Mostly Monday Reads: The Numbers Game

Transverse Line, Wassily Kandinsky, 1923

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Ballots are still being counted in the 2022 Midterms. The Senate has only one race that will go to a runoff. That is the Georgia race between Herschel Walker and incumbent Senator Ralph Warnock.  The dynamics of this race may change since the majority status has been decided.  Folks may decide to stay home rather than support Walker, who is definitely an odd choice for what used to be the severe and staid part of Congress. There is a general feeling that the Republicans will take the House, albeit by a very slim margin.

Fordham Professor Jed Shugerman, writing on mastodon, believes that 3 Roberts court’s decisions had much to do with the House outcome.

Some reasons why GOP will win the House:
1. Roberts Court decision Rucho allowing partisan gerrymandering.
2. Roberts Court decision Shelby County striking down preclearance in the Voting Rights Act.
3. Roberts Court shadow docket blocking Black districts in AL & LA (@mcpli)

The Ten Largest, No. 7, Adulthood, 1907, Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk

The Louisiana case definitely helped since the non-gerrymandered congressional districts would’ve added an additional black Congressman who would undoubtedly be a Democratic Party member.  This would have been a pick-up. Currently, 205 seats have been called for the Democratic Party and 212 for Republicans. The Guardian characterizes the status this way:  “US midterms 2022: Democrats’ hope of keeping House fades as counting continues – live.”   The New York Times lists those elections left to call here.

Many of the states with a large share of outstanding votes conduct elections primarily or entirely by mail. It may still be days until news organizations can project which party will control the House next session, but Republicans appear to be on track to reach a majority of seats if the latest trends continue.

In California, where several competitive House races are not yet called, about 65 percent of the expected vote has been tallied statewide. Ballots there have until Tuesday to arrive. In 2020 it took the state 11 days to report 95 percent of its votes.

In Arizona, a substantial number of voters did not return their ballots until Election Day. Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, is not expected to finish counting until early this week.

In Oregon and Washington State, all or most ballots are expected by Tuesday.

Results continue to be reported.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to hold rallies before his supposed Tuesday announcement of his next Presidential bid.  He continues to attack the Jewish community in the United States for not adequately supporting Israel.  This is from Haaretz“At ZOA Event, Trump Again Attacks U.S. Jews for Supporting Democrats.  The former U.S. President says too many Jewish people ‘are not doing the right thing for Israel’ by voting for the party that just won the Senate in last week’s midterm election.”  Trump seems to misunderstand the diversity of Jewish Congregations in the United and that the Zionism faction is not a universally held Jewish belief.

Former President Donald Trump blasted American Jews for failing to vote for Republicans in sufficient numbers after he accepted the Theodor Herzl Medallion from the Zionist Organization of America, at the right-wing group’s annual gala on Sunday.

“You do have people in this country that happen to be Jewish that are not doing the right thing for Israel – too many,” Trump said, echoing a post he made on social media last month that drew heavy criticism from the American-Jewish community. ”The Democrats get 75 percent of the [Jewish] vote, which is hard to believe. We can’t let that continue,” he said.

Barack Hussein Obama … and then it’s 75 percent of the vote.” He then turned to ZOA President Morton Klein in mock confusion, exclaiming, “What the hell is going on here, Mort?”

Speaking at the sold-out event at New York City’s Pier 60, Trump proceeded to attack the “people in Congress who hate Israel,” contrasting the situation with the past when “you couldn’t touch Israel and couldn’t say a bad thing about it.”

Paul Klee, The Twittering Machine, 1922

Maybe he should learn a little more about the various traditions in the United States, like those practiced in the Reform Judaism congregations.

The Supreme Court continues to reject attempts at gun safety laws. This is from the AP: “Supreme Court rejects another bump stock ban case.”  We will live with the nutcases Trump appointed for a very long time.

The Supreme Court on Monday again declined to hear a lawsuit involving a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.

The justices’ decision not to hear the case leaves in place a lower court decision that rejected bump stock owners’ efforts to be compensated for bump stocks they lawfully purchased, but were required to to give up after the administration ruled they were illegal. Lower courts had said the case should be dismissed.

As is typical, the justices made no comments in declining to hear the case, and it was among many the court rejected Monday.

Last month, the justices rejected two other challenges involving the ban. Gun rights advocates, however, scored a big win at the court earlier this year, when the justices by a 6-3 vote expanded gun-possession rights, weakening states’ ability to limit the carrying of guns in public.

