Category Archives: Politics

Relaxing after a long and difficult Campaign 1.0 season.

Interesting day. Christine Hallquist has been nominated by the Democratic Party in Vermont to run for governor. She is transgender. In Minnesota’s primary, Democrats bothering to show up at the polls on Primary day outnumbered Republicans 2:1. Usually it is about even. That’s the first draft of the Blue Wave, right? Twitter just closed Alex Jones’ account. And no, that is not censorship.

All indications are that we will get to hear Trump say the N-word some time over the next week or two. I don’t really need to hear that, but there may be those who do.

What happened in your politics today? For those in the handful of states that had primaries today, you’ve got one night to rest. Tomorrow, all roads lead to November 6th.

And now for your entertainment and inspiration:

Minnesota Primary Results

A few preliminary thoughts on the primary.

First, on the turnout. we don’t have final numbers yet, but with 65% of precincts reporting, there are two interesting facts emerging.

1) The number of people who showed up to vote this year is close to twice what would be predicted based on numbers from previous years. That is a conservative estimate. May be closer to thrice.

2) The number of DFLers (what we call Democrats ’round here) was double the number of Russopublicans. Normally the numbers are closer to even.

Also, roughly 800,000 people (by my thumbsuck estimate) will have voted in this year’s primary in Minnesota. Normally the primary gets low turnout because of the time of year it is held. (Minnesotans are all up north in mid August pulling their docks and boats out of the lakes. “Winter is coming” is what we say this time of year.) 800,000 is a much larger number than the usual. Something like 2-3 million people usually vote in the state during normal elections.

On the governor’s race: As you know, I supported Rebecca Otto. Otto honored the DFL endorsement system, so when Erin Murphy was endorsed instead, Rebecca dropped out. Tim Walz did not promise to honor the endorsement. Meanwhile, Lori Swanson, our AG, who had been fake running (very unethically and disruptively in my view) for governor, then fake dropped out, then jumped in again, joined the race legitimately. Many assumed she could just take the primary because of her name recognition, and I believe she was counting on that.

Unfortunately for her, Swanson’s name went from famous to infamous when it was alleged that she had never actually hired campaign staff during any of her campaigns for AG (or at this time, for governor), but instead, used her AG’s office staff. That seems to have not sit well with the voters.

The outcome: I’m calling the race now for Walz. He is handily ahead of Murphy. Swanson finished a distant third. Clearly, the Townspepole have driven Swanson into the swamp.

In the AG race, endorsed candidate Matt Pelikan, my candidate, has come in third behind Debra Hillstrom, whom I like for that job. Congressman Keith Ellison, whose campaign has also been rocked by scandal rather suddenly, won handily and will be our candidate.

The interesting part of the dual Senator races we had this year was former Bush Ethics Lawyer and UMN Law School professor Richard Painter challenging Dayton appointed Senator Tina Smith in a special election for the seat formerly held by Al Franken. I know a lot of people who said they planned to vote for Painter as a protest against Smith’s inappropriate, anti-environmental and ham handed handling of a major land swap that would benefit foreign owned mining companies looking to dig cobalt and copper out of the last remaining wild lands in the state, up north. But Smith won anyway. The protest vote, around 15% may or may not be noticed by her.

Drama in the Minnesota Democratic Primary: Ellison, A-Slim’s Mom, Lori Swanson’s Staff

On Tuesday, Minnesota has its primary. This is the second of a two stage process of putting up candidates for the general election.

There is an endorsement process here in Minnesota, where delegates gather at various meetings and typically endorse a candidate for each of the partisan races. Then, the candidates go through the primary process if they are continuing to challenge each other, or if others jump into the race.

This process works fairly well most of the time for most races. People complain about it, but the complaints can be sorted into those that are pretty legit and we can’t do much about, those that are pretty legit and we can fix, and those that are largely imagined. Compared to having only a primary, in which bigger money wins the larger share of votes for state wide races, the endorsement is in some ways more democratic, if by democratic you mean anyone can be involved. If by democratic you mean anyone can show up without any knowledge and vote for the pretty name, then the primary is more like that.

There is evidence that the endorsement-followed-by-primary process does not work well for the governor’s race (but see this important discussion on that), it does work very well for the vast majority of races in Minnesota. For local races, such as the state House of Representatives, it is impossible to see how a primary-only system would serve better than the endorsement process.

