Minor Thoughts from me to you

More deaths, no benefit from malaria drug in VA virus study

More deaths, no benefit from malaria drug in VA virus study →

I'm sure this is just fake news. There's no possible way that President Trump and Elon Musk could both be wrong about medicine. The VA is probably loaded with Deep Staters who will stop at nothing to bring Trump down. 🙄

A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported.

The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19, which has killed more than 171,000 people as of Tuesday.

The study was posted on an online site for researchers and has been submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine, but has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work.

Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at Veterans Health Administration medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11.

About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.

Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either.

Researchers did not track side effects, but noted hints that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.

Earlier this month, scientists in Brazil stopped part of a hydroxychloroquine study after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested.

Why Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden

Why Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden →

Mara Gay traveled through the South, talking to black Democrats about their support for Joe Biden. She wrote about it in the New York Times.

For those who lived through the trauma of racial terrorism and segregation, or grew up in its long shadow, this history haunts the campaign trail. And Mr. Trump has summoned old ghosts.

“People are prideful of being racist again,” said Bobby Caradine, 47, who is black and has lived in Memphis all his life. “It’s right back out in the open.”

In Tennessee and Alabama, in Arkansas and Oklahoma and Mississippi, Democrats, black and white, told me they were united by a single, urgent goal: defeating Mr. Trump this November, with any candidate, and at any cost.

“There’s three things I want to happen,” Angela Watson, a 60-year-old black Democrat from Oklahoma City, told me at a campaign event there this week. “One, beat Trump. Two, beat Trump. And three, beat Trump.”

They were deeply skeptical that a democratic socialist like Mr. Sanders could unseat Mr. Trump. They liked Ms. Warren, but, burned by Hillary Clinton’s loss, were worried that too many of their fellow Americans wouldn’t vote for a woman.

Joe Biden is no Barack Obama. But he was somebody they knew. “He was with Obama for all those years,” Mr. Caradine said. “People are comfortable with him.” Faced with the prospect of their children losing the basic rights they won over many generations, these voters, as the old Chicago political saw goes, don’t want nobody that nobody sent.

Many Progressives, who long for a Revolution, have been angry about what they see as short-sighted support for a moderate who will ensure that "nothing changes" in the United States. But these black Americans have seen what's happening around them and aren't dreaming about striding forth into a Glorious Future. They're afraid of sliding back into a horrible past—a past that many of them lived through. I'm not going to second-guess their decision.

Rising Seas May Force U.S. Climate Refugees to the Same 5 Cities

Rising Seas May Force U.S. Climate Refugees to the Same 5 Cities →

Drew Costley writes about cities preparing for the impacts of climate change. Friend of the blog Adam Volle will be at ground-zero, in Atlanta.

Atlanta’s first Climate Action Plan, developed in 2015, informs how the city will prepare for 2040, the year the city’s population is expected to have tripled in size, in part due to climate migration — from 400,000 to 1.2 million.

“It’s sad that people have to leave their homes where they’ve lived their entire lives and that they have to mobilize because of climate change,” said Jairo Garcia, who helped develop the plan as Atlanta’s former director of climate policy and renewables. “But without the right planning, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on cities like Atlanta.”

“Just escaping sea level rise in the coastal region and moving a little bit further inland, that’s not going to do you a whole lot of good.”

The city’s 2040 Development Plan, folding in recommendations from the Climate Action Plan, outlines a strategy to extend its resources for an expanded population. One section of the document calls for “significantly more and improved public space to support the life of our growing city.” Most climate migrants, it predicts, will not have their own outdoor space. Plans to develop housing focus on densely populated communities, like apartments and condominiums, rather than single-family homes. The city is also preparing to become more public transit-oriented, with four bus rapid transit lines criss-crossing Atlanta’s metropolitan area and “off-street superhighways for bicycles” that follow old railroads in the area.

This entry was tagged. Global Warming

Trump Has Driven Away New Hampshire Republicans

Trump Has Driven Away New Hampshire Republicans →

From Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, at the New York Times, on how Mr. Trump has affected the party.

Yet if the New Hampshire Republican Party now belongs to the president, it has also seen a significant decline in enrollment.

“New Hampshire is going to be a challenge for him to win in November,” said Jennifer Horn, the former New Hampshire Republican chairman and a staunch critic of Mr. Trump. “A week ago, we had more than 20,000 fewer registered Republicans than there were Election Day in 2016.”

Ms. Horn noted that Republican candidates lost large, consistently red areas in the 2018 midterm elections, and that the same thing could happen here to Mr. Trump. While other state Republicans played down concerns about the drop in party members on the voter rolls as the natural ebb and flow that happens in a state with same-day voter registration, Ms. Horn said 20,000 was “way outside the norm.”

And the state’s demographics reflect the type of place where Mr. Trump will face challenges: concentrations of working-class whites, but multitudes of college-educated voters, who polls show have been abandoning the Republican Party.

