Thursday, November 24, 2016

All I want for Thanksgiving is a recount

Holy shit!

The biggest news of the last 24 hours is possible voting irregularities in some key swing states.

And 3rd-party candidate Jill Stein has raised over $2,000,000 online to pay for recounts in PA, WI, and MI.

This is looking to be a very interesting couple of weeks coming up. The Electoral College (you know, those 538 people who REALLY elect our president) votes on December 19th. And there is growing concern that a significant number of Trump electors may jump ship and vote for Hillary.

Especially if the recounts actually happen, and we get results that don't agree with the current tally of electors.

I'm having a flashback to the disastrous 2000 election, when Gore v. Bush ended up with a vicious and contentious recount of stupid Florida, which eventually was decided when a judge ruled that the recount must be stopped and the results accepted.

The lawyer representing Bush's case later became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Under Bush's reign.

This may not happen here, but enough people are concerned once again about the outcome of a vote that SHOULD be a fairly simple matter.

We need identically formatted paper ballots in all 50 states. Elections that include Federal office should be regulated by the Federal government. At least where ballots and ballot layout are concerned.

That way, we'll have an easier time of recounting votes if there's an issue.

Meanwhile, we'll see if there's a reasonable way to verify votes that were made on electronic voting machines. If the recounts actually happen, that is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Godwinning the presidency

From Wikipedia:

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1" —​​that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler.

Generally this is true.

Occasionally, I'll Godwin someone just to get out of a debate, especially at parties.

But in this case, it seems that the POTUS-elect is Godwinning himself!

By aligning himself with the unrealistically-named "Alt-Right", Trump is basically goose-stepping his way alongside what will be known to history as the New Nazi Party.

Let's face facts. By legitimizing hate-speech, Donald Trump has condoned and encouraged the rise of fanaticism in our nation, and things will only get worse from here.

To cheer myself up, I've been reading quotes from Richard Nixon during his presidency. THERE was a guy who could really sew his hatred into a very few words.

Somehow, I expect the tapes from Trump's Oval Office will be a thousand times more chilling.

But Trump will probably be smart enough to burn the tapes. It's gonna take another NSA whistleblower to reveal what goes on in that office.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Buyer's remorse?

It's been about 10 days since the election, and the nation has had a reasonable amount of time to catch it's collective breathe. We're now witnessing the transition to a Trump administration.

And it's troubling to a lot of people.

I've spoken to a number of friends and acquaintances since the election who are ardent Republicans. These are people who were vocal in their support of Trump during the campaign. They really enjoyed being on the Trump bandwagon and giving Hillary a lot of jabs along the way.

Then, the impossible happened.

Donald Trump fucking WON!

To a person, they all seem to have some reservations about where our nation is going from here. When I brought up the subject of the election to them, I fully expected to receive a steaming pile of schadenfreude from them!

And I would have been OK with that. They won, we lost, go ahead and relish your victory.

But all of them seemed to have not considered any of the ramifications of a Trump presidency until AFTER they voted for him!

In the cold light of day following the election, it seems many of them have finally noticed the awfulness that Trump represents, and now we're stuck with him. None of them were enthusiastic about what may happen in the near future, except that they're all hoping for the best.

One fellow even said "Hey, I'm just hoping he doesn't turn out to be terrible!"

Yeah, I kind of share that sentiment.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This is the best post-mortem so far

Frank Bruni from the New York Times wrote what I've found to be the most interesting post-election explanation of why this happened.

He starts out admitting media is somewhat to blame, and then proceeds to tell us why it's all our fault.

And hey, the guy makes some good points!

We geniuses in the news media spent only the last month telling you how Donald Trump was losing this election. We spent the last year telling you how the Republican Party was unraveling.

And here we are, with the Democrats in tatters. You might want to think twice about our Oscar and Super Bowl predictions.

Despite all the discussion of demographic forces that doomed the G.O.P., it will soon control the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress and two of every three governor’s offices. And that’s not just a function of James Comey, Julian Assange and misogyny. Democrats who believe so are dangerously mistaken.

Other factors conspired in the party’s debacle. One in particular haunts me. From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.

