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Sunday, 09 August 2020


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There are many reasons why a person cannot front up at a polling booth on the day of the election. Service personnel on postings, people working overseas for a period covering the election, sickness and so on. These people also deserve the right to cast their ballot for who they wish to form a government and so postal voting is an obvious answer.

Here in Oz we have the ability to have a postal vote for State and Federal elections and for various reasons I have used this system on several occasions.

I have yet to see or hear of any suspicion that the system here is or has been interfered with.

If tampering with postal votes in the US is as wide spread as we are led to believe it is not the concept that is the problem but the way the system is run.

Those people who think that Brexit will destroy or cause huge problems for the UK are like those religious nutters predicting the end of the world. The predicted date rolls round (remember Carney's predictions about the results of the referendum?), nothing happens, and so they recalibrate to say that the disaster has been delayed.

Refuted, all.

"If tampering with postal votes in the US is as wide spread as we are led to believe it is not the concept that is the problem but the way the system is run."

The system has its flaws but the specific problem is the sheer desperation of Democrats to get rid of Trump- by any means necessary. Wuflu is an excuse to mail in ballots to accomplish this. We have a system in place already called absentee ballots just for the military or disabled and even these ballots can be "held back" or "found" at the last second.

Oh, and its not just New York either. A political party that has been caught plotting a coup against a newly elected president will think nothing of mass producing ballots or hiding ballots as needed. It doesn't help that, in addition, the USPS is unionized and this union backs Democrats.

The UK voting system was designed for a generally honest and homogenous population. We don't have that any more.

I wander into my local polling station, say that I am BoE and live at so and so. They check that I am on their list and that is that. No proof that I am BoE is demanded.

Exactly, BoE.

Post Brexit, maybe this has legs? Reviving the Anglosphere.


It doesn't make sense for Republicans and the American right to be complaining about voting by mail, since it's been one of their advantages for decades. The Military votes by mail and the elderly vote by mail, historically two of their most reliable constituents. And Trump and his family have voted by mail as legal residents of Florida. Trump has also stated publicly that voting by mail is just fine for Florida. Evidently not so much for other states where he doesn't have a chance. So, you know: Bullshit.

David, congratulations for having one Dutch writer at the Speccie on your side. I'm sure he would never ever write from a purely partisan point of view.

SoD, "canzuk" sounds really close to "canuck". It might insult French Canadians and make it hard to get them on board.

Using the military's Ex-CONUS voting ought not, in anyway, be used as an example by either [any] party of either [any] side.

Chain of custody et cetera et cetera ...

Actually the solution for working out a deal in the dispute is to designate, for example, Walmart and neighborhood grocery (or liquor) stores as polling places. With some possible exceptions on some liquor stores for example:

"[I]n or about May 2011, Carter and Malone provided a chicken dinner to an individual in exchange for the absentee ballot votes of that individual and one other individual. Further, on or about May 4, 2011, Carter contacted Hudson Hallum about a family of eight who had requested a “family meal” in exchange for their absentee ballot votes being cast in favor of Hudson Hallum."

"On that same date, Hudson Hallum also told Carter, “We need to use that black limo and buy a couple of cases of some cheap vodka and whiskey to get people to vote.” Two days later, Carter and Kent Hallum spoke with an individual in Memphis, Tennessee, about getting a discounted price for the purchase of 100 half-pints of vodka for the campaign."

It must be kept in mind that Arkansas did not turn Republican until after the election cycle of 2014. And for that matter, the Delta region remains the single example of a non-urban largely rural area of the state with a Democrat majority.

Noteworthy about that particular case was one postmaster turned state's evidence, one was indicted and subsequently convicted and (to the best of my memory) four postal delivery persons got fired for cause.

David, he is driving you nuts? I trust it won't be a long drive!

There is no need for deep thinking about mail-in voting. Clinton and Pelosi are in favour, therefore it is a bad thing!


So you trust the government to maintain the integrity of military mail votes? Interesting. I don't think anyone has ever claimed there's no voter fraud, only that it's statistically insignificant. The findings of the very conservative Heritage Foundation:

And there are other issues involved:

"This guide is issued at a time when politicians and political operatives across the country are trying to make it harder for some Americans to engage in the democratic process. Since the beginning of 2011, 19 states have passed 25 laws and 2 executive actions about voting. The laws vary – from requiring certain forms of government-issued photo ID to vote, to making it harder to register to vote, to cutting back on early voting, to name a few. But they all have the same impact: They all make it more difficult for those Americans who typically have the least access to power in our democracy to have their say at the ballot box." Dubious voter drive techniques are yet another matter.

