Wednesday Open Thread


Wednesday September 11th Open Thread

Remember Gina, and all the others today.

Eighteen years is a drop of water…in the river of collective years, we will have… that Gina and the others will not.


Sunday Night Open Thread

One day Veronica will get that ball out of her scratching box, until then…she will continue to see the turd for brains tell lies about Alabama and some wind. 🍊💩💨

This is an open thread.


Labor Day Monday Reads

Image Happy Labor Day Sky Dancers!

Down here in New Orleans we’re celebrating Southern Decadence!!  It’s a very big party with a lot of everything where every one has fun while being yelled at by the usual crowd of angry, bitter judgy white men.

Meanwhile, the some times occupier of the White House is playing golf at his Virginia club all on the Tax Payer’s Dime.  And, a million US citizens are facing evacuation for the monster hurricane Dorian.  This is from the Weather Channel.  I can only imagine the hell that is pounding the northernmost Bahamas today.  

Dorian’s forward speed has slowed to a virtual stall.

Unfortunately, that means the northwest Bahamas, in particular Grand Bahama Island, are taking an extended pummeling.

Wind gusts of up to 200 mph are possible on Grand Bahama Island, including Freeport, according to the National Hurricane Center, along with life-threatening storm surge. Bahamas Press reported Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport was under 5 feet of water early Monday morning.

Squalls from the outer periphery of Dorian have also reached the southern Florida Peninsula. A wind gust to 47 mph was reported at Juno Beach, Florida, early Monday morning.

A hurricane warning has been posted along the east coast of Florida from Jupiter Inlet to the Volusia/Brevard County line. A storm surge warning has also been issued from Lantana to the Volusia/Brevard County line. These warnings include Melbourne.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwestern Bahamas, including Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Hurricane warnings mean that hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area, generally within 36 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Storm surge warnings mean there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, within the watch area during the next 36 hours. If you live in an area prone to storm surge, be sure to follow the advice of local officials if evacuations are ordered.

A hurricane watch has been posted along Florida’s east coast from north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet and from the Volusia/Brevard County line to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. A storm surge watch has also been posted from north of Deerfield Beach to Lantana and from the Volusia/Brevard County line to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. These watches include Jacksonville.

It’s hard to imagine what a storm of this size has down, can do, and will do.  ABC already reports the hurricane has brought ‘historic’ destruction to the Bahamas which is described as it “laying waster” to the nation of a chain of low lying islands. The other provided description is “pure hell”.

Winds are currently blowing at a sustained 165 MPH — the same strength that Hurricane Andrew had when it hit parts of the Miami metro area in 1992.

The eye of the storm made a second landfall at 2 p.m. on the island near Marsh Harbour, and a third landfall an hour before midnight on the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island.

Francis Charles, who rode out the storm in Hope Town, Elbow Cay, called the island “a wreck” late Sunday.

“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” Jenise Fernandez, reporter with Miami ABC affiliate WPLG, told the station during their broadcast.

ABC News correspondent Marcus Moore, who is on the ground in Marsh Harbour, described the scene as “pure hell.”

“I have seen utter devastation here in Marsh Harbour. We are surrounded by water with no way out,” Moore said. “Absolute devastation, there really are no words it is pure hell here on Marsh Harbour on Avoca Island in the northern part of the Bahamas.”

Image result for new orleans statue dedicated to workers A local doctor commissioned a statue to recognize and celebrate the role of Latino Workers in helping the city of New orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levees 14 years ago.

Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. The 2005 storm was one of the deadliest, and in the aftermath, Black and brown communities felt abandoned by the US government. One of the things we saw as a result of the hurricane was many Latinos who arrived in the city to help rebuilt. Unfortunately, it meant workers cramming into small living spaces and because of the Bush Administration, it also meant they weren’t always paid at the minimum federal rate. All the while, their contributions went largely ignored. On Saturday, a new statue in New Orleans honored the workers, most of whom are Latino and Latin American, for their work.

A local doctor commissioned the statue, made of bronze and marble, but it’s clear that the Crescent Park monument means something to many others. Council member Helen Moreno told 4WWL, “We watched the destruction that happened because of the storm, and we wondered, ‘how in the world are we ever gonna come back?’ But thanks to so many people who came and helped us and the influx of Latino workers that we had in our city, we were able to come back, and not only New Orleans, but surrounding parishes as well.”

