November 15, 2018

What happens when our whole town burns down/

Stupid Trump tricks

Donald Trump Jr.'s business trip to India will cost U.S. taxpayers almost $100,000 in fees related to the Secret Service agents guarding him and other costs, The Washington Post reports.

President Trump claimed that Republican candidates lost key races in last week's midterm elections due to voters casting multiple illegal ballots while wearing disguises.“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump told the Caller. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again." he added.

Will Amazon ruin sex in New York and DC?

DCist - In a New York Post article “Why The Amazon Bros Will Ruin The NYC Dating Scene,” Seattle denizens shared their woe-filled tales of romancing Amazon employees.
“There are two types of Amazon tech bros,” Isabelle, a 27-year-old resident of Seattle — where Amazon has its corporate headquarters — tells The Post. First, she says, there’s the awkward one: “super passive, super reserved.” Then, she says, there’s the jerk: “the guy who thinks he’s God’s gift to engineering — super conceited.”

“The general perspective is that [Amazon employees] are relationship unsavvy,” says [matchmaker Monique] Le, who works for the dating service Seattle Love Broker. They’re seen as “geeky” and “socially inept,” and, on top of that, pretty job-obsessed, “working at least 10 to 12 hours a day,” she says.

A third of San Francisco homes valued at over $1 million

Reason - Real estate listing company Trulia released a new report which looks at the number of $1 million residential properties in each city, finding that California cities have by far the largest percentage of seven-figure homes in the nation.

"Of the more than 15,100 larger neighborhoods nationwide included in this analysis, 838 had a median home value of $1,000,000 or more, roughly two-thirds of which are in California," writes Felipe Chacón, the report's author.

San Francisco, perhaps unsurprisingly, leads the pack with a whopping 67 percent of homes valued at over $1 million.

Democrat wins first ever ranked choice voting congressional race

Portland Press Herald -Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race on Thursday following a historic tabulation of ballots using ranked-choice voting. Golden, a Marine Corps veteran and state lawmaker from Lewiston, began the day roughly 2,000 votes behind incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. But Golden surged past Poliquin after the ranked-choice votes of two independents in the race were redistributed Thursday morning. ....This is the first time in U.S. history that a congressional race was decided using ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to cast ballots for their favorite candidate but also rank other candidates in order of preference.

 Rob Richie, Fair Vote -  The results show that voters in the 2nd District handled the ballot well, a testament to the fact that ranked choice voting is easy. Only 0.18 percent of voters who voted in the race made an error that invalided their ballot, which means that more than 99.8 percent of 2nd District voters cast valid ballots. For many voters, this was their first-ever ranked choice voting election.

In addition, 65 percent of backers of the independent candidates used their freedom to rank at least one of the major party candidates as a backup choice, with Golden earning 69 percent of those votes to Poliquin's 31 percent. The "dropoff" in active votes between the first round and the second round was less than 3 percent, far lower than the average decline in turnout of nearly half of first-round votes (47 percent) in congressional primary runoffs this year.

Young having less sex

The Atlatnic -From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. In other words, in the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high-school students have experienced to something most haven’t. (And no, they aren’t having oral sex instead—that rate hasn’t changed much.)

Meanwhile, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate has plummeted to a third of its modern high. When this decline started, in the 1990s, it was widely and rightly embraced. But now some observers are beginning to wonder whether an unambiguously good thing might have roots in less salubrious developments. Signs are gathering that the delay in teen sex may have been the first indication of a broader withdrawal from physical intimacy that extends well into adulthood.

Democrats pick up more than 300 state legislative seats

The Hill -Democrats picked up more than 300 state legislative seats and more than a dozen prominent statewide elected offices around the country on Election Day, reclaiming some territory lost during Republican waves in the last two midterm elections.

Democrats regained control of seven state legislative chambers, including both the New Hampshire state House and Senate; state Senates in Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Maine; and the state House in Minnesota. Earlier this year, Democrats won control of the Washington state Senate in a special election.

War costs soar to $5.9 trillion

Common Dreams -The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs reports (pdf) that by the end of the 2019 fiscal year, the U.S. will have spent $5.9 trillion on military spending in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other countries, as well as veterans' care, interest on debt payments, and related spending at the Homeland Security and State Departments.

Gerrymandering in Ohio - The Democrats actually collected more total votes in the 116 Ohio House and Senate elections across the state, found in tabulating the unofficial returns. [But] the GOP won 72 of the 116 Statehouse races. The Republicans scored their wins for 62 percent of the seats while collecting just under 50 percent of the total vote.

