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    September 2020
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  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

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    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Here was my neighborhood last night
      Because the family of a mentally ill Philadelphia man holding a knife called for an ambulance, and the cops showed up. They claim he “charged” them and they shot and killed him. The mental health unit is a pilot program and isn’t paid to work on the weekends. Protesters didn’t do this, looters did. (Maybe … Continue reading Here was my neighborhood last nigh […]
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    • Interview Part 2: Politics Thru Climate Change
      This second excerpt from my interview is more interesting and longer. This is the second clip from my interview with Ian Welsh (Ian blogs at ianwelsh.net). For this segment, we went on a wild ride discussing the big picture mess that is US politics and society more broadly. I asked Ian what might happen if […]
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PSA: how to correctly complete your mail-in ballot in PA

These are arriving in mail boxes to show voters exactly what they need to do in order to complete their mail in ballots so that they are not disqualified. Everyone is encouraged to send back ballots early so that they can be processed and counted on Election Day. Pass it around:

Allegheny county started mailing ballots on Wednesday. The county has approved a whopping 314,000 ballots for voting by mail.

That’s f{}%ing amazing. No wonder Trump is spooked.

The Gift of Fear Voting.

Who here has heard of Gavin de Becker? He’s the security expert who worked with Jeff Bezos a couple years ago when Bezos’s girlfriend’s phone was hacked and the Trump droogs tried to intimidate him.

IKR?? How do you intimidate the one guy in the world who has more money than God and can afford to lose a few friends? Or a wife? Ok, so Bezos and his wife were probably going to divorce anyway but I digress.

Basically, De Becker helped figure out how the phone was accessed. I can’t remember now whether it was girlfriend’s brother who sent stuff to the Saudis or whether it was an Israeli intelligence outfit that did it but if I recall correctly, there was a Mid East connection.

Anyway, a couple decades ago, De Becker wrote a book called The Gift of Fear. I think it was all the rage on DailyKos around the time of post 9/11. The basic idea of the book is that there are rational fears and irrational fears. Irrational fears might be something like saddam hussein has missiles that can hit the US in 45 minutes, omg, the sky is falling. Or childhood vaccines cause autism. You know, easily provable crap like that. Those fears tend to short circuit your ability to think clearly.

Rational fear might be something like, a sociopath has taken over the White House and is trying to subvert the election in order to stay in power.

I started thinking about this book a few days ago because Trump stealing the election is plausible and the fact that foreign actors might be stimulating irrational fears about voting and it’s aftermath is starting to get attention as well.

Then Trump said yesterday that he was going to send seniors $200 cash cards for prescription drugs and I went, “wait a minute, isn’t that like one of de Becker’s indicators that you’re about to be bagged?”

Yes it is.

De Becker has put together a list of pre-incident indicators (PINS) of threat and violence. If people are aware of these incidents in advance, can spot them and are prepared to deal with them, the likelihood of violence and personal threat can be averted. Here is the list from Wikipedia:

  • Forced Teaming. This is when a person implies that they have something in common with their chosen victim, acting as if they have a shared predicament when that isn’t really true. Speaking in “we” terms is a mark of this, i.e. “We don’t need to talk outside… Let’s go in.”
  • Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a chosen victim in order to manipulate him or her by disarming their mistrust.
  • Too many details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible to their chosen victim.
  • Typecasting. An insult is used to get a chosen victim who would otherwise ignore one to engage in conversation to counteract the insult. For example: “Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me.” The tendency is for the chosen victim to want to prove the insult untrue.
  • Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help to the chosen victim and anticipating they’ll feel obliged to extend some reciprocal openness in return.
  • The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this usually means that such a promise will be broken. For example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” usually means the chosen victim will not be left alone. Similarly, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt their chosen victim.
  • Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.

Let’s evaluate our current threat, shall we?

Forced teaming. The Trump admin has made this a central theme of his campaign and governing. It’s definitely an us vs them mentality. Note the attacks on the Deep State, our intelligence community, federal regulatory agencies that were supposed to help us with Covid. You get the point.

Charm and niceness. That seems to be largely absent this year. I think it’s because it’s not necessary anymore.

Too many details. Liars frequently have to embellish with details. They think it makes them sound convincing. I’d put conspiracy theories in this indicator. They are getting more and more elaborate and unbelievable. QANON is the actor here, as well as foreign interference with the Trump campaign’s blessing.

Typecasting. Perfect example is Hugh Hewitt accusing Democrats of hating Catholics and then watching as Democrats take the bait and twist themselves into knots trying to disprove it. We need to do better here and stop the accusations and excuses in their tracks.

