November 8, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:33 PM


Lina Hidalgo, a 27-Year-Old Latina, Will Lead Harris County, Texas' Biggest (Mihir Zaveri, Nov. 8, 2018, ny tIMES)

Lina Hidalgo never thought she would work in politics or run for office.

She and her family fled their home country of Colombia as a drug war raged, arriving in the United States in 2005. She studied law, public policy and political science at elite universities as she pursued a career influencing government from the outside.

But on Tuesday, Ms. Hidalgo, a 27-year-old Democrat, narrowly won an upset election to lead Harris County, which includes Houston and is the third-most populous county in the country and the largest in Texas. She beat the 11-year Republican incumbent to become the first woman and the first Latina elected to the county judge office. [...]

Tuesday's midterm elections were unlike any that Texas had seen in decades. Representative Beto O'Rourke lost to Senator Ted Cruz by less than 3 percentage points in a Senate race, one of the smallest margins in years for a Democrat running for statewide office. Democrats also flipped at least two congressional seats, 12 State House seats and two State Senate seats.

Posted by orrinj at 6:55 PM


How to Make Conservatism Compelling to Black Americans (Tosin Akintola, Fall 2018, Intercollegiate Review Online)

Conservatives have a real opportunity to make inroads into a demographic that­--despite the strong Democratic Party voting pattern--is incredibly diverse. Though black voters typically strike the ballot blue, only 59 percent of black voters actually identify as Democrats, and even within that group the majority do not identify as liberal, with 44 percent identifying as moderates and 27 percent as conservatives. While the media would have us believe that black Americans look at the world through the same lens, having the same experiences and struggles, that is just not the case. Not all black Americans are Marc Lamont Hill, but neither are they Larry Elder.

The majority of black Americans fall somewhere in the middle, and within this bloc is where conservatives can make their appeal. First, there has to be a noted effort to acknowledge the concerns of black Americans, especially young black Americans, over issues such as the militarization of police departments across the country, the war on drugs, prison and criminal justice reform, states' rights as pertains to voter discrimination, and the factions hostile toward minorities currently embedded within the Republican Party. From Roy Moore to Corey Stewart, Russel Walker to John Fitzgerald, and others like Paul Nehlen, if men like these continue to infect the Republican Party, the conservative movement has no hope of attracting black Americans en masse, nor of making a ripple in the pool of black Democrat voters.

Compassion is such a simple thing, and yet in the "facts don't care about your feelings" meme that has swept through the conservative movement, care and tact have given way to owning and destroying. During his campaign against Beto O'Rourke, Ted Cruz attempted to use a clip of Mr. O' Rourke denouncing the murder of Botham Shem Jean in his home by a police officer, as evidence of O'Rourke's anti-police bias. The fact that Cruz felt this characterization of O' Rourke would appeal to his base (and indeed it does) is telling. Yet, it was refreshing to see conservative figures condemn and decry Cruz's overt attempt to placate the most mean-spirited within the party's voting bloc. If conservatives hope to expand their movement, they'll need to be far more vocal in denouncing such tactics in the future.

...than getting Mia Love out of office.

Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM


NPR: Neo-Puritan Revival: Why can't young feminists seem to acknowledge their agency, or fathom that they experience desire at all? (Kat Rosenfield, November 8, 2018, The Tablet)

A throughline emerges in all these cases: These are women who made decisions under their own power, but couldn't cope in the aftermath when those choices made them feel terrible. Under other circumstances, this might lead a person to contemplate the gap between her actions, her desired outcome, and the actual result--and to recognize that this kind of miscalculation is normal, human, and an essential part of the trial-and-error process by which we eventually become better judges of what will make us happy. But consent culture increasingly doesn't leave the door open for that kind of nuance. There is no room within the framework for a desired choice to lead to regret, or for a woman to say, "I wanted this in the moment, even if things didn't work out as I'd hoped." Instead, women retroactively strip themselves of their agency: "I didn't consent to feeling bad about this, hence I didn't consent to any of it."

It's not hard to understand why young women are leaning into victimhood in the aftermath of these "gray area" encounters. Societally, and particularly when it comes to sex, we remain far more comfortable with the idea of women as helpless victims than as autonomous human beings who sometimes want things that aren't good for them. Overt slut-shaming has gone out of style, but the stigma surrounding female desire lingers. And there are few things that are worse to feel than ashamed of yourself, and few things harder than owning responsibility for the choices that led you there. Under those circumstances, "Look what you made me do" can be an attractive way out, an opportunity for young women to avoid reckoning with the consequences of their own choices. Faced with the weight of self-blame, or blame from others--deserved or not-- it's all too tempting to dump it all in someone else's lap, or maybe even see him punished for not saving you from yourself. Consider this moment in the first episode of the Radiolab series, in which Prest walks home after hooking up with a former boyfriend--sex which she initially claimed not to want, but then consented to and enjoyed, a fact which leaves her angry and conflicted. Marinating in regret, she considers her decision, wondering, "Is that on me?"--only to reject the patently obvious answer: Yes, it's on you.

