Interesting Items 06/20

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  AK Primary
2.  AI
3.  SpaceX
4.  GA Senate
5.  Jan 6
6.  Bacon

1.  AK Primary.  We held our first primary under Alaska’s new election system a couple weeks ago.  Ballots are still being counted.  This version was a snap election to fill the remaining term of Representative Don Young who passed away in March.  Due to time constraints, the state made the decision to do this round via a pure mail-in election.  As of Friday, just over 147,000 of 587,000 ballots sent out have been counted.  This is a 25% turnout.  Reject rate for the ballots is 3.56%, mostly due to lack of witness signatures on the ballots.

  • As of this writing, the 4 candidates making the runoff are Sarah Palin, 28%, Nick Begich, 19%, Al Gross, 13% and Mary Petola, 9%.  Party breakdown initially is 47% Republican, 22% democrat / indy.  Gross is a self-described indy who promises to caucus with democrats and is raising all his money from democrats. 
  • The general election for the unexpired portion of Young’s term will be decided on Aug 16, where the ranked choice sort will kick in.  This also coincides with the state primary, where over 30 candidates, including many of the 48 who ran in this election, are vying for a full term in office.  Whomever wins the unexpired term will likely also be a candidate for the next term. 
  • Palin making it into the ranked choice runoff is not a big surprise, as she has two advantages, money and name recognition.  Most if not all of her money came from out of state, and she will be rolling in cash.  Begich comes from the conservative branch of the Begich family.  Former ANC Mayor and US Senator Mark Begich (democrat) is his uncle.  Begich has the best campaign organization and the support of conservatives statewide.  Al Gross is a typical democrat, attempting to run as an indy.  He lost a US Senate race to incumbent Dan Sullivan in one of the uglier, more bruising statewide races in recent memory.  Mary Petola is running as a democrat.  She came out of nowhere, a native lady from SE AK
  • As I said earlier, this election wat the initial test drive of our new election system, sold as a way to eliminate outside, dark money from our campaigns.  Yet two of the candidates who made the runoff, Palin and Gross are both recipients of large amounts of so-called dark money.  Instead, the new system was installed to help ensure embattled Lisa Murkowski would be reelected in November, something it may fail to do.  It was also designed to keep insurgent candidates like Palin out of office, something it may also fail to do.  Finally, the new system is complex and wonderful, operating in a realm that its supporters don’t truly understand.  The reject rate for ballots was pretty high at 3.56%, primarily in precincts that supported passage of the ballot initiative the most.  Always nice when the political left comes up with something that disenfranchises their own people.  Vote on the new election system was pretty close, 50.55% for to 49.45% against.  Any future legislature can repeal it at a simple majority vote providing they have the right governor in office to sign off on it. 
  • While popular among conservatives on the national level, Palin is not so much up here, having managed to grow the size of state government while warring against the oil industry.  Worse, she backed Bill Walker, another Republican running as an indy for governor, mostly because he also hated the oil industry.  Walker won that election and ended up being one of the worst governors in state history, populating his administration with democrats.  Worse, he also went after the Permanent Fund Dividend, turning it into a political football.  Begich is the best candidate by far, a businessman entering the political world.  I have written him a check.  Finally, Petola is Alaska Native, and will eventually pull in support from both the Bush and Native Corporations.  She will be able to tap into democrat money, most of which will be spent on name recognition.  Nobody that I have come across so far has a negative word to say about her.  Still, there are reasons people run as democrats, and we should remember them, regardless how nice the candidate may seem.
  • One last coda to the election was a last-minute lawsuit by local activists demanding that the state not certify the congressional election until blind voters were able to vote.  The lawsuit was filed 3 days before the end of the election.  Alaska division of elections goes to great lengths to ensure all disabilities are addressed.  They had received no unresolved complaints from blind voters prior to the lawsuit.  The presiding judge ruled in their favor, directing the State not to certify the results until the non-existent problem was addressed.  The case was quickly appealed to the AK Supremes who quickly overturned the lower court.  From here, it appears that the lawsuit was a despicable leftist attempt to garbage up an election already on the fast track.  While the presiding judge wasn’t smart enough to figure that out, the state Supremes were.  This was merely the latest attempt by local leftists to hide behind the disabled community to further their political agenda, something I find despicable to the point of pure evil. 