Liberals miss this by being illiberal. They shame not just the racists and sexists who deserve it but all who disagree. A 64-year-old Southern woman not onboard with marriage equality finds herself characterized as a hateful boob. Never mind that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t themselves onboard just five short years ago.

Political correctness has morphed into a moral purity that may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. It’s a handmaiden to smugness and sanctimony, undermining its own goals.

I worry about my and my colleagues’ culpability along these lines. I plan to use greater care in how I talk to and about Americans more culturally conservative than I am. That’s not a surrender of principle or passion. It’s a grown-up acknowledgment that we’re a messy, imperfect species.

Donald Trump’s victory and some of the, yes, deplorable chants that accompanied it do not mean that a majority of Americans are irredeemable bigots (though too many indeed are). Plenty of Trump voters chose him, reluctantly, to be an agent of disruption, which they craved keenly enough to overlook the rest of him.

Democrats need to understand that, and they need to move past a complacency for which the Clintons bear considerable blame.

It’s hard to overestimate the couple’s stranglehold on the party — its think tanks, its operatives, its donors — for the last two decades. Most top Democrats had vested interests in the Clintons, and energy that went into supporting and defending them didn’t go into fresh ideas and fresh faces, who were shut out as the party cleared the decks anew for Hillary in 2016.

In thrall to the Clintons, Democrats ignored the copious, glaring signs of an electorate hankering for something new and different and instead took a next-in-line approach that stopped working awhile back. Just ask Mitt Romney and John McCain and John Kerry and Al Gore and Bob Dole. They’re the five major-party nominees before her who lost, and each was someone who, like her, was more due than dazzling.

After Election Day, one Clinton-weary Democratic insider told me: “I’m obviously not happy and I hate to admit this, but a part of me feels liberated. If she’d won, we’d already be talking about Chelsea’s first campaign. Now we can do what we really need to and start over.”

Obama, too, contributed to the party’s marginalization. While he threw himself into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, he was, for much of his presidency, politically selfish, devoting less thought and time to the cultivation of the party than he could — and should — have. By design, his brand was not its. Small wonder, then, that its fate diverged from his.

He anointed Clinton over Joe Biden, though Biden had more charisma and a better connection with the white voters who ultimately supported Trump. Had Biden been the nominee, he probably would have won the Electoral College as well as the popular vote (which Clinton indeed got).

And had Bernie Sanders been? Michael Bloomberg would almost certainly have jumped into the fray, sensing unoccupied territory in the political center, and an infinitely saner and more capable billionaire might well be our president-elect.

Democrats bungled a terrific opportunity to retake the Senate majority by ignoring the national mood as they picked their candidates. A party that prides itself on looking out for the little guy went with the biggest names it could find.

That happened in Wisconsin with Russ Feingold, in Indiana with Evan Bayh and in Ohio with Ted Strickland, all of whom were defeated by Republicans who couldn’t be tarred as insiders or as emblems of the status quo because the Democrats had just as much mileage on them.

Senator Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican, campaigned as the outsider and the underdog, and he ended up beating Strickland, the state’s former governor, by more than 20 points. Like Feingold and Bayh, Strickland could hardly claim the mantle of revolution.

In contrast, Democrats had success in a House district in Central Florida that didn’t initially appear to be promising turf by running Stephanie Murphy, a 37-year-old first-timer, against John Mica, 73, who had been in Congress for nearly a quarter-century. “Change” was Murphy’s mantra, and, like Trump, she used it to turn inexperience into an asset.

A party that keeps the White House for eight years customarily suffers losses elsewhere, as if the electorate insists on some kind of equilibrium. That happened under Bill Clinton and again under George W. Bush — but not to the extent that it has happened under Obama.

His presidency will end with Democrats in possession of 11 fewer Senate seats (depending on how you count), more than 60 fewer House seats, at least 14 fewer governorships and more than 900 fewer seats in state legislatures than when it began. That’s a staggering toll.

While the 2016 race for governor in North Carolina remains undecided, the settled contests guarantee the G.O.P. the governor’s office in 33 states: its most bountiful harvest since 1922.

