The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Feel free to use the comments section to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Last Day of Fundraiser and the Role of Opinion and News


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 20, 2020


  1. NR

    So with all the false allegations of vote fraud thrown around by Trump and his lackeys, it’s worth talking about why large-scale vote fraud never happens and is in fact pretty much impossible to pull off.

    The reason is pretty simple: creating a vote creates a paper trail and each instance of doing so significantly increases the risk of being caught. Very quickly, that risk becomes a certainty. Remember, you can’t just print a ballot and stuff it in a ballot box. The ballot has to be associated with a voter who is registered and who is recorded as casting a ballot at a precinct that day. At the end of the day when they count the votes, they reconcile precincts and make sure the total number of votes cast matches the number of people recorded as voting on their registered voter list.

    If there’s a discrepancy between those totals, that’s going to get discovered. So if either some huge chunk of bogus votes was added, or a huge chunk of legitimate votes was destroyed, it would be immediately apparent. So the first hurdle to large-scale fraud is that each fake vote you cast has to belong to an actual, registered voter. There are a few ways you could potentially pull this off.

    The first is the classic method where you just go pay people who would otherwise not vote to vote for your candidate. The problem with this approach is that every person you pay becomes a witness to multiple state and federal crimes you are committing. All it takes is one of these people being willing, for whatever reason, to expose you and you’re going to jail for a long time, especially in an era where everyone carries a device capable of audio and video recording. An operation that tried this with a couple dozen people might pass undetected. An operation that tried it with thousands of people would get blown wide open within seconds.

    A second method would be voting people without their consent using fake IDs. But again, this causes problems because at least some of these people will actually show up to vote (especially in an election as contentious as 2020), and when it shows they’ve already voted, the police will want to talk to them about they they’re trying to vote twice. When it turns out they haven’t, it’s a simple matter of matching signatures and the fraud is busted. Again, this method might work with a couple dozen people in a state, but it would get caught immediately if it was tried with thousands.

    So voting living people out, which leaves voting dead people. And again, this is impossible to do in large numbers. Federal law and applicable regulations require states to regularly update their voter rolls to remove dead and duplicate entries, so every state has a reporting system that catches the majority of dead people when they die and removes them from the voter rolls. So you have to know that someone is dead AND that their county doesn’t know that they’re dead. There aren’t nearly as many of those people as some would like to claim. The city of Detroit, for example, cleaned its voter rolls just a few months before the election.

    But what about the conspiracy theory that voting machines flipped a bunch of votes from Trump to Biden? Well conveniently, there’s no actual evidence this happened, but even putting that aside, the problem with this accusation is that electronic voting machines print out a paper ballot as backup that is reviewed by the voter and then given to election officials. Georgia, for example, did a hand recount of the paper ballot backups, and it confirmed the machine count indicating that Biden won. So that’s out too.

    In summary, not only is there no credible evidence that fraud occurred in the 2020 election, it is simply impossible for fraud to even happen on anywhere close to the scale that Trump and his lackeys are claiming it did.

  2. bruce wilder

    “Voter fraud”, using the phrase as a precise term of art, is improbable, but many, many local U.S. systems for recording and tallying votes in elections are designed for electoral frauds and manipulative voter suppression. Both Parties subvert reforms regularly and pretty openly.

    Getting caught up in one side’s self-serving partisan narrative of the moment without noticing the contempt for principle in a political system most notable for its unresponsiveness to voters’ needs and preferences requires a certain obduracy.

  3. Hugh

    I agree, NR. The Republicans suppressing the vote of hundreds of thousands of voters at a time is not the same as Democrats trying to make it easier for hundreds of thousands of voters to vote, at pretty much zero risk of voter fraud. Those addicted to kool-aid will, of course, differ.

  4. Stirling S Newberry

    We have voter fraud – it is the legal kind of not giving people something to vote for. Compare UK versus USA for example. The kind being spewed out the phants is garbage based on micro-sociology. It is not revolutionary.

  5. GlassHammer

    Well I just finished the book “Dignity” by Chris Arnade.

    I feel comfortable recommending it.

