Charon’s Obol

"We're already late." She drummed her fingers impatiently on the sides of the steering wheel. "We're not late. The reservation's at eight," I said, thumbing through two thousand or so in twenties and fifties without looking up. I secured them with a rubber band and put the roll of cash in a freezer bag along with one of my old watches swaddled in bubble wrap and a cheap burner phone with an expensive prepaid international calling card. She looked over. I pointed up through the windshield: "The

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17 thoughts on “Charon’s Obol

  1. This is a fantastic “deep dive” into the complexities of and intended and/or unintended consequences of voter registration laws in the US.
    Congress should be updating the laws to respond to these current problems/short comings with voter registration – but I am not holding my breath. I can’t believe that electronic voting- on one’s cell phone, as occurs in Switzerland- wouldn’t be a better method for voting that would make it easier for everyone who is eligible and wants to vote, to actually vote.
    H- I’ve mentioned this before, but if you ever do your own version of “Kitchen Confidential”, I want a personally signed copy! 🙂

  2. Firstly, I want to clarify that I fully support minority voter rights. However, from a technical perspective, I’m curious about how voter ID laws can exist without negatively impacting minority voting, based on your article. Do you believe that voter ID laws should be implemented?

    1. They have been implemented. To disastrous effect, in case that’s somehow not clear from the article. There’s a reason why so many people were upset with Shelby. Everyone with even a passing familiarity knew exactly what was going to happen once states with a track record of suppressing the minority vote were no longer subject to preclearance: They’d immediately revert to Jim Crow. And that’s exactly what they did.

      Where’s the evidence to support the contention that we need these strict voter ID laws? Nowhere. There’s no such evidence.

      It’s amazing to me that so many people are duped by this logic: “There’s widespread voter fraud.” “Prove it.” “No, you prove there’s not.”

      Let me try that on you (not you “TheRealBill,” just “you” in the general sense of the word: “You robbed a bank.” “Prove it.” “No, you prove you didn’t.”

      By contrast, there’s copious evidence to support the contention that these laws disenfranchise thousands, tens of thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of minority voters.

      Do note: This article barely scratches the surface. If you read the books I mentioned, you’ll come away completely aghast.

      Finally, go back and read that statistic again about African Americans, felonies and the south. 20% of would-be African American voters in the south can’t vote due to felony charges. You reckon that’s because African Americans in the south are uniquely prone to crime, or you reckon maybe it has something to do with the south’s history vis-à-vis African Americans and how that history likely impacts policing and sentencing in the south?

  3. 97% of adults in the US have a cell phone according to the Pew Research Center. 78% of adults use their cell phones for banking. If we as a nation can trust online banking, then we as a democracy should be making voting as easy as possible by adapting a system of voting by cell phone. I would also like to see much more involvement in the democratic process by putting more issues up to a public vote. I would also like to see more transparency as to how my elected representative votes on the issues I don’t have the right to vote on. I don’t mean “that information is available if you know where to look” – I mean that information is on my cell phone and is as easy to find as my bank balance. The idea that governance is too complicated for the rank and file to follow and so we need a Fuhrer to do it for us should not be this popular.

  4. Curious that voter fraud these days revolves around individuals. I see no mention of historical vote manipulation——‘late results’ from Rio Grande for JFK and Richard Daley (the elder) Chicago games. I also recall the story I heard —-back when Stevenson was running and my district was very Jewish, Democratic and Liberal. Jacob Javits apparently won the first time in that district because of a split in the local Democratic Party where the ‘bosses’ arranged to have the local police rig the votes in the mechanical voting machines. They figured there would be no way for the Javits Republican to keep the district and two years later they would recover the seat for ‘their’ guy. Didn’t work out Javits was unbeatable and he went on to be a senator for a long time. The district remained solidly a democrat otherwise.

    The problem with election manipulation is an old one and, I would say, systemic. The difference then was that there was an understanding and a level of civility between winners and losers of these games and individual voters were not demonized.

    1. David, generally speaking you’re talking about something completely different. Small-scale shenanigans. Republicans are alleging massive voter fraud on a nationwide scale. And there’s simply no truth to it. There’s no “systemic” voter fraud. That’s not a real thing outside of local elections for — I don’t know — sheriff or something.

      Again, I’m astounded at how many Americans buy into this idea that no evidence is required to prove an allegation of this magnitude. We’ve lost any and all respect for the truth. It just doesn’t matter anymore. People can say and allege whatever they want, and increasingly, anyone who asks for evidence is castigated as the irrational one in the debate.

      Like Mike Johnson asserting, from the steps of the Capitol where a riot based on an election lie took place, that everyone knows “intuitively” that noncitizens vote in federal elections in huge numbers.

      Besides being an outright, bald-faced lie, that’s the furthest thing from intuitive. Do these people — or any of you — actually know any illegal immigrants? I do. Well, let me rephrase: I used to. And I can tell you, definitively, that the very last thing they’re inclined to do is walk up and wittingly commit a crime in broad daylight, in full view of a bunch of people.

      My goodness folks — it’s one thing to say “I don’t need any evidence.” It’s another thing to say “Not only do I not need any evidence, I’ll believe it even if it flies in the face of common sense.”

  5. People do not understand by believing in voter fraud or rigged judicial systems they are willing pawns in a much bigger game. A game that has pre-ordained losers and that is the USA. This is a propaganda ploy by those that have made themselves our geopolitical enemies. It is a very cynical game. It is cheap, low risk and surprisingly effective.

    Maintaining mental health in the foxhole is an important skill. Today with a nuclear weapon pointed over our head or focus on ripping off our money. It is all the same as the man in the foxhole. It is necessary to maintain ones own mental health or the line will be breached and our money will be stolen.

    I applaud these efforts. Sanity can only be won one foxhole at a time.

  6. Beside which, how useful is all that?

    I mean, the GOP is pretty popular with Hispanics and is making inroads with African Americans, iirc. Most human beings are naturally small c conservative.

    Being progressive or even just liberal requires reasoning and rational thinking. Small c conservatism is simply a preference for the status quo and for your tribe’s way of life. It requires nothing from you.

    In a slightly populist form, with a slightly toned down racism, the GOP is/would be unbeatable.

  7. Two late observations.

    On the exceedingly rare occasions I read or hear about legitimate voter fraud, it is EITHER the mistake of a single voter — usually someone trying to vote Democrat, but either at the wrong polling station or prevented due to a felony conviction, OR, if larger, more organized and intentional in scope, it invariably seems tied to Repiublican voters, most likely living in that senior swamp known as “The Villages,” where Mar-A-Lardo is King for Life. A close second on the latter score would be Republicans in official voting-related positions committing intentional fraud.

    And second, what’s the longest anyone reading this blog has had to wait (or travel) to vote on election day, when voting in person? I think for me it would be about a half hour, standing inside, and I nearly lost my shit, compared to the usual 10 minutes or less. It galls me watching the news on election day featuring stories of people waiting outside in the rain or cold or dark for many HOURS in long lines to vote. I try to suppress my anger long enough to quickly try to spot white faces in these crowded lines and rarely see any.

    The voter fraud is being committed against minority voters not by them. It used to be that minorities got fat off welfare and food stamps as they feasted on crab legs and strip steak, or at least that’s how the narrative went. Now they are committing voter fraud en masse, and, if immigrating, are being handed new cars, airfare, homes, toys, iPads, and presumably fraudulent voting instructions, as soon as they cross the border.

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