When journalism goes bad

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JD
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by JD »

Ran across this video today, where the NY Times talks to some people in other countries about US elections and how they work, and the people are uniformly shocked. Lots of "Gerrymandering? That isn't even a thing here. Voter registration? What does that even mean? And it took me literally two minutes to vote last election!"

I would be the last to claim that the US election system(s) are anywhere near perfect, or even great, but damn, this video is the worst kind of cherry-picking of anecdotes. This video is, granted, labeled "Opinion", although it's not clear who's opinion it is. All of the other opinion pieces on the Times say things like "by Joe Schmoe"; this one doesn't. They feature people saying "Gerrymandering? We don't have anything like that here!" like this is some kind of uniquely US problem, while 30 seconds with Wikipedia suggests that other countries continue to struggle with it too. And they act like voter registration is the CrAziEsT idea possible! - and then a few minutes later on, the video compares voter registration numbers in the US, the UK, Canada, and Germany, gliding smoothly over why, if voter registration is such a crazy uniquely US idea, other large democracies are doing it too.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by Eric the .5b »

To be fair, I see the same reactions in forums from Europeans, along with the fucking Australians with their incredible smugness about mandatory voting. ("It's the only proper way to do democracy!" "So, really, the literal rest of the developed world* doesn't 'do democracy'?")

Of course, it comes out that in the big elections, they only cast votes for a literal handful of things, mainly which backroom will actually choose the people in charge of their country. Most of them stay the fuck home like we do for the small elections.



* The few other mandatory voting laws in the developed world are completely unenforced, even compared to Oz's "you might pay a fine" regime.
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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

It *is* cherry picking but it's also a fairly valid take (okay, not the mandatory voting), but largely because we've got this old, clunky system that was very new and innovative in its day, i.e., the 18th century with some 19th century revisions, and most other nations got to see what made sense and what didn't as they moved to democratic governments later. It's like NTSC versus PAL back before digital broadcasting. Anyone from the U.S. watching TV in Europe in those days pretty much had to go "Oh, what the fuck? Why isn't our TV this clear and detailed?" Same thing.
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JasonL
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by JasonL »

IMO mandatory voting is incompatible with first past the post elections. You can't make me choose these people and only these people or else.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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Also, we vote on too many damn things in one day. We vote for President, Senate, House, Governor, State Senate, State Assembly, county offices, mayor, city council, school board, etc. etc. In countries where you only vote for one office, or maybe even just a party, it's easy to do things on papers that can't be easily hacked, store those papers in plain sight of multiple independent observers, then count those papers at the end of the day with a bunch of independent observers, and have each precinct report out. When you vote for a dozen or more offices you need machines, and you get many more issues of security, transparency, vulnerability, etc.
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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:45 Also, we vote on too many damn things in one day. We vote for President, Senate, House, Governor, State Senate, State Assembly, county offices, mayor, city council, school board, etc. etc. In countries where you only vote for one office, or maybe even just a party, it's easy to do things on papers that can't be easily hacked, store those papers in plain sight of multiple independent observers, then count those papers at the end of the day with a bunch of independent observers, and have each precinct report out. When you vote for a dozen or more offices you need machines, and you get many more issues of security, transparency, vulnerability, etc.
That's a good point.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by thoreau »

I know Europeans who have served as vote counters. At the end of voting they go to their precinct and a dozen people stand around a table while each paper is inspected. Some official says "One vote for Monsieur Martin" and everyone else says "Oui" while staring at the paper, then somebody makes a mark on a tally sheet in plain sight of a bunch of people. Of course it isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than hoping that the SVR hasn't installed a backdoor in any of the machines.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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D.A. Ridgely wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:47
thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:45 Also, we vote on too many damn things in one day. We vote for President, Senate, House, Governor, State Senate, State Assembly, county offices, mayor, city council, school board, etc. etc. In countries where you only vote for one office, or maybe even just a party, it's easy to do things on papers that can't be easily hacked, store those papers in plain sight of multiple independent observers, then count those papers at the end of the day with a bunch of independent observers, and have each precinct report out. When you vote for a dozen or more offices you need machines, and you get many more issues of security, transparency, vulnerability, etc.
That's a good point.
Agree - is a good point. Not to mention the absurdity of half of local offices on my ballot only having one option.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by JasonL »

I voted for Biden and donkeys down the line except for Massee, but I've never been more convinced of the righteousness of my "I'm not voting" stance I held after Bush v Gore. A world I want to live in in the world in which there isn't something so terrible I feel like I have to do that dance while people tell me "your voice is being heard!" No, it isn't mofo.
Last edited by JasonL on 02 Nov 2020, 15:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by Jennifer »

JasonL wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:03
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:47
thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:45 Also, we vote on too many damn things in one day. We vote for President, Senate, House, Governor, State Senate, State Assembly, county offices, mayor, city council, school board, etc. etc. In countries where you only vote for one office, or maybe even just a party, it's easy to do things on papers that can't be easily hacked, store those papers in plain sight of multiple independent observers, then count those papers at the end of the day with a bunch of independent observers, and have each precinct report out. When you vote for a dozen or more offices you need machines, and you get many more issues of security, transparency, vulnerability, etc.
That's a good point.
Agree - is a good point. Not to mention the absurdity of half of local offices on my ballot only having one option.
Not that it likely matters, but: I do not mark any of the "one option only" boxes.
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thoreau
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by thoreau »

