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This isn’t going to work, is it?

I’m watching Old Orange, aka 45, as we’re all in this train plunging off this cliff together, and occupying myself by wondering, in a detached sort of way, how he’s going to handle this.

Not the crashing train of state, of course. It’s obvious what he’s doing about that. Nothing. Except for any grifting he and his Trumpists can accomplish before we find out where the bottom is.

I mean, how is he going to handle the fact that for apparently the very first time in his life he has to have evidence for what he says. And for the very first time, apparently, people think he shouldn’t be promising things unless he’s going to do them.

He’s spent his life throwing bizarre insults in order to play to his audience. He’s a Chatbot. What else would you expect? But suddenly when he says something idiotic for his base, such as that awful Obama wiretapping him, people start demanding evidence. What’s next? At this rate, they’ll soon be insisting on subject-verb agreement.

Then there’s the other big flap: the health care plan. It’s all the polar opposite of what he “promised.”

That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the man. He’s never promised anything in his life, not in the usual meaning of the word. He says whatever he thinks might get you to sign on the dotted line, what he calls “The Deal,” and then after that he gets to do what he wants. “Come up and sue me some time” is his general idea.

And now, suddenly, the meddlesome proles are acting like he’s under some sort of obligation? To them? For having said something to get their votes? Crazy. He got their votes. They’re irrelevant now. You’d think that would be obvious even to proles.

So what’s he going to do when he has to answer for his words for the first time in his life?

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Putin isn’t the biggest problem for the USA

1) Agent Orange got the Electoral College by 77,000 votes in three states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

2) Crosscheck, the longrunning Republican effort to stop blacks, hispanics, poor, college students, and other likely Democrats from voting, dumped millions of people off the voter rolls.

The link above talks about how fewer blacks and more whites voted in the relevant precincts, framing it as mere turnout. Had blacks voted in 2008-type numbers, it would have changed the outcome. Personally, I think Crosscheck needs to be subpoenaed and examined minutely, because I’d be willing to bet money that Crosscheck is the difference, not “turnout.”

3) There were enough people in the country who, when faced with the choice between one of the most accomplished candidates in a century and an actual monster chose the monster. Because the accomplished candidate is female. That’s how toxic the patriarchy is.

(For comparison, Obama — with almost no experience at the time — ran against McCain, who was Churchill compared to the dogpile we have now, and yet Obama was not given concrete shoes to run in. Racism is toxic, see Crosscheck above, but it’s rattlesnake venom compared to misogyny nerve gas.)

My point is that if we didn’t have way too many feverishly irrational hatreds seething in this country, then Putin would have nothing to work with.

If we were smart, we’d be dissolving the hatreds as well as preventing his meddling.

We’re not even doing the latter, yet anyway. So I’m not holding my breath.

She won by 3 million votes even after
7.3 million were purged by Republican dirty tricks.

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When they’re walking out, through the snow

Fleeing to Canada

People trying to make it out, on foot, to Canada, in February, through the snow … well, that’s what it’s like when you’re in a tin pot banana republic and you’re trying to make it out alive.

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I don’t like to agree with Republicans

At this point it’s like a reflex. A Repub said it? Then, no.

But McCain is right about this:

“There is no moral equivalence between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States.”

The US, for all the evil it does, for all the Guantanamos and legalized torture and bullying wars, is not in Putin’s class.

Yet.

But as Joy Reid said, people like McCain need to “start opposing the thug’s apologist at 1600 PA Ave.”

If they want to stop sliding toward that class.

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Remember when Bush the Lesser was bad? Good times.

A mere few days ago this was a cartoon.

“These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?” [And quite a few hands are raised.]

cartoon by W. McPhail

Yesterday. Reality. Comments by one of our newly unleashed protofascists. Congress can now reduce any individual Federal worker’s or specific program’s annual salary or funds to one dollar.

He favors a strategic application, likening it to a bullet from a sniper rifle rather than a shotgun. It’s unlikely — but not impossible — that members will “go crazy” and cut huge swaths of the workforce, he said.

“I can’t tell you it won’t happen,” he said in an interview Wednesday in his office. “The power is there. But isn’t that appropriate? Who runs this country, the people of the United States or the people on the people’s payroll?”

