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Autumn's Journal
Autumn's Journal
November 5, 2020

The Lincoln Project Didn't Move 10 Votes in This Election

Never Trump conservatives are about as relevant to the actual election results this year as are the Whigs or the Free Soil Party.


Can we talk about Never Trump for a minute?

Its various iterations—The Lincoln Project, Republicans Against Trump—made some fine commercials and a lot of noise. They raised a lot of money, especially TLP, which is now going to morph into a multi-platform media network that likely will become a permanent (and very conservative) factor in elections going forward. Starting from scratch, TLP raised $60 million. Republicans Against Trump got started late, but they hoovered up $10 million. This is nice work if you can get it.

The problem is that, despite their fat bank accounts and some terrific publicity, these people didn't materially affect the presidential race at all. Their entertaining commercials got great run, but they didn't move 10 votes. They certainly didn't materially affect the Republican side. What data we have at the moment indicates that the president* got more of the Republican vote this time than he did in 2016. He certainly got more votes generally than he did four years ago. Take them all in all, and Never Trump is about as relevant to the actual election results this year as are the Whigs or the Free Soil Party. The problem for all the rest of us is that they should be.

Never Trump should have been a haven for Republicans and conservatives revolted by the notion that their party and the government had been appropriated by a vulgar talking yam. As should be obvious, there just aren't that many people like that. Most of the Never Trump movement is on salary to the Never Trump movement. Everybody else is completely With The Program. The president* has utterly subsumed American conservatism in general and the Republican Party in particular and, win or lose, he's not going to go anywhere.

If Joe Biden becomes president, this president* will be the center of resistance to him. He's already established among his followers that any result that produces President Biden is prima facie illegitimate. That feeling will be set in concrete among the president*'s followers by the turn of the New Year. There is no viable counterweight to him within or without the party. Unless he ends up destitute and/or in jail—and neither one is necessarily a longshot—he's going to continue to barge into Republican politics and scatter everything like monkey poo. A well-financed, clever opposition should be viable within the Republican infrastructure and should flourish there, if the Never Trump propaganda is to be believed. Taking the party back should be a saleable pitch.

One more paragraph at the link, a very good read.
November 4, 2020

Ocasio-Cortez Wins 2nd Term in Costly Loss for Republicans

Her challenger had collected $10 million, but Ms. Ocasio-Cortez still coasted to an easy win, creating speculation about her future political ambitions.


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York sailed to an overwhelming victory on Tuesday over a first-time Republican challenger who, despite his long-shot credentials, raised more than $10 million to make the race the second most expensive House contest in the country.

John Cummings, a 60-year-old Catholic high school teacher and former New York Police Department officer, built his war chest from donors around the country, playing on Republican resentment of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s status as a star of the Democratic Party’s left flank.

Mr. Cummings was able to hire leading Republican consultants, buy millions of dollars in advertisements and distribute more than 700,000 pieces of mail to the district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. Yet he trailed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez by nearly 37 percentage points with all districts reporting, and The Associated Press called the race at 10:09 p.m.

There is already speculation that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 31, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, may soon consider a run for higher office, a scenario that she did not dispel in a recent interview.
“I don’t know if I’m really going to be staying in the House forever, or if I do stay in the House, what that would look like,” she told Vanity Fair. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she would not seek a higher position just for the sake of it but wanted to assess whether a new job would make her more “effective.”

I'm excited about what she will do next.

September 10, 2020

A friend sent me this video. Well worth watching

Let's talk about Trump, Woodward, and bad days....

September 4, 2020

Ed Markey Has a Message for Democrats: 'The Age of Incrementalism Is Over

“Now,” says the senator who won an unprecedented primary victory, “is our moment to think big and take bold and urgent action.”

By John Nichols

No Kennedy had ever lost a Democratic primary, or a general election, in Massachusetts. From June 18, 1946, when a young World War II vet named John Fitzgerald Kennedy won the Democratic nomination to fill a congressional seat representing Cambridge and parts of Boston and Somerville, Kennedys had won every race they entered in the state.

