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andym's Journal
andym's Journal
February 9, 2024

Lesson for Biden supporters: Reagan was thought to be elderly and losing his memory in 1984 yet he won in a landslide

In Reagan's case he may have even been suffering from early signs of Alzheimer's, which he was later diagnosed with. In one debate with Mondale he couldn't answer many questions due to forgetfulness. Didn't matter. Why? The country had just come out of a high inflationary period, and Reagan got credit for the economy. At the moment, a similar economic situation has been developing with regard to inflation. Reagan projected an image of a kindly grandfather optimistic about the future of America (despite his policies directly contradicting his image). Biden projects a similar image, distorted as it is by partisan attacks by the Right. Reagan was trailing "democrat to be named" in polling until the spring of 1984, when it was apparent the economy was improving. The stage is set for a Biden victory if he can demonstrate that he is competent (the bar is lowered by special prosecutor's report) by delivering a coherent State of the Union address-- perhaps even stating something like it's "morning in America, again," which would throw the Right into fits.

February 8, 2024

Dangerous in-group behavior of the GOP house members: following the whims of their real leader, Trump

That Trump as leader has so much sway over the GOP House, shows how tight their group is defined, and how dangerous Trump is. The GOP group narrative holds more sway over its members than usual: only 3 GOP House members chose to vote against the impeachment of a cabinet member who broke no law and was guilty of no unethical conduct (the 4th vote was procedural). Why did they vote to impeach and mock the Constitution? Because Trump wants the border as an issue, and they want to pin the problem on Joe Biden. The whole group including many supposed "moderates" went along. This is how the republics fail and are replaced by empires (think Rome): bad group decisions at key times.
The only question is how many GOP members are following cynically, how many in fear of losing their jobs, or how many really buy in. Unfortunately there is likely to be a large set of the last possibility.
Though it's been argued at each Presidential election of potential catastrophe if the GOP wins power, this time the reality may actually exceed the hyperbole.

January 6, 2024

Biden's plea to save democracy faces harsh democratic reality

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
6 minute read
Updated 9:21 AM EST, Sat January 6, 2024

"President Joe Biden commemorated January 6 as a day of American infamy, marking the third anniversary of the 2021 insurrection with a call for Americans to join him in defending US democracy from former President Donald Trump, who by comparison has promised to pardon the insurrectionists.
[The hard democratic truth is Trump could win]
Looking past the presidential primaries, which get underway with the January 15 Iowa caucuses, a new assessment by David Chalian and Terence Burlij in CNN’s political unit suggests Trump has the advantage in a general election matchup against Biden. Trump currently has the advantage in enough states to win the election, according to their outlook.
[Accountability for the insurrection continues, slowly, through the US justice system]
[The system worked the last time]
Trump was unable to overturn the election results in 2020 because the complicated, inefficient and often frustrating US system of government, which was designed to guard against a monarchy, was too strong for him to completely break down.
[Chipping away at what was normal]
Kinzinger: “The basic contract for self-governance … is that we know that we can vote, that vote counts and the winner wins. He [Trump] sullied that and destroyed people’s faith in that very basic compact we have to have when he convinced a quarter of the country or more that the election was stolen."
[Biden needs more than his democracy argument]
[the following is paraphrased due to quote limits]
Nancy Pelosi says that President Biden will need more than Trump's threat to democracy to win, he needs to expand the threat of Trump to issues people face everyday: the economy and inflation, as well as the effort by the GOP to deprive women of rights (eg abortion rights).
Fortunately, inflation is receding, fuel prices are lower and the economy is strong-- Americans consumer confidence is only now beginning to rise, just in time for the election. The strong economy coupled with Trump convictions should help Joe Biden be elected, but its not a done deal yet and won't be until the November election. In the meantime, there is a need to counter the GOP propaganda and get Joe Biden's accomplishments re: Bidenomics out there to as many as will listen.

December 9, 2023

Penn President Liz Magill resigns after testimony on antisemitism drew bipartisan criticism

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill has resigned amid growing bipartisan backlash against her congressional committee testimony on antisemitism and a semester marked by near-weekly protests, complaints by deep-pocketed donors, and widespread accusations of mismanagement since a controversial literary festival was held on campus earlier in the fall.

And minutes later, Scott L. Bok, chair of the board of trustees, announced that he was stepping down, too.

“It has been my privilege to serve as president of this remarkable institution,” Magill said in a statement shared by Bok. “It has been an honor to work with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to advance Penn’s vital missions.”

Bok said Magill, who will stay on as interim president until another interim is appointed, voluntarily offered her resignation.

Read more: https://www.inquirer.com/education/liz-magill-resigns-penn-university-pennsylvania-20231209.html

Other news sources:

As of 10:38 PM ET: "UPenn president Liz Magill and Board Chair Scott Bok resign after disastrous hearing on antisemitism" (CNN)
New York: In a stunning downfall for the leader of one of the world's most prestigious universities, Liz Magill, the president of University of Pennsylvania, voluntarily stepped down from the helm of the Ivy League school on Saturday following a torrent of criticism for her testimony about antisemitism on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Board Chair Scott Bok also resigned Saturday."

November 1, 2023

Artists Lose First Round of Copyright Infringement Case Against AI Art Generators

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Artists suing generative artificial intelligence art generators have hit a stumbling block in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit over the uncompensated and unauthorized use of billions of images downloaded from the internet to train AI systems, with a federal judge’s dismissal of most claims.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick on Monday found that copyright infringement claims cannot move forward against Midjourney and DeviantArt, concluding the accusations are “defective in numerous respects.” Among the issues are whether the AI systems they run on actually contain copies of copyrighted images that were used to create infringing works and if the artists can substantiate infringement in the absence of identical material created by the AI tools. Claims against the companies for infringement, right of publicity, unfair competition and breach of contract were dismissed, though they will likely be reasserted.

