Trumps Final Pardons

Like so much with Trumps presidency, it could have been much worse. It was terrible, but.

The worst ones are the pardoning of other high officials who used their office to enrich themselves, also known as corruption. Some of these Trump didn’t even both to defend. (Interestingly, I can no longer access the actual text of the pardons. The links now go to a dead 404 page at It’s striking that the most corrupt president in our times pardoned other corrupt officials. Like so much with Trump, he can barely muster any empathy unless you are like him.

(By the way, Steve Brannon’s may not matter so much. He can be charged from anywhere; the prosecutors can just ship the evidence to another jurisdiction.)

The rest are not so bad. Many are good. Let’s remember that Bill Clintons were pretty bad also. He too sent out a raft of pardons just at the end of the presidency, and he too had some bad ones. That doesn’t make Trumps pardons okay, it’s points against Clinton.

What didn’t Trump do? He didn’t pardon himself. That was not a given at all, it was assumed he would try. He also didn’t pardon anyone in his family. He didn’t pardon anyone in his cabinet. At the last second, he walked back the pardon of Sheldon Silver. He didn’t pardon Rudy Giuliani. He didn’t pardon any of the Jan 6th insurrectionists. All of these were possible or expected.

That’s the Trump presidency. Investigate and talk about doing the worse thing possible, then do something that is merely very awful.

Top Priorities for the Biden Adminstration

As Joe Biden takes office, his three biggest priorities should be:

COVID-19: Biden is lucky here. It is actionable – simply having federal policy and coordinated focus will go a long way, above and beyond what the particular policies and spending are. Additionally, the timing of the vaccines is perfect. Biden shouldn’t get credit for the vaccine, but thanks to quirks of human psychology, he will.

Climate Change / Global Warming: An actual existential threat to the human species. The good news is that, like COVID-19, the actions are easy. Just reverse everything from the Trump administration, and you’re back on track. Biden is also fortunate to be on the right side of ongoing trends. In 2009, global warming was understood as urgent, but a political problem. Twelve years later, the majority of the country is behind him. The rest of the world, private industry, and the populace are already taking action, he just needs to keep pushing that boulder.

Promote American Democracy: For Democrats to get their policies in place over the long term, they need their officials in power, they need the votes. Fortunately, they have those votes. The Democratic party has gotten more votes in five of the last six presidential elections, and the House and Senate, and Supreme Court would all be Democratic if we simply counted votes and went with the will of the people. We don’t. Biden should focus on voting rights, voting reform, same-day voting, remote/advance voting, anti-gerrymandering, the national popular vote, and possibly statehood for DC and Puerto Rico. All these have a great advantage: They not only favor Democrats, they are morally correct. All you have to do to get a permanent Democratic majority is allow the will of the people to be heard. That’s a lot easier than fighting uphill all the time.

Save American Democracy: Maybe there is a fourth one. We can’t ignore the recent storming of the Capitol Building and pretend there won’t be more going forward. Sadly, there is a significant swath of the country that has abandoned factual evidence, undermined liberal democracy, and believes that Biden is illegitimate. The forces that led to this need to be actively fought. Besides the political, social, and law-enforcement arms (which are probably more important, but I don’t have strong views here yet), we can go a long way to addressing concerns about election validity. There are many ways to reduce concerns about voting and elections. And unless the GOP is a bunch of hypocritical bombthrowers, they should be fully on-board with a rejuvenated FEC, vastly increased election funding, transparency, embracing technological improvements, actively fighting Russian (and others) interference, etc.

Good luck Joe!

Wonder Woman 1984 Review


I liked it. But. Whereas the first one had a plot and characters that mostly made sense, enough to suspend disbelief, this one was bloated and much more nonsensical.

  • The whole intro scene on Amazon Island was really cool, but had nothing to do with anything.
  • Wonder Woman develops the power to fly, by listening to advice how to hold your body to create airfoils and such. Thirty seconds later, none of that matters as she orients her body any way she feels and still flies.
  • She has the power to make things invisible. But never uses it except for a needless plot point about the plane. If you can turn things invisible, maybe that is a power that could be used in other productive ways?
  • The whole wishing mechanism was never adequately explained.
  • Much like Games of Thrones final season, characters have a way of being where they need to be for no real reason. The global communications network happens to be 100 feet from where Allister is wandering? Why not!
  • Like Game of Thrones, if anyone cared enough about writing, the problems could have been fixed. Tighten up the motivations, give a bit more exposition where needed, leave out irrelevant scenes – suddenly your movie is twice is good.

The first Wonder Woman gets an A. This one gets a B at best. It would be lower, but the good acting of the main characters saves it.

Seasonal Songs

Mrs. Muttrox was listening to Sarah McLaughlin’s Wintersong last night, one of her joys of the season. I nerded out. Here are the songs in my rotation, Summer vs Winter.

Summer Songs:

  • Summer Song (Joe Satriani)
  • Promise of Summer (JackoPierce)
  • All Summer Long (Kid Rock)
  • Summer Overture (Requiem for a Dream) (Mozart)
  • Suddenly Last Summer (The Motels)
  • Hot Fun in the Summertime (Sly & The Family Stone)
  • Summertime (Sundays)
  • Summertime (versions by Janis Joplin, Doc Watson, Larry Adler, Gil Evans/Miles Davis, Billy Holiday)
  • Midsummer Night (DiMeola, DiLucia, McLaughlin)

Winter Songs:

  • Winter (Tori Amos)
  • Winter (Rolling Stones)
  • Winter Solstice (The Tea Party)


I have five different versions of the George Gershwin standard Summertime. Wow.

