Monday, November 21, 2016

For ACC GOVT 2305 and 2306's Final exams

In class we reviewed some of the items I posted over the course of the semester and indicated which might be the subject of questions on the final. Here's what you should review so far. Think about how the subject matter overlaps with the items we covered in the lecture material.

This has been updated and is now complete. I'll have the final review terms available early next week.

For 2305:

- sanctuary cities
- medical marijuana
- safe spaces / marketplace of ideas
- pre-emption
- criticisms of democracy
- education as a fundamental right
- fiscal year / appropriations / continuing resolution / government shutdown
- 2015 budget
- religious liberty v equal protection
- terry stops
- gaslamp
- ballot selfies
- veto override
- Kaepernick
- party demographics
- the court case about transgender students
- incumbency and the 2016 election
- the 23rd US House District
- competitive US House seats in Texas
- differences between Trump and Clinton supporters
- the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
- party polarization and trust in government
- ticket splitting
- lame duck Congress

For 2306:

- MUDs
- Sanctuary cities
- Marijuana
- Ballot Initiatives
- State Elections
- pre-emption|
- the fundamental right of education
- transgender - schools
- recapture vote in HISD
- terry stops
- gaslamp
- agenda 85th session
- astrodome
- criminalization
- us / texas conflict
- pushback against same sex marriage
- HGAC - transportation
- allowable searches
- voter registration numbers in Texas
- state wide and county election results
- the Texas Ethics Commission
- local debt
- pre-filing
- constitutional right to farm and ranch
- early voting
- special session on education funding

Saturday, November 19, 2016

From Vox: Ticket splitting is dead. National parties are now everything.

I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but it is what it is.

The polarization of the U.S. continues.

- Click here for the article.

Every single state that elected a Republican senator this November voted for Donald Trump — and every single state that elected a Democratic senator voted for Hillary Clinton.

That’s a first in American history — at least going back to 1913, when the Constitution began mandating the direct popular election of senators. And it’s a dramatic reversal from much of the middle of the 20th century, when voters frequently backed senators of one party while also supporting the opposing party’s presidential nominee — a phenomenon known as “ticket splitting.”

The finding confirms a long-running trend: that ticket splitting is now virtually dead. The key culprit appears to be political polarization: Whereas the parties in the 1960s and 1970s were similar enough that a candidate’s local popularity could make a great deal of difference to a state’s voters, the Republican and Democratic caucuses are now so divided on the issues that it makes little sense to, say, back Hillary Clinton but oppose Democratic Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander.

In an interview, the Center for Politics’ Geoffrey Skelley adds that the vote share of the parties’ presidential candidates and Senate candidate were also extraordinarily closely tied together this year (a 90 percent correlation). In other words, basically no Senate candidates did much better or much worse than their party’s nominee.

- Click here for more.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

From the Washington Post: Trump faces growing tension with key Republicans over national security issues

A look at the next four years.

- Click here for the article.

President-elect Donald Trump, who clashed with leading Republicans throughout his campaign, faced growing tumult in his national security transition team on Monday as key members of his own party appeared to question his views and personnel choices.
Former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a respected voice on national security thought to be a leading candidate to run the CIA, was among those pushed out of the team over the past two days, two individuals with direct knowledge said, in a series of moves that have added to the anxiety across the upper ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies.
The changes came as Trump met Tuesday with incoming Vice President Mike Pence to discuss Cabinet and top White House personnel choices. Pence last week replaced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as head of Trump’s overall transition efforts, and Christie’s associates — who had been Trump’s link to the GOP mainstream for months — now find themselves losing influence.

A first look at the demographics of the 115th Congress

Roll Call: Party Diversity Gap to Remain in 115th.

The Hill: 115th Congress will be most racially diverse in history.

From Roll Call: Republicans Restructure Panel for Selecting Committee Assignments

There's nothing in the U.S. Constitution about committees, so the staffing process can change as parties see fit.

- Click here for the article.
House Republicans on Wednesday restructured the panel of representatives that select committee chairmen and members, removing at-large seats in favor of more regional slots.

The move was the final piece of plan to restructure the Republican Steering Committee that the conference agreed to last November. The overhaul was part of Speaker Paul D. Ryan's promise to change GOP rules and procedures to give rank-and-file members more input.

The steering committee in December will, among other things, decide the next chairmen of two of the most influential legislative panels on Capitol Hill, House Appropriations and Energy and Commerce.
When Republicans began the restructuring last year, they removed all but one Steering Committee seat set aside for committee chairmen and replaced those seats with six at-large seats. The plan was always to switch the at-large seats for six new regional slots this year in preparation for the 115th Congress.

From Roll Call: Senate Leadership Elections Set Stage for 2017

Senate party leadership is set for the 115th Congress.

- Click here for the article.
The Senate’s leadership elections went off without a hitch Wednesday, with victorious Republicans keeping their top echelon intact.
Democrats elevated Charles E. Schumer to the role of minority leader for the next Congress, as anticipated, but the most interesting development might be that the Brooklyn lawmaker is going to need a bigger meeting table.
In what appeared to be an effort to respond to the 2016 elections with a more ideologically diverse team, Democrats added Vermont independent Bernie Sanders and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin as representatives of a more progressive faction and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia representing a more centrist contingent. Sanders will be chairman of outreach, Baldwin will serve as conference secretary and Manchin will be vice chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, an advisory board to leadership.
. . . There probably would not have been suspense on the Republican side even if the GOP had lost the majority, but the outcome was even more predictable given the election results.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was re-elected as the chamber’s Republican leader Wednesday during a closed-door organizational meeting.
The Kentucky Republican was nominated by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen.-elect Todd Young of Indiana, and received a standing ovation from the caucus.
Young said he highlighted his faith in McConnell’s leadership in his remarks to the caucus. “I trusted Mitch McConnell because I had direct interaction, especially over recent months,” Young said.
The top GOP leaders are all white men. But in the 114th Congress McConnell did appoint four counsels to broaden the discussion at the leadership table, which included two female senators.
Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, who served as one of the counsels, expects those positions to continue in the next Congress. She was also not concerned with the lack of diversity at the top.
“I think it’s important that we put the best person in the job,” Fischer said. “Diversity is good, whether it’s age or prior work experience, life experiences, gender, whatever, that’s always good to have it in the mix. When it comes down to a certain position, I think you always have to look at the qualities of the individuals.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

From the Washington Post: It’s not just the Cabinet: Trump’s transition team needs to find nearly 4,000 appointees

Trump's transition has been in the news recently, here's a look at what this entails. When we discuss the executive branch we mention the dividing line between the civil service and political appointees. This illustrates where that line is drawn.

