their in-person-voting counterparts.

    Because if you believe all of the above, we’ll probably have to agree to disagree and see how it goes, and if you disagree with any of the above, then we’re really arguing on the margins.

  25. 25
    Görkem says:

    Are you really worried about disenfranchising Democrats, Corso? Do you think the reason Republicans are talking about mail in voting being suspicious is that they are concerned about Democratic votes being lost? Seriously?

  26. 26
    Corso says:

    @25

    Are you really worried about disenfranchising Democrats, Corso?

    Absolutely. My ideal 2020 outcomes, in order:

    1) Biden wins in a landslide
    2) Trump wins in a landslide (but the senate flips)
    3) Biden squeaks out a win
    4) Sweet Meteor of Death
    5) Trump squeaks out a win

    The only reason I have Trump in at 2 is while I don’t particularly like his policy or governing style, America can survive another 4 years of him, and all the inevitable bickering over a slim victory regardless of who gets that slim victory is almost certainly going to end violently, and I am decidedly anti-violence.

    Do you think the reason Republicans are talking about mail in voting being suspicious is that they are concerned about Democratic votes being lost? Seriously?

    Lord no. That’s kind of funny, in a sad way. No. No, we got to the same-ish place in a very different way. The Democratic Party is signaling that they need mail in balloting to work, and the Republicans aren’t going to do anything special to help them. I think the Democratic Party is wrong, and I think they should probably push in person voting to get the best chance that their votes count.

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    Amp @ 13:

    Mail in voting works fine in Oregon, and has done so for many years.

    How do they know? Has anyone done an audit to see if, for example, all the people in a given nursing home actually did fill out their own ballot and actually wanted to vote for the person marked on the ballot? How do they know that someone (perhaps a Postal employee) didn’t grab ballots out of mailboxes or their truck and burn/shred them? Seriously. If Oregon has some kind of audit program going on I’d like to know what it is. Somehow I doubt that other States that haven’t done this before have good procedures for this.

    And, of course, as I think you pointed out there’s plenty of States that haven’t been doing this for anything close to the volumes anticipated this year. Based on the 10,000s of ballots in various States that were disqualified because of irregularities during the primaries, I anticipate that whoever loses will sue to try to get some of those ballots counted in battleground States. This could drag on longer than Gore v. Bush.

    Most people of my acquaintance who are Biden supporters are chattering about making sure they get their mail ballots in early. Most people of my acquaintance who are Trump supporters are going to vote in person. My guess is that there are going to be more spoiled Biden ballots than Trump ballots. Based on my wife’s experience as an election judge in the Illinois primary, there’s little to no risk to voting in person as long as you wear a mask. She worked both early voting (2 weeks) and election day. At the time of the primary no one was wearing masks and according to the Illinois Board of Elections only one of their 2000+ election judges caught Covid-19, and there’s no way to tell if he or she caught it on the job.

  28. 28
    Görkem says:

    It’s funny, for someone who claims to be a Biden supporter, you really are mirroring a lot of Republican talking points.

  29. 29
    Ampersand says:

    It’s funny, for someone who claims to be a Biden supporter, you really are mirroring a lot of Republican talking points.

    I don’t think “is Corso a genuine Biden supporter?” is likely to be a fruitful line of discussion. And it feels a bit like a personal attack, which I’d prefer us to avoid here.

    Corso says they are a Biden supporter; you don’t believe Corso; let’s leave it at that.

  30. 30
    Kate says:

    How do they know? Has anyone done an audit to see if, for example, all the people in a given nursing home actually did fill out their own ballot and actually wanted to vote for the person marked on the ballot?

    Trump was highly motivated to find evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election, since he claims that he actually won the popular vote. His commission found nothing of significance.
    https://www.npr.org/2018/08/04/635668304/member-of-disbanded-trump-voter-fraud-commission-speaks-out
    Another study found only 54 possible cases of voter fraud in Oregon.
    https://mailtribune.com/news/happening-now/oregon-study-of-voter-irregularities-finds-54-possible-cases
    This article gives a summary of some of the security measures states use for mail in voting.
    https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/false-narrative-vote-mail-fraud

  31. 31
    Ampersand says:

    I do think there’s a real danger of spoiled mail-in ballots being a problem. This Washington Post article gives a good overview of the issue, although keep in mind it’s five weeks old.

    I think it’s may be less of a disaster than you (Corso) think, for a variety of reasons.

    1) The states that seemed to be the worse at it, in the primaries, were the solid blue states (New York was the worst in the country). Even with a huge rate of spoiled mail-in ballots, Trump’s not going to win New York. (Or New Jersey, since we were discussing that earlier.)

    2) Some of the problems can be addressed, or are moot. For instance, no ballots will be spoiled in the general election because someone is a Democrat but voted using a Republican ballot, or vice versa. Those ballots were a small portion of the spoiled envelopes. The most common reason for ballots to have been “spoiled” in the primary were ballots arriving after election day, but Democrats in some swing states have been pretty successful at getting the rule changed to having ballots that arrive after November 2nd counted as long as they’re postmarked by election day.

