Boxing in MLB Free Agents

The Major League Baseball free-agent market has barely moved since I last updated it here. Qualifying offer (QO) free agents are the key to understanding what’s going on. First, let’s review what I wrote over two months ago:

Update Sunday November 4, 2018: A total of seven QO’s were made on Friday, November 2 in MLB. Beyond the expected offers to Bryce Harper & Patrick Corbin, were Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock, and Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and catcher Yasmani Grandal. These players have 10 days to accept a $17.9 million salary for 2019, or become free agents with draft pick compensation. The five players I listed after Harper & Corbin should all accept their qualifying offers, as they won’t get better deals on the free agent market. Especially Grandal & Ryu.

What’s happened since? Ryu accepted, and kicked back knowing he has $17.9M for next season, with no off-season headaches. Hyun-Jin Ryu (below) will go into free agency in 2020 with no QO tag, as that can only be offered once to a player by their team. That’s what you want as a player– unrestricted free agency.

As I keep repeating here, it’s the draft pick compensation that is deterring the QO free-agents from getting more substantial offers. At least two-thirds of MLB teams have GM’s that value draft picks above veterans– generally speaking. That is a shift towards correct valuation of winning talent, and the MLBPA with the agents, are way behind on this. Their base constituency (veteran MLB players), are getting low-balled due to the new CBA their union “representatives” signed. Virtually every player before free agency is exploited, and now even free agents can’t get a good deal.

For example, ex-Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel (above) began the off-season claiming he was seeking a deal worth ~ 6/$85M. The problem is, he’s in decline, and he comes with draft pick compensation for everyone except Boston, which is probably where he’ll have to go back to, for less that the QO-deal he rejected in November. Time is not on his side, that’s for sure.

Former Diamondbacks center fielder AJ Pollock (above) is in even worse shape, as Arizona just inked utility man Wilmer Flores, so a reunion is becoming less likely. Pollock is worth (maybe) 2/$12M in this market– without a QO-tag on him. With the QO-tag, he’s negative value (losing a draft pick) to most teams, and therefore unsignable at even league minimum. How messed up is that?

One free-agent player decided to fire his agent, and negotiated his own deal this winter. Reliever David Robertson (above) signed a 2/$23M (plus 3rd-year option) with the Phillies. He’ll do much better than Craig Kimbrel, when all is said & done, and plus he doesn’t have to pay an incompetent agent a 5-10% fee for screwing things up.

Robertson said it was a great experience for him, and that he learned a lot about the market and how to negotiate. More players should follow his example. They’ll get paid better if they do. No one cares about your interest more than you, so if you leave it to someone else, expect to get burned.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal (above) is now an example of this. His over-estimation of his value apparently led him to reject a 4/$60M offer from the Mets a few weeks back. This is another lesson of the free-agency season: don’t overplay your hand. Afterwards the Mets moved on and signed catcher Wilson Ramos (2/$19M), and then the market for Grandal nearly evaporated.

Grandal settled for 1/$18.25 with the Brewers. The Brew Crew only give up their #104 pick, because the deal was for <$50M. The Dodgers would have preferred Grandal to have taken the Mets offer, as they would have received a better compensation pick on a $60M deal. That’s what’s going on, and the vultures are picking this market to pieces, while many players’ heads are spinning, as their salaries are falling.

Every off-season there are 2-3 teams that are spending “stupid money.” The Phillies already declared this intention, and the Yankees are always in, but neither are in the market for a catcher. The Mets have been stupid too, and this was the offer you jump on– if you’re Yasmani Grandal. His agent should be fired, for not counseling his client competently, because there were no other big suitors for Grandal, as most AL teams prefer Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, who is on the trade block.

Realmuto is better & younger, with two years of team control remaining, which could net his new team a QO compensation pick, if he’s dealt before the 2020 season. How much you get paid is not about past performance anymore. It’s what do you bring to the organization, and what they project you can do going forward.

Of the remaining QO free-agents, LHP Dallas Keuchel has the best chance of getting a deal north of $50M, but it’s not assured. The lessons of RHP’s Hu Darvish & Jake Arrieta (both busts) from last winter, remain in every GM’s mind. Everyone needs pitching, but overpaying for mediocre & injured/bad starters doesn’t make sense. That’s called wish-casting, and there aren’t many Jim Bowden’s left as GM’s who do that stupid stuff anymore.

That’s why the trade market for RHP’s Noah Syndergaard, Cory Kluber & Sonny Gray has received more interest than free-agent starting pitchers. The Mets, Indians & Yankees are all looking for young talent in return, but most teams won’t give that up anymore. Therefore not much moves.

We wait until SS/3B Manny Machado & RF Bryce Harper sign, and then the remaining position players will get scooped up at a song. Most of the MLB free-agent activity has been in the reliever market. In October, bullpens matter more than ever, and you can’t have too many arms. Position players are a-dime-a-dozen, and (often) youngsters are the best value in that market.

I don’t know how long MLB players are going to accept a system that never rewards anyone, except the most-elite superstars. This MLB CBA runs 2017-2021, and anyone with eyes can see a labor war on the horizon, as two more years of this will lead to revolt and (likely) a work stoppage. The money is too big, and the disparity is too wide. This process mirrors every other sector of our global economy. What’s not sustainable, must be revolutionized, otherwise it goes into the ashcan of human history. That will be the legacy of MLB’s “qualifying offer free agency.”

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Censored Comments on Russia Today’s “Keiser Report”

These comments were deleted by Russia Today’s moderators (censors). They pertained to the latest Keiser Report, “Should individuals campaign to get corporate rights?” (E1331).

I’ve learned that you can’t post any Trotskyist analysis on Russia Today. They are very sensitive about that.

Posted (& deleted on) Saturday evening, 1-12-19: I appreciate this show because I’m not a Wall Street insider, and Max Keiser has real world experience. Stacy Herbert is more scripted & cooler-headed, which balances things nicely.

But when it comes to politics they are both lost. There is 0% chance that Alexandra Ocasio Cortez will be US President in 2024. America will either have: A) fascism, which is where we are almost at now; or B) a global socialist revolution in permanence (Trotsky), which is what humanity needs to survive.

Alexandra Ocasio Cortez’s brand of liberalism died with Obama, and then Bernie 2016. Get control of your dick, Max, as that’s what’s driving her ratings, and you’re just feeding the machine. The rest of Washington is too ugly to look at, much less talk about, so Alexandra Ocasio Cortez is the much-needed D.C. poster-girl, who distracts the masses with her physical beauty & perceived innocence. It won’t last, trust me.

Posted (& NOT deleted on) Sunday morning, 1-13-19: Those who claim that cryptocurrency will lead to a transformation of society though a “peaceful revolution” have a poor understanding of history, politics, and the nature of money. The global banks which control the levers of power, will not give it up nicely. [Added here] No devil ever cut off his own claws, to quote Trotsky.

Posted (& deleted on) Sunday morning, 1-13-19: The basis of value for money is in commodities produced by human labor. Money represents an amount of congealed labor which produces a necessary commodity. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is produced by supercomputers, and is useless in the big picture. Its only value is for people who want to hide illicit transactions, avoid taxes, etc– which exposes its fraudulent nature. Cryptocurrency, and the “freedom” its proponents are selling, is a Ponzi scheme.

Update Finale: Mon 14 Jan 2019 05:30 PM EST : A US President takes an oath “to defend the Constitution.” This founding document of our republic authorizes spending to be mandated & approved by Congress, and also contains a 13th Amendment, which criminalizes slave labor. When half of the 800,000 shut down government workers are told to work for no pay, because they are “essential,” then that’s slave labor.

Donald Trump should have be impeached by now for this attack on the US working class, its government agencies & the Constitution, but bilateral collaboration between Vichy Democrats & Nazi Republicans has saved his seat in the Oval Office– for now.

How much more of this will unpaid government workers take? The power of the working class is never seriously discussed in the bourgeois media, but it is now being fiercely debated behind closed doors (always!) in ruling circles across the globe.

Workers globally need to unite, raise their political consciousness, and speak & act in their own interests. The US two-party system is dead, and needs to be overturned. Only a socialist revolution led by the most advanced elements of the working class can achieve this.

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#MeToo Blowback

Democratic Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders is being accused through the media of sexual harassment by the #MeToo campaign. This can be seen politically as an attempt by right-wing Democrats to scuttle a Bernie Sanders presidential run in 2020. Understand that Bernie Sanders is not a socialist, he is a capitalist of the liberal color. That means he’s a chameleon, and changes stripes as needed to serve the two-party system. His job in 2016 was to be a safety-valve for young voters, who (as polls show) now prefer socialism to capitalism.

Bernie performed his duty, then stepped aside, and never complained about the fixed primary process, which surely cost him the Democratic nomination. He really didn’t want it anyways. But now there are sexual abuse accusations, which (as always) are vague & unsubstantiated, yet fill the news cycle with dirty laundry. He’s already profusely apologized for whatever he may, or may not, have done. Wash, rinse & repeat…

What nobody mentions here are the Wikileaks DNC email leaks which prove that is was Hillary’s campaign that abused Bernie Sanders, by rigging the primaries and the flow of party funds to the favored candidate– Hillary Clinton. The #MeToo campaign is foisting the Big Lie technique again, to hide their own criminality.

I’ve noticed that commenters in the media are starting to more & more refer to these witch hunters as the “#MeToo crowd,” instead of “#MeToo movement.” This indicates that #MeToo has lost its hold on the masses and is starting to collapse upon itself. This is largely thanks to the good work of real socialists, who have been reporting on this reactionary campaign from the start. It has been an ideological battle against a well-funded & highly-connected apparatus of propaganda & hate.

#MeToo deeply discredited itself with its showing at the Kavanaugh Hearings, which helped the Republicans avoid a rout in the 2018 midterms. The Democrats are always willing to sacrifice themselves, in order to prop up the Republicans when they need it most. After new accusations were leveled against actor Kevin Spacey recently, he went on the offensive with a video release & a vow to fight this witch hunt campaign, after a year of silence.

Everything has it’s ebb & flow, and the tide has definitely turned on the #MeToo campaign. Even #MeToo, with its powerful political support from Hollywood, NYC & Washington elites has its vulnerabilities– meaning ways to be defeated.

The #MeToo campaign has its roots in the deep state. The #MeToo campaign attempted to weaponize healthy sexual relations (of any type), by turning women into hysterical monsters and men into paralyzed cowards. Healthy men & women don’t want to be that, nor do they seek it in a mate. This is this understanding & ideology with which Trotskyists must arm themselves, to defeat #MeToo and get at the deep state.

The biggest blowback vulnerability of #MeToo is that it exposed such a path to victory for socialists. The deep state is so powerful, mostly because it stays hidden from the masses. It’s this issue, and 9/11 as a false flag attack (above), that most exposes the deep state to revolutionary overthrow– due to the emotionality.