In the tradition of Uncle Clarence Thomas, more of the Right Wing Justices are taking part in clear Political Events, further eroding any confidence that they may be the least bit impartial.  This is from Reuters: “Standing ovations for conservative U.S. justices at Federalist Society event.” I am appalled by their various comments at this event.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett received standing ovations from members of the conservative Federalist Society on Thursday at its first annual convention since the court overturned a nationwide right to abortion.

Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch also received applause at the event of the legal group, which is one of the most influential in the country and whose members have long criticized the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that the court overturned in June.

Alito, Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have helped create a new conservative supermajority on the court.

The loudest applause at the event in Washington, D.C. may have been not for the justices but for Alito’s opinion in the June ruling. Other conservative members of the court backed the ruling.

Alito did not mention the ruling or other aspects of the court’s work during his brief remarks. But Stephen Markman, a former justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, said that if the ruling were forever associated with Alito, “I do not know of any decision on any court by any judge of which that judge could be more proud.”

The comments were met by a standing ovation, with attendees turning to face toward Alito.

Barrett also briefly spoke at the event, largely honoring the late Judge Laurence Silberman, who served on D.C.’s federal appeals court and died last month. As she took the stage, Barrett said: “It’s really nice to have a lot of noise made not by protesters outside of my house.”

Paul Klee, “Death and Fire,” 1940

Gee, the Hand Maiden doesn’t want any of us peons in our democratic society disturbing her attempts to put Christian Nationalism in its place. She needs her beauty rest.

Trump continues to be blamed for all the losses and such bad candidates.  Let’s not forget that all Trump has really done is amplify what’s been cooking in the oven since the Reagan years, at the very least.   That might be a ham in the oven, but the pig wore lipstick before it got there.

From The Washington Post: “Trump blame continues for midterm losses as ex-president readies to announce bid. ‘I’m tired of losing,’ Trump critic Larry Hogan says, as Republican senators weigh in on leadership contest.”  The problem is that even though they attempt to gentrify their radical agenda, the base wants its anger and red meat.  I don’t think you will be able to put that back into the closet.

Donald Trump’s Republican critics renewed their push Sunday to steer their party away from the former president, warning that he could hurt Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate runoff in Georgia next month if he announces plans for another White House bid on Tuesday.

“It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And it’s like, three strikes, you’re out.” Hogan said it would be a mistake to nominate Trump again as the party’s 2024 presidential candidate after Republicans failed to take control of the Senate and made far fewer gains in the House than predicted in the midterm elections.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result,” he added. “Donald Trump kept saying we’re gonna be winning so much we’re gonna get tired of winning. I’m tired of losing. That’s all he’s done.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) echoed Hogan’s comments on ABC’s “This Week,” calling Don Bolduc, the Republican Senate nominee in his state, a “Republican extremist” and saying the results across the country amounted to “a rejection of that extremism.”

Frantisek Kupka, Localization of Graphic Motifs II, 1912/1913

They can afford to say that now that the Supreme Court is doing its dirty work. I still remember them touting the style of the now Virginia Governor who tried to act moderate enough to get elected but then went full-on Christian White Nationalist.  I think they’re just trying to fool centrists and independent voters.  Genn Youngkin may have worn the clothing, but he still was a pig wearing lipstick. However, Trump has attacked him recently since he’s not quite pro-Trumpy enough. “Trump hits out at Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin with the bizarre comment that his name ‘sounds Chinese’. This report is from The Insider.

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin amid speculation that the governor might run for president in 2024.

Writing on Truth Social on Friday, Trump bizarrely commented that the governor’s name, which he spelled “Young Kin” “sounds Chinese.”

Trump also took credit for Youngkin’s political rise, claiming that he would not have become governor without his endorsement.

“I Endorsed him, did a very big Trump Rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to Vote for him – or he couldn’t have come close to winning. But he knows that, and admits it,” Trump wrote.

Youngkin dismissed Trump’s comments while speaking to reporters on Friday and said he was focused on bringing people together.

“Listen, you all know me, I do not call people names,” the governor said. “I really work hard to bring people together and that’s what we’re working on.”

“That’s not the way I roll and not the way I behave,” he added.

Youngkin has previously declined to comment on whether he would run in 2024, stating in October that he was “focused right now on being the best governor in Virginia that I can possibly be.”

Gustav Klimt, Baby (Cradle), 1917/1918

No matter how much he talks like a polite gentleman, his policies are the same old Republican Culture wars and wealthy class, corporate appeasement with the same dose of White Christian Nationalism and Jingoism. “Youngkin proposes new history standards, including teaching patriotism in Va. schools.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is overhauling former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration’s proposal that would have set history and social science standards in Virginia schools.

Youngkin’s VDOE’s new draft proposal would determine what students learn about American history and Virginia history inside the classroom.