- Click here for the article.
When President Obama leaves office, more than 3,800 of his appointees will vacate their jobs as well. That means President-elect Donald Trump’s small and relatively inexperienced staff has about two months to build a new administration.
Positions range from high-profile advisers and Cabinet posts to ambassadors, small agency directors and special assistants. Team Trump is already soliciting résumés.
These are the positions filled by presidential appointees in 2012. The Office of Personnel Management has not yet released numbers for 2016.

The latest from the Gallup Poll

Two recent polls:

- U.S. Public Opinion on Four Key State Ballot Measures.

In addition to electing Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president and keeping the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, Americans last week in several states voted to keep the death penalty, legalize marijuana, increase their minimum wage and implement several gun control measures. The sections below review state voting results and how the outcomes fit more broadly into American public opinion on each issue.

Americans' Satisfaction With U.S. Makes a U-Turn.

Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. plunged 10 percentage points in the aftermath of the presidential election -- retreating from a decade high of 37% in the run-up to last Tuesday's vote. The 27% of Americans who are satisfied matches the 2016 average so far but is 10 points below the historical average for the more than 300 times Gallup has asked the question since 1979.
A sharp decline in satisfaction among Democrats explains most of the drop. Before the election, 62% of Democrats were satisfied; now, 34% are.

From the Harvard Business Review: What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Clas

Since last week's election, renewed attention has been paid to this group.

- Click here for the article.
. . . the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.
Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.
Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.
Manly dignity is a big deal for working-class men, and they’re not feeling that they have it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

From ATTN: How to Make Your Congressman Listen to You

Useful advice - in a series of tweets.

- Click here for the article.

A sample:

Are you noticing a pattern here? The staff are the ones who run the ground game for Congress. Work on helping them understand and learn.
Because, if the staff knows you, when they have a question about a piece of legislation or amendment, they will be the one you call.

From Foreign Policy: The Two-Hundred-Year Era of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ Is Over

Another argument that identity politics is an increasingly powerful driving force in global - not just American - politics.

- Click here for the article.

U.S. democracy may be government of the people, by the people, for the people. But who are “We the people”?
In the United States, every couple of years, one finds out. Elections reveal how the identity of the people — the sovereign person — has changed in body, will, and soul. As with human beings, certain moments in the life of the sovereign being are revealing of its true personality. Donald Trump’s victory was one such moment.
Before the primaries, it was possible to dismiss the electoral relevance of white working-class America, and those left behind by globalization more broadly, and many did: Look no further than the desiccated Washington-consensus platitudes regurgitated by Hillary Clinton and most of the Republican primary candidates.
Despite Trump and Bernie Sanders’s unexpected success in the primary campaigns, before Nov. 8, denial — most often heard in the form of a “surely Hillary can’t lose to Trump” plea — remained rife. But truth, whether electoral or existential, cannot be repressed forever. Now that the American sovereign being has made its biennial apparition for all to see, nobody can deny the fundamental changes in its personality.
Of course, this new political reality is not confined to the United States. We saw it with Brexit, we see it in populist movements across Europe, and we will see it again in the French and German elections next year.
Brexit and Trump were not anomalies, accidents of political history that can be explained away to maintain the integrity of the inherited notion that “normal” politics involves competition between a center-left party and a center-right party. Rather, in my view, they are symptomatic of a paradigm shift in the configuration of Western political life, one which has only just started.
Consider the familiar political category of left and right, which since 1945 has provided the basic organizing category of political differentiation in Western democracies across the vast majority of issues. Although the language of left and right dates to the French Revolution, the category started to take substantial political meaning in the late 19th century, and was forged over the following decades on the anvil of intense political fights over industrialization in the West, and all the changes in economic, social, and political relations that came in its wake.
The crucial point is that left and right are symbiotic, because they represent both sides of the argument over the problem of industrialization, over which there are good arguments to be made on either side. It is the interaction of these arguments set up by the mediation of the left-right categorization that produced sensible compromises across a whole range of issues.
Thus, the near-universal acceptance of the left and right categorization as a basic political normality after 1945 allowed for a long period of relative domestic stability in the West. Political argument between center-left and center-right parties was ordinarily contained to questions of distributive justice, that is, the allocation of goods within an established political framework.
2016 tells us that this world is now gone. Civil arguments about distributive justice seem quaint, as identity politics — the demon that the post-1945 world sought to contain — once again rears its ugly head.

From the Washington Post: SEC chair to step down, clearing path for Trump to eliminate tough Wall Street regulations

We discussed the Securities and Exchange Commission in GOVT 2305 when we covered both the executive branch and economic policy. It is an independent regulatory commission with the following mission: to protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation. Liberals have been attempting to use its power to reign in the financial sector following the financial crash of 2008. Those efforts now seem over with Trump's election.

- Click here for the article.
Mary Jo White, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced Monday that she will step down nearly three years before the end of her term, clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to reshape the way Wall Street is regulated.
The SEC, which polices Wall Street and the financial markets, has been a key part of the Obama administration’s effort to rein in big banks following the 2008 financial crisis and prevent future taxpayer bailouts of the industry. The agency has pushed for more oversight of hedge funds and other asset managers, and established rules that make it more difficult for big banks to make risky bets on the markets.
White, a former federal prosecutor, is known for a no-nonsense style and attempted to beef up the agency’s enforcement efforts over the last three years, pushing for more companies to admit guilt and taking more cases to trial. But progressive Democrats were often critical of her efforts, complaining they did not go far enough.
Trump has already indicated he would usher in a period of deregulation, including dismantling 2010’s financial reform legislation, known as the Dodd Frank Act. He appointed Paul Atkins, an industry veteran, who has called Dodd Frank a“calamity,” to lead the agency’s transition.
Atkins “is a guy in general who wants to let companies do their thing and not get in the way very much,” Ian Katz, a financial policy analyst with the research firm Capital Alpha Partners, said of Atkins. “You would see a lighter touch on enforcement and a lighter hand on corporate governance issue broadly.”
Atkins served as an SEC commissioner for six years during the President George W. Bush administration.

For more:

- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Mary Jo White.
- Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
- Independent Regulatory Agencies.

Monday, November 14, 2016

From the Houston Press: What You Can Expect to See Under Kim Ogg as Harris County District Attorney

A look at what to expect from one of the few bright spots for Democrats last week

- Click here for the article.