Many Errors Are Evident in Iowa Caucus Results

Many Errors Are Evident in Iowa Caucus Results →

Nate Cohn, Josh Katz, Denise Lu, Charlie Smart, Ben Smithgall and Andrew Fischer analyzed the reliability of the caucus results, for the New York Times. My takeaway is that the caucuses are far too complex for providing an accurate distillation of voter preferences. They're fine for selecting county delegates, who then select state delegates, who then vote on who to support at the national convention. There's a certain elasticity to results when preferences are being filtered through that many levels of trust and reasoned judgment. That may have been the world we lived in 100 years ago, but it's not today's world, when voters expect their caucus alignment to directly support a given candidate.

You should read the entire article to see all of the different ways that the results got fouled up. Here's a sample.

The results released by the Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday were riddled with inconsistencies and other flaws. According to a New York Times analysis, more than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses.

In some cases, vote tallies do not add up. In others, precincts are shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the Iowa Democratic Party’s reported results do not match those reported by the precincts.

“The caucus math work sheet is the official report on caucus night to the I.D.P., and the I.D.P. reports the results as delivered by the precinct chair,” [Mandy McClure, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party (I.D.P.)] said. “This form must be signed by the caucus chair, the caucus secretary and representatives from each campaign in the room who attest to its accuracy. Under the rules of the delegate selection process, delegates are awarded based off the record of results as provided by each precinct caucus chair.”

To emphasize: the Iowa Democratic Party collates the results and publishes them, but isn't actually responsible for validating the data coming from the precincts. If it's calculated wrong at the precinct level, it'll stay that way.

The errors are detectable because of changes to the way the Iowa Democratic Party reports its results, put in place after the Sanders campaign criticized the caucus results in 2016. This cycle, and for the first time, the party released three sets of results corresponding to different steps in the caucus process. The rules are complex and thorough, and they create conditions in which the results can be obviously inaccurate or inconsistent within a precinct.

That these errors are only detectible now, after the Sanders campaign insisted on collecting and reporting more data, makes me wonder how often the numbers have been wrong before.

The Iowa Democratic Party has corrected some errors, but the errors became far more frequent on Wednesday as the count dragged on.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Iowa Democratic Party released a wave of results showing Deval Patrick sweeping central Des Moines. That was incorrect. Mr. Sanders’s votes had been reported as being for Mr. Patrick, while Elizabeth Warren’s tallies went to Tom Steyer.

A plausible explanation is that an Iowa Democratic Party staff member accidentally copied the results of one column too far to the left in a spreadsheet for some precincts. Such errors inevitably occur in manual data entry, but the Iowa Democratic Party does not appear to have enough quality checks to assure that it reports accurate results.

​What's the point of having a state-level political party if it's not setup to do the work of actually collecting and disseminating reliable information about what its members want? It sounds like a debate club with delusions of grandeur.

This entry was tagged. President2020

An ‘Off-the-Shelf, Skeleton Project’

An ‘Off-the-Shelf, Skeleton Project’ →

Jason Koebler, Joseph Cox, and Emanuel Maiberg, writing for Vice, provide a look at the app that was supposed to make it easy for volunteers to report the results of the Iowa caucuses.

Motherboard asked six cybersecurity and app development experts we trust to analyze the app. The app was built on top of React Native, an open-source app development package released by Facebook that can be used for both Android and iOS apps, according to Kasra Rahjerdi, who has been an Android developer since the original Android project was launched, and Robert Baptise, a white-hat hacker who has exposed security flaws in many popular apps and reviewed the code. Rahjerdi said that the app contains default React Native metadata and that it comes off as a "very very off the shelf skeleton project plus add your own code kind of thing."

"Honestly, the biggest thing is—I don’t want to throw it under the bus—but the app was clearly done by someone following a tutorial. It’s similar to projects I do with my mentees who are learning how to code," Rahjerdi said. "They started with a starter package and they just added things on top of it. I get deja vu from my classes because the code looks like someone Googled things like 'how to add authentication to React Native App' and followed the instructions," Rahjerdi said.

"The mobile app looks hastily thrown together," Dan Guido, CEO of cybersecurity consulting firm Trail of Bits, told Motherboard.

So the app has the look of something that was written by someone who's a newcomer to programming, rather than someone experienced.​

To properly login and submit results, caucus chairs had to enter a precinct ID number, a PIN code, and a two-factor identification code, each of which were six-digits long. "We saw a lot of people entering their precinct ID instead of their PIN in the PIN spot. There were some issues with not knowing where to put what credential, which is a difficult thing to design around,” Niemira said. “Having to sign in with three different six-digit numbers is confusing on the best day, but it was a call that was made in order to help keep this process as secure as possible.”

The app required users to keep track of 3 different 6-digit codes and enter them in the correct fields, during a confusing, high-pressure event. And those users are all volunteers, from a demographic that's not known for its fluency with technology. That's a complete failure of user-experience design.

According to state records, the app was built in several months at a cost of $63,182.

"We started our engagement with the IDP in August and began requirement gatherings and beginning to develop the app at that point, so we basically had the month of August, September, October, November, and December to do it, though requirements gathering takes a long time, so we didn’t have a final production version of this until pretty close to caucus time," Niemira said.