Loan sharking. Sending $200 cash cards to seniors just before the election for their prescription drugs. {{wink, wink, nudge, nudge}}

The Unsolicited Promise. “We will not allow a Supreme Court Justice to be nominated during an election year before the new president is determined.”

Discounting the word “no”. Not accepting rejection. Basically, everything Trump has said in the last couple of days.

We should all be prepared for what comes. Do not panic. Just make plans. Have your voting plan ready. Have a back up plan. Get an everyday carry bag ready with stuff you might need in an emergency in case you need to move away from violence. Have a destination.

I am starting to see people in the media repeat the above advice. That suggests to me that they are aware of the threat levels and we need to take them seriously. Here is where the gift of fear will help you. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Keep your eyes open. Don’t take any wooden nickels.

It’s going to be ok if we look out for ourselves and others.

This guy might be the most powerful man in America.

Sorry to call attention to him. He’s been keeping a low profile. Not an attention seeking guy like Cuomo or DeSantis. Kind of low key, gets the job done, speaks softly, carries a stick. He’s got a lot on his plate right now what with the PA Republican legislature grandstanding over Covid Restrictions.

He’s Tom Wolf, governor of Pennsylvania. He’s a resident of York county Pennsylvania. Yep, that’s the county that installed Trump in 2016.

Wolf is a Democrat and former accountant. I’ve been surprised at the clever ways he’s been able to fund stuff in the state, all legally, of course. But he sure doesn’t have it easy with these GOP state senators and legislators using Covid to make it look like he’s the cause of all the economic pain caused by Covid restrictions. They keep sending him bills to sign to open bars and restaurants without respecting all social distancing rules, Wolf vetos them, the GOP throws a fit and points fingers at him saying he’s to blame for all the tragic Covid fallout, Trumpers get infuriated. (Trumpers always get infuriated.)

About everything a Democrat does.


Nevertheless, our Covid case load is down, down, down. We are holding steady. Our spikes are few and far between. Allegheny county is down to about 42 cases/day. To do that, everyone was essentially grounded after the last Covid spike in June. Bars and restaurants opened, young adults went out and partied, many of them let their guard down, bars and restaurants weren’t paying attention, we got a nasty spike. Therefore, the establishments shall remain closed or with seating restrictions unless they can get creative and do outdoor seating. Al fresco dining and beer guzzling has popped up everywhere so, you know, this can be done. You don’t need a closed environment with people breathing on each other. I went to dinner a couple of weeks ago at an outside venue and it was delightful. I am also Covid free. There you go.

Same with school sports. Personally? I don’t have a problem with outdoor sports like track, football, soccer, baseball, field hockey, etc. If the school district follows all recommendations for social distancing and masking of spectators, go for it. That might have actually worked.

But that’s not what the GOP wanted. They wanted local control to decide how to conduct school sports so Wolf vetoed the bill. I suspect that’s because he knows the residents of York county a little too well. They’d pack those bleachers with maskholes and cheer twice as often as necessary because it’s they’re constitutional right to spread infection or some such selfish reason. If central PA started acting like responsible adults and agreed to public health measures at high school games, maybe things would have gone down differently. But I see no evidence of that. Wolf knows these people.

Commence Trumpers wailing about how mean Wolf is.



The reason why Wolf might be the most powerful man in America is related to the scenario Bart Gellman laid out yesterday. The constitution does not prohibit the state legislatures from certifying a different set of electors than the ones that voters voted for on Election Day. The theory was that the GOP legislature would swap out the elected electors for Trump electors the second Trump declares premature victory in PA.

Well, apparently, they can’t do that, even though they’ve had talks with the Trump campaign to do that.

I can’t remember where I heard this yesterday (Lawrence O’Donnell?) but it turns out that in PA, the current state law is the electors are the ones that the voters elected and that’s that. No swapsies.

So, in order for Republicans to replace elected electors with state legislature selected electors that will vote for Trump, there would need to be new legislation allowing the legislature to do that.

It would be interesting to see that pushed through the statehouse. Exactly what perfectly innocent scenario are they going to argue would necessitate overriding the will of the electorate? It’s not like we’re never going to have an answer to who won Pennsylvania and must therefore need to have the state legislature intervene. We’ll all know the answer three days after Election Day. Well, if it’s a blowout, we’ll know sooner. But it’s not going to be like some other states where they’re still counting mail in ballots 3 weeks later. So, take an old cold tater and wait, guys.

Anyway, the bill can’t become a law until it’s signed by the governor (see schoolhouse rock). And I can’t see Tom Wolf being a meanie on whether you can get stinking drunk at a bar without public health measures while letting the PA Republican legislature decide to override the will of the citizens of PA on Election Day.

I could be wrong but I believe Wolf would veto that bill.