The easier path is a retreat from autonomy and into pre-ordained powerlessness, where "I didn't say 'no'" becomes "I couldn't," and the thousand-year weight of the patriarchy pins you in place but also shields you from responsibility. Passivity can feel like safety. But that safety comes at a cost, one that women ought to consider before they go all in on this fragile, passive brand of femininity: To admit your desires is to make yourself vulnerable, and to pursue what you want is to risk not getting it (or getting but regretting it, and having to revise your future behavior accordingly). But if your goal is to protect women at all costs from feeling bad about their choices--because you don't think they can handle it, and they probably don't know what they want anyway--then we already have a word for that. It's not feminism. It's paternalism. And it denies women a fundamental if unglamorous freedom: to not just make decisions, but to live with and learn from the consequences of their less-than-great ones.

Posted by orrinj at 6:12 PM


How Bill Nelson could ultimately win the recount in Florida's Senate race (Steve Contorno, 11/08/18, Tampa Tribune)

As of Thursday morning, two voter-rich counties were still tabulating an unknown number of ballots.

Broward County, where Nelson received 68.9 percent of the votes, was still counting early voting, vote-by-mail and Election Day ballots.

Palm Beach County, where Nelson received 58.4 percent of the votes, was still counting vote-by-mail ballots.

If the breakdown of these pending ballots is anything close to the results so far, Nelson should pick up more votes than Scott. But no one has been able to say how many uncounted ballots remain, not even Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

"Were finishing up with the count as we speak. And we've got to get every vote in," Snipes said. "We're not going to rush through it ... Our absolute deadline is tomorrow for the first unofficial results."

In Broward County, 695,799 people turned in ballots. But only 665,688 voted in the Senate race.

That's a 30,000 difference, a remarkable disparity given the stakes in this race and the name-recognition of these officials.

It's a degree of undervote that is non-existent in the other statewide races on the ballot. For example, more than 690,000 people voted in the governor's race. If the results as they stand are accurate, more people voted for Agriculture Commissioner than U.S. Senate.

So what happened? It's not clear. Elias dismissed bad ballot design, a theory that circulated a bit on Wednesday. Instead, Elias thinks that either a machine problem in certain precincts or marking issues on the ballot led to thousands of uncounted votes in the Senate race.

If that's the case, Elias said he expects those issues will be remedied in a recount, in which case Nelson is likely to further narrow the gap, given where this occurred.

Posted by orrinj at 6:06 PM


Appeals court upholds block on Trump's attempt to end DACA (TED HESSON 11/08/2018, Politico)

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a lower court's temporary order preventing President Donald Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Trump's decision to phase out the Obama-era DACA program, which allows roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to obtain work permits and protects them from deportation, was likely "arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law."

Trump and Republicans made immigration restrictions central to the midterm election campaign. In recent weeks, Trump has suggested he could revoke birthright citizenship by executive order -- a legally contentious proposition -- and ordered a massive troop surge to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The ruling Thursday by a three-judge panel represents a major setback to the administration's anti-immigration agenda. [...]

"The executive wields awesome power in the enforcement of our nation's immigration laws," the ruling reads. "Our decision today does not curb that power, but rather enables its exercise in a manner that is free from legal misconceptions and is democratically accountable to the public."

In a concurring opinion, Judge John Owens disagreed that the DACA termination was reviewable as an "arbitrary and capricious" executive decision. However, he found plaintiffs reasonably alleged the rescission was motivated by racial animus, which warranted a freeze on the termination.

"A merits decision from the district court concluding that the executive rescinded DACA because of unconstitutional racial animus would be little more than an advisory opinion if by that time thousands of young people had lost their status due to the lack of an injunction preserving it," he wrote.

During oral arguments before the 9th Circuit in May, Owens repeatedly raised questions about the possible role of racial bias in the decision to end the program.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose state is a party in one of the lawsuits affected by the decision, called the ruling "a tremendous victory" for the program's enrollees.

Posted by orrinj at 5:11 PM


A 69-year-old man asks to be declared 49, claiming age is as fluid as gender (Isaac Stanley-Becker, November 8, 2018, Washington Post)

In the quixotic battle against old age, some people use skin care and spin class.

That's not enough for Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old who feels like he's in his 40s. The Dutch pensioner is asking a court in his hometown of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, to change his birth certificate so that it says he took his first breath on March 11, 1969, rather than on March 11, 1949. The judges heard his case Monday and promised they would render a verdict in the next several weeks.