 

(Of course, if he was actually that concerned about the people, the president inaugurated on january 20th would be the one who won by near-three million votes, Hillary Clinton.)

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Okay. Me too. Analysis of Dumpsterfire voters.

Opinions are divided on the sexism-racism-all-around-bigotry of the people who voted for the Gropenführer (h/t Doonesbury). They know they’re not any of those awful things. Everybody else knows they are.

After all, when everything you stand for damages everyone except your kind of people, what else can we call you?

I’m convinced we’re all correct. Really, the two are not mutually exclusive.

The sexist racist garbage was the whole point, for them. What it meant to them was they were going to be the important ones for a change. They were going to be the ones who got the money.

It’s not sexist or racist to want all the money, right? That’s just good old greed which, as we know since the 80s, is good.

The fact that it damns everyone else to hell is a minor detail, an unfortunate side effect. All they want is all the money. If there was some way for all those other people not to be miserable because of it, that would be fine. So they’re not bigots. A real misogynist racist is one who takes his automatic rifle and goes hunting for women or blacks to kill. They would never do that.

Us liberals are currently boggling that Gropenführer voters are shocked he’s taking their new government subsidized health insurance away. They’re shocked their jobs are still disappearing. What did you think? we’re screaming. You elect a fraudulent “billionaire” with gold-plated toilets and you think he’s going to do something for the menials?

But it actually makes sense that they thought both he’d give them their jobs back and not take away their health insurance. They thought they were going to get all the goodies. That’s what all that bigotry meant. To them.

Plus, big bonus, he said it was okay to kick all the scum who belonged beneath them. That proved he was in their corner, right? (Which is not hateful! It’s just unhappiness!)

(Also, for that matter, the appeal of Bernie Sanders to some of the same voters, which mystifies liberals, makes sense. Bernie was also heard as saying “vote for me and you’ll get more money.”)

I don’t know what’ll happen when the Gropenführer voters find out they’ve been swindled and only Goldman Sachs is going to keep getting gold-plated toilets.

Blame it on witches, probably.

 
Far Side cartoon, car salesman foisting enormous car onto tiny buyers.

 
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Normalizing Malignancy

Everyone is right. It’s depraved to normalize evil. And that includes the horrible people who’ve decided to be its avatars. It’s wrong to muss their hair and discuss how to work with them, as if there was something well-meaning about them.

Not recognizing them for what they are and not rejecting the endless harm they do is to lose your immune system. Cancers kill because the immune system is fooled into not fighting them. Social cancers work the same way.

There are interesting articles turning up remembering normalization at work in the early Third Reich.

“The rough edges of the extreme anti-Semite and agitator of the masses were sanded away through the creation of a new, sophisticated persona that emerged in carefully crafted domestic surroundings. With silk curtains and porcelain vases, Hitler’s designers suggested an internal world that was both cultivated and peaceful.”

That kind of normalizing, which ignores the damage being done, is depraved.

But there’s another side to the issue.

Some of the anti-normalization outrage focuses on rejecting everything to do with people who do horrible things. You’re barely allowed to point out they had mothers once and were small and blew out the candles on their birthday cakes just like you and me. That’s also normalizing them.

It is, but it’s a very different sort of normalizing. It’s never all right to pretend the harm they do is okay. But it’s always necessary to recognize how widespread, how normal, the seeds of those horrors are in everyone. The seeds are just small. It’s easy not to see their potential. That’s why they can grow.

A writer with a pedophile father talks about this.

We don’t really just condemn the sexualization of children. Instead, we condemn the very existence of child abuse altogether. It’s as if the crime includes being victimized by it, or responsible for bringing it into the light. We take an ontological roach spray to the whole event, either denying its status in reality altogether, or competing with one another to proclaim the most exquisite forms of torture for the perpetrators. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the most strident liberal break character to loudly call for the prison rape of perpetrators.

