Protect our elections against the pandemic

At least seven states have postponed their presidential primaries in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

That has raised concerns about the other states that have state elections and federal primary elections planned for later this summer – and of course the general election in November.

The main concern, in terms of the pandemic, is that elections cause people to congregate at the polling places on Election Day. If it’s not safe to be within six feet of someone outside your immediate family, it’s seems ill-advised to line up with all your neighbors to check in, or to visit a small voting booth someone else was just in, or to pick up the same pen or touch the same touchscreen they used just moments ago…

To hold elections without delays, the obvious solution is to let people vote elsewhere, at other times.

RTFA. Useful, easy to accomplish suggestions. The difficulty will be the fumble-fingers Congress.

Many of the pimps for Trump – no surprise – simply call for the presidential election to be canceled. Get round to it sometime that seems easier on the Fake President.

Down to 2 old white guys, again


Since 2010, 54 women came to power as prime ministers, presidents or chancellors…

Estonia, Singapore, Ethiopia and Finland – these are some of the 21 countries currently governed by a female president or prime minister…Yet a woman president of the U.S. still remains only a hypothetical.

The 2020 Democratic nomination contest originally featured six women candidates, a record number. But the most prominent female candidates for the Democratic nomination – Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar – have all dropped out, and the focus of the race has narrowed to two males.

[This] research examines what countries where women run the government have in common – and why the U.S. still lags behind.

Same as it ever was. Not even any new lies to supplant all the old rationales.

Austria election: far-Right populists crash-and-burn / Green Party triples their best result

❝ Support for Austria’s Freedom party (FPÖ) has plunged by more than a third as voters punished the far-right group in national elections for a corruption scandal that brought down the government.

❝ The former chancellor Sebastian Kurz, 33, looks certain to reclaim his position as the youngest leader in the world after his conservative People’s party (ÖVP) secured 37.1% of the vote – its best result since 2002.

The Green party was the other big winner on Sunday, achieving its best result at national elections with 14%. The centre-left Social Democratic party (SPÖ) plummeted to a historically low 21.7% but was still the second-biggest party.

Questions about coalitions are not terribly unique – once you get outside the United States. Though we’ve had decades of cornball [and effective] brainwashing about the so-called benefits of 2-party politics, I see no reason to make excuses for the one-size-fits-all approach to electoral politics.

Republican Hypocrisy illustrates the difference between lies and damned lies

Craptastic Congressional Republicans [and Democrats] never got too upset over illegal wiretaps by the FBI during Resistance to the VietNam War. Even my mom got a $1000 settlement in court. They tapped her phone just in case I phoned Hanoi when I stopped by for Sunday dinner.

Nowadays, the courts rollover and the GOP is pissed-off that their phoniest hero might be caught on tape.

Former DOJ officials file brief against Trump’s attempt to deny voting rights policy


You got what you thought you voted against — and worse!

❝ The Justice Department’s recent about-face on a voting rights case was such a betrayal of long-standing DOJ policy that a group of former political appointees and career lawyers filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on Friday, citing more than two decades of consistent enforcement of the rule in question – until Trump.

In a possibly unprecedented move, the former Justice lawyers essentially made an argument on behalf of the Department as an institution, representing itself in opposition to its current leadership…

❝ At issue is an Ohio law that calls for purging voters from the registration rolls if they fail to vote during three election cycles then don’t respond to a mailing. The American Civil Liberties Union sued in April 2016 to prevent the state from purging potentially hundreds of thousands of registrations before the presidential election…

Historically, the Justice Department has explained to states that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) very clearly prohibits them from removing people from the rolls simply for not voting. (There are, after all, a lot of reasons someone may choose not to vote.)

Not like we never face the situation where the only choices are between two mediocrities or worse. The Trump Republican presumption is that we should lose our right to vote if we reject “too many” opportunities.

I think they just don’t want to have folks around who recognize crap choices for what they are.

Election Security in America is OK, Donald

❝ The U.S. secretaries of state, charged with running elections, recently met in Washington, D.C., to evaluate the past election season and to discuss what they can do to improve the process. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, who serves as the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, spoke with The Pew Charitable Trusts about the security of voting in America.

Q: What is on the minds of secretaries of state?