This passion & revolutionary energy must be guided with clear Marxist analysis & dialectical leadership. The time is now, and we must seize this opportunity!

Update: Sat 12 Jan 2019 10:15 AM EST

Below are my comments on the excellent WSWS article “US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson targeted by #MeToo campaign”

By David Walsh
12 January 2019

This reactionary #MeToo campaign needs to be met head-on with fierce resistance on social media & through legal channels. We’re all guilty of “creepy behavior,” in the sense that someone attracts us with their beauty, and we become aroused. We’ve all “creeped” on others with stolen glances, going through someone’s social media profile page, etc.

I get videoed & photographed all the time by women & gay men, without my consent. I don’t appreciate that so much, as I think it betrays a lack of social skills & immaturity, but that doesn’t give me the right to slander & destroy their lives. We’ve all been made to “feel uncomfortable” by awkward & unwanted advances, but that’s life. You deal with it, because you are an adult, instead of a hysterical snowflake.

Tracing the political origins of these personal attacks is the quickest way to expose the fraudulent character of the #MeToo witch hunts. For Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s his strict adherence to science, where facts matter and rational thought is the rule. This rejects post-modernism & identity politics, which puts him in the #MeToo crosshairs.

Another example is European footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been sensationally accused of rape (long ago, of course), with no evidence– a claim he vehemently denies. The motivation in Ronaldo’s case is his support for the rights of Palestinians. That makes him an “anti-Semite,” and thus a target for feminist reaction, with support from Zionism & the US deep state.

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Merry New Year!!

The New Year has arrived and one can sense a mood of revolution in the air. Being out on New Year’s Eve in Orlando, in a working-class area, gave me a sense that most people were glad 2018 was ending, and hopeful for a much better 2019. How this will happen is still-to-be-determined, but that is what’s on the minds of people who work & struggle.

The level of fakeness in everything: from our food, to our jobs, to news & entertainment has become too obvious. People are no longer accepting mainstream “experts” at their word. This includes all mass media in sports, politics & business. None of these platforms have much helpful content anymore, as it’s been discredited as “fake news.”

Facebook threw in its lot with the NSA/CIA a few years back, and now it’s come home to roost, as Fakebook has been exposed for its manipulations. “Fake news” was the epithet these fakesters threw at whistle-blowers & socialists, before & since Trump 2016, but their Big Lie has blown back onto themselves.

People now recognize their false flag operations almost instantly, as “conspiracy theorists” on the left have more credibility than anyone on the internet now.  The World Socialist Website (wsws.org) is the most feared online publication, from a bourgeois perspective, and therefore it is the most-censored.

Mainstream media always tries to smear leftists & Marxists, together with right-wing “conspiracy theorists.” When a neo-fascist such as Alex Jones goes too far with his hate, he’s stifled by the CIA Democrats/deep state; for the purpose of setting a precedence of censorship, which is then ALWAYS used with redoubled vigor against leftists.

This is why the media is working so hard at this moment to confuse the population on the issues of left wing vs. right wing politics. Left wingers are what used to be called “liberals,” when that term still meant something (back in the 1970’s, maybe). Right wing is nationalism & racism. The dirty secret is that BOTH lead to fascism, as that’s capitalism. The political “right” wing leads with brute force, while the political “left” wing cowers & enables by deceiving a constituency that cares.

The two-party system is best described as a political straitjacket. In it, there is very little room to maneuver, and nothing is tolerated to get out. Once this harness is removed, the possibilities are endless, and this is what excites people who have been struggling for a long time, meaning 80-90% of the world’s population.

This phenomenon is happening globally. The “yellow vests” in France are an international symbol of working class unity, in defiance of an authority which has only mistreated them. It’s the arrogance on display, which assumes workers are dull & ignorant masses, that has caught up with them. This has alarmed (frightened) the ruling elites. That’s why the stock markets are crashing, and that’s why there’s political unrest in every country, as social inequality & living conditions have become intolerable.

On top of that, no nation state is doing nearly enough to curtail global warming, which only gets worse every year. I wrote this straight-forward song over 20 years ago, during the wildfires of 1998 in Florida, and it’s more true that ever– which really bothers me. No progress, only denialism and more “free market” giveaways to the richest 10%. That’s not sustainable.

We just had a completely ridiculous midterm “election” in the US, and already now, Democrat Elizabeth Warren has announced her intention to run for US President in 2020. We’re now caught up in a permanent cycle of politicians campaigning for office, which involves setting real issuers aside, and attacking opponents on whatever is allowed– sex scandals, etc…

I’m with those that maintain we need to cancel “Election 2020” in 2019. Do you want to go through another “election” like 2016, only worse? Most thinking people recoil at the thought, yet that is exactly where we are heading, unless there is revolutionary intervention from the masses.

It needs to be coordinated, international, and under complete worker control. The trade unions and their ideological appendages (ISO, etc) need to be cast into the dustbin of history. Workers need to elect their own leaders, and develop their own independent political perspective, outside of the straitjacket system.

Political consciousness needs to be raised on a mass scale, with a clear understanding of what genuine socialism is. It is: 1) worker control over production; 2) social equality in that everyone has what they need; and 3) the end of nationalism & secret diplomacy, which are root causes of global conflict. Everyone is truthfully informed on everything, and is allowed to voice their thoughts publicly.

Notice how there is nothing irrational or evil in that correct definition of socialism, as defined by Karl Marx & Fredrick Engels. Yet mainstream (bourgeois) pundits & “intellectuals” always insist that socialism is a Russian plot meant to destroy all human joy, and turn us into automatons. Ironically, that’s what’s happening under capitalism; so once again, this should be recognized as another application of the “Big Lie” technique by the elites.

Donald Trump made a HUGE blunder when he shutdown the US government over the holidays, insisting on full funding for his wall at the US-Mexico border. It’s just like this overgrown child, to dig in on something that is so doomed to fail. Over 800,000 federal workers aren’t getting paid, and some are even being required to stay on-the-job without pay. What are these workers supposed to say to their bill collectors?

Trump impresses stupid & racist people because he appeals to their emotions– fear, hate & anger. He forced this government shutdown to whip up support from his constituent base, which has largely evaporated. Sure, there are still small minorities of hardcore fascists, who will defend & fight for Trump until the bitter end; but many of his 2016 supporters have jumped ship, and now view him as a liability.

This political stand-off which puts government workers at risk of losing their homes, is really be an impeachable crime. Trump claims he wants jobs in the US, to “Make America Great Again,” while trash piles up in our national parks & monuments, because workers have been furloughed.

It’s time for the US workers to take back their land, by uniting in numbers and across all industries, to reject these hucksters & stick-figurines who are leading humanity into an abyss. The crisis is one of leadership. There are no leaders on Capitol Hill, just corporate criminals– playing with tanks. It’s time to come together and elect new leaders, with real world experience. We need them everywhere, more than ever.

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Christmas Card

The holiday season came with a bear, as stock markets around the world are simultaneously crashing. Trade wars, led by the US, have constipated global trade. Nothing is moving, and the US Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates, which had been kept near zero for years.

These 0.25% interest rates were for the banks, not for small businesses or working people. No college graduate with massive student loan debt was allowed to refinance at near-zero either. For working people it’s 6.9%. Or 13.9%. Or 29.9%. That’s how banks made their money during this “longest bull market in history.”

It was actually the longest bullshit market in history, fueled by free money electronically “printed” by the Fed, and given to banks to prop up their worthless “assets.” We’re talking everything: from stocks & bonds, to currency & cryptocurrency, as being a massive speculative bubble.

There has been no real-world basis for new money creation, since the Fed began “quantitative easing.”  QE is where the Fed prints new money (even though there is no economic basis for it), so it can give it to itself & it’s cronies. That’s crony capitalism in a plutocracy. Works great for the 1%.

These elites have no concept of reality, and believe all their bullshit to the end. It’s the working people, who have been getting shafted for the longest time, who need to rise up with political awareness & revolutionary intentions. Otherwise the cost of this financial crisis, which the ruling class created & is entirely responsible for, will be shifted onto their backs– again.

This is THE BIG ONE. In 2007-08, the US Federal Reserve still had the capacity to absorb Wall Street’s losses, by shifting them onto the books of the federal government, meaning US taxpayers are now responsible for the ~$21,000,000,000,000 federal deficit.

The level of debt for the 3 major US stock indexes (S&P 500, DJIA & NASDAQ) is in the hundreds of trillions of dollars, meaning it is unpayable. That’s the magic of compound interest, as once the level of principle owed gets so high, the interest payments become unservicable.

The gross world product in 2018 is projected at $87.5 trillion, and the Fed can’t print enough “new” money to sustain this financial house of cards, without making the dollar worthless. Under-performers that used to allowed to go bankrupt in an earlier stage of capitalism, are now deemed “too big to fail” in a bullshit market.

The industry term for this phenomenon is zombie company. Over 15% of US corporations are zombies by definition, and globally it’s 12%. Tesla is an example of a zombie corporation, in that it manufactures very little that is useful, at an extremely high cost. The debt level for Tesla is unpayable, yet CEO Elon Musk is allowed to parade around as a patriarch boy genius, when he’s really a neo-fascist Ponzi-scheme swindler– like all the rest. The world’s biggest banks & hedge fund managers are all tied into this shell game, and they have no answers, except more austerity, inequality & war.

The #MeToo campaign severely wrecked itself with it’s cringe-worthy performance at the infamous Kavanaugh Hearings this past October. They appear to have gathered all their strength for one last volley. For the #MeToo campaign, this could be the proverbial “dead cat bounce,” which happens when something crashes from a great height, and then for an instant appears to rise, only to collapse dead in a heap.

It was sensationally announced on Christmas Eve (yesterday) that actor/artist Kevin Spacey is to be charged with sexual assault on January 7, 2019. This comes from former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh, who accuses that Spacey had assaulted her adult son in July 2016.

Since her son was age-18 at the time, he should speak for himself, don’t you think? Readers aren’t even given the boy’s name in the mainstream press, it’s just his mother who speaks, and here’s the video– which published Nov 7, 2018 has <2,000 views. It’s beyond weak, but hey– that’s #MeToo.

Kudos to Kevin Spacey for his video retort, which published on December 24, 2018, already has over 4 million views, before noon (EST) on December 25, 2018. If Kevin Spacey & his legal team can handle this nonsense, then it’s lights out for #MeToo. Artists everywhere wish Spacey & his team well, and offer all our support– in the name of artistic freedom & democratic rights. Consider it a FU to #MeToo.

Q: You know what we’re going to get these #MeToo witch-hunters for Christmas next year?

A: A big wooden cross, so whenever they feel unappreciated for all their sacrifices, they can climb up on it and nail themselves to it.

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Cover List

These are the covers I’ve learned & mixed-in over the years, during my limited live performances. Some I don’t play anymore, and new covers (oxymoron) are always being added.

