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MAIN TOPICS: Voting Info, Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work, DMVs Are Selling Your Data to Private Investigators, By gutting Obamacare, Judge Reed O’Connor handed Texas a win. It wasn’t the first time, The Federalist Society Says It’s Not an Advocacy Organization, Fear and Loyalty: How Donald Trump Took Over the Republican Party, Astronomers present a concept for the next NASA flagship mission, and MORE.
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- Next Election: January 28, 2020 – Special Runoff Election to fill a Vacancy State Representative District 148 (Early voting: January 21 – 24)
- Healthcare as a national security issue. Liberals have their own reasons for believing in universal Healthcare as a 21st century right. But how do we persuade “persuadable conservatives” of the benefits of universal Healthcare?
- National Defense: A healthy population is ready to work and fight effectively for the nation’s defense. Healthy citizens are more quickly made battle-ready in a national emergency.
- Productivity: A healthy population works more efficiently and effectively. There work is of higher quality and they take fewer sick days (paid or unpaid).
- Business Bottom Line: A healthier population means lower Healthcare costs for employee insurance policies.
- Universal Healthcare could mean that Healthcare as an expense item is deleted from comes off the bottom line, making business more competitive domestically and internationally.
- Rules-based world order us US self-defense.
- The rules-based world order the US has promulgated and enforced isn’t in the national interest only when we are strong. Making a rules-based world order is especially important for times when we as a nation are/will be weak. It is therefore a longterm national security interest of the US to make a rules-based world order into a longterm global norm, whether we enforce it or a like-minded nation or group of nations enforces it.
- There are two @SenatorCollins:(Maine Sen Susan Collins): the one who talks and the one who votes. The Ven diagram has little if any overlap. In short, she appears to be a media-manipulative liar. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me lots of times … I have to stop being a sucker.
- Healthcare as a national security issue. Liberals have their own reasons for believing in universal Healthcare as a 21st century right. But how do we persuade “persuadable conservatives” of the benefits of universal Healthcare?
- Who Signs Up to Fight? Makeup of U.S. Recruits Shows Glaring Disparity – More and more, new recruits come from the same small number of counties and are the children of old recruits. By Dave Philipps and Tim Arango | COM | Jan. 10, 2020
- Soldiers … are increasingly making the United States military a family business. The men and women who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities at the gates of military bases like Colorado Springs, which sits next to Fort Carson and several Air Force installations, and where the tradition of military service is deeply ingrained.
- More and more, new recruits are the children of old recruits. In 2019, 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30 percent, it was a parent — a striking point in a nation where less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military.
- For years, military leaders have been sounding the alarm over the growing gulf between communities that serve and those that do not, warning that relying on a small number of counties that reliably produce soldiers is unsustainable, particularly now amid escalating tensions with Iran.
- “A widening military-civilian divide increasingly impacts our ability to effectively recruit and sustain the force,” Anthony M. Kurta, acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service last year. “This disconnect is characterized by misperceptions, a lack of knowledge and an inability to identify with those who serve. It threatens our ability to recruit the number of quality youth with the needed skill sets to maintain our advantage.”
- … [T]he idea of joining the military has lost much of its luster in nearly two decades of grinding war. The patriotic rush to enlist after the terrorist attacks of 2001 has faded. For a generation, enlisting has produced reliable hardship for troops and families, but nothing that resembles victory. But the military families who have borne nearly all of the burden, and are the most cleareyed about the risks of war, are still the Americans who are most likely to encourage their sons and daughters to join.
- The main predictors are not based on class or race. Army data show service spread mostly evenly through middle-class and “downscale” groups. Youth unemployment turns out not to be the prime factor. And the racial makeup of the force is more or less in line with that of young Americans as a whole, though African-Americans are slightly more likely to serve. Instead, the best predictor is a person’s familiarity with the military.
- “Those who understand military life are more likely to consider it as a career option than those who do not,” said Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for the Army’s Recruiting Command.
- That distinction has created glaring disparities across the country. In 2019, Fayetteville, N.C., which is home to Fort Bragg, provided more than twice as many military enlistment contracts as Manhattan, even though Manhattan has eight times as many people. Many of the new contracts in Fayetteville were soldiers signing up for second and third enlistments.