If Democrats don’t quickly figure out how to sturdy themselves — a process larger than the selection of the right new party chairman — they could wind up in even worse shape. They’re defending more than twice the number of Senate seats in 2018 that Republicans are, a situation that gives the G.O.P. a shot at a filibuster-proof majority.

Meantime, the perpetuation of Republican dominance at the state level through 2020 would grant the G.O.P. the upper hand in redrawing congressional districts after the next census.

But new presidents typically get an electoral whupping after their first two years, and there’s every reason to believe that Trump will govern — or fail to — in a fashion that prompts one. Will Democrats respond in a way that puts them in the best possible position to deliver it?

That hinges on whether they can look as hard at the errors in their party as at the ugliness in America.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Future shock

If I visited myself four years ago from the future, and said that Donald Trump would win in 2016, I doubt I'd react any differently than Doc Brown.

The Future repeats itself too, apparently!

Present me: Then tell me, who wins in 2016?

Future me: Donald Trump!

PM: Donald Trump? The reality show star? Ha!

FM: Yeah!

PM: Then who's vice president? Chris Christie? I suppose Marla Maples is first lady! And Newt Gingrich is Secretary of State!

FM: Wait! Oh, you're almost right! Different wife, but you're close.

PM: I've had enough practical jokes for one evening...

Thursday, November 10, 2016


This has been a bit of a rough week.

First, our great nation has chosen a leader that reflects everything terrible and vulgar we Americans claim to not be.

Fine, I'm not happy about that. We'll somehow manage to get through this.

But today, I was crushed by the news that Leonard Cohen passed.

How much, O Lord, are we expected to endure?

I haven't cried like this since my dad died.

I think I'll wait a year before listening to this song again. It's tearing my soul to bits. But for tonight, it just seems respectful to play this.

Because, I'm so grateful that I had his words and music in my life.

Well that was something, eh?

Back in Connecticut. It's Thursday morning.

I was exhausted all day yesterday because I stayed up until about 3:30am to watch Trump's victory speech. Joyce was much more pragmatic about it and fell asleep around 11pm, although I woke her to let her know Hillary conceded the election. She acknowledged the news and immediately went back to sleep. She was fine yesterday and I was dragging my ass all around The Mall.

So, Donald Trump pulled off an extraordinary victory. Dewey indeed defeated Truman. Rocky won the fight against a much bigger and better funded opponent. David slew Goliath. Any way you look at it, we saw a spectacular win this week.

What awaits us is another matter. I expect things will be quite different in the coming four years. I don't have the energy or inclination to speculate about it right now though. But I can't quite see it as likely to improve.

Elections have consequences. I fear that we're about to live through four years of hellish consequences.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

In the center of the cyclone

Today we arrived in DC. Flew JetBlue from Hartford to Reagan National for $49 (yes, it's a great deal) and got into our AirBnb rental about 3 blocks from the White House.

So now we're here and ready for the craziness that will soon engulf this normally quiet little town. Today, we'll just do a little sightseeing and wander around The Mall.

Our Election Day plans are fairly loose at this point. We tentatively plan to have a nice dinner, maybe nearby at the Old Ebbitt Grill across the street from the Treasury Department and a stone's throw from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Then, early evening, we'll likely stop by Shelly's Backroom, DC's premiere cigar bar for a smoke and dessert.

By 8pm when the polls close in the East, we'll find a local place where we can watch the election night coverage on TV, maybe in the lobby lounge of the W Hotel, also nearby. The rooftop bar is a high energy spot that will likely be rented out for a private party, so we won't have the view we had on our last visit of Marine One landing on the South Lawn of the White House after the President and First Lady attended the ballet at the Kennedy Center.

We did manage to cage a pair of free tickets for the election night party at The Park at 14th nightclub near Franklin Sq., but if they have a DJ blasting house music over the talking heads on the big screens, we'll more than likely find a quieter place to catch the returns.

Around 11pm we'll probably head over to the pedestrian plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to be there when (hopefully) they announce the first woman president has won the election...Jill Stein!