There's probably only so far we can go in reducing the number of offices: More radical ideas about legislatures, parliaments, the nature of the Senate, etc. are not on the table. But we could do the following:
1) Hold local, state, and federal elections on different cycles. Yes, that would limit local elections to people who pay attention. So?
2) At the state level we don't need to vote for the Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, etc. Just limit it to governor and legislature.
3) Likewise, at the local level, just city council/county board, and mayor/county exec (in places where those are elected offices). We don't need to vote on the Registrar of Deeds or Water District Commissioner or whatever.
4) No judicial elections. Ever. Ditto for District Attorney, AG, etc.
5) Completely eliminating ballot measures is probably a non-starter, but there should be way fewer.

The one place I'm willing to reconsider my "fewer offices" stance is school boards. k-12 educational issues can be as polarizing as abortion, gun control, and Israel/Palestine put together. Anything that keeps city council candidates from having to opine on it is fine with me. So bracket off school board. But otherwise we should never have more than 3-4 offices on a ballot, and very few ballot measures.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:27 4) No judicial elections. Ever. Ditto for District Attorney, AG, etc.
I think the election of judges and DA's is one of the main drivers of the Prison-Industrial complex in the US. Everyone wants people in these positions to be 'tough on crime', which really boils down to 'throw a lot of people in jail'. Actual qualifications to do those jobs takes a back seat, (if they're in the car at all.)

OTOH, we do have a problem here in Canada with judgeships being awarded to political loyalists.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by Highway »

Aresen wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:40
thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:27 4) No judicial elections. Ever. Ditto for District Attorney, AG, etc.
I think the election of judges and DA's is one of the main drivers of the Prison-Industrial complex in the US. Everyone wants people in these positions to be 'tough on crime', which really boils down to 'throw a lot of people in jail'. Actual qualifications to do those jobs takes a back seat, (if they're in the car at all.)

OTOH, we do have a problem here in Canada with judgeships being awarded to political loyalists.
Well, it's not like all of the USian judges are elected. We have plenty awarded to political loyalists.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by lunchstealer »

JasonL wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:40 IMO mandatory voting is incompatible with first past the post elections. You can't make me choose these people and only these people or else.
I could be wrong but I believe it is legal to submit a blank ballot, but you have to come to the polls and/or go through the motions.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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lunchstealer wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 17:05
JasonL wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:40 IMO mandatory voting is incompatible with first past the post elections. You can't make me choose these people and only these people or else.
I could be wrong but I believe it is legal to submit a blank ballot, but you have to come to the polls and/or go through the motions.
Is it ok if I wipe my ass with it before turning it in?
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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lunchstealer wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 17:05
JasonL wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:40 IMO mandatory voting is incompatible with first past the post elections. You can't make me choose these people and only these people or else.
I could be wrong but I believe it is legal to submit a blank ballot, but you have to come to the polls and/or go through the motions.
That's the case in Oz, though it's easy to circumvent and enforcement is pretty lax.

If you want more representative and legitimate elections, you would combine compulsory voting with ranked choice. If the appearance of legitimacy is all you're after then compulsory voting is sufficient.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:271) Hold local, state, and federal elections on different cycles. Yes, that would limit local elections to people who pay attention. So?
Because that's exactly how Team Red got as strong as it is—state and local power.
Aresen wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:40
thoreau wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 15:274) No judicial elections. Ever. Ditto for District Attorney, AG, etc.
I think the election of judges and DA's is one of the main drivers of the Prison-Industrial complex in the US. Everyone wants people in these positions to be 'tough on crime', which really boils down to 'throw a lot of people in jail'. Actual qualifications to do those jobs takes a back seat, (if they're in the car at all.)

OTOH, we do have a problem here in Canada with judgeships being awarded to political loyalists.
Emphasis added. That's literally why we have elected judges in most of the states—corruption and nepotism in appointed judges in the early 1800s.

I mean, part of the big partisan struggle we're in at the federal level is over judicial appointments from the Supremes on down and whose goodthink to enshrine into decisions. Even putting aside that we had elected judges long before the war on drugs and anything like the US prison system as we know it, appointed judges just mean whoever appoints the judges gets pressured to put "tough on crime" people into judgeships.

You can find similar historical reasons behind random city or state offices being elected instead of appointed or hired.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by Eric the .5b »

lunchstealer wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 17:05
JasonL wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 14:40 IMO mandatory voting is incompatible with first past the post elections. You can't make me choose these people and only these people or else.
I could be wrong but I believe it is legal to submit a blank ballot, but you have to come to the polls and/or go through the motions.
That, and write-ins are allowed.