This is a lot like what happened in Ohio's 16 congressional districts, where Republicans won 75 percent of the seats with just 52 percent of the overall vote.

Trump regime claims power to ban all reporters from White House

Politico -Donald Trump sought to land a massive blow in his long-fought battle against the news media, with administration lawyers asserting in court that the president could bar “all reporters” from the White House complex for any reason he sees fit.

CNN argued in its lawsuit filed Tuesday that the White House infringed on Acosta's First Amendment rights by revoking his access in response to a dispute over a press conference last week.

But Trump’s lawyers replied Wednesday in a legal filing that he has “broad discretion” to police journalists’ access to the White House.

“If the president wants to exclude all reporters from the White House grounds, he has the authority to do that,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Burnham said during the hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “There’s no First Amendment right.”

November 14, 2018

Trump joins his tyrannical pals against improved cyber security

Share Blue - More than 50 countries signed onto a historic cybersecurity pact  as part of the Paris Peace Forum, marking an important step forward in the global fight against cyberwarfare and criminal activity on the internet. In addition to the governments that pledged to work together to combat malicious online activities, at least 150 tech companies and 90 charitable organizations and universities also signed onto the agreement.

Among the countries that declined to pledge support for the global pact were the repressive regimes of Russia, China, and North Korea — and the United States.

If Mueller is fired he could continue his work as a House special counsel

Poll update: Only 37% want Trump reelected

Most recent poll to the right
 46, 44 40, 46, 41 44, 38, 44, 46, 43%  

ISSUES . . . .

A Monmouth University poll found that though the president’s approval rating stands fairly steady at 43 percent, only 37 percent of registered voters want to see him reelected, compared to 58 percent of voters who want someone new in the Oval Office 

More than half of adults between the ages of 22 and 37 say a car is not worth the money spent on maintenance, and that they would rather be doing something other than driving.  

Half of voters say the new Democratic-controlled House should not begin impeachment proceedings next year.. . But even though overall public support for impeaching Trump is tepid (33 percent) and 51 percent don’t support impeachment,  

According to an exit poll conducted by CNN, NBC, ABC, and other major news outlets, few midterm voters believed that the GOP tax law benefited them: 28% of people surveyed said the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has helped them. 45% reported no impact. And 23% of people said the TCJA has hurt them.

56% say Trump does not deserve to be reelected

Just 51% of Americans said they have faith in democracy, and 37% say they have lost faith in democracy, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Latest poll at right

Biden 56, 26, 23, 30, 27, 33, 26%
Sanders 46, 18, 19, 28, 16, 13, 19%
O'Rourke 8%
Warren 33, 14, 6, 11, 7, 8, 5%

Harris 4, 5. 5, 5, 9, 4%

Booker 2, 4. 8, 4, 5, 3%

Kerry 5, 2%

Bloomberg 4, 2%

Holder 4, 1%


Democratic lead blue, GOP lead red
Most recent poll at right

Michelle Obama 9, 13%

Sanders 11, 12%
10, 7, 12%
Winfrey 6, 12%
3, 1, 10% 
Klobucher 9% 
Gillibrand 6%

Hillary Clinton 5%

Warren 6, 4, 2% 
Booker 0, 2, 2%
Cuomo 2%
Holder 6%


52% of Republicans say they supported universal healthcare in the U.S. ⁦And over 90% of Democrats support it/

35 percent said Kavanaugh's confirmation made them more inclined to vote for a Democrat in the 2018 congressional races, according to a USA Today–Suffolk University poll released in part Tuesday. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said Kavanaugh's confirmation would push them to vote for a Republican congressional candidate.

More than half of Republicans  say they support “Medicare for all,” also known as a single-payer health-care system.

A majority of Americans say that their financial situation has not improved since the 2016 election, according to a Bankrate survey ...17 percent said they were worse off now than two years ago and 45 percent said their situation has not changed. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said their finances have improved.

57% oppose a ban on assault rifles

66% support legalizing marijuana

Sixty percent of registered voters don’t want the president to fire Rod Rosenstein 

42 percent of adults said they believed the [Kavanaugh] accusations, including about the same number of men and women. Thirty-one percent do not believe them and 27 percent said they “don’t know” what to believe. The responses were divided largely along partisan lines - about two-thirds of Democrats said they believed the allegations and nearly two-thirds of Republicans said they did not.