But I digress. The point is, when there is an endorsement, there is considerable thoughtful vetting by numerous people and organizations. People who know a lot about the individual candidates, and public interest groups such as environmental groups, unions, etc., engage in a multi month long conversation. There are candidates that get past this without real vetting, the anointed ones, and I’ll talk about them in a moment. But most candidates get a pretty good look-at.

But then there is the primary, and in the primary, anybody can run. This year, there was a big mixup in who was running, described here. This mixup resulted, among other things, in these two novelties: AG Lori Swanson, previously fake-running for governor, then (apparently) fake-running for attorney general, then real-running for governor, kinda snuck into the race; and Congressman Keith Ellison was suddenly running for attorney general instead of Congressperson for Minnesota’s Fifth District, where he was endorsed for re-election in a district he normally wins by a huge margin.

The thing is, both of these individuals are what I call “Anointed ones.” What does that mean? It means this. If you go and ask a random selection of 20 democrats, and back up that process by selectively asking 5 or 6 trusted individuals that you know know everything about the process, about a particular candidate, they unequivocally assert that candidate is great. But if you dig deeper, you will not really find out why. If you get an answer it will have to do with the fact that the person represents their identity very well. “She’s the first woman to be in that position” or “it is great to have an African American in that position.” There may be other reasons a person is anointed, but it seems often to be an outcome of identity politics. And, I agree that those are GOOD reasons to like a candidate. But if these reasons are held up as sufficient, it is possible for serious problems to be ignored. That may be the case with both Swanson and Ellison.

Congressman Keith Ellison is the rare African Americans in Congress, and the only Muslim. He also is a great member of Congress and does a better job than most of the rest of them, and he represents his district very well. But, he is anointed, so things could get past the vetting owing to his status, as long as he is running for re-election in that race. We really don’t want anything to be wrong with him. He is golden.

Attorney General Lori Swanson, I think, was one of the few higher ranked women when she was first elected, and perhaps for that reason her SDS, even though, when you dig a bit deeper, you find all sorts of problems. She is also anointed and golden.

This is a system that seemed to be working as long as each of those politicians stayed in their lanes, in their offices running for re-election. But now that they are running in competitive races, against real alternatives, they are getting suddenly vetted and things are going badly. Had either of them gone through the endorsement process mentioned above, we likely would have found out what we are finding out now much earlier (assuming it is all real). As it is, we are finding out just a few days before the primary (and weeks after early voting started!) that each candidate may have a serious deficit.

The problems with Swanson, as described here, were revealed just a few days ago. If these revelations turn out to be true, Swanson has inappropriately and extensively used her Attorney General office staff as campaign workers on several campaigns. If that turns out to be true, it is actually in line with other allegations that have to do with the AG’s office, Swanson, and her prior mentor and the previous AG, Mike Hatch.

Then, suddenly, overnight, and this is just being learned about now, allegations have also come out regarding Keith Ellison. I’ll post the whole of it below. You can make your own judgement.

I don’t know for real about these allegations about Ellison. No, I do not agree with the #IBelieveHer philosopphy at all. I strongly prefer the #ITakeHerSeriously and #DueProcessForAll and the #IfThisIsRealWellThenLetsSeriouslyAddressIt philosophies. So I’m not saying these allegations are real or not. But that there is this big ass allegation on the Sunday before the Tuesday primary is a big ass deal.

Let me say a word about early voting. The other day I was at a thing with a bunch of Democrats. One of them asked me, “did you vote yet?” I said no. She said, “you can vote early, you know!” I said “I know, I’m not doing that. I’ll vote on voting day.” She got mad at me. Dirty looks and all. Somehow I was doing something wrong by not voting early. She tried to convince me that early voting is a good thing, not a bad thing, and I should do it.

Jeesh. Of course early voting is a good thing to have as an option. But a given individual need not vote early. If there is any chance you will not be able to vote on election day, go vote early. If early voting is the only way you get to vote, absolutely vote early! But early voting has a cost as well. Two costs.

The first cost is that it literally costs money. If 20% of the voters in a given state switched either to early voting from regular voting, or the other way around, then the shift in the cost of elections would be something like tens of millions of dollars. It costs minutes of time to process an early vote. Scaled up, machine voting is almost free to add more.

The second cost is what we are seeing right now. Many people are going to arrive on Tuesday, election day, having voted for a candidate that they then realize they can’t support. Worse, they will have voted for a candidate that would be destroyed by the Republicans in the general election. Personally, I wasn’t going to vote for Ellison for AG or Swanson for Governor anyway, but still. And it is now Sunday AM. Tuesday is a LOOOOONG way away, politically. Apparently.