Whitewall, David is tough enough and has humor enough to take it. You wouldn't want him to lower his blog to a partisan "hate fest" like Carpenter's, would you?

Backofanenvelope, you are exceptionally honest.


Do I remember you enjoy Stravinsky? You might also like Arvo Pärt. I've been listening to him a lot lately. Most of his stuff is a variation on liturgy, but he uses the same sort of dissonant transitions as Igor:

Well Bob I used to trust the military.

Then they came up with SIGAR.

Bob, you have a point about humor here and nearly none "over there".

Incredible, really, just how utterly incompetent the state is. Can't even organise the basis of their own executive existence without negligence.

You can be sure that Google, Amazon, Facebook et al would know enough about us to correctly ID us in a voting booth or remotely, given they securely take our money and target ads based on our ID successfully enough to take money of advertisers into the billions. But the state is clueless.

It's like the whingeing claims of immigrant "health-tourism" in Blighty by the brainwashed NHS clappers. What they don't realise is no self-respecting immigrant would touch the NHS with a bargepole if they could get served in France or Germany. The problem for the immigrant is that the Frogs and Jerries know who everyone is and who's entitled to use their tax funded healthcare. The NHS hasn't got a clue, and so the immigrant's logic is a shit service is better than nothing at all, so they head for Blighty.

Canzuk is a great idea. The more the merrier, so long as Brits could opt out of, with their proportion of dosh that goes into, the NHS, state education, social services and the BBC, and choose onshored competing services from Canada, NZ, and Oz, I'm happy. The more the merrier, in fact.


The Graun jumping the gun a bit maybe on figures due out this week, or maybe not ...

So not only the worst excess death rate during the Covid period, but also the worst GDP contraction of the G7.

And we haven't even done Brexit yet.

Brits are so deluded on so many fronts they will only get it when the decline and fall's collapse moment actually arrives. Even then they won't have the first idea what to do and how to do it.

Foreigners will have to ride to the rescue with the reality check, like the IMF bail-out in 1975. If Brits ignore that, which is entirely possible, then full-blooded civil war will be the next step. And even after that, whoever or whatever "takes back control", it will be monstrous in perpetuity.

There is no sign of any hope. Not one voice. Just clapping of approving hands as the helter-skelter careers towards the abyss.


A sensible assessment (only about 4 years after I elucidated the same) ...

Keeping Assad, Vlad, the mad Mullahs, and, the Hairies and Dirty Erdy, all mired in the Syrian conflict is a strategic masterstroke.

It doesn't bear thinking about what all those players might have been up to over the last decade if they hadn't been bogged down in Syria knocking the shit out of each other!

I suppose both Big Ears and the Don should be applauded for it - Big Ears for sucking the Rooskies in, and the Don for sucking Dirty Erdy in, saving the Kurds, and holding it all in place with one armoured Brigade. No wonder the Don Loves Vlad! Someone as dumb as that needs to be kept in the Rooskie top job for as long as possible!

One to cheer about amongst the groans, I guess.


Oooh, and tacked onto that last comment, there's good ol' Nord Stream II of course ...

94% complete with all that Rooskie sunk cost - and the Don stops it in its tracks with sanctions!

Like that wasn't gonna happen!

Vlad's on a pipe to nowhere. I can't even remember if he got his lifetime presidency referendum past the Rooskie peeps and into the constitution yet, but I hope so.



SIGAR's $138 billion budget (so far) seems like a drop in the bucket compared to what disappeared in Iraq. Does anyone here think the Iraq invasion had an upside?

Bob, in the UK there is criteria to be observed to get a postal vote. 1. You have to be a live person. 2. You must have a permanent address and be registered with your local council. 3. You must apply in person or have a suitable registered proxy do it for you if you are disabled. Personally I get aff ma erse and get tae the polling station. The old trade union way of balloting in the workplace was the incumbents stuffing the ballot box with the ballots of those who did not turn up for work or were on holiday or sick. The good old days until 1979 then Thatcher. She sorted it.


Nobody I'm personally acquainted with.

With the exception of, possibly, Son of Duff.

Certainly nobody who voted the "deciding votes" seems like.

