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Thursday, September 24, 2020


Well, I took the suggestion to read this article in the Atlantic and now I am really scared.  What can I do? The only thing I can think of is to call the Chatham County Board of Elections and make sure that my absentee ballot will actually be counted on election day.  If that is not the case, then I need to find out how I can take that back and vote early in person.  Some slight risk of the virus is a chance I may have to take.


David said...

I concluded some time ago that Republicans would do anything and everything they could to retain power during this election. I will vote, and I hope the Democratic turnout is huge all across the country, but I feel it won't end there. I'm attempting to stay calm, conserve my energy, and get my affairs in order, because I believe that on November 4th, I will be hitting the streets, and I don't know when whatever unfolds will end.

On the other hand, if I'm wrong and Republicans are crushed into an irrecoverably weak position, then I will be happy to have been wrong.

Unknown said...

Yes, we could very well be in for a nightmare.

I generally take my absentee ballot directly to my Township Clerk’s office the day before the election, but this year I may opt for voting in person instead, virus or no virus.


David Goldman said...

This is the only countervailing good news I’ve come across today, and I’m not sure how strong it is against outright election theft:

Boris Dagaev said...

> I am really scared.

Of what exactly? How would another 4 years of Trump materially affect your well-being in a retirement community? Do you foresee Trump doing anything to jeopardize the business you are paying to to take care of some of your material needs?

If not, in response to your question of

> What can I do?

you could conceivably take a longer-term and more balanced perspective on what going on. For example, regardless of how much the atlantic article wags your sense of dread, on the whole it could be less costly long-term to acquiesce to 4 more years of Trump than to risk a full-blown constitutional crisis and a destruction of the republic. Consequently, assuming you live in a state where your vote might matter, you should refrain from voting and let Trump win.

LFC said...

Come on, Boris Dagaev.

Another 4 years of Trump wd be itself a catastrophe.

I'm voting in-person, and early, in my state, where the outcome is not in doubt but anyway...

As for going into the streets during what Barton Gellman in The Atlantic piece calls The Interregnum, I'm possibly a little old to engage in fistfights w Trump supporters. OTOH, I guess we'll see. I own no weapons other than a very antiquated and, I think, ceremonial longish knife in a sheath, orig from Pakistan. Mindful of the old saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight, it's all I have. Never was in the military and am too old to start learning how to use a firearm.

Boris Dagaev said...

> Another 4 years of Trump wd be itself a catastrophe.

For people obsessed with short-term outcomes and prone to political hysteria, definitely.

Unknown said...

Boris Dagaev,

You are extremely short-sighted and glib in your denials of the serious and disastrous consequences Il Duce can have on the democratic values of this country if he is re-elected. He uses the same tactics that Hitler and Mussolini used – denounce the press, accuse your opponents of being socialists who want to dismantle the country, repeat lies so often that the public believes them, mock your opponents, encourage polarization over racist strategies, send your storm troopers into Portland to arrest protesters, etc., etc. I agree with Joe Biden, this election is about saving the soul of America and fools like you compare those who see the danger Trump presents as Chicken Littles, hysterically crying, “The Sky is Falling.” Well, the sky is falling, and its falling on Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives, and fools like you who refuse to see reality.

A friend of mine recently sent me an article about an incident that occurred in Germany in 1933. It was in the early stages of Hitler’s take-over of Germany, 6 years before Kristallnacht, which many regard as the event marking the beginning of the Holocaust. When I read the article, it gave me chills. Here is its link:

You, of course, will dismiss the article as a totally irrelevant over-dramatization of what is happening in the U.S. today, and my concerns as those of a delusional paranoid. It can’t happen here? Yes, it can, with different victims - and people like you can help it happen by turning a blind eye to what is being reported in the news every day.


Unknown said...


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire


David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's not just 4 more years of Trump (as if that's not bad enough in itself). But he's even suggested not leaving after a second term.

If Trump is able to manipulate the system this time in order to retain power for another 4 years, he'll use a 2nd term to continue to chip away at what's left of the system of presidential term limits.

Anonymous said...

> Of what exactly? How would another 4 years of Trump materially affect your well-being in a retirement community? Do you foresee Trump doing anything to jeopardize the business you are paying to to take care of some of your material needs?

Right, because people should only vote for, and be afraid of, issues that directly affect them, and only them. *eyes rolling*.

Boris Dagaev said...

Unknown/MS> You are extremely short-sighted and glib
Unknown/MS> fools like you

My point is political and logical. It's a question of strategy and tactics.

You ad hominem is idiotic.

Boris Dagaev said...

Anonymous> Right, because people should only vote for, and be afraid of, issues that directly affect them

No, your generalization does not follow from what I said.

