Tag: 2020 Election

Short Story Outline

Movie/story idea — All of the crazy conspiracy theories Trump parrots are actually true. The deep state looking to undermine him. The conspiracy to steal the election, twice. The QAnon idea that Democrats are secret pedophiles or cannibals or whatever looking to take over the country and Trump has been ordained by God himself to save us. Except, unlike mainstream stories where good triumphs over evil … the bad guys win and the savior lives out his life in exile.

Bloomberg’s Millions

I wonder if the lesson from Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 election investments might be “dumping money into advertisements has limited benefit”. A hundred million dollars to fund groups driving people to polls. Or free public transport rides on election day. Or groups helping people navigate voter registration (possibly including fees and transportation to where-ever non-driver photo IDs are issued). Maybe those would have been more productive ways to blow a hundred mil.

Pre-Hatched Ideas

I’ve got two working story-lines to end the reality-TV-presidency. Trump steps down next week, Barr pushes through a bunch of cases against him and he’s found innocent (or guilty and Pence pardons him). Lacks pizazz. Also doesn’t sort the state charges — my memory is that SCOTUS has held there’s no double jeopardy because you’ve violated the federal law *and* the completely separate (even if it’s the same thing) state law.
 
The one I like better – Trump kicks off a I didn’t really lose tour / airing of grievances across the country, culminating in oversea visits to the troops. While visiting Incirlik, he defects and stays in Turkey. Plot twist — all of the QAnon folks follow him and shore up Erdoğan’s support in the 2023 election. But the same QAnon folks get Trump into the National Assembly, and he wins the 2028 general election to replace Erdoğan.

Dueling Town Halls

It struck me, while watching the dueling town hall events, how normalized it has become that the national news talks about the president every.single.day. I get that it’s news because he’s the president … but, for most of American history, the president did his thing. Some people didn’t agree with his choices, some did. But it wasn’t so outrageous as to warrant being broadcast to the entire country on the national news. I don’t mean the cable-news plenty-of-time-to-fill stations — I mean the half hour daily news on the national networks.

Ohio Absentee Ballot — Confirming Rejected Ballot

I requested an absentee ballot this year — we’d used absentee ballots once back when we lived in Geauga county and delivered the ballots to the Board of Elections office, but we generally vote in person. I wanted Anya to experience the process (and they give out cute stickers!). But we’ll have more time to explore what the ballot actually is at home, and there won’t be a bunch of people about. But — and the one thing that makes me want to do the early in-person voting — they can reject your ballot if the signature doesn’t match. I didn’t have a problem with my absentee ballot request, but Scott’s got rejected for a signature mismatch. And that had be worried about my actual ballot.

But, amid all of Trump’s blathering last night? Biden managed to convey that a lot of states have a process for curing rejected absentee ballots. I had no idea. Per Ohio Rev Code § 3509.06:

“(b) If the election officials find that the identification envelope statement of voter is incomplete or that the information contained in that statement does not conform to the information contained in the statewide voter registration database concerning the voter, the election officials shall mail a written notice to the voter, informing the voter of the nature of the defect. The notice shall inform the voter that in order for the voter’s ballot to be counted, the voter must provide the necessary information to the board of elections in writing and on a form prescribed by the secretary of state not later than the seventh day after the day of the election. The voter may deliver the form to the office of the board in person or by mail. If the voter provides the necessary information to the board of elections not later than the seventh day after the day of the election and the ballot is not successfully challenged on another basis, the voter’s ballot shall be processed and counted in accordance with this section.”

Which means I’d be notified if my ballot is rejected, and I could go to the Board of Elections within seven days of the election to provide whatever sort of identification they need to be satisfied. A total of fifteen states provide a remediation path for signature challenges — details for those states at https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/vopp-table-15-states-that-permit-voters-to-correct-signature-discrepancies.aspx

2020 Presidential Debate Number One

The problem, I guess, with being a TV president … there are a non-trivial number of shows that go on far longer than they should. The context of premise that connected with viewers (relatable, entertaining, novel, whatever) changes over the shows run. It’s often difficult to wholesale change the direction of your show, people stop watching, the show starts to go wild directions to bring back viewers (i.e. ‘jump the shark’ both in the literal instance that begat the phrase and other subsequent figurative jumps), and eventually gets cancelled.
I posit that the Trump presidency jumped the shark tonight. In 2016, running as an outsider who wasn’t going to be constrained by all of the BS political rules … that was a viable message (obviously). Saying ‘the current guy created a lot of problems, there are a lot of longstanding problems just because of the way government works, and I’m an outsider who doesn’t need the political machine behind my candidacy. I can fix it” was a viable message. Bullying, name calling, anti-social interactions with other candidates were new — offered catharsis similar to yelling at the TV screen when politicians were defending the status quo. Personally, the race baiting and outright racist comments put me off. I know a lot of people who give older relatives a “pass” on racist comments, though and proceeded to do the same for Trump.
In 2020? Running against yourself is a bit of a long-shot. Trump’s never managed a logical campaign message beyond “it is all awful, and I can fix it”. But he’s had years to fix it this time around, so the message isn’t as powerful. I’d observed earlier this year that his response to the 2016 approach not appealing to voters was to be Trumpier — louder, more violent, more divorced from reality, more racist. Hey, white suburban housewives — fear the melanin that’s going to invade your utopia if you don’t vote for me … which was out of touch on so many levels. The debate tonight was a natural evolution of being Trumpier. Slate counted 128 interruptions in the course of the 90-minute debate (https://slate.com/…/trump-interruptions-first…). The Boston Globe cited an exchange where Trump interrupted Biden 10 times in three minutes (https://www.bostonglobe.com/…/trump-interrupted-biden…/) … “and it got worse from there”. As noted, Trump asked the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” — then followed that sentence “But I’ll tell you what — somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem this is a left wing.” Which sounds a lot more like inciting violence than the condemnation he was asked to make.
Sure, there’s some frighteningly large percentage of the population who looks at Trump and thinks this is awesome. And I’m sure they are energized by this debate performance. People like the groups of centrist Republicans who are publishing their support of Biden? I cannot see how Trump swayed them back tonight — he substantiated everything they say about Trump that is pushing their vote to Biden.
Biden managed to talk a few times. He managed to convey the most important thing (Trump can only lie and construct a new reality if you let him — go vote no matter how many times he threatens to disenfranchise you). That some states provide a mechanism to cure rejected absentee ballots. And that he’s proud of his son — that’s one that I think might stand out to individuals but be lost in professional analysis. Biden was speaking about one of his sons, and Trump interrupted to bad-mouth the other son. And not just to bad-mouth the guy but specifically to call out the fact the guy had a coke problem. There’s a substantial meth problem / opioid epidemic going on in the country — one that impacts rural America. A lot of people have a friend, relative, and even kid who has a drug problem. A father proud of his son for overcoming addiction is relatable. Someone using a kid’s addiction to attack both the kid and parent? That’s an off-putting move even for someone whose kid isn’t suffering with addiction. I cannot imagine how awful that sounds to someone whose kid is/was addicted to drugs.

