The Muppets remind us that amidst deep disagreement and chaos, the United States was born | Boing Boing

This fantastic celebration of the birth of democracy in the United States of America seems particularly appropriate today. Today could be your last chance to participate in it! Go vote! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAVpj_Vo7zk …and come on, Kermit, there is always a part for Miss Piggy. Image: screenshot
— Read on boingboing.net/2022/11/08/the-muppets-remind-us-that-amidst-deep-disagreement-and-chaos-the-united-states-was-born.html

※ Kareem on voting

Shaq: Kyrie Irving “Idiot,” Has Twitter Gone to the Dark Side?, DeSantis Lies about Crime, Pelosi Attack Is Funny …:

I spent close to four hours this week on my mail-in ballot. I researched every candidate, proposition, and judicial nominee. Even on propositions I was certain about, I did a deep dive just to make sure I hadn’t missed some nuance in the fine print. Even after all that research and filling in my ballot, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure about everything. You never can be in life. All you can do is use reason, logic, and facts to come to the best conclusion.

Laziness is what is threatening democracy. It’s easier for people to join a political party and regurgitate their policies than go through the effort of researching, agonizing, and deciding. Political ads are a joke, usually twisting the facts into some half-truth clothed in an emotional appeal meant to bypass critical thinking. The theory behind political ads is to make you vote for something that makes you feel good about yourself the way dogs are rewarded with a treat when they do what we ask.

From what I can tell, many people use midterm elections to punish rather than forge a better future. For example, there are issues with the economy right now and polls show voters want to blame Democrats. But the facts about the economy show the exact opposite. The deficit has been reduced, even though it had ballooned under the previous Republican presidents. Yes, there’s inflation, but that inflation is worldwide. Do you seriously think that a Republican Congress will do anything vastly different concerning the economy than the Democrats? The real issues are about domestic freedoms and protecting the rights of the marginalized.

The Sportswashing Edition

The Sportswashing Edition:

“Everyone needs money. That’s why they call it money.”

– David Mamet, Heist

Jeff here. About a year ago, news began to circulate among the golf media that the Saudis—through their Public Investment Fund, and with the fiercely unlikeable Greg Norman as their frontman—were preparing to throw an unholy amount of money at some of the current greats of the game in an attempt to launch a rival league to the PGA Tour. The news was met with a mixture of moral outrage (the word “bonesaw” often featuring prominently) and a sort of glib flippancy (“who would ever leave the PGA Tour and its AMAZING pension plan?”)

These professional athletes are employees of the Saudi Arabian government regardless of how they spin their funding.

My big take away from this nonsense, since I’m soured on pro sports of every kind, is that I have been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia several times and it is a miserable place to be. It’s the ancestral homestead of the House of Saud, which is why it’s the capital.

It’s not safe for foreigners, especially non-Muslims. All of the locals I know advised me about where not to go ever and when to not go everywhere. Had I gone back again I would have set up a spreadsheet to keep it all clear.

That these professional sports people think it’s ok that they not only take the Saudi’s money but also launder the Saudi’s reputation is reprehensible, I was never going to watch these Saudi employees anyway.

PreGunCheck

The Transportation Security Administration introduced TSA PreCheck in response to September 11 to prevent future terror attacks on airplanes. The system has a dual mission: expediting travel for people who submit to enhanced background checks and making everyone safer by allowing the government to focus on people who are considered risky or whose risk is unknown.

To qualify for TSA PreCheck, passengers undergo a screening process that determines whether or not they’re a risk. The process requires a questionnaire about biographical information and criminal history, fingerprints, and an in-person interview (exactly what’s involved in those background checks is classified). If approved, a so-called known traveler faces fewer security checks than everyone else. And by some measures, this system has been very effective. Experts say air travel has become safer even as threats have continued to evolve, partly since PreCheck allows the TSA to focus its attention on higher-risk travelers.

(Via Rani Molla on Vox)

Let me be clear here: TSA is terrible at its job.

A PreCheck-like program for gun ownership could work. the problem becomes deciding what government agency would enforce it.

That is a tomorrow problem. Today, we would benefit from a PreCheck-like gun system run by even the TSA.

※ Twitter stuff

EMu is not nearly as smart as his PR makes him out to be:

“It is all going to get so much dumber,” I wrote yesterday, about Elon Musk’s efforts to get out of his deal to buy Twitter Inc. by complaining about bots. Seventy-three minutes later, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted this:

Today I’m investigating Twitter for potentially misleading Texans on the number of its “bot” users. I have a duty to protect Texans if Twitter is misrepresenting how many accounts are fake to drive up their revenue.

The press release is … so dumb

(Via Matt Levine at Money Stuff)

Remember, EMu chose to not do the due diligence he was free to do before committing to buying Twitter. And …

To be clear, Twitter has claimed that bots are fewer than 5% of “monetizable daily active users” (not “all users”) for eight years, and the “intense scrutiny in recent weeks” consists entirely of Elon Musk claiming, with no evidence, that there are a lot of bots because he regrets agreeing to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share just before a market crash. This is a regulatory investigation entirely for the purposes of trolling: Paxton is harassing Twitter because (1) Musk moved to Texas, (2) Musk announced, like two weeks ago, that he’s a Republican, (3) Musk has a passionate fan base on Twitter, and (4) Musk is trying to rile up that fan base against Twitter by complaining about bots. So Paxton is happy to hitch himself to that: If he harasses Twitter on Musk’s behalf, he will endear himself to Musk’s fans online, which seems valuable for an elected official though not, of course, for his constituents, or for the rule of law. The fact that this is all completely fake is beside the point, as is the fact that Paxton himself is currently under indictment for felony securities fraud. This all seems bad! I don’t know what to tell you! This is not how one wants one’s democracy to be going! 