C said...


Make phone calls, on behalf of Joe Biden and other Democrats, to voters in battleground states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, etc.

Do not settle for texting; telephone people. In the vast majority of cases, people will not pick up. In that case, leave a message saying that you're calling on behalf of Biden's campaign and explaining why the person should vote for Biden. Keep the explanation short, simple, and effective. For example, for the 2018 midterms, my pitch was:

"Overall, I think it’s absolutely imperative that Democrats pick up seats in the House and Senate, so they can provide a strong check on Donald Trump’s power. Trump aspires to be an absolute dictator. He has incited division, hatred, and violence. Overall, he is creating lawlessness, disorder, chaos, and instability."

You can use the same basic message for this election but add that Trump's failed response to the coronavirus pandemic has led to 200,000 American deaths. That is a critical point.

Occasionally, people will pick up and you just need to tell them who you are and ask whether they plan on voting and for whom they are voting. If necessary, try to persuade them to vote for Biden and other Democrats. And tell them where their polling location is and where their early voting location is. If the person plans on voting for Trump or other Republicans, then just politely end the conversation and move on to the next number.

I plan on making phone calls every weekend until Election Day, for at least two hours. Calling people, reminding them to vote, informing them about their polling location, and trying to persuade them to vote Democrat can make a big difference and help contribute to a Biden victory. It's like door-to-door canvassing but easier and safer.

Donating money is insufficient. You need to actually talk to battleground voters and try to persuade them.

Unknown said...

Boris Dagaev,

Your sophistry is in full view. There are many ways to clothe an ad honimem argument, and they are not limited to monosyllabic insults. For example, saying to an eminent retired professor of philosophy, “regardless of how much the atlantic article wags your sense of dread,” as if he is a dog whose tail is being wagged by a disturbing article is as offensive an ad honimem argument as I can imagine. You will, no doubt respond that I am reading too much into your “innocent” comment, but it there for all to see.


R McD said...

"If Trump is able to manipulate the system this time in order to retain power for another 4 years, he'll use a 2nd term to continue to chip away at what's left of the system of presidential term limits." [Anonymous at 5:11 PM]

I don't doubt he'd try, and he might even succeed. But surely there's lurking here a deeper question which I don't see too many people trying to address: if someone like trump and his minions have been able to do, are able to do, and will possibly be able to do all sorts of things that seem on their face to be anti-systemic, what's wrong with the system that permits all of that. We have no difficulty looking at, say, the collapse of the Roman Republic into an authoritarian imperial system and proposing causes for that. Why do we seem to have so much difficulty contemplating that the US might be undergoing a somewhat similar transformation because the entire system is as dysfunctional?

Unknown said...


I believe you raise an important point. But I do not believe the primary flaw lies in the failure of the system itself. No group of people, however experienced and wise, as the Framers of the Constitution, in my opinion, were could foresee and guard against every conceivable contingency. The survival of our institutions relies in large part in the faith that those who seek and gain public office will, in general, be people of good will, however they may differ in their policy views. We have never had a person in the office of the President as self-serving, as power hungry, as duplicitous, and as insensitive as the current occupant. In my opinion, even President Nixon, as deceitful as he could be, had a core of patriotism that is missing in the current occupant. (Nixon, for example, did not challenge whether Kennedy had legitimately won a very close election, which he certainly could have, and which the current occupant certainly would have; Nixon also had the dignity to resign from office when confronted with the degree of opposition he was facing, something Trump would never do.) We have always believed that such a person would be seen for what s/he is and would be rejected by the voting populace. And, in fact, Trump was rejected by the voting public, but was saved by the electoral college, a non-democratic institution, but one which was incorporated into the Constitution to prevent a demagogue of obtaining power, in the belief that the electors would be wise enough to prevent such an occurrence.

And it is not as if the Framers were oblivious to the potential threat of a tyrant winning the Presidency. Alexander Hamilton, writing in 72.6 of the Federalist, stated:

“An ambitious man, too, when he found himself seated on the summit of this country’s honors, when he looked forward to the time at which he must descend from the exalted eminence for ever, and reflected that no exertion of merit on his part could save him from the unwelcome reverse; such a man, in such a situation, would be much more violently tempted to embrace a favorable conjuncture for attempting the prolongation of his power, at every personal hazard, than if had the probability of answering the same end by doing his duty.”