​The app was done in a rush, with no time to think through the requirements and create a design that would be usable, secure, and fault tolerant. Let alone to create code that was well-tested and robust. Or time to adequately train users and ensure that they had the app installed and working several weeks before the caucuses.

Election security experts have been saying for years that we should not put election systems online, and that we shouldn't be using apps to transmit results. And, if U.S. election officials are going to use apps like this, that they should be open to scrutiny and independent security audits.

“We were really concerned about the fact there was so much opacity. I said over and over again trust is the product of transparency times communication. The DNC steadfastly refused to offer any transparency. It was hard to know what to expect except the worst,” Greg Miller, cofounder of the Open Source Election Technology Institute, which publicly warned the IDP against using the app weeks ago, told Motherboard.

Stamos echoed that sentiment. "Our message is that apps like this should be developed in the sunlight,” he said, “and part of an open bug bounty."

Politicians seems to be allergic to doing things out in the open, with the full scrutiny and criticism that comes with transparency. This debacle is the inevitable result of secrecy, penny-pinching, tight timelines, and hubris.

Bernie Sanders Raised More in January Than Any Rival in Any Quarter

Bernie Sanders Raised More in January Than Any Rival in Any Quarter →

Some good news for fans of Senator Sanders, from Shane Goldmacher. If I'm going to point out why I think Sanders is a risky candidate (and I am), then it's only fair to point out one of the reasons why he's a strong candidate.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont raised $25 million in January, his campaign said on Thursday, a staggering sum that gives him an enviable financial advantage at an crucial moment in the Democratic primary race.

The $25 million haul is more money than any other candidate raised in any full quarter during 2019, including several presidential hopefuls who hold the big-dollar fund-raisers that Mr. Sanders forgoes. The announcement is the latest sign of an epochal change in money in politics, with candidates now able to finance a top-tier national campaign fueled by masses of donors giving a steady stream of small amounts.

The Sanders campaign also announced that it had received 1.3 million donations in January, and that more than 1.5 million different individuals had donated over the course of the campaign.

“Working-class Americans giving $18 at a time are putting our campaign in a strong position to compete in states all over the map,” said Faiz Shakir, Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, in a statement.

Snail Mail and Nuisance Calls: New Details on the Iowa Caucus Problems

Snail Mail and Nuisance Calls: New Details on the Iowa Caucus Problems →

I've seen the Berners claiming that the chaos coming out of Iowa is an attempt to stop Bernie Sanders by denying him a clear cut win. I like to go with Hanlon's Razor instead: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity". I don't think the people that go into politics and become leaders of state or national parties are actually smart enough to be running complex one-day-only events like primaries and caucuses. Nothing I've heard out of Iowa has changed my mind.

Trip Gabriel and Reid J. Epstein, for the New York Times.

Iowa Democratic officials said on a private conference call on Wednesday night that nearly all the much-delayed results of Monday’s caucuses would be released by Thursday, although a few precincts might remain outstanding.

The reason? Tally sheets had been dropped into snail mail.

Besides an untested, buggy smartphone app that was used for the first time, a backup hotline number for caucus organizers to call in results was flooded with nuisance calls after the number was disseminated on social media, party leaders said.

“All the Trump people from around the country started calling and tearing everybody a new one,” Ken Sager, the Iowa Democratic Party treasurer, told members of the party’s central committee on the 1 hour 20 minute call.

There were 85 phone lines to take calls at the party headquarters in Des Moines, said Kevin Geiken, the party’s executive director. But caucus chairs faced long wait times “because of the excessive calls we were getting” and because the legitimate calls to report results each took about five minutes, twice as long as in a dry run.

As he has said publicly, Mr. Price repeated that Monday night’s problems began when a coding error was discovered in a back-end computer that received the results sent in by volunteer leaders of each caucus via the app.

“We moved to Plan B, which was to ask precinct captains to call us with their results,” he said.

After the phone lines became swamped, with some precinct leaders giving up and going to bed without reporting results, the party moved essentially to Plan C, a manual examination of the worksheets from each caucus.

“We’re using the caucus math worksheets to report the results, and that takes time," Mr. Price said.

Because a few precinct chairs dropped their worksheets into traditional mailboxes, they would not be counted until they were delivered. “We are in the process of waiting for the mail to arrive,” Mr. Price said. “Those final precincts may take a little bit for us to get those sheets.”

One caucus chairman not on the call, Tom Courtney, said on Wednesday that he had been taken aback by what happened. After hours of being unable to get through to party headquarters on Monday night, Mr. Courtney gave up and went to bed. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “At 3 in the morning, I emailed everything to the guy I was trying to call, then I texted it.”

The next day, he said, he received a call from state headquarters that it hadn’t seen his results. “I gave them to him over the phone, again,” Mr. Courtney said.

Then someone from the state party drove the 2 hours 40 minutes from Des Moines to Burlington, where Mr. Courtney lives, to pick up the paper worksheets from his county.

Trump Greets National Prayer Breakfast With Impeachment Rage

Trump Greets National Prayer Breakfast With Impeachment Rage →

Thanks Charles P. Pierce. This is great and gets right at the narcissism that bugged me when I heard that Mr. Trump had turned an event about prayer into an event about himself.