Ratelband sees his request as no different from a petition to change his name or the gender he was assigned at birth -- and isn't bothered that this comparison might offend transgender people, whose medical needs have been recognized by the American Medical Association. It comes down to free will, he maintains.


Posted by orrinj at 4:54 PM


Thousand Oaks shooting leaves 13 people dead, including gunman, and 18 injured (JAMES QUEALLY , RICHARD WINTON , ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN , SEAN GREENE , SARAH PARVINI , BRITTNY MEJIA , ANDREA CASTILLO , HANNAH FRY  and LAURA J. NELSON, NOV 08, 2018, LA Times)

Suspected shooter Ian David Long, 28, lived in Newbury Park, five miles from the dance hall, officials said. He drove his mother's car to the Borderline on Wednesday night and did not say anything before opening fire, a law enforcement official said.

Long was a decorated gunner in the U.S. Marine Corps, reaching the rank of corporal, and served an seven-month tour in Afghanistan during his nearly five years in the service, according to the Department of Defense.

Neighbors on the quiet street where he lived said they were aware that Long may have been disturbed. Deputies who were called to Long's home in April for a complaint of disturbing the peace said he was acting irrationally, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. Mental health workers decided he did not meet the standard for an emergency psychiatric hold. [...]

The shooter was armed with a Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun, Dean said. A source said he purchased it legally in Simi Valley.

The gun is designed in California to hold 10 bullets, in addition to one in the chamber. The shooter's weapon had an extended magazine on it, Dean said; he added he did not know how many bullets were in the weapon or how many the magazine could actually hold.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America and demand that crazy people have access to instrumentalities whose sole purpose is to kill fellow Americans.

Posted by orrinj at 4:30 AM


Matt In VA's Political Conversion (ROD DREHER, November 8, 2018, American Conservative)
[T]he very biggest thing that changed me was living as a sexually active gay man in the city and experiencing gay male sexual culture and watching what it did to some of my friends, including one of my very best friends.

When you have been led to believe that you are a Minority, oppressed by the majority, and that the Evil Conservatives are the ones who want to hurt you -- they want to pull a Matthew Shepard on you! -- and that it is your fellow minority members, your LGBT "community," that cares about you and supports you, that you are the least safe when among the evil conservative Enemy and most safe among members of your own group... when you have been led to believe this, it is really something to watch one of your best friends get deeper and deeper and further and further down into the worst parts of the communal-sewer gay sex culture, having sex with random guys and anonymous strangers week in and week out, endlessly, it never ever leading anywhere or to anything, him growing more and more cynical and callous about himself and about his sex partners, him getting HIV, him having bad reactions to a number of the HIV drugs, him experiencing serious depression and mental illness (yes, I know people can experience this without it being due to being gay), him getting addicted to crystal meth, him being unable to hold down a job, him disappearing for long periods... when you get to the point when you find yourself wondering periodically if the next time you hear his name it's because someone is telling you that he's dead... and when he has told you, in moments of frankness, about some of the things he's allowed other men to do to him, in this strange nonchalant voice that makes your shiver, and you think about how you remember when he used to talk about wanting to find a man to be with forever and get married to, but all that kind of talk is gone, gone...

And the thing is, you don't just see this trajectory in your close friend. You see it all over, if you're a gay man, you don't even really have to look for it hard. You don't see it early, when guys are just coming out, when they are full of hope and when they are naive-and I think lots of gay guys start out genuinely wanting to find real, meaningful love -- but over time, over the years, this sick sexual culture sucks people in. And it always feels like, even if you're OK at the moment, it's waiting for YOU. I mean, maybe not for everybody, but I always feel that -- it's there, waiting for ME, too. It lies in wait, sitting somewhere inside me, happy to make itself felt sometimes. If you are a gay man, you can *always* find sex, no matter what, provided you are willing to degrade yourself to a greater or lesser degree (and probably it will need to be greater as you get older), and there is no real bottom or floor there, believe me.

Liberalism today has as a *core tenet* the idea that if you are a type of minority you are safest, happiest, and most well when among your own group and are at most risk when surrounded by the majority. But nothing could be further than the truth when it comes to gay men. The number of gay men who get killed or seriously injured due to "homophobia" or whatever is probably one-ten-thousandth of the number of gay men who have killed or seriously hurt each other via our insane sexual choices, and the idea that we make these choices because of "homophobia" causing us to have "low self-esteem" or whatever is belied by the fact that gay men make the worst sexual choices in the biggest cities and "gay meccas" where the most gays are and which are the most gay-friendly or gay-tolerant. Gay male sexual culture is so incredibly effective at making gay men internalize an understanding of both themselves and their sexual partners as worthless that it has persisted even through an epidemic that killed tens of thousands of gay men within my lifetime.

