It's nice of the local dealership to offer me a ride to and from work while they fix my car, but I'd have walked if I had known that the experience would involve the 70 year old driver subjecting me to AM talk radio. I avoid that stuff like the plague. It has no value to me, not even of the unintentional comedy variety. It's simply crap. Devoid of merit. I'd benefit as much from listening to a big, colicky baby throw a crying tantrum for a couple hours, because that is in essence what it is.
On Monday I got to hear a local blowhard (of no renown, but clearly hoping to climb the ladder with a combination of bluster, patronizing tone, and the mastery of things that will sound like great arguments to really stupid people) rant about plans in Chicago and Cook County to increase the cigarette tax yet again. This has been a popular whipping boy for butt-hurt local Teabaggers over the past few weeks. I'm sure most of them don't smoke, but why punt on a great opportunity to whine about taxes, amirite?
The argument was that the County was succeeding only in creating a thriving black market for cigarettes with its $6.67 per pack tax load, second in the nation only to NYC. Police confirm that cigarettes purchased in other states are indeed being sold off the books by enterprising individuals and organized gangs in Chicago. The host proceeded to rant about how stupid the government is and how it refuses to learn "the lessons of cause and effect" as the higher taxes "force otherwise law-abiding people" to turn to a black market. This in turn fuels gang-related violence and other problems that have plagued the city lately.
Isn't it interesting how individuals responding to something the government does simply have no choice as rational actors but to break the law, while people who break the law because of market forces making things unaffordable are the scum of the Earth? They can rant and rave all day about poor people using 9-1-1 or Emergency Rooms for routine medical problems, not once mentioning that they're doing it because they can't afford insurance or doctor visits. Yet when the government raises taxes on cigarettes – which the last time I checked were a luxury and not a necessity – however could we blame John Q. Public for turning to the black market? That's just common sense. Anyone would do the same.
So, to review: if the government prices you out of the market for something frivolous, breaking the law is rational and your actions are the government's fault. When the market prices you out of a basic necessity of life, you get a lecture on personal responsibility and why you are What's Wrong with America. I guess free will and morality are off the table when the potential to rant about taxes enters the picture.
This may be my last post here at Libertarian Republican for quite some time, possibly forever. I had a long discussion with my friend Jim "Right Guy" Lagnese last night. He has agreed, tentatively to take over this website. (prattle about blog contributors redacted)
Try to tell me with a straight face that this does not begin exactly as a suicide note, martyrdom video, or anonymous credit-claiming letter to the FBI would.
Now, that said. Firstly, I was wrong (Ed: about Romney winning). I was fantastically wrong. We were crushed last night at all levels, most especially in the Senate races.
Maybe stop nominating candidates from the I Have Some Ideas About Rape Caucus.
There is virtually no good news from last night's results for the libertarian wing of the GOP. I apologize Tom. I hope you can see fit to accept my apology.
Suicide notes are often filled with apologies when not lashing out at perceived enemies. "But Ed," you say, "he hasn't done the latter." This is what we call foreshadowing.
Secondly, today starts a new course for my life. I've soured on electoral politics given what happened last night. I believe now the best course of action is outright revolt.
Of course you do, Eric. You believe that revolt is the best course of action like the Hamburglar believes that hamburgers are the best course of action.
What do I mean by that?
We read it as a hollow threat / cry for help from a person who is slowly starting to realize how little he and his beliefs matter.
Well, to each his own. Some may choose to push secession in their state legislatures.
That sounds likely to succeed.
Others may choose to leave the U.S. for good (Costa Rica, Switzerland, Italy, Argentina, Hong Kong, Israel).
Nothing says "I hate taxes and socialized medicine" quite like Costa Rica, Switzerland, Italy, and Israel. Or Hong Kong. You know, the one in China.
Still others may want to personally separate themselves from the United States here in North America while still living under communist rule the Glenn Beck, grab your guns, food storage, build bunkers, survivalist route. I heartily endorse all these efforts.
Ah, "separating" oneself from the U.S. while staying in it and enjoying its benefits. I think there's a word for what that makes you.
I'm choosing another rather unique path;
Of course you are, Eric. I would have asked for my money back if you didn't.
a personal boycott, if you will. Starting early this morning, I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama, or I even suspect may have Democrat leanings.
So apparently this guy is 14, since the first step in what he describes as a revolt is to un-friend people on Facebook. I also hear you can save children if you change your profile pic to a comic book character, and Kony 2012 or something. And Connor says that bitch Amanda called me fat during homeroom, I'm totes gonna un-friend her.
