Contingency Plans

As I write this, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is doign well in his battle with COVID-19. One wishes him a quick recovery, even if one doesn’t necessarily agree with his politics. It’s just the decent thing to do.

I don’t know if Great Britain has any plans or procedures to deal with the death or incapacity of their head of government, but the United States does. We have written rules to handle presidential succession.

But this is an election year…. And we’ve got a pair of septuagenarians running for the office. What happens if something happens?

I’m going to assume that each party has a plan in place for the situation where their nominee dies prior to the election. They had better. It probably involves the vice-presidential nominee moving up a level. It’s not unprecedented. There have been cases in state and local elections where a candidate died before the election – and the dead candidate even won. It won’t be easy, but if the parties have rules in place, we’ll have to go by their rules. It’s the party’s choice who they nominate, after all.

It gets weirder if it happens between Election Day and the inauguration. Given the rules for presidential succession, we’d probably just inaugurate the vice president.

The trickiest situation is if the president-elect dies after Election Day, but before the Electoral College votes to confirm the results of the election. Jeff Greenfield explored that situation in his novel The People’s Choice (1995). Are the electors required to endorse the vice-president, even if he (or she) is clearly incompetent? The matter is not entirely fiction. In December 1960, Richard Paul Pavlick planned to kill president-elect John Kennedy, but he got cold feet at the very last minute. The attempt happened one week before the Electoral College met…..

I think we had all better wish good health for all the candidates.

At least until the inauguration.

Things To Do While Self-Isolating

The whole country is pretty much in a lockdown mode (and those areas that aren’t are going to be rather soon). People are being told to stay home, and keep away from other people as much as possible in order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

This is most likely a new thing for many people, but it need not be a prison sentence. There are plenty of things that you can do to keep your self occupied.

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Viral Response

Well, we’re in a mess.

To put it mildly.

Now, even if you’re not being directly or even indirectly impacted, it’s hard to escape the feeling of gloom and despair that has settled over much of the nation.

It’s times like these that we really could use a bit of entertainment to distract ourselves from everything. And the support that comes from keeping our social ties strong.

So what happens?

Communal entertainments (sports and the theater) are being suspended indefinitely. And we are being practically ordered to keep our distance from others. Just what we need…..

There are going to be a LOT of people wanting or needing therapy when this is all over.

Instead of being told to “socially distance” ourselves from each other (by barricading ourselves in fortresses of toilet paper and hand sanitizer), why aren’t we being told to wash our hands?

Soap conducts chemical warfare on the virus. The soap molecule (not a joke; there really is such a thing) is literally a dagger that hacks the virus to pieces. It has two parts – a “hilt” that is attracted to water, and a “blade” that is attracted to lipids (i.e. fats and oils). When soap mixes with water enough so that the hilts are firmly gripped, the blade cuts in to the outer membrane of the virus – which is made of lipids – and breaks it up as if it were a mere blob of grease on your dishes.

One can even do it in a lighthearted fashion, as they did in the state of Washington some years ago during the last flu outbreak:

Lord knows we could use any reason to smile these days…..

Hand Washing Music

The coronavirus – aka COVID-19 – has arrived here in the United States. It’s basically a type of influenza: it produces symptoms like the flu, it spreads like the flu…. And because of the way it spreads, the standard flu protocols are the way to respond to it.

There are three things everyone is stressing:

1. Masks won’t help protect you.

2. If you do come down with something, stay home.

3. Wash your $@#! hands.

The latter is the one that people really need to follow. Wash your hands often, with soap and water (hand sanitizer is OK – provided it’s at least 120 proof (60% alcohol)). And no light rinse; you’ve got to do it for at least twenty seconds.

So how can you time yourself for twenty seconds?

How about singing along?

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Iowa

So now that the dust has cleared and the smoke has settled (for the most part), what can we gather from the Iowa Caucuses?

Well, obviously, Iowa needs to work on its ballot counting system. A few kinks should always be expected, since no system is perfect – especially because no matter how foolproof you make it, some fool isn’t going to follow the perfectly clear instructions and screw things up. But when you’re making such a major change, you probably should do a dress rehearsal field test before the big event.

The news media ought to have a bit of patience, too. In situations like this, you don’t need to have the results yesterday, if not sooner. Wait a bit and give them the chance to get it right. You can spend more time speculating about the outcome, too!

The other major complaint I’ve been reading about is from political junkies buffs complaining about how the Iowa Caucuses are so “undemocratic”. Seems they don’t like this rural, low diversity, low population state acting as a sort of “kingmaker” in the nominating process.

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Random Thoughts on Impeachment

I’ve been following the proceedings so far, watching the hearings and reading the press reports and occasionally the comments.