I remember a commenter on this blog, back some years ago when gay marriage was still highly contested, wrote a comment that imagined a gay man praying to God to change his sexuality because it couldn't be reconciled with his faith, and God not changing it; and then the commenter imagined a gay man praying to God to change his *religion,* for the same reason, and God not doing it, either. And I feel like that second gay man, in the sense that I find that I have come to believe something even against my own will. I *cannot* believe, anymore, that gay male sexual culture, collectively speaking, is anything but toxic, or that its toxicity can be justified or rationalized as being due to "homophobia," no matter how much I might need or want something like that to be true. Maybe gay men who lived at a time when it was much much harder to be openly gay can believe that, but I can't. My faith in sexual liberalism is broken, and since all of my liberalism was based on that, all of it is gone, too.

The notion that it is compassionate and loving to accept and endorse an inherently self-destructive behavior is deeply disordered in its own right.  

Posted by orrinj at 4:15 AM


Newly emboldened Democrats want healthcare protected - and Trump impeached (Chris Kahn, 11/08/18, Reuters)

The poll released on Thursday found that 43 percent of people who identified as Democrats want impeachment to be a top priority for Congress. That goal was second in priority only to healthcare, which played a major role in Democratic campaigns' closing arguments before Tuesday's elections.

Posted by orrinj at 4:06 AM


Republicans abandon the fight to repeal and replace Obama's health care law (Sean Sullivan,  November 7, 2018, Washington Post)

For eight years, Republicans waged a war against Barack Obama's health-care law, holding dozens of repeal votes, filing lawsuits and branding it a dangerous government takeover.

On Wednesday, they effectively surrendered.

The day after crushing midterm election losses handed Democrats control of the House, GOP leaders signaled they had no appetite to make another go at shredding the signature accomplishment of Obama's presidency anytime soon.

"I think it's pretty obvious, the Democratic House is not going to be interested in that," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who suggested instead that lawmakers address the flaws in the Affordable Care Act "on a bipartisan basis."

Mic drop.

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM



Trump's move against Sessions today arrives at a moment when Trump allies are increasingly concerned about Donald Trump Jr.'s legal exposure. In recent days, according to three sources, Don Jr. has been telling friends he is worried about being indicted as early as this week. One person close to Don Jr. speculated that Mueller could indict him for making false statements to Congress and the F.B.I. about whether he had told his father about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians to gather "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. This source had heard that the case could revolve around Trump's former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, who's cooperating with Mueller and who was deeply involved in the campaign at the time of the meeting. Trump, this person continued, is "very upset" about the risks Don Jr. faces. "The president is very depressed," this person said.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


How the House Fell: Republican Chaos and Democratic Focus (Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Nov. 7, 2018, NY Times)

Democrats, in turn, delivered a message about health care with the repetitive force of a jackhammer. They cracked congressional maps drawn to favor Republicans and seized an array of open seats, while also felling longtime incumbents who had grown complacent.

And in the end, President Trump may have delivered the final blow to his party across the diverse and growing metropolitan communities that decided control of the House. In the last weeks of the campaign, Mr. Trump cast aside a positive Republican message about economic prosperity in favor of stoking racial panic about immigration -- with appeals that veered into overt racism, alienating moderate swing voters and further enraging Democrats.

Republicans lost control of the House Tuesday night after eight years in power, with Democrats picking up seats in several suburban districts where the party traditionally did well. But if House Republicans were badly shaken by their defeat, few party leaders were genuinely surprised at the nature of their losses. In interviews with dozens of lawmakers, campaign strategists, activists and donors in both parties, a clear consensus emerged about the arc of the 2018 election.

It was a campaign defined early by Mr. Trump's divisive persona and hard-right ideology, and by Republican leaders' unswerving decision to align themselves with Mr. Trump and his overwhelmingly white, rural base rather than politically vulnerable moderates in Congress who hailed from the country's population centers and represented the political middle.

A campaign of retribution against Republicans who did not pledge fealty to Mr. Trump -- and to Speaker Paul D. Ryan's legislative agenda -- triggered an exodus of senior legislators that opened the way for a Democratic takeover.

Posted by orrinj at 3:46 AM


Trump Bars CNN's Acosta From the White House (Peter Baker, Nov. 7, 2018, NY Times)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, who has also repeatedly clashed with Mr. Acosta during televised briefings at the White House, announced the decision, claiming falsely that Mr. Acosta had placed "his hands on a young woman" who was responsible for giving the microphone to reporters asking questions.