But there is only so much that individuals forming a government can anticipate and inoculate against. Unlike with the downfall of the Roman Empire which is largley attributable to the foundational deficiencies of an autocracy, ultimately, the success or failure of a representative democracy lies with the voting public. Many have blamed the outcome of the 2016 election on Russian meddling, on misinformation posted on Facebook and other social media. But I never saw any story unfavorably contrasting Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump that I thought should deceive any moderately intelligent or discerning individual to think they would be better off with Trump as their leader rather than Clinton. In states which handed Trump the electoral college victory, there were enough people who were persuaded by his transparently false propaganda to give him the majority of votes in those states. For that I do not blame the electoral college; I blame the voters who bought his nonsense. And no group forming a government, however wise and experienced, can guard against such stupidity – some of which, by the way, you can see displayed in certain of the comments on this post and prior posts.

If the dysfunction does not lie in the constitutional system of government itself, but in the electorate, what has caused it? I have indicated in a prior comment that i believe it is largely attributable to short attention spans, an addictive need for immediate gratification in technology and entertainment, a demand for simple answers to complicated problems, abbreviated text messages that call for abbreviated syntax and abbreviated thinking. And the problem may not be reversible, but will only worsen with the introduction of artificial intelligence.


Boris Dagaev said...

Unknown/MS> whose tail is being wagged by a disturbing article

Not so much by the article, but rather by a local coterie of hysterical imbeciles with their idiotic catastrophic yap "Hitler is coming! Hitler is coming!"

Yes, letting Trump win could be a viable political strategy. Unfortunately, "an eminent retired professor of philosophy" seems no longer interested in thinking and more concerned with pleasuring himself intellectually: "the secret to remaining in the fight is to find something you can do to contribute to that fight that you actually enjoy doing. ... I like writing and I like raising money out of my computer so that is what I have been doing for most of my life. Is that enough?  Of course not. Is it the most important thing to do? No. It is just a contribution that I enjoy and that I can therefore keep doing month after month, year after year, decade after decade." Sisyphus at work... Neither Biden nor Trump is likely to threaten this pointless paradise...

R McD said...

I don’t entirely disagree with what you say, Unknown at 10:05 PM. But it seems to me that you don’t take into account the very great changes in the American system since roughly WW Two. To be sure, part of the argument for the Constitution was that it laid the ground for an extended republic. And to be sure, too, the US's imperial system began to come into being at least as long ago as the action against the Barbary pirates in 1815. (I'm overlooking its continental expansion, which is surely part of the same story.) But it seems to me the growth curve of the American international imperial system entered on its exponential phase round about 1940-45, when a significant part of the US political elite really got into the business—along with business—of mounting an effort to gain and keep a dominant role in the world. And then, with the collapse of the Soviet Union it found itself seemingly freed from major opposition. Dominance seemed to be assured.

That’s a long way of getting to my point, that the American political and economic elites found themselves faced with what must have seemed like a major opportunity to go everywhere and do anything. Power went to their collective head. But they created something they couldn’t really control as they thought they could. And the blowback from empire began to disrupt the US domestically. That’s what was on my mind when I canvassed the notion that the system is dysfunctional, and to add to that, it is no longer the system that was constructed in 1789. Though I have to admit I see Hamilton, for one, as planting the seeds of a system that would be driven to become over mighty and then begin to self destruct. In short, the US too had its “foundational deficiencies.”

So, no, I don’t blame the electorate as you do in your concluding paragraph, except insofar as the electorate is the victim of instrumentalities that were intended to control and pacify them. But maybe that is what you were suggesting?

I’m with you when it comes to the insidiousness of “artificial stupidity,” for the intelligence it’s supposedly making available is the product of people, and as we all know, people, even technically skilled people who can construct elaborate algorithms, are rarely as intelligent as they take themselves to be—and they’re usually less than modest.

Unknown said...

Boris Dagaev.

Brilliant!! I am going to break with protocol and be quite explicit with my ad hominem retort – you, sir (?) are an insufferably arrogant horse’s ass.

Sure, let’s try an experiment in political science and not do everything possible to prevent a person who has all the earmarks of a fascistic egomaniac who could bring this nation to the edge of ruin because, possibly, just possibly, he may not be as bad as those hysterical pedants who seem to see a resemblance between him and Hitler could be wrong, and four more years will not be so bad. I suppose there were quite a few people living in 1932 Germany who likewise thought, he’s just a loud-mouth frustrated painter who, despite his bluster, makes some valid points. Things are so bad here already, let’s vote for him in the upcoming election and see what happens. How much harm could he do? (Hitler won a plurality in the November, 1932 election, which persuaded Hindenburg to then appoint him Chancellor.)

I will close with a quote from Tolstoy:

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”


Unknown said...

R McD,

Well, I do blame the electorate, for allowing themselves to being manipulated into making foolish, self-destructive decisions in choosing their leaders, even when the binary choices may not be what some would regard as the optimal choices, but which, nonetheless, offers not a choice of the better of two evils, but a fairly good choice and a much worse choice.