If adopted by the Virginia Board of Education, the new standards will be in effect for seven years starting in the 2024-2025 school year. Professional development would begin in the summer of 2023, according to a fact sheet that was sent to legislators and obtained by 7News.

The Governor’s 53-page proposal would require:

  • Kindergarteners to learn patriotism which includes pledging allegiance to the American flag
  • Students would learn critical thinking skills starting in the first grade
  • Starting in 4th grade, students would describe the Civil Rights movement in Virginia and students would describe why James Madison is called the “Father of the U.S. Constitution” and why George Washington is called the “Father of our Country” and students would learn about Reconstruction and the Civil War
  • In 11th grade, students would learn about Christopher Columbus and about the race-based enslavement of Africans and more

After Youngkin appointed new members to the Virginia Board of Education this year, the board delayed adopting the history curriculum proposal that was crafted under the Northam administration.

Northam’s proposed revisions to the history curriculum, which have now been scrapped, included:

  • Lessons on the LGTBQ+ community and social justice
  • Numerous lessons on racism and discrimination
  • Recognized holidays like Juneteenth
  • Lessons on gender equity and equality, climate defense, and renewable energy
  • It would have halted the requirement of teaching some lessons on Christopher Columbus and Benjamin Franklin
  • It would have scrapped the requirement of understanding why George Washington is called the “Father of our Country” and why James Madison is called the “Father of the Constitution.”

See. Pig meet Lipstick.

The one governor’s race that I’m watching is still going in a good direction. “Kari Lake’s path to victory continues to narrow despite gains.”  Lake would’ve joined the ranks of elected Republican women that continuously embarrass women and Americans everywhere.  

Anyway, that’s my offerings for today.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Election Day Tuesday Reads

Good Day, Sky Dancers!!

The big day has arrived. This election truly has historic significance. We won’t know the results for sure tonight, but in a day or so we’ll have a sense of whether U.S. democracy can survive. I’m no expert, but this guy is:

No one really know whether to believe the polls, but the media has already decided that a red wave is coming. It’s also likely that results in a number of states won’t be clear for some time, and of course we know that Republicans plan to contest any losses and generally cause mayhem wherever they can. Here’s a piece from a couple of days ago on the coming confusion.

Charlie Mahtesian at Politico: The looming election disaster.

It’s time to talk about it out loud: This year’s election is going to be a train wreck. Not just Election Day, but the weeks and perhaps even months to come.

For starters, it might not be clear who controls the House for days, or longer. In the Senate, it could be weeks. In fact, if the polling averages are correct, we might not know who controls the Senate until after a potential early December runoff in Georgia.

But that’s the least of the trouble ahead. All the elements of a perfect storm are present: a rise in threats against election administrators and poll workers; outdated and overstrained election infrastructure; a brain drain of officials experienced with the complexities of administering elections; external cyber threats; and an abundance of close races that could extend long past Election Day as mail-in and provisional ballots are counted, recounted and litigated.

Then, there are the hundreds of Republican candidates up and down the ballot with a record of denying or expressing doubts about the 2020 presidential results — a few were even present at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. At least a dozen candidates running in competitive Senate and governor and secretary of state contests refused to commit or declined to respond when asked whether they’ll accept the results of their races.

Great train wreck of 1918

Great train wreck of 1918

A blowout Republican victory might remove many of the most combustible elements. But short of a red wave Tuesday, we’re looking at an ugly finish.

If those prominent election-denying candidates lose, it will not be graciously — remember, these are candidates whose political brands are rooted in their refusal to accept the 2020 election results, and their own high-profile and extra-legal efforts to overturn them. For them, the traditional pain and disappointment of defeat will be amplified because of the high expectations of midterm GOP success. And there are no party graybeards who will be able to talk them down — in fact, the post-election recriminations will likely find backing from party leaders and elected officials who fear antagonizing a base that’s been primed to believe the 2020 election was rigged.

The wellspring of these false claims, former President Donald Trump, is already laying the predicate — last week, he sought to cast doubt on the integrity of Pennsylvania’s results by claiming the 2022 results there are rigged as well.

Click the link to read the rest.

Another article on the upcoming confusion by Kelly Weill at The Daily Beast: These Counties Already Want a Recount and the Votes Aren’t Even In Yet.

The morning before polls opened in Cochise County, Arizona, a judge still had not ruled on how local votes would be counted.

On one side of the case were state officials and voters who opposed an effort to audit Tuesday’s election by hand. Arguing in favor of an audit were some of Cochise County’s Republican officials, backed by lawyers previously involved in a chaotic 2021 election audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Only on Monday evening—hours before the election—did a judge rule against a hand recount of the entire Cochise vote.