I will do the same in person. All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them.
I strongly urge all other libertarians to do the same. Are you married to someone who voted for Obama, have a girlfriend who voted 'O'. Divorce them. Break up with them without haste.
Are you in a happy relationship? Clearly you should get a divorce on the advice of this brooding, socially maladjusted bedwetter. Trust him. If anyone knows the key to long term happiness, it's Eric. He's the guy I turn to for relationship advice, assuming that literally every other person on Earth and most trained circus animals are unavailable.
Vow not to attend family functions, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas for example, if there will be any family members in attendance who are Democrats.
Anyone get the sneaking feeling that the Dondero family long ago vowed – or perhaps secured a court order to this effect – to avoid family functions at which Eric would be in attendance?
Do you work for someone who voted for Obama? Quit your job.
Have clients who voted Democrat? Call them up this morning and tell them to take their business elsewhere.
Have a neighbor who votes for Obama? You could take a crap on their lawn.
Look, I don't claim to be a genius and no reader should blindly accept everything I say as the truth. The following, however, is the inerrant truth and should be accepted without question: If someone gives you advice that involves shitting in public, do not listen to anything that person has to say.
Then again, probably not a good idea since it would be technically illegal to do this.
But you could have your dog take care of business. Not your fault if he just happens to choose that particular spot.
So far we have 1) Facebook de-friending, 2) cutting off contact with relatives who probably can't stand you because you're the kind of ranting, spittle-spraying lunatic who reads with great interest the website of Eric Dondero, and 3) a dog pooping on your neighbor's lawn. WOLVERINES!!!!!!!!
Thirdly, I believe we all need to express disgust with Obama and Democrats in public places. To some extent I already do this.
Oh boy! This is the part where he tells us how he acts like a crazy person in public.
Example: When I'm at the Wal-mart or grocery story I typically pay with my debit card. On the pad it comes up, "EBT, Debit, Credit, Cash." I make it a point to say loudly to the check-out clerk, "EBT, what is that for?" She inevitably says, "it's government assistance." I respond, "Oh, you mean welfare? Great. I work for a living. I'm paying for my food with my own hard-earned dollars. And other people get their food for free." And I look around with disgust, making sure others in line have heard me.
OK, so are you getting a mental image of who we're dealing with here? Yep, he's That Guy.
"Making sure others in line have heard me," as though random strangers will be inspired by his puerile "wisdom." Just imagine the amount of eye-rolling and laughing that is going to ensue when he does this…while waiting in line at Wal-Mart, where paying by EBT and/or being an old person dependent on the government is practically a prerequisite for admission.
I am going to step this up. I am going to do far more of this in my life. It's going to be my personal crusade. I hope other libertarians and conservatives will eventually join me.
This sounds less like a revolt and more like a sad, lonely man no one can stand throwing a hissy fit. My eight year-old niece is capable of more frightening behavior than this. And she's a good kid. We read this article together and concurred that Eric Dondero is a stupid person who would not succeed in 4th grade.
What I plan to do this week, is to get yard signs made up, at my own expense, that read, "EBT is for Welfare Moochers." I will put the signs out on public property off of the right-of-way so it's entirely legal, in front of every convenience store or grocery store that has a sign out saying "EBT Accepted Here."
That'll show 'em!
I may even do some sign waving in front of these stores, holding up my "EBT is for Welfare Moochers," sign, and waving to passers-by.
It sounds suspiciously like you have a lot of free time, Eric. It is almost as though you do not have a job.
If I meet a Democrat in my life from here on out, I will shun them immediately.
I will spit on the ground in front of them, being careful not to spit in their general direction so that they can't charge me with some stupid little nuisance law. Then I'll tell them in no un-certain terms: "I do not associate with Democrats. You all are communist pigs, and I have nothing but utter disgust for you. Sir/Madam, you are scum of the earth." Then I'll turn and walk the other way.
And they will think, without exception, "Thank god I never have to talk to that asswad again." They'll high five one another so excitedly they'll need reconstructive shoulder surgery. They'll be like promising young starting pitchers after a few years under Dusty Baker.
Buttons. Boy, you can have a lot of fun with this. I plan to make up a bunch of buttons, and wear them around town, sayings like "Democrats are Communist Pigs," or "Welfare moochers steal from hard-working Americans," "Only Nazis support Seat Belt laws" or "No Smoking Ban: Nanny-Staters go Fuck Yourselves."
