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Member since: Tue Nov 16, 2004, 03:14 PM
Number of posts: 7,201

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Why is it so difficult for us to think the election was stolen?

We have: the Russian theory, the weak candidate theory, the sexism theory, the candidate's unbalanced message theory, the candidate's lack of pizzazz theory. We have theories out the kazoo to explain an election result that surprised *everybody*. Why is it so difficult to think, even for a moment, that somebody just stole the election? This time, it was not just the exit polls, but most of the opinion polls before the election. Nate Silver miscalled the election??? What if Nate, and the other poll readers, and the exit pollers all called the voters' intentions and actions RIGHT? Mr. Trump's victory hangs on razor thin margins in three (or more) states. Is electoral college arithmetic difficult? It can be mastered if you can add and subtract. Is it difficult to hack an optical scanner? It's easy. What is riding on the outcome of this election? An awful lot of tax payer money. Do we think our political opponents are such principled people and so scrupulous of our voting rights (stop laughing! ) that they*would never do such a thing*??? Republicans spend half their time between elections trying to minimize Democratic votes in the next election. By vote suppression measures of all kinds. Do we imagine that when voting day finally arrives, they cease all nefarious action and do their best to count every vote, including Democratic votes? What are we, crazy? In April of this year, Congressional Republicans refused to consider Pres. Obama's candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy until after the election. Mere recalcitrance? Or did they know the fix was in?

Dr. Stein's efforts to get recounts, or audits, or any confirmation at all of the accuracy of the announced vote totals were met by vigorous resistance from Republican lawyers, and those failed efforts made one thing clear. We CAN'T get a meaningful recount because of a maze of state laws, the Bush v. Gore decision, the antiquity of some voting machines, and the colossal expense of hand recounting ballots. Only a few blessed states could have responded adequately to a request for a recount because only a few are using paper ballots hand counted. ONLY those few states could have said: "Sure, it'll take us about a week." We are left to conclude, if we are honest, that our presidential elections are unverifiable. We have just spent 18 months of our lives spending hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigning, and often hanging on the results of every opinion poll that came out, and we CAN'T be sure of who was elected? Or, in other words, are we crazy?

Forget the Russians, who certainly seem to have played a role in yet more anti-Clinton propaganda. Why look at the Kremlin's hackers when we have perfectly competent hackers at home?

Please, I beg of you, stop whipping yourselves for one moment, and think aloud: "But what if they just stole it? Again?"

Dr. Krugman, the Russians are convenient, but not the only explanation.

Dear Dr. Krugman:

In your column in today's Times (12/16/16), you explain why you think the Russians hacked the 2016 election. You ask rhetorically: "Does anyone really doubt that [the steady drumbeat of Russian contrived leaks, and the last-minute intervention of the F.B.I.] moved swing-state ballots by at least 1 percent?"

Yes, Dr. Krugman, I really doubt that for two reasons. First, are not-quite-decided voters concentrated in swing states? Are there more easily swayed voters in electorally important states than red and blue states? What the announced election outcome looks like is a precise shift of just enough votes in swing states to move the election from one candidate to the other. Assuming, as I do, that for a good programmer it's easy to interfere with our vote counting equipment, it is the simpler explanation to suspect that vote tampering happened that that 80,000 wooly-headed voters changed their minds at the last minute in swing states, thus evading all the pre-election polls and the exit polls. No doubt Wiwileaked fluff is of great interest to the pundit class and the press, but I doubt it made that much impression on voters who: a) want to see Hillary Clinton arrested or b) find Donald Trump deplorable. If these email innuendos convinced voters to switch candidates, why was the effect so small, and so strategically located?

The second reason I doubt that Russian influence changed the election outcome is that this is not the first time American elections have seen "enormous changes at the last minute." Florida in 2000 was crucial to George W. Bush's election and Ohio in 2004 for his re-election. Vote tampering is not a new phenomenon in American politics, since the days of Tammany Hall and Mayor Daley's Machine. The electronic theft of elections is possible, according to the statisticians, programmers, and election integrity activists who have looked into the matter since 2000. I have no idea who has been tampering with our elections, but it seems reasonable to suppose that it would be easier to do from an American keyboard than a Russian one. I do not have proof of exactly who has been tampering, but it does seem unlikely that the Democratic Party would vigorously raise money to run a presidential candidate for a year in order to hand the election to his or her opponent. Election tampering would give you much greater control over the outcome than simply trying to influence voters, especially since the late email revelations had the excitement and substance of unbuttered popcorn. As long as you despise the voting public, i.e., democracy, election theft is the way to go.

It seems time for the NYTimes to consider election theft as a real possibility, rather than a wild conspiracy theory. As a theory, it explains more than the Russian influence, which is so hard to pin down. It explains why all the polls, pre-election and exit, were wrong. Perhaps there is actual science behind polling in general, and statistically sound prediction in particular. Perhaps if we could bring ourselves to accept polls as real science, especially since we spend increasing amounts of time before elections discussing their findings, we would be forced to the conclusion that someone might have taken a shortcut to election victory. If major journalistic voices are going to take this seriously, now would be the time, before we inaugurate someone we cannot prove was elected.

Thank you for your call, Mr. President. I had already finished voting when you rang.