Until September 1, 2020, when Representative Joe Kennedy III failed in his Democratic primary challenge to Senator Ed Markey by a 55-45 margin statewide. Markey won 60 percent of the vote in Boston and 80 percent in Cambridge and Somerville. Political narratives, at least as they have been written by pundits and political insiders, don’t usually end that way. Kennedys aren’t supposed to lose in Massachusetts. And 39-year-old challengers with “star power,” 100 percent name recognition, and mounds of money—and who start their campaigns with double-digit poll leads—aren’t supposed to get crushed by earnest 74-year-old veterans of the state legislature, the US House, and the US Senate who have spent decades focusing on the complexities of issues like nuclear disarmament and net neutrality.

What happened?
When the future of Democratic Party politics took shape in 2016 and ’18, Markey understood that everything was changing. He had always been a liberal with an instinct for reform. But Markey saw a new politics emerging, and he was ready to embrace it.

“When I first got to Congress, the reception I got was (very) chilly,” AOC recalled Tuesday. But, she added, “Ed Markey wasn’t afraid. He offered his expertise and partnership. He wasn’t scared of big policy and he didn’t use kid gloves.” The unlikely duo introduced a groundbreaking Green New Deal resolution in the House and Senate, and they found common ground on a host of issues concerning economic, social, and racial justice. A year ago, at a point when pundits were predicting that a challenge from Kennedy would force Markey out of politics, Ocasio-Cortez provided a critical endorsement for the senator:

Much more at the link. A very good read.
August 20, 2020

Are bread riots coming to America?

Over the last week, just under 1 million people filed for ordinary unemployment benefits, plus another half-million under the special pandemic unemployment program for people who don't ordinarily qualify, a substantial decline from some of the numbers seen since the beginning of the pandemic. At this rate, by mid-September or so, new unemployment claims will be merely as bad as they were during the worst of the Great Recession.

Those unemployment benefits, however, because this country has systematically stripped and sabotaged its safety net, are extremely meager and often nearly impossible to actually get. Hundreds of thousands of private citizens who have lost their jobs are flocking to Reddit for help and advice, as state unemployment bureaucracies are so janky and swamped they often can't deal with the flood of applications.

In the past week, the r/unemployment subreddit has taken a dark turn with the expiration of the CARES Act's super-unemployment and the failure of Republicans to even come to an agreement about what they want in the next round of pandemic relief. It's become a de facto support group for people whose lives are collapsing around them for simple lack of income or jobs, and talk of suicide is common.

One wonders: Is America about to see bread protests, or even riots?

People around the country have been testifying how they are down to their last dollar or flat broke, facing eviction or living on the street, unable to afford vital prescriptions or even food. "I've got $18.91 in my bank account this morning. My cupboards are getting low, my dog will have to eat whatever me and my kids eat and my gas light will be back on shortly," wrote one Redditor recently. "My car payment was due today and I'm still $200 short, 500 counting last month's. My phone bill is due in a few days. I'm a month behind on the electric bill. I have about $60 to my name, I'm not going to make rent and my [landlords] have already said they will not be giving any allowances," wrote another. "Well I've waited and now my power turns off at the end of today, in a house where my entire family has moved in with me … worst of all I have two toddlers and virtually nowhere to go. 'Rona and the government have picked off my family one by one and this seems to be the final nail in the coffin," wrote a third.


Tip of the iceberg indeed. I wonder if they will make it to November.
July 11, 2020

Valentina Sampaio Becomes First Transgender Model to Appear in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue

“To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity—it is life changing.”


In its 56 years, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has represented current standards of beauty, which have evolved throughout the decades. From Tyra Banks being the first Black model to grace its cover in 1997 to Ashley Graham being the first full-figured model to do the same nearly two decades later to Halima Aden being the first featured model to wear a hijab in 2019, the magazine has broken barriers in the modeling industry, catapulting the careers of these diverse faces.

For its upcoming issue, Sports Illustrated has enacted another first. Valentina Sampaio has been named a 2020 rookie and is the first transgender model to appear in the glossy’s pages. Indeed, it is another milestone for the 23-year-old Brazilian, who garnered the same distinction when she signed up to be the face of a Victoria’s Secret campaign last year.

