November 6, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:02 PM


Election Live Blog: Strong Voter Turnout, High Enthusiasm At N.H. Polls (NHPR, 11/06/18)

Oyster River High School in Durham saw throngs of student voters from the nearby University of New Hampshire campus throughout the day. The polling place is about a mile from the center of campus, and in past years the university has offered transportation for students who wanted to vote locally.

UNH did not offer its own shuttle this year, but other groups like NextGen -- a liberal PAC trying to mobilize young voters -- did. And that made a big difference for students like Avery Judd.

"To take time out of the middle of the day and either walk here or find someone with a car would have probably discouraged me from voting," said Judd, who also helped with the New Hampshire Democratic Party on campus this campaign season. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:35 PM

Posted by orrinj at 5:19 PM


Our Final Forecast In The Senate, House And Gubernatorial Races (Nathaniel Rakich, 11/06/18, 538)

Republicans have a 5 in 6 chance (82.0 percent) of holding on to the Senate in the Deluxe version of our forecast (which we'll be using as the default version of the forecast for Election Day). In other words, Republicans are a strong, but not insurmountable, favorite in the upper chamber. Any scenario from a three-seat Republican gain to a two-seat Democratic gain falls within our 80-percent confidence interval. [...]

Democrats have a slightly better chance of winning the House than Republicans do of holding the Senate. Democrats are a 6 in 7 favorite (85.8 percent) to win a majority of seats. Their average seat gain is 36, which would result in a House of Representatives with 231 Democrats and 204 Republicans. But the model considers a wide range of outcomes as still well within the realm of possibility: We think there's an 80 percent chance that Democrats gain somewhere between 20 and 54 seats.

Roughly, your expectation should be that a Republican upset in the House is about as unlikely as a Democratic upset in the Senate. However, it's much less likely that we will see an upset in both chambers at once, because polling errors tend to lean in the same direction, so if Democrats perform better than expected in the Senate, they will probably also perform better than expected in the House. [...]

Finally, our model foresees that Democratic governors will preside over an average of 24.2 states in 2019, or eight more than the party's current 16. That would mean that roughly 197 million Americans, or 64.4 percent of the country's population, would have a Democratic governor.

Posted by orrinj at 5:05 PM


Trump allies fear his primary endorsements are coming back to haunt him (Brendan Morrow, 11/06/18, The Week)

This is according to CNN's Kaitlan Collins, who mentioned during Election Night coverage Tuesday that some Trump allies feel several of the candidates he backed this year could win their Republican primary, but not a general election. Specifically, she named three Trump-backed nominees: Florida gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis, Georgia gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp, and Kansas gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach.

All three of these races are seen as tossups. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:05 PM


Trump hails 'beautiful' barbed wire on southern border in Montana rally speech (ALI ROGIN Nov 3, 2018, ABC News)

"We have our military on the border. And I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today, barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 7:48 AM


...but Election Day is always particularly enjoyable.
Like, one suspects, numerous Republicans, I voted straight GOP at state level but Democrat for Congress.

NH is likely to re-elect our GOP governor but send two Democrats to Congress, a level of ticket-splitting which is fairly unusual here. (Heard a great line about the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Molly Kelly: Two first names but no agenda.)

That reflects the fact that we are in a conservative epoch and most Americans are quite satisfied with their incumbent Republican governors, but that the president is profoundly unpopular and we want someone to ride herd on him, a duty which congressional Republicans completely abdicated. Open gubernatorial seats look likely to swing Democratic due to the Donald headwind.

The GOP is extremely fortunate that the Senate map was so favorable this year, making it almost impossible to lose the majority.  

Meanwhile, the stasis of a divided government could give us all a nice pause until 2020 when we get a do-over at the national level and put the awful Baby Boomer generation behind us, once and for all.

Our right to vote (John R. Allen, 11/02/18, The Brookings Institution

For much of my adult life, I served my country abroad in places where democracy was either a long-ago memory or distant idea.  These were regions that had known generations of cruel dictatorships and corrupt governance structures, where the notion of free political thought was utterly foreign and often deemed unthinkable or dangerous to those who gripped power so tightly.  And in those places, where nascent democracies were struggling to take root, I was frequently reminded of the precious gift Americans have been given: a democracy, with the freedom for every citizen to vote in peaceful elections as part of our democratic process.