An performer needs to play at least 80% original material (which is well-received), while mixing in quality covers for audience reference, to be worthy of artistic distinction.

This gives you an idea of what I consider punk, post-punk, and fun stuff; and what to expect from me– live.

U2: “Electric Co.” “New Year’s Day” “I Will Follow” “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
CCR: “Bootleg” “Lodi”
Rick Springfield: “Jessie’s Girl”
Bruce Springsteen: “Nebraska”
Woody Guthrie: “This Land is Your Land”
Sonic Youth: “I Love Her All the Time” “Silver Rocket” “The Burning Spear”
Husker Du: “Masochism World” “Green Eyes”
Surfaris: “Wipe Out”
GNR: “Paradise City” “It’s So Easy”
INXS: “The Devil Inside”
Joan Jett: “Fake Friends”
Chumbawumba: “Tubthumping”
Madonna: “Express Yourself”
The Police: “Roxanne”
Rush: “Red Barchetta”
Red Rider: “Lunatic Fringe”
Replacements: “Seen Your Video”
The Who: “Magic Bus”
Neil Young: “Hey Hey, My My” “Crime in the City”
VU: “What Goes On” “I’ll Be Your Mirror” “Heroin” “Sister Ray”
Sex Pistols: “EMI”
The Clash: “The Sound of the Sinners”
Wire: “12XU” “Strange”
Nirvana: “Molly’s Lips” “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” “Come as You Are” “On a Plain” “Stay Away”
Jane’s Addiction: “Nothing’s Shocking” “Jane Says” “Pigs in Zen”
Midnight Oil: “Warakurna”
Bikini Kill: “Jigsaw Youth” “Tell Me So” “New Radio”
AC/DC: “Down Payment Blues” “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)” “Kicked in the Teeth Again” “Shoot to Thrill”
Mott the Hoople: “Rock & Roll Queen”
Minutemen: “Storm Inside My House”
Pixies: “Planet of Sound” “Gouge Away”
George Thorogood: “Gear Jammer”
Tom Petty: “Running Down a Dream”
Eddie Rabbitt: “I Love a Drizzly Night”
Violent Femmes: “Add It Up”
BoDeans: “She’s a Runaway”
Bob Marley: “Three Little Birds”
ABBA: “SOS”
Carpenters: “Top of the World”
Spin Doctors: “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”
Graham Parker: “Clear Head” “Under the Mask of Happiness” “She Wants so Many Things”

Fugazi: “Burning”
Belly: “Feed the Tree”
Liz Phair: “Explain it to Me”

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The MLB Free Agency Market: 2018-19

Padres signed 2B Ian Kinsler 2/$8M after the Winter Meetings. The timing here is significant, as Padres GM AJ Preller had to wait out the Rule 5 Draft to make any FA acquisitions with their full foster. As a result, the Padres lost zero players to the Rule 5 Draft, even though they have the top-rated farm system in baseball. Excellent roster management by AJP, who is now seeking a 3B. Currently, the best free agent option at third base is age-30 Mike Moustakas.

The Padres have no interest in Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, despite any “rumors” you are reading from industry hacks attempting to stoke the hot stove. I believe most teams have been put-off by Derek Jeter & Mike Hill’s unrealistic demands. Their problem is they have made so many bad deals in the past year, trading All-stars (& MVP’s) for junk prospects. The Marlins front office keeps thinking they are going to finally hit the motherlode, and it never happens. The other GM’s are all smarter, and that’s a huge problem in Miami. Their only hope at this point is if the Dodgers overpay for Realmuto, which isn’t likely, although although could happen.

Everyone in baseball keeps talking about RF Bryce Harper & SS Manny Machado, but it’s the other end of the free agent market that is the real story. Closer Craig Kimbrel declined a $17.9M qualifying offer (QO) from the Red Sox in November, as he’s reportedly seeking a 6-year deal. When the Dodgers signed hard-throwing ex-Red Sox set-up man Joe Kelly for 3/$25M last week, that sent a sobering message to the Kimbrel camp.

Carrying QO draft-pick compensation doesn’t help Kimbrel’s cause, as really he’s not worth 2/$15M at this point. Plus, who wants to give a valuable draft pick to the Red Sox? Kimbrel will be age-31 next season, with declining efficacy, and everyone saw his dismal performances in the post-season. The Mets & Dodgers are done spending stupid money on relievers, so there goes the market for overpays. Reality is going to bite him hard in January/February, when he will have to accept a concession contract, and it will be his fault. He should have accepted the QO. What kind of idiot on the backside of his career turns down $18M for one year?

Speaking of more stupid, the Mets (77-85 in 2018) have announced their intentions to be competitive in the near-future, by making a flurry of trades and free-agent signings this winter; acquiring 2B Robinson Cano & closer Edwin Diaz from the Mariners, while bringing back shaky reliever Jeurys Familia for 3/$30M. They just signed age-31 FA catcher Wilson Ramos for 2/$19M, which is another overpay.

A Mets “rumor” that has been circulated all winter has them trading RHP Noah Syndergaard to the Padres for all their top prospects. This will not happen, and is another wishful-thinking media-driven narrative. The Padres are probably more interested in acquiring RHP Sonny Gray from the Yankees.

Syndergaard is now arbitration eligible, after making $3M in 2018. His effectiveness is unquestionable, but his leadership & durability aren’t. The question this baseball fan has is: If the Mets are planning to compete in the near future, then why are they so desperate to trade a young Noah Syndergaard? He’s been on the trade block for the last 6 months or so, and no one is biting; so what do all the GM’s know about Noah Syndergaard, that we fans aren’t being told?

As mentioned above the Dodgers are looking for a catcher, after Yasmani Grandal declined his QO. Grandal turned 30 last month, and had a career season in 2018, (.241/.349/.466) in 140 games. The problem is that is defense is very suspect, as shown in the post-season. That’s why the Dodgers let him go. If the Mets preferred Ramos at 2/$19M, then what is Grandal worth? The answer is: A lot less than the $17.9M QO he rejected. Plus, what NL team wants to give the Dodgers their draft pick?

That’s the major bug-a-boo with QO’s, the draft pick compensation. That draft choice could be the next Mike Trout, so teams value it very highly– to the detriment of the FA who rejects the QO. Player arrogance & greed is clouding their better judgment, and their legal council stinks.

Another MLB free agent who rejected his QO is ex-Astros RHP Dallas Keuchel, who isn’t expected to sign until late January– at the earliest. Once again, it’s because the player & his agent have misjudged the market. The draft-pick compensation removes a significant amount of value from a free agent signing, and players have been slow to realize this phenomenon.

The owners & GM’s understand this well, and since they are the ones who hand out the contracts, they control the market. FA pitchers are high-risk, and after the results of signing Hu Darvish (Cubs) & Jake Arrieta (Phillies) last winter, no team wants to get burned like that again.

If a player accepts his qualifying offer, he gets $17.9M for one season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent next year, as a player can only be offered a QO once. Seven MLB players were offered QO’s in November of 2018. Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one to (smartly) accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer.

Only LHP Patrick Corbin, who signed 6/$140M with the Nationals; and RF Bryce Harper were correct in rejecting their QO’s. The four others: Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal, Craig Kimbrel & A.J. Pollock all remain on the market, and will eventually have to sign a deal for a much lower average annual value than $18M. In light of this, what do you think of their agents?

The story of this winter in MLB will (again) be the falling free-agent salaries among the 2nd & 3rd-tier groups of players. The paydays they were promised by their agents & union leaders aren’t going to materialize. Younger & more valuable players are starting to realize their worth, and will soon be demanding a bigger piece of the pie. This is setting up to be a major league labor war down the road, as MLB ownership is intransigent about raising minimum salaries, and the MLBPA is a corrupt bureaucracy.

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Ric Size: Live @ The Stranded Sailor

You didn’t think I could stay retired from music, did you?

This punk rock artist is very excited to be performing solo at the Stranded Sailor pub in Sanford, FL on Saturday December 15 @ 9:00 PM.

This is your chance to finally see this act live, with no net. I’ll be doing mostly original songs from the albums, with a few covers mixed in as the night moves along…

No cover, two drink minimum & please take care of the servers, etc… No merch (yet), but it should be fun & exciting nonetheless!!

The Stranded Sailor Pub:

418 Sanford Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

Phone: +1-321-362-8153

See you there!!

Sun 16 Dec 2018 ~ 12:45 AM EST

I got jerked around big-time at this “show,” and was given the hook after ~10 songs, even though the crowd was into it and the place was filling up. Or perhaps, it was because I was filling up the place, that my show was cut short.

Anyways, here’s the abbreviated set-list: Mercury Rising, Pay to Play, Hey Hey– My My (Neil Young), Sugarcoat, Working Class, DDSeuss, The Sound of the Sinners (The Clash), and Nothing’s Shocking/Jane Says (Jane’s Addiction).

The manager then asked me to stop playing, to amazed & puzzled faces in the audience. He’d been at me the whole time with disrespectful nonsense, a complete 180-degree turn from his attitude on Thursday, when this show was booked. Sanford politics here, as I recognized a few sleazy faces when I walked in tonight. They sabotaged the show, for sure.

Thanks anyways to all those who were listening & appreciative (most everybody in attendance), and hopefully I’ll be able to find a club that can honor a booking in the future.

Ridiculous

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Recounting Florida

It’s as easy as A-B-C, factored by 1-2-3…. This piece will be a serial… It ended up as 9,800+ words, and concluded ~ noon on Saturday, November 17, 2018, when it was all over– except for the crying.

Florida was the site of a stolen US Presidential election in 2000: Bush v Gore. Florida had massive chicanery & cheating on Election Day 2000, and was ultimately decided by a right-wing US Supreme Court decision to stop the counting of its ballots. The majority decision written by Antonin Scalia postulated that since the Electoral College determines the US President, voters don’t have the right to vote, so there is no need to count all the ballots. Look it up.

Here in 2018, the situation is different but the same. There is no Electoral College argument to be made this time around, but still expect some bizarre right-wing “logic” to win out in the end. Since 2000, Florida has come up with rules & procedures to handle these situations, which seem to arise every election. This bring a veneer of order & sensible rule to this mass insanity.

The state of Florida conducts an electronic recount when the margin of victory falls below 0.5%. A margin under 0.25%, calls for a manual recount. A manual recount does not mean every ballot is counted by hand, as only the votes that come up as an “undervote” or “overvote” get pulled for manual review. This is where we get into the nebulous universe of determining “voter intent,” which is impossible. At this point the votes are what they are, but things may still change– if that makes sense, which it shouldn’t.