An Economist/YouGov poll has found that 55% of Republicans hold that even if Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when he was in high school, that would not disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court.


Nearly 2 in 5 American voters do not believe elections are fair, according to a new NPR/Marist poll. Nearly half of respondents lacked faith that votes would be counted accurately in the upcoming midterm elections. Race, gender and partisan identity are all a factor for those who question the cornerstone of the democratic system. Nonwhite voters, women and Democrats all report substantially greater doubts about the fairness of elections compared to Republicans, 91 percent of whom believe elections are fair.

80% of Puerto Ricans give Trump negative ressponse on his handling of the hurricane

49% say Congress should begin impeachment

About 54 percent of voters trust the media compared with 30 percent for the president, a new low for him in the poll.

About 66 percent of female voters surveyed said they disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job, including 59 percent who said they strongly disapprove.


A Reuters poll shows that support for a key plank of this insurgency—Medicare for All—has hit an all-time high with 70 percent of all Americans now in favor of a such program, including nearly 85 percent of Democrats and a full 52 percent of Republicans.

In a poll conducted by CNN and SSRS on a broad range of policy issues, 37 percent of respondents said that the US should create a Space Force, while 55 percent said that the US should not. The CNN/SSRS poll was based on a sample of 1,002 Americans reached by phone.

An Economist/YouGov poll of 19,487 US adults worded the question a little differently and found that only 29 percent of responding Americans thought the Space Force was a good idea; 42 percent thought it was a bad idea, while 29 percent were on the fence or expressed some other opinion.

Photos show the difference in what happened to Congress this election

Decline of religion in England

Guardian =  The number of people attending the Church of England’s Sunday services fell again last year, to 722,000 – 18,000 fewer than in 2016 – continuing a trend seen over recent decades.

Annual statistics released on Wednesday by the C of E also showed a decline in the number of people turning to the church for key life events. The church conducted 106,000 baptisms and services of thanksgiving for a new child in 2017, compared with 120,000 the year before; 41,000 marriages compared with 45,000 in 2016; and 133,000 funerals compared with 139,000.

Figures published by the British Social Attitudes survey in September showed that affiliation with the C of E was at a record low, at 14% – and down to 2% among young adults. More than half the population said they had no religion.

Stupid Trump tricks

Donald Trump berated Theresa May over perceived failings on Iran, unfair trade deals and Brexit during a foul-tempered phone call, it has been reported. The US president is said to have lashed out at Ms May after she phoned him on Friday to congratulate him on the Republican Party’s showing in the midterm elections.

November 13, 2018

Veterans Affairs' IT problems leaving thousands of vets in financial trouble

NBC News -The Department of Veterans Affairs is suffering from a series of information technology glitches that has caused GI Bill benefit payments covering education and housing to be delayed or never be delivered.

There are many veterans across the country who are still waiting for VA to catch up with a backlog created after President Donald Trump signed the Forever GI Bill in 2017. The landmark piece of legislation greatly expanded benefits for veterans and their families, but it did not upgrade the VA's technical capabilities to account for those changes.

While it is unclear how many GI Bill recipients were affected by the delays, as of Nov. 8, more than 82,000 were still waiting for their housing payments with only weeks remaining in the school semester, according to the VA. Hundreds of thousands are believed to have been affected. Related News VA ow

Here's how to challenge the Whittiker appointment

The race the Green Party almost blew

Sam Smith - Democrat Krysten Sinema narrowly won the Arizona Senate race for the Democrats. Green Party's Angela Green came in third with 2.4% of the vote. This is another example of the sort of race the Green Party could have done itself a favor by leaving it early and endorsing the Democrat. If Sinema had lost, a lot of the blame would have been put on the Green Party.

This is a third party problem that needs to be faced. One advantage if the GP did so would be that it would encourage Democratic candidates to take Green positions in return for the Green candidate leaving the race.

Voter turnout largest in 104 years

The Hill -  Voting in the latest midterm elections reached its highest level in 104 years, with 49.2 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, according to a new analysis.

Lobbyist Bruce Mehlman noted in the analysis, which obtained by Axios, that the last time more citizens came out during midterms was in 1914, when 50.4 percent of those eligible voted.

He added that turnout came close was in 1966, when 48.7 percent voted. That year was the first midterm election since 1964, when a series of domestic and world events shocked and energized the U.S. electorate, he noted.