Dear Pres. Obama's robocall machine:

Thank you for pointing out that I should vote for Mr. Farther-Down-The-Ballot. I had already voted for him too, as he was on the straight Democratic line. I was a little late getting to my polling place at 7:25, as I can't drive in the dark any more, and the car had to be scraped before I could drive it anywhere. I did have to use my first backup parking place--when I found the lot at the polling place full, I drove right on to the senior housing lot next door. I had a second backup in mind, but it wasn't needed. (The Dunkin Donuts lot is also very close, but I wouldn't want to take up a space needed by all the donut-addicted semi drivers and police persons.)

I was interested to note that you didn't even mention Mrs. Clinton. The Party must have decided, finally, that you could count on that vote. The local party called three times before the primary election, and on the third call, I summarized the other two: I knew where to vote, had a backup parking place in mind, in lieu of attending the evening meeting, had submitted a letter to the editor, and in case of early snow, could walk to the polling place. Leaving today, a lady offered me an "I voted." sticker. Noting that it wouldn't stick to my jacket, I took one anyway because "it was an historic election". Sipping on her Dunkin Donuts latte, she agreed.

There was but a short line coming out the door as I entered, but a woman exiting the place said that if we knew what district we were in, we could jump the line and go straight to the table. I excused my way in, and was soon clutching my ballot. I have been waiting for 18 months to cast this ballot, and have been very annoyed by our (Democratic) governor, who doesn't think voters deserve nice things, like mail-in ballots or early voting, or anything FUN! Oh well, he could be worse. He could be Republican.

So thanks for your call, Mr. Obama, and thanks to Mrs. Obama too. I can't wait to see what your next feat will be.


A Democratic voter

Thanks for the heart, and HAIR!

All right, I feel strongly that this issue needs to be addressed, and both sides, or all sides (Hi, MOM supporters!) have been ignoring it. And that issue is Hair! I do feel sorry for Bernie fans, but if the question were: who's got the best hair in the field, the hands-down winner is Hillary. The justification for this apparently frivolous point is that I have given up hope that this board, or any board that allows political discussion, will ever again develop a sense of humor. About anything.

For humor to work, you need to be inhabiting the same society, need to share the same set of values, and we no longer have one society, but two or three, or a dozen. About the only value we still share is that kicking puppies is wrong. I share this value, but it's not enough to base a fully-functioning society on. I believe that some of the points being argued here have the same substance and weight as hair. And I think a hairnalysis is a little funny. So I shall conduct one. And lastly, if we're going to elect someone based on misconceptions and gut feelings and hopes and dreams, why not include a consideration of hair? It's at least out there for our inspection all the time.

So, Democratic hair:

Bernie Sanders: He's got pretty good hair for a man his age the top of whose brow is disappearing into a white mist. His hair is a fringe, but it's a vigorous fringe, and it's clearly very clean hair, because it collects so much static electricity. Dirty, oily hair would just hang there. Unfortunately for Bernie, it's John Kerry whose hair sets the standard for Democratic guys. I don't think anyone here will argue that the man has excellent hair, so strong it looks as though it could carry the world on top of it, or at least a full field pack. Now, Bernie has great teeth, too--strong and white without overdoing it and blinding you, but not quite good enough to cancel out his very high forehead. Yes, it's a good thing that Bernie has such vigorous ideas, because he can't make it on hair alone.

Martin O'Malley: It's not too late to save his hair. Right now, he's going with a textured aluminum helmet with some brown paint on top, but his forehead is still visible from the front, and he could go with a longer look, and see if it made him look more like a young James Taylor. Nowhere near too late for him, and O'Malley has very good ears, too. So I recommend that Mr. O'Malley consult with a more adventurous barber, and mention that he has always admired John Kerry, especially if he has.

And, of course, Hillary Clinton: Frankly, it's great hair. It doesn't matter what color it really is because women are allowed to dye. It has body, and an excellent cut. Mrs. C. clearly has a great little stylist, and gets in to see him or her on schedule. A demonstration of her respect for detail and ability to delegate. Among Democratic women, she's the clear leader. Gloria Steinem also has splendid hair, but she's not running. If Sen. Warren gets into another race, her hair has good body, but she might consider a style that's a little less utilitarian. Hillary's teeth are also fine, and her ears are probably okay, too, but she cunningly wears earrings a lot, so any deficiencies are concealed. A woman, indeed, any human, has a right to earlobe insecurity.

All, right, that's the Democratic side. Now that you all have the hang of hairnalysis, it will be blindingly obvious that Mr. Trump cannot be elected to anything. He and his hair long ago sank beneath the sea of giggles from the political cartoonist class. and it's Trump's own fault. It's okay to have a disappearing forehead, but it's fatal to lie about it, and pretend it's just behind this little sideways ripple of glistening blond. American voters are a fickle, indeed sometimes a frivolous, lot, but they will see through the Trump hair to the vain head it covers, before it's too late. I really don't think we need to worry about Trump. What about Carly Fiorina? you might ask. Indeed, her hair's all right now, but a google search for Carly's hair brings up five photos, EACH with a different style and color. She hasn't got a chance. At least The Donald is consistent.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief excursion into alternative political analysis. And I would stick in an irony emoticon if there is one, and if I could get any emoticon to work on this mac. You may now resume your normal careful attention to the great issues of the day.
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