The non-partisan approach is to look at the numbers, the voting machines, and any reported irregularities on Election day. Since we’re talking about Florida, we know there were “irregularities,” meaning massive vote rigging and disenfranchisement tactics to suppress opposing party support. This warps the actual numbers, and makes voter intent impossible to determine, at an individual level and on a mass scale. Both parties manipulate electronic voting machines (EVM’s), but in Florida it’s most pronounced by the Republicans against poor black & Hispanic voters, who typically lean Democrat in big cities.

The types of voting equipment used in US elections falls into 4 categories: Optical Scan Paper Ballot Systems, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems. Ballot Marking Devices and Systems, Punch Card Voting Systems– which you can research here, although not everything is accurate (or up-to-date) on ballotpedia.

Florida uses paper ballots with Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems. DRE systems are computers that record votes directly into the memory. With no paper trail receipt, individual vote auditing is impossible, as a partisan hacker in control of the election machine in their district can program an algorithm into the memory, or change vote totals manually– with no way of being detected, unless a recount is triggered. How each Floridian voted is impossible to verify. This entire election process couldn’t be more manipulated & anti-democratic.

Of course there were plenty of voter suppression, dirty tricks operations on Election Day (and since), as politics is war. A key point was reached by noon on Saturday November 10, as Florida governor Rick Scott was able to halt the official vote totals before they flipped to the Democrats– in both the Senate & governor races. This means they’ll probably win both races, eventually. They were definitely stolen, the manner of which I’ve already discussed at length, as we’ve seen this before. Even President Donald Trump has admitted he’s trying to steal Florida. Every once in awhile Trump tweets a truth, to the dismay of his handlers.

Rick Scott is suing the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County, Brenda Snipes, and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher(D)– for allegedly mishandling vote counting. Broward’s vote counting since Tuesday greatly narrowed Republican leads in the Senate & governor’s race, and has flipped the Secretary of Agriculture to the Democrats. Rick Scott even went so far so to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election,” Scott told reporters.

Evidentially, Broward County’s elections supervisor mixed 20 “invalid ballots” with a pile of 205 “valid ballots,” fueling a Republican conspiracy theory that this is how the Democrats are stealing the U.S. Senate election in Florida. According to the Miami Herald, the “mistake” was discovered after Brenda Snipes agreed to turn over 205 provisional ballots to the county’s canvassing board for inspection. A majority of provisional ballots were deemed invalid for reasons such as registering to vote too late or voting at the wrong precinct. Multiply these issues by tens-of-thousands of others, and you start to get an idea of the scope of the problem with elections in Florida.

“The ballots cannot be identified,” Brenda Snipes explained to a lawyer for the Republican Party. Governor Rick Scott has controlled all aspects of Florida elections over the past eight years, so who’s to blame? Democratic lawyer Marc Elias said he expected some of the voters affected to “fight for their votes.” Question: How can they fight for their vote, when they can’t audit their vote?

Rick Scott spokesman, Chris Hartline said in a statement, “The voters of Florida have spoken and Rick Scott was elected to the United States Senate in a close but decisive victory. It’s time for Senator Nelson to accept reality and spare the state of the Florida the time, expense and discord of a recount.”

Senator Bill Nelson countered, “This process is about one thing: making sure every legal ballot is counted and protecting the right of every Floridian to participate in our democracy. We believe when every legal ballot is counted, we’ll win this election.” Bill Nelson’s re-election campaign is suing the Florida Secretary of State, Ken Detzner over the signature matching process that is used to validate provisional ballots. You get the idea here?

As of noon Saturday, November 10, 2018, when all the ballots had to be submitted for a final count, these are the official Florida vote totals in the three contested races.

US Senate: 100% of precincts reporting

Rick Scott (R) 4,098,107 50.1%
Bill Nelson* (D) 4,085,545 49.9%
Total Votes 8,183,652

Florida Governor: 100% of precincts reporting

Ron DeSantis (R) 4,075,879 49.6%
Andrew Gillum (D) 4,042,195 49.2%
Total Votes 8,218,616

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services: 100% of precincts reporting

Nikki Fried (D) 4,030,337 50.03%
Matt Caldwell (R) 4,025,011 49.97%
Total Votes 8,055,348

Note: On election night this open race was called for Matt Caldwell, but has since flipped to the Democrat Nikki Fried.

Cowardly Democrat and mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum, who (above) conceded to Ron DeSantis before midnight on November 6, boldly walked back his concession on Saturday, November 10. Gillum roared, “I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromising and unapologetic call that we count every single vote. And I say this recognizing that my fate in this may or may not change.”

Reading between the lines, one gets the sense that Andrew Gillum doesn’t mind losing again, if he has to. Standing up for the voting rights of his constituency was the furthest thing from Gillum’s mind when he conceded to a racist billionaire opponent on Election night. Ron DeSantis, pronounced the results “clear and unambiguous,” and stated that “with the election behind us,” he was planning for his transition as governor.

And thus the imbecile who began his campaign by stating that Florida shouldn’t “monkey up” this election, prepares to take office. DeSantis is in the best position of the four candidates for the two offices. If there needs to be a bipartisan compromise, it’s Rick Scott who will take the bullet for the Republicans.

Democrats & Republicans are responsible for this mess. Something as simple as counting votes is the easiest thing in the world to do, if it’s done fairly. Nothing about this election was fair. When the process becomes this opaque & complex, it becomes impossible to hide the corruption. The methods used to manipulate & win elections are kept veiled, because what they reveal is ugly, heartless & evil.

What this stand-off in Florida represents is the breakdown of US electoral politics. As mentioned in previous pieces, Florida is the key battleground state in American politics. The Republicans especially, WILL NOT yield it; particularly the governor’s mansion, which is vital to Trump’s 2020 bid. The Democrats are only half-hearted in their fight for voters’ rights, which is why I expect them to lose the Florida recounts. History can recall.

For all those who yelled, “Vote!” on election day, my reply is: “For what, Democrats who give up the fight on election night?” I abstained on November 6, and I was correct to do so, it turns out. Those who voted in Florida, only legitimized a corrupt process, and this is the proof. It’s a ridiculous charade, where winners are announced, even in the tightest of races, before all the ballots are even counted. It’s already another legal & political circus here in Florida, with no signs of justice in sight. It will take a revolution to bring fairness to the people Florida, and everywhere else.

Update: Tue 13 Nov 2018 10:01:48 AM EST

The biggest issue in covering this Florida recount is getting accurate facts on anything that matters. This whole process is being blanketed by a smokescreen of lawsuits & media misinformation. Google and all the other search engines have been wiped clean again, making online research difficult, if not impossible. Politicians & their compliant media lapdogs are assiduously working together to confuse the public, which is business as usual.

In the Panhandle, where Hurricane Michael depopulated the region on October 10, 2018, it’s now being alleged that voters were allowed to fax or email their votes. Elections Supervisor Mark Andersen in heavily Republican Bay County told the Miami Herald on Monday that he allowed about 150 people to cast ballots by email, which is illegal under state law. [1]

On Monday morning, a Miami judge ruled against a request by Rick Scott’s legal team to impound Broward County ballots & machines not being used in the recount. Democrats fired back with another lawsuit of their own, asking that Scott be barred from using “the power of his office in any manner related to Florida’s 2018 Senate race as long as he remains a candidate.”

This followed a public statement from Senator Bill Nelson over the weekend, asking Rick Scott to recuse himself from the office of governor during the recount. It’s political gamesmanship on all sides here in Florida, and the will of the people is used for leverage of candidates, not voters’ rights.

On Wednesday, a judge will hear a request from Bill Nelson that all absentee & provisional ballots that were tossed out over mismatched signatures be reexamined. It remains unclear (to the public), how many absentee & provisional ballots are disputed & uncounted in Florida’s 67 counties.

Since provisional ballots are an area of contention, let’s define the term. A ballot is marked provisional by a county election official if there are questions concerning voter eligibility. If 1) a voter doesn’t have a photo ID at the polling place, 2) a voter casts a ballot at the “wrong” precinct, or 3) an absentee ballot is mailed without a signature; these ballots can be identified as “provisional.” Provisional ballots must be reviewed & certified by local election officials before being added to the official count. Right now the vote totals are considered unofficial.

The recount of 700,000 votes in Broward county, began on Sunday after a three-hour delay was caused by a machine that wasn’t registering all ballots when tested. “The Democrats are challenging the calibration of the machines, they are saying it was a machine glitch,” Bill Scherer, Scott’s attorney told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Sunday, to explain the under votes. The Sun Sentinel provided no further explanation as to why the EVM’s weren’t working properly, or what the specific problems were? [2]

Palm Beach & Miami-Dade counties started their recounts Saturday evening, while most other counties began on Monday. About 8.2 million total votes were cast in the statewide election.

On Thursday, November 15 at 3 PM, unofficial returns are due in Tallahassee, and Secretary of State, Pam Bondi (R) determines which races meet the less than a 0.25% victory-margin threshold to order a hand recount. Election officials in Broward county have already stated that they won’t be able to complete the machine recount in time, due to the massive workload. This will probably mean more lawsuits on Friday. All parties have until November 30 to file any claims concerning the election.

Elections staff in Broward county had more than 3.5 million pages to sort before they could even start the actual recount — a task estimated to take up to 35 hours, said Joseph D’Alessandro, director of election planning and development. According to him, out of Broward’s 714,000 votes; 299,000 ballots were cast in early voting, 226,000 were cast on Election Day, and 189,000 were mail-in ballots.

On Friday, November 16, the count begins for military & overseas ballots post-marked Nov. 6 or earlier. Why these ballots weren’t counted on election night is unexplained.

On Sunday, November 18 at noon, county canvassing boards hand count results are due in Tallahassee. Each board examines provisional ballots and outstanding absentee ballots to determine whether they should be counted. Each of Florida’s 67 counties has a canvassing board made up of the supervisor of elections, a county court judge and county commission chair. [3]

According to this scheduled timeline, on Tuesday, November 20 at 9 AM, the Elections Canvassing Commission, consisting of governor Rick Scott & two cabinet members, will meet to certify the November 6 election. I confidently predict that the US Senate race results in Florida won’t be official by then.

Afternoon Update: Tuesday ~ 1:30 PM EST

This Florida recount mirrors the candidates campaigns, with the media distortion now amped up to 20. Instead of campaign ads, both sides are lawyering up, as accusations of cheating, manipulation & fraud are flying. This creates lots of media coverage: print, television & internet. Many of the accusations are true, on both sides; so what does that mean?

At this point, the public debate in the media is over a corrupt process & their candidates. The level of passion over this in the streets of Florida is virtually nil. That’s what I’m seeing anyways, as campaign signs were removed the day after the election, and no one is protesting in numbers. This Florida recount isn’t evoking the passion of 2000: 1) because it isn’t for US President (although it really is– as discussed above), and 2) because both parties are widely seen as bankrupt. The second point is the bigger factor here.

As one who didn’t vote in 2018, you may be wondering why I’m defending Floridians’ voting rights so steadfastly? It’s to illustrate the hypocrisy of this fixed process called elections, which too many people still believe in. At this point, it may be helpful to take a few steps back and answer this fundamental question, “What would a fair election and recount process look like?”