E.J Dionne wrote this very moving column today in WAPO on “Remembering the legacy of Labor Day”.

We have also lost the sense of solidarity that originally inspired Labor Day. Greenhouse recounts a conversation with his then-86-year-old mother when he was in Wisconsin covering Republican then-Gov. Scott Walker’s offensive to gut collective bargaining and cut public employee benefits.

“When I was growing up,” she told him, “people used to say, ‘Look at the good wages and benefits that people in a union have. I want to join a union.’ Now, people say, ‘Look at the good wages and benefits that union members have. They’re getting more than I get. That’s not fair. Let’s take away some of what they have.’ ”

How did we get to this point? In another must-read book for our moment, “The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society,” Binyamin Appelbaum argues that the growing role of professional economists since the late 1960s fundamentally altered popular understandings about how the world should work.

We have moved, Appelbaum argues, from a healthy respect for what markets can accomplish in their proper sphere to a “single-minded embrace of markets” that “has come at the expense of economic equality, of the health of liberal democracy, and of future generations.”

“In the pursuit of efficiency,” Appelbaum writes, “policy makers subsumed the interests of Americans as producers to the interests of Americans as consumers, trading well-paid jobs for low cost electronics.”

Appelbaum, who writes about economics and business for the New York Times editorial page, values what economists do, but the ones he respects most are those who understand the limits of a purely material understanding of what matters. He quotes the brilliant Amartya Sen: “Economic growth cannot sensibly be treated as an end in itself. Development has to be more concerned with enhancing the lives we lead and the freedoms we enjoy.”

 

So, that’s it from me today.  The very thought and sight of that Hurricane has me quite triggered so I’m staying home with the TV off as much as possible.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Dorian

The latest updates: (11:00)

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Hopeful Views and Crazy News

Illustration by Aïda Amer, Axios

Good Morning!!

Last night Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed Rachel Bitecofer about her accurate prediction of 2018 election results and her current prediction for the 2020 presidential race.

Rachel Bitecofer is assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, where she teaches classes on political behavior, campaigns, elections, and political analysis and conducts survey research on public policy issues and election campaigns. Her work and analysis has been featured in many media outlets such as The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TodayNPR, and she is a contracted commentator on CBC Radio. Her book, The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election (Palgrave McMillan) is available via Amazon. Her unique election forecasting model accurately predicted Democrats gaining 42 seats 5 months before the 2018 midterms.

Bitecofer has describes her model for the 2018 and 2020 elections at The Judy Ford Center for Public Policy: With 16 Months to go, Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election.

In July of 2018, my innovative forecasting model raised eyebrows by predicting some four months before the midterm election that Democrats would pick up 42 seats in the House of Representatives. In hindsight, that may not seem such a bold prediction, but when my forecast was released, election Twitter was still having a robust debate as to whether the Blue Wave would be large enough for Democrats to pick up the 23 seats they needed to take control of the House of Representatives and return the Speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi.

Based on its 2018 performance, my model, and the theory that structures it, seem well poised to tackle the 2020 presidential election – 16 months out. I’ll serve up that result below, but first let’s set the table by reviewing my model’s 2018 forecasting success.

Rachel Bitecofer

Not only did I predict that they would gain nearly double the seats they needed, but I also identified a specific list of Republican seats Democrats would flip, including some, such as Virginia CD7, that were listed as “Lean Republican” by the majority of race raters at the time. At a time when other analysts coded even the most competitive House races for Democrats as Lean or Tilt Democrat, I identified 13 Republican-held districts as “Will Flips,” 12 as “Likely to Flip,” and 6 as “Lean Democrat.” I also identified a large list of “Toss Ups,” from which I would later identify the remaining “flippers.” In addition, I identified some “long-shot toss-up” districts that could be viable flips under some turnout scenarios. Of the original 25 districts I identified as definitely or highly likely to flip, all but one, Colorado CD3, did so, possibly because the party failed to invest in their nominee there.

What does the model say about 2020?

Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency. The leaking of the Trump campaign’s internal polling has somewhat softened the blow of this forecast, as that polling reaffirms what my model already knew: Trump’s 2016 path to the White House, which was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker, is probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate. And that is really bad news for Donald Trump because the Blue Wall of the Midwest was then, and is now, the ONLY viable path for Trump to win the White House.

