Categories
America The Current Situation

Rick “Senator Skeletor” Scott’s proposed bill makes fewer votes count

Rick Scott, flashing his biggest, most Skeletor-like smile
Rick “Senator Skeletor” Scott

Florida Senator Rick Scott — or, as I like to call him, “Senator Skeletor” — has proposed a new bill whose desired effect appears to be to reduce the number of eligible votes.

On Thursday, he proposed the ironically-named Help America Vote Act of 2020 (aren’t they always named ironically now?), which:

  • Requires that mail-in ballots be counted within 24 hours of when voting closes on Election Day, and
  • Prevents mail-in ballots received before Election Day to NOT BE PROCESSED and COUNTED before Election Day.

This bill drastically cuts the window of time for counting votes down to just over a day. Any votes not counted during this period are simply not counted.

This is a drastic reduction from the the way it is now, where the period to count votes can be weeks, because of advance absentee and mail-in voting. For example,

  • In Colorado, where all voting is mail-in, votes can be processed as early as 15 days before Election Day.
  • In Florida, Senator Skeletor’s home state (and mine!), votes can be processed as early as 22 days before Election Day.

This runs against a lot of election statutes across the U.S., where federal elections are handled at the local level and subject to local laws.

It’s probably too late to pass this law, as advance and absentee voting has already started, but there’s no reason why Senator Skeletor and company can’t try to get it enacted for the next election.

As to why the Republicans seem to like minimizing the number of votes counted, I present you with some reading material:

Categories
Florida The Current Situation

The Florida governor’s really bad ideas

Florida’s governor, Ron “DipShantis” DeSantis, in a bid to help win the state for his lord and master Donald Trump in the upcoming election, has been pushing some really bad ideas this week.

First, he proposed the Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, whose primary purpose seems to be discouraging and criminalizing dissent.

Among other things:

  • It provides a loophole for people who run over protesters with their vehicles if they’re “fleeing for their safety”.
  • You can be arrested for attending a protest where someone decides to pick a fight.
  • You won’t be able to post bail if you’re arrested at a protest that turns violent.
  • If you organize a protest and someone who attends starts a fight or engages in vandalism, you’ll be liable under RICO (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), which is not the intended purpose of that law.

While he’s not so keen on first amendment rights, the governor is a big fan of university students’ right to party. He wants a “bill of rights” to protect college kids who might get expelled for breaking the no-parties rule that universities in the state are trying to enforce.

“I personally think it’s incredibly draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party,” he said on Thursday. “That’s what college kids do.”

But proposing that we deny bail to protesters and charge protest organizers as if they were mobsters? That’s what corrupt governors do.

And finally, there’s the surprise announcement yesterday that he signed an executive order lifting major restrictions on restaurants. Local governments can still restrict restaurant capacity, but they can only restrict capacity to no lower than 50%, and if they’re trying to restrict capacity at all, they need to clear it with the state.

As observed in Politico:

President Donald Trump found a new applause line at his Florida rally this week: “Normal life. O! I love normal life. We want to get back to normal life.” The next day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to deliver on that promise — or the appearance of it.

The Republican governor of the president’s must-win battleground responded 24 hours later by canceling all state coronavirus restrictions Friday without warning, catching local governments and epidemiologists off-guard amid their own strategies to keep the coronavirus contained.

As of yesterday, we had over 18,000 cases in the past 7 days.

I used to think that the mayor of the beach town of Amity from Jaws was a bit over-the top. “No real-world politician would be that deadly a combination of foolish, power-hungry, and popular,” I thought, but I was wrong. We’ve got them in spades right now, and the governor is among the worst of them.

As Florida author, podcaster, and former Republican strategist Rick Wilson tweeted five months ago:

At this point, you’re probably wondering “What can I do?” And the answer, thankfully, is “plenty”.

  1. Just because restaurants can open at full capacity doesn’t mean you have to go. You can still support your local eateries by ordering “to go” or delivery, and tipping generously. And be sure to support mom-and-pop operations!
  2. Just because there’s a bangin’ party full of hot co-eds doesn’t mean you have to go. This is a hard sell to a college student (trust me, my own university career was Van Wilder-esque), but it’s not a true hardship, kids. You still have it easier than most of your forebears:
  3. Use your voice. Tell your elected officials what you think. Discuss this with your friends. Vote.
  4. Hope. The goal of disenfranchisement is for you to lose hope that you can make a difference and meaningful change, lose faith in democracy, and simply surrender to authoritarian power. Resist, take heart, disconnect from the internet and news when you need to, and remember Alasdair Gray’s words:

    Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.