    If you like “Days of Destruction Days of Revolt” by Chris Hedges or “Janesville: An American Story” by Amy Goldstein you will probably enjoy “Dignity”.

  6. There appear to be some “irregularities” in Mitch “the Mole” McConnell, Manchurian Senator, married to a commie chinee princess, ‘s “re-election”.

    Seems he got more votes than registered voters.

  7. nihil obstet

    I finally got around to watching Trumbo this week. Those who think that government threatens our freedom today might try it. Recently I hear more people talking about the days when our country respected the constitution. There was never such a time. HUAC simply became bad propaganda and was replaced by “informed sources” at the CIA or one of the other security state police divisions that have spawned like mushrooms in a wet wasteland.

  8. Joan

    @NR, thanks for that explanation. I know someone who volunteers and works the elections for her small town. She gave me an idea of how hard it would be to get away with even just smuggling twenty ballots into your pocket and then burning them later. The procedures are set up so that everyone is watching everyone, and it would be really hard to swindle that many votes. That’s why I’m glad we’re still doing paper voting even though in theory everything could be online. When your vote is released into the ether, it’s much easier for it to be deleted.

  9. bruce wilder

    I live in a county where it is all touchscreens and ether. They used to pull stuff: changing polling locations, one-issue special elections and so on. Going forward they don’t have to. Because “in theory” and tech magic won over paper and ink.

    All Democrats all the time, by the way.

    I especially love the Dems enthusiasm this season for mail-in or absentee ballots. Because those have never been abused! Oh no. Inconceivable! Idiots

  10. John Emerson

    The “waterfront” issue has a long history. Greg Palast has written extensively about this. Hans von Spakovsky (sic) was the Republican’s point man on this for over a decade, and he made enough noise to get many state legislators to change to make their voting laws more restrictive. (He is now at Fox News, I think.) He never really found very much voter fraud. Voter fraud in significant quantity is hard to pull off, since you need a lot of registered voters who won’t vote in order to do much. At one point von Spakovsky put out a list of examples of voter fraud in all 50 states, and it was notable that it was all single cases or maybe double cases never significant numbers of voters. The way it worked out hundreds of thousands of voters were removed from the roles in order to prevent perhaps dozens of fraudulent votes. Here in Oregon we’ve had mail voting for over a decade with only occasional scattered problems. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams and others have been working against these exclusionary principles, with good results as we see.

    In short, voter fraud is mostly just one of the a fake issues used by Republicans in order to justify making voting more difficult.

  11. Joan

    @bruce wilder, that’s terrible. In your place I would push for a return to paper ballots. Switching to iPad voting means Pete Buttigeg wins in Iowa, etc. And sure, anytime the ballot is out of sight, like in mail-in voting, there’s a chance it could get put in the shredder. It’s worse than in-person at the polls, but way better than online. The lower the technology, by definition the simpler it is, and the harder it is to commit fraud.

  12. Stirling S Newberry

    The campaign against the vaccines – were the crazy fight the greedy.

  13. Stirling S Newberry

    Ok, so it is Brahms.

  14. Z

    Never been prouder of myself for not voting in an election. Short of murdering members of our ruling class the only way things are going to change for the better is if there is massive civil disobedience such as a General Strike or burning the Federal Reserve to the ground. Our rulers know that keeping the working class in a state of permanent precariousness is a necessary ingredient to keeping us divided and that that’s the only way they can maintain control over us without going full-on police state on us. Good luck at getting them to voluntarily relinquish that leverage over us without being forced to.

    That said, I’ll be more entertained watching Season One of the Sloppy Joe-Kamalala dark comedy duo over Season 5 of the Trump’s tired Tinpot Mussolini act and if the amphetamine fiends who run this planet from one dopamine ping to the next are going to incinerate it on their way out we might as well have a sad laugh before the curtains close. Trump is tapped and has zero creativity, a carnival barker who sold the populace on MAGA but never really stood for anything but some hollow sense of “winning”, and will be fully revealed as a big fat ZERO if he doesn’t pardon Assange.

