Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Stuff Still Matters

Who Dat Votin'?

Given the strong likelihood that we're basically screwed no matter who wins the presidential election on November 8, it might seem quixotic to still care about issues like voter fraud.

I'm not unsympathetic to the view that concern about voter fraud at a time like this is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. But to the extent we believe that voting is a key civic duty, we must also take seriously threats to the integrity of local, state, and national elections.

Frankly, there is much to criticize about the way we conduct elections at every level in this country. Early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee voting continue to generate controversy.

One thing that is not controversial among Americans, though, is the idea that some sort of valid photo identification should be required before a person is allowed to vote in an election. That view received 80 percent support in a recent Gallup poll. Admittedly, there is still a bit of a partisan divide on the issue, with 96 percent of Republicans supporting photo voter ID but only 63 percent of Democrats in favor.

Even so, a measure so widely popular ought to be a no-brainer for politicians to embrace. Nonetheless, there is stern opposition to such measures from the political left, which historically has benefited the most from fraudulent voting practices. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union has published a laughably inaccurate "fact sheet" opposing such laws.

Here is a brief list of the things that I, an American citizen in good standing, may not legally do without showing a valid photo ID:
  • cash a check
  • open a bank account
  • buy (or even rent) a car
  • apply for a job
  • buy an airline ticket
  • buy cigarettes
  • buy a firearm
  • rent a post office box
It seems faintly ridiculous to me to argue that I shouldn't be allowed to buy cigarettes without showing my ID, but that asking for ID at polling locations is unreasonable.

I currently live in Iowa, one of the few remaining states that does not have some sort of voter ID legislation on the books. All you have to do to vote here is give your name to the person with the voter registration book, sign in the indicated space, and you'll receive a ballot. On three occasions since I moved back to Iowa in 2004 I have arrived at my polling location only to discover that I had already voted. All a person has to do to commit this kind of fraud is know someone's name and address and get to the polling place really early.

Thanks to organizations like True the Vote, we are making steady progress toward electoral integrity, but the forces resisting these efforts are determined to fight every step of the way.

"So you're saying I could vote in your place if I got there early enough?"

Iowa election officials aren't especially bright, but I'm reasonably sure they'd notice you're a quadruped...


Last night at Marlins Park in Miami my beloved Kansas City Royals began an important six-game road trip by winning a classic pitchers' duel, beating the Marlins 1-0. The victory was the team's ninth straight, and their fifth straight road win.

Now 9-9, 4.27 ERA
Royals starter Yordano Ventura pitched six strong innings, holding the Marlins scoreless on six hits and only a single walk. He struck out six batters. Yordano is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA so far in August, and the team has won all five of the games he has started this month.

Relievers Matt Strahm, Joakim Soria, and Kelvin Herrera each pitched a scoreless inning, with Herrera notching his 8th save.

The bullpen now has a streak of 32 consecutive scoreless innings, a new club record, breaking a mark that had stood since the 1969 season.


The only real offense from either team came in the top of the 6th inning, when CF Paulo Orlando drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and scored the game's only run on
a single by RF Lorenzo Cain, who was 2-for-4 in the game.

"Would now be a good time to ask about..."

Don't even go there, buster...

At Least It's Hot Garbage

From the pen of Lisa Benson, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the most interesting aspects of classical music is the sheer number of musical prodigies who achieved great acclaim writing and performing. This week's Music Recommendation is a collection of violin and piano sonatas by one such prodigy, the German composer Felix Mendelssohn.

February 3, 1809 - November 4, 1847
As a composer, Mendelssohn fits in to the
early stages of what came to be known as the Romantic period in classical music, which included major figures like Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann.

In part because his musical style was relatively conservative compared to many of his contemporaries, and also because of the anti-Semitism which was widespread in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century and dominant in German culture for much of the first half of the 20th, Mendelssohn's work was largely ignored until the latter half of the 20th century. His is now regarded as one of the major composers of the Romantic period.

A prolific composer, he produced a wide variety of material. My personal favorites, though, are his works for violin and piano.

Today's send-off is from this week's Music Recommendation, a recording of the first movement of his Violin Sonata in F Major, MWV Q7. It was composed in 1820, when Mendelssohn was only 11 years old. Enjoy...

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