    OTOH, Republicans, as you’d expect because they’re anti-democracy, are suing to prevent votes from being counted. So we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.

    3) The Democrats are much more engaged with these problems now than they were during the primary; there’s a growing emphasis on turning in ballots early, for instance.

    I am persuaded this is a genuine concern, now. But I still don’t see it as being as apocalyptic for Dems as Corso does. We’ll find out, I guess.

  32. 32
    Corso says:

    @28

    I’m not a “Biden Supporter” so much as if a gun were held to my head and I was forced to choose, I would begrudgingly pull the lever for him. I don’t know who I’d actually have supported. Gabbard seemed like a real centrist, which I know the party didn’t want, but would probably have been healthy. Yang had some interesting ideas, but I don’t know if he was entirely serious.

    But as to I “mirro[r] a lot of Republican talking points.” Like I said, just because a Republican says something doesn’t make it untrue, even if you don’t like it. I think I have the benefit of looking in from outside and viewing some of these issues without all the partisan baggage. I’m sure Republicans would think that I mirror too many Democrat talking points too, and I think that’s a swell place to be.

  33. 33
    Ampersand says:

    A pro-centrist ideology is no less ideological than being left or right, and just being in the middle doesn’t make a position correct. This is especially true in the U.S., where we basically have a center-right party (Democrats) and a far-right party to choose between. (Not all Democrats are center-right, but the most powerful Democrats usually are). The halfway point between “let’s have an increasing number of unaccountable drone killings” (Democrats) and “let’s have that, but increasing even faster and with even less accountability” (Republicans) isn’t actually a more moral or reasonable position just because it’s in the middle. The halfway point between “let’s have an incredibly difficult and bureaucratic system for poor people getting health care if they can actually navigate the system successfully” and “let’s not give poor people health care” is not a good position.

    Also, Gabbard supports right-wing conspiracy theories.

  34. 35
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    http://politicalresearch.org/2020/09/28/prochoice-religious-community-may-be-future-reproductive-rights-access-and-justice

    A long article about the possibilities and importance for religious Americans to organize for reproductive rights.

  35. 36
    Kate says:

    I do think there’s a real danger of spoiled mail-in ballots being a problem.

    I agree, and I don’t think anyone is denying that. But, there is no danger of the problems Trump is alleging – large numbers of illegal votes.
    Other forms of voting have their drawbacks as well – for a person without a car, who needs to drop off kids at daycare, work and pick up kids from daycare on that Tuesday….that doesn’t leave much time to get to the polls. In some areas, there is a history of very long lines and significant wait times. There is also the risk of bad weather. All this combined with COVID means a lot of people are in a position where leaving it to election day seems too risky. Not all states have early voting and/or weekend voting.
    Trump is also calling on his followers to watch the polls. A lot of people are intimidated by this. Being an official poll watcher involves following rules and requires registration and training. Trump is giving the impression that his followers can just show up at the polls and oversee voting.
    They’ve already started protesting at early voting in Virginia and some people were intimidated enough to require escorts past the groups.

  36. 37
    Görkem says:

    A belated rejoinder to Corso – I am also looking at it from the “outside” in that like you I am not an American and don’t live in the USA. But while you and I both have outside perspectives, they seem to inform us very differently – nothing from my outside perspective is telling me “hmm, you know those Republicans make good points, I should be more open minded towards Republicans”.

  37. 38
    Corso says:

    @34
    I understand the concept, and I understand where you’re coming from, but how does that translate to real life? What’s the answer? If Republicans and Democrats cannot possibly reconcile or compromise on their differences, because reconciliation or compromise is absurd, then in a country that is basically a 50/50 split, is the answer to start splitting the States into different countries? Because so long as 52% of the country can push policy that 48% of the country feels is abhorrent (Or even worse, so long as 48% can push what 52% feels is abhorrent) the current cycle of polarization and violence will continue.

    @37
    I mean, there’s a lot of garbage coming from them too. I try to parse what I hear through as unbiased a lens as I can manage. If you read what I’ve said, I explicitly reject the fraud angle… While there’s probably more likelihood of fraud with mail in balloting, I don’t see any information that leads me to think it’s common enough to actually be a problem. Spoilage is an obvious problem though, and if at the end of the day, Democrats feel like spoilage will be less of an issue because their supporters might not show up to the polls, and that’s the bigger issue…. That’s still rough, because I don’t think Republicans are going to have those qualms.

    And as an aside… Trump’s administration announced that he has COVID as of this morning. I don’t know what that means, because while he’s in a risk group because of his age, he’s also relatively healthy, especially for a man his age. But if he dies… Whooee, Politics are going to get ugly. Uglier? Uglyest?

  38. 39
    Görkem says:

    Trump has access to literally the best healthcare in the world. He will live.

  39. 40
    Ampersand says:

    Rich people with access to great healthcare, still sometimes die. I think Trump will probably live.

    But he’s gotten sick very fast, which could mean Covid is hitting him hard. I won’t be shocked if he dies. A doctor interviewed on Rachel Maddow said he thinks Trump has an 80 or 90% chance of survival.