He arrived at the event waving a newspaper with the banner headline “ACQUITTED” over his head and, when Dr. Arthur Brooks, the conservative religious leader in charge, made the mistake of referring to the obscure Christian concept of loving your enemies, the president* had a ready response to that heretical notion.

Arthur, I don't know if I agree with you.

At which point, the president* brought out the hammer and drove the nails into his own palms with his usual alacrity.

As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.Weeks ago and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, fortitude and strength to do what everyone knows was right.

As dozens of attendees stared into their fruit cups and longed for the sweet release of the Rapture, the president* continued to read from Paul’s Second Epistle to the Hannitites.

I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong nor do I like people who say, 'I pray for you,' when they know that's not so. So many people have been hurt and we can't let that go on. We have allies, we have enemies, sometimes the allies are enemies but we just don't know it. But we're changing all that.

Epic Supports Patients' Access to Their Data

Disclaimer: I am a 15-year employee of Epic, love my job, and love that we have a CEO who cares deeply about patient privacy as well as patient care. I'm not writing as a company spokesperson, but as a private individual who's frustrated by fake news and misinformation.

Recently, many, many news organizations have written about Epic's opposition to a new regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services that would make it easier to share medical records data with patients and apps. These organizations are saying that Epic opposes the new regulation because Epic opposes data sharing and wants to keep patient information locked up, in the pursuit of outrageous profits. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Epic loves data sharing. Patients are healthier and safer when every doctor, nurse, medical assistant, lab tech, pharmacist, etc. can see their full medical records. We developed:

  • Care Everywhere and Care Anywhere—data sharing between Epic organizations and standards-compliant data sharing between Epic and non-Epic organizations
  • MyChart—allowing enable patients to access their own data
  • Lucy—allowing patients to easily consolidate their charts from multiple healthcare systems
  • Share Everywhere—allowing patients to directly share their records with anyone in the world, even clinicians who are still using paper charts

Our concern about the new rule comes down to one reason: worries about patient privacy. Many, many Android and iOS apps earn revenue by selling user data. The majority of the time users are unaware that their apps are tracking them, unaware of how much their apps are tracking them, and unaware of how many different companies their apps are selling their data to. There is a real risk that giving apps access to your healthcare information could mean that those apps are reselling your healthcare records to anyone and everyone, without your knowledge or consent.

We published an open letter stating these concerns.

  • Family member data may inadvertently be shared. The data sent to the apps might include family member data, without the patient realizing it and without the family members’ knowledge or permission. Almost all medical records contain family history, which may be threaded throughout the record.

After surgery, Jim’s doctor wants to prescribe an opioid for Jim during his recovery. Jim prefers not to take an opioid because his brother Ken struggles with addiction. The doctor makes a note about that in Jim’s medical record. When Jim’s health data is sent to an app, and that data is used, shared, or sold, Ken’s addiction status may become public without Ken’s knowledge or permission.

Jim and Ken’s story is similar to what happened to Facebook friends who did not give their approval for their information to be harvested by Cambridge Analytica.

  • Apps may take much more of the patient’s data than the patient intended. There are no transparency requirements to make it very clear to the patient what data the app is taking and what the app will do with that data.

A wellness app offers Liz a cholesterol study and asks her to approve sending the app her lab results. Liz does not realize that the app has gathered all of her lab results, including sensitive information such as her pregnancy status and STD testing results. She does not know that the app will sell that data. Once her health information is out, she cannot pull it back.

We have always, and will always, support patients’ right to use their data as they see fit. However, it is the role of government to ensure that patients have the information they need to make those decisions knowledgeably, like they have for nutrition and food or labels in the clothes they buy. Patients must be fully informed about how apps will use their data, and apps and other companies must be held accountable to honor the promises they made to patients.

For patients to benefit from the ONC rule without these serious risks to their privacy, we recommend that transparency requirements and privacy protections are established for apps gathering patient data before the ONC rule is finalized.

Epic does not typically comment publicly on national policy issues. However, our goal is to keep the patients at the heart of everything we do, and we must speak out to avoid a situation like Cambridge Analytica. The solution has a clear precedent in HIPAA protections, and creating similar protections that apply to apps would make a difference in the privacy and well-being of millions of patients and their families.

Please. Before you jump on the bandwagon of people attacking Epic, take a moment to think about the privacy implications of your health records being used as an income stream for app developers.

State Demographics Matter

State Demographics Matter →

Mara Liasson, writing for NPR on what matters in the election.

Also, while the electorate continues to get younger, browner and more female, a lot of those voters live in the wrong states as far as Democratic hopes at winning go. In other words, it doesn't matter as much if there's a huge surge in turnout in California and New York (two states where Hillary Clinton got one-fifth of all her votes from); it matters who shows up in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, white, working-class voters make up 56% of eligible voters; in Wisconsin, it's 61%.

I'm less interested in a candidate's national numbers than I am in their state-by-state numbers and how their positions poll in each battleground state. You can run up the score quite a bit in California and New York and still lose because voters in Pennsylvania don't like your plan to ban fracking and because white moderates in Wisconsin think your policies too radical.