This presumes the candidates are representatives of the people, which they’re not; and that money isn’t a deciding factor, which is most certainly is. Setting all that capitalist corruption aside, an election can be fairly managed with ease in this digital age, but people have to understand & care. When votes get “lost,” or changed without knowledge, then what’s to believe in?

Here’s some common sense. Every voter should receive some form of receipt when they finish voting, the same way you get a slip of paper when you buy anything at a store. This “voting receipt” should have the information for the holder to audit their vote online, or wherever. If there’s an issue, the voter can contact the Supervisor of Elections to address the grievance. The receipt could even be electronically sent to cellphones or verified email addresses.

Also all ballots, including absentee overseas, et cetera, need to be counted on election night. Any “provisional” ballots need to be cleared up as quickly as possible: in a fair, transparent & democratic manner. This can be easily accomplished if each voter has a receipt. Counting the ballots of US soldiers, risking their livers oversees, a week after the election, is insulting. Insisting their ballots be thrown out is fascist. That’s Florida politics on both sides of the aisle.

Notice that the “common sense” I’ve just expressed in a few sentences, is nothing close to the current Florida election & recount process, and that’s by design. Once a vote is cast, a voter has no control over what happens next. This amorphic mass of ~8.2 million votes that are now being recounted in Florida, are claimed by both parties as their own. But no voter claims their individual vote anymore, or knows how it was registered, as it’s become a congealed lump of winner-takes-all politics. Everyone seems to miss this anti-democratic aspect, by not discussing it.

The Republican machinery specializes in rigged elections, and as Trump’s popular support continues to wane, this tactic becomes an evermore important strategy used to win elections. If the votes were counted honestly everywhere in the US, then the Republicans would be swept out of office in a few terms. That’s been a dirty GOP campaign secret since the late 1990’s.

The Democrats feel the same way when they face opposition from genuine socialist candidates on the left. The only real socialist of the US midterm ballot in 2018 was Niles Niemuth, for the Socialist Equality Party (SEP). In the Michigan 12th Congressional district, Debra Dingell easily won re-election, in what is considered a “safe seat” for Democrats by political insiders.

Niles Niemuth ran an amazing campaign, using the World Socialist Web Site to cover & promote his Congressional campaign for international socialism. Support for Niemuth was global, in political sympathy & monetary contributions. There was no other campaign like it in 2018. Here were the official results in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District election, per ballotpedia:

Candidate Pct.          Vote            total

Debbie Dingell (D)      68.2       199,690
Jeff Jones (R)            28.8          84,220
Gary Walkowicz          2.3            6,691
Niles Niemuth  (I)        0.8            2,200

Total votes: 292,801

Here’s an interesting bit of data from ballotpedia, concerning campaign spending in the Michigan 12th for US Congress, as of September 30, 2018:

Debra Dingell (D)               $1,085,073
Jeff Jones (R)                    $19,118
Gary Walkowicz (WCP)    $0    [!?]
Niles Niemuth (SEP)         $2,832

The Working Class Party candidate Gary Walkowicz (above) was credited with 6.691 votes, having officially spent NO money on the campaign. That’s unprecedented, so I wonder, “How does that happen?” Niles Niemuth was credited with 2,200 votes, which was surely under-counted– probably by at least one digit. Niemuth’s total “war chest” available (as of 9/30) was $3,874. Debra Dingell had another ~$440,000 on hand as of those dates. As you can see, the Republicans punted on this district.

Here are a few excerpts from an article published November 2, 2018 on the WSWS, titled, “Who are Gary Walkowicz and the Working Class Party?”

Walkowicz is a member of the bargaining committee of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 600 in Dearborn, Michigan, which covers Ford’s Rouge complex. This is the third consecutive election in which he has run for Congress from the 12th District against incumbent Democrat Debbie Dingell… The WCP is an electoral front… for the trade union officialdom.

The most striking thing about the Working Class Party’s election platform itself is its formlessness. It takes no position on any concrete political question. On the most critical issues of the day, including the drive to war against Russia and China, the crisis of the Trump administration, the bipartisan assault on immigrants, the Democrats’ anti-Russian campaign and the growth of internet censorship, the Working Class Party has literally nothing to say. [4]

If there was a fair recount in the Michigan 12th district, I don’t believe Gary Walkowicz would win even 100 votes; as whomever his supporters are, they all vote Democrat. The Working Class Party was apparently formed before the 2012 election, but according to their Wikipedia page, “the Working Class Party has no website of its own, but many of its leaflets and statements can be found on the independent website www.workingclassfight.com.”

Their newly-formed headquarters is in Detroit, Michigan, indicates the Working Class Party are a CIA/deep state campaign to keep the Socialist Equality Party in check. The SEP has long been headquartered in this area, which is why Niles Niemuth ran for US Congress in the 12th. His was the only SEP campaign of the entire US midterm, obviously due to lack of funds. The WSWS, SEP & Niles Niemuth still made quite an impact, which is all-the-more reason to suspect their vote totals were rigged.

Update: Wed 14 Nov 2018 03:15 AM EST

All 67 counties in Florida are in some stage of recounting their ballots, running them through electronic vote tabulators. The three largest voting system manufacturers in the U.S. are Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), Dominion, and Hart Intercivic. This PDF provides important specifics concerning the electronic voting machines & software used in Florida’s 2018 elections.

Election Systems & Software (ES&S) is an Omaha, Nebraska-based company that manufactures and sells its direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines, vote tabulators, election software (EVS & DS200), absentee voting-by-mail services, as well as professional support to 48 of Florida’s 67 counties. ES&S counts Florida’s votes, where they count the most.

This highly-lucrative EVM market is murky murky, as it involves giving high-paying clients what they demand, which is machines they can secretly control & manipulate. When looking at Republican suppression of Democrat voters in urban Florida, ES&S appears to be the GOP’s secret weapon.

According to Wikipedia, “ES&S is the largest manufacturer of EVM’s in the US, claiming customers in 4,500 localities in 42 states and two U.S. territories. As of 2014, the company had more than 450 employees, more than 200 of whom are located in Omaha,” a regional center for global hedge-fund investment.

“ES&S has installed statewide voting systems in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. ES&S claims a U.S. market share of more than 60 percent in customer voting system installations.” [5]

Dominion Voting Systems Corporation was founded in 2002 in Toronto, by John Poulos & James Hoover, and acquired Diebold Election Systems in 2010. Dominion vendors EVM services to the remaining 19 counties in Florida, 18 of which are rural & hard Republican.

The notable exception is Palm Beach, which is adjacent to Dade county, and currently the source of the most-heated bipartisan contention. It appears Dominion is used by the Republican machinery in Florida, mainly to inflate their vote in stronghold rural counties. We’ll soon see how the Dominion machines recount the votes in Palm Beach county, and I predict the results will be statistically fascinating.

To complete this EVM overview, Hart InterCivic Inc. is the smallest of the three voting machine companies, headquartered in Austin, Texas. Hart InterCivic Inc. EVM’s are used in parts of Texas, the entire states of Hawaii and Oklahoma, half of Washington & Colorado, and certain counties in Ohio, California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. [6]

Florida’s population has continued to grow, as the number of registered voters by the 2018 primaries was 13,013,657. In the 2016 primaries, that was 12.37 million, and in the 2014 primaries it was 11.8 million. Florida’s estimated total population in 2018 is 21.31 million.

Donald Trump’s post-midterm ratings among US voters are 46% approval, with 52% disapproval. What we see now in US politics are “leaders” at all levels who are unable to maintain a mandate of approval from the majority of voters. If one counts non-voters, these approval numbers drop even more dramatically.

In Florida, among its roughly 13 million registered voters, only 8.2 actually voted in 2018. Over 37% consciously abstained, or didn’t care. Those 4.8 million registered Florida voters who skipped this election are more votes than any candidate received, making this group the largest constituency. This fact is true everywhere, and yet it is concealed in all bourgeois media analysis of “red & blue waves.”

Whoever wins the Senate & governorship will receive ~ 4.2 million votes in their favor. In a state with a census of 21.3 million, that means the winner (whenever it’s decided), actually represents only 20% of the people.  Factor in all these candidate’s low job approval ratings & lack of popularity, and their political legitimacy dwindles even more.

For example, many Florida voters who checked Bill Nelson in the Senate, did so because they HATE Rick Scott, not because they love the Democratic incumbent. Here are both Florida senators approval ratings, published on October 10, 2018 to illustrate my point. N/O means no opinion, and M/E is margin of error.

Senator           Approve Disapprove N/O M/E

Marco Rubio (R)     41%     42%      17%   1%
Bill Nelson (D)         39%     41%      21%   1%

The same “lesser evilism” attitude is true for those Republican voters who checked off Ron DeSantis, a billionaire clown (below) who excited no one. DeSantis’ luck was that Republican racists HATED the idea of a black Democrat as governor of Florida, more than anything else. That, and all the resources the Trump team & Rick Scott provided DeSantis.

When you look at approval/disapproval ratings like these across-the-board, you realize that 20% approval is still giving the political victor far too much popular credit. Since half the voters who supported any candidate do so, only because they hate they other candidate/party more, it’s more like 10-12% of the population that is actually represented, whomever wins- Democrat or Republican. That’s why all these campaigns were centered around attack ads, as no one offers serious solutions that anyone can believe in.

On Tuesday (yesterday), there were two counties where recount efforts made the news. Mark Andersen, Bay County Supervisor of Elections, stood by his decision to accept 147 faxed & emailed ballots. This partisan Republican, thinly disguised as a neutral public official, cited the hardship of Hurricane Michael as the reason for changing (defying) Florida law.

I agree with his actions, but listen to Andersen’s rhetoric, and then compare it to his sympathies for any election hardships in Dade, Broward & Palm Beach counties, which are dealt with much differently by cynical Republicans, that’s for sure. The Bay county recount was finished on Tuesday, and according to Mark Andersen (below), “the numbers came back where they should have been.”

A few days earlier, the headlines in the Daytona Beach News Journal read, “Volusia elections chief says recount process going smoothly.” Yesterday must seem so far away for Volusia County Supervisor of Elections, Lisa Lewis who was on the verge of tears Tuesday, as Volusia county ended their recount with a 240-vote discrepancy.

Lisa Lewis stated to the media, “When we were comparing the totals from last night, when we finished that, to the first unofficial results, we noticed in the vote-by-mail and ballots and the early voting ballot counts that they were off. When the jam goes through and we think that it [the ballot] has counted, it truly hasn’t in some of those batches that were jammed.”

Once staff learned the totals were off, they brought in the three machines to process another recount of the Volusia county ballots. This 240-vote discrepancy in such a small-sample size (vote-by-mail & early voting ballot) is alarming, and it obviously shook the belief & confidence of the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections, who was a true believer.