    If he does pardon Assange, and hopefully Snowden as well, then his status in my mind raises considerably and it will be the most substantial thing he has done that matched his maverick rhetoric. But he’s playing it cute … “I might, I might not” … and that usually means that he’s dangling it out there as a bargaining chip, probably for some sort of assurance that he won’t have a bunch of legal problems once he leaves office. I don’t think he’s got much to worry about from the federal level because Biden and the Congressional democrats surely don’t want the notion of accountability to gain any traction and precedence. He’s probably more concerned about the states and New York in particular.


  15. Some historical perspective is in order. From “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?”, reposted on

    Based on exit polls, CNN had predicted Kerry defeating Bush in Ohio by a margin of 4.2 percentage points. Instead, election results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. Bush also tallied 6.5 percent more than the polls had predicted in Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.(33)

    According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. ”As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible,” he says, ”it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.” (See The Tale of the Exit Polls)

    Puzzled by the discrepancies, Freeman laboriously examined the raw polling data released by Edison/Mitofsky in January 2005. ”I’m not even political — I despise the Democrats,” he says. ”I’m a survey expert.

    What’s more, Freeman found, the greatest disparities between exit polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds.

    (emphasis mine)

    Recall that in 2016, as Bernie was picking up steam against Clinton, the Democrats cancelled the exit polls in the CA primary. Is it really hard to figure out the most likely reason for that?

    For more perspective as to how old the problem is see the book “Votescam The Stealing of America”

    A NJ congressman, “my Representative IS a rocket scientist” Rush Holt, wanted legislation that, starting in 2008, would have required

    • Paper Ballots—ALL voting machines must produce a paper ballot
    • Audits—ALL voting machines must be auditable
    • No Secret Source Code—ALL voting machine vendors MUST make the machines’ software available for inspection
    • Ban on Wireless Devices—Prohibits wireless technology in voting machines
    • Access for All Eligible Voters—Ensures disabled and minority language voters can vote privately and independently

    I didn’t know this, until now, but the legislation got mutilated in committee. See Mark Crispin Miller, where he refers to

    In any event, Holt’s bill never got a vote:

    America’s voting systems are no more credible than any banana republic.

  16. Stirling S Newberry

    Beethovens 3 Simphonie

  17. Willy

    Might be easier to just focus on all the things kleptocrats do to manipulate whatever to enhance their power and ruin it for the rest of us.

  18. Z

    * Sloppy Joe will be lucky if he gets to play president for six months before they put him out to pasture. It’s going to be fun though watching them trying to pull the hook on him because that amped up egomaniac ain’t gonna want to come off the stage. He’ll want his profile on some magazine covers for a “tough decision” or two so that he can showcase his “humanity” the way he’s done for his whole entire political career: by selling out the working class that he supposedly cares so much about with one of his patented tortured choices that always ultimately benefit his sponsors.

    Yeah, Joe feels the working class’s pain all right. He ought to, he’s been dishing it out to us for over four decades.

    * Who will fill-in as vice president once they either have his wife lure him off-stage or induce him to have a heart attack by shooting him up with some extra juice one morning? Amy K of Swiss Army Komb infame, of course. That way they can characterize any citizen uprisings as a wildfire of misogynism and portray any participants as revolutionary bros. Neera will help roll out that branding campaign.

    * What’s going to make this shit show entertaining and somewhat unpredictable is that this is one weak team that Biden’s handlers have assembled that has been cobbled together primarily to check every diversity box there is while still maintaining the status quo. The end result is a disjointed team with no alpha. I suspect that Ron Klain will try to fill that role, but it will be tough to create cohesiveness with this bunch. Not to mention that Sloppy Joe is a worn out, drugged up husk and Kamalala a giddy, doped up immature fool and neither one of them are fit to deal with the firestorm they will be facing. The fact that they even wanted the job and have no plans on dealing with this mess other than empty PR games is proof of just how far gone they are.

    * Put it to you this way, if Rahm Emanuel, the blackmail side of the blackmail-and-bribery duo in the democratic party (his Centerview business partner Robber Rubin heads the bribery side of their operation) somehow got in the White House backdoor as a short order cook he’d have Kamalala in a tight dress waiting on him on the customer side of the counter sitting on his lap for a big tip and Sloppy Joe sweating over the grill cooking up his orders within one week.