After defeating Republican incumbent Devon Anderson at the polls, Democrat Kim Ogg is taking over the Harris County District Attorney's Office in a contentious time for criminal justice in Houston, in Texas, and frankly, in the United States. She will become the gatekeeper with the power to decide who belongs in the overcrowded Harris County Jail, the third-largest in the country, and will wield the power to rewrite policies that either strengthen or weaken punishment for those charged with low-level, nonviolent crimes.
And Ogg will take over just as a perfect storm brews for criminal justice reform here in Harris County, at every corner of the system. She takes over as the county, its misdemeanor judges and bail hearing officers face a lawsuit for allegedly failing to consider poor people's ability to pay bail, as the Constitution requires. She takes over as the county makes use of a prestigious $2 million grant to enact reforms intended to equalize the system for racial minorities, for the mentally ill and for the poor. And she takes over as the nationwide war on drugs continues to recede from prominence.
Ogg has repeatedly promised her supporters, throughout the campaign and during her victory speech, that "it’s a new day of justice in Harris County." It's a romantic notion, sure — but what does that actually look like in practice?

From the Texas Tribune: Analysis: The blue dots in Texas’ red political sea

More on Democratic gains at the local level.

- Click here for the article.
Tuesday’s election results offer further evidence that Texas mirrors America, with urban voters strongly favoring Democrats, while rural and many suburban voters favor Republicans.
Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 227 of the state’s 254 counties, racking up an advantage of 1,697,593 votes.
His biggest vote yield came in Montgomery County, one of several suburban counties — like Collin, Denton and Parker — that turned in reliably high Republican votes. Tarrant was the most populous county in his column, turning in a pile of Republican votes in spite of Clinton’s victory in Fort Worth, its biggest city.
Trump also won many of the state’s mid-size cities and nearly all of its rural areas.
Clinton beat Trump in 27 counties by a total of 883,819 votes. That was enough to cut his overall margin in half, but not nearly enough to pull off a Texas upset.
Her wins came in some of the state’s biggest counties — Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Travis, El Paso, Hidalgo and Fort Bend. He won the vast majority of rural Texas, but not everything: Clinton took a few relatively unpopulated counties like Kenedy and Culberson.
Trump’s overall margin was smaller than Mitt Romney’s 2012 win in Texas. In fact, the Republican at the top of this year’s ticket got a smaller percentage of the overall vote in Texas than any of the eight Republicans running statewide here, a group that included candidates for the Railroad Commission and the state’s two highest courts. Conversely, Clinton got a higher percentage of the vote than any of the Democrats running statewide.
A win is a win is a win, and this year belonged to the Republicans. Their streaks are intact: They’ve won the last 10 presidential elections in Texas and every statewide race in every election since 1994. But one takeaway from this year’s contests is that Democrats reduced the normal Republican margins and their scattered blue spots on the Texas map — the state’s biggest cities — turned in stronger Democratic performances than they have in the past.

From the NYT: Trump’s Supreme Court List: Ivy League? Out. The Heartland? In.

All current members are from Harvard, Yale or Columbia. That seems likely to change.

- Click here for the article.
If the list has a main theme, it is that there are plenty of good judges who went to law school at places like Notre Dame, Marquette, the University of Georgia and the University of Miami.
About half of Mr. Trump’s candidates sit on state supreme courts, and almost all those who sit on federal appeals courts do so in the heartland. (The exception is Judge Margaret A. Ryan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, in Washington.)
The résumés of the justices currently on the Supreme Court, by contrast, reflect a legal profession that is deeply hierarchical, obsessed with credentials and dominated by lawyers on the two coasts. Mr. Trump’s list, like his campaign, is a revolt against the elites.
At the same time, Mr. Trump’s candidates are, unsurprisingly, committed judicial conservatives. Mr. Trump credited two leading conservative policy groups — the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society — with helping to draw up his list.
“You had an awful lot of conservatives during the campaign who were incredibly skeptical, to put it mildly, about Donald Trump,” said John G. Malcolm, a Heritage Foundation official who suggested a number of names that appeared on the list. “But they certainly cared a lot about the Scalia vacancy and the direction of the court. And that list was a very, very sober list, and it was greatly reassuring.”
The list is a good reflection of Mr. Trump’s dual priorities, said William M. Jay, a lawyer with the firm of Goodwin Procter and a former law clerk to Justice Scalia.
“It was consistent with the message he was trying to send: that he was not going to be naming establishment choices but that the establishment might well be happy with the people he chose from Alabama and Iowa and places like that,” Mr. Jay said.
The top priority for conservatives, Mr. Malcolm said, was to avoid another disappointment like Justice David H. Souter, who was appointed by President George Bush in 1990 but whose voting record on the Supreme Court turned out to be decidedly liberal.

Pre-filing starts today

Legislators can begin filing bills the first Monday following the election, which is today.

- Here's what's been filed so far today.

For more on pre-filing:

- Legislative Reference Library of Texas.

From the Texas Tribune: Analysis: Finding out exactly what the election winners have in mind

Now focus is on the looming 85th session.

- Click here for the article.

Change gears. The elections, which were almost a week ago, are old news.
It’s time to move on and to move the pending Texas legislative session to the top of the list of “Things that are looming.” To wit: Today is the first day lawmakers can start filing legislation for the session that begins in January. It’s time to see what the winners are going to try to accomplish.
Most of what they file won’t pass, but the Texas Legislature has had better luck in recent years at getting things done than Congress.
. . . The budget will be the hardest and most important legislation to pass. State revenue is expected to be tight. Lawmakers are coming to Austin with less money in the state’s pockets than two years ago, when the budget was relatively easy to put together. And they’ve got expensive things to consider, including crises facing abused and foster children the state has promised to protect, rapid growth in the number of kids in Texas schools, growing disparities in funding from one school district to the next, rising pension liabilities and whatever comes out of federal efforts to rewrite the Affordable Care Act and increase the amount Washington spends on border security and immigration.

From ABCNews: GOP President-Elect Donald Trump Says Same-Sex Marriage Is 'Settled' Law

Obergerfells id safe, but - apparently - not Roe v Wade.

Assuming Trump has influence over either of course.

- Click here for the article.
Republican President-elect Donald Trump said he’s “fine” with same-sex marriage as the law of the land, calling the issue "settled" by the Supreme Court.
The comments – in Trump's first television interview since winning the presidency – sharply contrast with his party’s orthodoxy, his running mate’s longtime position and comments he made during the Republican primaries.
“It’s law,” he said in an interview with CBS’ "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday. “It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.”

“These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m – I’m fine with that,” he added.
In the same interview, when asked if he would appoint a Supreme Court justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, Trump said his judges will be "pro-life," and suggested that decision could be overturned.
"If it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states," Trump said.
Women seeking abortions would have to go "go to another state" for the procedure.
The Republican Party’s official platform, ratified by the party in July, opposes same-sex marriage, condemns the Supreme Court’s rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and United States v. Windsor, and supports proposed “religious freedom” legislation that critics say would allow businesses to deny services to gay people.
Trump’s comments about gay marriage break with the longtime position of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed a religious freedom bill into law in 2015, but walked back on some of its language after facing backlash from across the country.