In this video above, published August 21, 2018, Lisa Lewis describes the seriousness with which she takes her job. Lewis informs us that she has a background in banking, and performs her duties as election supervisor with the same professional care. Each vote is like money, she explains, which is sacred. But sacred for whom?

In her banking analogy, Lewis reveals more than she intends. Most people consider banks as institutions that hold their money for them, until it’s needed. A customer makes a deposit, and gets a receipt for it. This receipt of accounts gives the bank customer the power to withdraw their money at any time.

In Florida elections, voters have none of these rights, as they go to the polls and deposit their ballots, which are never to be seen or accessed again by that individual. Lewis declares the secrecy of “protecting the privacy of the voter,” to be a key component in maintaining secure & fair elections. Her analogy more resembles the methods banks use to steal money from their depositors when the market crashes.

Finally, listening to 55+ year-olds reassuring us (the public) of election cybersecurity, is laughable; as if thumbdrives & EVM’s can’t be infected with hidden malware.

Update: Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018 05:38 PM EST

It looks like Florida 2018 will come down to Palm Beach County (again), as it’s vote-counting machinery overheated while tabulating late last night, forcing Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher to recount 175,000 ballots. There are over 600,000 ballots to recount in Palm Beach County, Florida’s 3rd-most populous.

Bucher said today that she had noticed the machines were starting to fail “a couple days ago,” and didn’t all fail at the same time, but rather have intermittent problems. Ghosts in the machines, it seems. Service technicians have been flown in to help. “The machines started to overheat, then malfunctioned,” she said. “We’d let them cool off. Then eventually we just needed parts.”

Bucher already had assured the public she could NOT recount the U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner races, as well as a local state House race, by Thursday’s state-mandated 3 PM deadline. Palm Beach county voting machines can’t tabulate the recounts of all the undecided races at once, like machines in other Florida counties can.

The Palm Beach county deadline to finish the recount was extended to November 20, in a lawsuit the Democrats won a few days back, but it is about to be challenged by Republican attorneys in a higher court. If the votes aren’t completely recounted by 3 PM tomorrow, the original unofficial totals become official, according to Florida law. That would surely tip both the senate & governor’s races to the Republicans.

Did I mention earlier that there would be “statistically fascinating” results in Palm Beach county, due to the voting machines? Bang, right on cue. Looking at the distribution of ES&S vs. Dominion EVM’s in Florida, the pattern of distribution is clearly along partisan lines, with Palm Beach county as the key exception. Evidentially, this county is using antiquated Diebold machines. As reported earlier, Diebold was bought out by Dominion in 2010.

Recall the 2000 election, when butterfly ballots were used to confuse & suppress Democratic voters in Palm Beach county, which allowed Bush/Cheney to steal Florida by 537 votes. That decided the White House for 8 years. The same process is now occurring in Palm Beach county, electronically. The Republicans have supplied the Supervisor of Elections with malfunctioning equipment, which can’t possible do its job correctly in time.

In the end, the responsibility for this comes down to Florida governor Rick Scott, who was in Washington, DC today, for a photo-op with the freshman GOP senatorial class, of which he isn’t yet part of, but it sends a message, right?

Rick Scott has pointed fingers all around the state in the past week, but as governor in this time, he has done nothing to help these local officials do their jobs. The media scrutiny of many of these Supervisors of Elections is unfair, as most are just trying to get their results turned in, as quickly & correctly as possible. When asked today by a Washington reporter if he still believed voter fraud was going on with the Florida recount, Rick Scott remained silent.

Evening Thoughts: Wednesday 14 Nov 2018 09:48 PM EST

Rick Scott is in Washington, and the earlier photo-op was just a sideshow. He’s surely meeting with the Trump team, including Roger Stone, Stephen Bannon, & their ilk– as this is about 2020. If this Florida recount goes through, the results are going to match the polling, meaning Democrats Bill Nelson & Andrew Gillum will win. The Democrats seem confident in this, and the Republicans are acting very nervous. Bill Nelson is a hardline CIA Democrat, who won’t give up his seat easily. He has played this recount well (politically speaking), in comparision to Scott, DeSantis & Gillum.

A Leon county judge ruled in favor of the 5-day extension for Palm Beach county to finish its recount. Governor Rick Scott is a lawyer, looking for a federal judge who can intercede of his behalf to stop the extended recount. It’s ironic that as governor Rick Scott has every ability to enforce Florida law, he just hates doing it on himself.

In 2000, it was the US Supreme Court that intervened, by overruling the Florida Supreme Court, stopping the counting of ballots. Those who follow politics may remember that there is now a hard-right 5-4 majority on the US Supreme Court, with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Anything is possible, and evil minds in DC surely are planning a nefarious conspiracy against the people of Florida and their right to have their votes counted.

The overwhelming mood among Floridians, who have been through this before, is disgust. Floridians are sick & tired of being used as pawns on some grand Machiavellian chessboard, every election. For those who don’t live in Florida, you would do well to pay attention, as this affects you too. The only reason this kind of manipulation doesn’t happen in your state, is because it doesn’t matter like Florida in terms of electoral votes in a battleground state. If you live in Ohio or Pennsylvania, then you may have an idea of what this is like, but you are still a distant second & third– in terms of experience in electoral manipulation.

Florida is a complex, ever-changing region & demographic. The environment of this beautiful state is being destroyed at an accelerated rate due to unchecked global warming & corporate pollution. The business environment in central Florida was destroyed by the Economic Crash of 2008, as millions lost their homes, businesses & families. What’s left is infrastructural decay & economic blight, with powerful hurricanes and other natural disasters impacting the state every year, and no solutions in sight.

To illustrate the accelerated rate of decay in central Florida, let’s examine two maps of MLB Spring Training locations over the decades. The first is from the 1980’s, as the Boston Red Sox were still in Winter Haven. This map has an excellent view of I-4, which runs from I-75 in Tampa to I-95 in Daytona, (so it really isn’t an interstate). I-4 runs through Orlando, which means Disney & tourism. I-4 is a congested nightmare, and is hated by commuters in central Florida, who blame regional & state planners for their lack of vision & problem-solving initiative.

The “I-4 corridor” is analyzed to death by political pundits as being the key to elections in Florida. They are correct in that, as this gauntlet of urbanization across central Florida contains every racial demographic, but is largely working class & poor. The average yearly income for a Floridian is $31,740. A bachelors degree in the Sunshine State earns $43,969 on average, and a graduate degree $59,058. If that seems low, that’s because it is. Both parties are trying to connect with, and win votes from, a demographic that it neither recognizes, nor understands.

The next Grapefruit League map is dated between 2004-07. The Nationals (not Expos) are in Viera, and the Devil Rays changed their mascot name to the Rays in 2008. By this map, the Reds had already left for Sarasota, replacing the White Sox who migrated to Arizona. The Reds abandoned field in Plant City is now sometimes used as a softball complex. Since the Crash of 2008, the Royals have gone to Arizona, and the Indians too. The Astros have moved southeast to share a facility with the Nationals, who also drifted south.

In our MLB Grapefruit images above, the franchises located in the I-4 corridor were: the Reds in Plant City, the Tigers in Lakeland, the Red Sox/Indians in Winter Haven, the Royals in Baseball (Haines) City, the Braves in Buena Vista (Disney), the Astros in Kissimmee, and the Twins in Orlando. After 2019 Spring Training next March, another franchise will be abandoning central Florida, as the Braves are leaving their beautiful facility at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, to join the rest on the coast.

There’s more money to be made elsewhere, and that’s where the MLB franchises have gone, as every spring training team in the I-4 corridor (save the Tigers) has either: 1) moved to the east or west coast of Florida, or 2) relocated to Arizona. That roughly mimics the condition of those who live here, who have been left behind to fend for themselves, as no one in leadership is investing in jobs programs, infrastructure improvements, or environmental clean-up. Therefore, things continue to get worse.

Update: Thursday 15 Nov 2018 11:27 AM EST

More lawsuits & court rulings over disputed ballots & signature mismatches in the news, but nothing worth reporting here, as it’s a waiting game until 3 PM this afternoon. That’s when 66 of Florida’s 67 counties must deliver their recount, otherwise that county’s original numbers stand as official. Hats off to all those election workers who do their jobs honesty & well.

Every county’s recount will be a story in itself, whether it’s a significant shift in totals, or no change at all. Obviously it’s the largest counties that people will focus on the most, as that’s where the largest shifts in raw numbers can & will occur. The questions in each contested race are: How much, and for whom?

Here are Florida’s five largest counties by population:

Rank                 Population
1 Miami-Dade   2,751,796
2 Broward         1,935,878
3 Palm Beach   1,471,150
4 Hillsborough   1,408,566
5 Orange           1,348,975

The top-3 make up South Florida, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale corridor. BTW, shitty traffic there too. Hillsborough is Tampa, and Orange county is Orlando. Half of the rest of the top-15 most-populous Florida counties, are those that surround the top-5, including: Pinellas, Duval, Seminole, Brevard & Volusia county. Expect most-to-all of those counties to post significant recount gains for Democrat candidates. These counties are where the recount will be decided in the three statewide races.

There are 13 Florida counties with a population under 20,000, and another 18 with under 100,000, which sums 31, nearly half of Florida’s county total of 67. Note that this is population, not registered voters, but the point is the recounts here won’t matter significantly, because there are so few voters in these regions. At least three-quarters vote Republican, but they are very spread out, and much fewer in numbers. Their weight always gets over-emphasized on insipid red-blue electoral maps of Florida.

* Remember, Palm Beach county has until November 20 to finish its recount. If the vote totals still favor Scott & DeSantis after today’s recounts are re-tabulated statewide, then the Palm Beach election headquarters becomes the epicenter of US politics. Fascists always try to lie their way past a problem first. When that fails, they escalate to threats & intimidation. After that, they either: 1) give up & go back to lying, or 2) resort to provocative violence & goon squads. I don’t expect Trump or Scott to exercise restraint or civility, if it comes to that. The people of Florida need to be watchful & prepared!

When it comes to reporting this Florida election and recount, no one has been more on-the-ground than me. On August 24, 2018 I published “Florida’s 2018 Primaries,” which was the first analysis of the importance of the Florida governor’s race on Donald Trump’s chances in 2020, among many other factors.

Other analysis & front-line reporting has followed as events have progressed, including “Florida Gubernatorial Race & Trump 2020” and “Election Signals,” in which this entire mess was predicted, and it’s mechanism & primary participants revealed.

If you have been reading me up through this serial, then you are more up-to-date on what’s actually going on here, than anyone. Do you really believe the New York Times, Washington Post, or USA Today actually know anything about Florida? RealClearPolitics has been trying to demote the Florida recount on it’s hot-spot newsfeed, but it’s back up to #2– with a bullet. They’ve been reading me, just to catch up.