- This was not always the case. Military service was once spread fairly evenly — at least geographically — throughout the nation because of the draft. But after the draft ended in 1973, enlistments shifted steadily south of the Mason-Dixon line. The military’s decision to close many bases in Northern states where long winters limited training only hastened the trend.
- Today, students growing up in military communities are constantly exposed to the people who serve. Moms pick up their sons from day care in flight suits. Dads attend the fourth-grade holiday party in camouflage. High schools often have Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in which students wear uniforms to class once a week and can earn credit for learning about science, leadership and fitness through a military framework. …
- Mother Of Marine Claimed Son Told Her Fox News Plays On Every TV On Base, Not Allowed To Change The Channel – This is horrifying. by Andrew Simpson | politicaltribune.org 11 JAN 2020
- After multiple reports emerged recently showing Donald Trump’s popularity among members of the military falling precipitously, it was only a matter of time before we found out that someone would take drastic measures to try and remedy that situation.
- Usually something like that comes in the form of a directive from the top that makes its way down through the ranks, and this appears to be no different — ailing support for the Commander in Chief could cause massive morale issues among not just the rank and file, but officers and even top brass, as each level of the military has its own reason for the way they feel about the President, from lying about being the first to give them a raise in decades to ignoring actionable intelligence or information counter to Trump policies.
- So what could, say, a general friendly to the President do to fix Trump’s battered image among soldiers and officers? Well, he could make sure that they’re not exposed to any more information that would further taint their perceptions of Trump — and that means no real reporting on anything bad about the President.
- And if you want nothing but good news about Donald Trump, there’s only one station you can turn to: Fox News.
- In fact, that’s what one Marine mom says is exactly the case where her son is stationed:
- Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work, By Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport | The New York Times | December 29, 2019
- In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts said, could reverberate for years.
- Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Donald Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.
- But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Missouri, the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.
- “The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.”
- Hundreds of scientists, many of whom said they are dismayed at seeing their work undone, are departing.
- DMVs Are Selling Your Data to Private Investigators – You gave them your data in exchange for a driver’s license. DMVs are making tens of millions of dollars selling it, documents obtained by Motherboard show. by Joseph Cox | COM | Sep 6 2019, 8:09am
- Departments of Motor Vehicles in states around the country are taking drivers’ personal information and selling it to thousands of businesses, including private investigators who spy on people for a profit, Motherboard has learned. DMVs sell the data for an array of approved purposes, such as to insurance or tow companies, but some of them have sold to more nefarious businesses as well. Multiple states have made tens of millions of dollars a year selling data. …
- … Multiple DMVs stressed to Motherboard that they do not sell the photographs from citizens’ driver licenses or social security numbers. …
- … The data sold varies from state to state, but it typically includes a citizen’s name and address. In others, it can also include their nine-digit ZIP code, date of birth, phone number, and email address. …
- … The data selling is not limited to private investigators, however. … Consumer credit reporting company Experian features heavily in the documents obtained by Motherboard, which stretch from 2014 to this year, as does research company LexisNexis. The Delaware DMV has direct access agreements with around 300 different entities, according to one spreadsheet. The Wisconsin DMV has current agreements with over 3100 entities, another shows. Local media outlets in Florida, Texas, and elsewhere have also reported on DMVs selling data to third parties.
- Valerie McGilvrey, a skiptracer who uses various tools and techniques to track down vehicles that need to be repossessed, told Motherboard “with Texas having no repo license and minimum standards, convicted felons can and do access professional databases.” …
- By gutting Obamacare, Judge Reed O’Connor handed Texas a win. It wasn’t the first time – The Texas Attorney General’s Office has made a habit of filing lawsuits against the federal government that land in O’Connor’s court. by Emma Platoff | ORG | Dec. 19, 20182 PM
- In 2015, it was an Obama administration effort to extend family leave benefits to gay couples. In 2016, it was an Obama administration guideline allowing transgender children to use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity. And on Friday, it was the entirety of Obamacare that U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor struck down as unconstitutional after a Texas-led coalition of 20 states sued this year to kill it.
- Over the past four years, O’Connor has handed Texas major wins in several high-profile Texas v. United States lawsuits. And it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that those cases landed in his court. The North Texas judge has emerged as something of a favorite for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, a notoriously litigious legal battalion known for challenging the federal government in cases and controversies across the country.
