Monday, November 23, 2020

AntiSemitism in the GA Senate Race? Rabbi Heller speaks

With two Jews in the GA Senate runoff, it was inevitable that the ugly side of politics would try to use AntiSemitism as an accusation or a tool.  In fact, both are happening.  In both cases, accusation and tool, it is the Republican campaigns that are using the topic.  Republican candidate Perdue's campaign used images of Jewish Democratic Osoff with elongated noses as a tool (later retracted and denied).  Republican Jewish candidate Loeffler is accusing her Christian opponent Warnock of being an anti-Israel extremist as an accusation.  Both are ugly, reprehensible and false.  The idea that they can be a team is even more astounding.

The following is from Rabbi Joshua Heller, Senior Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Torah in the Atlanta region since 2004:


 I was going to sit this one out, but the level of lashon hara got to the point where I felt I motivated to weigh in.  This conversation reminds me of people complaining about the rabbi's sermon over kiddush, when it turns out they are only reflecting on what they heard second hand because they were napping through the original delivery.

To call Rev. Warnock a "vicious anti-semite"  is simply mistaken.  Rev. Warnock (and the members of his clergy team) have deep partnerships and decades-long collaboration. with the Jewish community here, long before any discussion of political office, and he hosted the USCJ convention at his church in 2017.  I've only met him a few times, but I'm friendly with a number of members of his team, and these are not Jew-haters.

Rev. Warnock clearly has a particular agenda he wants to bring to DC.  Based on your political leanings, you might agree or disagree,  but Israel is not a big part of his agenda either way.  He's said a lot of things about Israel, some more supportive, some clearly problematic (if you comb through any of our sermons over the last 5 years, you'd find something to disagree with).  Both he (and Ossoff, who also got J Street's endorsement, but harder to call him an anti-semite because he is Jewish, I guess) are to the left of where I would prefer them to be on Israel, but Warnock came to the AIPAC convention this past year  with a desire to learn and build bridges.  Even if his change of heart was just a matter of knowing where his bread is buttered, comparing him to the squad is like confusing "Yesh Atid"  with "The Joint List." 

We're all happy to overlook the anti-semitism on our side of the aisle.   Just to stir the pot further- there are a lot of accusations of anti-semitism to go around, there are candidates in this race who have put out ads portraying their Jewish opponents with elongated noses, (though to be fair I think Perdue is not anti-semite, I think he just has anti-semites on his team).  and another who has endorsed the clearly anti-semitic QAnon conspiracy theories.  

There are no perfect candidates in these races. There are no "pareve" choices here.  Just be careful throwing around the accusations of anti-semitism.

 As a side note- what's going on in Georgia is insane.  Gabriel Sterling, the state official who supervised the elections, and his boss, Raffensberger are as Republican as they come, and I think if there were a judgement call in Trumps favor in their power to decide,  they might have have made it,  but they would not let their preference override their commitment to truth and law, and Sterling in particular is facing constant death threats as a result.

                                                   - Rabbi Joshua Heller    Nov. 23, 2020.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Getting it All Right - "I Told You So"

 It is not often that I say "I told you so," but the amount of hype around this election during the mundane process of counting ballots has been ridiculous.  The election is roughly panning out exactly as predicted, and following major trends that were already in place last February.  When all is said and done, the Biden electoral college map will be largely unremarkable to historians, despite the rancor on the right.

To refresh:

1)    My post on February 28, when all the candidates were in play, correctly predicted the consolidation of the Democratic Party behind Joe Biden as the best centrist candidate to defeat President Trump.

2)  My post on March 23 correctly analyzed the Wisconsin race, and in exactly which counties and districts the victory over Trump would have to take place.

3) My post on April 2 correctly theorized that Ohio would go Republican and lose, putting Ohio on the losing side for a Republican for the first time since 1960 and JFK.

4) My post on October 12 correctly stated that we would know on Wednesday morning after the election if Joe had won in any of AZ, FL, GA or NC and that we would therefore know that he had won the election.  We had results from AZ Wed that held up comfortably all week.

5) My post on October 19 correctly pointed out that the polling had missed, and was missing again, the extent of the Trump electorate - both existing supporters and first time voters that would arise.

6) My post on Monday, November 2 drilled deeper down into the likely delay in PA and set the safe margin of victory for Biden at 50,000 votes.  When the counting is done it looks like he will be almost exactly at that point, or a little above.