I’ve been reading the Miami Herald, Tampa Times, Daytona Beach News Journal & Palm Beach Post to get the facts, then I publish my thoughts. What I’ve noticed, is that it gets noticed. The local news is much more honest in it’s reporting, when they see & feel the presence of watchdogs, who are ready to call out the fakers. I recommend trying it.

Palm Beach County’s Election is Stolen by the Republican Machinery in Florida
Thu 15 Nov 2018 09:36 PM EST

Palm Beach Election Supervisor Susan Bucher, told the media this afternoon, “As a supervisor I take full responsibility. That’s my job. It was not for lack of human effort … it was so incredible, and I thank everybody who participated… it was the machines that failed. We gave a heroic effort and given probably three or four more hours we might have made it,”  she told a press conference.

Over 600,000 ballots remain uncounted, and it’s questionable whether they ever will be. In Palm Beach county, it’s now down to about 6,000 provisional ballots (1% of the total) for a hand recount, and military balloting. All votes must be in by Sunday, noon. Rules are rules, you understand?

The Palm Beach county recount has been halted (deja vu), before any of the races could be decided– and there were a total of four, including the three statewide contests. Police officers are seated in folding chairs, behind fold-up tables at Palm Beach election headquarters, where all the machines & bins of ballots are located. Four undecided races in the 3rd-most populous Florida county, over 600,000 ballots whose count is questionable (to say the least), and nothing is going on. It’s surreal.

The original (rigged) totals will be the official Palm Beach count, and there you have it. Faulty machinery, rigged vote tabulators and strictly enforced artificial deadlines are what wins “elections” in Florida. It’s the Republican way, and the Democrats don’t seem to mind. The local media has stopped digging, and has returned to mouthing the official narrative to the public. I smell a rat, meaning a bipartisan backroom deal.

Question: who owns the votes?  What happened to the 5-day extension for Palm Beach county, granted by the Leon county judge, you ask?  The Tampa Times reported this afternoon that a federal judge denied a request from Nelson’s campaign to have the Palm Beach county recount deadline extended.

There’s been virtually no media on this critical decision in the Florida recount process, as a federal judge has interceded on behalf of the Republicans, to halt the counting of Palm Beach county ballots. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, cited a bunch of nonsense in his statement to the press. He’s a sample, there’s more in the link above:

“There is a complete dearth of evidence before this Court concerning the status, progress, or expected completion of the ordered recounts in Palm Beach County,” he wrote. “In considering whether to grant the extraordinary relief of a preliminary injunction, the Court is required to balance the equities. … This balancing is effectively impossible without an understanding of the state and limitations of the current ongoing process…”

Judge Mark Walker’s argument of “dearth of “evidence,” is false. Myself and plenty of others have provided plenty of evidence & context. In other words, cluelessness on judge Walker’s part, gives him the authority to overrule the judge who carefully listened to both sides & all the evidence, when he ruled for the 5-day extension. It’s public record, what’s been going on with the faulty machines in Palm Beach county.

The Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections stated (above), that she only needed a few more hours to complete the recount, and yet federal judge Mark Walker today ruled he saw no evidence the recount could be completed! Walker is clearly the fixed federal judge I mentioned the Republicans were searching for yesterday. It makes you wonder, how Bill Nelson and his lawyers could lose this one?

Palm Beach has set aside $11 million to buy new equipment, but Bucher said the county hasn’t yet purchased the machines because the state still needs to resolve a question about voting system compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The current Palm Beach county budget is a little over $13 million, to be ADA compliant by 2020. The $11 million upgrades Palm Beach county was offered by Rick Scott’s governor’s office for 2018, were not ADA compliant.

Bill Nelson has vowed to fight for an extension in the hand recount. Notice how he’s willing to fight for the <1%, while abandoning the 99+% of the Palm Beach county voters, who were disenfranchised by a technicality. Whatever deal Nelson & the Trump team worked out in secret, and executed with federal judge Mark Walker, is now being manipulated in the Florida recount numbers, which the public has been kept from seeing. That is the only rational reason for both parties & the media being mum on the recount returns.

Online, “Florida Recounts” is back to the top of the RealClearPolitics newsfeed, as of this update. Gosh, I’ve been right with so many predictions, I’ve lost count. That happens in Florida.

Update: Friday 16 Nov 2018 07:20 AM EST

These midterm campaigns went down as the most expensive elections in U.S. history, with over $5.25 billion spent on advertising, up 78% from the last midterm elections in 2014, according to a Kantar Media analysis released on Thursday. Spending was 20% higher than the 2016 presidential election, which is unprecedented.

And what did it yield? As we can see from Florida, it’s been all about manipulation & power politics. There is very little to add to the discussion at this juncture. It’s been over 17 hours since the recount totals were delivered, and the people of Florida still know next-to-nothing as to their results, or what’s going on. On election night, when the polls close, returns are immediately reported by the media as they come in. As for this recount, it’s a veil of secrecy. It contents are held & shaped by the masters-of-puppets, and then deliberately dripped into the media for effect.

The only rational explanation for this behavior, is more behind-the-scenes vote rigging, this time with both parties involved. If I’m correct in my analysis, then Bill Nelson could possibly defeat Rick Scott for Senate, but Andrew Gillum will certainly come up short in the “recount” for governor. Cowardly Democrat Andrew Gillum has already polished his latest concession speech.

The Trump team is going to get what they want, as Republicans always do when it counts, in the corrupt two-party straitjacket. In the end, this is another victory for fascism, and another hard lesson for those who believe in democracy & the Democrats. When will people learn?

On election night November 6th, when the rigged returns began pouring in for Florida, it sent a signal across the nation. Whatever expectations for a “blue wave” were quickly dashed. That was the point, from a ruling class perspective. As stated before, Democrats would rather lose critical races (such as Florida’s governorship), than energize it’s left-leaning constituency to secure victory. It’s called “bipartisan compromise,” which it has nothing to do with defending the rights of Americans to vote, and have it count.

Friday 16 Nov 2018 11:16 AM EST

This Florida election & recount is a tough story to break, because there’s so much secrecy at the highest levels. To summarize, this is all about Trump 2020, and notice the Democrats are caving in, with possibly a secret deal to keep Bill Nelson in the Senate, at the expense of Andrew Gillum. The votes of Floridians are likely being “fixed” to reflect that political compromise, as this has been published.

I’ve made more than a few (mostly minor) mistakes, shooting around in the dark, but I’ve also scored numerous direct & indirect hits. This is why I’m being crushed by Google, Fakebook, and all the rest during this recount process. Or is it a coincidence, that new censorship tactics began a few days after the election, as the Florida recount became a serious story? That’s part of the deal being a Trotskyist dialectician, with all the blacklisting & misinformation online.

The Florida felon voter amendment that passed on Election Night, has been hailed as a progressive victory. That would be true, if Andrew Gillum became governor, which he didn’t, as Ron DeSantis has been declared the winner by machine recount.  Amendments are implemented by the governor, and since new governor Ron DeSantis will have no interest in allowing released felons to vote, this amendment will get bottled up in legislation somewhere, and die when no one is looking.

Conversely, the Florida amendment that now prohibits new casinos without voter approval, will be implemented no matter who is governor, since Disney funded the “Yes” campaign. Disney views casinos as an existential threat to their family-oriented theme parks, so there was major political ad spending, with murky casino moguls funding the “No” campaign.

And since the state of Florida has consistently proven that it doesn’t count all the votes on election day anyways, what does it matter?  It has just been reported in the Miami Herald, that Broward County finished it’s recount, but didn’t submit it’s total in time, so it doesn’t count. Hillsborough county (Tampa) didn’t make the deadline either, as the supervisor didn’t know why staffers came up with an 846-vote deficit. This is a lesson in how elections & laws are bought & enforced in Florida.

Noon Update: 16 Nov 2018 12:01 PM EST

The governor’s race recount numbers are finally up at on the Florida Division of Elections website:

DeSantis / Nuñez REP   4,075,445     49.59%
Gillum / King DEM          4,041,762     49.18%

And for US senate:

Rick Scott REP         4,097,689       50.07%
Bill Nelson DEM        4,085,086       49.92%

For the record, it took far too long (with no explanation), for these results to be made public. For many Floridians, they have no validity. Broward missed the recount deadline by two minutes, allegedly due to the Supervisor of Elections’ unfamiliarity with the upload website. As we can see, US election politics kills democracy.

The machine “recount” for US Senate yielded a few more votes for Rick Scott, who will hang on and steal it. Whatever capitulations Bill Nelson and the Democrats made, it appears it wasn’t enough to secure his Senate seat.

Wouldn’t you love to be the recipient of such generosity, as the Republicans get every election from the Democrats? Nelson has been a top Dixie Democrat on the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, so I’m sure he’ll find a soft landing in the public sector. They can always use a man like him. As for you & me, not so much.

Afternoon update: Friday 16 Nov 2018 02:20 PM EST

Everyone has their statements ready, and here we go. Rick Scott to the press, “Florida voters elected me as their next U.S. Senator and now the ballots have been counted twice. We need to put this election behind us, and it is time for Bill Nelson to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes – which will yield the same result, and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served.”

Provisional & military ballots have yet to be totaled, and again Rick Scott demands a concession before all the votes are counted. It’s also highly-questionable whether Broward, Palm Beach & Hillsborough county were counted correctly. Those three urban counties who lean heavily Democrat weren’t recounted, despite all the heroic efforts of election workers. According to high officials, those three densely-populated counties had to submit their original election night numbers as official on Thursday at 3:00 PM, for various red-tape reasons.

Whatever the number of provisional & military ballots, it’s not going to be enough to shift the ~12,600 vote lead that Rick Scott has maintained (actually widened) over Bill Nelson. The machine recount was Nelson’s only realistic hope, but the Republicans sabotaged it & covered their tracks. When the Democratic counties didn’t finish in time, that cut the number of outstanding ballots to <200,000, with a likely near-50/50 split in voting.

I’m recalling these following numbers from local news broadcast, a few days back. Last election there were ~116,000 military ballots requested for soldiers with a Florida residence. About 80,000 were mailed back. About 2,500 were rejected, mostly because they were postmarked too late. Approximately those same numbers were expected this time. There’s the ~5,000 signature match ballots that are being disputed. That’s not a large enough sample size to overcome Scott’s lead, and there can be no presumption that Florida voters vastly prefer such an unpopular senator as Bill Nelson.

Floridians who have been here before will tell you that “overvote” & “undervote” totals don’t go very far in either direction, as it’s highly subjective & contentious, and therefore tends to be conservative. There are ~93,000 votes that are being hand reviewed county courthouses statewide, and the deadline is noon Sunday. Everyone wants this over by now, and the skids have been greased. Election officials will work very hard at making the most accurate determination in this tiny sample of Florida’s stolen election. And then Rick Scott will be declared the winner.