  19. S Brennan

    As said many times before, the DNCers will want Biden to hang around until after the mid-terms…that will allow Kamala to be eligible to run unopposed [no primary] in 2024 and 2028. If the DNC’s plans go without a hitch, the D voters of 2020 will have installed a single regime for twelve years.

    In essence, voting Biden this year foreclosed on any reform for 12 years.

    And yeah I get it, no need for the local clown committee of commenters to screech Trump=Hitler for the hundredth time. I get it. For the”blue no matter who crowd”…anything is justified when you believe/sell the Trump is the greatest evil ever narrative.
    In other news, funny to read how Alexandria Cortez got screwed out of a committee assignment by Pelosi. Cortez’s crime? She was willing to give Pelosi her vote without extorting any concessions…too funny. Cortez’s replacement knew how to play the extortion game WITH HER OWN TEAM. Put away your pom poms girls and let that sink in.

    Ian said that Alexandria Cortez was the next Sanders, he might be right if he meant she’s an ineffectual self-promoter.

  20. Hugh

    Biden is nothing to write home about. He’s an Establishment placeholder. He doesn’t stand for much and what he does stand for is mostly hostile to ordinary Americans. About the only thing you can say about him is that he is not the nuclear disaster that was Trump.

  21. bruce wilder

    By what conceivable standard was Trump a bigger disaster than his immediate predecessors?

    Bush II committed the war crime of aggressive war under false pretenses to install a palsied, insanely corrupt occupation that further destabilized the Middle East. He stripped away the last shreds of financial regulation left after the demolition job done by Clinton, setting up the greatest global financial crisis in 70 years. Obama legitimated Bush in war, financial lawlessness and torture. Obama could not find any banksters to prosecute in a fraud-driven GFC — the country may never recover from the precedent of criminal immunity for large-scale financial crimes.

    And, how does Biden, an architect of the neoliberal order, with a hand in “welfare reform”, mass incarceration, credit card debt, student debt, insane wars, flirting with war with Russia, China and Iran, et cetera, not stand for anything?!? (“Nothing fundamentally will change.”)

  22. bruce wilder

    Biden has been racing to the grave thru this whole year. He will be lucky to make it past Inauguration Day as anything but an animatronic corpse.

  23. nihil obstet

    I’ve had trouble understanding the obsession with Trump. If the state — either national or of the states — was performing its primary task of executing the laws, Trump would have been in prison long before any presidential run. The collusion of the elites that rich men get to be crooked as long as they’re just breaking every labor and financial law to rip off hoi polloi pretty much keeps me from paying much attention to the wails of the elites about how awful he is. If he’s so awful, just throw him in jail, you pretentious jerks.

    The main objection to Trump that I see is aesthetic. He’s crude, crass, vulgar. The nearly hysterical wailing of the upper class and their professional class oh-so-clever-and-cultivated courtiers is driven by their belief in their own intelligence, good taste, and sophistication.

    The worst president of my lifetime is Ronald Reagan for breaking the institutions and customs that created the middle class, pushing along the rhetoric of war, and removing integrity from the pantheon of virtues. Second is Bush, Jr. Waging wars of aggression is the Nuremberg definition of a war crime. His daddy set it up so he could with all control over the CIA eliminated. Clinton set up a lot of later destruction but during his time in office the resources available to ordinary people increased. I’m willing to give him some breaks for that. I have a low opinion of Obama, but I still think he’s worse than the Bushes.

    Long way of saying, Trump is less of a nuclear disaster than most of his immediate predecessors in every way except aristocratic manners.

  24. Z

    The best thing about Sloppy Joe is that the Left (and no the democrats are not the Left ffs), especially the young Left, already hates him and the Right will hate him too potentially setting up a perfect storm of civil disobedience.

    Sloppy Joe will recite a few nationally televised “c’mon mans” from the teleprompter and put his secret healing powers to test that only he is deluded enough to believe in before he unleashes a full-on militarized law-and-order street war to try to put down the upcoming rebellion, and there will be one, while Trump is already there locked-and-loaded.