I'd rather pay the fucking fine, most years.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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We have RCV for the first time in a presidential election cycle here in Maine. I'm very curious to see how it shakes out, but it doesn't make me feel any better about the dearth of choices for POTUS.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Eric the .5b wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 17:37 That's literally why we have elected judges in most of the states—corruption and nepotism in appointed judges in the early 1800s.
I'm not going to try to justify contemporary legal education requirements and barriers to entry, but in the early 1800s a copy of Blackstone's Commentaries and an indeterminate amount of time apprenticing with (read: doing scut work for) someone who ready the same books a decade earlier were all a literate white male needed to hang out his own shingle in most of the nation. Elections did nothing to end the problems with appointed judges, however much they might have put a patina of respectability over them.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by Eric the .5b »

D.A. Ridgely wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 18:09
Eric the .5b wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 17:37 That's literally why we have elected judges in most of the states—corruption and nepotism in appointed judges in the early 1800s.
I'm not going to try to justify contemporary legal education requirements and barriers to entry, but in the early 1800s a copy of Blackstone's Commentaries and an indeterminate amount of time apprenticing with (read: doing scut work for) someone who ready the same books a decade earlier were all a literate white male needed to hang out his own shingle in most of the nation. Elections did nothing to end the problems with appointed judges, however much they might have put a patina of respectability over them.
I'm unconvinced that appointments would do anything to end the problems with elected judges.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Eric the .5b wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 19:27
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 18:09
Eric the .5b wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 17:37 That's literally why we have elected judges in most of the states—corruption and nepotism in appointed judges in the early 1800s.
I'm not going to try to justify contemporary legal education requirements and barriers to entry, but in the early 1800s a copy of Blackstone's Commentaries and an indeterminate amount of time apprenticing with (read: doing scut work for) someone who ready the same books a decade earlier were all a literate white male needed to hang out his own shingle in most of the nation. Elections did nothing to end the problems with appointed judges, however much they might have put a patina of respectability over them.
I'm unconvinced that appointments would do anything to end the problems with elected judges.
*shrug* I wasn't trying to convince anyone. The fact is, though, that professionals are better situated to judge the qualifications of their peers than the general public. Most of what judges do has nothing to do with criminal justice, so most electioneering is per se bogus. Finally, and perhaps the reason I find the most persuasive, electing judges also effectively means a nonpolitical lawyer has next to zero chance of becoming a judge. Having seen nonpolitical lawyers appointed in Virginia, I know for a fact that's at least a possibility. It's the exception to the rule, sure, but it simply doesn't happen in states that elect judges.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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I look at it this way: The federal judiciary is probably the branch of the government least in need of fundamental change, at least in terms of the constitutional structures around it. It seems to be one thing the Founders got mostly right. The only area where people are calling for fundamental change to the federal judiciary isn't even about something the judges have done, but about what Senators have or haven't done in the selection process for SCOTUS. That strongly suggests to me that insulation from democracy is a good thing for judges. Say what you will about how many people we have or should have on SCOTUS and how they should be appointed, but nobody thinks we need those lower court judges standing for election.

Also, when we look at what is most wrong with our criminal justice system, it's mostly a lack of mercy. Perhaps one of the most important things a judge can do is exercise their discretion to give a lenient sentence to an unpopular defendant, or rule in that defendant's favor on some procedural close call. They do that rarely enough, but electing them certainly doesn't seem to make that any more common. (And, yes, I realize that judges spend far more time on civil than criminal matters, though maybe more time spent on criminal cases would reduce the waits and backlogs that tend to make things even worse for defendants caught in the gears of the system. But that's not really about elections.)

So I stand by my call for voters most picking legislators and chief executives, and maybe school boards, but staying far, far away from judges.
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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JD wrote: 02 Nov 2020, 12:13 Ran across this video today, where the NY Times talks to some people in other countries about US elections and how they work, and the people are uniformly shocked. Lots of "Gerrymandering? That isn't even a thing here. Voter registration? What does that even mean? And it took me literally two minutes to vote last election!"

I would be the last to claim that the US election system(s) are anywhere near perfect, or even great, but damn, this video is the worst kind of cherry-picking of anecdotes. This video is, granted, labeled "Opinion", although it's not clear who's opinion it is. All of the other opinion pieces on the Times say things like "by Joe Schmoe"; this one doesn't. They feature people saying "Gerrymandering? We don't have anything like that here!" like this is some kind of uniquely US problem, while 30 seconds with Wikipedia suggests that other countries continue to struggle with it too. And they act like voter registration is the CrAziEsT idea possible! - and then a few minutes later on, the video compares voter registration numbers in the US, the UK, Canada, and Germany, gliding smoothly over why, if voter registration is such a crazy uniquely US idea, other large democracies are doing it too.
My impression has been that Republicans (the Irish kind) consider Northern Ireland one big gerrymander.
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JD
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Re: When journalism goes bad

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An interesting piece on the NY Times' internal cultural problems: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/11 ... tself.html

tl;dr it's old-school institutional leftists vs. young wokesters for whom everything is ALL KULTUR WAR ALL THE TIME.
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