From the Washington Post: Trump pits establishment against populism at the top of his White House team

Early evidence of Trump's management style.

- Click here for the article.
President-elect Donald Trump named his top two advisers on Sunday, signaling an aggressive agenda and setting up what could be a battle within the White House between the populist, outsider forces that propelled his winning campaign and the party establishment that dominates Washington.
Trump named Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff. In appointing Priebus, 44, Trump has brought into his White House a Washington insider who is viewed as broadly acceptable by vast swaths of the party, and he signaled a willingness to work within the establishment he assailed on the campaign trail.
But the president-elect sent an opposing signal by tapping Stephen K. Bannon, his combative campaign chief and former head of the incendiary Breitbart News, as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, 62, has openly attacked congressional leadership, taking particular aim at House Speaker Paul D. Ryan ­(R-Wis.) — who recommended Priebus for his new job.
. . . Trump’s top two advisers could help him achieve different objectives. Priebus could help Trump notch early legislative victories in a Republican-led Congress and ingratiate himself with the insiders he claims to loathe but who dominate his transition team. A longtime lawyer and Wisconsin political operative, Priebus will work to smooth over residual friction from a campaign during which a number of Republicans refused to endorse Trump, reversed their endorsements or stepped away from him after a 2005 tape surfaced in which Trump is heard saying that he could force himself on women because he was a “star.”
Bannon will be the other voice on Trump’s shoulder: He helped shape Trump’s message on the campaign trail and relishes combativeness. The former Navy officer and investment banker has said the campaign was the American version of worldwide populist movements such as the British vote to sever ties with the European Union.

From the Pew Research Center: A Divided and Pessimistic Electorate

More evidence that Trump and Clinton supporters live in two different worlds, and see the problems facing the nation in two different ways.

- Click here for the article.

Beyond their disagreements over specific policy issues, voters who supported President-elect Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton also differed over the seriousness of a wide array of problems facing the nation, from immigration and crime to inequality and racism.
And while voters generally said little progress has been made over the last eight years across major areas, Trump backers said things had gotten worse across the board, while Clinton supporters saw more improvement, especially on the economy.
The national online survey was conducted in the two weeks leading up to the presidential election (from October 25 through the morning of November 8) among 3,788 registered voters who reported they had already voted or planned to vote. The survey was conducted on Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.

From NPR: FACT CHECK: Donald Trump's First 100 Days Action Plan

An assessment of how likely it will be for Trump to implement his action plan.

It's good way to determine what presidents can and cannot do without the cooperation of the other branches.

- Click here for it.


Expect a raucous finish to the 114th Congress.

- Click here for the article.

Congress still has some unfinished business before closing shop for the year, even as the focus shifts to the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and unified Republican control of Congress and the White House in 2017.
Trump's election will reset the balance of power in Washington, but until noon on Jan. 20, President Barack Obama decides what can become law. Already, Obama priorities such as a controversial trade deal with Pacific nations and the long-stalled nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court are off the table. Tuesday's results were the final nails in the coffin.
But other fights, such as a GOP revolt over a move by Obama to impose workplace protections for gay and transgender employers of defense contractors — which has stalled the annual Pentagon policy measure — may be defused until next year. And working with Obama to wrap up more than $1 trillion worth of remaining agency budget bills seems likely to slip.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

From Salon: How did we get here? Largely by way of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the big GOP victories of 1994 and 2010

The author puts the 2016 election in some historical context - going back to 1992 when Democratic presidents started playing to the political middle. He argues the results - including Democratic embrace of free trade, which it had opposed - re positioned the party in a "neo-liberal" direction creating the opportunity for the Republican Party to get the support of the disaffected blue collar whites that seem to be the reason for Trumps victory.

- What is neo-liberalism?

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.

Liberalism, in economics, refers to a freeing of the economy by eliminating regulations and barriers that restrict what actors can do. Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

- Click here for the article.

Let’s begin by rewinding to 1992. After 12 long years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton was elected president with Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress. Trifectas like that had once been commonplace. Throughout most of American history, it was more common to have them than to have divided government. But from 1968 up until Clinton’s 1992 election, only Jimmy Carter’s four years in office had seen a unified government. So Clinton’s trifecta was a big deal, and he was ambitious to get things done. Unfortunately, one of those things was NAFTA.

In fairness, Clinton didn’t dream up NAFTA. Ronald Reagan did. He didn’t negotiate or sign it. Bush did. But he did get it passed through Congress, twisting scores of Democrats’ arms as a symbol of his “pragmatism” in moving the Democrats back to the so-called center. (It’s worth recalling that billionaire H. Ross Perot, who ran for president as a pragmatic centrist independent, opposed NAFTA as one of his central campaign planks.)

The irony here was twofold: First, in the real world, Democrats clearly occupied the political center during the Reagan-Bush years, dominating the House as well as a majority of state legislative bodies and retaking the Senate in 1986. What’s more, NAFTA was deeply unpopular with the Democratic base and their representatives. In the House roll call vote, Democrats opposed the treaty, 156 to 102, while Republicans overwhelmingly supported it, 132 to 43.

From the Gallup Vault: 60 Years Ago, the End of "Separate but Equal"

For our look at polling, public opinion and civil rights.

- Click here for the article.

On Nov. 13, 1956, two years after the Supreme Court deemed racially separate schools unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court struck down an Alabama law requiring segregated seating on city buses, trains and public waiting rooms. Several months later, Gallup found 60% of Americans supporting that ruling -- including 27% support in Southern states and 70% support outside the South.

The case, known as Browder v. Gayle, grew out of a yearlong boycott of the Montgomery city bus system by local blacks, in which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a key player. That boycott followed the Dec. 1, 1955, arrest of Rosa Parks, a black woman, for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man.

Beyond the regional disagreement, approval of the court's decision in Browder was fairly broad across major U.S. subgroups, but there were gaps: 63% of Republicans nationwide agreed with it vs. 53% of Democrats. This partisan difference most likely reflects the concentration of Democrats in the South at that time. Further gaps in approval include 67% of those aged 21-29 vs. 56% of those 50 and older; 78% of those with at least some college education vs. 51% of those who never advanced beyond middle school; and 77% of blacks vs. 58% of whites.

Four years later, when Gallup asked the question again, 66% of Americans approved of the decision and 28% disapproved. While perhaps not as celebrated as Brown v. Board of Education, Browder v. Gayle was the last major blow to the "separate but equal" policies that prevailed in the South after the Civil War.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Trump's first 100 days

From various sources:

- What do Donald Trump's first 100 days in office look like?
- Can Trump Repeal Obamacare in First 100 Days?
- Will Trump spend his first 100 days in the White House – or in court?
- Read President-elect Donald Trump’s plan for his first 100 days.