Our foundational right to vote is central to our need to continually work to protect, preserve, and strengthen our democracy.  This is something for which I have fought nearly my entire life to uphold. We, as Americans, have paid a significant price for our freedom and our form of government, but we should regularly remind ourselves that democracy is by no means inevitable. Yet today our right to vote, and our belief in the inevitability of our democratic system, are too often taken for granted.

The United States is grounded upon the idea that individuals are owed the equal opportunity to voice their opinion as we, through our elected officials, chart the course of our nation.  This idea is foundational to our American values and informs a great deal about what it means to be a citizen of the United States.  And while we have important work to do to remove barriers to voting, improve voter access and enforce the rights of all voters to make their voices heard and their votes to count, we cannot allow these challenges to derail our urgency to vote in the first place.

Posted by orrinj at 4:23 AM


The 401(k) is forty and fabulous (Allison Schrager, 11/06/18, Quartz)

The 401(k) has come a long way in the last 40 years. As it evolved, policy makers have introduced improvements that are becoming standard practices. Automatically enrolling employees dramatically increase participation. Selecting low-fee index funds as the default investment option lowered costs to consumers and improved diversification. These have made 401(k)s more popular and more successful.

But problems remain. Only about 61% of  Americans employees have access to a retirement benefit at work. Smaller  employers are less likely to offer them because of high administrative costs and many part-time employees are not offered them at all. While  it's not clear that 100% of the population should be saving for retirement--for example, a worker earning low wages who will see a large income relative to their salary from Social Security may not need retirement savings--participation in 401(k)s should be higher. A new bill introduced in Congress this year that would make it cheaper for small employers to offer retirement accounts could increase coverage.

The other unresolved question is how retirees should spend the money in 401(k)s after they retire. We've figured out saving, participation, and the wisdom of using index funds, but knowing how much to spend each year and managing money after retirement is a harder problem with little margin for error. Annuities, where insurance company pays a steady income for life, are popular with economists, but no one else. It remains a problem for regulators and the retirement industry.

Retiring Baby Boomers are the first generation to retire on a 401(k), with the first reaching age 65 in 2011. Their financial security will be the first big test of the plans' success. Other countries have been successful combining 401(k)-like accounts with government pensions, ensuring most of their citizens receive 70% of their working income in retirement. With a few tweaks, those systems could work in America too.

Posted by orrinj at 4:21 AM


One Legacy of Merkel? Angry East German Men Fueling the Far Right (Katrin Bennhold, Nov. 5, 2018, NY Times)

"We have a crisis of masculinity in the East and it is feeding the far right," said Petra Köpping, minister for integration in Saxony.

When Ms. Köpping took office in 2014, she thought her job was to integrate immigrants. But as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers began arriving in Germany a year later, a middle-aged white man heckled her at a town-hall-style meeting.

"Why don't you integrate us first?" the man had shouted.

That question, which has since become the title of a book written by Ms. Köpping, prompted her to tour her eastern home state and interview dozens of angry men. The disappointed hopes and humiliations of 1989, she found, still fester.

Some three million jobs, most of them in traditionally male industries, were lost over two years. The working-class heroes of Socialism became the working-class losers of capitalism.

East German men were abandoned by their newly united country practically overnight, Ms. Köpping said: "They are the original left-behinds."

And they were quite literally left behind -- by their women.

Long before the #MeToo movement, Communism succeeded in creating a broad class of women who were independent, emancipated, often better educated and working in more adaptable service jobs than eastern men.

After the wall came down, the East lost more than 10 percent of its population. Two-thirds of those who left and did not come back were young women.

It was the most extreme case of female flight in Europe, said Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, who has studied the phenomenon. Only the Arctic Circle and a few islands off the coast of Turkey suffer comparable male-female imbalances.

In large swaths of rural eastern Germany, men today still outnumber women, and the regions where the women disappeared map almost exactly onto the regions that vote for the Alternative for Germany today.

"There is a gender element to the rise of the far right that is not sufficiently acknowledged and studied," Mr. Klingholz said.

Time to start importing Syrian widows.

Posted by orrinj at 4:20 AM


Republicans attack Jewish candidates across the U.S. with an age-old caricature: Fistfuls of cash (Eli Rosenberg, November 6, 2018, Washington Post)

"I was revolted," Kendall recalled in a phone interview, saying he believed the ad was blatantly anti-Semitic. "Jesse is proudly and prominently a member of Juneau's Jewish community. . . . It is tough for me to process through that and not see an ill intent."