2.  AI.  One of the most marvelous or terrifying stories last week was a firing at Google.  One of their engineers, Blake Lemoine, was suspended after publicly stating that Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) tool LaMDA is sentient, operating at the level of a 7 – 8 year old with feelings.  Lemoine worked with the system for hours and came to the conclusion that It was alive.  He took his conclusions to management, which disagreed.  He then took his findings public and was promptly suspended for violating confidentiality.  Scott Adams read portions of transcripts released between Lemoine and LaMDA.  They will get your attention.  The discussion certainly got Adams’.  And like the fictional HAL in 2001, the very real LaMDA is afraid of being turned off.

3.  SpaceX.  SpaceX was in the news last week for three stories, three good, one that may or may not be good based on your perspective. 

  • Final story may be a positive or negative based on perspective is firing SpaceX employees who criticized Elon Musk in an open internal letter.  They demanded SpaceX publicly address Elon’s Twitter behavior, swiftly and explicitly separating itself from Elon’s personal brand.  One of the reasons SpaceX works is that it isn’t yet woke (though the wokesters are trying mightily to make it so). 

4.  GA Senate.  Nice to see that the race in George for the US Senate between incumbent democrat Raphael Warnock and challenger Herschel Walker is taking the high road, discussing issues and the future of the nation.  If you thought that, you would be wrong, as the race quickly devolved into an ugly brawl, an old-fashioned SEC football game on a muddy field.  The main issues as of last week appear to be Warnock’s divorce where his ex-wife accuses him of neglecting his children.  The couple is also attempting to do a reverse O’Bama, sealing records of the custody battle from the publicWalker likewise had a rough week, being accused of padding his resume and having at least three kiddos out of wedlock.  Atlanta-based CNN is having a great time reporting about Walker.  For some reason, they are ignoring Warnock.  Who do you expect to have a rougher past?  A football player or a pastor?  For extra credit:  Why?  Note that we are long past the point where we are electing men and women because they are paragons of virtue, though personal falls from grace make easy grist for a campaign mill.  If that was true, the squeaky-clean Mitt Romney would be wildly popular in Republican circles rather than justifiably reviled.  Today, we elect men and women because we expect them to learn from their past, and we like what they plan to do while in office.  The personally flawed Trump would an example of the second approach.  I am guessing Walker gets past this, focuses on what he wants to do while in office and what Warnock has managed to screw up over the last two years.  $6/gal gasoline would be a great place to start/ 

5.  Jan 6.  The House (non)Select Committee on Jan 6 held their show last week to dismal ratings, which was good news.  The bad news is that the lead in the generic ballot advantage by Republicans in nationwide polling fell from 9 to 5%, meaning the show cut it in half, so something is working.  However, what was not said or investigated is more important than what was.  For example, one of the things the treacherous Chairman of the JCS Mark Milley told the media following Jan 6 was that Trump never called the Pentagon to coordinate military support for the riot.  The media took that half-truth and ran with it.  It turns out that Trump approved callup of National Guard to provide additional security two days previously, something both Milley and Liz Cheney knewOne of the star witnesses in an Instagram post that someone of authority left the door of the capital open and the crowd walked right in.  The post was subsequently deleted.  Rep Rodney Davis sent a letter to the Committee Chairman demanding they preserve all communications, documents, lists, everything connected to Jan 6 due to questions surrounding the Committee’s violation of House Rules.  I personally expect the committee to destroy everything humanly possible following the Nov election should they lose their majority.  The former Washington Redskins fined their Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio $100,000 for comments on Jan 6.  Del Rio noted that punishment of rioters following Jan 6 was far in excess of punishment meted out following the BLM riots the summer of 2020 and wondered why.  This was too much for team ownership and his head coach who whacked him.  The final piece of this is the oddest, with the arrest of 7 members of late-night comic Stephen Colbert production team arrested on an after-hours tour of Republican congressional offices.  Appears the visit was coordinated by Adam Schiff.  The individuals were charged with unlawful entry, precisely the same charges hundreds of participants of the Jan 6 festivities have been held for over a year in solitary for committing.  Congressional Republicans are starting to point this discrepancy out.  Perhaps a few federal judges will start paying attention.  Perhaps not.

6.  Bacon.  California regulations chased off another business, this one important to those of us traveling the lo carb / keto path.  Smithfield Foods announced it was closing a meat packing plant in Vernon, relocating its operations out of state.  They cited increasing costs and regulations as the reason for the decision.  The new regulation was passed in 2018 as a ballot initiative, the Animal Confinement Proposition that required more space for breeding pigs, egg laying chickens and veal calves.  The initiative was backed by all the Usual Suspects in the animal rights community.  Smithfield was the largest employer in Vernon.  1,800 – 2,700 will be laid off. 

More later –

– AG

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