Speculation — Why he didn’t release his taxes

I’ve long speculated that Trump doesn’t release his taxes because beyond paying zero dollars (which everyone pretty much expects), he’s taking refundable deductions and having the government pay him. Well, the NYTimes has finally gotten access to years of returns for Trump and his businesses … and I’ve got a new hypothesis. It was only time before someone with access to Trump’s taxes sent that info to reporters. Had he stayed a private citizen, no one would have cared. And people who could have accessed the documents wouldn’t have bothered — they weren’t important.

The “loss” he claimed and carried back to request a 70 million dollar refund is questionable. If he got interest in the reformed company, he didn’t actually walk away from the investment. Before the tax returns were publicized, no one knew that the details of the subsequent transactions were of interest. Now that it’s public? Someone has access to information that’s pertinent to the IRS investigation. It’s only a matter of time before those details are splashed across some news paper’s page.

On Taxes and Businesses

I expect a lot of hype about how little Trump paid in taxes — and, yeah, it really sucks that someone is able consider private planes, meals, club memberships, car leases, etc to be a tax-deductible business expense. One of my first introductions to the working world was a privately-held company. I was the IT department, and one of my jobs was to move data from the old systems (mainframe for order management, database for inventory, and paper ledger for accounting) into the new all-in-one business management platform. Which meant I not only had access to all of the company’s accounting, but that I had to read through it all to get the information typed into the new platform. The company owner’s plane was owned by the business, so the hangar and maintenance was a business expense. He’d hire time in the plane for person use, but he got a really good discount from his company’s transportation service. Same for the company car he drove. And the country club membership — that’s where he’d meet with clients to solicit business, after all. Food and drink at those client meetings were business expenses too. It was all perfectly legal and designed both to maximize the owner’s enjoyment of life and the minimize the business’s profits. As a broke out-of-college kid, it seemed awfully unfair that the rich old dude was able to eat every day and avoid paying some taxes in doing so but the huge chunk of my paycheque that went to various taxes meant I had some rice to eat that day.

There were subordinate companies that paid consulting fees back to the main company to zero out any profits they made. And that parent company had a bunch of “business expenses” that minimized their profits. Ideally, the CFO told me, you’d net zero every year (or even have a paper loss) and not have to send the federal government anything in business taxes. Which I get — people shop around for the best price, find coupons and promo codes … you try to get the best deal. And, if the legal structure allows you to do so, why wouldn’t you avoid paying taxes altogether?

I’ve heard people say that a business needs to show a profit every ten years — that’s not true. If you don’t show a profit once in a ten year period, you may be asked to prove to the IRS that it’s a legit business. I come across this in the soap-making community — buying stuff for my soap-making hobby is not tax deductible even if I construct a business entity under which to make those purchase. Even if I happen to sell a few bars of soap to friends and neighbors. But if you’re advertising your product, going out to craft fairs and selling your soap … you provide the IRS evidence of your attempts to sell your product and you could be losing money every year for decades and still write off business expenses.

And the tax code is designed to encourage businesses to minimize their net — investing in your business offsets profit too. It’s one of the biggest problems I had with the interaction Obama had with Joe the not-a-plumber. If you buy a plumbing business that grosses a million dollars a year? You hire another plumber, buy another truck … you invest in a new tool that lets you offer more services. You spend some of that money and don’t have to pay taxes on it. Well, that hiring and purchasing also improves the country’s economy.

Ohio Remote Ballot Marking System Expansion Request

Email to Secretary of State DeRose, my Ohio State Senator, and my Ohio State Representative:

 

There appears to be a remote ballot marking system available if you have a qualifying disability under ADA. I would like to see the availability of this 11-G absentee request be expanded to anyone with COVID-like symptoms or asked to quarantine for potential exposure. This would allow such individuals to remotely mark their ballot and ensure their vote is counted. It’s not the resource strain that offering in-person pick-up akin to RC 3509.08 would be, and it allows people to ensure their vote is counted without risking heir health or the health of community members.