The Troika of Revolution: Facebook De-Friending, Shunning, and Buttons. So basically this he wants to look like this:
At least he is smart enough to realize that the more one looks, sounds, and acts like a crazy person, the more likely it is that the public will be persuaded by the message.
There are so many other nasty little things I plan to do against the communists and those who support them. Perhaps I'll keep Jim informed and he can report on my activities here at LR.
Yes, so many pointless, stupid, insignificant things, as befits a stupid and insignificant man. Please do keep us updated; it sounds like this is going to be fucking riveting. "Today I went to the Piggly Wiggly and waved around a sign reading, 'DEMOCRAT PARTY = MOOCHERS AND POO-POO HEADS' for a while, then I went inside and turned all the magazines with Obama on the cover upside down! After that it was pretty much the usual day: quiet sobbing, then back to my tar-paper shack where I enjoyed an uncooked can of generic corn for dinner."
It'll be like reading V for Vendetta.
For now, off to my first assignment: Telling all my friends and family who voted for Obama to "fuck off, don't ever speak to me again you slimeball mother fuckers." Wish me luck!
Yeah, good luck clicking "remove from Friends." I'm on the edge of my goddamn seat over here.
This is the saddest idea labeled a "crusade" since my great-grandfather Stanislaw died in a hail of gunfire charging toward the White House to demand that the U.S. be moved from the Gregorian Calendar to his own homemade calendar based on the cooking times of various kielbasas. Oh, and notice how Eric hasn't disappeared at all, but is in fact regularly checking his Facebook to bask in the attention his insanity has netted him. Not exactly exiled to Saint Helena, I guess.
This is perhaps the widest range of emotions I've gone through in an FJM, as we transition seamlessly from terror to bemusement to confusion before finally settling on pity. It takes a special kind of defective personality to concoct a personal revenge fantasy in response to impersonal events, and an especially pathetic and ineffectual person to come up with such a pitiable one. Calling people juvenile names and threatening to get some ridiculous signs and buttons made up is the best you can do? Jeez, America doesn't even make right-wing lunatics like it used to.
It's not pleasant to watch amateurs try their hand at your profession. If you're a doctor or nurse it must be difficult to watch "medical dramas" like E.R. because, well, you'd be distracted constantly by how ridiculous and inaccurate it is. The phrase "That's not how it really works!" would be at the tip of your tongue throughout. Ditto for lawyers watching procedural crime dramas, and so on. Sure, you can accept that fiction involves a good deal of artistic license but you also want everyone to know that, no, doctors don't really do things like House does.
The last six months have been excruciating for me at times because during elections a lot of people talk about polling. There are not many things I know well enough to approach the level of "expert", but public opinion data and its collection is one. A few people understand it vaguely and have some combination of knowledge and folk wisdom. Most people, to put it mildly, do not know the theory and methods of polling from their ass from a hole in the ground. The great thing about politics, though, is that everyone's an expert. Aided by college dropouts with AM Radio talk shows and ineptly designed websites, it turns out that people are more than willing to lecture us on how polling really works. I am so grateful to all the people who have tried to explain it to me this year.
And so we had a campaign season full of gems like "Unskewed Polls" that corrected an imaginary flaw in polling methodology, producing some outstanding predictions in the process.
People who could not explain the concepts of random sampling, weighting, or confidence intervals to save their souls were eagerly spreading the news that they had figured out how the Liberal Media was rigging the system to hide the latent popularity of one Willard Romney. They're stuffing the samples with Democrats to prop up the Usurper! Spread the news!
I certainly understood this narrative; when losing an election, campaigns must do something to keep the base fired up, to convince them that the odds of success are higher than they are. I get it. You don't want people to give up. "We think the election is closer than the polls indicate" is not an uncommon or inappropriate sentiment in elections. However, on Tuesday evening it became clear that this was something else. Rather than a white lie one tells to keep up appearances, the idea that all of the polls (except, curiously, Rasmussen's dreck showing Romney in the lead) are wrong is something these people internalized. They made the timeless error of believing their own bullshit.
Because the originators of the Skewed Theory were careful to decorate it with all the trappings of pseudoscience and half-assed logic, many Republicans appear to have believed it. It is precisely the kind of thing that stupid people think sounds really intelligent. This is why we saw so many Republicans crushed – positively despondent, even – on Tuesday evening in an election that every available data point predicted would unfold exactly as it did. To see the stunned, shocked, and horrified looks on the faces of the Fox News on-air personalities was legitimately surprising to me. Did all of these people, some of whom are quite highly educated, honestly believe this ludicrous ration of shit they were serving these viewers? Did they really not know that Romney was going to lose?