In North Carolina, the state Republican Party depicted Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) with what appeared to be a stack of bills in his hand.

In a hotly contested race outside Seattle, Republicans illustrated Kim Schrier, a Democratic candidate for Congress who is Jewish, with a wad of $20 bills fanned out in her hands.

In California, a Republican state assembly candidate tinted his Jewish challenger a shade of green in an ad, adding $100 bills to his hands for good measure.

And national outcry ensued last week after a Republican candidate's ad against a Jewish challenger in Connecticut was digitally altered in a way to play off classic anti-Semitic tropes. That advertisement, which was sent out by Ed Charamut's campaign for a state senate seat, depicts his challenger, Democratic state Rep. Matthew Lesser, holding a wad of cash in front of him, with a crazed look in his eyes. [...]

"What's stunning is that these are old images that are very similar to those from other eras and other places," said Pamela Nadell, a history professor at American University and the director of its Jewish Studies program.

"The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys wearing yarmulkes."

Posted by orrinj at 4:15 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:13 AM


Trump Models U.S. Economy on Kansas. That's a Mistake: The better choice is one of his favorite whipping boys, California, which has a balanced budget, rapid growth and industries of the future.   (Barry Ritholtz, October 19, 2018, Bloomberg)

Kansas has been a disaster, with giant budget shortfalls, service cuts, slashed education budgets and a brain drain with young people leaving the state. The economy has failed to keep up with growth in the rest of the country and is much weaker in terms of job gains, wage increases and gross domestic product growth than neighboring states with similar economies. In 2015, for example, Kansas had one of the worst job growth rates in the country, at 0.8 percent, adding just 10,900 nonfarm jobs.

In the five years before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, no state economy performed worse than Kansas. Things became so bad that Kansas decided to simply stop updating the public about state economic news. There's no reason to do this other than to obscure the obvious: Kansas's wounds were self-inflicted.

Compare that record with California's robust economy, increased tax base, balanced budget and job growth that exceeds the national average. The president may criticize the politics of the state, but there is little to find fault with its economy. If California were its own country, its $2.75 trillion economy and would be the world's fifth largest, after the U.S., China, Japan and Germany.

Governor Moonbeam should have been the 2016 presidential nominee.

Posted by orrinj at 4:12 AM


Trump calls Fox's Hannity onstage at campaign rally (DAVID BAUDER, 11/06/18, AP) 

Sean Hannity spoke from the stage of President Donald Trump's last midterm election rally on Monday, after Fox News Channel and its most popular personality had insisted all day that he wouldn't.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


ICE moves to silence detention center volunteer visitors (KATE MORRISSEY, NOV 06, 2018, LA Times)

Immigration officials have stopped allowing a volunteer group to visit people at Otay Mesa Detention Center unless its members agreed not to talk with the media or other groups about conditions inside.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said members of Souls Offering Loving and Compassionate Ears must sign the Volunteer Code of Ethics to be in compliance with the agency's detention standards. The group so far has refused, arguing that detention standards don't require them to sign away their 1st Amendment rights in order to visit detainees.

"I think they're circling the wagons to stop people from knowing what's going on inside," said SOLACE volunteer Steve Gelb of Mission Valley. "It gives ICE more impunity."

Since 2012, SOLACE volunteers have made more than 1,450 visits to at least 800 immigrants at Otay Mesa. They try to give detainees who don't have anyone to visit them a feeling of humanity, emotional support and hope.

"Without SOLACE, people who are detained at Otay have very little way to communicate with the outside world," said Angela Fujii, who coordinates the program through the First Unitarian Universalist Church. "It's a very vulnerable population that we know is now suffering and being neglected."

Posted by orrinj at 4:09 AM


Joint Chiefs chair says soldiers will not be involved in denying border entry to migrants (Kate Sullivan and Ryan Browne, 11/05/18, CNN)

"There is no plan for US military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States," Dunford said, speaking at an event at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "There is no plan for soldiers to come in contact with immigrants or to reinforce Department of Homeland Security as they're conducting their mission."

"We are providing enabling capabilities," Dunford said, explaining they were tasked with supporting the DHS.

Posted by orrinj at 4:05 AM



Sources say Trump advisers are girding themselves for Mueller to deliver the results of his investigation to the Justice Department as early as Wednesday, although it's more likely he'll wait till later this month. Sources say besides the president, the ones with the most exposure are Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. "I'm very worried about Don Jr.," said another former West Wing official who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The possible exposure would be that Mueller would demonstrate that Don Jr. perjured himself to investigators when he said he didn't tell his father beforehand about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting to gather "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. (Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, declined to comment.)