Socialism Is Underwater Among Independents

Socialism Is Underwater Among Independents →

Mark Murray, writing for NBC News:

Finally, the NBC/WSJ poll finds differing public attitudes about capitalism and socialism, especially with Sanders running for president in 2020 as a democratic socialist.

Fifty-two percent of all voters say they have a positive view of capitalism, versus 18 percent who have a negative opinion.

The numbers are reversed for socialism, with 53 percent having a negative view and 19 percent a positive one.

Yet there’s a striking difference by party and age.

Democratic primary voters have a net-positive impression of socialism (40 percent positive, 23 percent negative), and Dem voters ages 18-34 view it even more favorably (51 percent to 14 percent).

But key general-election groups like independents (-45 net rating), suburban voters and swing-state voters have a much more negative impression of socialism.

Again, I'm worried about overestimating how much attention voters are really paying to the Democrat primary and to Sanders' positions and his embrace of (Democratic) Socialism. Once we get to the summer and Trump starts hammering him over socialism, what's going to happen to his poll numbers?

Running Bernie Sanders Risks Losing Moderates

Running Bernie Sanders Risks Losing Moderates →

Jonathan Chait's piece has already gotten a lot of attention. But I'd like to draw my own attention to a few of the points that he made. (Full disclosure: If I could vote in Arizona's Democrat primary, I would vote for someone other than Bernie Sanders.)

Nobody “cared” how Michael Dukakis looked in a tank, and probably not many voters cared about Mitt Romney’s dismissive remarks about the 47 percent, but both reinforced larger attack narratives. Vintage video of Bernie palling around with Soviet communists will make for an almost insultingly easy way for Republicans to communicate the idea that his plans to expand government are radical.

Sanders has never faced an electorate where these vulnerabilities could be used against him. Nor, for that matter, has he had to defend some of his bizarre youthful musings (such as his theory that sexual repression causes breast cancer) or the suspicious finances surrounding his wife’s college. Democrats are rightfully concerned about attacks on Hunter Biden’s nepotistic role at Burisma, but Sanders is going to have to defend equally questionable deals, like the $500,000 his wife’s university paid for a woodworking program run by his stepdaughter.

Let's set aside Sanders' current proposals and the merits of them. His past is a rich treasure trove of attack ads waiting to happen. This election will be fought in the suburbs. And Trump's team doesn't need to convince suburban moderates to vote for him. He just needs to convince them that Bernie is just as bad and that they should stay home on Election Day. Ads depicting Sanders as a nepotistic communist will certainly do that. When it happens, Sanders will need a surge of new voters to power him to victory. And any campaign that starts out saying "we'll win because the non-voters will vote for us" is already losing.

For obvious reasons, the Democratic Party’s left wing has always resisted this conclusion (as has the Republican Party’s right wing.) But Hillary Clinton’s surprising defeat created an opportunity for the party’s left to promote an alternative theory for how the party could and should compete. It deemed Donald Trump’s win a sign that capitalism had created such distress that voters were now rejecting conventional politicians altogether and open to radical alternatives who might promise to smash the failing system. Indeed, by this reasoning, Democrats would do better, not worse, by nominating more left-wing candidates, who could distance themselves more credibly from the discredited Establishment.

​This is not a bad assumption. If American Carnage taught me anything, it's that there are far more voters willing to burn down the system and elect the craziest person possible than I had ever believed. So Progressives ran a lot of Progressive candidates, while the party establishment ran a lot of moderate candidates. It was a good experiment to see who was right. And it turned out to be the party establishment.

As we now know, it was a good strategy to win the House. Democrats flipped 40 seats. Tellingly, while progressives managed to nominate several candidates in red districts — Kara Eastman in Nebraska, Richard Ojeda in West Virginia, and many others — any one of whose victory they would have cited as proof that left-wing candidates can win Trump districts, not a single one of them prevailed in November. Our Revolution went 0–27, Justice Democrats went 0–18, and Brand New Congress went 0–6. The failed technocratic 26-year-old bourgeoise shills who were doing it wrong somehow accounted for 100 percent of the party’s House gains.

Progressives went a combined 0–51 in their house races.​

The leftists chose to focus on a handful of left-wing candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated center-left Democrats in deep-blue districts. The conservative media strategically elevated her in a bid to make AOC and her squad the party’s face. The mutual interest of the two sides made AOC the narrative center of the election. The fact that the party had just run a field experiment between two factions, and the moderate faction prevailed conclusively, was forgotten.

​And I think this is worth emphasizing too. Progressives won running Progressive candidates against moderate Democrats, in Democrat districts. They didn't win running Progressive candidates in moderate or Republican districts. And winning the Presidency will require them to win moderate and Republican districts.

Public satisfaction with the economy is now at its highest point since the peak of the dot-com boom two decades ago. Trump has serious weaknesses of issues like health care, corruption, taxes, and the environment, and a majority of the public disapproves of Trump’s performance, but he does enjoy broad approval of his economic management. Therefore, his reelection strategy revolves around painting his opponents as radical and dangerous. You may not like me, he will argue, but my opponents are going to turn over the apple cart. A Sanders campaign seems almost designed to play directly into Trump’s message.