Why is Trump in so much trouble in the Midwest? First, and probably most important, is the profound misunderstanding by, well, almost everyone, as to how he won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the first place. Ask anyone, and they will describe Trump’s 2016 Midwestern triumph as a product of white, working class voters swinging away from the Democrats based on the appeal of Trump’s economic populist messaging. Some will point to survey data of disaffected Obama-to-Trump voters and even Sanders-to-Trump voters as evidence that this populist appeal was the decisive factor. And this is sort of true. In Ohio, Trump managed the rare feat of cracking 50%. Elsewhere, that explanation runs into empirical problems when one digs into the data. Start with the numerical fact that Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan with 47.22%, 48.18%, and 47.5% of the vote, respectively, after five times the normal number in those states cast their ballots for an option other than Trump or Clinton. This, combined with the depressed turnout of African Americans (targeted with suppression materials by the Russians) and left-leaning Independents turned off by Clinton (targeted with defection materials by the Russians) allowed Trump to pull off an improbable victory, one that will be hard to replicate in today’s less nitpicky atmosphere. Yet, the media (and the voting public) has turned Trump’s 2016 win into a mythic legend of invincibility. The complacent electorate of 2016, who were convinced Trump would never be president, has been replaced with the terrified electorate of 2020, who are convinced he’s the Terminator and can’t be stopped. Under my model, that distinction is not only important, it is everything.

Last night Bitecofer predicted that the Democratic candidate will win 270 electoral votes. There’s much more interesting analysis at the link above. Read a slightly less technical analysis of Bitecofer’s model by Paul Rosenberg at Salon: Does anyone understand the 2020 race? This scholar nailed the blue wave — here’s her forecast.

Meanwhile, at the moment we are at the mercy of the insane occupant of the White House. Eugene Robinson: Trump is melting down. Again.

Fears of a global recession, greatly exacerbated by Trump’s erratic and self-destructive trade policies, have sent financial markets tumbling. A sharp downturn would close off one of the principal lines of attack the president was hoping to use against his Democratic opponent. He tried it out at a rally in New Hampshire last week: “You have no choice but to vote for me,” he told the crowd, “because your 401(k)’s down the tubes, everything’s gonna be down the tubes” if he loses. “So whether you love me or hate me, you gotta vote for me.”

Fact check: No.

Trump is flailing. He berates his handpicked chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, for not cutting interest rates fast enough to goose the economy. He practically begs Chinese President Xi Jinping for a meeting to work out a trade deal — any trade deal, apparently — and is met with silence. He threatens more tariffs but then backs down, at least for now. According to published reports, he sees himself as the victim of a conspiracy to exaggerate the growing economic anxiety in order to hurt his chances of winning a second term.

He entertains grandiose, almost Napoleonic fantasies — purchasing Greenland from Denmark in what he calls “a large real estate deal,” perhaps, or imposing a naval blockade to force regime change in Venezuela. He apparently spent much of this past weekend fuming about not getting credit for how his New Hampshire rally broke an attendance record for the arena that had been set by Elton John.

And Trump can’t seem to stop railing against a recent Fox News pollthat showed him losing to four of the leading Democratic contenders. The president seems to consider Fox News his administration’s Ministry of Propaganda — indeed, that is the role the network’s morning-show hosts and prime-time anchors loyally play — but the polling unit is a professional operation. “There’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it,” Trump told reporters Sunday . He added a threat, saying that Fox “is making a big mistake” because he is “the one that calls the shots” on next year’s general election debates — the implication being that Fox News might not get to broadcast one of them if it doesn’t toe the party line.

The only thing Robinson leaves out is that Trump’s health is going downhill; his dementia symptoms are getting worse by the day.

Trump’s biggest supporters are nuts too, but they are also very influential on social media. Check out this story at NBC News: Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times.

By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times.

The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.

Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.

But it isn’t.

Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.

It’s that motivation that helped drive the organization toward Trump, according to interviews with former Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucrative and beneficial for its message.

Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.

Click the link the read the rest. We are truly living in the Twilight Zone.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll add some non-crazy links in the comment thread. What stories are you following?


Sunday Reads: Continued Cat Awesomeness

Innit amazing?

That last picture is my dad feeding the animals…including the cat.

Daddy had a small stroke this week…he is doing better but I cannot write any obituary post today. I will take up Peter Fonda on Wednesday.

This is an open thread.