With the exception of a bunch of Never-Trumpers eg Bill Kristol & et al and probably still GW and Dick Cheney and the Ghost of OBL.

Bob you remember from that previous post me mentioning 'the Chief of that court [seems overly fond of] precedent'?

So I find myself wondering whether that Chief would reverse his very own set precedent? And, as I recall, that precedent was joined unanimously by all the so-called liberal end of the bench?

Should be an interesting interim waiting for "a party in standing" to get a case into and through all the many layers of lower courts before the big dog court can get its opportunity to figure out what it meant by the term "deferred."

Sell gold and buy popcorn.

The counter-factual of "What Saddam would've done if he'd be left alone to do it" is specifically unknowable. Although the presence that the Iraq war has given Uncle Sam in the ME has provided both the suction to attract Vlad in there, the stopper to make sure he doesn't dominate, and the opportunity to hold the coats of all the enemies and adversaries while they knock the shit out of each other, as described, result. So all's well that ends well.

But even if it hadn't worked out well, generally the world is a better place without Saddam type people around, so taking them out should encouraged. Even if what grows back is worse, just take them out too.

In this we are onto the sole usefulness of democracy: changing the executive without violence. So if a state won't do it itself, do it for them.

Routine regime change for adversarial non-democracies should be a default policy for the West, repeated every 5 years, especially with the new tech available: "What, he's still in power after we offed his predecessor 5 years ago? And he still hasn't instigated a democratic constitution yet? Drop an R9X on him next time the satellites pick up his location will you, general?"



In Indiana we can register online or by mail. However, we also have to show a picture identification at the polling place, which can be in any suitable building such as a school, convention center, etc. I'll be able to vote by mail only because I'm over 65, but have to do a lot of form filling. As far as I know there's no serious effort underway to allow universal voting by mail in my state. I usually go to my local polling place, but might not this year. Nobody would want covid more than once.



"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." – Edmund Burke

"When everyone is dead, the Great Game is finished. Not before." – Rudyard Kipling

It's also possible we're following the same unproductive track you chaps took in the 19th century. The US Army isn't as optimistic as you are:

"The US Army says Iran is the only victor of the Iraq War"

You can click through to the reports.

"The counter-factual of "What Saddam would've done if he'd be left alone to do it" is specifically unknowable."

Yup Loz, that's really what's it isn't it?

So what if I'd been cited in a policy paper dating back to the Clinton administration stating, amongst other things, 'This no-fly-zone can achieve nothing but to set the stage for a future war and that war likely to light off while not during this administration the next almost inevitably. Certainly in the administration after that.'

But we plays the cards as we've got 'em don't we Loz, that is, if we wish to remain at the table?

So we play the game as it is not, as it might have been.

What I didn't then have a clue would be a card showing on the table (and no one during the earlier dealings having a clue either) was the card that a fruit dealer in Tunisia played lighting off the Arab Spring.

So it turns out to've been a fortuitous sequence of plays that we were there to continue having a hand in the game.

You've read any Bob of what the US Army's been saying about "the victor" what came about as the result of our remaining in Afghanistan?

(As a sidenote tho' it's an interesting bit that, before we were getting up steam to head toward Baghdad, the Iranians were engaging the Taliban to their east. And by golly, being quite effective at it. Freed us so much we were well on our way to being allowed to progress without the later necessity of involving ourselves with the Pakistanis.)


I was writing about Iraq, not Afghanistan, and tend to give the Army War College a lot of credibility. I've only followed events in Afghanistan that make headlines at this point. Do you agree with troops being withdrawn?

"The US Army says Iran is the only victor of the Iraq War"

And Carl von Clausewitz said, "Warfare is the continuation of politics by other means".

You shouldn't judge the ultimate outcome by warfare alone. Politics is the dog and warfare the tail - the "continuation" - and the dog wags the tail, not the other way round.

Nor should you judge the "inner" sub-component of a war's outcome by one battle or campaign. Uncle Sam is winning in the war against all the adversaries in the ME, in case you hadn't noticed: Vlad, Assad, the Mad Mullahs, the Hairies, and Dirty Erdy.

The US politics has steered the warfare into a controlled "Bait and Bleed".

Smells like napalm in the morning.



Generally I agree that these days "politics is the dog ...". However, there were plenty who thought Britain was winning the Great Game and who thought America was winning Vietnam. For a time the Rooskies thought they were winning Afghanistan. I defer to the experts and suspend judgement.