So yes, early voting is good. But don’t do it if you don’t need to!

Another piece of my mind: If you are a politician or hope to be one, follow this rule if you can. Don’t say nuthin’ about nuthin’ when it comes to attacks on your rivals. Refer people to the system. Like this attack on Keith Ellison. At least one person, and I shall not name the person, came out with the Ellison information publicly, and was instantly attacked for doing so. That candidate probably lost votes.

This is especially true in Minnesota. Let me explain how this Minnesotan cultural trait works.

Joe rapes and murders several children in a day care center.

John, at Thanksgiving with all the family around, gets mad at Joe and says, “That mother fucker … I want to kill that guy.”

The fact that John swore at Thanksgiving makes him as bad as whatever he swore about. Since Joe is a multiple raper-murderer, John is now regarded as a multiple raper-murderer. It is a Minnesota rule. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there many times.

Anyway, if you are running against a candidate and someone makes an accusation, say nuthin’ about nuthin’.


Here is the story, provided for your information but with the caveat that this is totally unverified and does not come from a vetted source.

Austin “A-Slim” Monahan is a dude on Facebook. I can’t say much about him. He claims to be one of the hoottest upcoming rappers. The claim is that his mother had a relationshipo with Keith Ellison that went bad then got worse. A-SLims statement on his facebook page reads:

My name is Austin Monahan and I am writing this letter on behalf of me and my brother.
My brother and I watched our mom come out of pure hell after getting out of her relationship with Keith Ellison. For several months we knew something wasn’t right and couldn’t figure it out. When we asked our mom if everything was ok, she told us she was dealing with some stress and would be ok.
In the middle of 2017, I was using my moms computer trying to download something and I clicked on a file, I found over 100 text and twitters messages and video almost 2 min long that showed Keith Ellison dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a “fucking bitch” and telling her to get the fuck out of his house. The messages I found, were mixed with him consistently telling my mom he wanted her back, he missed her, he knew he fucked up and we wished he could do things different, he would victim shaming, bully her, and threaten her if she went public. I text him and told him I know what you did to my mama and a few other things.
I met up with my mom that night and asked her what happened. She said nothing happened until I told her I saw a video and hell of a lot of messages saying something different. She finally talked. My brother and I were so angry and hurt for our mom. We were ready to go public but our mom begged us not to and she along with others convinced us it wasn’t in our moms best interest.

I saw message after message through out all that time, where my mom was telling him she wasn’t going back to him but still saw his humanity and offered restorative justice. I honestly don’t see how she would offer him that, but thats her choice.

Sitting all this time, watching what our mom went through and not being able to say or do anything was hard as hell. None of you know the hell our family has gone through. I don’t think half of you would even care. We watched her so called political friends stand by say or do nothing. People had an idea what happened and never reached out to my mom. The same people who are posting about social justice are ready to smear my mom, protect a person who abused her and broke the law. You think we give a shit about a politics when we saw what our mom went through? She may not matter to none of you, but she is our mom, our kids grandmother and she is actually someone. There is a lot more he has done to my mom and others that we saw in the text but our mom can decide if and when she wants to tell the world that part.

Whether we saw the video or read all those messages, we still would have believed her if she had told us. #Ibelieveher

My mom has always tried to protect me and my brother. She doesn’t have to protect us anymore and we aren’t letting her stand alone. When we found out our mom was planning on sharing her story, that is all we needed to hear for us to share ours and stand with our mom. You want to smear someone, try to lie about a person who didn’t do shit to deserve the ongoing emotional, physical abuse, smear me and my brother.

I use to believe the Democrats were the ones who would stand by a person who went through this kind of abuse, now I know both Democrats and Republicans could care less when it comes to violence toward women and girls.

I have learned a lot about how patriarchy has shaped me as a 25 year old through all this. I just became a father and I am working on how patriarchy influenced thoughts ad decisions I have made as a young man so I can teach my son better. I am starting today by standing with my mom, my sons grandma. It is not just on women and girls to speak out, it is on men to do some of the emotional work. I’m not here to prove shit to anyone, I’m just stating facts. You can take it or leave it.
#Iammanenough

Mom, I am sure you are getting contacted about this post. Just know we love you and we are standing by you.

