Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Last Call For Phoning It In

Voters in Seattle will be the first in the country to vote by smartphone app in 2020 for local elections, which is both really amazing and also brain-jarringly stupid.

A district encompassing Greater Seattle is set to become the first in which every voter can cast a ballot using a smartphone — a historic moment for American democracy.

The King Conservation District, a state environmental agency that encompasses Seattle and more than 30 other cities, is scheduled to detail the plan at a news conference on Wednesday. About 1.2 million eligible voters could take part.

NPR is first to report the story.

The new technology will be used for a board of supervisors election, and ballots will be accepted from Wednesday through election day on Feb. 11.

"This is the most fundamentally transformative reform you can do in democracy," said Bradley Tusk, the founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies, a nonprofit aimed at expanding mobile voting that is funding the King County pilot.

But the move is sure to polarize the elections community as democracy-watchers across the country debate the age-old push-and-pull between voting access and voting security.

The U.S. trails most developed democracies when it comes to its election turnout rate, and local races typically lag far behind presidential November elections.

The board of supervisors election in the King Conservation District, for example, in past years has drawn less than 1% of the eligible population to the ballot box.

Tusk says low turnout contributes to dysfunction in government because candidates aren't forced to craft positions that represent the entire population.

"If you can use technology to exponentially increase turnout, then that will ultimately dictate how politicians behave on every issue," he said.

Look, any voting technology that sounds like it might be a major plot component by a villain on Mr. Robot or Black Mirror is automatically suspect in my book.  The idea is great and would massively increase turnout if people could vote from their phones, but believe me when I say there is no way on God's green, purple, chartreuse or plaid earth that the security technology is anywhere near close to being ready to secure voting done by app.

Need I remind you there's loads of evidence that voter registration information in the 2016 presidential election was compromised in all 50 states?

No, this is a technology that needs to die screaming.  It will only be hacked in the future.

Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

The white supremacist domestic terrorists running around in plain sight here in America, wanting an excuse to pump bullets into black and brown bodies (and into the "race traitors" who resist their racism) have made it quite clear they want the shooting to start for real.

A hidden camera captured members of a white supremacist group expressing hope that violence at Monday’s gun-rights rally in Richmond could start a civil war, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday.

Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews also videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, a prosecutor wrote in urging a judge in Maryland to keep Mathews and two other members of The Base detained in federal custody.

The three were arrested Thursday. A day earlier, Gov. Ralph Northam had cited safety threats in declaring a state of emergency and temporarily banning guns from Capitol Square for the rally.

Mathews, a 27-year-old Canadian national, didn’t know investigators were watching and listening when he and two other group members talked about attending the Richmond rally in the days leading up to Monday’s event, which attracted tens of thousands of people and ended without violence.

Last month, a closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Richmond rally as a “boundless” opportunity.

“And the thing is you’ve got tons of guys who ... should be radicalized enough to know that all you gotta do is start making things go wrong and if Virginia can spiral out to [expletive] full-blown civil war,” he said.

Mathews and fellow group member Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, of Elkton, Md., discussed the planning of violence at the Richmond rally, according to prosecutors. Lemley talked about using a thermal imaging scope affixed to his rifle to ambush unsuspecting civilians and police officers, prosecutors said.

“I need to claim my first victim,” Lemley said on Dec. 23, according to Tuesday’s detention memo.

“We could essentially like be literally hunting people,” Mathews said, according to prosecutors. “You could provide overwatch while I get close to do what needs to be done to certain things.”

Lemley talked about ambushing a police officer to steal the officer’s weapons and tactical gear, saying, “If there’s like a PoPo cruiser parked on the street and he doesn’t have backup, I can execute him at a whim and just take his stuff,” according to prosecutors.

FBI agents arrested Mathews, Lemley and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, Md., on Thursday as part of a broader investigation of The Base. Authorities in Georgia and Wisconsin also arrested four other men linked to the group.

Detention hearings for Mathews and Bilbrough are scheduled for Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Md. Their attorneys didn’t immediately respond to the memo filed Tuesday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom.

It's only because terrorists are brutally stupid individuals who brag all the time about how they're going to kill a bunch of people (including cops!) that we haven't had a dozen guys in SWAT gear shoot up an entire town as an opening salvo in a greater war.


Eventually one of these groups is going to show some operational discipline and a whole ot of people are going to die.  Not that we don't already have mass shootings in America.

But these guys want war.  Remember that.

Impeachment Reached, Con't

The first day of the proceedings in the Senate impeachment trial was a chaotic mess, and Mitch McConnell's plan to start at 1 PM Eastern and clog the airwaves with procedural fights long into the night, boring America into tuning out, was a total and complete success.

CBS blinked first.

After less than three hours of live coverage on Tuesday, the network of Walter Cronkite cut away from the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, yielding to daytime fare like “Dr. Phil” and “Judge Judy.”

NBC held out longer, but by 5 p.m., ABC was the last traditional broadcast network still in breaking-news mode. Die-hards could turn to cable news for their fix.

In television terms, the opening hours of Mr. Trump’s trial — only the third in American history, and the second of the mass-media era — did not exactly make for visually compelling viewing. For Republican Senate leadership, that was by design.

Senate officials rejected repeated requests to allow outside cameras into the chamber to record the trial — meaning that what viewers see and hear will be dictated by cameras and microphones controlled by Senate staff members, rather than an independent news organization. (Even C-SPAN was not allowed access.)

The result: Audiences were introduced on Tuesday to the constricted, lo-fi view of the Senate floor that will be ubiquitous on the nation’s TV screens in the coming days.

Election nights have their interactive maps and whiz-bang graphics. State of the Union coverage features high-definition reaction shots of senior government officials, generating the occasional iconic moment — think Justice Samuel Alito mouthing “Not true” when President Barack Obama criticized a Supreme Court opinion on campaign finance.

But the trial of a sitting president? On Tuesday, the small-screen vista was limited to artless shots of House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers at their lecterns, with an occasional overhead glimpse of the chamber thrown in.

Squint, and you may have been able to make out an individual senator or two.

The anchor Chris Wallace, commenting as part of Fox News’s analyst team, pointed out what viewers were missing.

“Because these are the government set of controlled cameras, we are only able to see the podium and who is speaking,” Mr. Wallace said on Tuesday. “We are not able to see what is the emotion, what is the state of consciousness of the members of the Senate as all this goes on at considerable length.”

MSNBC, whose prime-time opinion shows are a gathering space for liberals, acknowledged the restricted views with some subtle trolling. Attentive viewers might have noticed a graphic in the upper-left corner of the MSNBC screen, noting that the trial footage was provided by “Capitol Hill Senate TV”: the government, not a news outlet.

No drama, no emotion, no excitement, means no coverage, and the Senate GOP can then get away with no evidence, no witnesses, and basically no trial.   For their part, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats fought tooth and nail, bringing up amendment after amendment to admit new evidence and to subpoena witnesses, but every one was defeated on the same 53-47 party line vote.

No evidence of any GOP senator being concerned about the cover-up at all.

Our country is being smothered in the middle of the night.


Related Posts with Thumbnails