Regardless of what happens with EMu and Twitter, and I expect that it will be a roller coaster, one cannot help but think about how this misadventure will sour institutions to working with this … I don’t know, person? He jerked investors around with Tesla. News outlets can’t help themselves but post that gawdawful picture of EMu and real world evil Sauron PeTh in front of a CRT display.

Where will Texas AG Paxton find time to fight EMu’s battles when he’s so busy getting into bedrooms and dining rooms and doctor’s offices (but not personal armories) where he thinks the government should be?

Standing up

Today, with the radical right the most loyal voting bloc in the party, Republican leaders refuse to call out even the most extreme statements from their followers. But once upon a time, Republican politicians were the champions of reason and compromise. Famously, on June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine, stood up against Republican Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin and his supporters, who were running roughshod over American democracy. 

(Via Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American)

I’m heartened to see more current Republicans standing up to MAGA and Trump and unhinged nonsense, but it’s still not nearly enough.

Respect, discipline won’t solve shootings

Hamilton County commissioners cite lack of respect, discipline following Saturday shooting | Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday largely attributed local gun violence to a lack of respect among the county’s youth.

It’s not thoughts and prayers, but equally useless.

Commissioner Steve Highlander R-Ooltewah, added that authority figures have become afraid to discipline children and that shootings could potentially be decreased if they begin to install discipline beginning at a young age.

“It’s not just Hamilton County or this city, it’s all across the country,” Highlander said. “And people have become afraid to discipline children. Children cannot learn when others are disrupting the class.”

To what “authority figures” Highlander refers is unclear. Maybe teachers? Maybe school administraters?

Imagine if the “authority figures” in need of respect were government officials, elected and appointed, and the ones in need of discipline were gun manufacturers, sellers, the NRA, those who feel a need to have a personal arsenal, and so on.

I’m old enough that I went through NRA training as a kid where the goal was to teach how a weapon is a privilege, not a right, and how it needs to be treated with respect (there’s that word again) or else it will be taken away from you.

Governor to sign ethics reform bill into law despite call for veto

Governor to sign ethics reform bill into law despite call for veto:

Gov. Bill Lee says he will sign into law legislation requiring dark-money groups that pour cash into political campaigns to disclose their expenditures before elections. … 

Supporters of the legislation, however, argued that the bill would apply only to expenditures by 501(c) groups when they spend a total of $5,000 on an election within 60 days of the vote. … 

The 30-day window for lawmakers refers to the limitation for sending taxpayer-funded mass mailings to lawmakers’ constituents. … 

Much of it requires increased reporting requirements for state lawmakers. For instance, from now on they’ll have to report just about every penny they receive and spend.

Passing a fish bowl to gather cash at community events won’t be allowed unless they document the donor of every dollar.

People who form political action committees also will be required to show a photo identification, as part of an effort to stop bogus PACs from operating in Tennessee’s government. … 

Part of the legislation also prohibits anyone in the governor’s cabinet from doing consulting work on the side. … 

During its passage, supporters pointed out they amended the legislation to ensure it wouldn’t stop nonprofit advocacy groups from communicating with members in the run-up to an election. Early in the process, they also removed a provision that would have required donors to be disclosed.

(By Sam Stockard via the Tennessee Lookout)

I had to do a lot of editing in the article to summarize the bill. I did this because I think I support this? More from the Tennessean here and here.

The bill, HB 1201, is here.

Hurtful language hurts politicians

United States Senator Bill Hagerty on Tuesday joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and nine other colleagues to introduce the Public Servant Protection Act, which protects public officials and employees and their families from having their home addresses displayed publicly online. Text of the bill may be found here. …

United States Senator Bill Hagerty on Tuesday joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and nine other colleagues to introduce the Public Servant Protection Act, which protects public officials and employees and their families from having their home addresses displayed publicly online. Text of the bill may be found here.

(Via Chattanoogan.com)

That’s not how free speech works.

Should public servants and their families be protected by law enforcement? Yes. We all should, and those serving in office should get protection specific to their role as the vitriol is particularly incendiary and the service they provide is important.

Should government officials be sheltered from voters who disagree with them, those who say things they don’t like, in a peaceful manner? No. If the voices are dangerous? Yes.

Should journalists and news outlets couch political grandstanding as “protection” from “threats”? No.

Should public employee addresses be public record? That’s not clear cut. I think elected officials should have their addresses on record since their residence is part of the requirement to hold office. If public service employees, like fire and police, are required to live in their community, then that should be public record as well.

Of course, this is largely moot. Most everyone volunteers their location on social media. It would not take much work to figure out where a public servant lives based on posts by themselves, their significant others, or their offspring.

Lawn care specialists, house cleaning professionals, au pairs, and the like could also post location information.

Maybe neighbors post their own information and it becomes easy to triangulate a voted-on public servant’s house?

※ The Hyperbole and Horror of Ginni Thomas

A week has gone by and I’m still aghast. Still astonished. Still absorbing what Ginni Thomas said in those text messages to Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, as she urged him to overturn the 2020 election, and what she apparently believes in her poisoned mind. So let’s please, please move past Will Smith and the deconstruction of that ugly incident and reallocate our attention to her behavior. It has broader and more profound consequences. It also explains why, despite my efforts not to, I sometimes feel almost hopeless about this country’s present and future.

“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!” Thomas wrote to Meadows in the days following the election, her derangement and despair wrought in a bonanza of exclamation points. “You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice.” The precipice! I should haul out a few extra exclamation points myself, especially because Thomas went on to say that she and Meadows were watching “the Left” attempt “the greatest Heist of our History.”

(H/t 3 Quarks Daily; via NYT; emphasis mine)