Austin Monahan
#Ibelieveher #wearemanenough #Timesup

The Crazy, Zany, Minnesota Primary!

It suddenly occurred to me that one of the more interesting political shows happening in the country right now is largely unreported nationally, and that many of my friends and readers who are not living in the North Star State are missing it. I’m talking about the Minnesota Primary.

Interesting, I say, but not necessarily consequential. Yes, how red or blue the state ends up being is partly determined by the upcoming Primary (next Tuesday), but in the end, Republicans will put up Republicans, Democrats will put up Democrats, and then those two groups will fight it out. But, despite that inevitability, there are a number of races that will be on the tips of the pundit’s tongues next week, and on election day in November. Also, there are some interesting recent developents, one of which has not hit the national press yet, but will any second now.

The big race is for governor. As you know, I supported Rebecca Otto, but she did not win the endorsement at the state convention, and having promised to abide by the endorsement, she left the race. Erin Murphy was endorsed. Also seeking the endorsement was Congressman Tim Walz, who never promised to abide by the endorsement, and who remains in the race.

In order to understand how this gets interesting, we need to have a flashback and go way back in time, to just over a year ago today. That is when Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson unofficially said she might run for governor.

For reasons that I never understood, and now see as being very iffy, most Democrats in Minnesota, at that time, thought very highly of Swanson, and saw her as very very electable, to any office. She seemed to have a very effective campaign strategy, though even until recently I’d never identified a person who could explain her strategy to me. Anyway, since Swanson was suggesting she might run for governor, several individuals declared their tentative candidacy for Attorney General. They all said, if Swanson runs for Governor, they’ll stay in that race, but if Swanson doesn’t run for Governor, they’d give sway and drop out. I remember talking as some length with one of those candidates last August, urging her to stay in the race no matter what. She would not hear of it. Nobody would ever consider running against Swanson.

I never liked that Lori Swanson did that. It made the whole gubernatorial thing harder. Also, she was, in effect cheating. When my candidate, Otto, did some brilliant thing or another as part of her job, it could not be publicized because that would be unethical use of the office for campaigning. But even a lackadaisical attack on Trump by Attorney General Swanson became a “look at me, I’m great” campaign issue, since she was not officially running.

Eventually, very very late in the process. Swanson indicated that she was not running for governor. At about the same time, a young lawyer named Matt Pelikan decided he wasn’t going to screw around like all the others. He simply ran against Swanson.

At the time, I was working endorsing conventions, so I was at the state senate level conventions for the DFL on several different occasions. This meant that I got to see every candidate running for state level office give their stump speech several times. I remember when I saw Pelikan the first time. He said all these things that were impossible, indicating that our Democratic Attorney General was a friend of the NRA (not just a little, but a lot), had a weak position on Trump’s travel ban, and all sorts of other things. I figured this guy Pelikan was nuts, because none of those things could be true.

Right?

I’m the kind of person that others sometimes come to for advice on voting. They are not following the issues or candidates too closely, and they know that I am, and I can give them some helpful advice. Well, there are other people who are the kind that I go to for advice on candidates and issues. The deep gurus. At the time that I was seeing Pelikan’s stump speech every few days, I contacted some of these trusted confidants. They all assured me that Swanson was fine, go ahead and support her, bla bla bla.

Well, I still love and respect those individuals, but in doing my own research, I found out they were all wrong. The great ability of Lori Swanson seems to have been to convince people she was a strong progressive Democrat doing an excellent job, when really, she was a centrist at best, and it was not at all clear that she was doing a great job.

So, when I went, as a delegate elected by my Senate District, to the State Convention in Rochester, I had decided I’d vote for Pelikan. I really liked him.

Here is what was supposed to happen:

1) Pelikan gets up and makes an impassioned speak about his values and his value as a candidate. As part of his time, his husband makes a short but rousing endorsement. There is a short film favorable to him.

2) Swanson has a series of surrogates speak for her first, including some well known major democrats, cute young kids, and a variety of people with various traits that show how great Swanson is. All inclusive and stuff. This is followed by Swanson giving her great speech.

3) We vote, and the vote is something like 90% Swanson 10% Pelikan, if Pelikan is lucky. (A candidate needs 60% to be endorsed, and there can be several votes in a row to get there.

What really happened:

Item 1 from above. Not everyone agrees with me, oddly, but I felt that Pelikan’s speech was one of the best at the convention. Others do share that view. Former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a couple of others, and Pelikan were all in the same echelon.

