scharrison's blog

Democracy is calling: Poll workers desperately needed for 2020 Election

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Add this to your list of critical essential workers during this pandemic:

Many county elections directors started recruiting poll workers earlier than normal, are using new recruitment strategies, have increased pay and are partnering with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, political parties and voter rights groups to find people to work the election.

Officials anticipate a shortage of poll workers could cause longer lines, last-minute precinct closures and voter confusion. That was the case in Georgia and Wisconsin, where poll worker shortages during primaries caused precinct closures, hours-long lines and disenfranchised voters.

While it's true that absentee by-mail voting is going to increase substantially this year (the more the better), we're still only talking about maybe 1/3 of all votes. We need, now more than ever, properly-staffed and prolific early voting locations, and poll workers for all the precinct voting sites. The fact that many county BOEs have had their budgets cut due to a major drop in local revenues merely exacerbates a problem we knew we were going to have, since elderly volunteers usually make up the bulk of election workers, people who are extremely vulnerable to COVID 19:

Cruelty is the point: The NC GOP's war on the poor & unemployed

There is simply no excuse for this draconian behavior:

It started in 2013 when, just after securing the governorship on top of both houses, the GOP supermajority passed HB4, a bill that made unprecedented cuts to unemployment compensation.

The bill lowered the maximum weekly payment amount from $535 to $350 and completely eliminated state appropriations for unemployment program administration, forcing the program to rely on declining federal funds. As a result, staff time designated to processing initial claims dropped by more than half from 2005 to 2020.

Get that? All these delays in processing the mountain of unemployment claims caused by the pandemic can (and should) be laid at the feet of Legislative Republicans. All this time they've been pointing a finger at Governor Cooper, they should have been pointing it at themselves. That's actually a question I've been trying to answer for a couple months, but I've been approaching it wrong. I looked at budgets going back five years to see if I could find a drop in funding, and couldn't seem to find said line items at all. That's because they're gone, and have been since 2013. Tens of thousands of North Carolinians have suffered because of that, and most of them blame the Cooper administration:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

He's either doing nothing or doing the wrong thing. He's not even a broken clock.

Foreign interference in 2020 Election is already rampant

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Be extremely careful of the information you share on social media:

The intelligence warning on Friday did not accuse the Chinese of trying to hack the vote; instead it said they were using their influence “to shape the policy environment in the United States” and to pressure politicians “it views as opposed to China’s interests.”

Russia, the warning said, was continuing to “spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” and it described Iran as an emerging actor in election interference, seeking to spread disinformation and “recirculating anti-U.S. content.”

Guarding against being involuntarily manipulated by these operations is even harder than it was four years ago. Their process has evolved, their skills have been sharpened, and their work will circulate into your orbit at one time or another. And our own strong desire to expose and fix corrupted elements of our society will be used against us, if they can. But we need more information about these developments, some specific examples of such, and the intelligence community's innate desire to keep these things secret is causing a rift between them and Congress:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lays down the gauntlet

Those days of silent submission are long over:

“In front of reporters, Representative Yoho called me, and I quote: ‘A fucking bitch,’” she said, punching each syllable in the vulgarity. “These are the words Representative Yoho levied against a congresswoman.”

Then Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who excels at using her detractors to amplify her own political brand, invited a group of Democratic women in the House to come forward to express solidarity with her. One by one, they shared their own stories of harassment and mistreatment by men, including in Congress.

Republican men are bad enough when they are on the mic, on the Congressional record. They will use thinly-veiled innuendo to viciously attack the character of whoever is testifying, and lash out at their female colleagues every chance they get. But one on one they're even worse, especially when there are no other witnesses around. Democratic men are not completely immune to such misogynistic behavior, but we police our own pretty thoroughly. AOC has the potential of being not just a firebrand, but a good leader herself, by giving others the opportunity to tell their stories:

UNC needs volunteers for Coronavirus vaccine trials

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It's a strangely attractive offer, but that could just be a brutal case of cabin fever:

The vaccine trial at UNC will be a Phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Moderna, a private research company.

Moderna’s vaccine is based on taking genetic material, known as mRNA, from the coronavirus. When a person gets the vaccine, their cells will make viral proteins from this mRNA, just as they would if they were infected by the coronavirus. Their immune system should learn to detect these proteins to fight off future exposure to COVID-19.

While I'm trying to decide if I want to be one of UNC's little Outbreak monkeys, here's some stuff on genetics that flies over this primate's head:

Trump's EPA has been corrupt since day one

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Completely subservient to the industries it's supposed to regulate:

Not long after President Trump’s inauguration, the head of a fossil fuels industry group requested a call with the president’s transition team. The subject: Barack Obama’s requirement that oil and gas companies begin collecting data on their releases of methane. That outreach, by Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, appeared to quickly yield the desired results.

“Looks like this will be easier than we thought,” David Kreutzer, an economist who was helping to organize the new president’s Environmental Protection Agency, wrote of canceling the methane reporting requirement in an email to another member of the transition team on Feb. 10, 2017. Three weeks after that email, the E.P.A. officially withdrew the reporting requirement — and effectively blocked the compilation of data that would allow for new regulations to control methane, a powerful climate-warming gas.

This isn't just willful ignorance (burying your head in the sand), it's a concerted effort to conceal information that's vital to the public and its institutions. Among many other things, it allows fossil fuel cheerleaders like John Hood to write glowing Op-Eds about natural gas to a public that is kept ignorant on purpose. Just as methyl mercury once was for coal, fugitive methane is the dirty secret of the natural gas industry, and Trump's kakistocracy has been working overtime to maintain that secret:

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