Andrew Gillum backers & racialists would do well to notice who has been filing all the lawsuits for the Democrats during this recount period. It’s been Bill Nelson’s team. That allowed the Democrats to take control in Washington, instead of losing control in Florida. Andrew Gillum has mostly kept silent on voter manipulation, and obeyed on command when asked to by higher interests. For all his sacrifices to the party, Gillum still gets to be mayor of Tallahassee. It’s not the governor’s mansion, but it’s close enough for him.

Evening Update: Friday 16 Nov 2018  07:17 PM EST

The 93,000 Florida provisional ballots are almost all in the most-populated counties, which lean heavily Democrat. We’ve seen how the machine recount went in these counties. Expect more of that with the hand recount. If there was a way each ballot could be individually identified, then voters could be contacted, and the “overvote-undervote” issue could easily be resolved.

There’s surely enough uncounted votes to swing the Senate race, and probably enough to flip the governor race too. But it’s hard to prove “voter intent” on an anonymous ballot, and the Republicans have lawyers who are experts at raising doubt & running out the clock. Noon Sunday (not one second later), and all the votes are totaled & official.

Election results are certified on Tuesday, November 20, and the 2018 election will go into the books. The wrap-up: Republicans stole this, because they HAD to have it. The Democrats complied, because 1) they are cowards, and 2) they are traitors to the working class. The media did it’s job, so everyone can move on. Most Floridians look at this whole process with deep mistrust, and hardly care.

It time for me to call the Senate race for Rick Scott, and end this serial. I’ve tried to provide a Floridian’s perspective on who, how, where, when & why this election was stolen. I have no elite access, so I can only take it so far with online research & theory. The real ballot totals, and what’s up with the EVM’s are beyond my reach. This is where insiders need to look to discover elusive answers as to why Florida can’t count its votes. The travel logs of the principle players (and their associates) may also provide some clues as to who knew what, and when.

Here’s irony. Just the other day, another communications satellite was launched into space by NASA at Cape Canaveral. We have some of the most brilliant minds in the world, working here in the Sunshine State, yet counting votes accurately & openly remains elusive to our election process. Actually it’s not ironic at all. It’s all part of the capitalist political process, which is nothing but corruption. Politics & elections in Florida are a joke, because Washington & Wall Street are a joke. So are Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue, and all the networks. The Pentagon, CIA, FBI and all the rest are beyond a sick joke.

Living in Florida reflects & magnifies all this, and it is ironic. It’s like rain on a hurricane landfall day. It’s like going crazy, when you’re already nuts. It’s like having to summon the will to care, but don’t. It’s like getting back into Windows with AOL. It’s like losing at Lotto. It’s like a homeless Trump supporter, who Nazi salutes because he fights “commies.” It’s like when the music is over, but no one turns out the lights. It’s like that obnoxiously opinionated cabbie, who never shuts up & irritates everyone to no end, but makes us all sane again through reason & laughter.

Wrap-up Thoughts: Sat 17 Nov 2018 11:28 AM EST

I stopped by the Sanford Courthouse this morning after 9:00 AM, to satisfy my curiosity. The front door was locked, with a sign saying “Security guard on patrol.” I looked into the glass, spotted the security guard at his desk, and waved to him. He’s an old man, so I took a seat on nearby a bench. After 30 seconds or so, he cracks the door open, and I walk up and ask, “Are election officials still going over any ballots?”

He’s confused, and tries to direct me to the public library, which is where early voting took place, but no ballot counting. I explain to him, this courthouse is the Seminole county seat, where ballots can be contested and local elections are certified, so I ask him again, “Is there anything going on inside?” He says the building is empty, and looking around at the parking lots, anyone can see he’s telling the truth. I then asked him if there was ballot-counting activity in the building yesterday, which was Friday. He said, “No.”

The lots were packed full on Thursday afternoon, when I walked by. There were three-piece suits on cell phones all over the place, buttoning-up & screwing on their game faces. I called it out as a “shitshow” to several of them as I passed by. There was no use in trying to get into the Courthouse then, or ask too many questions, as the next door police station parking lots were full too.

So the Democrats rolled over, in the clover. Today, central Floridians care more about UCF (22-game unbeaten streak on the line, baby!) on ESPN Gameday this morning, than rigged elections for phony representatives. After the rolling weekend party ends with Monday Night Football, high officials will convene in Tallahassee on Tuesday at noon, to certify this election as legitimate.

Sanford, the place I live, has a long history as one of Florida’s oldest towns. After the Seminole, Creek & Cherokee Indians were wiped out, and moved onto a reservation in Oklahoma, in what is known in history as “The Trail of Tears,” Sanford was eventually founded on the southern shore of Lake Monroe, at the head of navigation on the St. Johns River. Sanford was incorporated in 1877, one year after the Reconstruction was ended, in another political compromise that has had lasting ramifications, as Jim Crow segregation was established in the South.

The St. John’s River is called “The Nile of the West,” because it flows north, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville. The powerful underground aquifers and artesian springs provide plenty of water for citrus & produce, which were the primary industries of early Sanford. By 1886, Sanford was the hub of Florida’s only railroad line, which connected Jacksonville to Sanford/Orlando, all the way to Tampa & Miami.

Notice how this 19th-century transportation route, mimics today’s population & voting corridors in Florida. After World War II when muck farming came into advent, and growers moved to south Florida, Sanford declining economically, while sprawling, like much of Florida.

In Sanford’s early history, steamboats were used to bring goods up & down the St, John’s River. Poor African Americans, Jamaicans, Swedish immigrants and other ethnicities were brought in to outfit & captain the transport boats which moved goods to port. These workers were called “boat keys,” because the ran the boats which were the key to the supply chain. Boat keys is awkward to say, so it was slanged to bo’key or bokey, and it eventually applied to anyone who was working hard in Sanford. That local pride which runs up to today, also means living & playing hard in Sanford. That means this bokey is signing off on this story.

Over & Out

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The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

Every man contains within himself the whole condition of humanity. — Zarah Valeska, from The Other Side of the Wind

This is the legendary unfinished film by Orson Welles that everyone has been waiting their lifetime for. Financial limitations, international politics, and ultimately legal battles kept Orson Welles from being able to finish his final masterpiece. That is what The Other Side of the Wind is.

What is happening now in film history is a rare delight, as the stories & myths behind this project have intrigued & tantalized film buffs for decades. Now the world gets to see the result, with everyone’s critical opinion coming in simultaneously, on a film whose creator is an acknowledged master, but has been dead for over 30 years. Every review and critique you read will be new, as basically no one has seen this film before now, except it’s creators and a few privileged others. Therefore, a correct interpretation of Orson Welles’ final cinematic effort is in order.

The Other Side of the Wind is most comparable to F for Fake (1973), an underrated & innovative masterpiece in itself. Orson Welles fans have differing opinions on what his best film was. The dogma of course is Citizen Kane (1941), as “the greatest movie ever.” Many Welles fans (including himself), insist Citizen Kane isn’t his best film. Some tout The Lady from Shanghai (1947), or one of his sublime Shakespeare adaptations, while others hold up Touch of Evil (1958).

None of them are wrong, as it really comes down to taste. For me, F for Fake is Orson Welles at his funniest and most incisive, with an amazing & true story to share. Welles examines Elmyr de Hory, the greatest art forger of the 20th century, as a platform to brilliantly expose corruption & hypocrisy in the world of art criticism & expertise authentication. There’s big money involved, and that’s the subject of first hour of this film, done in documentary style. The rest of the half-hour-or-so, is a surrealist fantasy featuring Oja Kodar, who is stunningly beautiful, playing with Picasso.

Oja Kodar was also Welles’ lover, although he was still married & never divorced. In F for Fake, Kodar is a creative partner, bringing an eroticism that had never existed in previous Orson Welles films. Oja Kodar is presented in mesmerizing style by Welles, in the credits at the beginning, and then featured at the end, through the lens of innovative cameraman Gary Graver. Kodar & Graver would be key collaborators on The Other Side of the Wind, which was being shot simultaneously with F for Fake, although it’s footage remained unreleased for decades, which denied Oja Kodar & Gary Graver the stardom & accolades they so richly deserved.

The star of The Other Side of the Wind is John Huston as Jake Hannaford, who is really playing the life of Orson Welles. Welles wrote the screenplay for the “documentary part,” while the “movie-within-a-movie” screenplay is credited to Oja Kodar, who is displayed in various forms of nudity, with intricate camera work by Gary Graver.

One can see that Welles had been influenced by French New Wave cinema, and also Andy Warhol in his use of lighting & cinematic style in these shots of Kodar. It’s a fine line between art & pornography, and The Other Side of the Wind goes right up to it, but doesn’t cross it. This is another Wellesian touch, and there are many in this film, which can now rightfully be called a classic.

A necessary introduction to this seemingly difficult film is They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (2018). It’s directed by Morgan Neville, who fills in many of the blanks surrounding the controversy over this long-unfinished film, which has finally been released. It offers a fair & balanced portrait of Orson Welles and the conditions he faced in trying to get this movie finished.

In short, Welles was devastated that he couldn’t finish this film, as the footage was confiscated by French authorities, and locked inside a vault in Paris for years, until a legal settlement could be reached long after his death in 1985. Welles said it himself in a 1982 interview, that it was impossible for him to make a film, as no one would fund it. At that point it was the blockbuster era, and Orson Welles’ was then labeled passe’ by the latest version of Hollywood.

The casting in The Other Side of the Wind is brilliant, with the dialogue & editing razor sharp. Peter Bogdanovich steals every scene he’s in, even the ones he wasn’t in originally, as he replaced Rich Little who infamously walked-off Orson Welles’ set. The creative shooting & precise editing to squeeze Bogdanovich into crucial scenes (which had already been shot and couldn’t be redone), is masterfully accomplished by Graver & Welles.

Peter Bogdanovich by this time was a famous Hollywood director, with What’s Up Doc? (1972). Here we see his brilliance as an actor and creative force in The Other Side of the Wind. It was Peter Bogdanovich, along with Gary Graver & Oja Kodar who ultimately got this film finished. Film fans who value art, wholeheartedly appreciate the sacrifices of all those who selflessly labored for decades in getting this project done.

The Other Side of the Wind is now available for streaming on Netflix, along with the above-mentioned documentary. There are many quotable lines, but I only spoiled one, which is the introduction to this piece.  In a sentence capsule review, the film’s themes are the betrayal of confidants & collaborators, mixed into the cynical world of wanna-be’s & insipid critics full of hate; all wrapped around the artistic beauty of Oja Kodar.

John Huston has a wonderful final line, then the credits roll for approximately four-and-a half minutes, until the underscore fades and the screen goes black with a few seconds remaining. At that point, Orson Welles in a fatigued voice, seemingly from the other side of the wind murmurs, “Cut,” and it’s finally over.

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