That this darkness is actually woven into and throughout the fabric of our society—that these abusers are among us—is simply too much to bear. So the darkness is ignored except for the most distilled, theatrical, and viscerally repellent cases. …

Most of us would sooner discard all parties who have been tainted by this event than we would look at how tenuous the sanctity of children really is, how commonplace abuse is, or see the capacity for the mostly good to do periodic evil. We live in the same universe as those who abuse kids. We walk among them. If we want to end the sexual abuse of children, it will begin with the recognition that we are simply not that different from them.

If you assumed cancer cells are evil extraterrestrials otherwise unknown on earth, you could never find a cure. It’s when you know they’re ordinary cells with some processes running amok that you have any chance of stopping it.

Wholesale monsters who kill millions and retail ones who destroy a few women or children or men are not some kind of incomprehensible Others. They’re ordinary people who started running amok with appalling horrifying lethal consequences.

Never underestimate or normalize the malignancy. Never assume that normal people can’t become malignant.

Then we could at least try to stop the transformation at the source, every day.

That’s less fun than performing virtue by stoning the devil, but more useful.

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Objet d’Art. Under Glass.

I find myself wanting to defend Melania, First Concubine. But why? She chose her path. She’s not suffering ordinary pain. I couldn’t put my finger on what makes her seem such a trapped figure.

Then along comes Laurie Penny, putting it all in words more clearly and beautifully than I could have done. As we say on the web, go read the whole thing.

When Melania speaks, more than any of Trump’s adoring female entourage, she looks like someone with a gun discreetly pointed at her back, with her necklines so high her clothes seem to be trying to strangle her and that rictus smile that never reaches her eyes.

Imagine being in her position. Imagine being married to that man, having to live with him, back him up, soothe his ego, deal with his tantrums. Her marriage will be under relentless scrutiny for the rest of her life, just as her body has been since she did her first catwalk at the age of five, but if anyone raises the alarm, we’ll be told it’s music and ordered to dance. Do we think that the ham-faced, race-baiting, woman-hating monster about to waltz into the White House respects his third wife as a person? This is a man who slut-shames and humiliates any woman who stands in his way

No, Mrs Trump is not the most unfortunate woman in America right now. She will be unaffected by many of the more venal policies of her husband’s cronies, and as the mother of an ex boyfriend once told me, if you must cry, it’s nice to be able to cry in the back of a Porsche. But there are all sorts of cages you can keep a woman in — ask the wife of any Saudi Prince — and this, now, is what American girls are being taught to aspire to. Costlier chains. Shinier bars.

It’s not that the third Mrs Trump never had any choices. Those who dismiss her as a trophy wife miss the point: of course she knew the deal she was making. She has worked harder than most men could ever understand to get to this position …. This is a woman who has played the Master’s game expertly, and who now has to live in the Master’s house, raising his child, doling out platitudes about abuse as her husband sets about gaslighting the entire world. You might see that as karma. I see it as tragedy. Treating Melania as a real human being, rather than an empty symbol, is one more way of opposing everything her husband stands for.

Melania Trump was kidnapped long ago. She is now the walking, very occasionally talking, embodiment of the Stockholm Syndrome suffered by a growing cadre of the American political class. It’s an ugly thing to watch.

It is galling to watch left-wing men, in particular, muster to fling mud at a woman who clearly has, in her own way, very few choices, and is very publicly starring in the reality-television adaptation of American Psycho.

Patriarchy is not a game any woman can win, and Melania is playing it on nightmare mode, in the version where you have to sleep with the end-level boss. The man she is married to has a thug’s understanding of consent and every intention of screwing the world, violently if necessary. How we treat his First Victim sets the tone for the fight to come.

 
small geisha doll on display

 
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I know how to fix the tampered election

I’m obviously missing something because I’ve seen several articles along these lines lately. Yochi Dreazen in Vox, Dec. 20th:

In a best-case scenario, Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to persuade tens of millions of Americans to question the integrity of the US political system and the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s narrow win. In a worst-case scenario, the Kremlin just handed the White House to the most jarringly pro-Russian presidential candidate in American history. …

And yet there may be no response. Nor is it even obvious what the response should, or would, be.

Not even obvious what the response should be? ??!?

 

 

He points out the disproportionality of a military response and the futility of trying to rig Russian elections back at them when they’re already fully rigged.