- Since 2015, almost half of challenges to the federal government that Texas filed in district courts here landed in O’Connor’s courtroom, attorney general’s office records show. He is one of several dozen federal judges of his rank in the state.
- Active in the conservative Federalist Society, O’Connor is a former aide to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and a former federal prosecutor in North Texas who has been rumored to be on the short list for a promotion to a federal appeals court. O’Connor, a 2007 appointee of President George W. Bush, worked in relative obscurity until 2015, when Texas’ litigation force began to frequent his courtroom. Since then, he’s earned a reputation as a no-nonsense conservative darling.
- This October, a year after Texas filed suit, it was O’Connor who struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act, a decades-old federal law that gives Native American families placement preference over white families for adopting Native children.
- O’Connor has also ruled for Texas in health care cases. In December 2016, he ruled that an Obama administration rule aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender patients could force doctors to violate their religious beliefs. Weeks before he heard oral arguments in this Obamacare case, O’Connor had awarded Texas some $300 million in a separate lawsuit over a fee associated with the law.
- Last week’s ruling on Obamacare was a particularly stunning victory for Texas. O’Connor ruled the entire landmark law unconstitutional based on a December 2017 change to federal tax law that gutted one of its major provisions. Many legal experts predict it will be reversed on appeal, at least in part.
- If Texas is trying to land cases before O’Connor, the state has geography on its side.
- You can’t always choose your judge, but you can often choose your courthouse. That’s especially true for a coalition of 20 states challenging a law that touches practically every person in the country — dozens of courtrooms in many of those states would have been plausible places to file the lawsuit, giving the Texas coalition many feasible options. O’Connor happens to have served in small judicial districts where a savvy plaintiff has a good chance of landing in his court.
- For some years, O’Connor was the only district judge hearing cases in the state’s tiny Wichita Falls division. Texas filed five challenges to the federal government there in 2015 and 2016; O’Connor heard all five. Then the Northern District of Texas’ chief judge, Barbara Lynn, announced that starting in December 2016 she would hear 15 percent of cases filed at the courthouse near the Oklahoma border. After that, the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed two federal challenges in Fort Worth, where O’Connor is one of three judges who hears cases and is currently the only active judge — meaning cases filed there are likely to fall to him as well. Both cases were heard in his courtroom.
- “The reason he has a higher proportion of high-profile cases is because [former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott] and [Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton] have chosen to file there — I don’t think O’Connor is any more or less conservative than other judges in Texas. He gets these cases because there’s a greater chance of drawing him,” said Josh Blackman, a conservative legal scholar who has written two books on Obamacare litigation. “It’s not just that they know he’s conservative — it’s that they’ll get a conservative judge.”
- The attorney general’s office did not respond to questions about why it files a disproportionate number of cases before O’Connor. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, which allied itself with Texas on the lawsuit, joined after it was already filed and didn’t play a role in deciding where to bring it, a spokeswoman said.
- What lawyers call “forum shopping” is, of course, a bipartisan strategy. Liberal-leaning groups in Texas tend to bring federal lawsuits in the friendlier courthouses of Austin and San Antonio; on a national level, progressive litigators aim for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the country’s most liberal circuit court.
- But if the strategy isn’t at all novel, perhaps the outcome was. O’Connor’s Obamacare decision has been panned by legal scholars across the political spectrum. Experts, including many leading conservatives, have assailed the opinion as misguided and even politically motivated.
- “No one opposes ObamaCare more than we do,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. “But a federal judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional is likely to be overturned on appeal and may boomerang politically on Republicans.”
- The Journal editorial criticizes O’Connor’s legal reasoning as akin to “a liberal Ninth Circuit appeals judge handling a Donald Trump appeal” — a stinging insult from a leading conservative voice.
- The conservative National Review “deplores” the decision. A Washington Post columnist wrote that “Even the right dislikes the new Obamacare ruling.” The influential blog Above the Law published a round-up of criticisms from a long list of legal experts, headline: “Legal Commentators Nearly Pull A Muscle Condemning Judge’s Affordable Care Act Decision.”
- The conservative legal scholar Jonathan Adler and the liberal legal scholar Abbe Gluck came together to write in The New York Times that the decision “makes a mockery of the rule of law and basic principles of democracy.”
- The Federalist Society Says It’s Not an Advocacy Organization. These Documents Show Otherwise. By AMANDA HOLLIS-BRUSKY and CALVIN TERBEEK | com | August 31, 2019 (Amanda Hollis-Brusky is an associate professor of politics at Pomona College and author of Ideas With Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution. Calvin TerBeek is a Ph.D. candidate in political science)
- MIKE NOTE: The Federalist Society – The Federalist Society is a tax–exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Our federal tax identification number is 36-3235550.
- This past March, when the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies held its 37th annual national gathering for conservative law students, the lineup of speakers and panelists included an impressive number of Republican Party and conservative movement stars. …
- Despite what appears to be an obvious political valence, the Federalist Society and its high-profile members have long insisted the nonprofit organization does not endorse any political party “or engage in other forms of political advocacy,” as its website says. The society does not deny an ideology—it calls itself a “group of conservatives and libertarians”—but it maintains that it is simply “about ideas,” not legislation, politicians or policy positions.
- Federalist Society documents that one of us recently unearthed, however, make this position untenable going forward. The documents, made public here for the first time, show that the society not only has held explicit ideological goals since its infancy in the early 1980s, but sought to apply those ideological goals to legal policy and political issues through the group’s roundtables, symposia and conferences.
- The question of whether the Federalist Society is properly characterized as a “society of ideas” or a political organization has significant ramifications. The Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a set of guidelines administered by the federal judiciary’s Judicial Conference, was revised earlier this year to bar sitting federal judges from participating in conferences and seminars sponsored by groups “generally viewed by the public as having adopted a consistent political or ideological point of view equivalent to the type of partisanship often found in political organizations.” (The Code does not “explicitly” apply to Supreme Court justices, though they have looked to it in the past.) One former federal judge argued that under the new ethics opinion, the Federalist Society is now a “no-go zone for federal judges.” The Society’s president, Eugene Meyer, responded, calling the former jurist’s argument an “absurd and ludicrous” interpretation of the rule, adding that the Federalist Society has said “time and again” that it is nonpartisan and does not take official policy positions.
- But the newly unearthed documents—a 1984 grant proposal and cover letter, written by Meyer on the Federalist Society’s behalf and now housed in the late Judge Robert Bork’s papers at the Library of Congress—provide evidence that the Federalist Society, in contravention of what the new Code states, in fact “advocates for specific outcomes on legal or political issues.” This suggests that federal judges, by attending Federalist Society events, are transgressing the Code’s new guidelines. Given the importance of active federal judges to the Federalist Society’s long-term goal of reshaping the law, barring them from the society’s events could hamper its continued ability to exert the political influence it has impressively built over decades. …
- …The Federalist Society’s founders and conservative patrons understood early on that the battle for control of the law would not be won on campuses alone. In the January 1984 grant proposal, Meyer, then the Federalist Society’s executive director, asked the conservative-leaning Smith Richardson Foundation for “seed money” to fund a new entity, a “Lawyers Division.” The central goal, Meyer wrote, was “to build an effective national conservative lawyers organization.” Meyer began the proposal by asserting that an alternative to “an increasingly radicalized bar,” exemplified by the American Bar Association, was now necessary because “lawyers continue to fill key positions in the modern instrumentalities of the welfare state.”
- SHORTER VERSION OF ARTICLE ABOVE- REVEALED: New documents show the Federalist Society has lied about its mission — and could blow up on sitting judges, By Matthew Chapman | COM | Published on August 31, 2019
- On Saturday, political science academics Amanda Hollis-Brusky and Calvin TerBeek wrote an exposé in Politico revealing that the Federalist Society, an association of conservative and libertarian lawyers infamous for forming a semi-official pipeline of right-wing academics into the federal court system, have deliberately misled the public about the purpose of their organization’s existence for years.
- “Despite what appears to be an obvious political valence, the Federalist Society and its high-profile members have long insisted the nonprofit organization does not endorse any political party ‘or engage in other forms of political advocacy,’ as its website says,” they wrote. “The society does not deny an ideology — it calls itself a ‘group of conservatives and libertarians’ — but it maintains that it is simply ‘about ideas,’ not legislation, politicians or policy positions.”
- “Federalist Society documents that one of us recently unearthed, however, make this position untenable going forward,” they continued. “The documents, made public here for the first time, show that the society not only has held explicit ideological goals since its infancy in the early 1980s, but sought to apply those ideological goals to legal policy and political issues through the group’s roundtables, symposia and conferences.”
- The newly discovered papers resided in the Library of Congress with the records of the late Judge Robert Bork, President Ronald Reagan’s failed Supreme Court nominee. In one private grant proposal to a prospective conservative donor in 1984, for example, Federalist Society President Eugene Meyer promised that the Federalist Society would promote “the formation of groups of conservative lawyers in the major centers for the practice of law, who feel comfortable believing in, and advocating, conservative positions.” He also suggested the group would advocate against environmental, banking, and employment regulation, and recommend judges for appointments.
- All of this could have significant consequences. Earlier this year, the Code of Conduct for United States Judges was modified to prohibit judges from participating in conferences held by groups “generally viewed by the public as having adopted a consistent political or ideological point of view equivalent to the type of partisanship often found in political organizations.”
- In light of these documents explicitly revealing the political goals of the Federalist Society, that means that sitting judges may be in violation of the Code if they attend Federalist Society seminars — something conservative judges at all levels of the court system do routinely to exchange ideas and proposals. (The Code is not binding on the Supreme Court, but is on appeals and district court judges.)
- For his part, Meyer disputes all of this, calling this interpretation of the Code “absurd,” and stating that it is “silly” to treat these documents “as a serious source for what the Society is and does today.”
- “If the new advisory opinion is enforced, one can imagine the society or a federal judge suing on the grounds of free speech and freedom of association,” concluded Hollis-Brusky TerBeek. “And, as a testament to its success, the Federalist Society might get a sympathetic hearing from the very same judiciary it helped build.”
- Astronomers present a concept for the next NASA flagship mission, by Laura Arenschield, The Ohio State University |org | December 16, 2019
- The mission, nicknamed “HabEx” for “The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory,” would use a telescope with a mirror larger than Hubble’s, and would employ origami techniques to utilize an external “starshade,” which would block the light from the parent star and enable the search for and characterization of dim planets orbiting that star, according to a presentation today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
- “Our goal is to see if we can find a planet that is similar to Earth—one that can support life,” said Scott Gaudi, one of the project’s co-chairs. “While we’ve identified a number of planets outside our solar system, so far, none have conclusively been shown to have the elements necessary for habitability.” …
- Fear and Loyalty: How Donald Trump Took Over the Republican Party – The president demands complete fealty, and as the impeachment hearings showed, he has largely attained it. To cross him is to risk losing a future in the Republican Party. By Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman |NYTIMES.com | Published Dec. 21, 2019, Updated Dec. 22, 2019, 3:25 p.m. ET
- By the summer of 2017, Dave Trott, a two-term Republican congressman, was worried enough about President Trump’s erratic behavior and his flailing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that he criticized the president in a closed-door meeting with fellow G.O.P. lawmakers.
- The response was instantaneous — but had nothing to do with the substance of Mr. Trott’s concerns. “Dave, you need to know somebody has already told the White House what you said,” he recalled a colleague telling him. “Be ready for a barrage of tweets.”
- Trott got the message: To defy Mr. Trump is to invite the president’s wrath, ostracism within the party and a premature end to a career in Republican politics. Mr. Trott decided not to seek re-election in his suburban Detroit district, concluding that running as a Trump skeptic was untenable, and joining a wave of Republican departures from Congress that has left those who remain more devoted to the president than ever. …
- … Just under four years after he began his takeover of a party to which he had little connection, Mr. Trump enters 2020 burdened with the ignominy of being the first sitting president to seek re-election after being impeached.
- But he does so wearing a political coat of armor built on total loyalty from G.O.P. activists and their representatives in Congress. If he does not enjoy the broad admiration Republicans afforded Ronald Reagan, he is more feared by his party’s lawmakers than any occupant of the Oval Office since at least Lyndon Johnson.
- His iron grip was never firmer than over the last two months, during the House inquiry that concluded Wednesday with Mr. Trump’s impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. No House Republican supported either article, or even authorized the investigation in September, and in hearing after hearing into the president’s dealings with Ukraine, they defended him as a victim of partisan fervor. One Republican even said that Jesus had received fairer treatment before his crucifixion than Mr. Trump did during his impeachment. …
- …This fealty hardly guarantees Mr. Trump re-election: He has never garnered a 50 percent approval rating as president and over half of voters tell pollsters they will oppose him no matter who the Democrats nominate. …
- … “He has a complete connection with the average Republican voter and that’s given him political power here,” said Representative Patrick McHenry, Republican of North Carolina, adding: “Trump has touched the nerve of my conservative base like no person in my lifetime.”
- Interviews with current and former Republican lawmakers as well as party strategists, many of whom requested anonymity so as not to publicly cross the president, suggest that many elected officials are effectively faced with two choices. They can vote with their feet by retiring — and a remarkable 40 percent of Republican members of Congress have done so or have been defeated at the ballot box since Mr. Trump took office.
- Or they can mute their criticism of him. All the incentives that shape political behavior — with voters, donors and the news media — compel Republicans to bow to Mr. Trump if they want to survive. …
- … Divergence from Trumpism will never be good enough for Democrats; Mr. Trump will target you among Republicans, Mr. Trott added, and the vanishing voters from the political middle will never have a chance to reward you because you would not make it through a primary. That will be ensured in part by the megaphone the president wields with the conservative news media.
- “Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way,” Mr. Trott said. “But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.” He added that he would be open to the presidential candidacy of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.
- On the other hand, Mr. Trump dangles rewards to those who show loyalty — a favorable tweet, or a presidential visit to their state — and his heavy hand has assured victory for a number of Republican candidates in their primaries. That includes Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who did as many Fox News appearances as possible to draw the president’s attention.
- “The greatest fear any member of Congress has these days is losing a primary,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who lost his general election last year in a heavily Hispanic Miami-area district. “That’s the foremost motivator.”
- The larger challenge with Mr. Trump is that all politics is personal with him, and he carefully tracks who on television is praising him or denouncing his latest rhetorical excess. “He is the White House political director,” Scott Reed, a longtime Republican consultant, said.
- More conventional presidents may be more understanding of lawmakers who are pulled in a different direction by the political demands of their districts — but Mr. Trump has shown little tolerance for such dissent. …
- The incentive to show fealty to Mr. Trump has become evident to the Club for Growth, a fiscal conservative group that was made famous for its willingness to fund primaries against Republican leaders and was hostile to Mr. Trump in 2016.
- The group’s president, David McIntosh, said conservative voters had lost interest in punishing ideological heresies and were motivated by one overarching factor unrelated to policy.
- “Poll after poll showed us that Republican primary voters wanted their nominees to support President Trump,” he said, “so in order to make sure they were viable and would get re-elected, they ended up being supporters of his.” …
- … “If you go to any Republican event, you’re going to find more people at that event than ever before,” Mr. Trott said, “and every single one of them to a person will be all in for President Trump. They’ll all have ‘Make America Great Again’ hats on and they’ll be saying what a tremendous president he is.”
- Trott recounted one of his most vivid memories of his time serving with Mr. Trump. It was the day in 2017 when House Republicans voted to repeal the A.C.A. and celebrated afterward at the White House.
- Trott was one of the first lawmakers to enter the Oval Office after the “““““““““`Rose Garden celebration and he stood behind the president’s desk when Mr. Trump pulled out a sheet of paper.
- “He already had a list of 20 people who had voted against him two hours earlier,” he recalled.
- Want Trump to Go? Take to the Streets – Another moment for public protest has arrived. By David Leonhardt, Opinion Columnist | COM | Oct. 20, 2019
- On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Donald Trump’s election, Obamacare looked to be doomed. Millions of Americans, it seemed, were going to lose their health insurance. …
- … Fortunately, some progressives understood that politics isn’t only an inside game. The outside game — of public protest and grass-roots lobbying — matters, too.
- Even before Trump took office, activists began planning a strategy to make repeal as politically painful as possible. On the day after Trump’s inauguration, some four million Americans took to the streets for Women’s Marches (which obviously were about much more than repeal). In the months that followed, groups like Indivisible organized people to attend town halls, visit Capitol Hill and inundate members of Congress with phone calls.
- The efforts transformed the debate. Obamacare repeal was no longer a bloodless legislative matter, in which public opinion was measured merely with poll results and pundit analysis. The story became rawer, more human and much harder for politicians and ordinary citizens to ignore. …
- … Consider what happened last week alone. Trump created a foreign-policy disaster in Turkey and Syria, for no apparent reason, while multiple administration officials testified that he views diplomacy largely as a way to advance his personal interests. His attitude, evidently, is: America, c’est moi. Even more so than a month ago, Trump is a national emergency, flagrantly violating his oath of office and daring the country to stop him.
- Yet the chances of removing him appear as dim as Obamacare’s chances of survival did on Nov. 9, 2016. Trump even has plausible paths to re-election, some of which involve again losing the popular vote.
- A. Kauffman, a historian of protest movements, has said that effective ones often throw “a monkey wrench into a process that was otherwise going to just unfold smoothly.” That’s the role that an outside game can now play in the impeachment saga.
- It can wake up more Americans to the gravity of the situation. It can mobilize progressives to work as hard as they did during the 2018 midterms. It can confront congressional Republicans with their cowardice.
- “Protests work,” as Kauffman has said — not always, of course, but often “when groups are willing to be bold in their tactics and persistent in their approach within the broad discipline of non-violent action.” As Vox’s Matthew Yglesias wrote last week, public protest “serves as a powerful signal to the rest of society that something extraordinary is happening.” If anything, protest may be more important than in the past, because the elite institutions that helped bring down Richard Nixon, like political parties and the national media, are weaker today.
- So it’s time for a sequel to that first Women’s March — an Americans’ March, in which millions of people peacefully take to the streets to say that President Trump must go. And it’s time for a more intense grass-roots campaign directed at his congressional enablers, one that conjures the respectful intensity of the save-Obamacare campaign. Even if the Senate still acquits Trump, a new protest movement can help galvanize people to defeat him, and his enablers, next year.
- The country is in crisis. Right now, that crisis feels all too normal.
- Air Force spaceplane returns to Earth after 780-day mission, By William Harwood | CBS News | October 27, 2019 / 8:33 AM /
- An unpiloted Air Force X-37B spaceplane, one of two winged orbiters used to carry out classified research, made a surprise landing at the Kennedy Space Center early Sunday to close out a record 780-day mission. It was the fifth flight in the secretive Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) program, pushing total time aloft to 2,865 days.
- “This program continues to push the envelope as the (Air Force’s) only reusable space vehicle,” Randy Walden, director of the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement. “With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives.”
- Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows, By Denise Lu and Christopher Flavelle | COM |Oct. 29, 2019
- Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities.
- The authors of a paper published Tuesday developed a more accurate way of calculating land elevation based on satellite readings, a standard way of estimating the effects of sea level rise over large areas, and found that the previous numbers were far too optimistic. The new research shows that some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury. …
- Southern Vietnam could all but disappear. … More than 20 million people in Vietnam, almost one-quarter of the population, live on land that will be inundated. …
- In Shanghai, one of Asia’s most important economic engines, water threatens to consume the heart of the city and many other cities around it. The findings don’t have to spell the end of those areas. The new data shows that 110 million people already live in places that are below the high tide line …
- The new projections suggest that much of Mumbai, India’s financial capital and one of the largest cities in the world, is at risk of being wiped out. Built on what was once a series of islands, the city’s historic downtown core is particularly vulnerable.
- Over all, the research shows that countries should start preparing now for more citizens to relocate internally, according to Dina Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental group that coordinates action on migrants and development.
- The hidden hunger affecting billions, By Michael Marshall | BBC.COM | 7-JULY-2019
- Two billion people do not get enough micronutrients in their diets, which can lead to severe health conditions.
- New kinds of crops could help to create better, more nutritious foods to beat these deficiencies.
- When children do not get enough iron in their food, the results are heartbreaking. They are slower to acquire language, struggle with short-term memory, have poor attention spans and ultimately do less well at school.
- “They can never live up to their full physical and mental potential,” says Wolfgang Pfeiffer, director of research and development at HarvestPlus, an organisation that develops nutritionally improved crops in Washington DC. “If they are deficient in their childhood, they learn 20% less as adults.”
- In the poorest parts of India and China, millions of children have their lives stunted through lack of iron. In South Asia, an estimated50% of pregnant women have iron deficiency, and it is also prevalent in South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
- But iron is only one small part of the story. There are several dozen other “micronutrients” – substances that we need to consume, in small quantities but regularly, to remain healthy. They include zinc, copper, vitamins and folates such as folic acid and vitamin B9.
- The traditional solution to micronutrient deficiencies has been to add more micronutrients to common foods, or to supply pills … But these strategies have limits. If people can’t afford pills or don’t have access to a pharmacy, they may still not get enough micronutrients. What’s more, adding micronutrients to food is a constant process: every batch of breakfast cereal has to be artificially dosed with iron and vitamins.
- A much simpler approach would be to go back to the crop plant from which the cereal is made, and ensure that it packs itself full of the micronutrient in the first place.
- This is the thinking behind “biofortification”, the process of creating crops that have unusually high levels of micronutrients like iron. HarvestPlus was founded in 2003 by economist Howarth Bouis, after a decade of lobbying and raising moneyto create biofortified crops and make them available where they are needed. Today HarvestPlus has members in more than 20 countries and has biofortified over a dozen crops, from rice to sweet potatoes.
- India’s blowout election is a lesson for US Democrats, By Annalisa Merelli | COM/ | May 24, 2019
- Narendra Modi, India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister, defied expectations when he won his second election in an even bigger landslide than the first one. He did so at the expense of India’s Congress party, which campaigned on a secular and pluralist platform.
- Turns out the nationalist message of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hugely popular with voters. It was a massive defeat—the second in a row—for India’s more liberal Congress party. It’s a bitter loss that came with many lessons, ones that Democrats in the United States would be wise to heed. …
- … Politics in India have traditionally been about the economy. This time, however, Modi and the BJP’s support of Hindu nationalism took a more prominent position than it had in past campaigns, exploiting tension with Pakistan to redirect the debate toward national security and anti-Muslim sectarianism. As Modi’s message grew stronger, [the once-dominant Congress Party] failed to really fight for India’s long-established secular ideals. …
- … The Congress isn’t known for its ability to learn lessons, but there are some more to note. And given that a left-leaning party promoting pluralism just lost to a right-leaning party promoting nationalism, the Democratic Party in the United States should probably read a long as it prepares for its own election season.
- Don’t make it about the candidate: Modi’s leadership of the BJP is strong, and there is no separating his party or government’s success and work from his own. His party capitalized on this, turning the election into a referendum on him—rather than his government’s record. Polarizing figures like Modi tend to benefit from these kinds of politics. His party understood this. His adversaries did not.
- Turning the campaign into a vote for or against Modi prevented the opposition from asserting its own ideas. Even when the Congress proposed policies that could have appealed to a broad electorate — for instance, guaranteed minimum income … — they received little attention. As George Lakoff explained in his 2004 book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, obsessing over a candidate’s flaws only makes him or her more popular.
- Democrats in the United States made this mistake in the 2016 election, running a campaign against Donald Trump instead of for their own policies.
- Dare to be different: … For many voters, the Congress party is associated with old-school elitist politics, corruption, and a perceived inability to bring change to India. Gandhi’s candidacy didn’t do much to change anyone’s minds.
- Make friends: Congress also failed to make strong alliances with other, smaller political parties…. Progressives seem to make this mistake a lot. While conservatives often stick together (the Republican Party’s support of Trump during the campaign is a textbook example), liberals often fail to find common ground. In the last presidential campaign, the Democratic primaries went on long after Trump was the presumed nominee. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton spent more time tearing each other apart than focusing on the bigger fight. The extremely crowded field of potential democratic candidates suggests the same thing could happen again.
- Focus the narrative: Modi’s narrative of a new, strong, corruption-free India—one with international power, credibility and gravitas—appealed to many voters. It delivered a clear vision of what he was promising, and one that Indians were fast to embrace. Congress never presented a clear vision of its own.
- [The Congress Party] decried the threat to secular values [Modi’s Party] posed, and held itself up as its defender. But rather than communicating how those values could help India succeed, the party focused more on what would happen if protections further deteriorated.
- This is not unlike what happened during the 2016 election in the United States. Just look at the campaign slogans: Trump’s “Make America Great Again” had a clear if suspect mission. Clinton’s “Stronger Together” described a status, not an intention. Democrats could face the same problem they did in 2016—and the same problem India’s Congress party faced this week—unless they forget about the opposition, stop playing defense, and promote their own, clear vision.