I thought Summer songs would be across the board peppy and upbeat. In fact, there are a lot of moody Summer songs out there.

Winter songs are all moody. No exceptions. There’s a market niche out there!

And a special mention to Aerosmith, for their incredible classic Seasons of Wither (the song that got me past their greatest hits album).

My Latest Favorite Song #21: The Tea Party – Winter Solstice

A wonderful guitar instrumental. I have no idea who this band is, just stumbled across this track. Yes, this is just one guitar.

Dems and GOP Should be Unified in Wanting Better Elections

The GOP suddenly wants to count every legal vote. Suddenly they are aghast at all the problems in how elections are run. It warms the heart. We can see in their actions whether they are hypocrites or not. Now, they should be supportive of efforts to make things better, eh?

The Federal Election Commission is a nightmare. Decades of political appointees who seem put there mostly to gum of the works. They can’t even really operate, because they don’t have enough members for a quorum. They had a fourth member to get a quorum for a while, but….

“That changed on Tuesday when the Senate confirmed a fourth member: James E. Trainor III, a Republican lawyer from Texas. President Trump’s nomination of Mr. Trainor, who goes by Trey and who worked for the 2016 Trump campaign, marked a departure from the tradition of presidents nominating commissioners in pairs, typically from different parties.”

No, you don’t say? Trump broke the norms for naked political advantage?

“Even with four commissioners, the body may end up frequently deadlocked, given that taking action will require unanimity among the four: two Republicans, one Democrat and an Independent who largely aligns with the Democrat.”

No, you don’t say? The independent aligns with the party that cares about running elections that reflect the popular will of all the citizens?

I look forward to the newly woke GOP working with Democrats to properly lead, staff, and empower the Federal Elections Commission.

They might also partner with the Democrats to stop pretending that Russian interference didn’t happen and isn’t ongoing. They might also pass some bills that improve the situation.

And let’s throw in a rant about voting machines. The USA should develop it’s own code around voting. This is largely a solved technical problem. Getting votes so that they are all counted properly, all anonymous, but verifiable, this can be done. This is exactly where a government agency should be developing these algorithms and technology as a shared resource for the entire country. Failing that, they should force the big companies (Diebold) to make their code public and peer-reviewed.

This is a wonderful opportunity for both major parties to improve elections even more. If the GOP fails to do so, it just further displays their election hypocrisy.

At the deKalb Recount

I spent yesterday and today as an observer at the deKalb county recount*. A few random observations:

The system is very good. Every step has multiple independent workers who check each others work. Each part is checked and cross-checked in a few different ways. There is simply no way for anyone to commit meaningful fraud anywhere in this part of the system. If there is fraud it is either far upstream (e.g. hacking the voting software, creating thousands of fake ballots) or downstream (e.g. hacking the counting software).

It’s one thing to see on TV that deKalb early and mail-in voting was predominantly Biden. It’s another thing to see a huge stack of Biden ballots next to a pitiful pile of Trump votes.

The Democrats and Republicans have common interest in this phase. Both sides want to be assured that all the rules are followed properly and a credible count is produced that everyone can believe. And for the most part, all observers followed the rules faithfully. GOP observers were definitely more zealous than the Democrats. Although most were fine, there were a few GOP bad actors. These came in two varieties. First was the kind who continually broke the observation rules, harassing and interfering with the counting, in the hopes of starting an incident. The second was the kind who came in determined to find fraud that they simply knew was there already, and was incensed at their inability to find it, which simply made them angrier and more certain of the fraud. Both kinds were jerks, but not more than that. (The GOP observers also seemed less trained on what the proper process was, and the rules for monitors.) During my shifts it never got bad enough that they were kicked out, but there were several expelled in other shifts and in other counties.

There were monitors from the Democrats, the Republicans, the Carter Center, the ACLU, even the Constitution Party. Sometimes it seemed like there were monitors than workers.

COVID precautions were very good. Masks and face shields were given to everyone. Informal gatherings were quickly broken up for social distancing. Multiple medical personnel circulated.

This is the first federal election the Carter Center has been involved with. They are hoping to serve as a credible 3rd party that everyone can believe in. Good luck, but it’ll never happen!

Congratulations to deKalb county. They recounted over 370,000 ballots by hand in a day and a half. That’s quite an achievement. I left feeling very positive about Democracy in Georgia.

* Technically it is not a recount. Since the original counts haven’t yet been certified, they aren’t counted, and so can’t yet be recounted. This is an audit, but every vote cast is being manually re-counted, rather than a sample.

Florida was Almost a Stolen Election

Trump took Florida by 375,000 votes. Florida illegally disenfranchised about 1.5 million ex-felons.If that hadn’t happened, what would have been the impact?

The voting rate among ex-felons is around 30% (better sources welcomed). Let’s goose that to 35% given the high participation rates in this 2020 election. That’s 525,000 voters.

How do they vote by party? It seems to be around 70% for Democrats. Let’s say 80%, again given the particulars of this 2020 election. That leads to a net of 315,000 votes that should have been in Biden’s column.

315,000 is less than 375,000, so I wouldn’t say Florida was stolen. And the input numbers aren’t very solid. This also doesn’t recognize that it was possible for felons to vote, just crazy difficult for many of them. So, there may have been a good number of ex-felon voters already.

Still, the impact likely bring the results of the Florida count within 100,000. Since 1996, the Democratic party has won the popular vote four of their last eight elections. (I am including 2000. The Supreme Court travesty aside, Gore was clearly the voters choice.)

If nothing else,Florida is not a red state. It’s very purple.