All of which seems like barking up the wrong tree in the wrong forest.

The answer is self-evident. You deny them (whoever “Them” are) their ill-gotten gains.

You re-run all the elections that had a whiff of tampering.

This time under the eyes of observers from all concerned parties you hand count the all-paper ballots.

And you do it now. Rerun January 14th. Delay inauguration pending results. Problem solved and tampering rendered pointless.

What is so hard about that concept?

.

Update Dec 26th. It takes me way too long to face reading all the sad links stacked up in my bookmarks. Moscow on the Potomac (Dec 21) provides a detailed, very well sourced article on the appalling level of the Dumpster Fire’s entanglement with Putin.

I grew up in a Russian family in the US. The “better dead than Red” hysteria of the old days was beyond stupid. But this is different. Putin got his start rising to the top of the heap in the KGB. The KGB. Americans seem to have no concept what that means. And that’s the guy who’s messing with democracies all over the Western world.

That’s an existential threat on the order of climate change to democracy and the rule of law, to say nothing of the US way of life.

The only appropriate reaction is to charge at the danger with your hair on fire.

It’s an attack on — and apparently successful takeover of! — this country. Ordering a rerun of the election, now, is essential. Obama could appropriately declare martial law if that’s what it takes to redo the election. Because that’s what martial law is for: extraordinary measures in defense of the country when it’s been attacked.

Instead he’s on vacation and the Dems are trying to figure out how to “work with” that shambling disaster.

 

 

Update, 2017-01-24: This is what I was trying to say: @miragonz “it’s like democrats and republicans were playing a board game, then the republicans were like ‘fuck it’ and lit the house on fire, but dems are still just sitting in the burning house trying to win the board game.’

That’s what I was trying to say with ‘hair on fire!’ ‘martial law!’ ‘dooooo something!’ Calling out the fire department is an appropriate response; worrying whether repubs will, zomg!, think you’re partisan is not.

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The USA has chosen a coup over a civil war

A perceptive commenter over on the twittermachine has said, “Ah! I see #USA has chosen a coup over a civil war (for now).”

That’s probably the most charitable interpretation for Obama’s inaction.

I do know that my anger — it’s more than anger. Rage? Fury? — is based to some large extent on my own relative safety. Financially, I’m just this side of the line so I won’t be first to suffer the outrageous slings and arrows launched by the bullies in power. It is a bit of a luxury to be able to demand that people do the right thing.

That said, though, I can’t stop myself from feeling that demand.

Our closest parallel is Lincoln and the slave trade. The Civil War cost lives and money, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to say, “Oh, bother. We’ll have to live with slavery for some people because otherwise I, personally, may have to pay a price.”

The Bully-in-Chief-not-Elect — installed by vote suppression, the clickbait chasers in the media and everywhere, the FBI, and Russia, in that order of blame — the BICnotElect wants to use everyone with less power to get richer, wants to make most of the country destitute enough to use that way — and we’re supposed to let him go right ahead because doing anything else would cost us.

When the alternative will take more than you can count, worrying about how much something costs is not rational.

 

(Norwegian cartoon, author unknown)

 
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Trump campaign coordination with Putin could be right in the server logs

The news of the day is all the info coming out about Putin’s personal involvement in the hacking of the US election (Obviously he was involved. The guy is the former head of the KGB. The KGB. Take it from someone who’s half Russian, that’s Bad News3.)

But Russian subversion of US democracy is worse if it was helped by the guy who plans on bossing it come January 21st. (Obviously, right?) Sarah Kendzior is one person who’s been tracking this:

From her tweet:

Trump campaign coordination with Russia was already discussed right after the election.

And Karen Collins responds:

Now just show the campaign personally coordinated with Russia and the game for them should be over.