Whatever evidence might have supported a Sanders-esque populist strategy for Democrats after the 2016 election, it has since collapsed. But in the ideological hothouse of the Sanders world, no setbacks have been acknowledged, no rethinking has taken place, and the skeptics are dismissed as elitist neoliberal corporate shills, as ever. The project moves forward even as the key tests of its viability have all failed. Once enough energy has been invested in a cause, it has too much momentum to be abandoned. For the socialist left, which has no other standard-bearer to choose from, Bernie is too big to fail.

​I will vote for anyone against Trump—even Bernie Sanders. But I feel that I'm distinctly in the minority on that viewpoint. I think Sanders is going to be a hard sell for many Americans and that he's polling well right now because Republicans have not yet begun to run ads attacking him as a godless Commie.

Why Fight to Enjoy a Long Winter?

Jason Kotte—a lifelong resident of winter lands—wrote about how he's recovering from two years where winter really bummed him out.

Sometime this fall — using a combination of Stoicism, stubbornness, and a sort of magical thinking that Jason-in-his-30s would have dismissed as woo-woo bullshit — I decided that because I live in Vermont, there is nothing I can do about it being winter, so it was unhelpful for me to be upset about it. I stopped complaining about it getting cold and dark, I stopped dreading the arrival of snow. I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings. As Matt Thomas wrote, I stopped fighting the winter vibe and tried to go with it:

Fall is a time to write for me as well, but it also means welcoming — rather than fighting against — the shorter days, the football games, the decorative gourds. Productivity writer Nicholas Bate’s seven fall basics are more sleep, more reading, more hiking, more reflection, more soup, more movies, and more night sky. I like those too. The winter will bring with it new things, new adjustments. Hygge not hay rides. Ditto the spring. Come summer, I’ll feel less stress about stopping work early to go to a barbecue or movie because I know, come autumn, I’ll be hunkering down. More and more, I try to live in harmony with the seasons, not the clock.

The people in the Norwegian communities Leibowitz studied, they got outside as much as they could — “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” — spent their time indoors being cozy, came together in groups, and marveled at winter’s beauty.

So how has this tiny shift in mindset been working for me so far?

I’ve had more time for reading, watching some interesting TV, eating rich foods, making apple pie, and working. I went for a 6-mile walk in the freezing cold with a friend and it was delightful. And I’m already looking forward to spring and summer as well. It’s comforting to know that warmer weather and longer days are waiting for me in the distance, when I can do more of what I want to do and feel more like my true self. But in the meantime, pass the cocoa and I’ll see you on the slopes.

​There's a whole lot of wisdom in what he wrote. There's value in having different rhythms to your life in different seasons. There's value in deciding to have a positive mindset about the things you can't change.

But.

There's also wisdom in recognizing when your circumstances are making you unhappy and doing what you can to change your circumstances. I lived the winter blues for nearly 20 years. I worked hard to have a positive mindset. I worked hard to adjust to constant snow and bitter cold. I worked to find winter clothes that were both warm and something that I liked. But I still was unhappy every winter and couldn't wait for the weather to change.

No matter how good the conversation is, there's nothing appealing about taking a 5-mile walk in the freezing cold with a friend. And it may be true that bad weather is the result of bad clothing. But I never did find gloves that were the right combination of warm enough, dextrous enough, and small enough to fit my dwarven hands. Or warm, waterproof boots that fit my hobbit feet. And I note that even Jason says that he's already—5 months before Wisconsin spring—looking forward to warmer weather and longer days. That's a long time to remind yourself to stay positive.

My breakthrough happened when I finally realized that no one was forcing me to live in the land of ice and snow and that I didn't need permission to leave. I'm having one of my best winters in 20 years because I finally moved from Madison, WI to Tucson, AZ. This isn't a change that everyone can make. I spent 3+ years making sure that it was the right move for the entire family, not just for me. I made sure that I would have a job after the move. We didn't have extended family in Wisconsin.

I'm fortunate that all of those factors lined up for me. But they did and I was able to move. And the move has had an immense impact on my day-to-day happiness and joy in life. I've smiled more, felt giddy more, spent more time outdoors, and looked at the stars more than I have in many years.

If you're truly rooted where you are, then follow Jason's advice on enjoying the long winter. But if you're only staying through inertia, then don't torture yourself. There are no virtue points for living somewhere that you don't like and fighting for contentment. Spending your entire life in one location doesn't make you more moral or more praiseworthy than someone who pulls up stakes and wanders around until they find their good place. Give yourself permission to move on.

This entry was tagged. Personal Wisconsin

Florida Prison Guard Allegedly Paralyzed an Inmate and Molested a Child

Florida Prison Guard Allegedly Paralyzed an Inmate and Molested a Child →

Records released last week in the lawsuit revealed that Turner had a decade-long history of inmate complaints against him alleging excessive force, sexual abuse and misconduct, racial slurs, and sadistic punishments that included leaving a handcuffed woman in 93-degree heat for 3 hours while calling her a "fat pig." Another inmate told sheriff's deputies that she witnessed Turner and another officer trading contraband cigarettes for oral sex.