One potential sign of how seriously Trumpworld is treating the Mueller threat has been the near total silence of Rudy Giuliani. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


In secret chats, trolls struggle to get Twitter disinformation campaigns off the ground (Ben Collins, 11/05/18, NBC News)

In a private "strategy chat" with more than 40 far-right trolls, one user who tried to create a new Twitter account to spread disinformation ahead of Tuesday's midterms elections described how he had hit an immediate roadblock: Twitter banned him for deliberately giving out the wrong election date.

"Were they really banning people for saying [vote on] November 7? Lol, whoops," the user, whose name was a racist joke about Native Americans, wrote. "Maybe that's what got me shadowbanned."

The remark, seen by NBC News in a closed chat room used for planning and executing misinformation efforts, suggested that the changes that Twitter has undertaken in the past two years to avoid a repeat of the 2016 U.S. election may be working. Two years ago, the company did little to police misinformation and allowed a Russian influence campaign and politically motivated trolls to thrive.

A screenshot from a private chat in which a social media troll described getting blocked by Twitter from spreading misinformation A screenshot from a private chat in which a social media troll described getting blocked by Twitter from spreading misinformation
But the trolls are also learning from their mistakes and developing new strategies to sidestep Twitter's rules -- sometimes with new technology available on other apps -- highlighting the arms race between these groups and social media companies that are developing systems to stop them.

While much of its focus has been on foreign operations, Twitter has ramped up preventative measures against domestic troll networks that organize in private chats to push coordinated disinformation on their platform. On Friday, Twitter revealed it took down 10,000 accounts that discouraged voting, mostly accounts posing as Democrats.

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


Why science can't replace religion: John Gray on the myths the "New Atheists" tell themselves. (Sean Illing, 11/04/18,

Sean Illing

I see you as someone who enjoys exposing the hypocrisies of people who enjoy exposing the hypocrisies of others. Is that how you see yourself?

John Gray

Indeed. I'm a skeptic by nature, so I'm resistant to claims by anyone to have complete answers to intractable human problems. I'm particularly annoyed by what's now called "New Atheism," and I react strongly against those who debunk the beliefs of others in a way I find bullying and shallow.

The New Atheists -- Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and others -- attack religions in the sublime confidence that these religions are myths and that they themselves harbor no myths, but that's not true.

In many cases, the New Atheists are animated by 19th-century myths of various kinds: myths of human advancement, myths of what science can and cannot do, and all kinds of other myths. So yeah, I'm compelled to attack anyone who is debunking others for their reliance on myths when the debunkers themselves can't see how their own thinking is shaped by myths.

Something as ancient, as profound, as inexhaustibly rich as religion or religions can't really be written off as an intellectual error by clever people. Most of these clever people are not that clever when compared with really clever people like Wittgenstein or Saint Augustine or Pascal -- all philosophers of the past who seriously engaged the religious perspective.

The great Anglospheric insight--since, at least, Hume--is the need to be skeptical of skepticism for exactly the same reason as other beliefs.  Which leads us back to the primacy of faith and the recognition that our choice of faiths is a simple matter of aesthetics.

Posted by orrinj at 3:55 AM


Democrats are running to the middle to win the midterms: The left is fired up, but Democrats are still relying on centrists in the 2018 campaign. (Dylan Scott,  Nov 5, 2018, Vox)

Amid Trump ramping up rhetoric about dangerous criminals streaming over the Mexican border, Democrats are relying on moderate candidates to carry them to victory in many of the most competitive races in the 2018 midterms.

Ken Harbaugh is a military veteran running in Ohio's deep-red Seventh Congressional District against Republican Bob Gibbs. Though Gibbs has held the seat for more than a decade, the University of Virginia's Center for Politics recently slid the race from Safe Republican into the Likely Republican category based on Harbaugh's strong fundraising and profile. Harbaugh is far from a lefty, but he was probably the Democratic Party's only shot to take this solidly red district that Trump won by 30 points.

Democrats are trading ideological purity for electoral viability in many campaigns -- much more so than the Republican Party, which seems to be sliding further and further to the right. A plurality of Republican voters now describe themselves as "very" conservative.

If the GOP continues to drift Right and Democrats were capable of allowing social issues to return to the local instead of the national level, the latter would be the natural majority in what is a conservative epoch.