And I’ve got a few thoughts.

I feel safe referring to “Republicans” and “Democrats” as the two sides, since it really is split along party lines. No Republicans have even hinted that they would consider the possibility of voting to impeach, and no Democrats have suggested with any seriousness that El Presidente just might be innocent.

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Now What?

So we’ve had two weeks and many hours of people giving their testimony on Trump’s “Aid for Dirt” bribery scandal. As could be expected, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee asked pointed questions that strengthened their case for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, while the Republicans responded with “La la la, I can’t hear you, Biden, corruption, Burisma, hearsay, la la la…..”

The media have gone over the testimony picking out highlights and wondering why the whole megillah hasn’t moved the proverbial needle on Impeachment. Personally, the high point of the many hearings was Chairman Schiff’s closing comments on the last day of the hearings. He made an impassioned defense of law and order, as well as our nation’s role on the world stage. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, go do so now:

And to think it was all ad-libbed!

Anyway, now that the hearings are done, what happens next?

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Astros vs. Nationals

OK, this is it! World Series time! The best team in baseball facing the hottest team. And only the second time ever when both teams were expansion teams (the first was in 2015 when the Royals beat the Mets). The teams are loaded with talent, especially when it comes to starting pitching. Plan for a low-scoring series, but expect something unexpected to happen (naturally).

I’ve read some comments complaining that MLB would have preferred a New York – Los Angeles series, because those are the two biggest TV markets in the country. As it happens, Houston and DC are both in the top ten (at #7 and #6 respectively), so it’s not going to matter much. There are other gripes that starting the WS games at 8 pm means they will end after midnight, much too late for children. That claim betrays the commenter’s East Coast Bias. A game that ends at midnight in New York or DC will end at 11 pm in Chicago, St Louis, and Houston; at 10 pm in Denver and Phoenix; and 9 pm in Los Angeles and Seattle. I think the kids will be fine…

And as far as a “narrative” for FOX Sports to promote? The Astros are by far the best team in the game today; they are working on a dynasty. The Nationals are bringing the World Series to DC for the first time in seven decades. If your Promotions Dept. can’t do anything with that, fire them and get some new people in there.

I’m wondering who the Nationals will pick for “Ceremonial First Pitch” duties. The team doesn’t have enough history in DC to have some legendary players – yet. Perhaps they can hearken back to their Montreal Expo origins and call on Hall of Famer Tim Raines? It’s possible there just might still be someone alive who actually played for the original Washington Senators; if not, Walter Johnson’s grandson is around…. Whatever they do, please do NOT pick a political figure. Keep it baseball-related.

For the Houston Astros, I understand the temptation to ask Nolan Ryan if he’d like to do it. I would call on the “Killer B’s” – Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, and Craig Biggio – their superstars from their good teams in the late 90s and early 00s. If they need a fourth, then ask Ryan.

Anyway, I’m going to go on record here as hoping that the Astros take it in five games – mostly because I’ll be on vacation next week, and won’t be able to watch Games 6 or 7…

Extortion

extortion (noun)

ex·​tor·​tion | \ ik-ˈstȯr-shən

1 : the act or practice of extorting, especially money or other property especially : the offense committed by an official engaging in such practice.

Merriam-Webster

1. Illegal use of one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.

2. The act or an instance of extorting something, as by psychological pressure.

The Free Dictionary

The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

The Free Legal Dictionary

Law. the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.

Dictionary.Com

Extortion is the crime of obtaining something from someone, especially money, by using force or threats.

The Collins Dictionary

Extortion is a crime in which one person attempts to force another person to do something against his will. Extortion is used to force the victim to give property or money to the perpetrator, or to take some action, such as giving someone a promotion, or voting for something. This is done by threatening the victim’s property, person, or loved ones with harm, by intimidating the victim, or by falsely claiming a right. While extortion cases generally must contain some type of threat to the victim, his property, or his family to be classified as extortion, it does not need to involve actual physical injury, or relate to any other specific unlawful act.

The Legal Dictionary

Don Corleone (Marlon Brando): Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this justice a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.

The Godfather, screenplay by Mario Puzo

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of. talk about Biden’s son, that Eiden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.

Donald Trump, released transcript of phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky

On the Campaign Trail – 1

I haven’t been paying that much attention to the Democratic Presidential Campaign. It’s way too early, and there are far too many candidates. The need for the Democrats to not only unseat El Presidente but retake the Senate and keep the House is too important to worry about who wins the eventual nomination – especially when any one of them is good enough to win. There’s strong reasoning behind the “Vote Blue – No Matter Who” slogan.

Of course, that’s not going to stop me from having opinions.

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