None of that stopped Turner, who at some point was promoted to lieutenant, until this August.

Weimar's hospitalization sent shockwaves through the state, drew national media coverage, and put a gruesome spotlight on Florida's problem-ridden and wildly expensive prison system, especially Lowell, where inmates have long alleged sexual abuse and violence by guards.

Last August, the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into pervasive misconduct and sexual assaults by correctional staff at Lowell. A 2015 Miami Herald investigation found numerous accusations of assaults, retaliation, filthy conditions, inadequate healthcare, and suspicious deaths at the prison, as well as "an inadequate number of cameras," which allows guards to hide brutality.

Democratic Florida state Rep. Dianne Hart said in a statement today that she applauds the Marion County Sheriff's Office for making the arrest. "However, with over 130 pages of documented official FDOC incident reports detailing the horrors that Lt. Turner inflicted on the women of Lowell Correctional sitting on my desk and Cheryl Weimar with a broken neck," she continued, "I find it absolutely disgusting that Lt. Keith Turner still has a place at FDOC, and I pray that justice is served in all cases involving Lt. Turner."

After Weimar's hospitalization, the state launched several investigations into the incident, and Turner and the other guard were reassigned to jobs where they would not have contact with inmates.

Following his arrest, the FDOC says it is moving to fire Turner immediately.

"The Sheriff's findings in this case against Mr. Turner are abhorrent and in complete contrast to the values and integrity held by our staff," FDOC Secretary Mark Inch said in a press statement. "We are moving forward with his immediate dismissal."

Apparently not. It certainly looks as though FDOC Secretary Mark Inch didn't have any problem with Lt. Turner using excessive force, sexually abusing inmates, using racial slurs, and handing out sadistic punishments. For some reason, the Florida Department of Corrections chose not to act against this piece of trash until he'd crippled an inmate. From where I sit, Floridians need to clean house throughout the entirety of the Department of Corrections, starting with Secretary Inch and working their way down to Lt. Turner.

Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks

Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks →

Jordain Carney, writing for The Hill:

But Democrats are powerless to stop Trump’s nominees on their own after they went nuclear in 2013 and lowered the 60-vote filibuster for most nominations to a simple majority. Republicans followed suit in 2017 and nixed the 60-vote hurdle for Supreme Court picks.

​I said at the time that destroying the minority's political power of obstruction was a short-sighted move that would come back to haunt the Democrats. And I'll say right now that Republicans following suit over Supreme Court nominations was equally stupid. How many Progressives would like to have that power back, both right about now and over the last 2 years?

State Rep. Melissa Sargent will re-introduce bill to legalize marijuana

State Rep. Melissa Sargent will re-introduce bill to legalize marijuana →

Tess Klein reports for WTMJ:

State Representative Melissa Sargent is working to make marijuana legalization a reality in Wisconsin. She says she will re-introduce legislation to do so in the upcoming legislative session in January.

"It is in the best interest of our state to look toward the future and recognize the vast medicinal, economic, social justice opportunities marijuana legalization would bring to our state," Sargent said in a statement.

"Referenda around Wisconsin passed with overwhelming support proving that the people are ahead of the politicians on this topic, and agree that the most dangerous thing about marijuana in Wisconsin is that it is illegal."

​Good for her. I'll bet that the Wisconsin Assembly will just sit on the bill and ignore it in committee, but I still applaud Representative Sargent for introducing it. Residents of 16 counties and 2 cities voted "Yes" to advisory referenda about legalizing marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use. It'd be nice if the state Assembly could manage to get over their own prejudices and follow suit.

Veterans Day Is Not a Christian Holiday

I've been growing and evolving my religious beliefs and political positions over the past 15 years. I may have changed the most in my attitude towards the American military and the hero worship that American evangelicals have for our military. I grew up in a conservative household, in a Navy town. I was surrounded by active duty and retired members of the military, both in my extended family and among my friends' parents and my parents' friends.

Our church was typical of many. Every July 4th, we'd celebrate America and its armed forces. Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines would carry their service's flag down to the front of the church, as the service's march was played. The American flag would be prominently honored as well. Every Veterans Day Sunday, we would ask all members of the military to stand, to be honored for their service. I thought this was only just and right, as America was a Christian nation and these men and women protected us and helped to enact America's will and — by extension — God's will.

That's all changed. I can't abide churches mixing the worship of God and the worship of American military might. Christians are citizens of the Kingdom of God. Our first allegiance should be to God. If He is a jealous God, as we say He is, we shouldn't be bringing other powers into His church, to praise, honor, and venerate. God's house should be holy — set apart to God and God alone.

I've also become a peacenik. I no longer see American military might as a good thing and I no longer see the demonstration of American power as something to desire. Violence is violence and we should always mourn it and do everything we can to prevent it. In Foundation, Isaac Asimov's character Salvor Hardin says that "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent". I'm idealistic enough to believe that's true. I haven't become a full-fledged pacifist, but I do believe that we should avoid military force unless we've truly exhausted every other solution and we have no choice.