From 538: Voter Turnout Fell, Especially In States That Clinton Won

We noticed this in class this week.

- Click here for the article.

Early voting surged. Election Day voting plummeted. The net result: A smaller share of eligible voters cast ballots in 2016 than in either of the previous two presidential elections.

The raw number of votes rose: About
1.4 million more Americans voted in this year’s election than in 2012, a total which itself was down from 2008. But the electorate was growing in the meantime: About 57 percent of eligible voters cast ballots this year, down from 58.6 percent in 2012 and 61.6 percent in 2008, which was the highest mark in 40 years. Turnout still remained well above levels for most presidential election years from 1972 to 2000.


We still don't really know how many people voted though:

These numbers are preliminary estimates subject to change as our decentralized electoral system continues counting votes. There is no official national turnout figure, and the best available estimates — from Michael McDonald, associate professor at the University of Florida, who gathers data at the U.S. Elections Project; and from FiveThirtyEight contributor David Wasserman, who is gathering national vote counts — suggest that more than 4 million votes remain uncounted, more than half of them in California.3Wasserman is collecting presidential votes that have been counted so far; McDonald is using available data to estimate the total number of people who voted. As a result, McDonald’s count is higher. Though a small proportion of the gap between their counts is also due to McDonald counting ballots without a vote for president. McDonald might also be understating the number of California votes still uncounted. He didn’t respond to a request for comment. As a result, figures in this story may not line up with vote-count data published by media organizations. Many news organizations after the election claimed that 46.9 percent of people didn’t vote. But that figure, which may have originated from this tweet, was based on dividing vote totals as of Wednesday morning by all eligible voters.

Friday, November 11, 2016

From Vox: Donald Trump will be the only US president ever with no political or military experience

For our discussion of the presidency.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? His advisors will likely have an unusual amount of influence over the next few years.

- Click here for the story.

We just elected the most inexperienced president in American history.
In the office’s storied 227-year existence — from George Washington to Barack Obama — there has never been a president-elect who has entirely lacked both political and military service. Donald Trump will change that.
I went through historical presidential archives and manually compiled each president’s total years of service to the country prior to being elected. I define “public office” as any elected or appointed government position and “military service” as active duty in any capacity, including leadership positions. In cases where service amounted to less than one year (like Washington’s three months as a delegate, or Lincoln’s three months in the militia), I rounded up to a full year.

From the Texas Tribune: GOP operative John Colyandro to lead "school choice" lobbying group

The doors keep on revolving.

- Click here for the article.

Longtime GOP political operative John Colyandro has been tapped to head a new organization that will aggressively push Texas lawmakers to approve education savings accounts, the latest controversial proposal in private "school choice" and a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
The advocacy group Texans for Education Opportunity announced Colyandro's hiring in a press release Thursday morning as a key move in their push for legislation that will allow parents to send their children to private schools using tax money.

Now the executive director of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, Colyandro "easily rose to the top" of a large talent pool of prospective leaders, said Stacy Hock, TEO's board chair. "As we are moving into session, we found that John has been a trusted voice and a champion of smart policy in and around the capitol for decades now. As he started to engage from a board perspective, it became clear that his engagement became more and more active," she said.
Colyandro has had an up-and-down career in Texas politics. In 2004, he was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on charges of money laundering after serving as the director of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's political action committee. DeLay, Colyandro and aide Jim Ellis were accused of illegally funneling corporate contributions to GOP candidates in key 2002 Texas legislative races. DeLay was convicted in 2011, and the conviction was overturned in 2013 by the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. Colyandro pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges, was hit with a fine and his record was expunged after a year.

From Politico: GOP insiders to Trump: Leave the policy to Paul Ryan

If this is true, then the big winner seems in this election was House Speaker Paul Ryan. It also suggests that the powers of the presidency might be weakened - or at least curtailed - by a Trump presidency. Assuming he listens to insiders of course, but the president has little control over Congress, so there may be a point here.

ALl this assumes also that Ryan remains speaker.

- Click here for the article.

Voters in the battleground states swept Donald Trump into the White House this week. But Republican insiders in those states want House Speaker Paul Ryan, not the newly elected president, driving the policy agenda in GOP-dominated Washington next year.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states, seven of which Trump captured on Election Day or is ahead in the ongoing vote count.
Roughly two-thirds of Republican insiders, 65 percent, think Ryan, who is expected to serve as speaker in the new Congress, should have more influence over policy when Trump is inaugurated next January.
“The GOP needs to lift its eyes and spread its wings if we expect to grow,” said a Colorado Republican — who, like all insiders, completed the survey anonymously. “Ryan and his allies are the people to create and share that vision.”
“Donald Trump and policy-making don't really belong in the same sentence,” an Iowa Republican added. “Paul Ryan will make policy and Donald Trump can Make America Great Again.”

Thursday, November 10, 2016

From Scientific American: Explaining Donald Trump's Shock Election Win Five factors behind America’s staggering decision

Here's what they isolate:

- Click here for the article.


From Politico: Meet Trump's Cabinet-in-waiting

An early look at who might be picked to head the the federal departments.

I'll add more - this will give an indication about how he might actually govern. Personally I'm curious about whether he staffs these positions with insiders or outsiders.

- Click here for the article.

From the Pew Research Center: Behind Trump’s victory: Divisions by race, gender, education

Expect lot's of analysis in the coming days.

Here's a look at the divides that revealed themselves in Tuesday's election in comparison to previous elections.

- Click here for the article.

And some nice helpful graphs:

Let's compare 2016 with previous elections.

For use in class: David Leip's political atlas.

Neither Trump not Clinton received as many votes as the winner in 2012, 2008 or 2004.

- Click here for voter turnout rates.

Here's an analysis claiming that Clinton lost because Democrats did not show up to vote.

I made a chart showing the popular vote turnout in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Hillary didn't lose because the Republicans grew their base; she lost because the Democrats didn't come out to vote. [OC]

From Vox: Few predicted Trump had a good shot of winning. But political science models did.

Not everyone got the election wrong. Forecasts based on fundamentals were more accurate than those based on polls - which were actually accurate, as we'll see in other posts. 

- Click here for the article.

Why did so few people see Donald Trump’s win coming?
The polls got it wrong. The major election forecasting models got it wrong (though FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver deserved credit for being significantly less certain about it). The political professionals got it wrong. The pundits got it oh, so very wrong indeed.
Oddly enough, though, there were signs pointing to the fact that Trump had a better chance than people were giving him, and they were lurking in plain sight.
They were in well-known political science research on “fundamental-based” factors that has long been used to explain presidential elections.
In fact, of the major political science models that try to explain presidential elections, three predicted Trump would win and three others predicted only a very narrow Clinton victory.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

From Vox: Trump won. But so did marijuana legalization, gun control, and minimum wage increases.

