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2020-12-10

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  • I don't usually get overwrought about legislative votes for bills that are destined to go nowhere. Certainly the 116th Congress has had plenty of them. But the recent vote on the MORE Act of 2020 was pretty interesting. Because it would have decriminalized pot at the Federal level.

    (MORE == "Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement")

    The vote was nearly entirely on party lines: Democrats 222-6 in favor, Republicans 158-5 against. (And Justin Amash in favor, of course.)

    This week's Reason podcast participants were pretty livid at the GOP nay-sayers, in particular Thomas Massie who's had libertarian leanings in the past.

    But there's a local angle for me: my own (recently re-elected) CongressCritter, Chris Pappas, was one of the six Democrat nays. His reasoning, such as it was:

    Pappas says he supports several parts of the MORE Act, including de-scheduling marijuana at the federal level and empowering states to determine their own policies that make sense for them. However, he also believes that more deliberation is needed and COVID-19 relief is more pressing.

    “I have serious concerns about the many unanswered questions that I have heard from local public health and safety experts in my state about expunging certain federal drug convictions and implementing aspects of this legislation. I feel we should not rush this bill through when Congress has yet to act on a COVID-19 relief package that is so badly needed as Americans continue to face a global pandemic and an economic crisis,” said Pappas. “Ensuring fairness in our justice system and keeping our communities safe are not mutually exclusive. We can and must do both, and I’m hopeful this issue can be addressed through the legislative process next term.”

    I don't care overmuch; it's not as if I'm ever going to vote for him. But it's interesting that he picked this issue to buck his party on.


  • Tristan Justice reports at the Federalist: YouTube Will Ban Claims Of 2020 Vote Fraud, But Will Allow Russia Hoax.

    YouTube announced Wednesday that the Google-owned video platform would outright remove content critical of the 2020 election results and would only promote videos from corporate media.

    “Yesterday was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect,” YouTube released in a statement. “Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome.”

    As previously discussed, the election conspiracy theories are hot garbage. But (of course) they aren't so incandescently hot that they need to be banned from the Marketplace of Ideas.

    This will only allow the nutballs to say: "See, brothers and sisters: the truth is being suppressed!"

    Or maybe I should just…


  • Not only is there violence inherent in the system. There's also incompetence, ignorance, and short-sightedness. For an example, see this quote reproduced at AIER: “We Hadn’t Really Thought Through the Economic Impacts”.

    In a wide-ranging interview in the New York Times, Melinda Gates made the following remarkable statement: “What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts.” A cynic might observe that one is disinclined to think much about matters than do not affect one personally. 

    It’s a maddening statement, to be sure, as if “economics” is somehow a peripheral concern to the rest of human life and public health. The larger context of the interview reveals the statement to be even more confused. She is somehow under the impression that it is the pandemic and not the lockdowns that are the cause of the economic devastation that includes perhaps 30% of restaurants going under, among many other terrible effects. 

    That's one of the problems with "following the science". It neglects everything else.


  • Another Covid-related link from Michael Fumento at Issues and Insights: Why Doesn’t The Covidocracy Care About Vitamin D Findings?.

    There’s actually very limited evidence in favor of mass masking, but advocates argue it’s relatively inexpensive (true) and what’s the harm (none if your intent is to create division and distrust among “your” people). But what about something to reduce COVID-19 severity and mortality that’s cheap, easy, and has solid scientific evidence behind it?

    Finally someone in official capacity is pushing this treatment. It’s called “vitamin D.” England has announced that more than 2.5 million of its more vulnerable people, namely those in long-term care facilities, will be offered free vitamin D supplements this winter.

    I Am Not A Doctor. And I have only a personal anecdote: since the end of summer (hence the end of sun-drenched walks with the dog), I've been taking a daily vitamin D3 pill. And I'm still alive and asymptomatic.

    So, maybe Bill and Melinda might look into drone deliveries of D supplements to at-risk communities.

    But I think that John Tierney had a pretty good answer to Fumento's question; we linked to it a couple days ago.


  • But (sorry) back to the election-conspiracy guys, who are making me a little obsessed. They seize on mistakes and flaws as proof of nefarious intent.

    The problem: elections are run by government officials and employees. That guarantees a certain level of incompetence, sloppiness, bias, and (yes) probably even some outright fraud.

    For an example, look no further than New York's 22nd District Chaos, as reported by the Federalist (Tristan Justice again):

    On Tuesday, a judge on the New York Supreme Court demanded the district’s eight boards of elections fix errors after flouting state law. Ignoring the law led to mishaps keeping more than 1,700 votes from being counted in the election. Before the ruling and count of new ballots, the race had shown Republican challenger Claudia Tenney winning by a mere 351 votes.

    New York State Supreme Court Judge Scott DelConte explained in his ruling the errors were from no fault of voter fraud but a lack of due diligence by local officials conducting the process.

    “To be clear, there is absolutely no evidence — or even an allegation — before this Court of any fraud on the part of the Boards of the campaigns,” DelConte wrote. “Instead, problems experienced by the candidates and, consequently, all of the voters across the eight counties in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, were direct results of ‘the careless or inadvertent failure to follow the mandate of statute and case law,’ by the Boards of Elections.”

    It's all fun and games until someone loses your damn vote.

    Note that this could have been avoided under my crackpot reform proposal for House elections.