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Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 04:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,012

Journal Archives

Serialized fiction Twitter account skewers the Trump campaign

In case you haven't seen this, a fellow named Owen Ellickson has been writing an ongoing fictional account of the inner workings of the Trump campaign in 140 characters (or less!) at a time, and it's hysterical.

You can find him here: https://twitter.com/onlxn

There's an ongoing plot involving Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent, and Alex Jones trying to blow up the US Supervolcano, Roger Ailes is a horrible squid beast, Paul Ryan is deeply depressed at his own lack of principles, Kellyanne Conway only refers to Trump as "it," Boehner and Carson are playing detective to find out who leaked the tax documents... so many threads going on at once, and it's hilarious.

There's a LOT to it, now. You'll have to go back quite a ways. It's divided up into threaded "chapters." Definitely worth the read.

fivethirtyeight ends up with 5 projections, and Hillary wins in four of them

You’ll Likely Be Reading One Of These 5 Articles The Day After The Election

It’s the morning after the election, and while half the country is waking up breathing a sigh of relief, another large share is disappointed, angry or even panicked. But what demographic voting patterns propelled the winner to victory? How did those patterns play out in the Electoral College map? And what does it mean for the future of American politics?

1. The Clinton landslide

In a staggering rejection of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, voters last night elected Hillary Clinton as the nation’s first female president, 53 percent to 41 percent — the widest margin in a presidential race since 1984. Clinton swept 30 states totaling 413 electoral votes. In an exclamation point, Clinton carried Arizona, Georgia and even Texas. Repudiating Trump, Utah gave its six electoral votes to conservative independent Evan McMullin.

2. Modest Clinton majority

Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the presidency last night, defeating Donald Trump by a comfortable margin — 50 percent to 42 percent — roughly in line with what polls predicted. Clinton swept all 26 states that President Obama had carried in 2012, plus Arizona, North Carolina and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, for a total of 359 electoral votes. In a stunning repudiation of Trump, Utah gave its six electoral votes to conservative independent Evan McMullin.

3. 2012 Map redux

After the most toxic and divisive presidential campaign in modern history, Hillary Clinton was elected the nation’s first female president last night, defeating Donald Trump 48 percent to 44 percent. However, in spite of Trump’s scandals and defiance of democratic norms, Clinton managed to win by only about the same 4 percentage point margin that President Obama won by four years ago. Clinton and Trump each won 25 states: Trump turned Iowa and Ohio red, but Clinton turned North Carolina blue, for a total of 322 electoral votes — 10 fewer than Obama picked up in 2012.

Lots more detail on these, and two more scenarios in the full article. Demographics play a very important role in all of these scenarios. After all of the scenarios that the team over at fivethirtyeight run, Hillary Clinton won about 4 out of 5 times to varying degrees of embarassing Trump, and there was only one scenario where Trump wins, and that one flies in the face of all of their data to this point in the process.

Full article here: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/youll-likely-be-reading-one-of-these-5-articles-the-day-after-the-election/

So, make sure that everyone GOTV and see how close to scenario #1 Hillary can get! It's still in the hands of the voters at this point, and we can't rely on polls, still gotta vote!

Bernie taps his network to raise nearly $2 million in two days for House, Senate contenders

As reported by the Washington Post:

Bernie Sanders can still apparently pack a punch when it comes to fundraising.

The senator from Vermont raised just shy of $2 million in two days online this week for 13 like-minded U.S. Senate and House candidates, according to his campaign committee.

This week, Sanders tapped his massive donor list, sending out emails asking his fans to support candidates blessed by Our Revolution, an organization he launched after exiting the race.

The two-day take was $1.88 million, with more dollars continuing to come in. The biggest beneficiary, an aide said, was Deborah Ross, who has mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). About $300,000 flowed directly to her campaign.

One of multiple solicitations sent out by Sanders referred to a recent warning by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that Sanders could take over as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee if Democrats take over control of the Senate.

Full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/10/20/bernie-sanders-taps-his-donor-network-to-raise-nearly-2-million-in-two-days-for-house-senate-contenders/

Update: Trudeau abandons commitment towards electoral reform

In an interview for French newsmagazine Le Devoir, Trudeau talks about abandoning his commitment to reform Canadian elections and do away with FPTP (First Past The Post voting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-past-the-post_voting):

Au moment de célébrer le premier anniversaire de son élection au gouvernement, Justin Trudeau se tourne vers l’avenir et reconnaît les nombreux chantiers qui l’attendent. Énergie Est, les communautés autochtones, mais aussi la réforme électorale promise l’an dernier et sur laquelle le premier ministre ne garantit plus qu’il ira de l’avant.