J/K, she doesn't have a snowflake's chance on Venus of winning this thing, but the other gal on the ballot might actually be able to pull this one off!

Who knows? Either way, we'll be at ground zero for the final chapter of this crazy saga that we've all followed for the last 2 years. Maybe then we can finally relax.

And then the next day we'll start complaining about Hillary not being liberal enough!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sunday Night Music Club v.47

Merely hours before the 2016 presidential election, I really need a break.

And one of my favorite bands, The Kinks, have just the right song for it.

Because, regardless of everyone's political leanings, we ALL deserve Better Things!

Posttraumatic Election Disorder

It's only 48 hours until the polls open on what history may refer to as "The Day America Gave Herself A Collective Lobotomy".

Or, it may someday be referred as "The Fucking Day We Finally Elected A Woman President".

Either way, we're in for a huge explosion of relief when it's all over, when there's nothing more anyone can do to decide who gets to run this fucked-up collection of over-excitable people largely dominated by the whims of giant corporations.

But what will we do to generate similar amounts of rage and fear? How will our bodies get over the daily physiological blasts of outrage-based adrenaline that we've become accustomed to because of mainstream media and everyone on the internet being just so goddamned ubiquitous?

I worry that there will be a massive letdown in the days following the election, akin to the hangover one might feel after a 15-month bender. Which, let's be frank here, is exactly what the run-up to a presidential election tends to be.

I'm almost positive I will suffer from PTED, along with millions of Americans. Symptoms will include headache, nausea, muscle cramps in our thumbs as we endlessly refresh Twitter and Facebook on our phones when the volume of news drops to perhaps 10% of current doses, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and a general feeling of lethargy and listlessness.

There may be a cure for this malady. It's called "Get The Fuck Away From Your Phone, TV, and Laptop, and Go Outside And Enjoy Nature Or Something Like That."

Because really, nature is a wonderful curative for all sorts of things. And whatever happens next, it's a good thing to take a minute to center yourself and appreciate the here and now.

(This has been a public service message from Zennecticut Bob)!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Can the Dems take back the Senate?

Assuming Hillary Clinton wins the Electoral College and becomes our next president (and yes, that's a really HUGE assumption with the polls this close just a few days before the election), what happens next is important. In regard to the Senate, there is a very real possibility that the Democrats may regain control, which under this assumption, would be a 50-50 split or better, since V.P. Tim Kaine would have the tie-breaking vote.

This is what all those national polls don't tell us. The state by state polls show a much better picture of the way the Senate may go. Races like Wisconsin, where Russ Feingold has a slim lead in the polls and may take back his seat. Or Pennsylvania, where Democrat Katie McGinty is ahead of incumbent Pat Toomey.

I think the difference maker in all this is how well each state party does in their "Get Out The Vote" efforts. Clinton has a substantially larger national GOTV infrastructure in place, and they will be firing on all cylinders on Tuesday. Trump's ground game is expected to be less than impressive. And this may lead to the under-ticket candidates getting swept into office by the coat-tail effect.

This is important, because Clinton's ability to lead will be largely shaped by Congress. If they obstruct any meaningful legislation like they did during most of Obama's reign, it will result in another four or eight years of nothing getting done. Having a Democratic-majority Senate will at least help prevent the most toxic Republican bills from reaching the president's desk, and will likely get us some actually helpful bills through Congress.

One thing is certain, if the House leadership immediately starts threatening to obstruct like they did with Obama, I think they'll be tossed out of office by a fed-up population in the 2018 mid-terms.

Then we'll get to see some REAL positive changes happening!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Four days to go election map

Nate Silver over at 538 Election Forecasts has the latest probabilities for the Presidential Race.

Basically, Donald Trump has a slightly better than one-in-three chance of becoming our next president.

Which means, I'm not going to get another decent nights sleep until Wednesday!

I think the early results from important states like Ohio and Pennsylvania are going to be an indication of what lies ahead on election night. The old saying, "As goes Ohio, goes the nation" has turned out to be right much more often than wrong.