  25. Z

    Looking forward to the Great Corn Pop Rebellion of 2021 …


  26. Temporarily Sane

    @Stirling S Newberry

    The campaign against the vaccines – were the crazy fight the greedy.

    And those who voice concerns about the vaccines’ safety or efficacy are lumped in with the crazies.

    It’s becoming increasingly common to get jumped on by mindless idiots accusing one of being a “conspiracy theorist” or a “fascist” for questioning any media delivered conventional wisdom. If Chomsky and Hermann had published their ‘Manufacturing Consent’ book in 2020 they’d be accused by “the left” of being Trump loving fascist enablers.

    Not happy about Fakebook and Twatter censoring independent media and people and groups that question or challenge status quo “narratives”? Why, you must be a hateful bigot who loves Alex Jones. Don’t like Biden? You must be a dirty Trump supporter! Don’t like Trump? You must be a dirty Biden supporter!

    It doesn’t take an advanced degree to foresee where a society of cowardly fools who shun nuance, introspection and critical thought in favor of blind conformity and emotional reactions will end up a decade or two down the road.

  27. Z

    To those who think that Biden will be able to hold it together in the presidential spotlight for two years: c’mon, man!

    To those who think that his handlers would even put up with two years of him and his stubborn ego and inability to follow simple orders: C’MON, MAN!!!!!

    They drug that corpse … literally and figuratively … to the presidential election finish line while lucking out that the COVID situation made their careful management of him even possible … and excusable. How are they going to hide him as president? Especially that stage hound?

    I thought for sure that Sloppy Joe’s campaign advisor Anita Dunn would be the Rahm Emanuel of his Administration, but even she, the one who Weinstein ran to for help, is saying “F this, I’m out” and going back to the private sector.


  28. nihil obstet

    When my comment came out of moderation I realized I miswrote — I still think the Bushes are worse than Obama.

  29. Z

    The friction point has always been evictions. Cops don’t want no part of that. It potentially places them in a dangerous situation where their enemies have cover and who knows what weapons.

    It also lays bare what the police’s primary function is in a capitalistic society: defending property rights.

    I expect the cops to start sitting these evictions out. If they don’t, morale will eventually break down because it’s too hard to pretend that you’re serving the public throwing people out in the street for no fault of their own and not just well paid, heavily armed thugs ultimately employed by private equity.


  30. Hugh

    By the time the coronavirus winds down, Trump’s lack of interest and anti-leadership of any response to it will have cost more than 400,000 lives, more than we lost in WWII. So please, don’t tell me how Trump is not that bad or less destructive than some other President. His trillion dollar tax cut for the rich seems like small change now compared to the trillions and trillions in lost production or needed for covid relief. And let’s not forget the ten million still without jobs because of him or the tens of millions facing eviction.

    Trump was being modest saying he could shoot someone in the street and get away with it. He can engage in mass murder and strip the corpses and the rush is not to accuse but excuse him.

  31. nihil obstet

    The U.S. is the only developed country without universal health care. Studies have determined that around 45,000 Americans die each year who would have lived had they been able to get health care. In the past 20 years alone, we’ve lost more to lack of health care than we did to WWII. The successful American politician by this standard is automatically a mass murderer. Health care, job creation, housing, income support, and the rest are Congress’s responsibility. A good, moral leader would work at leading Congress to address the issues, but a weak, or uninterested leader is no worse than the 541 Congress critters.

  32. different clue

    Perhaps we should start calling it the ChinaTrump virus. In honor of the ChinaGov’s role of buying crucial fact-suppression time to help the virus really get going throughout Wuhan and beyond, and equally in honor of Trump’s role in letting the virus get established and then spread all around America.

  33. Hugh

    Yes, different clue, let’s never blame Trump. It’s not like he’s President or anything.

  34. bruce wilder

    COVID-19 is down to Trump?

    I can imagine the counterfactual of strong leadership that acted quickly and decisively early on to effectively extinguish the contagion. Closing the borders, shutting down air travel and rounding up everyone who came from China or had contact with travellers from China. (Imagine the uproar if Trump of all people had slammed the door on China and rounded up people at airports to quarantine or isolate away from their families!)