The big words are “should be.” But aside from that, the evidence looks to be there, if the government (which Obama heads right now) would use its investigative powers to actually investigate. Foer in Slate, October 31st [note: before the election], reporting on a clandestine Trump server:

Earlier this month, the group of computer scientists passed the logs to Paul Vixie. In the world of DNS experts, there’s no higher authority. Vixie wrote central strands of the DNS code that makes the internet work. After studying the [server] logs, he concluded, “The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive. This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project.” Put differently, the logs suggested that Trump and Alfa had configured something like a digital hotline connecting the two entities, shutting out the rest of the world, and designed to obscure its own existence. [emphasis added]

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About Ohio’s anti-choice heartbeat bill

You’ve all heard by now that Ohio passed the “detectable heartbeat” anti-choice bill. Women are not to control their own bodies or make their own choices, ever. Not even when they’re the victims of crimes arguably worse than murder. You get to live with the aftermath of torture using sex.

There’s another class of people who don’t get to control their own bodies. Slaves. It’s the definition of slavery. You don’t own yourself.

But, yes, we know all that. What I actually wanted to write about was the biological angle here.

Do you know one of the weird things about live heart cells in a petri dish? They beat.

(Which, speaking as one of those unpoetic scientists who take all the fun out of things, does not mean that heart cells in a petri dish can feel warm fuzzies or celebrate Valentine’s Day or know hope. The beat is a consequence of the chemical and electrical properties of that kind of cell. It’s not actually evidence of a soul. Note also that we’re talking about cells. A functional heart develops by about the 20th week.)

Heart cells in a human embryo are differentiated enough to start beating at about 18 or 19 days following fertilization.

By convention, doctors calculate the duration of pregnancy from the first day of the last menstrual period (not from actual fertilization). That means a heartbeat is detectable at 32 days or four and a half weeks. (The Ohio backers of the bill, at least one of whom doesn’t know why women get abortions, stipulated 6 weeks because that’s the limit of detection for equipment currently available in doctors’ offices.)

A woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant at that point.

Fertilization happens in the middle of the ovulation cycle. The exact day varies a bit. Menstruation starts 14 days later. Periods are often 3-5 days later than expected because of common variations in the cycle. A missed period is the way a woman suspects she’s pregnant. She only knows she’s missed a period some 19 days after fertilization at the earliest.

At that point there’s already a heart beat.

graphic representation of timings discussed in the post

No, home pregnancy tests won’t help. They only start working about 14 days after fertilization, and they tend to give false negatives, i.e. unreliable results, up to about 20 days after. For those doing the math, that means they become reliable at about 5 weeks of pregnancy, calculated according to the medical convention.

No, advances in technology won’t change the test timing much. A woman is only pregnant once implantation occurs near the 3 week mark (ten plus or minus a few days after actual fertilization). About half of fertilized eggs implant, so earlier testing for fertilized eggs, once that is possible, would only mean a lot of false positives that never actually result in pregnancy.

So once research-grade heart beat detection is available everywhere, there will never, even theoretically, be so much as a day when a woman can control her own life.

That’s always been the point and goal of treating women as reproductive organs.

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When even the President doesn’t care about the country

If you look through old posts here, you know I have a low opinion of Obama. He’s never done anything to indicate a fundamental change from the dawn of his political career when he maneuvered disqualifications of voters so that he could take an election from a popular incumbent. And the list of sleaze after that has been of a piece through the years. Just search this blog, if you want the gory details. For me, it’s too depressing to scare up the links.

But his latest display of his complete lack of interest in doing what’s right has managed to surprise me. After all these years.

“Had basis in evidence.” Let that echo around in your head for a while. “Had basis in evidence.” “Had basis in evidence.” “Had basis in evidence.”

The smears of Hillary had no basis in evidence. None. Zip. Nada. Bupkis. Those were shouted from everywhere.

Meanwhile, Obama sat on evidence of Russian efforts to elect Trump that had basis in evidence.

Meanwhile, he’s helping a serial sexual assaulter — a proud serial sexual assaulter — get comfy in the White House and surround himself with wifebeaters and racists and ignorant toadies. That Cheeto-topped Dogpile is an existential threat to rule of law in this country. But for Obama, actually acting like the President and taking care of his country is …

 

?

What??

Too much bother?

So, meanwhile, Obama sat on evidence of Russian efforts to elect Trump that had basis in evidence.

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The crowing of the kakistocracy

“We won. America belongs to white men.” – Richard Spencer

Plain speech out of the mouth of … what? Can’t really say infants. Infants have no moral code, which puts them well above nazis.