And I have been wondering of late whether the problem is not something like a lack of education, or a poor education, but something more systemic, something in our primate DNA. On PBS this week, there was a program produced by Nova (I believe) discussing how it is that social media can have such a dramatic influence on our thinking and decision-making. There were two segments that I found fascinating. They both related to experiments being conducted by the Psychology Dept. at Yale. The Dept. is running an experiment on a deserted island (I do not remember its name or location) which is occupied exclusively by thousands of rhesus monkeys. Now, to me, they all looked the same. It turns out, however, that over time the rhesus monkeys have organized themselves into three competing groups, the members of which can apparently discern when a member of another group is in their midst. The groups compete for access to the location where there is access to food. When one group has obtained a position of dominance in the location, they will turn viciously on members of another group which is attempting to gain access to the food in the same location. On what basis did the monkeys distinguish members from other groups, and why was the natural instinct not to share the food, but to hoard it?

The second segment had to do with comparing the intelligence of young children with that of other non-primate species. Although the other species that was shown in the documentary was dogs, the psychologist running the experiment indicated that the results have been uniform regardless the species, as compared to the human children. The experiment was this: They placed dog treats in a transparent box with a lid. Attached to the box was a stick. They would place a dog in the room. The experimenter would first wiggle the stick, and then open the box to retrieve a treat. What did the dog do? Rather than also wiggle the stick before trying to open the lid, the dog immediately forced the lid open to retrieve the treats. The experimenters indicated that this was the same response they saw with different dogs, as well as with other species. They then ran a modified version of the experiment with children. The modification was that they substituted candy and added other gizmos to the box – a stick to wiggle, a bell, etc. They then repeated a routine, first wiggling the stick, then ringing the bell, etc., and finally opened the lid to retrieve the candy, all this while a child watched. (I do not remember all the gizmos they added, and in what order they manipulated them, but you get the gist) Then the child was left alone in the room. And did the child do? Uniformly, without exception, rather than simply open the lid, each child repeated, from memory, the routine the experimenter had gone through before raising the lid. So, which is a sign of intelligence – the ability to remember a routine unrelated to your objective, or the ability to figure out causation?

Observers of the current political scene repeatedly say that Trump is appealing to his base, which stands stable at about 30%. To me, that seems like a disturbingly high percentae. No matter what nonsense he spews, they applaud him and shout their support. After four years of his demagoguery – which, by the way, has done little to improve their lives – they still support him. Why? Remember that adage we used to hear when we were growing up, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” – the implication being that if I have any sense, I will not allow you to fool me twice. Well, it apparently doesn’t work with a lot of people. And may be it is attributable to our primate DNA.


LFC said...

@ Boris Dagaev

I have not read every word of this thread but afaics only MS is using the Hitler analogy or suggesting it might be apt. One can view Trump as dangerous without getting into the question of historical parallels and particularly that one.

Hence your reference to "imbeciles" "yapping" about Hitler is, in the context of this thread, simply evidence of your careless, to say the least, approach to discussion and your penchant for groundless insults.

Anonymous said...

Unknown is right, BD is for sure a sophist:

Anonymous> Right, because people should only vote for, and be afraid of, issues that directly affect them

BD >No, your generalization does not follow from what I said.

Yes it in fact did. You chided RPWolff as if his fears were *necessarily* misplaced because he himself would be fine in his retirement home. That fails to realize that RPWolff's fears can extend beyond his immediate well being.

Anonymous said...

>Sisyphus at work... Neither Biden nor Trump is likely to threaten this pointless paradise...

See proof! You did it again! You presume RPWolff's fears are hysterical strictly because his personal material interests will be safe. As if RPWolff can't be concerned for black america, poor america, elderly america, lgbtq america, etc. Some of us, who actually do think about "strategy", are also thinking beyond our immediate interests. Both aren't mutually exclusive. You've revealed yourself as either a sophist or a shallow thinker, and maybe those are mutually inclusive.

Unknown said...


While I may be the only commenter on this blog who has been comparing Trump to Hitler (and I suspect that the comparison, while not being explicitly expressed by other readers, has been in their musings), there has been an ample number of commentators who have drawn the comparison. See, e.g.:;;

So my analogy is perhaps not quite as meritless, and historically insupportable, as you suggest. Be that as it may, whether the comparison is apt or not, we both agree that Trump presents a serious threat to our constitutional republic, a threat which is not to be taken lightly and construed as no more than merely “threaten[ing] [one’s] pointless paradise.”


Anonymous said...

Today's (9/25) analysis on takes on some of the claims of The Atlantic article about Trump's election-stealing efforts.

Scroll to the bottom and see "...But Will it Work?"

Spoiler alert: There's some good news. But don't let up!