« Si on va changer le système électoral, il faut que les gens soient ouverts à ça », a laissé tomber Justin Trudeau, en entrevue exclusive avec Le Devoir cette semaine pour faire le bilan de la dernière année. « On va regarder comment se déroulent les consultations, les réactions, les résultats des rapports. On ne va pas préjuger ce qui serait nécessaire [pour modifier le mode de scrutin]. Mais quand on dit un appui substantiel, ça veut dire quelque chose. »

What he is saying here (for Anglophones is that he would have to take the temperature of the electorate, first. He would want to know that the voting public was open to such a change. Sounds to me like he's looking towards another referendum, or some such thing, to gauge the public's openness to a reformed voting system instead of FPTP.

Full article here: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/canada/482514/la-reforme-electorale-n-est-plus-garantie

Elder Canadian statesman, and head of the Broadbent institute, Ed Broadbent, took to Twitter to call the Prime minister out on his backtracking over a series of tweets:

@JustinTrudeau's #electoralreform comments in @LeDevoir are outrageous & transparently self-serving. Let me explain

1st, on process. w/ #ERRE about to start final deliberations, PM Trudeau cynically undermines the whole democratic process

Now, on substance. #LPC made clear commitment that '15 fed election would be last 1 under FPTP

And @JustinTrudeau repeated commitment throughout 2015 campaign

And post-election, reaffirmed promise to scrap #FPTP "to make sure that every vote counts"

You can read the entire very long and very well-referenced Twitter essay here:


Looks like I jumped on this a little early. The ink had not yet begun to spill on Trudeau's comments to Le Devoir. National Post has picked it up (because of course they did), though it seems they're more interested in banging Trudeau in the head about it, instead of much substance. However, they're not wrong when they say that Trudeau's walking back of his campaign promises on electoral reform are extremely discouraging:


From Conde Nast Traveler: TSA May Start Securing Trains, Buses, and Ferries

The article:

Taking a bus, a train, or a ferry has long offered a level of convenience that air travel can’t. Arrive two hours before a domestic flight, and it can still be a stretch making it before the gate closes; show up at New York's Penn Station 15 minutes before your departure time (to minimize how long you have to stay in that dystopian nightmare of a building), and you’ll have enough time left over to grab a slice. That ease of travel that we gain from not having the intense—and, at times, bafflingly inefficient—TSA oversight found in airports may soon be a thing of the past, though, as a new bill making its way through Congress seeks to expand TSA’s reach onto buses, trains, and ferries, known collectively as surface transportation.

The bipartisan bill introduced last week by Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) would require that the TSA assess terrorism risk at all surface transportation facilities—bus depots, train stations, ports—and implement new security models based on those risks. According to website The Hill, the lawmakers cited concerns about whether the TSA is adequately identifying security risks in non-airport transport hubs. According to a report from the Office of Inspector General, the agency is not. Last year, 80 percent of the TSA's $7.4 billion budget was spent at airports, while only two percent went to surface-level transportation. “TSA lacks an intelligence-driven, risk-based security strategy that informs security and resource decisions across all transportation modes,” reads the report, observing a security approach “designed for the aviation mode and chiefly for air passenger screening.” Thune, Nelson, and co. want to change this with legislation that would see train operators gaining access to TSA’s terrorist watch list, more rigorous screening of passengers and employees, and an uptick in TSA canine units at stations and ports.

From Conde Nast here: http://www.cntraveler.com/story/tsa-may-start-securing-trains-buses-and-ferries

Looks like the TSA is looking to expand its security theatre into ground transportation in the USA. Right now they're only talking about watch lists and "an uptick in TSA canine units at stations and ports" but also "more rigorous screening of passengers and employees." Travel within the USA is turning into a very "Papers, please" sort of experience.

Who Are The Undecideds?

It's a question we've seen popping up all over the place lately, and it's a pretty serious question. As rational progressives on this side, it's hard for us to believe anyone can look at the two candidates for president and be in any way undecided who is the best person for the job. Increasingly, we're seeing that even the GOP rank and file are fleeing the sinking ship like the rats we've been calling them for years, finally revealing themselves. But then there's this huge group of undecideds, and we can't even fathom (in an election like this) that anyone could still be undecided. And it was brought even further to the forefront when Mr. Undecided himself, Ken Bone, said after that second election that he was even MORE undecided than he was going into the debate.