What now?

Think young

Sam Smith  - 
Perhaps the most underrated factor in politics these days is age.  As US News reported, “More than two-thirds of voters aged 18 to 29 voted for Democrats in the 2018 election, compared with 32 percent who supported Republican candidates. The 35 percentage point chasm is the largest gap in at least the last 25 years and is about three times higher than it was in the 2014 midterms, according to the center. The data from the exit polls is reasonably consistent with pre-election polling.”

As noted here from time to time, what we’re in the midst of is an extreme last gasp of a demographic that is on its way out. Yes, it can do damage, but history is not on its side. The real issue is what the young have learned from this election and what they will do with it next.

Enjoy identity but share it

There’s nothing wrong with identity politics but if you only have, say, 13% of the population, it’s not enough to get you where you want to be.  Among the biggest things missing from politics today are cross cultural coalitions. If blacks, latinos, women, labor and the young would come together it would dramatically change American politics. How do you do this? Meet together and come up with a list of shared priorities. No it won’t be everything or the highest on your identity’s list but it will create a huge coalition for the good.

Help the middle and lower classes live better lives

Democrats won’t admit it, but beginning with the war on unions in the Reagan administration. economic issues for the middle and lower classes began to lose strength within the party. With Clinton, the party veered towards Republican Lite. Increasingly affluent liberals weren’t all that interested and Citizens United made many think politics had to reflect corporate donors.  
Consider this list of some key Democratic accomplishments over the past 85 years:

- Regulation of banks and stock brokerage firms cheating their customers
- Protection of your bank account
- Social Security
- A minimum wage
- Regulation of the stock exchanges
- Right of labor to bargain with employers
- College educations for innumerable veterans
- Housing loans for innumerable veterans
- FHA housing loans
- Unemployment insurance
- Small Business Administration
- Medicare

Now, calculate the number of the above, or equivalent measures, that were launched by Democrats in the last 30 years.  Aside from Obamacare and the current drive to raise the minimjm wage, not much.

It wasn’t just the Tea Party and Trump that grabbed the middle and lower class away from the Democrats. It was also the Democrats’ fear and growing disinterest as its own leadership became more dependent on corporate donations. 

Be nicer to white men

It’s stylish these days for liberals to attack white men  in a generic fashion that would be called racist if it were applied to blacks or latinos.  Fairness aside, it’s also lousy politics and helps to keep many whites in the Trump camp.  Those who throw around terms like “white privilege” ignore the fact that there are more whites in poverty than there are blacks in total. Further, 39% of white men voted Democratic in the most recent election as did 37% of non-college whites. Far from the percentage of Democratic blacks or women but why piss off tens of millions of your allies with a disparaging generality. 

The extensive use of such derogatory terms suggests a liberal indifference towards lower income folk in dramatic contrast to what used to be central to liberal policy. 

As Robert Kuttner wrote in American Prospect:

The white working class may be only 30 percent of the national electorate but it’s more than half the electorate in the states where Trump won the 2016 election—Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana. In western Pennsylvania, the white working class is more than 60 percent. As pollster Stanley Greenberg has written in the Prospect, the emerging Democratic majority needs to incorporate both the new rainbow and the white working class.

The hazards of an increasingly college educated liberal base

Since the 1990s the non-college educated base has gone from being strongly Democratic to leaning slightly Republican.  Part of the problem Is class indifference, but part is also not being able to describe politics in terms the non-college educated relate to. A classic example is how the term public works,  which everyone understood, has been replaced by infrastructure.  As one of my high school teachers used to say, “Speaka United States.” No small part of Obamacare’s problem was that the lawyers and MBAs involved couldn’t explain it clearly, which allowed the right to attack it in lots of ways.

Another problem is that the well educated often analyze better than they act. Thus, for example, we have a wealth of analysis of ethnic discrimination going back to the days of slavery, but a paucity of new actions to do something about it. 


Draft gun legislation with hunters and other gun owners

One of the main reasons  we don’t have better gun laws is that liberals have gone it alone on issue instead of building alliances with rational  gun owners. Gun owners are not the NRA as a CBS poll earlier this year shows.
For example:
  • 56% of gun owners do not believe gun control supporters are trying to take away traditions and a way of life.
  • 60% think gun control supporters are promoting public safety and lower gun deaths for everyone.
  • 43% of gun owners think the NRA is too extreme in its positions.
  • 55% of gun owners disapprove of the way the NRA handles the debate.
  • 54% of gun owners are concerned about the possibility of gun violence at their children’s school
  • On a scale of one to five, with the latter representing pro-control 42%  of gun owners place themselves at 4 or 5.
In short, the image projected by liberals and the media of gun owners is markedly wrong. They should recognize that the view of these owners is quite varied and start to work with hunters and other owners who favor a rational approach.

