On predictions

I did not watch the debate last night, and I have, I think, more experience with Mike Pence’s peculiar brand of affectless sophistry than most, but not in a million years did I think insects would compose a substantial portion of the discourse the day afterward. And if it wasn’t the insects, it was what appeared to be pinkeye, a twin to his boss’s nearly swollen shut eye in his drug-induced, semicoherent frenzy video from yesterday.

I have no idea if this dude has Covid or not. He was supposed to be in Indiana tomorrow to vote; that’s been abruptly cancelled and he’s been recalled to DC. I am refraining from guessing what that might be about, as I suspect there are plenty of utterly boring reasons why the Vice-President might have to cancel a purely optional trip to attend to something else in DC. There are a bunch that aren’t boring, too, but I’m utterly done trying to predict what is coming next, ever.

I had a brief text conversation with my brother earlier today about Nate Silver, who is currently predicting that Biden wins the election. Frankly, everyone is predicting that Biden wins the election, and we are at least edging into “but by how much?” territory. I saw a poll today that had Biden up by sixteen points. This is what an eighteen-point win looks like:

… so, good news, right? Nah. I’m not predicting a god damn thing. I still haven’t voted, but I’ll attend to that as soon as I can; it’s only a suddenly somewhat more complicated schedule that has kept me from doing it already, since my wife for various reasons isn’t able to work from home as much as she has been recently. That’s what I can control. I’m going to vote, and I’m going to make sure everyone I have even the slightest influence over also votes, and then I’m going to do my best to stop worrying about it. I’m making no predictions of any kind. I’m barely even allowing myself to be hopeful. I’m gonna vote. I’m gonna tell you to vote. And I’m probably going to take the day after the election off, no matter what, and I’m gonna make sure I’ve got a supply of emergency brain meds laid in.

And that’s all I can do right now.

In which I endorse, 2020 edition

Early voting begins in Indiana tomorrow. I will very likely vote this week, although I don’t think it’s super likely that I will do it tomorrow, as I figure that there are more likely to be lines tomorrow than there will be on, say, Wednesday or Thursday. Lines are To Be Avoided.

Therefore, my 2020 endorsements:

Some of these are obvious! You shall vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice-President, respectively, and you shall enjoy doing so quite thoroughly. In general, you should probably just cast a straight Democratic ticket, but I want to write this post anyway so I’m gonna do it.

Indiana has a Governor’s race, but no Senate races this year. I will be voting for Woody Myers and Linda Lawson for governor. Probably. I may actually leave this one blank, and I’m deliberately not using the word “endorse” here, because Myers’ campaign has been utterly invisible, and honestly I have no particular reason to be annoyed with Holcomb beyond several things that are generic to Republicans and not specific to him. He will crush Myers. It’s going to be embarrassing. I have trouble voting for someone who did such a poor job of campaigning that I had to look up his name in October.

I enthusiastically endorse Pat Hackett for Congress from IN-02. My current Congresscritter is loathsome; I actually wrote Pat’s name in in 2018 because another Republican somehow stole the Democratic nomination and proved to be so noxious that I refused to vote for him. She demolished him; turns out that people who want to vote for Republicans are more likely to vote for Republicans than they are for Republicans who are pretending to be Democrats. I haven’t seen any useful polling and don’t have any idea how much of a chance Pat actually has but I would be deliriously happy to have her in Congress. I’ve been making weekly donations to her campaign for months. I’m really crossing my fingers for this one.

I will vote for the Democrats for any state legislative seats that are available and I won’t bother finding out their names beforehand.

In terms of more local offices, in the St. Joseph County Commissioner’s race for my district I endorse Oliver Davis, who I know personally and like quite a bit, over Derek Dieter, who I do not know and also think is a sexist asshole. The last time I mentioned him on this site his campaign manager tried to start shit with me on Facebook; I’m almost hoping they try it again.

I may be forced to break not one but two of my rules for the coroner’s race. First, I don’t vote for Republicans, and second, I don’t vote for coroner. I’ve typically skipped this race because I have no idea why the hell the coroner’s race would be an elective office. However! Patricia Jordan used to be my actual doctor, and I was quite fond of her. Insofar as I don’t see why this is an elected office, I’m even less clear on why it might be a partisan office, and as such I’ll probably end up voting for Dr. Jordan.