❝ A: The security of the elections. We’re seeing the Department of Homeland Security declare elections critical infrastructure. This happened just a few months ago, and we’re still trying to figure out what exactly is the role of the federal government in a highly decentralized system. We’re also thinking about issues of whether or not there is voter fraud, how much is there, and should we have some sort of national voter ID, or even a national ID card—those are the big issues this year.

Q: You’ve been working on reducing long lines at the polls. Do long lines mean people might not vote at all?

❝ A: Oh, absolutely. There’s no problem with a long line if it’s moving. The problem is when it gets stuck because of bad management—not enough poll workers or enough lines, or the lists divided incorrectly. These are all management issues…

Q: The 2016 election has been covered extensively, but what might the public not know?

❝ A: There are over 100,000 polling places in this country. None of them is connected in any way to the internet. Hacking an election is completely impossible.

Q: Voter fraud has been in the news. Tell us the facts.

❝ A: The reality is that voter fraud is highly unusual, especially the type that’s being discussed: in-person voter fraud. Actual fraud—people impersonating a voter or trying to vote when they’re not eligible to vote—is extremely rare…

RTFA for more about ideas to make voting easier, reporting quicker, accurate and timely. The Republican fake news about voter fraud pisses me off, no end. We went through the whole crapload of lies when we got our “moderate” Republican governor, Susana Martinez.

The Secretary of State – later thrown out of office for fraud unrelated to voting – spent a year with a specially chartered investigation of voter fraud with focus on undocumentados getting on the voting rolls. The study “discovered” fewer than a dozen people in the state registered who didn’t qualify. Only two of them had actually gone to the polls to vote because they thought it was mandatory. The usual appointed poll-watchers caught the mistake – they realized the mistake and left. None actually voted once they were notified of the mistake and the system worked just fine.

Except for the creeps in the NM Republican Party wasting $200,000 of taxpayer funds on one of their phony issues.

America elected our own Berlusconi — Please don’t take decades to defeat Donald Trump!


Click to enlarge

Five years ago, I warned about the risk of a Donald J. Trump presidency. Most people laughed. They thought it inconceivable.

I was not particularly prescient; I come from Italy, and I had already seen this movie, starring Silvio Berlusconi, who led the Italian government as prime minister for a total of nine years between 1994 and 2011. I knew how it could unfold.

Now that Mr. Trump has been elected president, the Berlusconi parallel could offer an important lesson in how to avoid transforming a razor-thin victory into a two-decade affair. If you think presidential term limits and Mr. Trump’s age could save the country from that fate, think again. His tenure could easily turn into a Trump dynasty.

Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.

We saw this dynamic during the presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton was so focused on explaining how bad Mr. Trump was that she too often didn’t promote her own ideas, to make the positive case for voting for her. The news media was so intent on ridiculing Mr. Trump’s behavior that it ended up providing him with free advertising.

Unfortunately, the dynamic has not ended with the election. Shortly after Mr. Trump gave his acceptance speech, protests sprang up all over America. What are these people protesting against? Whether we like it or not, Mr. Trump won legitimately. Denying that only feeds the perception that there are “legitimate” candidates and “illegitimate” ones, and a small elite decides which is which. If that’s true, elections are just a beauty contest among candidates blessed by the Guardian Council of clerics, just like in Iran…

These protests are also counterproductive. There will be plenty of reasons to complain during the Trump presidency, when really awful decisions are made. Why complain now, when no decision has been made? It delegitimizes the future protests and exposes the bias of the opposition…

The Italian experience provides a blueprint for how to defeat Mr. Trump. Only two men in Italy have won an electoral competition against Mr. Berlusconi: Romano Prodi and the current prime minister, Matteo Renzi (albeit only in a 2014 European election). Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character. In different ways, both of them are seen as outsiders, not as members of what in Italy is defined as the political caste.

The Democratic Party should learn this lesson…an opposition focused on personality would crown Mr. Trump as the people’s leader of the fight against the Washington caste. It would also weaken the opposition voice on the issues, where it is important to conduct a battle of principles.

Luigi Zingales knows whereof he speaks not only about Italy; but, the GOUSA. From political economy to the economic effects of culture, his understanding is only exceeded by eloquence. Yup, one of my favorite economists even when I disagree.