Train wreck in Iowa with hazardous materials, May 2021

Train wreck in Iowa with hazardous materials, May 2021

Cochise, a rural county on the southern border, is one of several to preemptively call for an audit of its 2022 midterm vote. Although counties routinely review their elections, this new wave of audit enthusiasts is cozy with conspiracy theorists, and promotes methods like hand-counting ballots, which elections security experts describe as one of the most surefire ways to accidentally introduce errors into a vote count.

Hand-counting ballots is a bad idea, elections experts say. They cost more, take longer, and open opportunities for meddling from partisan kooks (see: the Maricopa audit, during which conspiracy-driven volunteers searched ballots for bamboo fibers, under the mistaken belief that ballots had been imported from China). Even without involvement from election truthers, hand counts are more error-prone than electronic counts. A 2018 study found hand counts to be less accurate than machine-counts, and a 2012 study found hand counts to have 2 percent error rate—a worryingly high margin that could tip elections, particularly in neck-and-neck races like several in this year’s midterms….

But Republicans are demanding hand recounts anyway.

Some of the loudest calls for preemptive audits come from Republican strongholds in swing states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. Officials in Pennsylvania’s Lycoming and York counties have already committed to hand recounts, although York County officials said it would only examine ballots from three of its 161 precincts.

York County’s decision to hand-audit its election came after a meeting between York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler and Audit the Vote PA, the York Dispatch reported. ATVPA, an election-denial group, previously made headlines for an error-riddled “canvass report” of Pennsylvania voters. While conducting that survey, ATVPA volunteers knocked on doors and asked questions about residents’ votes, leading to York County locals accusing the group of intimidation and voter suppression efforts. ATVPA has also attempted to remove electronic voting machines in York County.

Wheeler, who did not return a request for comment on Monday, told CBS21 that the hand recount “is not tied to any election issues in the past. This is not an indication that we believe that prior election results that we certified are inaccurate.”

No, it’s an indication that Republicans want to fuck things up.

The DOJ is planning to monitor the polls in 24 states.

From the Justice Department website:

The Justice Department announced today its plans to monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws in 64 jurisdictions in 24 states for the Nov. 8, 2022 general election. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Division has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters. The Civil Rights Division will also take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center. The Civil Rights Division enforces the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot.

For the general election, the Civil Rights Division will monitor for compliance with the federal voting rights laws on Election Day and/or in early voting in 64 jurisdictions….

Monitors will include personnel from the Civil Rights Division and from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. In addition, the division also deploys monitors from the Office of Personnel Management, where authorized by federal court order. Division personnel will also maintain contact with state and local election officials.

The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, including the Voting Rights Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act and the Civil Rights Acts. The division’s Disability Rights Section enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that persons with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The division’s Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.

On Election Day, Civil Rights Division personnel will be available all day to receive complaints from the public related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws by a complaint form on the department’s website https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or by telephone toll-free at 800-253-3931.

Individuals with questions or complaints related to the ADA may call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 833-610-1264 (TTY) or submit a complaint through a link on the department’s ADA website, at https://www.ada.gov/.

Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place). Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. These complaints should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted.

See the list of cities and counties that will be monitored at the link above.

What polling experts are writing about this morning:

When we launched our midterms forecast on June 30, Republicans had a 53 percent chance of taking over the Senate from Democrats, and an 87 percent chance of taking over the House.

We could almost have turned our servers off and let that forecast stand. Today, in our final forecast of the cycle, Republicans have a 59 percent chance of winning the Senate and an 84 percent chance of winning the House….

First, let’s talk a bit more about that final GOP Senate number, 59 percent. It’s in an annoying zone as far as I’m concerned. If I met you on the street, I wouldn’t know how to describe the race. It’s on the brink between a toss-up and one that we say leans toward Republicans. And to make matters more confusing, that 59 percent figure comes from our Deluxe forecast, which includes the input of human expert forecasters like the Cook Political Report. The Lite forecast (essentially a “polls only” version) and the Classic forecast (polls plus other objective indicators) have Republicans as just 50 and 51 percent “favorites,” respectively.

I don’t want to blow off that 59 percent number. Deluxe is supposed to be the most accurate version of our model. To be blunt, 59 percent is enough of an edge that if you offered to let me bet on Republicans at even money, I’d take it. (If I bet on politics, that is. Which I don’t.) Still, Democrats holding the Senate, or the race coming down to a runoff in Georgia, would not be surprising in the least.  