Well, I have a theory that sort of occurred to me looking at this amazing poll:
Where Trump's lead in Texas (yes, Texas) has sunk to within the margin of error, and there was this little graphic:


Showing 5% undecided (which if they all voted for Clinton would hand her the state according to that poll).

Full disclosure, I'm a Canadian, but my in laws live in Houston TX, so I've spent a goodly amount of time in TX and I've chatted with folks on both side of the political spectrum. The hubby's immediate family are all pretty liberal (and are all super-supportive of our gay marriage!) but some of the extended family is super Republican, and I've chatted with a lot of them.

Is it possible that the undecideds are really rank-and-file Republicans, people who have voted and registered as GOP for so many years that they just do it reflexively at this point? Basically ideological inertia carrying the GOP vote in many places? These traditionally GOP voters are now looking at their nominee and they're thinking, "What the actual hell is going on here? The GOP nominated this?" and they can't bring themselves to vote for him. Sure, they may hate Clinton because of the thin gruel of hate and fear they've been fed by their party and the right-wing "news" media and talk radio for so long, but they just can't look at Trump and say, "Yeah, I'll vote for him." So, they're letting people know that they're undecided whether or not they're going to hold their nose in November and vote for the nominee of their party (that they're more than a little disgusted by), or the nominee of the OTHER party (ideological suicide, but they can't deny she has experience and is eminently qualified), or a third party (most like Johnson who looks more and more foolish and dim-witted every day).

Is that who the undecideds are? I just can't believe that in this age of ready information that people just can't decide between a qualified person that they personally dislike and a deeply unqualified and odious person they also personally dislike, but who heads the party they happen to have supported in the past.

The word of the day is Cognitive Dissonance!

The mental acrobatics that the GOP will go through to endorse Trump despite, or even for, what they demonize everyone else for. Here is a screen capture that got posted to my Twitter feed today:

From the Twitter feed here:

[blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"][p lang="en" dir="ltr"]Couldn't have said it better myself [a href="https://t.co/fBoW2eWc2I"]pic.twitter.com/fBoW2eWc2I[/a]

— Stefanie Gordon (@Stefmara) [a href="https://twitter.com/Stefmara/status/786542514387824640"]October 13, 2016[/a]
[script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"][/script]

fivethirtyeight with a reminder to Democrats about 2018

Please remember, everyone, that the presidency is only one part of this. It's vital, of course, to prevent Trump from taking the White House, and making sure that the extremely qualified and competent Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, wins the presidential election. But as Dan Hopkins over on fivethirtyeight.com notes:

It’s easy to see why so many voters feel so strongly about the importance of the coming election, but as an empirical matter, statements like Giuliani’s are incorrect. That’s because, in comparison to many other developed democracies, the United States actually has frequent federal elections. In Canada and Britain, a single party can govern for up to four or five years before voters get to weigh in. In the U.S., by contrast, no party can maintain unified control of the federal government for more than two years before facing the voters. After 2016, we’ll have midterm elections in 2018, less than 22 months after the next president is inaugurated. I certainly won’t call those midterms the “most important ever,” but they will have a particular importance: Control of the U.S. Senate, and possibly the House, could hang in the balance. For whichever party that loses the 2016 presidential race, 2018 is a big-time consolation prize.

Since the 1930s, one of the most dependable regularities in American politics has been midterm loss, a swing against the party of the incumbent president. Whether due to a reaction to the sitting president’s agenda or to voters seeking a counterweight to the president, the party not holding the presidency has made gains in the House in the midterm elections in every election but two since 1934.

If history is any guide, the House GOP’s majority would face more risk from a President Donald Trump in 2018 than from Trump’s campaign in 2016.

Or imagine that Clinton prevails in November. If so, the most likely outcome is a continuation of the recent pattern of resounding GOP victories in midterm years. In 2018, Democrats will defend Senate seats they won in 2012 in several red states, including Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin famously shot a copy of the cap and trade bill in a 2010 campaign advertisement — but even excellent marksmanship might not be enough in a third consecutive midterm wave for the GOP.