“I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news,” Sampaio told People. “The feeling was surreal. Being in SI Swim has always been on my bucket list of things to achieve in my career. It’s a dream come true on so many levels. SI has been a deeply meaningful achievement. To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity—it is life changing.”

Lensed by Josie Clough on Scrub Island, the editorial spread is one of many in an issue that celebrates diversity. Hyunjoo Hwang, Marquita Pring, Anita Marshall, Lorena Duran, Kim Riekenberg, Brooks Nader, Jospehine Skriver were also named 2020 rookies and appear in the magazine. But it is Sampaio who is making headlines—and deservedly so.

June 22, 2020

Ocasio-Cortez builds political army, and a fundraising machine to match

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has spent more money than any House Democrat seeking reelection this year, building a massive political team and an even bigger money machine.

An analysis of the freshman firebrand's prodigious spending shows Ocasio-Cortez has nearly 40 staffers on her campaign, with 30 having been hired in 2020 — a staff size more typical of a top-tier Senate campaign than a congresswoman seeking reelection in a safely progressive seat.

Ocasio-Cortez had spent $6.3 million through June 3, according to her latest FEC report, sixth overall among House candidates.Just two years after she pulled off a stunning upset over a veteran lawmaker, Ocasio-Cortez has become a magnet for small-dollar donors. She has raised more than $10.5 million, about 80 percent of which came from donors giving under $200, the FEC reports show.

That mammoth haul makes her the fifth-most prodigious fundraiser of the cycle so far, behind only House GOP whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)

February 29, 2020

Maybe a President's Age Doesn't Matter That Much

Statistically, all the remaining 2020 candidates can survive two terms. But older leaders might make decisions differently.

Donald Trump is the second-oldest president in U.S. history. If he wins re-election in November he would pass Ronald Reagan to become the oldest president ever around the middle of his final year in office. Three of the Democratic contenders to replace him, Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden (listed in descending order of age), would break the record on Inauguration Day. Elizabeth Warren would break it during a second term.

Sanders, Bloomberg (who is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News) and Biden have already passed the average life expectancy of a male American, recently estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 76.2 years. Does this mean they’re living on borrowed time? Well, no, life expectancy doesn’t work that way. Once an American man has made it to 78 years and 5 months, as Sanders has, he can expect to live to 88, according to the Social Security Administration’s life expectancy tables. Here are the estimated additional years of life expectancy, based solely on gender and age, for him and other significant remaining candidates.

All these candidates are in the upper reaches of the income distribution (Pete Buttigieg, the poorest, has a taxable income right around the 90th percentile), which in recent years has translated into much longer-than-average lifespans. As president, they would also have access to the very best medical care, and though the office is known to age its occupants in superficial terms, a 2011 study by longevity researcher S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois at Chicago concluded that it did not appear to shorten their lifespans. There are obviously risks specific to individual candidates, such as Sanders’s heart troubles or Trump’s weight, but I think it’s fair to describe the life expectancy estimates in the chart as quite conservative for all of them.

Still, while all the candidates can expect to see through two terms in office, the risk that Sanders or Bloomberg or Biden wouldn’t make it is clearly a lot higher than Tulsi Gabbard’s risk. In a white paper published last year by the American Federation of Aging Research, Olshansky and five co-authors estimated the chances that each of the then-declared candidates would survive one and two terms based on the Social Security tables and a “third-degree monotone cubic spline using Hyman filtering.” For one term, Sanders came in at 76.8%, Biden 79.2%, Trump 84.8% (to make it through a second term), Warren 91.8%, Tom Steyer 93.7%, Amy Klobuchar 96.8%, and Buttigieg and Gabbard 99%. For two terms, it was Sanders 66.6%, Biden 70%, Warren 88%, Steyer 91.6%, Klobuchar 95.7%, and Buttigieg and Gabbard 98.7%. Bloomberg wasn’t a candidate at the time, and the authors haven’t run exact percentages for him yet, but they would come in slightly lower than Biden’s.


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