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Member since: Fri Nov 6, 2015, 07:20 AM
Number of posts: 2,352

Journal Archives

They are Hallucinating, in their self-imposed exile


Bad food, bad water, lack of fresh air and sunshine will do that to a prisoner of mind.

The Sanders campaign is taking its fight with the DNC to the next level


The dust-up over a data breach that briefly erupted in the Democratic presidential primary last week isn’t over as far as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his team are concerned.

In a conversation with Yahoo News, a top Sanders campaign adviser made a series of explosive allegations about how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and a political technology company that works with the party handled the incident. According to the Sanders adviser, the DNC and NGP VAN, a firm that has a contract with the party organization to operate a voter file, have responded to the data breach by “leaking information” and “stonewalling an investigation” into the matter.

“We have demanded a full investigation from top to bottom,” the Sanders adviser said.

Sanders’ adviser noted that a lawsuit the campaign filed in federal court about the data breach last Friday, Dec. 18, is still ongoing, and described it as an attempt to get answers despite the party’s lack of cooperation.

more, mostly rehash

How Trump Has Neutralized Super-PAC Cash


The Republican front-runner has dominated his rivals in terms of free media coverage...After a year of fundraising and with just seven weeks until the first contest in Iowa, super-PACs have had little success influencing public opinion, baffling candidates and their donors alike. Trump’s dominance in the polls and free media like TV appearances, combined with a field of more than a dozen candidates, has made it hard to stand out or even to pick a target to attack. Many candidates, wary of costly advertising campaigns that could burn through cash quickly, are now sitting on tens of millions of dollars, concerned that any spending would get lost in the noise.

Super-PACs are at the heart of a transformation in American elections that has been spurred by a series of court rulings, including the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, which loosened decades-old limits on money in politics by declaring that political spending was a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Thanks to those rulings, super-PACs can raise unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations, and can spend money directly on campaign advocacy, as long as they don't coordinate with a candidate. In 2012, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were aided by such groups, but outside spending in this cycle has been expected to dramatically outpace previous elections. This year, the groups were being created even before their beneficiaries officially declared themselves to be candidates, and many top campaign advisers decamped to run affiliated super-PACs, showing they were considered key to the candidate's strategy.

Still, conventional wisdom about the dominance of super-PACs continues to be upended. In September, after many candidates had already spent months courting mega-donors, Rick Perry and Scott Walker dropped out of the race leaving millions of super-PAC dollars unspent and showing that an outside group couldn't simply step in for a financially troubled campaign. Meanwhile, Right to Rise, a super-PAC supporting Jeb Bush, has already spent about $45 million, only to see Bush's poll numbers stagnate. That’s made many traditional Republican donors stay on the sidelines, concerned about the impact their money can have in an environment where not even Right to Rise’s $103 million fundraising haul has been enough to lift a more pro-establishment candidate to the top of the pack. One of the most significant forces, according to Conway, is the "immovable object of the past five-plus months named Donald J. Trump."


take that, Citizens United!

Have Yourself a Bernie Little Christmas By Lauren Steiner


“On the first day of Christmas, Bernie gave to me, an end to inequality. On the second day of Christmas, Bernie gave to me, 15 bucks an hour and an end to inequality.” And so begins the adpated version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” Bernie style. The rest of the song includes ten other aspects of Bernie Sanders’ platform.

Inspired by the Occupella singers in San Diego active during the Occupy movement, I sat down before Thanksgiving and adapted a couple of tunes. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” became “Bernie the Greatest Candidate.” Then there was “Deck the Halls with Votes for Bernie.” And “Jingle Bells Bernie Tells, the Truth about Our Land.” And so on.

I enlisted the creative help of fellow LA for Bernie volunteer Debra Mayes, and together we created a few more songs. That led to an event page on Facebook for a caroling event on the Sunday before Christmas, and we were off. On the page, someone posted some adapted holiday lyrics by Bard for Bernie, aka Meira Marom from Brooklyn New York. Others posted their ideas. And soon enough, we had 16 songs.

...We posted the event on Bernie’s website as well and waited for the signups to come in. However, as with many events where people RSVP on line, most people who signed up did not show. Still, we had a core group of six at the Mar Vista Market that grew to 12 by the time we hit Santa Monica Place. One of our core members brought his guitar and a set of bells. The rest of us donned elf and Santa hats and reindeer ears. Most of us wore our Bernie shirts. And I brought rally signs for everyone to hold.

The reception we got was mostly positive. Fewer people stopped to listen to our whole set than I had anticipated. Many people listened to a few songs, took photos and videos and even posed with us. Some even took a songsheet and joined in. We got a lot of honks from drivers passing by. And we handed out some flyers and signed up a couple people to phone bank...

The GOP's Bleak Demographic Destiny: How to Win the White House When All Your Voters Are Dying


A big part of what made the 2012 election so much fun was the fact that Mitt Romney and pretty much every Republican and conservative who supported his candidacy were utterly and unshakably confident that they had the election in the bag. Gallup and Rasmussen had Romney up, the campaign’s internal polling said Mitt was going to win, and all the state-level polling that portended an Obama blowout could be easily unskewed to show that Romney was actually on track for a glorious victory. It was a done deal, no reason to fret, so Mitt said “the hell with it” and went ahead and campaigned in Pennsylvania the weekend before the electionbecause at that point it was all about running up the score. Romney hadn’t even bothered drafting a concession speech.