An odd result since these are all liberal proposals.

- Click here for the story.

By all accounts, the biggest races on Election Day were a total disaster for Democrats. Donald Trump won. Republicans kept Congress, holding back a Democratic attempt to retake the Senate. And down the ballot, the results weren’t much better for the party: Democrats overall lost governors’ races, although the results were more mixed in state legislatures.
But not all is doom and gloom. While Democrats lost big, liberals won some of the big initiatives that were on statewide ballots. It wasn’t a total sweep — several states, for example, affirmed the death penalty — but there were gains on some issues, including marijuana legalization, minimum wage, and gun control.
The full results paint a much more mixed picture than the top-ballot results suggest: The Democratic Party got clobbered, but some of the major policies Democrats support also won big.

From the Houston Press: Gonzalez Unseats Hickman to Become Harris County Sheriff

State and national races aside, Democrats did well in Harrow County

- Click here for the article.

Democratic challenger Ed Gonzalez defeated incumbent Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman by nearly 64,000 votes Tuesday. Hickman conceded to Gonzalez shortly after 10 p.m., with roughly 81 percent of the votes counted.
Since Hickman's appointment by the Harris County Commissioners Court in May 2015, his administration had been plagued by continuing problems at the Harris County Jail — poor conditions that Hickman blamed largely on his predecessor, Adrian Garcia. (Garcia stepped down to run for mayor).
In a September interview with Houston Public Media, Gonzalez, a former Houston Police Department homicide detective and three-time city councilman, called Hickman's administration "stagnant" and "almost going backwards."
Gonzalez told the radio station “There’s three things that we’re addressing in law enforcement that do not have a law enforcement response, and that’s mental illness, poverty, and addiction. We’ve got to find community-based solutions to that."
Hickman's campaign had centered largely on the fact that Gonzalez was no longer a licensed peace officer, while stressing the incumbent's law enforcement bona fides. This earned him endorsements by the Houston Police Officers Union, the Harris County Deputies Organization and the Mexican-American Sheriffs Organization. (Perhaps even more importantly, he had the blessing of Gallery Furniture founder Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale).
But Gonzalez was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle, saying that the former homicide detective and three-term city councilman "built a record as a policymaker dedicated to diverting people from our jail — one of the major challenges facing the sheriff's office."

For background on problems with the Harris County jail:

- Jailhouse jeopardy: Guards often brutalize and neglect inmates in Harris County Jail, records show.

A few election stories from the Texas Tribune

Lot's to sift through

- See which counties in Texas Trump and Clinton won.

Contains a nice interactive map. You'll note that every incumbent to the U.S. House from Texas, as well as the Texas Senate, won reelection. Only four members of the Texas House lost.

- Donald Trump's shocking upset emboldens Texas GOP.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired Trump’s campaign in Texas, said the businessman's victory allows state Republicans to “move forward with boldness and confidence,” finally free to push conservative legislation without having to worry about Washington undermining it.
“The fact we’re going to have a rock-solid conservative on the Supreme Court, and maybe two or three more before his term ends, and the fact that we’re not going to have the EPA on our back, the Justice Department on our back, all the money and the energy and the time that we spent suing the federal government, Abbott and Paxton — that’s all gone,” Patrick said in an interview with The Texas Tribune.

Texas Democrats lick their wounds after rough night.

“Everybody was expecting Trump to have some seriously negative coattails, not just in Texas but everywhere, and the opposite turned out to be true, which means that we have altogether been dead wrong and underestimated some things about the electorate," said Harold Cook, a longtime Democratic operative. "What those things are will be our discussion for weeks to come.”

Texas Libertarians clinch ballot access, Greens fall short.

Texas will give Libertarians a ballot spot during the state's next general election, after the party’s candidate for state railroad commissioner nabbed more than 5 percent of the vote — the threshold a party needs in a statewide contest to keep ballot access.
. . . The environmentally minded Green Party, which had hoped to draw more attention when it held its national convention in oil-slick Houston, fell short of its goal. Martina Salinas, who also ran for railroad commissioner, earned the biggest share of its statewide votes, with 3.2 percent.
Her party made its best local showing in the District 1 State Board of Education race. Hugo Noyola Jr. earned nearly 16.9 percent of those votes.

To regain ballot access, the Greens must secure nearly 50,000 valid signatures in less than three months.
Petition drives for ballot access can be expensive. In 2010, an out-of-state group with ties to the Republican Party funneled $532,000 to the Green Party’s ballot effort.

And for more:

- Democrats pick up four Texas House seats.
- Texans who could serve in Trump's Washington.
- Status quo holds in the Texas Senate.
- Republicans prevail in Texas State Board of Education races.
- Republicans sweep Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals races.
- Wayne Christian wins big in Texas Railroad Commission race.

From Politico: How did everyone get it so wrong?

From what I can see it's more about underestimating Trump than overestimating Clinton.

And she does seems to have won the popular vote, so the polls didn't get that wrong. Not that it matters.

- Click here for the article.

Geoff Garin, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked for the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA, said many surveys had under-sampled non-college-educated whites, a group that Trump appealed to. He also argued there had been on over-emphasis on the belief that the country’s rising demographic diversity would put Clinton over the top.
“There was too great a belief that demographics are destiny, and that demographics would lead to a certain outcome,” he said. “The reality turned out to be much different that."
. . . Some pointed to the possibility of “hidden Trump voters,” who were embarrassed to admit even anonymously to pollsters that they planned to support Trump.
“The very premise of polling is based on the idea that voters will be completely honest with total strangers,” said veteran GOP operative Ned Ryun, who runs a grassroots group called American Majority and had announced his intent to run for Republican National Committee chairman if Trump lost.
Others pointed to the surge in momentum Trump received when the FBI announced 11 days before the election that it was reviewing new evidence related to its investigation into the handling of sensitive information by Clinton and her aides at the State Department.
While FBI Director James Comey on Sunday announced the agency had completed its investigation and would not pursue charges.
But operatives on both sides of the aisle agreed the damage was done.
They pointed out that Trump was out-performing projections in states that had minimal early voting, such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“The bad headlines hurt her this past week,” said conservative operative Brendan Steinhauser, a staunch Trump critic. “Trump had the momentum and the enthusiasm at just the right time.”

Harris County's Long Ballot - 2016 Edition

I'm not sure if this is the longest in the nation - which it often is - but it's pretty long.

- Click here for it.

From the New York Times: How Trump Won the Election According to Exit Polls

Some confirmation of trends we saw before.

- Click here for the article.