Finally, the School Board At-Large race: I endorse John Anella and Rudy Monterrosa, both current members of the Board, and of the two I endorse Monterrosa quite a bit more strongly than Anella. That said, you choose two candidates from a field of six, so that’s who I’m voting for. I know Jeannette McCullough and actively do not want her on the Board, and I know nothing of the other three, so this is a pretty easy choice.

Also, I don’t get a say in this because I’m not in the district, but I endorse Leslie Wesley for the District 3 School Board seat. I am not a huge fan of Ms. Wesley, particularly as she’s not been voting correctly regarding our recent school closing and reopening decisions, but Bill Sniadecki, who she ran against and defeated four years ago, is trying to slither back onto the Board again and he needs to be prevented from doing so.

(The previous paragraph is rescinded. See here for details.)

(Oh, and I almost forgot: there are six or so retention votes for judges on the ballot. I am not going to pretend that I did exhaustive research here, but I looked briefly into all six of them and no obvious red flags presented themselves. I typically do not vote one way or another on judges unless I’m given a reason to have a strong opinion, and unless someone shows me something I missed, right now I do not.)

In which I explain as far as I know

To be clear, I hope he dies, and I don’t care who knows it, and the notion that he might die alone and gasping for breath from a disease that he refused to do anything to prevent is so karmically beautiful that I almost don’t know what to do about it.

A few years ago, I was trying to not be that kind of person; I have given up that fight. It’s lost. I hope he dies. He’s a terrible person and he’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of dead people and the fact that my mother never got a funeral and his painful, solitary death would be one of the very few 2020 events that counted as positive.

That said, it’s a little bit constitutionally complicated, so let’s run through some scenarios.

If he dies before the election: Mike Pence becomes President until at least Jan. 20. It is too late for the Republican Party to put anyone else’s name on the ballots. They are printed and thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people have already voted, and state deadlines have passed. However, continue reading.

If he dies before the election, and loses the election: Mike Pence is still President until Jan. 20, there is likely no Vice President named, and Biden becomes President on January 20.

If he loses the election, then dies: As above. Pence takes office until Jan. 20.

If he dies before the election, and wins the election: This seems unlikely but isn’t impossible, and is where it starts getting complicated. The Republican party is in control of both their nominees and their nomination process, neither of which are specified in the Constitution, since the Constitution knows nothing of political parties. Furthermore, remember, you’re technically not actually voting for President, you’re voting for electors who are bound, sometimes not actually legally, to vote for that person later. There would, no doubt, be a quick party convention where someone– presumably Pence– would be nominated for President, along with a different VP. The Party would then inform their electors in the states they won to vote for whoever the person they chose was. This would have the potential to get really, really interesting if the Republicans find out they can’t coalesce around a single candidate, but that goes beyond my knowledge of the procedures involved. This would skirt some state laws that require electors to vote for the person that won the popular vote in that state, but I don’t see actual prosecutions being likely in this case, although that little wrinkle has potential to make this even more complicated if, say, there’s a state that he won that somehow has a Democratic legislature and governor.

If he wins the election, then dies before the electors have voted and the votes are officially certified by the House: The Electoral College votes on December 14, over a month after the election, and then there’s over a month between the Electoral College voting and the actual inauguration. This is where it gets really interesting. Pence still takes office for at least a little while, but I don’t know if things still work the same way as they would if he wasn’t alive for the election. I think they probably do, so long as the electors have not voted yet, the party can still scramble to pull an actual ticket together, and it wouldn’t automatically be Pence.

If he wins the election, the votes are certified, and then he dies: Pence becomes President, and remains President for the second term, as far as I know. For all I know, it ends up in the Supreme Court, because holy shit is there no precedent for this, but I don’t see it coming out any other way.

Not a lawyer, blah blah blah. If you see anything I’ve blatantly gotten wrong, let me know.

Just a thought

There have been years– not a lot, but they’ve happened– where I spent more on my classroom than the person in the White House did in Federal taxes in the year he was elected.

I’d like to think that these recent revelations are going to make a difference, but I’m not surprised by anything in them and I doubt many other people are either. That said, the article is worth a read, if you can handle the inevitable explosion of hatred and anger while you’re reading it.