And, of course, never confuse plain and true. They lost the actual vote by millions. We’re in the process of finding out why actual democracy is a good idea. Be nice if we had it.

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#PotemkinElection but #DoNothing

More and more indicators are pointing to outcome-changing shenanigans in the 2016 US election.

The most massive issue: dumping hundreds of thousands of voters off the voter rolls. Suspiciously many of them are black, Hispanic, or poor. Greg Palast on the stealth war on voters. (Petition to release Crosscheck voter list, although petitions in our new autocracy feel like a dumbed down kabuki theater.)

Putin’s social media trolling, hacking, Wikileaking, snowjobbing of US voters. Even the NSA noticed.

Bizarre behavior by Comey, Director of the FBI, to help the snowjob effort. Data showing how Comey pushed some, enough, voters a week before the election.

None of those things will show up in the current go-through-the-motions recount in swing states. The damage was done before the election. Recounting the already fake results will just show us the same fake results.

Although there were Wisconsin counties with more votes cast than they have voters.[Update 2016-12-01. Christ take the wheel. You can’t make this shit up. Nineteen of those WI counties are refusing to provide the ballots for a recount. Which is illegal. Which obviously means zero to them. Anyway, so they have unreal numbers of voters…] 105% participation! Cool. And they say voter turnout is pathetically low in the US. Obviously they don’t get out to rural Real America™ enough. So, by all means, do a recount. Maybe it’ll uncover some further shenanigans on the day, which they really didn’t need by that point, but none of us knew that. We’re still learning this dictatorship stuff.

Because that, apparently, is what we’re trying to do. Otherwise, with all the evidence available, you’d think we’d be applying every tool at our disposal to get at the actual will of the voters. Which, I hear tell, is what democracies are about.

The Electoral College, invented exactly for the purpose of being a final bulwark against a failed election, would be showing that it was going to do its job.

The Department of Justice would be auditing the vote. Really auditing it. Including all the Jim Crow crap perpetrated by Crosscheck.

Obama would be ordering the release of relevant data from the FBI, so the people whom he serves could see just how much dirty work there had been.

But no, we’re not doing any of that. The very concept of examining the election for fakery is an unrealistic wild fringe idea. After all, if you looked squarely at our Potemkin Election, you’d first have to admit it might not be real.

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#AuditTheVote

For the first time in my life I regret not being a lawyer. I don’t know who you sue to force an audit. Apparently, you can call the Dept. of Justice: 202-353-1555. Do it. Do it. Do it now. We must have an audit to see whether we need a full recount.

Update 2016-11-22: The DOJ number is reported to be busy by just about everyone, and the commenter below. I guess that’s good in a way, but it’s very frustrating. I’ve also found an email address: voting.section@usdoj.gov People are always saying calling is more effective, but I’m sure email is still better than a busy signal.

Because you know what? We have the same situation as happened only twice before: Bush-Gore in 2000 and Bush-Kerry in 2004. Look how many lives and trillions that cost us. And the junior Shrub was an elder statesman compared to the multiply bankrupt sexual assaulter who’s in line to be Head Bully now.

There is the same big, statistically unbelievable mismatch between exit polls and voting results in a few counties in a few swing states. Just enough to alter the election results.

If that kind of thing happens in, say, Kenya, the US makes stern noises about recounts.

(As it happens, Africans have kindly provided their expertise, best summarized perhaps, if you know anything about the two men involved, in this tweet: “The African Union has dispatched Olusegun Obasanjo & Thabo Mbeki to the US in effort to resolve the post-election crisis.”)

Rivest and Stark, professors at MIT and UCBerkeley respectively, have even made it easy for us by showing that a very small recount is enough to audit the results and tell us whether a full recount is needed.

Auditing surprisingly few ballots could give 95% confidence that the results are correct in every state: about 1.5 million ballots in all, a bit over 1% of the ballots cast.

We can do this.

Unless of course democracy in the US of A is not worth the tiny amount of money involved in handcounting 1,500,000 ballots.

#AuditTheVote #AuditTheVote #AuditTheVote

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