Look inland for leaders

Liberalism has a heavy coastal emphasis, but if you want to reach all Americans it helps to pay more attention to inland America. Back in 2016 I argued futilely for Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana to be put on the Democrats’ list of potential nominees, and now Montana offers another good example, the recently victorious Schweitzer successor, Steve Bulloch. As Wikipedia notes, “Bullock was one of just three Democrats to win gubernatorial elections (one of whom, Jim Justice, is now a Republican), in states that President Trump carried in 2016, and the only incumbent Democratic governor to win re-election in a state that Trump carried. He was also one of the only Democratic incumbents besides North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood, North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue, and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to win re-election to statewide offices in states that President Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.”

Democrats will carry California and New York, it’s the Montanas of America they have to concentrate on more.

Think local

In recent years, liberalism has become highly federalist  But Americans like their local government best, their state government second and the federal government third. The Democrats did real well this year down the ladder of American government. While Trump retains the support of some 40% of voters and the GOP held on to the Senate, the Dems picked up lots of House seats, governorships and increased their present in state legislatures.

Federal and local do no have to be at odds. Even federal legislation can provide more opportunities for state and towns to make their own decisions. Finding ways in legislation for them to participate would provide support for liberal programs.

Deal with the undemocratic aspects of America

The Senate and electoral college are classic examples of how America fails its own stated aspirations. Half the country lives in states that have a total of 18 votes in the Senate, less than those states that were formerly part of the Confederacy. The electoral college is similarly biased.
There’s no easy cure for this. Giving statehood to DC and Puerto Rico would help but the bias built into a system badly compromised in forming a union with the democratic and slave owning Americas sticks with us with dramatically undemocratic results. 

A first step is to recognize it, teach it, and work around it. It is, for example, a strong reason for Democrats to pay more attention to states – especially in the south – that have disproportionate power in their leanings to the right. This election’s efforts in Florida and Georgia suggest that progress can be made.

And having a bunch of new Democratic governors provides the chance to go after some bad gerrymandering, anti-voter rules and other systems that make our elections unfair.

Put pressure on the media to stop spreading Trump lies

The Washington centered media is under the illusion that it is required to broadcast what top officials say even when someone like the president has a record of lying a number of times each day. In fact, good journalism requires that consistantly questionable presidential statements not be reported until they are either found to be true or are told with truth alongside them. To an extent not generally realized the media is grossly biased towards power and Washington. We have to work against that.

Expand ranked choice voting

Among its other virtues such as electing an actual majority winner, ranked choice voting changes the tone of politics because the leading candidates know they may have to be the second choice of people who aren’t loyal fans in order to win. This changes how they approach the campaign.

Pick candidates who are also people

Look at this list of potential Democratic presidential candidates ranked by how well they are currently doing against Trump and ask yourself which candidates would you mostly like to also have for dinner or meet in a bar. My list almost matches this one of those with double digit projections

Michelle Obama
Bernie Sanders
Joe Biden
Oprah Winfrey

Kamalia  Harris

As you move further down the list you find people like Elizabeth Warren -bright but not much fun; Hillary Clinton – who’d probably leave you with the bar bill; Eric Holder, Michael Bloomberg, John Kerry and Cory Booker leave me yawning.

I’m old enough in journalism to have started before television got its hold on politics and made image more powerful than actual experience and reality. The five names at the top would have done well in such an environment because they are real people who would be fun to know. That still matters to folks even if we don’t talk about it ich.

Teach the young about America again

As the American Federation of Teachers put it, “Civic knowledge and public engagement are at an all-time low. A 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government, which was a significant decline from previous years. Not surprisingly, public trust in government is at only 18 percent2 and voter participation has reached its lowest point since 1996. Without an understanding of the structure of government, our rights and responsibilities, and the different methods of public engagement, civic literacy and voter apathy will continue to plague American democracy. 

“Only 23 percent of eighth-graders performed at or above the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress civics exam, and achievement levels have virtually stagnated since 1998.”