    I don’t know what happens if Trump dies. It’s really too late for Republicans to get a new name on the ballots – people have already begun voting. They’ll probably argue that Trump’s votes should go to Pence, and honestly I think that’s a fair argument; but that doesn’t mean that the courts in all fifty states (plus some territories and DC) will accept that that position is legal.

    It’s not just Trump; it’s plain that a lot of people who have been around Trump recently are getting sick. So far Republicans, because at high levels of government, Republicans are the ones proudly going without masks and hugging at parties. So a lot depends on how many people get sick, and maybe too sick to work for a while. (I assume few if any will die).

  40. 41
    Ampersand says:

    If Republicans and Democrats cannot possibly reconcile or compromise on their differences, because reconciliation or compromise is absurd, then in a country that is basically a 50/50 split, is the answer to start splitting the States into different countries?

    People talk about this a lot, but I doubt it’ll happen. Most of the US is not red, or blue, but different shade of purple; New York is a safe state for Biden, but there are still millions of Trump supporters who live in NY, for example. As such, I think there would a loud and passionate “hell no!” contingent against splitting off, and I think they’d be able to effectively veto the split idea.

  41. 42
    Görkem says:

    I am no lawyer, but – the constitution doesn’t directly specify that a President must be living, but almost all schools of legal interpretation hold that clauses such as the eligibility clause include the stipulation that somebody has to actually be alive, so electors could not cast their electoral votes for a dead Trump. If electors pledged to Trump/Pence ticket cast votes for Pence as President then I don’t think anybody could really argue.

  42. 43
    Kate says:

    Herman Cain died of COVID in July.

  43. 44
    Görkem says:

    Yes but Cain, rich as he was, wasn’t the President. It is possible for somebody with high quality healthcare to still die, but the odds are very much against it.

  44. 45
    hf says:

    Yes, there seems to be only a 10-20% chance of Trump dying from this particular illness. (I’d say he has much more chance of suffering long-term debilitating effects, but let’s ignore that for now.) Can you recall anything else that had a comparable probability, according to the best research, and which nevertheless occurred?

  45. 46
    Görkem says:

    “Can you recall anything else that had a comparable probability, according to the best research, and which nevertheless occurred?”

    Sure, I have rolled a one on a six sided dice plenty of times.

  46. 47
    Corso says:

    @46

    A D6? Pfft…. Get on my level! Roll that D10 and get a 1 or a 2!

    Complete aside;

    I feel…. Much better about Biden’s chances now than I did a couple weeks ago, that debate was disastrous for Trump, and even before he caught COVID, the polls were starting to show that. Now that half his campaign is down, we might have a clear win for Biden on election night, and that lead build as mail in ballots get in.

    Added to that all the senators currently down, and Trump might not be able to get ACB nominated, which… Will probably be for the better. Biden’s nominee will almost by definition be healthier for America.

    At the end of the day, they’re all people, and I hope they all recover, and recover to full health…. But I have to appreciate the silver linings in the fallout of this.

  47. 48
    Görkem says:

    Corso: I think the fact that I specified a six sided die, rather than just generically said a die, says it all

  48. 49
    Petar says:

    Corso, in the Balkans and much of the Middle East pretty much every adult male has rolled six sided dice, and finds nothing strange about it.

    D10s are another matter. Even today, probably less than 1% of the people in that region, for example, have seen one, let alone rolled it. I think that a lot of them would have a problem with role-playing games, as well.

    As for Trump, whoever gave the odds as 10-20% was nuts. His infection was detected very early, he immediately received high end care. The resources expended on him were orders of magnitude what a wealthy person with the even the best public health care plan can expect. Anti-viral cocktails are not only expensive as Hell, they are also scarce. He received care that usually would not be offered to anyone as early in the infection stage, or showing as little distress.

    Which is fine. The problems that would have arisen from his death are best avoided. A good use of resources. Too bad we do not have the resources to do the same for the ten of thousands of people who get infected in the US alone every day.

  49. 50
    Duncan says:

    I disagree about the Judith Butler interview. I thought it was embarrassing. But you reminded me I was going to write a blog post about it, which is helpful. Thanks!

  50. 51
    Ampersand says:

    Glad to be helpful, Duncan! :-p

  51. 52
    Mookie says:

    In turn, my thanks to Duncan for reminding me to read the interview. Like Amp, I found Butler persuasive, thoughtful, and very adept at analyzing and then further sapping of all credibility these shopworn strawmen. Ignoring Ferber’s own vested interests, this was an objectively poor job on her part, though, no doubt. No engagement, just a handful of restated “questions.” Incurious and anti-intellectual is exactly right.

    ETA it also laid bare the paucity of TERF “activism” and “journalism,” which function more like simple advocacy for a narrow, reactionary position that values, above all else, endlessly relitigating the same paranoia and the same empty, bad faith talking points. Fair play to Butler for giving world class answers to very dumb questions, but this was softball stuff that could only land if the subject was woefully underprepared, which one could hardly anticipate here.

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