In the House, meanwhile, you shouldn’t round the Republicans’ 84 percent chance up to 100 or the Democrats’ 16 percent chance down to zero. Two years ago, Republicans had just a 3 percent chance of winning the House in our final forecast and yet came within five seats of doing so. The balance of the evidence suggests a national political environment that favors Republicans by only 2 to 3 percentage points. And the polling itself, if anything, has been a little tighter than that. (Democrats have a 25 percent chance to keep the House in the polls-only Lite version of our forecast. After the redistricting process, Republicans have less of an advantage from gerrymandering and district boundaries than they did previously, so a roughly tied national environment would lead to a highly competitive race for the House — see yesterday’s post for much more detail on this.)

At the same time, the upside case for Republicans has perhaps been understated. Our model puts the 80th percentile range of outcomes in the House at between a one-seat and a 33-seat GOP gain; and remember, 20 percent of the time, the number will fall outside that range. Just as it isn’t that hard for the race in the House to become rather competitive, it also won’t take much to turn it into a Republican landslide.

Similarly, just because we’ll start the night with roughly 50-50 odds in the Senate does not necessarily mean we’ll finish the night with the balance of power determined by just one or two seats. Fairly often, all the competitive races break the same way in races for Congress. There’s almost a 25 percent chance that Republicans wind up with 53 or more seats, according to our Deluxe forecast (and a 7 percent chance that Democrats do so).

Cohn attempted to test whether there are really Trump voters who refuse to take polls and so are invisible. They compared the results of a poll that paid participants $25 to respond with a traditional poll. You can read aboaut  it at the NYT. if you’re interested. The gist is that paying people worked to get more responses:

The data is still preliminary, and it will probably take at least six months, if not longer, before we can reach any final conclusions. But there is one immediate difference between the two groups, and that is in the polls’ response rates: Nearly 30 percent of households have responded to the survey so far — a figure dwarfing the 1.6 percent completion rate in the parallel Times/Siena poll.

But do Democrats also refuse to respond to poll callers? I know I rarely answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, and rarely respond to polls when they do get through to me.

One more from Simon Rosenberg, who thinks things are looking good for Democrats. Check out his election morning thread on Twitter:

Simon Rosenberg at NDN last night: On This 2022 Election Eve Would Rather Be Us Than Them.

So I just published an updated analysis of the 2022 election with a day to go. My bottom line – it’s a close, competitive election.  Dems have checked all the recent intensity boxes – strong performance in 5 House specials/Kansas, spiked voter registration post-Dobbs, far superior candidate fundraising, big early vote performance.  Rs haven’t checked any of these intensity boxes. Polls and early vote on balance have been far better for Dems in recent days than Rs.  A red wave may be coming but it is not here yet.

Heading into Election Day I’d rather be us than them.

You can catch me talking about the 2022 elections in a new Politico Playbook Deep Dive interview with Ryan Lizza; a new Deep State Radio podcast with Cecile Richards; a MSNBC segment with Joy Reid; a Meidas Touch pod; a NoLie pod with Brian Tyler Cohen; and a memorable chat with the venerable Rick Wilson.  You can find all of these via this link

Some of Rosenberg’s analysis–go to the link to read the rest.

Dems Lead 50-39 In The Early Vote, Now With 4.4m Vote Lead

Using TargetEarly, the official data source for NBC News, we know the early vote is running between 8-10% higher than 2018, an election which had the highest turnout in almost 100 years.  Dems are running way above both 2018 and 2020, something which is a very direct challenge to the red wave narrative.  This is how the vote breaks down at this point in the last 3 elections:

2018 – 46%-45% (+1) – 600k vote lead

2020 – 48%-41% (+7) –  n/a

2020 – 50%-39% (+11) – 4.4m vote lead

It should be noted this 11 point lead is with an electorate older and whiter than 2018 and 2020, and with two of the nation’s largest states, CA/FL seeing drop offs for Dems from 2020.  All of this is very good news for Democrats.

Last night, citing the strong Dem performance in the early vote, famed journalist John Ralston called Nevada for Senator Cortez Masto.  In what must be concerning to Republicans here is a list of states where Dems are currently doing better relative to 2020 than Dems are in Nevada right now: AZ, GA, MI, MN, IA, IN, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, VA, WA, WI.  To be clear that means the early Dem vote “firewall” that led Ralston to call Nevada is actually bigger in all these states.  This too is good news for Democrats.

The Washington Post has a new story today from Arizona today, “Some in the party worry their assaults on early voting could ultimately suppress GOP turnout,” where questions have begun to be raised about why Rs decided to try to turn their voters out on a single day rather than over 2-3 weeks, as Democrats are doing. It’s a good question, as having more time to turn out voters in an election with far more irregular voters is kind of a no-brainer. The weeks Dems have had to turn out our voters has built powerful early vote leads in these states that may just be too big for the Rs to match tomorrow, particularly if their enthusiasm for voting has waned, as this new NBC News poll finds….