Yes Bob my considered opinion regarding our prospects in Afghanistan leads me to conclude, yes - exit. And smartly.

As regards Iraq - it's long been known Iraq was the highest concentration of Shi'a in the entire ME (proper) while its "enemy state" neighbor was likewise Shi'a - that the neocons did not foresee/recognize/imagine/perceive what was the absolute inevitable consequence of removing the ruling Sunni minority was jaw-droppingly ignorant.

Which was why all of our ME allies [the one thing Israel and Saudi Arabia could] agreed was a stupid thing to do.

Having typed the above currently is how I've got to a state of concurrence with Loz.

I remember Bob back when we were on the subject of Trump's repositioning and in the one reply to you in which I'd included that which I'd communicated to a certain Senator who I knew to be in a position of some influence with the President: although admittedly it's difficult to get "a read" on somebody one is arguing with on the internet; I don't think I'd be too far off the mark by describing your state after I'd concluded as, aghast. In a word.

Changing the subject:

Seems to me an eminently reasonable observation from which to draw a position from.


Wrong. I'm rarely if ever "aghast" and don't consider myself even competent to judge military matters, so I can't pretend to know what's "right". There was a lot of howling from all quarters when Bush II decided to invade Iraq, so I was pretty sure that was wrong.

Trump has gotten a lot of criticism from the military and Congress, but Obama did when he drew down troops too. Apparently a lot of different groups have conflicting gripes. Some are ideological and others political. Who knows, maybe some are even objective.


That's there simply to set the scene (note the date). That that which was to follow, for some, was an acute sense of worrying foreboding. Was this guy, so long a Democrat up to what such a scenario would require for "us" to be either utterly ruthless or, probably more likely (at the time) to be like his predecessor "accommodating"?

("After my election I'll have more flexibility.")

Okay okay I guess "aghast" wasn't exactly your state Bob however, I would submit that something like 'amazement at my expressing ruthlessness' was nearer to it?

But like I've admitted as much now it is hard to gauge "a read" doing backing and forthing on the Internet.

But but but "The US simply has no skill in foreign relations, military, diplomatic and everything in between. It just fumbles and bumbles around, failing to be world policeman or self-interest-only player, as evidenced by the Obama and Trump administrations respectively. Rocketman, Ping-a-Ling, the Mad Mullahs, Vlad, and the Euros have all run rings around the US."

That's Loz who's now come around it would appear.

But in the essences of things Bob you're largely on - 'some are ideological, some political, some, maybe objective' - indeed "Who knows"?

I ask myself the same question Bob.

It's probably odd to the likes of you Bob that I've a concern to how you view me - don't respond to that!

It'd, if you did, take all the fun out of us arguing.

Save it for when 'Her Ladyship' announces my demise to the world and David runs a obituary on me. (& if you don't Bob, toast me with a single malt karma will kick the living shit out of you).

Karma and me have an understanding.

That guy was a friend of mine Bob, the drumming vocalist you probably never heard of seeing as how you're all so superior to everybody else you come into contact with.

(I'd be as you mostly are given our circumstances.)

At any rate - Karma.


Generally I agree that these days "politics is the dog ...". However, there were plenty who thought Britain was winning the Great Game and who thought America was winning Vietnam. For a time the Rooskies thought they were winning Afghanistan. I defer to the experts and suspend judgement.

That's my argument exactly, Bob. I think we're in agreement.

As it stands, Uncle Sam with allies Israel and Saudi Arabia is winning in the ME.

As JK pointed out, I fell for your short termist tactical approach at one point too, and thought US and the West was onto a loser. I fessed up to being wrong on that shortly after JK's quote after I stepped out of the trees to see the whole forest and applied a bit of thought to the Don's strategy.

Iraq was exactly the right entry point into the ME, costly though it might have been. Although a Sunni regime, it was a "wrong un". They hated the West and challenged and attacked our Sunni allies in search of making Iraq the top dog state in the Sunni world.

What other entry point was there? A direct attack on Iran? How else would the wrestling match that has quagmired all enemies and adversarial players with one single armoured Brigade have begun?

And just imagine the counterfactual of non-engagement for a moment: Assad, Vlad, and the Mad Mullahs, all triumphant in Syria, a Shia axis plus the Rooskies. Saddam triumphant across the invaded Sunni states. A pact between the two seeing both factions of Hairies sending terrorists on planes, trains and automobiles to targets at will across the West. Israel and Saudi Arabia existentially threatened to the point of their respective end games.