In his dismissal of infringement claims, Orrick wrote that plaintiffs’ theory is “unclear” as to whether there are copies of training images stored in Stable Diffusion that are utilized by DeviantArt and Midjourney. He pointed to the defense’s arguments that it’s impossible for billions of images “to be compressed into an active program,” like Stable Diffusion. “Plaintiffs will be required to amend to clarify their theory with respect to compressed copies of Training Images and to state facts in support of how Stable Diffusion — a program that is open source, at least in part — operates with respect to the Training Images,” stated the ruling.

According to the order, the artists will also likely have to show proof of infringing works produced by AI tools that are identical to their copyrighted material. This potentially presents a major issue because they have conceded that “none of the Stable Diffusion output images provided in response to a particular Text Prompt is likely to be a close match for any specific image in the training data.”

Read more: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/artists-copyright-infringement-case-ai-art-generators-1235632929/

The details of copyright law will make it difficult to sue AI companies it appears. Since the created images that include facsimilies aren't exact and questions exist as to the absence of exact copies in the computer programs.
October 4, 2023

Will the removal of McCarthy increase or decrease the chances of continued funding of US government?

McCarthy's last major act was to strike a deal with Democrats to continue funding the government for 45 days. That is the action that prompted Gaetz and colleagues to remove him,

Now it is likely that McCarthy believed that Democrats would consider that reason enough to not participate in his removal. He considered wrongly. He almost certainly would have had to strike a deal, officially or under the table to avoid Democrats voting against him.

The very big question remains is whether Congress will actually vote to continue to fund the government in about 6 weeks. Obviously it will depend on who becomes Speaker (for example one congressman says he will nominate Trump), but there is now likely to be even more bad blood between the current Republican leadership and Democrats-- evidence for this is the demand to remove Pelosi and Stoyer from their offices.

So we are asking the question based on your best guess of what will happen.

If you vote for decreasing the chance of funding, do you think that voting to remove McCarthy was a tactical error as a government shutdown will hurt the economy or a necessary political action to weaken Republicans ?

October 2, 2023

Newsom to Name Emily's List President as Feinstein Successor

Source: NYT

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California is expected on Monday to name Laphonza Butler, the president of Emily’s List and a former labor leader, to fill the vacancy left in the Senate by the death of Dianne Feinstein, several sources familiar with the decision confirmed on Sunday night.

Ms. Butler, 44, has been a fixture in California politics for nearly 15 years as a former leader of the state’s largest labor union and an adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris. In 2021, she became the first Black woman to take the helm at Emily’s List, the fund-raising powerhouse dedicated to the election of female candidates and supporters of reproductive rights.

The appointment would come four days after Senator Feinstein died at 90 on Thursday in Washington, D.C. The senator’s body was flown over the weekend back to San Francisco, where a memorial service has been scheduled for Thursday.

Ms. Butler, whose appointment was first reported by Politico, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/01/us/newsom-senate-feinstein-laphonza-butler.html

Newsom keeps his promise.
September 17, 2023

Trump says it was 'my decision' to try to overturn 2020 election results

Source: CNN

Former President Donald Trump said that he received counsel from numerous people shortly after the 2020 election but that it was his decision to push the false claim he won the presidency and try to overturn the results.

"You know who I listen to? Myself. I saw what happened," Trump said...

Trump says he supports mental competency tests for presidency amid concerns over age
The former president said he didn't listen to his attorneys who told him he lost the election because he didn't respect them.

"You hire them, you've never met these people, you get a recommendation, they turn out to be RINOs (Republicans in name only), or they turn out to be not so good. In many cases, I didn't respect them," Trump said. "But I did respect others. I respected many others that said the election was rigged."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/17/politics/trump-election-results-decision/index.html

Basically he just confessed. This should guarantee a guilty verdict if justice is blind.
Who are the "many others" who agreed the election was rigged? They are are almost certainly his yes-men-and-women co-defendants in Georgia.
September 8, 2023

Biden parallels: Reagan's age was a problem until it wasn't in 1983-4, inflation changed everything

Ronald Reagan was the oldest President elected up to that point in history. He faced a strong negative public perception of his "advanced" age (73 in 1984) which he even joked about during a debate with Mondale. Back then, people did not quite live as long (life expectancy was several years less) and perceptions of what was old was set at a younger age.
In 1983, Reagan was polling at 43% favorability and Mondale and other Democrats were leading him in potential match-ups. However, the real problem then was high inflation, gas prices and interest rates. The era of stagflation had not quite ended in 1983, but was soon to end due to Fed Chairman Paul Volcker's hawkish monetary policy which started in 1979--he was appointed by Jimmy Carter. Volcker's policies caused sky high, interest rates and a recession, but eventually created the lower inflation high growth economy that Reagan took credit for this with the in reality ineffective "Reaganomics."

In 1984, inflation was under control, interest rates and gas prices were coming down and Reagan got the credit. Reagan's age was significantly downplayed and became a non-factor because people felt things were going well. Reagan won in 1984 in a landslide. The party in power gets the credit or blame for the economy.

I believe that we are in a similar situation, and Joe Biden is setting himself to take credit for the improving inflation by touting Bidenomics. If interest rates and gas prices come down next year, Biden gets credit and his age becomes a non-factor for many Americans.

June 24, 2023

Echoes of 1917 Russian military collapse that led to the Revolution or the failed coup ending the SU

Russia has had historic potential for instability and the rebellion against Putin and his war in Ukraine could have far reaching consequences. One lesson is that those who begin the destabilization may not be around to benefit in the end, and that how things end is not easily predictable.

Ukraine may significantly benefit from the chaos, especially if the Russian military is distracted for too long.

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