2) Swanson’s “normal people” surrogates, unpracticed and inexperienced most of them, each took too long to get through their spiel. The very famous former AG and Gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch, one of the surrogates, wandered and babbled. Time was called. There was no nice movie, no speech from Swanson. Everyone is sitting there, like, what?

3) We vote, and it is something like 52% Swanson, 48% Pelikan. The crowd goes wild. It is pretty clear that Pelikan has momentum. The chances are very high that he’ll pass Swanson on the next vote.

Just as we are starting to vote in the next round, Swanson drops out.

And that is when everything went crazy.

It took minutes for about a dozen people in very high places to put two and two together and realize that the AG slot was open. Swanson was not, people guessed, and later, got confirmed, going to stay in that race and run in the primary. She was going to swoop in out of nowhere and run in the primary for governor!

Some of the people who had previously fake-ran for AG when Swanson was toying with a gubernatorial run realized this was their chance, and some who had not as well. What unfolded unfolded fast over a few days.

Congressman Keith Ellison, up for re-election in Minnesota’s fifth district and DFL endorsed, quit his race for that seat in Congress and declared he would run for AG. That left open the fifth district. A whole bunch of people jumped into that race. Swanson added soon to be ex Congressman Nolan of Minnesota’s eight district to her ticket. Some of the people now running for AG left open seats they had been holding.

Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken had resigned from the Senate and was replaced with the appointed Tina Smith. Senator Smith is running for election to her seat in a special election this year (on normal election day). She is being challenged by former Republican Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota (and by the way a former teacher of Matt Pelikan), and a former ethics lawyer in the Bush White House. At the convention, Painter did very well despite having only barely campaigned and only entering the race a few weeks earlier. Smith and Painter will, like the rest of them, face off in next Tuesday’s primary.

So now we have a very confusing primary.

Governor:

Erin Murphy (DFL Endorsed)
Time Walz
Lori Swanson

The current and important news about this race:

1) Polls show the endorsed Murphy ticket to be significantly behind. I do not expect her to win the primary. Swanson and Walz were both doing about as well as each other until about 48 hours ago.

2) Breaking news from yesterday or the day before. The accusation is being credibly made that Swanson, while in the AG office, never actually hired staff for any of her campaigns (and this is said to continue for the current race for governor) and instead, used her government staff to do that. If that turns out to be real and is disseminated widely enough before Tuesday, it could kill her chances. I don’t know how bad this can get. I think most Democrats voting in the DFL primary who know about this, who were inclined to vote for Swanson, might beg off now. People might think, if the accusations are true, isn’t that illegal? Won’t that make the chance of her actually being governor be roughly zero?

I’m not tracking the Republican contests here, but I’ll note that for governor, Tim “We’ve Had Pawlenty of Tim” Pawlenty is trying to make a comeback. The big fight between Pawlenty and his main opponent Jeff Johnson is how much like Trump they each are. But I’m not sure if they are trying to be more like Trump or less like Trump. I imagine neither of them is sure of that either.

Attorney General

DFL Endorsed Matt Pelikan
Debra Hilstrom
Keith Ellison
Mike Rothman
Tom Foley

I think Ellison and his supporters believe that between name recognition and reputation, he might easily win this primary. The problem is, Minnesota is highly bifurcated. Most Minnesotans are either pretty liberal or full on yahoo right wing. The liberals would enjoy Ellison for several reasons, including the fact that he is a person of color and a Muslim. We would like to be the first state with a black Muslim AG. But, the yahoos won’t have anything to do with him and have always hated him.

In the primary, this means, how many Democrats will think, “I like him and all, but he can’t win in rural areas where the yahoos live, so no…”

Meanwhile Pelikan has been campaigning steadily and effectively. If the endorsing convention is anything to go by, he may do very well.

Hilstrom is locally liked a great deal, but I would guess she is mostly locally known. Nobody knows who the other two are.

I really have no idea what will happen, but I think there is a non zero chance of Pelikan pulling this off. I will be voting for him, of course.

There are actually a whole bunch of people running in the special election for Senate.

Tina Smith is the DFL endorsed incumbent. She is liked by many according to many, and I know many who support her. But she damaged herself enormously when she came out with some highly questionable environmental legislation, which turned many against her. Richard Painter is the opposite. People are suspicious of him because he is a former Republican. But, his position on those environmental issues is strongly favored by those who are unhappy with Smith’s decisions. Remember, this is a primary, so it is a good guess that faithful DFLers will vote in numbers for the endorsed candidate. I predict Painter will do much better than most expect. I have no idea who will win.