In another worrisome bit of data for the Rs the variance from the final early vote results and the final election results in 2018 and 2020 was 2-4 points.  Tomorrow Dems will enter Election Day with an 11 point lead, meaning Rs will have to have an Election Day turnout many magnitudes better than either party in the last two elections.  Can it be done? We will find out.

We have a big day and night ahead, and probably difficult days and weeks will follow. Hang in there everyone, and please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread. Have a great day and, of course, vote if you haven’t already done so.


Thursday Reads

Rainy Day Boston, Frederick Childe Hassam

Rainy Day Boston, Frederick Childe Hassam

Good Morning!!

Here’s what I see as the major topics in the news today: world events stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine; the ongoing Trumpist attack on U.S. democracy; and the new wave of Covid-19 cases.

Outgrowths of Ukraine War

Fascism and totalitarianism expert Timothy Snyder at The New York Times: We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist.

Fascism was never defeated as an idea.

As a cult of irrationality and violence, it could not be vanquished as an argument: So long as Nazi Germany seemed strong, Europeans and others were tempted. It was only on the battlefields of World War II that fascism was defeated. Now it’s back — and this time, the country fighting a fascist war of destruction is Russia. Should Russia win, fascists around the world will be comforted.

We err in limiting our fears of fascism to a certain image of Hitler and the Holocaust. Fascism was Italian in origin, popular in Romania — where fascists were Orthodox Christians who dreamed of cleansing violence — and had adherents throughout Europe (and America). In all its varieties, it was about the triumph of will over reason.

Because of that, it’s impossible to define satisfactorily. People disagree, often vehemently, over what constitutes fascism. But today’s Russia meets most of the criteria that scholars tend to apply. It has a cult around a single leader, Vladimir Putin. It has a cult of the dead, organized around World War II. It has a myth of a past golden age of imperial greatness, to be restored by a war of healing violence — the murderous war on Ukraine.

You’ll need to read the whole essay to get the full impact of Snyder’s argument, but here’s a bit more:

We understand more about fascism than we did in the 1930s. We now know where it led. We should recognize fascism, because then we know what we are dealing with. But to recognize it is not to undo it. Fascism is not a debating position, but a cult of will that emanates fiction. It is about the mystique of a man who heals the world with violence, and it will be sustained by propaganda right to the end. It can be undone only by demonstrations of the leader’s weakness. The fascist leader has to be defeated, which means that those who oppose fascism have to do what is necessary to defeat him. Only then do the myths come crashing down.

Paris Street in the rain, by Gustave Caillebotte

Paris Street in the rain, by Gustave Caillebotte

As in the 1930s, democracy is in retreat around the world and fascists have moved to make war on their neighbors. If Russia wins in Ukraine, it won’t be just the destruction of a democracy by force, though that is bad enough. It will be a demoralization for democracies everywhere. Even before the war, Russia’s friends — Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, Tucker Carlson — were the enemies of democracy. Fascist battlefield victories would confirm that might makes right, that reason is for the losers, that democracies must fail.

Had Ukraine not resisted, this would have been a dark spring for democrats around the world. If Ukraine does not win, we can expect decades of darkness.

The Economist: The coming food catastrophe. War is tipping a fragile world towards mass hunger. Fixing that is everyone’s business.

By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will destroy the lives of people far from the battlefield—and on a scale even he may regret. The war is battering a global food system weakened by covid-19climate change and an energy shock. Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. Together, the two countries supply 12% of traded calories. Wheat prices, up 53% since the start of the year, jumped a further 6% on May 16th, after India said it would suspend exports because of an alarming heatwave.

The widely accepted idea of a cost-of-living crisis does not begin to capture the gravity of what may lie ahead. António Guterres, the un secretary general, warned on May 18th that the coming months threaten “the spectre of a global food shortage” that could last for years. The high cost of staple foods has already raised the number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat by 440m, to 1.6bn. Nearly 250m are on the brink of famine. If, as is likely, the war drags on and supplies from Russia and Ukraine are limited, hundreds of millions more people could fall into poverty. Political unrest will spread, children will be stunted and people will starve.

Mr Putin must not use food as a weapon. Shortages are not the inevitable outcome of war. World leaders should see hunger as a global problem urgently requiring a global solution.

landscape-with-rain-wassily-kandinsky

Landscape with rain, Wassily Kandinsky

Russia and Ukraine supply 28% of globally traded wheat, 29% of the barley, 15% of the maize and 75% of the sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400m people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odessa.