Election Night is shaping up to be a long one. Most news sources won't release results from the east until after the west coast polls close, at 11PM Washington D.C. Time. We're planning on being near the White House, the Washington Post, and the W Hotel while the results are being reported. I'll have a cigar and probably a flask of some single malt with me to help ward off the evening chill as we move to the early hours of the morning. We're at an AirBnb about 10 minutes walk from the area, so we can even nip back in and watch some TV in the peace and quiet of an apartment.

Four days out, there's still time for a juicy bombshell to be lobbed by a rogue FBI director or a conservative news network. We'll see what happens during the next 80 or so hours until the polls open in the East!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Giant Meteor 2016

I've been around for long enough to know that this election is something big.

Hillary? Donald?

Nah. I'm hoping for a giant meteor.

This is the PERFECT solution to all our nation's problems!

On election night, CT Joyce and me are going to be at ground zero! We'll be hanging out around the White House as the returns come in, and probably ducking into some local watering holes for a refreshing beverage or two. Like Shelly's Backroom, where a politically-minded citizen can have a smokey single-malt scotch while puffing on a decently-rated Maduro cigar, only to head back onto the streets and witness history happening.

History, in this case, will hopefully be a history-ending giant meteor that managed to slip by NASA radar and impact somewhere in the vicinity of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I'm not the only one who apparently likes this idea. Giant Meteor was polling quite well earlier this summer:

So yeah, one way or another, it's bound to be a memorable night!

I'll be live Tweeting from the scene, at least until the shock wave of the meteor impact obliterates all nearby cell towers.

Or until we have a new president declared.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Fuckface Von Clownstick

So, back in 2013, Donald Trump got into a little Twitter war with Jon Stewart.

Talk about going into battle severely ill-equipped! Trump thought he was being clever by exposing Stewart's jewyness to the world, as if he was guilty of hiding it.

Stewart showed remarkable patience with the man, but finally had to respond to the moronic man-child.

And Fuckface Von Clownstick was born!

I almost wish I didn't vote already, because I would have cherished the thought that I wrote in the name "Fuckface Von Clownstick" on my ballot, and it would have become an official part of our city's election records! How much fun would it be to look up the complete election results and see that silly little name?

Of course, I'm not advocating a mass Von Clownstick write-in campaign. In the event of a close race, there's always the chance that a court would rule that those are actual votes for Trump, and possibly give him the election and make him the first president in history to be elected ironically!

Anyway, here's Jon telling the story recently:

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Counting votes in Connecticut

Here in Connecticut we have a really good election system. Sec. of State Denise Merrill has done a wonderful job in helping ensure our elections remain fair and honest.

What I think makes a huge difference here is that we have a system that can and is audited regularly. States that have fully electronic voting machines are at risk of having the results of any particular machine altered, often by simply plugging in a USB thumb drive and quickly loading a small, self-erasing program. Something that can eliminate or change every fourth or fifth vote and then conveniently delete itself the moment polls close.

In Connecticut, we vote on paper ballots. These ballots are your actual vote. After you fill in the little bubbles on the page, you walk over to the optical tabulator, which then reads and logs the vote. The ballots are stored until well after the election results are final. Former Sec. of State Susan Bysiewicz helped bring this new kind of voting to Connecticut, and retired all those old mechanical voting machines.

(I DO miss the satisfying "ka-CHUNK" noise the machine made when you move the big red lever back to record your vote and open the curtains!)

A video about the new machines I made back in 2006:

A minimum percentage of electronic tabulators are selected for a post-election audit. That means a non-partisan group of counters will manually tally the paper ballots and match those results with those of the machine. If there's any discrepancy, it may trigger a larger audit, and in theoretical cases, may cause the entire election to have a manual recount.

When people in states vote on an electronic voting machine, there's zero paper trail to see if their votes were accurately counted.

You can see how easy it would be to alter the results of a swing state if someone got inside those machines. Allegations of such things have been made since 2004, when Ohio inexplicably went to Bush instead of Kerry.

I'd like to see a push for having every state go back to paper ballots, with electronic counting and enforced audits. We owe it to ourselves to do so.

CT News Junkie has a current article about how Connecticut's elections are safeguarded against "rigging". See it HERE.