Watching Karl Rove's complete meltdown on Fox, during which even the other Fox people openly told him he was insane and suggested (seriously) that he get psychological help, highlights the key to understanding all of this: the complete inability of Republicans and conservatives in general to accept reality. Namely the reality that A) lots of people like Barack Obama, B) most of us do not see the world as Republicans see it, and C) Obama could actually, legitimately be the President of the United States. It simply can't be true. There must be some explanation (Occam's Razor be damned) that explains it. And they will keep searching until they find it.
Republicans who were stunned on Tuesday were stunned for only one reason: they refused to believe the facts right in front of them and instead chose to believe a bunch of nonsense they made up to suit their ideological preferences. We are now on a string of five elections – 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 – that were predicted with almost pinpoint accuracy by pre-election polling. Polling is accurate. In fact it is getting almost creepily accurate. The people who conduct polls know what they're doing, and the people who interpret them do not need the insight and wisdom of Karl Rove or "QStarNews". We will go through this song and dance again in 2016, when everyone will have forgotten that the polls weren't so Skewed after all and the same nonsense will be trotted out in service of the next Republican who isn't performing as well in reality as he is in the imaginations of his supporters.
I'll be live-blogging the election coverage tonight. Join me. I'm trying to install some simple chat functions for WP, but if that fails we can simply use the comment section the impending Election Night post.
If there's one thing I'm terrible at, it's golf. If there's one thing I'm terrible at that is relevant to my life in the slightest, it's giving inspirational Hooray for Democracy speeches. Being a negative bastard in general and holding deeply cynical views (to put it mildly) about the political process makes it nearly impossible for me to give a convincing "Come on, let's all get out there and vote! It'll really change things!" speech. To do so now because it is Election Day would be inauthentic and frankly insulting to your intelligence as readers.
We all know that as individuals our vote is mathematically insignificant, especially in the context of the statewide races (including the Electoral College) that get the most attention. You have better odds of drowning in your bathtub than of casting the decisive vote in an American election (seriously – you have a 1:670,000 chance of meeting your end that way). Most people derive next to no benefits from the act of voting, and it's terribly easy to avoid doing it in our society.
So why bother? Here's what I can tell you.
First, it might not be much but it's what we have. In a country of 310 million people, the amount of political change that an individual can affect on his or her own is bound to be extremely small. Unless you happen to have a billion dollars lying around to start your own SuperPAC or you're willing to devote your entire life to working tirelessly as a volunteer for some party or campaign, voting is your only direct link to the system. That so many Americans feel that the process of voting is being manipulated is especially troubling in this light. If we don't have that, then we don't have anything.
Second, there is something you can do with your ballot that will make your life and/or the world around you incrementally better. We focus on the biggest races where our votes matter least, but the ballot is long. You can vote to keep some Bible-thumping moron off the local school board so hundreds of kids aren't taught that cavemen rode dinosaurs. You can vote for a local bond issue or proposition that funds basic social services. You can vote to retain an honest judge. You can vote for someone with half a brain to sit on your city or town council. In all of these cases, the math working against your one vote is not nearly as daunting.
It may not be anything exciting. You aren't going to pick the next president on your own. Nonetheless, there's something out there worth voting for and there's only one thing you can do about it.
The worst thing that can happen Tuesday has nothing to do with either candidate winning. It is the possibility of having no idea who won for several weeks until the Federal courts step in and tell us who will be president. Most of the electorate is old enough to recall experiencing this in 2000, and it's not unduly alarmist to ask if having two out of four elections resolved outside of the democratic process in a twelve-year span – thanks largely to state-level manipulation of the pawns pool of eligible voters by Secretaries of State – would have serious consequences for a country in which political trust and efficacy are already at historically low levels.
So, my concern is not who wins as much as, "How can we avoid having to wonder about who wins?" For reasons that will soon become apparent, the short, vague answer to that question is that one candidate (most likely Obama, based on the current aggregate polling) must cross 270 electoral votes without Ohio. Because there's a very good chance that Ohio won't figure out who won for a couple of weeks at best. Why? Well, first we need some backstory.