Down in Congressional District 5, now an open seat with Ellison leaving to run for AG, there are five candidates running in the primary. Ilhan Omar is the DFL endorsed candidate (endorsed in a hastily convened endorsing convention). If she is ultimately seated, she will be a black (native African) Muslim female replacing a mere male black (native born) Muslim. So that’s a sort of upgrade. Also, she is very well liked, so I strongly suspect she’ll win the primary. Whichever Democrat wins the primary will win the seat in November.

The other candidates, though, include some very popular individuals. Margaret Anderson Kelliher is a mainstream liberal DFLer, endorsed last time there was an open seat for Governor (but she lost the primary to now-Governor Dayton). Also running is Patricia Torres Ray who is locally popular. And two other guys, including a Francis Drake, but not the guy with the boat.

So, Omar will very likely win that, but it will be interesting to see how others fair.

Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District is the big cry baby of districts. This is the mining region, as well as a major tourism region. It is where the wolves live. One percent of the state’s economy is in mining, but most of the politicians pretend that the mining interests, both the businesses and the mining jobs, should drive politics state wide. Unions agree. If you are a Democrat and you point out that anything from Indian Gaming to tourism to building clean energy facilities is way bigger than mining and always will be, you will be vilified. I assume that this love of a small and mostly dead industry comes from well heeled supporters who are not only from outside Minnesota, but outside the US entirely. The mining business is large, and it is dangerous. I fully expect to be pressured to delete the very paragraph you are reading.

Anyway, because of things like mining, pipelines, hippie punching, and some very duplicitous actors in the DFL, the eight district could not endorse a candidate this year. So they’ve got five people running. If you want to know, I support Michelle Lee, but I think Kirsten Kennedy has some real future potential and she truly appreciates clean energy. Jason Metsa is the mining guy. A couple of others are running too, don’t know anything about them.

For more detail, more uniform coverage, info on the Republicans and on race I’m ignoring, check out this overview at MinnPost.

The Russia-Trump-Republican scandal will see very few if any in prison

There are a lot of different things one can do in order to keep relatively sane during this period of attack on civilization and democracy by Republicans. One might just get away from it all and watch stuff on TV or go biking. One might engage in a mentally challenging project such as writing a novel or developing a really complex and possibly useful software application. One might even spend a bit of time imagining how this is all going to turn out. Imagining FBI Agents closing in on Trump moments after the next president is inaugurated, cuffing him, taking him down town, searching him (full cavity search, of course), delousing him, putting him in the orange jump suit, etc. etc. Eventually that fantasy results in the moment of conviction in a US Federal courthouse, and his long term imprisonment.

Unfortunately, that last part is never going to happen. Here’s why, and it is very simple.

Something like 35% of Americans think Trump is their god, or at least, hero. If any one of them gets on a jury in a case charging Trump or any of his gang with any crime, they will not do their duty as citizens. They will do their duty as deplorables. There will be no conviction.

Assuming that about 30% of Americans are Deplorable (probably an underestimate) and the chance of one getting on a jury is random (probably an overestimate since more of them live in South Dakota than Washington), the chance, according to a simulation study I just ran, of having zero deplorables is about 8 in 1000. If we reduce the likelihood of getting a deplorable on the jury to about 15%, half, the chance of having a deplorable-free jury goes up to just over 10% (156 in 1075). Still pretty bad.

What I’m saying here is don’t get your hopes up. There are a number of scenarios in which Trump and his gang of Republicans get sidelined or removed from positions of power, but there are actually very few scenarios in which any of them go to prison.

This is probably why prosecutors in the ongoing Manafort trial are trying to keep Trump and his conspiratorial activity out of their courtroom. This is a good strategy. They know the odds, and they are hoping that if this first trial is a conviction it might break some sort of dam or change perceptions in some way to make it slightly more likely to get justice in later trials.

But it is a risky situation. What happens if Manafort is acquitted? There is very likely at least one Deplorable on that jury. Jury members generally get in line and do their jobs. If you’ve ever done jury duty you’ve seen how that happens and understand that idea (if you’ve never done jury duty you probably have more misconceptions than facts about it). But a true deplorable will not be affected by that process.

The outcome of the ongoing Manafort trial is going to be very interesting, and very important.