I don’t generally miss presidential debates, even if I don’t liveblog them, but I really might have to skip this one.

On fixing American democracy

(Note: this is as close as I’m going to come, I think, to a post about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, mostly because I still can’t think clearly about it. Check my Instagram for a minor tribute to her that I did, though.)

I turned eighteen in July of 1994, which means that my first presidential vote was for Bill Clinton’s reelection in 1996. Since I have been old enough to vote– and I am 44– there has been only one election where the Republican candidate for President got a majority of the popular vote. For some reason, though, there have been twelve years in that time where I had Republican presidents– because in two other elections, the winner of the popular vote did not win the Electoral college. And I’m not going to do the math to figure out the exact numbers, but during those years where I’ve been able to vote there has– I will use the word frequently— been situations where the balance of the Senate and the House did not reflect the number of votes received by the elected officials of that party as well.

The Republicans have been given a head start in our democracy for my entire adult life. The Republican agenda does not enjoy popular nationwide support, but their power in our government is aided by the Electoral College and a Constitution that says every state must have exactly two senators– a compromise that might have made sense in 1789 but no longer really does when California literally has nearly seventy times as many people as Wyoming but only eighteen times as many electoral votes.

The following things need to happen:

  1. Washington DC must be granted statehood as soon as humanly possible. Right now residents of our nation’s capital have literally no representation in Congress, and DC has around 200,000 more residents than Wyoming does. This isn’t fair. It needs to be fixed.
  2. Puerto Rico, with a population of 3.2 million, more than 20 states, has a more complicated statehood picture, which I admit I’m far from an expert on– my understanding is that there was a recent statehood referendum that won, but which many opponents claimed was a poor representation of the actual mood of the island. I don’t know if that’s a legitimate argument or not. I just don’t. I will phrase it this way, then: Puerto Rico should be granted the option of statehood, and hopefully we can have a cleaner referendum in the near future to see if they prefer statehood or independence. Either way, they’ve been a territory for far too long.

You may be pointing out in your head right now that this does not precisely solve the problem of the Electoral College, and furthermore does not really reflect the enormous advantage smaller rural states have in the Senate, allowing them to potentially block legislation desired by overwhelming majorities of Americans. This is true, and I don’t see a way to overcome that roadblock short of setting a ceiling for a state’s population and carving a few of the bigger states up, which doesn’t seem super likely. But we can limit the antidemocratic effects of the Electoral College without a Constitutional amendment.

How? By increasing the size of the House.

The Constitution does not specify how many seats the House needs to have, only that the number of citizens per seat should be no less than 30,000. I think we can all agree that a House with nearly eleven thousand members is untenable for a variety of reasons. But there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the number of House members to be 435. It used to be fairly routine to expand or change the number of House members– 21 times between 1790 and 1920, which is the last time it happened.

Which, okay, a lot of those were because we added new states. True! But I feel like a hundred years was a nice long run for 435 members and maybe expanding to, oh, twice that might be nice.

(Be aware, because people seem to think this is a good argument for some reason, that I don’t give one thin damn how many desks there are in the House chamber. That’s a building. We can renovate the motherfucker. We can build a whole damn new one if we want.)

And doubling the size of the House would, in turn, double the number of available Electoral votes, which– again– wouldn’t fix the problem, but would bring the vote of a Californian closer to being fairly counted than it is now.

Now, understand that there is an argument to be made that if California has seventy times as many people as Wyoming then it deserves seventy times as much representation. It’s probably even the cleanest argument, honestly, because everything else boils down to well, California needs to have closer to a truly representative vote … but not that much closer. But even if we just doubled the size of the House– and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have 8-900 voting members in an organization representing three hundred and twenty-five million people– we would in turn close that distance and the vote of a Californian would be closer to counting as much as it should. It’s not going to be perfect, because of the Senate, and we can’t fix the Senate (or at least I’m not aware of a way) without Constitutional amendments, which is outside the scope of what I’m talking about right now.

Our democracy, such as it is, and believe me part of me wants to put that word in quotation marks right now, needs to be more representative than it is right now. This won’t fix it, but it’s a place to start.