Here is the map that I published a week before the election:

Exactly right, including ME (2) and NE (2).

So no, I have not been panicking and I have not been agitated this week.  It is sad to see all of the insanity out there, but for those of you who have been following me for the past year on this topic, it has been nice to have you with me on the bus of calm and peaceful democracy.

Enjoy the counting as the obvious slowly is accepted by the rest of the world, day by day.  All in all, a pretty boring and predictable election.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

"There's Got to be a Morning After"

NOTE: By 9:15 a.m. this morning it is clear that the mail in and urban reporting in WI and MI now have Biden ahead, and with AZ that is enough for a Biden win. Basically, the writing is on the wall - PA won't matter - and Biden will be the next president.


This morning, November 4, 2020, we are waking to learn that we have not quite yet received the results necessary to call the Presidential election, but "DON'T PANIC!"  We will know very soon the initial results, and those results will hold up.

Remember, my earlier posts said that AZ, GA, NC, and FL are the key states, and that if Biden wins one of them he will be president.

FL    Trump
NC    Trump

GA    Too close to call, and likely to recount.

AZ    Clearly leaning to Biden.

To stick to my guns, that means Biden will be president.

Now, the "stress" the nation is feeling is from two reasons.  First, WI, MI and PA - as predicted - are taking a long time to count their ballots.  Remember, I wrote that IF Trump sweeps the other 4, this would take a long time.

WI looks to be done today, and to be for Biden
AZ looks to be done today, and to be for Biden.

Then Biden needs MI, or PA - both of which Trump is currently leading, but whose major urban centers (Biden strongholds)  have plenty of votes left to secure him a victory in one or both of those states.

The main problem is that President Trump, not suprisingly, went on TV at 2 in the morning and litterally gave the most unhelpful speech possible:  1) He said that vote counting should continue where he is behind; 2) He said any further counting where he is winning should stop.  Who does that? He repeated his accusations of conspiracy and theft, and declared that he had already won.

Unfortunately for the President, not only is science real, so is math.  Based only upon the ballots already received, the election will probably be decided against him.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Today, I Voted.

Voting is still relatively new for humans. But we have come a long way, and today I helped to make the world a better place.  

Well-organized human civilizations are only 6,500 or so years old.  Athenian democracy, which allowed the privileged male citizenry to vote for leaders, began about 2,600 years ago.  The Iroquois, in western New York, developed a democracy of men and women in the 1400's but western colonial rule overcame them. So, the world's most impactful democratic invention had to wait until 1776, and eventually 1789 for the US Constitution. Most of Europe, and much of the world, has followed suit.  The US, however, could not really be called a fully functioning democracy until all races and genders were allowed the vote, in 1870 and 1920, respectively.  The civil rights movement and the voting rights act in the 1960's expanded the protection of the right to vote in the face of systemic disenfranchisement.  

So, in the history of civilization, a functioning democracy is only 100/6500 years old, or 1.54% of human history. And even in those 100 years, there has been need for much progress.  Yes, voting is very new.

We should not be surprised that there is agitation around elections, or that there are people who want to use power to diminish their opponents' power in the ballot box.  After all, we are still fairly primitive when it comes to this.  We are learning how to stop them.

So today, I voted.  I voted in a state without significant controversy, and with known outcomes.  I also made phone calls to states where the outcomes were less clear.  And over the past year, in my private time and life, I have campaigned, and donated and recruited others to advance my hopes for our country and the world. It was all quiet and civilized.  But after all of that effort, nothing mattered except that I voted.

I did not stop anyone else from voting.  I didn't not fear that anyone else was voting.  I do not think that anyone out there is trying to steal my vote.  And I don't think that people will come to burn down my town because of the results of the vote.

The overwhelming majority of Americans today did what I did.  They quietly, peacefully and sincerely responded to the past actions of our government and the future hopes offered by the candidates and they voted.  The world is forever changed as a result.

Yes, we are still very new at this, we humans. But today was a good day.

Monday, November 2, 2020

When Will We Know, take 2

Only Panic a Little Bit

Most of this post takes for granted that you have already read my earlier post, "Don't Panic!"  Please read that post first.  Since last we visited the timing of November 3, 2020, we have learned a few things.  Whether you are voting for Trump or Biden, there is only a slight reason to believe that we won't know the results by Wednesday at the latest.