The outcome today is as optimal as any achievable by politics and it's extension.


As it is Loz, that's how we deal isn't it, how we deal when at the game.

(Bob's not gonna like this me linking from Bill O'Reilly, but as I've no longer "access" to its archives I has to do as I has to do - but it's crucial for the earliest inkling of how to project the likelier scenario to develop and then, to play out. But at some point in the future Historians will include the Israeli-Russia interplay in the strategic points.)

Present "politics" aside but for the greater good.

From 2012:

Yeah Lawrence you may take a notice of something you may've remarked to me some years past which subject for the present circumstances we best not revisit as it'd only complicate. Yeah me'n Able (& others) used your Dad's site to steg and I employed the technique of dropping zeroes from sums but it was all in good fun.

In those earliest years I never imagined true and sincere friendships could develop which I too was tempted to believe short term.

Nor Bob for all the good that's failed to come of.


May all the good that's failed to come of be forgot. I think.


Invading Iraq to establish a base of operations makes some sense. But, on the other hand, the Iran - Iraq war had established a balance of weakened powers and Iraq had been, at least occasionally, a proxy for the US. It's hard to believe $2 trillion's worth of security was purchased, never mind the carnage. I'm sure our military planners are trying to make the best of the current situation, just not sure the current situation was ever necessary. I'll admit it's not bold on my part to agree with the Army War College.

It's hard to believe $2 trillion's worth of security was purchased, never mind the carnage.

Imagine the carnage of an Israel backed into a corner and going nuclear.

As for the $2 trillion - consider it a reassuringly expensive live firing exercise. As Ping-a-Ling ponders his muscle flexing he'll do well to be mindful that the US armed forces are as battle ready as they've been since 2nd Sept 1945.

Cheap at twice the price.


That's not directed toward anyone in particular, just throwing it into the mix actually.

The author and I have far more disagreements than agreements though only one ever got noticed and even then that was fairly limited to what I term 'the policy wonk press' (policy wankers actually probably the more accurate).

I don't state my opinion as regards this piece.

SoD, you're quite the spendthrift with Americans' money.



“regime change” in Iraq was the policy of the Clinton administration ...

This is an example of why blogs aren't good news sources.

"The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 is a United States Congressional statement of policy stating that "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and states that it is the policy of the United States to support democratic movements within Iraq. The Act was cited in October 2002 to argue for the authorization of military force against the Iraqi government."

Clinton supported Iraqi internal efforts to remove Hussein. The Bush II administration using The Iraq Liberation Act as an excuse for war was just as phony as using Iraq's non-existent nuclear program.


From your source, emphasis mine:

"The George H.W. Bush administration promptly established a multinational coalition consisting of 35 countries. It launched Operation Desert Shield, a military build-up in Saudi Arabia primarily aimed at protecting that kingdom from any potential Iraqi attack.

Saddam, likely believing the Americans were bluffing with their threat of military force, refused to withdraw from Kuwait by the deadline set by the United Nations Security Council. Consequently, in January 1991, the U.S. launched Operation Desert Storm, an enormous air campaign against Iraq that rapidly devastated both its armed forces and infrastructure." ...

"Following Desert Storm, the U.S. launched a ground campaign called Operation Desert Sabre that lasted a mere 100-hours. U.S.-led armored forces battled the Iraqis in the desert and suffered minuscule losses compared to their Iraqi adversary. Iraqi forces fled Kuwait, after infamously looting it and setting its oil wells on fire, and the war was formally ended by a ceasefire by the end of February."

"In October 1994, the U.S. also promptly deployed forces to Saudi Arabia in Operation Vigilant Warrior when it looked like Saddam was positioning force for a second invasion of Kuwait — which, of course, never happened."

Policy until Bush II was to weaken and contain Iraq and maintain the balance against Iran.

How's 'bout we get down to the nuts 'n bolts of the basics Bob?

Whenever there's a foreign state's military operating in one's country that's a de facto threat to the ruling regime no?

JK, the important distinction is the difference between a MENA region with a balance of powers and one without.

The Russian, Chinese and Iranian militaries are operating, mostly via the internet, to undermine our system of government right now. Is that the same as landing troops here?

After three+ years of "Russia Russia Russia!" Bob asking me that is probably less qualitative than you asking yourself that.

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