When you stand up for Alex Jones, this is what happens

You look like an idiot.

I say that not because Alex Jones is an ass and you are defending him. That just makes you a jerk, potentially. I say that not because I am an enemy of free speech, or I think free speech only applies to me and not to the likes of Alex Jones. No. I say that because you actually do look like an idiot because you are standing up for a principle you do not understand, and you are probably doing it with incomplete information but an attitude of righteousness.

You are complaining about censorship, and this isn’t really censorship. A dress code in a private school, a rule against talking loud in a theater, that sort of thing, is not censorship, and a company like Facebook saying you can’t act like Alex Jones, say the kinds of things he says, on their platform, is not censorship either.

There is actually a sort of third party liability here that you appear to be ignorant of, being an idiot and all. If I own a strip mall and somebody gets mugged out in front of a store, that is recorded. If someone gets raped in one of the stores, that gets recorded. If it turns out one of the stores is selling crack, that gets recorded. After a while, in most civilized cities or counties, my strip mall can get condemned as a hazard, taken away from me, torn down, and the land sold off. That sort of thing happens. When some deplorable disciple of Alex Jones goes into a school and kills a bunch of teaches and kids because of a conversation on Facebook … well, probably nothing happens because we are not really set up to deal with that sort of thing. But this would be the sort of thing any social networking platform would prefer to avoid, and can legally and ethically avoid, by getting rid of very bad actors on the platform, and Alex Jones is a bad actor of the lowest order.

The simple fact of the matter is this. In American society, and American law, we define free speech and censorship pretty clearly. There may be edge cases, but this is not one of them. Private corporations like Facebook, YouTube and the others who have tossed him off have the legal right to ban anyone. Period. This is something you do not know.

You come in my house without permission, no matter what you want to say, I’ll throw you out. Not censorship. You get drunk in a bar and start saying things to the server that threaten him or her, the bouncer throws you out. Not censorship. You start acting out in a school and saying things that shock and distract the students, guess what. Not censorship. If you yell fire in a movie theater, there better damn well be a fire, or anything that goes wrong because of what you did is your fault. A civil suit against you on behalf of the victims crushed by the crowd is not censorship.

Here’s the thing. It does not matter that you do not know this. This is probably not your speciality. There is probably some other thing you are good at, like noodling, or driving an Uber or something.

But when you present yourself as a hand-wringing, concerned citizen who is stepping up to the plate to preserve liberty for all, it just does not impress. It is even worse when you TOTALLY don’t understand what you are talking about, like the Internet denizen who noted, “The bad part of this is that if corporate sponsors can cut one person, they can cut others.” What?

As an aside, your coming to the aid of Alex Jones, inappropriate, could be considered not as stupid but as deplorable. When Ted Cruz came to Alex Jones’ defense, as a US Senator and all, he certainly knew that this was not censorship, but he acted like it was anyway. So, it is quite possible that someone will accidentally think you are not an idiot and, instead, think you are a deplorable. Or maybe the other way around. Either way, not good for your rep.

Consider thinking your position. I’d suggest that you rethink your position, but you would have had to have thought it out to begin with, and that is something you did not do.

Omarosa: Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House

Oh yes, this might be good. Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Few have been a member of Donald Trump’s inner orbit longer than Omarosa Manigault Newman. Their relationship has spanned fifteen years—through four television shows, a presidential campaign, and a year by his side in the most chaotic, outrageous White House in history. But that relationship has come to a decisive and definitive end, and Omarosa is finally ready to share her side of the story in this explosive, jaw-dropping account.

A stunning tell-all and takedown from a strong, intelligent woman who took every name and number, Unhinged is a must-read for any concerned citizen.

Not out yet, but available for pr-order.

Donald Trump and the Bell Curve

The infamous policy book, The Bell Curve, relied on the false claim that people of African ancestry are of low IQ (and some other things). That was based directly on the work of J. Philippe Rushton and it is false.

The Bell Curve became, in the 1980s, the intellectualized version of pseud-scientifically based racism. The Bradley Foundation, which paid for the book’s publication and printing, made sure there was a copy of it on every politically relevant person’s shelf, from elected officials to potential candidates to staffers to faculty involved even marginally in politics or society.

When those of us who study pseudo-scientific racism and works such as the Bell Curve hear the phrase “Low IQ person” we know exactly what it means. It means a white supremacist is referring to a black person.

