URLs du Jour

2022-01-10

  • Ouch. Mr. Ramirez illustrates a Power grab:

    [Power Grab]

    If you'd like a relatively straightforward description of the current legislative state of play, FiveThirtyEight has you covered: What Might Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Entail? There's no illusion there about how partisan this is.

    I like to think I have an open mind about this. I think Trump's assertions that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him are garbage that did real damage to the country, and sent many of his fans into serious episodes of Confirmation Bias, hallucinating (for example) malfeasance in Dominion voting machines.

    But I'm also persuaded by this observation on election fraud from the Heritage Foundation:

    Because of vulnerabilities that exist in state’s election laws, election fraud is relatively easy to commit and difficult to detect after the fact. Moreover, some public officials appear to be unconcerned with election fraud and fail to pursue cases that are reported to them. It is a general truism that you don’t find what you don’t look for.

    That's the intro to their "Election Fraud Database". It seems to me obvious that if you want the citizenry to trust that elections are valid, you need to have ironclad safeguards against voter fraud. Dinking the rules to make fraud detection harder works against that.


  • Like manic depression, partisan whiplash is a frustrating mess. One of the tactics advocated by the Democrats to push their agenda (this year) is to nuke the Senate's filibuster tactic. Jeff Jacoby has some thoughts on that: The filibuster has been bad, but repealing it would be worse.

    IN A "Dear Colleague" letter on Jan. 3, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a warning: If Republicans continued to block the Senate from passing two sweeping elections-related bills supported by Democrats, he wrote, then the chamber would "debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17." That was a threat, as everyone understood, to invoke the "nuclear option" and blow up the filibuster. If successful, Democrats would no longer require 60 votes to pass their controversial measures; a bare majority would suffice.

    That was on Monday. On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia came out against the nuclear option, saying he would find it "very, very difficult" to support any unilateral move to kill the filibuster. So did Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. During a Democratic caucus lunch, the news site Axios reported, she told her colleagues that "she will not support any effort to get rid of the 60-vote threshold."

    So much for Schumer's threat to go nuclear. The filibuster is safe for now.

    Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Arguments can be made both ways, but my view has long been that the filibuster ought to be reformed by returning to the rules that prevailed before 1970. The Senate should revive the old "talking filibuster," under which a senator or group of senators could indefinitely forestall a vote on any measure by the means Jimmy Stewart dramatized in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" — taking to the floor to speak and refusing to sit down until the majority agrees to compromise. When a filibuster was in progress, all other Senate business came to a halt.

    Jacoby goes on to describe the history, and note the flagrant (but unsurprising) hypocrisy of nearly all involved.


  • Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes. Jim Geraghty dismantles a recent argument: Washington Post Editors: We Need Vaccine Passports, and Also to Rebuild Trust

    See if you can spot the contradiction in this paragraph from the editorial board of the Washington Post, endorsing the proposals of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and five other doctors for a “A National Strategy for the ‘New Normal’ of Life With COVID”:

    To reach the new normal, they envision continued reliance on vaccines and vaccine mandates. They envision annual shots tailored to strains and urge accelerated efforts to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine, one shot that would hit all variants. They call for an electronic vaccine platform to replace the paper cards, and they suggest that no-cost, convenient outpatient treatments for covid be made widely available for anyone testing positive. They also point out that trust in public health institutions needs to be rebuilt after two bruising years of crisis.

    In short, everyone will be required to carry an electronic card with their vaccination records and to show them at schools, workplaces, to get on public transportation and attend indoor events, and so on. Also, this unprecedented edict will be carried about by public-health institutions that large swaths of the public no longer trust. Hey, what could go wrong?

    Before we start making new and far-reaching demands of the public, how about these health institutions rebuild trust first by leveling with the public about what they know and what they don’t know, acknowledge disagreement within their ranks, concede that sometimes the data doesn’t offer a clear picture and the right path isn’t so obvious, admit that every policy decision involves trade-offs, and stop seeing their role as dictating the rules to everyone else, and instead building consensus where possible?

    Geraghty goes on from there. And doesn't even mention the not-unlikely "lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology" theory of Covid's origin, another trust-eroding issue.

    But you'll note that some of the same folks who assure us they can come up with a reliable electronic ID recording the vaccination status of American citizens also state that it would be an impossible, impermissible, travesty to even try to have a reliable ID system for voting.


  • Try to understand, if not agree. Kevin D. Williamson is in nice guy mode, and advocates that we move Toward a Politics of Charity.

    The Covid-19 era is a cascade of related tragedies, and we would be adding one more item to the tragic catalogue if we were to fail to take the opportunity presented by the heightened contrasts created by the epidemic to understand our national differences a little better. An epidemic is a bit like a war in that it injects an unusual measure of intensity into public affairs, which helps both to reveal and to clarify preexisting differences. Think, for example, of how World War I drew out the militaristic, nationalistic, and centralizing tendencies in American progressivism, producing a reaction whose character was what we would now describe as libertarian. Or think of the way that the combination of the Vietnam War and the social convulsions of the 1960s brought out the anti-Americanism in the white, college-educated Left.

    Americans in our time who would like our politics reoriented toward liberty should, if only for practical reasons, try at least a little to understand the point of view of those Americans who are not oriented mainly toward liberty, who are instead oriented toward something else, such as safety, equality, nationalism, or some other competing priority. The reaction to Covid-19 offers a convenient opportunity to do so.

    It's an NRPLUS article, sorry, I wish it wasn't.


  • Stump your friends! For some reason, Dominic Pino has compiled Some Senator Birthplace Trivia. And I found it interesting, so…

    Each state gets two senators, but that doesn’t mean there are two senators who were born in each state. The Constitution only requires that senators be at least 30 years old, be U.S. citizens for at least nine years, and live in the state from which they are elected. A senator’s place of birth has no political significance, but there’s nothing wrong with a little Senate trivia, so here goes.

    Guess how many states were the birthplace of (currently) no senators?

    Spoiler: If you guessed that New Hampshire was one of them, good job. Senator Jeanne was born in Missouri, Senator Maggie in Massachusetts. (For the record the current "serious" declared GOP candidates running against Maggie in next year's election, Chuck Morse and Donald Bolduc, were both born in NH.)