Categories
funny The Current Situation

I call this a “butt and switch”

Sign on pylon: “COVID testing in the rear”, with caption “Wait a minute — You told me it was a nasal swab!”

Thanks to Ramon Grajo for the find!

Categories
America The Current Situation

65 years later [Updated]

Photo: 1. Emmett Till — September 23rd 1955: Emmett Till’s murderers are acquitted / 2. Breonna Taylor — September 23rd 2020: Emmett Till’s murderers are acquitted.

And in case you need a refresher, here’s the Wikipedia entry on Emmett Till.

Update

A lawyer friend informs me:

There was no acquittal in the Breonna Taylor situation: a refusal to charge for murder, yes, but there were charges that are going to trial. Yesterday was the Grand Jury’s charging decision. If it was a no knock warrant, executed lawfully, that may be the correct charging decision. But whether the no knock warrant should have been issued is a different question.

Categories
The Current Situation

“Hippie cat / Hip — pie — cat / How are they dosing you?”

There’s one bag left at the Seminole Heights Publix clearance counter.

[ Don’t get the title? It’s a Friends reference, and yes, there’s a Wikipedia entry for Smelly Cat. ]

 

Categories
Tampa Bay The Current Situation

Scenes from this morning’s bike ride

The temperature at the END of the bike ride. It was a shade cooler than this when I was biking.

The weather must’ve been aware of the calendar, because it got autumn-like — well, what passes for autumn here in Tampa, anyway — all of a sudden.

It was also a nice day to try on the new UV-protective shirt that Anitra got for me:

I try to do a 10K ride as often as I can. I typically manage to do so five times a week on average.

I do this by using it as my podcast/audiobook listening time. I don’t listen via headphones; instead, I clip onto my backpack’s right shoulder strap (you can see the Otterbox clip in the photo above, complete with rubber band backup).

I do groceries on my bike trips, which gives me yet another reason to hop on the bike.

I also benefit from the scenery in Seminole Heights, which is surrounded on three sides by the Hillsborough River (it takes an upside-down U-shaped path through the neighbourhood, going north, then west, then south). There’s a number of pocket parks here, including this one:

And just to remind you that you’re in Florida, there’s a “Warning: Alligators” sign…

Categories
America Florida The Current Situation

It’s National Voter Registration Day in the U.S.!

Here in the U.S., it’s National Voter Registration Day. First observed in 2012, it’s a day designated for reminding U.S. citizens to register to vote.

In this blog entry, I’m going to point to a couple of people who are helping the democratic process.

BetterKnowABallot.com by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Voting in the U.S. can be confusing because the systems and rules aren’t organized federally, but by state. In order to help alleviate this problem and be interesting, late-night TV show host Stephen Colbert and his team have put together BetterKnowABallot.com, a site that explains how to register to vote, vote by mail and vote in person based on your state’s specific laws.

Here’s Colbert explaining what it’s all about:

Find out more at BetterKnowABallot.com.

If you’re in my home state of Florida, the deadline to register to vote is Monday, October 5.

You can also request a vote-by-mail ballot, the deadline for which is Saturday, October 24:

Michael Bloomberg and company pay Florida felons’ poll tax

If you’ve never seen John Oliver’s piece on felony disenfranchisement on Last Week Tonight back in September 2018, here it is:

The piece was focused on Florida (yup, where I live), where 1.5 million citizens — nearly 10% of the adult population — have completed sentences for felony convictions but still can’t vote.

Nearly 1 in 5 black adults is disenfranchised from voting.

In the 2018 midterm elections, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which automatically restored voting rights in the state for people previously convicted of felonies, with the notable exception of those who were convicted of murder or sex crimes. It’s fair — if you’ve paid your debt to society, you should be able to vote.

Florida’s governor — Ron “DipShantis” DeSantis, who hews very closely to Trump — has been fighting this tooth and nail. His most effective action was to add on a requirement that felons could have their voting right restored if and only if they pay all fines, fees and restitution.

According to Politico:

Florida’s voter registration deadline is Oct. 5 and as many as 775,000 felons may have outstanding court debts — which include fines, fees and restitution — that preclude them from registering under the law passed last year by the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

This is nothing more than a poll tax, a trick that goes back to before the turn of the previous century, as a way of keeping black people from voting in southern states. Otherwise, there’d be laws that required you to pay off any outstanding taxes and traffic violation tickets in order to be able to vote.

To help right this wrong, Michael Bloomberg — for whom this is poker night money — and other people have raised $16 million to pay those outstanding fines and help restore those voting rights.