Absurd Notions About Illegal Votes: Math Edition

Charles PierceNevertheless, according to the latest Marquette poll, 44 percent of the respondents believe that at least as many illegal votes are cast as legal votes. In 2014, for example, 2.9 million votes were cast in Wisconsin’s congressional elections. You do the math. If the 44 percent of the respondents in the Marquette poll are right, then there were well over a million votes cast illegally in that election. This is, to put it mildly, so insanely detached from reality as to make you wonder whether or not alma mater’s pollsters oversampled schizophrenics and people who see the face of Jesus in their wallpaper.

I honestly don’t believe that many people are that crazy, but I do think that many people can be led to believe things that are not true as long as someone keeps telling them those things, over and over again. Like I said, you have to respect how well the propaganda has worked. It’s another triumph for all the wrong things.

—Charlie Pierce
Propaganda Works

Jimmy Dore Doesn’t Know the Filibuster Is Dead

Jimmy Dore Knows Nothing of the FilibusterI heard an extended period of Wednesday’s Majority Report where Sam Seder went after Jimmy Dore hard on Dore’s fantasy scenarios for how Donald Trump getting elected is going to all work out. Then Dore called into the show. (This was planned.) And the two of them talked for an interminable period about how Trump could or could not be stopped from filling vacancies on the Supreme Court. Dore’s argument is that the Democrats can just filibuster for two years. Seder pushed back on this. But neither of them seem to be aware of the fact that the filibuster has been dead for years.

Now I know: there is still a filibuster in name. But it will never again stand in the way of the party in power doing what it wants. Let’s suppose that Hillary Clinton is the next president and the Democrats have a majority in the Senate. The Republicans will continue to filibuster Merrick Garland. So then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will step in and say the Republicans are not playing by the rules — because they won’t be. And he will get rid of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees.

The Zombie Filibuster

This is what will happen because the filibuster has been effectively dead since the 2005 with the rise of the Gang of 14. As you may remember, this was a bipartisan group in the Senate that stopped Bill Frist from eliminating the filibuster, but only by allowing the Republicans to get 99% of the nominations that they wanted.

But notice something in my hypothetical above: I said that Schumer would only get rid of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. He won’t do it on legislation. Why would he? Schumer will have to take some political heat for officially cutting the filibuster back on the Supreme Court. There’s no point in him taking any heat for cutting it back on legislation, given that the Republicans will still have the House.

On the other hand, if the Republicans have control of the House, Senate, and presidency, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will get rid of the filibuster completely. That’s because they will all be prepared to cram Paul Ryan’s horrible budget into law. And there are many other horrible things they will do as well. McConnell would (Rightly!) not let the filibuster get in the way of his plans. The filibuster is like a zombie: it’s been dead for ten years. Somehow, people like Jimmy Dore (and to some extent, Sam Seder) don’t know that.

Jimmy Dore Is Ignorant and Dangerous

I fond the whole Jimmy Dore routine hard to stomach. It reminded me of the way that Scotty got out of the whole “changing history” thing in Star Trek IV. You may remember that they gave some chemist the secret to transparent aluminum. Bones questioned Scotty on the issue and Scotty replied, “How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?” Problem solved! You come up with something that could happen and suddenly it will.

Dore’s entire case against voting for Clinton is that there are ways in which Trump could be great for the nation — or at least not too bad for a couple of years before we get the glorious revolution. And that’s true! There are scenarios you can come up with. But the odds are at least a hundred to one that if Trump becomes president, he is going to be an unmitigated disaster that will take decades to recover from.

Jimmy Dore’s Life Is Good!

Of course, Jimmy Dore can go on spouting his nonsense about how the zombie filibuster will save us. He has nothing to fear. He’s a successful guy. I don’t know if he has kids, but if he does, he needn’t worry that they will go hungry if Trump turns out to be as bad as all evidence indicates. So listening to him prattle on as though he were some kind revolutionary just makes the absurdity of his upper-middle class (Or upper class!) privilege all the more vile.

The Filibuster Is Dead

The filibuster is dead. If Trump gets into office, the Republicans will push through legislation that they’ve been hanging onto for years. It will be catastrophic for poor people. And if this happens, I’m sure Jimmy Dore will say, “Oops! I guess I was wrong.” But I want more. Jimmy Dore should go out to the desert, pour gasoline all over his body, and light the match. I want this election to be a matter of life-and-death for him, just as it is for millions of poor Americans. Then maybe he would think a little deeper about his zombie filibuster fantasies.

Odd Words: Barcarole

Barcarole - Venetian Boat SongThere were really only two things on page 22 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition: barbiturate and barometer. Really: it was amazing. I understand barometer. It was all pressure related words. But it was remarkable how many words had to do with barbiturates. Just the same, that was a time when there was still memory of people dying a lot for them. Hail the benzodiazepines! But there were other words, so today’s is barcarole.

Barcarole and Beyond

There were some other interesting words beside barcarole, of course. For example: barghest. This is some kind of ghostly apparition that is supposed to be an omen of death. I have a curious relationship with death. I really don’t fear it. At the same time, I wonder how I would feel if I were staring it right in the face. I know that any freak-out that I experienced would just be genetic encoding. But it wouldn’t make it any less unpleasant. The point is that I wonder how I would react if a barghest appeared to me tonight. Probably okay. I’m most okay with death when I’m half asleep.

Anyway, enough of that. On to “barcarole.”

Bar·ca·role  noun  \bär’-kə-rōl\

1. a Venetian boat song or a piece of music in imitation of this.

Date: late 18th century.

Origin: from the French word barcarolle, which means exactly what barcarole means. In fact, the word is often spelled the same way in English. Where the French got the word, I don’t kow.

Example: But whether I am faking on a player piano, or striking the chords with my own mind and hands, the song of my life is equally suspenseful and full of surprises as it rolls off the pulsating sounding board of destiny — a barcarole that either way will leave.Bulletin of the New York Public Library