Then the voting started and everyone from Mitt Romney on down had a collective “oh shit” moment as they realized that the electorate had far more young and minority voters and far fewer white voters than they’d assumed. The Obama team outhustled Romney where it mattered, and shifting voter demographics helped the president cruise to reelection.

This demographic shift is ongoing and, as a new report from the Center for American Progress makes clear, will play an important role in the 2016 election. Historically speaking, the Republicans should be the favorites to capture the White House next year – it’s rare for the party controlling the White House to win a third consecutive presidential term, owing to voter fatigue and a general desire for change. These factors are exacerbated by President Obama’s middling popularity and the fact that the economic recovery hasn’t been spectacular across the board. But the changing complexion of the electorate will, per the CAP report, help to insulate the party against the effects of economics and history – but only up to a point.

Put simply, the Democratic edge among minority voters, younger voters and educated voters keeps getting stronger as each group comes to represent a larger and larger share of the electorate. And that edge will only be more pronounced heading into 2016. At the same time, the Republican base of non-college-educated white voters continues shrinking as a portion of the electorate. What keeps the Republicans in the game is the fact that their voters are more politically active than the Democrats’ key constituencies and can be better relied upon to actually show up and vote. As my colleague Sean Illing has written, this is a lethal trend for the GOP given that the party is outwardly hostile to minority voters’ interests and keeps trying to wring more and more votes from a demographic that is slowly, inexorably disappearing from this earth. But they’re not out of it yet, not by any stretch. And CAP’s report lays out two paths to victory for the GOP that could possibly get them over the demographic hump in 2016. The first is to “put all its cards on a nominee and policy strategy that seeks to maximize conservative anger at President Obama and disgust with Washington while appealing to similarly agitated and concerned independent voters in key swing states.” The second is “a strong and compelling case to voters that their nominee and party agenda is sufficiently moderate and inclusive to represent a full range of Americans while simultaneously changing the direction of Washington and turning the corner on the Obama years.” If you were to sum these strategies up, you could call them, respectively, “rage and resentment” and “apathy and bullshit.” The “rage and resentment” strategy is, as CAP notes, the less promising of the two, but it is more in line generally with what Republican base voters think and believe...

Top Clinton Aide Says Sanders Could Outraise Them in December


“Bernie Sanders’ campaign is on track to outraise us this month,” says Robby Mook, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in fundraising e-mail.

“When we go into our first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, we might not have the resources we’ll need to really compete”

Mook notes Sanders is said to have more individual contributors than any previous presidential campaign

Meet the Scientist Who Injected Himself with 3.5 Million-Year-Old Bacteria


Anatoli Brouchkov is a soft-spoken guy with silver hair, and when he lets out a reserved chuckle, his eyes light up like he was belly laughing. If you met him on the street, you’d never guess that he once injected himself with a 3.5 million-year-old strain of bacteria, just to see what would happen.

When I spoke with him at VICE’s Toronto office in October, the permafrost scientist—also known as a geocryologist, currently stationed at Moscow State University—told me that he’s feeling just fine. In fact, he says he’s feeling healthier and less tired than ever. His most famous claim is that he hasn’t had the flu in two years, which he coyly says may or may not have anything to do with the ancient bacteria he injected into his body.

The bacteria in question is known as Bacillus F, which Brouchkov pulled out of a permafrost sample from Mammoth Mountain in the northern Siberian region of Yakutsk in 2009. (You might remember Yakutsk as the location Motherboard contributor Ben Makuch visited last year in our documentary, “Cloning the Wooly Mammoth.”) Brouchkov believes that this bacteria was not merely preserved for millennia, but actually thrived under these conditions.

According to Brouchkov, Bacillus F has a mechanism that has enabled it to survive for so long beneath the ice, and that the same mechanism could be used to extend human life, too—perhaps, one day, forever. In tests, Brouchkov says the bacteria allowed female mice to reproduce at ages far older than typical mice. Fruit flies, he told the Siberian Times, also experienced a “positive impact” from exposure to the bacteria...

The Democrats’ Family Squabbles

look who is mugging on the NYTimes Op-Ed page!


Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke to reporters before the Democratic debate last week. Credit Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Being the head of the Republican or Democratic National Committee is a big and influential job. It’s also a tricky and thankless job, requiring the occupant to work tirelessly and impartially on behalf of candidates for national public office. At the R.N.C., Reince Priebus juggles a sprawling field led by a billionaire many Republicans would hate to see nominated for president. At the D.N.C., Debbie Wasserman Schultz has the opposite challenge: In a relatively tiny group of three candidates she has been close to one, Hillary Clinton, for years, having served as co-chairwoman of her bid for the nomination in 2008. Her task at the moment is to make sure she does not favor Mrs. Clinton, the clear front-runner, and there are a growing number of critics who don’t think she’s doing a good job of it.

