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Sorry to fill your in-boxes with an extra post this morning, but yesterday, Representative Milo Smith  demonstrated that Congress doesn’t have a lock on self-serving partisan behavior.

HUNDREDS of Hoosiers showed up at the Indiana Statehouse to support HB1014, which would end partisan gerrymandering. After a hearing that featured testimony from Republicans and Democrats alike, Smith–chair of the House Election committee–refused to take a vote.

That refusal was shameful and cowardly. The people who took time out of their days, who traveled from out in the state and demonstrated their support, deserved at the very least to know who on the committee supported the bill and who did not.

If you live in Indiana, please call Rep. Smith and let him know your opinion of this effort to avoid accountability. Also call Speaker Bosma, and tell him to support the hundreds of Hoosiers who showed up and demanded reform.

If we needed a reminder of why “safe seats” are so pernicious–how they allow “elected” lawmakers to ignore the public will–we got it yesterday.

Voter Fraud…One More Time

What are Americans to make of Donald Trump’s insistence that he would have won the popular vote but for “millions” of fraudulent votes?

I suppose the first thing we need to do– as my mother used to admonish me– “Consider the source.” As Philip Roth memorably described Trump in an interview published by the New Yorker,

“[he is] ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

Given that (actually, somewhat understated) description, I suppose it is pointless to expect Trump to understand even the most basic aspects of America’s electoral system–especially when his ego requires not understanding it.

Challenged by people who do understand how voting works (including the difference between registering to vote and casting a ballot), Trump has announced an “investigation” into “rampant” voter fraud, to be headed by Mike Pence. As Ed Brayton reports, 

So now he says Pence will be leading the investigation. Why Pence? You have an entire department of the DOJ that specializes in voter fraud and voting rights. Pence seems to be his dumping ground. He says really stupid things and then leaves it to Pence to clean up after him. As for the allegations themselves, he offers this defense:

Shortly before announcing the Pence-led commission, Trump dug in on his false allegations of voter fraud and insisted he had been vindicated by, well, “many people.”

“Many people have come out and said I am right,” the president told O’Reilly. He offered no additional support to his claims.

This is an argument made by someone who doesn’t understand basic reasoning. “Many people” believe the moon landings were fake. Many people believe they’ve talked to aliens. Many people think the earth is 6000 years old. The number of people who believe in those things provides precisely zero evidence that they are true.

Ignore, for purposes of this post, the fact that careful academic studies and legal investigations have consistently found virtually no in-person voter fraud–the sort of actual fraud that is used to justify those “Voter ID” laws that are really intended to suppress turnout by poor and minority voters.

The “evidence” Trump has repeatedly cited for his insistence that there is “massive voter fraud” is the fact that lots of dead people remain registered, and many others are registered in two locations.

Think about that.

Now, it would be great if state-level offices responsible for maintaining voter rolls could purge people immediately after they die; it would also be great if everyone moving to a new house or new state notified those offices of the move. (I’ve never even thought about adding that to my moving “to do” list, and I bet no one reading this has either.)

Earth to Donald: If people vote twice (or once, if they’re dead) that’s fraud. Being registered in two or more places for a time after dying or moving is not, and it’s very common.

You know, if Trump understood anything about the government he is inexplicably leading, he could avoid repeatedly making a fool of himself.

That Swamp is Just Getting Wetter….

One thing we can say with confidence about the incoming Administration: anyone who still thinks Trump and his cronies are going to “drain the swamp” are beyond delusional.

The latest evidence that we are getting ready to turn the keys to the country over to a pack of looters and con men (and women) comes via reports that Trump is planning to find a White House position for Pam Bondi.

In case you don’t remember, Bondi is the Florida Attorney General whose office was preparing to investigate claims against Trump University when she accepted a sizable campaign contribution from The Donald, and suddenly concluded that there wasn’t really enough evidence to justify going forward with the intended lawsuit.

The contribution was not only sizable–it was illegal. As The Week reported, 

In 2016, Trump paid a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service for an improper $25,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation to a campaign group supporting Bondi, who had solicited a contribution from Trump while her office was deciding whether to join a fraud lawsuit against Trump University. After receiving the donation, Bondi “inexplicably decided not to pursue charges against Trump University,” RedState writes, and Trump “held a posh fundraiser for Bondi at the infamous Mar-a-Lago estate.”

Bondi has claimed that she solicited the contribution before her office knew about the Trump University lawsuit, and that the investigation had never been brought to Bondi herself, that instead it had been considered by lower-level staff who made the decision not to pursue the case.

Even assuming the accuracy of Bondi’s version, however, an ethical lawyer would have returned the contribution when she was alerted to the conflict. Numerous media outlets reported upon the sequence of events and the illegal nature of the contribution. And a lawyer with any sensitivity to ethics–not to mention a political figure concerned with the appearance of impropriety– would not have allowed herself to benefit from a fundraiser held by a recent target of her office’s investigation.

Bondi is an attractive blond–I don’t know if she’s a “ten” in Trump-talk, but she’s probably at least a seven or eight–and physical appearance clearly counts with our incoming Commander in Chief. I’m sure he also finds her willingness to place political and financial considerations above the public service dimensions of her job to be equally attractive, judging from the gang (and I use the term advisedly) that he has assembled.

That swamp just keeps getting wetter…..No drain in sight.



The Morning After

So much for the American experiment.

So much for the belief that in a marketplace of ideas, people would choose the better ones–or even be able to distinguish among ideas, propaganda and conspiracy theories.

So much for e pluribus unum and the lovely fantasy of a diverse citizenry coming together around a civic table.

However you characterize the deep cultural and educational divide that led to this place,  no one who actually understood what the government does and how it does it could  have voted to put a person like Trump in charge of it.

Last night, a lot of us lost the country we thought we lived in, the country we wanted to hand down to our children and grandchildren. What happens now is anyone’s guess, but one thing is sure–it will be very ugly.