Even before the invasion the World Food Programme had warned that 2022 would be a terrible year. China, the largest wheat producer, has said that, after rains delayed planting last year, this crop may be its worst-ever. Now, in addition to the extreme temperatures in India, the world’s second-largest producer, a lack of rain threatens to sap yields in other breadbaskets, from America’s wheat belt to the Beauce region of France. The Horn of Africa is being ravaged by its worst drought in four decades. Welcome to the era of climate change.

The Trumpist Attack on U.S. Democracy

This is from The Washington Post news analysis by Leigh Ann Caldwell, Theodoric Meyer: Trump uses Pa. primary to continue effort to undermine electoral system.

Donald Trump‘s continued effort to discredit or manipulate the electoral process is playing out in two distinct but related ways in the wake of Tuesday’s primary contests in Pennsylvania.

First, he is casting doubt on the result of the Senate GOP primary by once again making baseless claims that mail-in ballots are causing problems and suggesting his preferred candidate, Mehmet Oz, should just declare victory.

“It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find,’” Trump said, providing no evidence, on his social media platform Truth Social, our colleague Colby Itkowitz reports.

Second, the nominee he backed for governor, Doug Mastriano, won the primary and if he wins the election in November, Mastriano would have considerable influence over how the state’s presidential election results are handled in 2024 when Trump may be on the ballot as our colleague’s Rosalind S. HeldermanIsaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey explain.

Mastriano has been one of the staunchest backers of Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and the steps he wanted officials to take to deny Joe Biden victory.

Rain swept street, by Mike Barr

Rain swept street, by Mike Barr

“As governor, Mastriano would have the opportunity not just to speak, but to act,” Roz, Isaac and Josh write. A possibility that is “worrying experts already fearful of a democratic breakdown around the 2024 presidential contest.”

“Those concerns are made especially acute in Pennsylvania by the fact that the governor has the unusual authority to directly appoint the secretary of state, who serves as chief elections officer and must sign off on results. If he or she refuses, chaos could follow.”

Read more at the WaPo link.

Reid Epstein at The New York Times: Midterm Stakes Grow Clearer: Election Deniers Will Be on Many Ballots.

Republican voters in this week’s primary races demonstrated a willingness to nominate candidates who parrot Donald J. Trump’s election lies and who appear intent on exerting extraordinary political control over voting systems. The results make clear that the November midterms may well affect the fate of free and fair elections in the country.

In Pennsylvania, Republican voters united behind a nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano, who helped lead the brazen effort to overturn the state’s 2020 election and chartered buses to the rally before the Capitol riot, and who has since promoted a constitutionally impossible effort to decertify President Biden’s victory in his state.

In North Carolina, voters chose a G.O.P. Senate nominee, Representative Ted Budd, who voted in Congress against certifying the 2020 results and who continues to refuse to say that Mr. Biden was legitimately elected.

And in Idaho, which Mr. Trump won overwhelmingly in 2020, 57 percent of voters backed two Republican candidates for secretary of state who pushed election falsehoods, though they lost a three-way race to a rival who accepts Mr. Biden as president.

The strong showings on Tuesday by election deniers, who have counterparts running competitively in primaries across the country over the coming months, were an early signal of the threat posed by the Trump-inspired movement.

This story about what’s happening in Idaho was published before yesterday’s primaries, but it’s still an important read. Christopher Mathias at HuffPo: Living With The Far-Right Insurgency In Idaho.

IDAHO — White nationalist Vincent James Foxx had a new video for his nearly 70,000 subscribers on BitChute, one of the few tech platforms that hasn’t banned him. On Feb. 16, he appeared wearing a baseball hat emblazoned with the state’s outline tilted on its side so that it resembled a pistol.

“We are going to take over this state,” Foxx declared. “We have a great large group of people, and that group is growing. A true, actual right-wing takeover is happening right now in the state of Idaho. And there’s nothing that these people can do about it. So if you’re a legislator here, either get in line, or get out of the way.”

Foxx, 36, isn’t from Idaho. He only recently moved from California to Post Falls. But in the video, he showed off photos of himself posing with a string of prominent Republican politicians in the state as he explained who he’s supporting in the upcoming primaries, slated for May 17.

gregory thielker Rainy day in Washington DC

Gregory Thielker,, Rainy Day in Washington, DC

He was especially excited about a selfie he’d taken a week prior: It showed him and fellow white nationalist Dave Reilly, a recent Pennsylvania transplant also living in Post Falls, standing alongside Idaho’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin. All three were smiling.