    It is hard to imagine actual recent Presidents doing significantly better. Bush of Katrina infamy? Obama with the slowest recovery from the deepest recession since the Great Depression (which incidentally witnessed some years of very rapid growth in FDR’s first term). Obama responding to falling life expectancy in the opioid epidemic? Recent precedent does not make the case that a “normal” President could be counted on to do much better. The poor performance of Newsom in Cali and Cuomo in NY does help either.

    Matthew Yglesias made a very good case that focusing blame on Trump, whose performance was typically “boorish” of course, serves only to distract from more detailed and informed scrutiny of the ineffectual American response.

  35. different clue


    Based on the level of comprehension with which you read my comment, combined with your level of comprehension of real-time real-world events, all I can say is . . .

    Thank you for your interest in my comment. I am always happy to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any other concerns.

  36. S Brennan

    The worst Presidents

  37. Hugh

    bruce, you just never tire of being a shill. Take Japan. Population of nearly 200 million vs our 330 million. A lot, lot closer to China than us. Their covid deaths per John Hopkins? 2,832. US covid deaths? 319,086. You can lie and invoke “counterfactuals” to the end of time. You can urge us not to believe our lying eyes but this is too big and stupid a lie even for you.

  38. Hugh

    No, different clue, I am just getting tired of the lame, non-stop lies from some of you. What China did or did not do does not let Trump off the hook for killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. It is obscene the lengths that some of you will go to defend Trump or mitigate what he does.

  39. different clue


    Thank you for your interest in my comment. I am always happy to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any other concerns.

  40. different clue

    @ un-biased third party readers,

    Please let me know if my comment appeared to let Trump off of his half of the hook for the ChinaTrump virus.

  41. In the r/conservative sub-reddit, a comment under the post “New Study: Vitamin D reduces risk of Covid ICU admission 97%” reads:


    5 days ago
    The media, who has massive amounts of advertising dollars from Big Pharma will never mention it.

    I was banned from the cronovirus (sic) subreddit for suggesting taking vitamin D for spreading “misinformation”

    The medical establishment isn’t set up to cure you but to make money providing maintenance and symptom relief for an ailment.

    (emphasis mine)

  42. Matthew Yglesias made a very good case that focusing blame on Trump, whose performance was typically “boorish” of course, serves only to distract from more detailed and informed scrutiny of the ineffectual American response.

    Yes, of course. This article was good, as far as it went. However, it could have been 2 or 3 times longer, with more references to data (and still not be overly technical).

    AFAIK, the federal and state governments have all failed to address vitamin D insufficiency, to this day. So, my central claims in, is likely still true.

    In the UK, however, they’ve not only started providing free vitamin D to oldsters, but are now getting petitioned to make vitamin D “a coronavirus strategy”.

    The letter is being sent to Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock on 21 December, calling for healthy adults to up their vitamin D intake to at least 2,000 international units (IU), or 50 micrograms (mcg), a day amid the pandemic.


    With the sunshine supplement being in short supply during the UK’s cold months, the NHS has always maintained “everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (mcg) [or 400 IUs] of vitamin D during the autumn and winter”.

    The letter’s signatories argue vitamin D is “exceptionally safe” even at high doses, with most claiming to take at least 4,000 IUs [100 mcg] a day.

    Trump could have made a tremendous stink about vitamin D, and promoted it heavily. He failed in that. So did the entire US government, and every state government. They all failed.

    To think, or imply, that Trump is actually more responsible (morally; and possibly legally) than, say, a Fauci, for this disgusting situation is sheer fanaticism.

    Dr. Campbell, of youtube fame, reported that Fauci takes 6,000 IU of vitamin D, per day.

  43. “ChinaTrump” virus is pretty clearly pointing some of the blame at Trump. Even a 10 year old could understand this much.

  44. different clue

    One has to be a lot smarter than a 10 year old to perform the brain salad suisurgery involved in pretending not to see that.

    One has to be a lot dummer than a 10 year old to think one could ever get away with it.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén