Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 30th, 2018

Wow. Trump’s latest rage-tweets about Mueller and border wall reveal GOP weakness

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Greg Sargent of the Washington Post (and judge from content, not from source, please) writes:

Over the weekend, President Trump escalated his rage-tweets about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, threatened a government shutdown to get his great wall on the southern border, and blasted the news media for selling out the country, while basically shrugging at the idea that egging on his supporters’ hatred of the press might be placing independent journalists in greater danger. It’s a reminder that Trump’s authoritarianism and bigotry will be front and center in this fall’s midterm elections.
An important new analysis of the House map by Nate Cohn of the New York Times may help explain Trump’s escalations on all those fronts — or if not, it certainly provides crucial context for understanding how those escalations might shape the battle for control of the lower chamber.
Cohn’s central finding is that the House map is turning out to be a lot broader than we expected. The districts that are in play aren’t merely suburban ones in which Hillary Clinton did well in 2016; they also include many working-class and rural districts that voted for Trump. Cohn analyzed the 60 GOP-held House seats that are rated competitively (Lean Republican, Toss Up, and Lean/Likely Democratic) by the Cook Political Report. Here are the key conclusions about the aggregate electorate in those districts:

  • The electorate in those 60 districts is 78 percent white, whereas the United States is 70 percent white overall.
  • The electorate in those 60 districts is 65 percent suburban, whereas the United States overall is 55 percent suburban.
  • The electorate in those 60 districts boasts about 31 percent college graduates, whereas the United States overall is 28 percent college graduates.
  • Forty-nine percent of the electorate in those 60 districts voted for Trump in 2016, while 46 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. (Nationally, of course, Clinton actually won the popular vote by over two points.)

In short, the House battleground is only a bit more suburban and educated than the United States overall, and crucially, it’s whiter and more pro-Trump. The data is complicated by the need to use different voter pools to break out different demographic categories, but that’s the overall picture. The bottom line: The fact that this electorate shows Democrats with so many pickup opportunities suggests, as Cohn says, both that Democrats have recruited strong candidates in tough areas and that the national political environment may be “more favorable to Democrats than the generic ballot polls imply.” What’s more, Cohn notes that in special elections, Democratic candidates have already been running further ahead of Clinton in Trump districts than in Clinton-friendly ones.
In that context, Republican hopes of holding the House may turn on energizing core supporters and Trump voters.  If the map were narrower, and largely focused on suburban pro-Clinton districts, Republicans might have a better shot running on the GOP tax cut and the good economy, which could win back more affluent, better-educated, GOP-leaning whites who might be willing to overlook Trump’s ongoing lunacy on that basis.
But Republican incumbents are campaigning much less than expected on the tax cut, and the broader map may help explain why: Working-class whites (and, of course, minorities) are not the tax cut’s beneficiaries. Indeed, a new Politico analysis finds that some of the “biggest winners” from the tax cut are “corporate executives who have reaped gains as their companies buy back a record amount of stock, a practice that rewards shareholders by boosting the value of existing shares,” even as it is producing “less clear long-term benefits for workers.” Not exactly a potent message in fabled Trump country.
Enter Trump’s weekend rage-tweets. Trump went further than ever before in casting Mueller as corrupt (blasting unspecified “conflicts of interest“) and his investigation as illegitimate (an “illegal Scam“). Trump claimed he is “willing” to shut down the government if Democrats don’t support his wall. After New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger privately informed Trumpthat his anti-press rhetoric could lead to more violence against journalists, Trump only escalated his assaults on the media, claiming its “anti-Trump haters” are selling out the country.
It is not clear whether Trump deliberately intends these escalations to juice the base in advance of the midterms. But some Republican candidates have already been embracing Trump’s race-baiting immigration rhetoric and policies. And as the Mueller probe advances — and the news media fills in new details about possible Trump obstruction and collusion — Trump’s public rage will intensify, and GOP candidates will likely amplify his attacks on the investigation and on the press, to keep pro-Trump voters sufficiently energized behind them, an imperative on this broadening House map.
Trump’s latest rage-tweets, then, signal that an election that Republicans hoped would be about how their awesome tax cuts are supercharging the Trump economy may end up being shaped to no small degree by Trump’s bigoted and authoritarian appeals.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2018 at 4:30 pm

Bad times: the NY Times evening briefing

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From the briefing:

First item:

“We talked to people experiencing extreme temperatures on four continents, including a worker at an Algerian oil plant who walked off the job as the temperature hit 124 degrees Fahrenheit. “We couldn’t keep up,” he recalled. “It was impossible to do the work. It was hell.””

Decades ago, as I recall, scientists said that the tropics would be uninhabitable if global temperatures went up 2ºC. Looks like they were optimistic.

Second item:

President Trump reiterated a threat to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t grant his demand to build his long-promised wall with Mexico.”

Third item:

“The Trump administration is also considering bypassing Congress to grant a $100 billion tax cut mainly to the wealthy.”

Unusual, I’d have to say.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2018 at 3:46 pm

Lord save us. FEMA personnel chief harassed women, hired some as possible sexual partners for male employees, agency’s leader says

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Lisa Rein reports in the Washington Post:

The personnel chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency — who resigned just weeks ago — is under investigation after being accused of creating an atmosphere of widespread sexual harassment over years in which women were hired as possible sexual partners for male employees, the agency’s leader said Monday.

The alleged harassment and other misconduct, revealed through a preliminary seven-month internal investigation, was a “systemic problem going on for years,” said FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long. Some of the behavior could rise to the level of criminal activity, he said.

Some of the claims about the agency’s former personnel chief are detailed in a written executive summary of the investigation provided to The Washington Post. FEMA officials provided other details and confirmed that the individual under investigation, whose name was redacted from the report, is Corey Coleman, who led the personnel department from 2011 until his resignation in June.

Coleman could not immediately be reached for comment, and no one answered the door at his Northeast Washington home when a Washington Post reporter visited Monday. Coleman resigned June 18, before a scheduled interview with investigators, and FEMA officials said they have not been able to question him since.

Online records show Coleman was a senior executive who was paid an annual salary of $177,150.

In an interview, Long described a “toxic” environment in the human resources department Coleman had led at FEMA headquarters, hiring dozens of men who were friends and college fraternity brothers and women he met at bars and on online dating sites — then promoting them to roles throughout the agency without going through proper federal hiring channels.

Coleman then transferred some of the women in and out of departments, some to regional offices, so his friends could try to have sexual relationships with them, according to statements and interviews with employees, said a FEMA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

“What we uncovered was a systemic problem going back years,” Long said. He said he has referred several of the cases to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, who oversees FEMA, to investigate possible criminal sexual assault.

“The biggest problem I may solve here may be  . . .

Continue reading.

Is it just me, or are things getting really weird? This takes some sort of cake.

And you know this is just the tip of the iceberg. If this department — a government department, no less—is dong this, then it’s going on in a lot of other places. As we’re seeing at CBS.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2018 at 3:38 pm

Things for Trump are going south quickly.

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Read this report by Aaron Blake, for example. I got the link from Amber Phillips of the Washington Post who says in her newsletter today:

President Trump’s most visible lawyer said Monday morning that collusion isn’t a crime. As The Fix’s Aaron Blake explains, that was a conspicuously huge step back from what Trump himself has been saying about his innocence — that his campaign didn’t collude at all with Russia to win the White House.


What this new “collusion isn’t a crime” argument says about the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia is open to interpretation. But it sounds like the legal definition of collusion could be the crux of a new defense for Trump. So let’s break down what we know and what we don’t about how collusion works in the court of law

Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, is right about one thing: Collusion is not technically a crime. There’s no line in the criminal code that says you go to jail for colluding with a foreign adversary. Collusion is a political term we use as short hand for the legal definition.

But you can go to jail for conspiring with a foreign adversary to influence or undermine an election. Outside legal experts think Donald Trump Jr. may have done just that when he met with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton at Trump Tower in 2016. Emails show Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after hearing from an intermediary that the dirt offered was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” . . .

There’s more. Subscribe to her newsletter, always good: The Five-Minute Fix (“Keeping up with politics is easy now,” and I have to say she delivers on that promise. Some or all of the newsletter might be from or appear in her regular Washington PostThe Fix” column.

I have to say that the Trump tweets quoted in the Blake column sound one hell of a lot Trump is becoming unhinged. See what you think.


Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2018 at 2:17 pm

Food notes: Pork belly; herring

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First, the herring. I found fresh herring at Fairways market and brought home 3 of the little guys (CDN$1.85 total, so they’re inexpensive). They’re a little larger than fresh sardines I used to buy in Monterey, but you can easily fillet them the same way: cut open belly, remove guts and innards, cut off head, then run your fingertip along either side of the spine and remove it.

I sautéed a long green onion, an enormous garlic clove from the whole garlic (head, stem, and seeds) that The Wife brought me from a fair, a yellow zucchini, a jalapeño, a large handful of oyster mushrooms, and 8 cherry tomatoes, all chopped or sliced or minced as appropriate, in 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (thus 4 points for this dish) with salt, pepper, and Aji-no-moto, then stirred in the herring fillets cut into chunks and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I covered and cooked for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then put it into a bowl and sliced a hard-boiled egg on top for a very hearty (and rather late) breakfast. It will serve as lunch today as well.

The herring was really tasty and since I’m on an omega-3 kick, I’m going to return and buy more for while The Wife’s away.

The pork belly (580g piece): I used a sharp utility knife (a disposable one) to score the skin, then sliced the piece lengthwise into two pieces, which I’ll cook separately (since I’m unsure how good leftovers will be). I plan to use this recipe.

Update and lessons learned. Cook a wide piece of pork belly. A narrow piece will fall on the sides and the meat, lacking the basting of fat from above, becomes dry and tough. Get a piece at least 10cm wide—and that’ probably a good width. Note that pork belly is basically pure fat.

Cook’s Illustrated‘s final step is something I’ll adopt when I get a wider piece. The skin really dores require another step. Very sticky and chewy without that step.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2018 at 11:05 am

Wee Scot, Dr. Selby, Game Changer, and Champs de Lavande

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An early shave (4:00 a.m.) to take The Wife to the airport. The Wee Scot easily made a very nice lather from Dr. Selby’s 3X Concentrated Shaving Cream, and the reamrkably good RazoRock Game Changer, a stainless steel razor a good price ($55) delivered a great shave: very comfortable and totally smooth.

A splash of Chatillon Lux’s Champs de Lavande and then a drive to the airport.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2018 at 6:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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