In addition, some of the most important aftershocks of the 2016 election are likely to be felt not in Washington but in state capitals across the country. In 2018, 36 states will choose governors. As I’ve pointed out before, our elections for governor increasingly track national trends. Governors are typically powerful officials in their own right, with substantial control over state budgets and policy. But even for those who care about power only at the federal level, there is good reason to care about the 2018 governors’ races: In many states with multiple House districts, those governors will have veto power over their states’ redistricting processes after the 2020 census. Over the course of the Obama presidency, anti-Obama voting in non-presidential years is a major reason why the Democrats have lost a net of 11 governors’ seats.

full article here: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-party-that-loses-this-year-could-still-win-a-big-consolation-prize/?ex_cid=2016-forecast

So, this is a great reminder that the energy in this election directed against Trump needs to be kept up for another two years for mid-term elections. GOTV can't be for just the presidential election. Why don't we give Hillary a full set of tools to work with, instead of letting those obstructionist tools in the GOP hinder her as they've done so frequently to Obama.

It's time to embarrass the GOP into irrelevance.

Also, as a side note, at the time of posting this thread, fivethirtyeight's polls-only projection has Clinton's chance of winning the election at 86.1%, including winning Ohio, Iowa, Florida, and Arizona. Woot woot! The now-cast has her topping 90%!

Scaachi Koul on the Politics of Punching Down

After that gross Watters piece on Fox News about Chinese reactions to the election, and a really gross anti-trans piece in the Canadian right-o-sphere, Scaachi Koul at BuzzFeed Canada explains why "punching down" just isn't funny.

There’s a reason why jesters made fun of kings. Earlier this week, Jesse Watters, a correspondent for The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, provided us with an excellent reminder that taking someone down a notch is never worthwhile if you’re doing it from above.

Watters visited New York’s Chinatown in light of the many, many comments made about China in the first presidential debate in late September. And as one does when they speak to Chinese-Americans, Watters asked people if they knew karate (which is Japanese), asked if he should bow as a greeting, got a foot massage, and seemingly willfully botched the Chinese language. The segment was spliced with clips from Chinatown and of Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid (JAPANESE), and even used that “stereotypical Chinese nine-note riff” during the title card. Later in studio, Watters and Bill O’Reilly joked about how the Chinese are too polite a people to just walk away from the microphone to begin with.

Meanwhile, in Canada this week, Lauren Southern of The Rebel (Canada’s answer to Breitbart, a like-minded network run by a man who once wore a niqab on his defunct TV show to prove…something) did a segment related to the country’s Bill C-16. The bill, introduced in May, would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include protection for trans people. Southern visits a doctor’s office, secretly recording the encounter, telling the doctor that she’s “been a gender-nonbinary person for a year now” and that she uses male pronouns. In order to get her gender changed on her government-issued identification, she needs a doctor’s note. The doctor, naturally, gives it to her, because what kind of monster wants to change their identity on their health card just to trick the government? (To be clear, it doesn’t appear that Southern is trans. She also attended a trans rally yesterday at the University of Toronto, did not disclose that she is a “journalist,” and told the crowd that she’s trans. Later that day, she mocked everyone for clapping for her.) The Rebel and Southern are, at this point, well known for these faux-gotcha stunts, but this hit an impressive new low. (Until this, at least.)

Satirical shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report do and did pointed topical humor well, particularly when it was interview-based. Colbert made fun of overpaid, hyper-privileged screaming television personalities who added nothing to political conversations. The Daily Show correspondents went to the Republican National Convention and made fun of respectability politics and the inherent whiteness of the GOP. Even then, the segments were hardly mean-spirited, but rather tongue-in-cheek and heavily researched. They attacked ideas above attacking individuals (unless given a figure like, say, Donald Trump) and their jokes were rooted in the absurdity of injustice, or the clear failure of the government, as opposed to finding Chinese people funny.

The real difference is that comedy shows or segments that are legitimately funny always punch up. Instead of wasting their time going after people who are typically in the minority, they go after people with tangible power that’s being abused. A basic tenet of humor — and I mean real basic, we’re talking ancient Greece here — is that your best stuff will come from going after people bigger than you. But Watters and Southern, and their respective networks, are too dedicated to maintaining the status quo to be remotely entertaining.

The same trouble crops up when we have broader discussions about social justice or minority rights, particularly on platforms like Twitter, where it’s easy to drop a pithy line without context. So much of the anger around, say, black people asking to not be killed by the police comes from people who are at no substantial risk themselves of being killed by the cops. Men who send women sexist comments, cis people who refuse to understand a trans perspective, white people who become angry when people of color don’t watch their tone — it’s all presented with that “it’s just a joke” slant, as if a joke can blur any clear insult. The reality is that it’s actually about making sure a historically ignored group stays ignored or maligned.

Full article here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/scaachikoul/why-punching-down-will-never-be-funny?utm_term=.lsQv3weZ3#.kbG8O9EBO

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