In that light, I read Brian Doherty's recent article for Reason.com, "No More Vietnam Syndrome". Here, he's talking about the results of America's military efforts since 9/11.

After September 11, 2001, the U.S. military fully re-entered the world stage. The last 17 years have seen a variety of wars, quasiwars, and ongoing interventions with a mix of shifting rationales, from revenge for the attacks to spreading peaceful democracy in the Middle East to targeting specific bad actors to simply helping our Saudi allies as they work to reduce Yemen to a charnel house. None of these more recent efforts have worked out well on a geopolitical level. Meant to end Islamic terrorism worldwide, our post-9/11 warmaking multiplied it. A 2007 study by NYU researchers found that the average yearly number and fatality rate of terror attacks rose by 607 percent and 237 percent respectively after we entered Iraq in 2003. If you exclude violence in that country, the increases were still 265 and 58 percent; most jihadis in subsequent years were radicalized by the invasion itself.

Meant to crush Al Qaeda, our interventions have expanded its breadth and numbers; meant to create stable democracies in the Middle East, they've helped reduce Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen to the same sort of chaos that bred the terror in Afghanistan that began this whole bloody, pointless process.

These various post-9/11 foreign policy failures have cost our debt-riddled nation at least $1.5 trillion in direct costs, according to a recent Defense Department report, and more than $5 trillion in ancillary costs—such as interest and future veterans expenses—according to a 2017 analysis by the Watson Center at Brown University. In constant 2018 dollars, the Defense Department will spend this year in excess of 50 percent more than it did in 1968.

But the more hideous cost—especially poignant for those who remember the cries of "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"—is in lives. That same Watson Center study estimates that there have been 370,000 deaths from direct war violence since 2001; 200,000 civilian deaths; and over 10 million people displaced by the harm to property and municipal functionality. Alas, this human and social misery is obscured by consistent, deliberate use of bloodless rhetoric. American foreign policy professionals and pundits somehow manage to look at our costly failings and the world's suffering—all that money, all that death—and think the answer is that the U.S. military should have done more, and smarter, and harder.

If only the lessons of Vietnam, or even of Iraq, would actually stick. We can't expect the aftereffects of this century's foreign policy sins to be short-lived. Laos still suffers dozens of deaths a year because of 80 million unexploded bombs left behind by the Vietnam War. The casualties of our drone wars may be their own variety of unexploded ordnance, as generations grow up in the literal and figurative shadows of insufficiently discriminating robot death machines in the sky, courtesy of the United States.

As a Christian — not as an American, but as a Christian — are you proud of these results? Can you truly look at them and say that America was "doing the Lord's work"? I can't. I supported the Iraq War in 2003, but I don't support it now. There is nothing to cheer in the ongoing military operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, and in Yemen. And there's certainly nothing Christian in what the U.S. military is doing around the world today. Let's stop pretending that there is, let's stop treating Veterans Day as a church holiday, and let's stop confusing patriotism with religious devotion.

2018 Midterms — Understanding the Results

2018 Midterms — Understanding the Results →

Kevin D. Williamson has multiple points to make. This is the one that I particularly agree with.

Fourth, and related: The Democrats don’t seem to understand what it is they are really fighting, which, in no small part, is not the Republicans but the constitutional architecture of the United States. The United States is, as the name suggests, a union of states, which have interests, powers, and characters of their own. They are not administrative subdivisions of the federal government. All that talk about winning x percent of the “national House vote” or the “national Senate vote” — neither of which, you know, exists — is a backhanded way of getting at the fact that they do not like how our governments are organized, and that they would prefer a more unitary national government under which the states are so subordinated as to be effectively inconsequential. They complain that, under President Trump, “the Constitution is hanging by a thread” — but they don’t really much care for the actual order established by that Constitution, and certainly not for the limitations it puts on government power through the Bill of Rights and other impediments to étatism.

I know people who will argue that the "national House vote" does indeed exist. And they probably are voting with national outcomes in mind. But all politics is local and voters can only vote for the candidates on their own ballot. And as much as people give Congress — as an overall body — abysmally low grades, they tend to give their own representatives a much higher grade.

That's why Congress has such a low rate of turnover: everyone hates everyone else's representatives, but loves their own. And that's why I don't think that a "national House vote" truly exists. I can imagine a world in which a national vote does exist, but it's a different world than this one, with a different electoral system.

Trump’s Next Tariff Blow Could Be 10 Times Worse for U.S. Shoppers

Trump’s Next Tariff Blow Could Be 10 Times Worse for U.S. Shoppers →

The next round in the U.S.-China trade war could be the costliest one yet for American consumers.

The U.S. is said to be preparing to announce tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports by early December, and the impact at the checkout counter may be as much as 10 times higher than earlier rounds of levies, according to a report from Citigroup economists.

The new penalties, which could take effect in early February, would encompass Chinese-made consumer goods like Apple iPhones and Nike shoes that the Trump administration has so far left untouched. The impact of a 10 percent tariff on the $267 billion of imports could be 10 times larger than the first $50 billion round and double that of the $200 billion tariffs in the second round, the analysts wrote.