Donald J. Trump won the election by consolidating support from white voters and making unexpected gains with minority groups.
Based on exit polls, Mr. Trump did significantly better than his predecessors among whites without college degrees. Whites with college degrees have favored Republicans in recent elections. They shifted toward Hillary Clinton in 2016, though Mr. Trump still won the group.
Historically, lower-income voters have tended to support Democrats, and wealthier voters leaned more Republican. But income correlates with education, which strongly divided voters this cycle.
African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans overwhelmingly backed Mrs. Clinton, but their level of support for her was less than their support of President Obama four years ago. At the same time, Mr. Trump’s support among whites was slightly more or equal to recent Republican nominees.

Oklahoma votes against creating a constitutional right to farm and ranch

One of the more unusual items on the ballot yesterday was defeated yesterday.

It would have applied strict scrutiny to laws related to farming and agriculture. The laws would have to demonstrate a compelling purpose purpose in order to be sustained.

- Click here for Ballotpedia's detail on the proposal.
Amendment design
State Question 777, which was placed on the ballot by the Oklahoma Legislature, was designed to require courts to rule on any law regulating farming and agriculture passed after December 31, 2014, by employing "strict scrutiny." This means that courts would have to overturn any challenged agricultural or livestock regulations that are not necessary for protecting a “compelling state interest.” This would make any law restricting or regulating the farming industry in the state more vulnerable to lawsuits, which would likely result in fewer government regulations over the industry.
In other words, State Question 777 was designed to require the courts to apply the same standards to lawsuits concerning agriculture and livestock as in cases concerning free speech, gun ownership, and religious freedom.
Arguments of supporters and opponents
Supporters argue that State Question 777 would allow farmers to defend themselves against unjust laws or laws that would harm the industry, make the state more attractive to farmers, and allow consumers to decide best farming practices through free market competition.
Opponents argue that State Question 777 would be used to prevent the state and local governments from passing laws to protect small farmers and provide reasonable regulations regarding food and water quality, environmental protections, and animal cruelty. They claim the amendment would give large, corporate farms an advantage over small, local farms.

Preliminary Election Results

- Harris County.
- Brazoria County.
- Texas Tribune: See which counties in Texas Trump and Clinton won.
- NYT Times: Presidential Election Results: Donald J. Trump Wins.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

From ProPublica: 2016 Election Lawsuit Tracker: The New Election Laws and the Suits Challenging Them - Courts are scrambling to rule on state election laws in time for the elections being held later this year. We’re keeping track of their decisions.

Last minute court ruling have become a staple of modern elections.

Little doubt that we'll see more after the election as well. This gives us an idea about what to look for.

- Click here for the article.

There are 15 states with new voting laws that have never before been used during a presidential election, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws include restrictions like voter ID requirements and limits on early voting. Many are making their way through the courts, which have already called a halt to two laws in the past month — one in North Carolina and one in North Dakota.
“All the sides were pushing for opinions over the summer so that nobody would run into the concern that it was all of a sudden too late to shift what the state had been planning to do,” said Jennifer Clark, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.

Here's what they have about Texas:

Texas’s most recent bout with the judicial system over election law started on Aug. 4, when the U.S. Department of Justice sued Harris County, alleging that many of its polling places are inaccessible to voters with disabilities. The DOJ wants the county to reevaluate how it picks its polling places and to train poll workers about accessibility.
Ever since Texas enacted a photo-ID law in 2011, it’s been back-and-forth in the courts.
A federal appeals court ordered a lower court to fix Texas’s strict photo-ID law, ruling that it violated the Voting Rights Act by disproportionately affecting African American and Hispanic voters. The state came back with a solution, officially providing a safety net: Anyone without an ID will be able to vote providing they sign an affidavit and show a voter registration certificate, a utility bill, bank statement, birth certificate, or other government document with their name and address. A district judge gave her final stamp of approval on the plan on Aug. 10.
However, the case may not be quite over. A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said after the district court ruling that his office will “continue evaluating all options moving forward, including an appeal of the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Paxton made good on his promise, petitioning the Supreme Court on Sept. 23 to hear Texas’ voter ID case. If the court takes the case, the decision wouldn’t come in time to have an impact on this November’s elections.
In the meantime, Texas election officials were found still to be sending out mailers telling voters that ID was required (it isn’t - voters can sign an affidavit). A federal judge issued an order on Sept. 20 that the state fix its ads and run any new ones by the plaintiffs to give them the opportunity to object.
Even after the court order, some Texas election officials continued to give out incorrect information about IDs. A voting-rights group, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, sued Bexar County, and a judge granted a temporary restraining order on Oct. 28 that required the county election administrator to correct the election materials.

From the Texas Tribune: Track how many Texans voted early

- Click here for the article and data.

We tracked how many Texans turned out to vote early this year compared to 2008 and 2012. By the end of early voting, 3,665,031 Texans cast in-person ballots in the state’s 10 counties with the largest voting age population breaking turnout records across the state.

Since we don;t register by party, we have no way to know if the increase is due to greater activity by Democrats or Republicans. The conventional wisdom is that higher turnout benefits Democrats. We will soon see.

Who do the betting markets think will win today?

If your money is on the line you might be a bit more careful.

- Betfair.
- PredictIt.
- Hypermind.

From the New York Times: Spread of Early Voting Is Forging New Habits and Campaign Tactics

As many as 50 million people may have voted early, and since this has become increasingly commonplace, it has altered campaign tactics - as is reported below.

Early voting is also an example of what we refer to in 2306 as policy diffusion. A policy developed in one state that is adopted by others.

- Click here for the article.
In 1977, a flood control measure on the ballot in Monterey, Calif., became what historians say was the first modern American election decided by people who voted before Election Day.
It was a strange moment even for some who participated; elections had traditionally been a kind of civic gathering, on one day.
But the practice caught on with voters, and it eventually spread from the West Coast to 37 states and the District of Columbia. Today, at least 43 million Americans have already voted in the presidential election. And when the ballots are tallied nationwide Tuesday evening, more than one-third of them will have come from people who voted early — a record.
Voting before Election Day has become so commonplace that it is reshaping how campaigns are waged, and how Americans see the race in its final, frantic days.
“The idea that one wakes up and it’s Election Day in America is actually a rather quaint idea now,” said Russ Schriefer, a Republican consultant who has worked on presidential campaigns for two decades. “It is as much as a monthlong process to draw people in. And so your advertising tactics, your messaging tactics and certainly your ground game have changed completely.”
The spread of early balloting is forging new habits that are forcing campaigns to rethink how they allocate their resources. And it tends to favor those campaigns that are more technologically sophisticated and can identify, draw out and measure its support over a longer voting period.
In Florida, a battleground state where just a few hundred votes can tip an election and victory can guarantee the White House, new behaviors are rapidly taking hold. Hispanics, who have tended to turn out mostly on Election Day, are voting earlier in much larger numbers this year, after a major Democratic-led effort to mobilize them. This is especially true among young and first-time Hispanic voters, who are just forming their voting habits and are likely to retain the practice of casting ballots early, according to those who study early voting.
That will mean that future campaigns will need to further adapt and dedicate more time and money to chasing votes up to six weeks before Election Day.