“We’re supporting her,” Foxx said, bragging of his movement’s “deep connections” to McGeachin, whom former President Donald Trump endorsed in the GOP primary race for governor. Foxx then explained how his particular brand of Christian white nationalism is poised to conquer Idaho, then the country.

“The solution is local politics: Amassing power in these pockets of the country until it’s time to unify,” he said. “I’ve only been here for a couple of months and I’m tapped in the way that I am. You can do it too.”

Fascists like Foxx are famous fabulists, experts at exaggerating their influence and success. But Foxx wasn’t just talking shit.

He is one of many far-right activists who have flocked to Idaho in recent years, where a large and growing radical MAGA faction in the state’s Republican Party has openly allied itself with extremists to a shocking extent, even for the Trump era. This faction is accruing more and more power in Boise, the state capital: Imagine a statehouse full of Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Steve Kings. At the local level, they have seized seats on school boards and county commissions at a fast clip.

Please read the rest. This could easily happening in other small states.

New Covid Wave

The Washington Post: Top Biden health officials sound warning on rising covid infections.

Top Biden administration officials warned Wednesday that one-third of Americans live in communities experiencing rising levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and urged them to resume taking personal protection measures, including wearing masks.

The increase in new infections — nearing 100,000 a day — comes as the nation heads into Memorial Day weekend with its large gatherings and travel. That case count is almost certainly an undercount, officials said, given the widespread use of at-home tests for which results are often not reported to health officials.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strongly encouraged those living in communities designated yellow or orange, indicating they have large numbers of new infections and hospitalizations, to consider wearing masks in indoor public spaces and taking other steps to protect themselves.

“As we’re currently seeing a steady rise of cases in parts of the country, we encourage everyone to use the menu of tools we have today to prevent further infection and severe disease, including wearing a mask, getting tested, accessing treatments early if infected and getting vaccinated or boosted,”she said.

Wednesday’s warnings from Walensky and two other officials — Ashish Jha, White House coronavirus coordinator, and Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser — came on the same day the United States surpassed the grim milestone of 1 million covid-19 deaths, a toll that even the starkest predictions at the start of the pandemic in 2020 did not anticipate.

In the Rain, ,Franz Marc

In the Rain, Franz Marc

Also from The Washington Post: How big is the latest U.S. coronavirus wave? No one really knows.

Experts say Americans can assume that infections in their communities are five to 10 times the official counts.

“Any sort of look at the metrics on either a local, state or national level is a severe undercount,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist at the Pandemic Prevention Institute, housed at theRockefeller Foundation. “Everyone knows someone getting covid now.”

Hospitalizations nationally have increased 57 percent since bottoming out six weeks ago. But the roughly 23,000 covid patients in hospitals over the last week still represent nearly the lowest hospitalization levels of the entire pandemic.The recentincrease is led by the Northeast, where hospitalization rates are almost twice as high as in any other region.

Reported cases of covid have also tripled in the Northeast in just over a month, driving much of the growth nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The country has averaged about 100,000 new cases each day over the past week —more than three times as high as at the lowest point in March.

The latest uptick in infections is testing a new CDC alert system adopted by many local and state governments that categorizes community levels of covid-19 as “low” even with the number of new cases rising to a level once considered high.

More than two-thirds of Americans live in low-risk areas under these metrics. But 43 percent of residents in the Northeastlive in areas considered high-risk, compared with 9percent in the Midwest and less than 1 percent each in the South and West.

I recommend clicking the link and reading the entire article.

morning-on-the-seine-in-the-rain-1898, Claude Monet

Morning on the Seine in the rain, Claude Monet

CNBC: U.S. faces unnecessary Covid deaths if Congress fails to pass funding bill, top health official warns.

Top U.S. health officials on Wednesday reiterated their calls for Congress to pass funding for the nation’s fight against Covid-19, warning that failure to act now would result in an unnecessary loss of life in the fall and winter.

Their warning comes as new infections and hospitalizations are on the rise as the more transmissible omicron subvariants sweep the U.S.

The nation is reporting more than 94,000 new infections daily on average as of Monday, a 25% increase over the previous week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, hospitalizations have increased 18% over the past week with about 3,000 people admitted with Covid every day on average, according to CDC data.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the new White House Covid response coordinator, said the fact that many people are now taking at-home tests, results of which are not captured in the data, has to be taken into consideration.

“We know that the number of infections is actually substantially higher than that, hard to know exactly how many, but we know that a lot of people are getting diagnosed using home tests,” Jha said during a White House update on the pandemic Wednesday. “We’re clearly undercounting cases. There’s a lot of infections across America.”

Those are today’s top stories as I see it. What do you think? What stories are you following?