Here is Eugene Scott commenting on this phenomenon:

Experts Mock Trump’s Cali Water and Fire Tweets

It is a little unfair. What, with Trump being as dumb as a brick and all. But it is true that experts have been mocking his absurd tweets about California fires, climate change, and water.

The offending tweets:

and

Some of the counter tweets can be found on this thread:

And from California water expert, Peter Gleick:

and

RL Miller of Climate Hawks Vote added these:

Think Progress covers the melee here.

Getcher programs here! Can’t tell the players without yer program!

Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide by Cass Sunstein, Harvard University Press.

As Benjamin Franklin famously put it, Americans have a republic, if we can keep it. Preserving the Constitution and the democratic system it supports is the public’s responsibility. One route the Constitution provides for discharging that duty?a route rarely traveled?is impeachment.

Cass R. Sunstein provides a succinct citizen’s guide to an essential tool of self-government. He illuminates the constitutional design behind impeachment and emphasizes the people’s role in holding presidents accountable. Despite intense interest in the subject, impeachment is widely misunderstood. Sunstein identifies and corrects a number of misconceptions. For example, he shows that the Constitution, not the House of Representatives, establishes grounds for impeachment, and that the president can be impeached for abuses of power that do not violate the law. Even neglect of duty counts among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” delineated in the republic’s foundational document. Sunstein describes how impeachment helps make sense of our constitutional order, particularly the framers’ controversial decision to install an empowered executive in a nation deeply fearful of kings.

With an eye toward the past and the future, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide considers a host of actual and imaginable arguments for a president’s removal, explaining why some cases are easy and others hard, why some arguments for impeachment have been judicious and others not. In direct and approachable terms, it dispels the fog surrounding impeachment so that Americans of all political convictions may use their ultimate civic authority wisely.

Just sayin’

Under Trump, Putin Gets To Slowly Invade Georgia

Every now and then, Russian operatives go out in some field in Georgia, sometimes at night, tear down a fence and put up a new one, making Russia bigger and Georgia smaller. You may remember a related incident that happened during the McCain-Obama election, of which much was made.

From WaPo:

This constantly changing boundary has already divided communities and swallowed up homes in Georgia, a country of 3.7 million that hopes to one day join NATO.

Many consider it nothing short of a silent, creeping occupation on the fringes of Europe supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“What should I do? If the Russians come closer I will not be able to do anything,” Vasya, 51, said with a shrug and a waft of a freshly lit cigarette. He wants only his first name used for fear of reprisals by nearby border guards.

The Russians have been trying to Russianize Ossetians living in the nearly island like enclave in Georgia for decades, and eventually issued many Russian passports.

It is the standard Russian move. Make up a situation in which there are people in some territory that say “Hey, we’re Russians. Where’s Russia! Come help us, Russia!” Then, the tanks roll in. In this case, until Putin put Trump in the US White House, the US helped Georgia resist this move in South Ossetia. No more. Trump is screwing over an important ally in the region.

In Georgia, there is a saying. You use it when you are disagreeing with someone. “We can discuss this in the morning. But during the night, I will sneak into your house and cut your throat,” or words to that effect. Well, now it’s Trump cutting the throat of Georgia.

“We can do nothing to protect ourselves … we cannot start war on them,” said Temuri Khuroshvili, 59, a retired police officer whose cinder-block house is in one of the 52 villages on the boundary. His home is surrounded by annexed territory on three sides.

“What can you do against Russia? They do whatever they can,” he said as he sat in the roadside shade while rusty tractors groaning under bales of hay rattled through the dusty lane. “The Russians don’t care at all.”

This is not the kind of mess that an actual US President, when we get one, is going to be able to clean up easily.

There is one country in this world moving away from more efficient transportation

And that is the United States, and that is because of Donald Trump. From WaPo:

The Trump administration on Thursday announced plans to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements for the nation’s cars and trucks through 2026 — a massive regulatory rollback likely to spur a legal battle with California and other states, as well as create potential upheaval in the nation’s automotive market.

The proposal represents an abrupt reversal of the findings that the government reached under President Barack Obama, when regulators argued that requiring more-fuel-efficient vehicles would improve public health, combat climate change and save consumers money without compromising safety.

Trump’s plan also undercuts California’s long-standing ability to set its own tailpipe restrictions, most recently in an effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

What is the rational for this? There is only one. Hippie punching. He is showing his base that he has yet another way to make the liberals cry.

But guess what. The liberals will not cry. But they will fight.