After the 2004 elections in which long lines at polling places were a serious problem in Ohio, the SoS at the time decided to offer no-questions-asked absentee balloting. Every registered voter got an application to request one. More than 1,300,000 absentee ballots were requested and mailed out for 2012. Over 1,100,000 have already been returned. But that means that around 200,000 haven't. Stay with me here. Anyone who requested an absentee ballot but does not use it can vote if they show up at their polling place on Tuesday, but they receive a provisional ballot. These ballots are sealed in an envelope and left uncounted until it can be proven that the person did not already vote – for example, by mailing their absentee ballot on Monday, then trying to vote in person on Tuesday. To give ample time for all absentee ballots to arrive by mail, Ohio law states that provisional ballots cannot be counted until 10 days after the election.
To summarize: there could be 100,000-200,000 provisional ballots cast and the state cannot even begin to count them until Nov. 16 at the absolute earliest. If either candidate holds a narrow lead, those provisional ballots could well determine the winner. So we will have to wait. And wait. And wait.
And then eventually the courts will end up resolving the issue. Why? Because Ohio's current SoS is a partisan hack who has decided to defy a Federal court order and issue provisional balloting rules stating that the voter, not the poll worker, is responsible for recording information about the form of ID the voter used when voting in person. As one of the attorneys involved in the copious lawsuits already being filed states:
"The bottom line is that (Secretary of State Jon Husted) designed a form that violates Ohio law by improperly shifting to voters the poll workers' information-recording responsibilities regarding ID to voters, and then he wants to trash votes where there is a problem with the form on the section he misassigned to voters," said Cleveland attorney Subodh Chandra, who filed the motion
In short, Husted is trying to create a reason to discard provisional ballots. To throw them out on a technicality, assuming that some people won't fill out the forms properly. It's the 2012 version of the hanging chad, only the courts have already ruled what he is trying to do illegal.
So. How do we avoid having to care about Ohio on Tuesday night? Because if we need Ohio to determine the winner, we are in for a three-ring circus of unpleasantly long duration. The good news is that there are plausible scenarios that could make Ohio irrelevant. Here's what to watch for on Election Night.
The three key states are New Hampshire, Colorado, and Nevada. Before I launch into the explanation, let me clarify some of the assumptions. I have been as generous to Romney as possible in this scenario, giving him Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. If Obama wins any one of those three, Romney is basically toast. But I'm going to assume for the moment that Romney wins them and we are faced with an extremely tight race to 270. Even coloring those three large states red, if Obama wins NH, CO, and NV then he cannot lose even if he loses Ohio. Consider a map with those states and Ohio omitted:
In this scenario, Obama is at 253 and Romney at 248. Nevada will almost certainly be Obama's (+6) but the polling is remarkably close in NH (+4) and CO (+9). Winning both would put Obama at 272. Game, set, match.
By winning those three, the only way Obama could lose is if Romney pulls off a surprise/miracle win someplace like Michigan or Pennsylvania. Obama can win without all three – this would require winning Ohio – but Romney cannot win without taking at least one (New Hampshire seems the most likely).
The last NH polls close at 8:00 EST. Colorado wraps things up at 9:00 EST, and Nevada at 10:00 EST. So prepare to be up late, although Obama's poll lead in Nevada is outside of the margin of error and it might be the least competitive of the three.
All other Romney victory scenarios involve the aggregate pre-election polling being wrong by a mile. In the last few elections that has not been the case. To conjure up Romney wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, or Pennsylvania requires the assumption that legions of his supporters have been hiding in those states for months, untouched by the polling process. In fact the exact opposite is more likely to be true since older, whiter people tend to be oversampled (and right-leaning). Regardless, I think one of the best outcomes we can have on Tuesday is to have an outcome; not to have another election decided by corrupt, incompetent local election officials and unelected judges.
Have any of you been trapped indoors and/or without utilities by the recent storm? I did not, of course, but most of the people to whom I've spoken claim that the worst part is the sheer boredom – with the decline of hygiene that accompanies no power and no water a close second. The nearest experience I've had involved being in a winter "storm" in Georgia, where 3" of snow was sufficient to shut down the entire city and all of the roads for a solid week. After sitting in the house for about three days, I was fairly certain my ex-wife and I were on the verge of murdering each other, and we were not a violent people. There are only so many times you can move around in an enclosed space before you begin to get irritable for no good reason whatsoever.
Other than reading, what can we do to kill time once our electronic nonsense is taken away from us? I freely admit to being antsy if I have to go very long without being in front of my laptop. And god help us if there is no internet access. It's amazing, sad, and amazingly sad how rapidly these once non-essential technologies become indispensable.
In the future, if I have sufficient advance warning that I am about to be stranded, I am purchasing the necessary ingredients to make this fruit Rubik's Cube salad.
And I don't even like feta cheese. Don't care. Still making it. When else are you going to do it?