What has remained the same:

My earlier post determined that FL, AZ, OH, GA and NC are the key states to watch on election night. If Biden wins any one, he will most likely win the Presidency.  Clarity from this group should come early. Nevertheless, the scope and pace of mail in ballots has become more clear and will affect the timing of those states' results. We will know a lot on Tuesday night, and probably everything we need on Wednesday. 

Here is our starting point based on current polling (11/1/20):

Any ONE of the toss ups is a win for Biden.  Trump needs to win all 6 to earn a second term in office. PA is the biggest problem as far as timing.

When will we know the first five?  Here is a good guess at the order.  Again, green highlight indicates a state with extensive prior mail in experience:

State    # of mail ballots  # of returned ballots  Polling %       Start Counting  Finish Counting

GA        1.78 million        1.22 million                Tie                     Nov 3 early        Nov 3 late

AZ        3.3 million            2.3 million                Biden +2            Nov 3 early        Nov 3 very late

FL         6.0 million           4.65 million               Biden +2            Now                   Nov 4 late

OH        3.16 million        2.9 million                 Trump +2            Now                  Nov 6 early

NC         1.45 million        .94 million                 Tie                       Now                  Nov 6 early

[Math geeks: what is the probability of winning at least 1 time in 5 coin flips/50-50 chances? 

P(w¯)=1P(w)=1/2, where P(w) is the probability of winning one game.

Therefore, the probability of winning at least one state is 11/32=31/32., or 96.875%]


  • Biden is ahead or tied in polling in 4/5 of the toss up states, and only needs one to win.
  • GA will announce first. They don't accept late ballots.  We will hear from them election night.
  • AZ will announce second.  While they have nearly 3 million to count, they can start early.
  • FL should announce third. FL has a delay in Pensacola of an hour, and but has been able to "pre-process" ballots, preparing them for the scanning machines/tabulation in advance.  They do have 6 million ballots to scan, so it could take a solid 24 hours to clarify the situation.
  • North Carolina and OH accepts ballots that arrive after Nov 3., and therefore  may not have a result before Friday if they are truly close.  
  • OH already has all but 200,000 ballots back, and they can pre-process them. We should hear from OH before NC.

My Best Guesses of the Five:

If they are all toss ups, there is a 75% probability of Biden winning at least AZ or GA, and a 96.875% chance of him winning at least one of the first 5.  Biden will know right away that he is in the cat bird seat in the first 24hrs of counting, and the narrative during recounts and lawsuits will be in Biden's favor for the remainder of the certification process.

What could cause a LONG delay, or will it?

The real stickler is PA.  If President Trump does win all five (a 3.125% chance), we will need to watch PA - and it will be a mess.

Just over 3 million mail in ballots were requested in PA, and 2.4 million have been returned already. PA doesn't allow opening of the outer envelope before tomorrow morning, and they have at least 2.7 million paper ballots to process.  That will take time, but should be done by the end of the day Wednesday, IMHO.  

By a previous split vote of 4-4, the SCOTUS has allowed PA to count ballots postmarked by 11/3, and received by 11/6. However, that is against PA statutes.  Assuming that about 2.7 million will be received on time, there will be easily over 100,000 received "late" which will likely be thrown out by SCOTUS+Justice Barrett (5-4) in the lawsuits following.  That actually makes it easier to count PA earlier, as the early numbers will in time become the final numbers.  Expect that whole process to take at least a week or two as arguments are made before the court.

As I wrote in a previous post, we can expect Biden to lose a net loss of about 50,000 votes when those "late" ballots are disallowed.  If Trump is ahead, or within 50,000 votes of Biden without the postmarks in PA, he will win the election, but we won't be finally told that until the SCOTUS meets.

We will know by on Friday what the margin is in PA, and therefore be able to guess at the ultimate outcome.

The Bottom Line if they are all 50-50.

  1. Election night:    GA & AZ                                 75% chance Biden has won.
  2. Wednesday:        FL                                             87.5% chance Biden has won.  
  3. Thursday:           OH                                             93.75% chance Biden has won.
  4. Friday:                NC & PA (50k or not)               96.875% chance Biden has won.

Remember, any one for Biden, and he wins.

Personally, I won't believe FL or GA until I see it, so the +2 Biden there is not very convincing.