The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency

I thought this would be appropriate to discuss today - no matter who wins the presidency, they will be saddled with all the promises they made during the campaign. The bulk of these promises are beyond the ability of presidents to do. So we're going to be disappointed no matter what, but is that because we expect too much of the occupant of the office - and offices hemmed in by checks and balances?

The Green Lantern Theory was developed during the Bush Administration to come to terms with this tendency to think that sheer will on the part of the president to solve all the problems in the middle east, and extended to the Obama Administration to think that similar will was all that was needed to solve social and economic problems.

- Here's the heart of the theory:

Up at Cato Unbound you can find Reuel Marc Gerecht's latest argument for bombing Iran. I think I've covered the policy arguments on this score extensively elsewhere, so let me just note something in particular about Gerecht's essay. Like a lot of conservative writing on foreign affairs it puts a huge amount of weight on things like will, resolve, and perceptions of strength and weakness. It's a view of things that reminds me of nothing so much as the Green Lantern comics, which I enjoy a great deal but regard as a poor guide to national security policy.
As you may know, the Green Lantern Corps is a sort of interstellar peacekeeping force set up by the Guardians of Oa to maintain the peace and defend justice. It recruits members from all sorts of different species and equips them with the most powerful weapon in the universe, the power ring.
The ring is a bit goofy. Basically, it lets its bearer generate streams of green energy that can take on all kinds of shapes. The important point is that, when fully charged what the ring can do is limited only by the stipulation that it create green stuff and by the user's combination of will and imagination. Consequently, the main criterion for becoming a Green Lantern is that you need to be a person capable of "overcoming fear" which allows you to unleash the ring's full capacities. It used to be the case that the rings wouldn't function against yellow objects, but this is now understood to be a consequence of the "Parallax fear anomaly" which, along with all the ring's other limits, can be overcome with sufficient willpower.
Suffice it to say that I think all this makes an okay premise for a comic book. But a lot of people seem to think that American military might is like one of these power rings. They seem to think that, roughly speaking, we can accomplish absolutely anything in the world through the application of sufficient military force. The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower.
What's more, this theory can't be empirically demonstrated to be wrong. Things that you or I might take as demonstrating the limited utility of military power to accomplish certain kinds of things are, instead, taken as evidence of lack of will. Thus we see that problems in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't reasons to avoid new military ventures, but reasons why we must embark upon them: "Add a failure in Iran to a failure in Iraq to a failure in Afghanistan, and we could supercharge Islamic radicalism in a way never before seen.

For more: The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency, explained.

What happens to the Supreme Court after the election?

Some - not all - Republican Senators promise to block all nomination to the court if Clinton wins.

- ScotusBlog offers the following thoughts.

At Reuters, Lawrence Hurley reports that several “intriguing scenarios could unfold after Tuesday’s U.S. election to break the deadlock over filling a Supreme Court vacancy that has provoked a bitter nine-month standoff between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans.” Burgess Everett reports in Politico that Republican Sen. David Perdue has called “plans for a unilateral blockade” of Supreme Court nominations if Hillary Clinton is elected tomorrow a “’dereliction of duty.’”At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick breaks down the Senate Republicans who have spoken out recently about the possibility of a blockade, into “two distinct teams,” listing the members of what she terms “Team Obstruction” and “Team Responsible Governance,” and hoping that the latter “team wins the day.” At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser contends that a blockade would precipitate a “constitutional crisis.” But in an op-ed in The Hill, Chris Bryant contends that an eight-member court offers advantages, observing that “the Justices are obliged to cooperate and driven to rule on narrow grounds, disposing of the actual cases that come before them while refraining from sweeping pronouncements,” and suggesting that this enforced moderation promises “in turn to diminish, over time, the intense divisiveness currently characterizing Supreme Court nominations.”
In a New York Daily News op-ed, Rick Hasen argues that the election constitutes “an all-out ideological war over the future of the Supreme Court.” Additional commentary on the court and the election comes from the editorial board of The New York Times, which argues that in “the next Congress, regardless of who wins on Tuesday, the very survival of the court as an independent body will be at stake.” More pleas to keep the Supreme Court nomination process free from partisan politics come from the editorial boards of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Boston Globe, and the Walla-Walla Union-Bulletin. In an op-ed for Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein argues that if “there’s ever any hope for effective conservative government in the U.S., the first job is to reclaim the Republican Party for conservatives who actually try to do the hard work of governing.”

Fair Housing Act

The previous post referred to it.

Here's background.

- Wikipedia: Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the United States intended to protect the buyer or renter of a dwelling from seller or landlord discrimination. Its primary prohibition makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with any person because of that person's inclusion in a protected class. The goal is a unitary housing market in which a person's background (as opposed to financial resources) does not arbitrarily restrict access. Calls for open housing were issued early in the twentieth century, but it was not until after World War II that concerted efforts to achieve it were undertaken.
The legislation was the culmination of a civil rights campaign against housing discrimination in the United States and was approved, at the urging of President Lyndon B. Johnson, only one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Fair Housing Act was enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and codified at 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619, with penalties for violation at 42 U.S.C. 3631. It is enforced by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Since it was part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, here's a link to background on it:

The Civil Rights Act of 1968, (Pub.L. 90–284, 82 Stat. 73, enacted April 11, 1968) is a landmark part of legislation in the United States that provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin and made it a federal crime to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone … by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.”[1] The Act was signed into lawduring the King assassination riots by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had previously signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is commonly known as the Fair Housing Act and was meant as a follow‑up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibited discrimination in housing, there were no federal enforcement provisions.[2] The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and since 1974, gender; since 1988, the act protects people with disabilities and families with children.
Victims of discrimination may use both the 1968 act and the 1866 act via section 1983[3] to seek redress. The 1968 act provides for federal solutions while the 1866 act provides for private solutions (i.e., civil suits).
Titles II through VII comprised the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, which applies to the Native Americantribes of the United States and makes many, but not all, of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights applicable within the tribes[4] (that Act appears today in Title 25, sections 1301 to 1303 of the United States Code).
A rider attached to the bill makes it a felony to "travel in interstate commerce...with the intent to incite, promote, encourage, participate in and carry on a riot". This provision has been criticized for "equating organized political protest with organized violence".[