Nominated by President Obama as D.N.C. chairwoman in 2011, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, who represents Florida in the House, has put the organization in the black and worked hard, particularly among female and Jewish Democrats. It has been a rough tenure: Republicans won majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2014. They now control more state legislative seats than at any time since 1920, and hold 31 governorships.

That’s hardly the fault of a party leader. But Ms. Wasserman Schultz hasn’t always been helpful. She has been accused of grandstanding and using her post to bolster her own re-election, which she denies. This year, the main complaint about her stewardship has been her management of the televised debates among the three candidates, which she decided to whack to six low-profile outings. Mrs. Clinton’s two opponents, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, said this cost them key opportunities to appear before large numbers of voters and left Democrats on the fringes, compared with the far more visible and voluble Republicans, of a national conversation. That view is shared by some in the D.N.C. leadership.

Then, too, came her decision to deny the Sanders campaign access to the D.N.C.’s valuable voter database after a D.N.C. vendor’s technological failure made it possible for the Sanders campaign to breach Mrs. Clinton’s files in the database. Mr. Sanders has since withdrawn a lawsuit and fired a staff member involved in the breach, but Ms. Wasserman Schultz’s critics argue, not unreasonably, that she could have done a better job of defusing an internecine controversy the party didn’t need...

is this true? Is the lawsuit withdrawn? Not as of Monday, according to CNN


excellent reporting, and lots of DWS video at link with her shooting her mouth off, also excellent presser by Bernie

NORAD helps children track Santa’s Christmas Eve journey


As the story goes, an advertisement by Sears Roebuck & Company placed in a local newspaper in Colorado Springs directed children with questions about Santa Claus to call him directly. Only the number was misprinted and instead of reaching Santa, the call rang through to the hotline for the commander-in-chief at CONAD. Instead of hanging up on the young man the director of operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called afterwards also were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

Among the military and civilian volunteers who work for NORAD Tracks Santa during the peak season is Canadian Navy Lt. Marco Chouinard of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“I asked for this,” Chouinard said of his assignment at the NORAD base, where U.S. and Canadian military work together. “A lot of people want this job. It’s interesting. It’s fun and it’s a family-oriented program.”

Plus, what was a small operation, has grown tremendously...

Children who have questions can also call the command center, where Chouinard and 1,500 volunteers armed with military intelligence and a marvelous sense of humor are standing by.

The toll free number to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline is 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

Questions can be sent via email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com

NTS also has a Twitter feed (@noradsanta), a Facebook page (Facebook.com/noradsanta), a YouTube channel (YouTube.com/user/NORADTracksSanta), a Google+ page and apps in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores, all of which give visitors access to information about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve.

Weekend Economists Dashing Through the Frost December 25-27, 2015

Well, the Winter Solstice came Tuesday, the shortest day and longest night of the year. It wasn't too bad, though, since the actual Winter is delayed by El Niño, the cyclical weather pattern set up by the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Snow isn't expected to cover the Eastern half of the nation much before mid-January (aside from a Saturday in November which will go unmentioned). The cycle has peaked already, according to Weather Underground:

Off-the-charts record warmth for Christmas

The well-advertised holiday warm wave continues to astound, with “instant” record highs set overnight in many locations from the Great Lakes to the Northeast.

Readings at midday Friday were already into the 70s Fahrenheit from southeast New York to the Gulf Coast, with widespread 80s across Florida. Some of the daily record highs along and near the East Coast on Thursday will be 10°F or more beyond the warmest Christmas Eve in more than a century of recordkeeping.

Breaking a longstanding daily record by more than 10°F is noteworthy in itself, and the intense zone of high pressure off the southeast U.S. coast is uncannily similar to the Bermuda highs common in midsummer!

Given the intense interest in holiday weather and the many family gatherings under way, we can expect this bizarre weekend to spur countless dinner-table conversations about climate change and “global weirding.”

A warm wave like this doesn’t “prove” climate change; it is one manifestation of the weather that results from natural variations such as El Niño playing out in a global atmosphere that is being warmed, moistened, and shifted by ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases.

Like the spectacular warm wave of March 2012, which brought 90°F readings to Michigan, the tropical Christmas Eve 2015 could serve as an excellent candidate for attribution research--the attempt to unravel how much long-term climate change raises the odds of a particular weather event. http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/tornadoes-rake-mississippi-delta-more-storminess-ahead

El Niño Has Matured and Will Rank Among Top 3 Strongest, NOAA Says


records only go back to 1950

Wednesday's storm brought Michigan its first December tornado ever recorded: about 13 miles east from my house. As long as they keep missing Ann Arbor by that much, I'm happy.

And as for the Western half of the country, the inhabitants will welcome every flake with open arms, as the Rockies must rebuild the snow reservoir (or all those ditzy Californians will start invading the Midwest) which keeps 30 million Californians alive, plus all the Arizonians and Utahns and such.

But weather aside, today's theme is Frost, Robert Frost. The American poet is known for his depictions of rural New England life, including snow...

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

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