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election results, reaction

UPDATE – Sinema (D) wins AZ!   bonus video (catching balls from various sports dropped from 165m dam)!

Final results are not in yet, but it went pretty much as expected.

Not even close to a complete reversal of the disastrous 2016 election, but a positive step in that direction.

Looks like Democrats will have a roughly 30 seat majority in the House, which means the more draconian aspects of Trump’s anti-immigration policy won’t get funded. Otherwise I don’t think we’ll see all that much difference there to be honest — I think Republicans did expect to lose the House this election (a completely standard pattern in US midterm elections) – so they forced thru their biggest priorities such as the tax cut. Beyond that, most of the goodies for the MIC/defense-contractors, pharma, finance, telecom monopolies etc have bipartisan support anyway. There are some specific energy industry issues that have a noticeable partisan split (e.g., Democrats prefer railroads to pipelines for oil transport, and Republicans vice versa). Maybe we’ll have some last-minute government-shutdown type drama next winter, but we’ve seen all that before.

Republicans are picking up 2-3 seats in the Senate, depending on how Arizona goes (due to that state’s logistics for so-called “late-early” ballots).

The extra Senate Rep. votes, could make a small but noticeable difference in any Supreme Court confirmations, should there be any — the number of “defectors” needed to defeat a confirmation vote has now doubled from about 2 to about 4.

On other matters, such as budgeting priorities, the impact is smaller, since one of the Rep. Senate pick-ups was Indiana, which was a DINO seat anyway.

Looking ahead, the 2020 Senate map will be a complete reversal of this year’s situation. Most of the Senate seats in play will be Republican, and a good number of them were elected to blue/purple-states in 2014, which was a strong Republican year — a lot of those won’t have the same kind of support again. Barring a major screw-up (always a possibility), the Senate should easily turn Democrat in 2020.

Democratic pick-ups for Governors could have an under-appreciated impact, if used wisely.

On a state-by-state basis, Trump’s net-approval polling was actually relatively high in the contested states.

Republicans did outperform polls in places like MT, MO, TN. In other words, the “likely-voter” models that are the unavoidable source of systematic error in all the polling (beyond the statistical MOE) definitely need some better calibration for 2020.

Beto made a race out of it in Texas. I hope we will be seeing more of him.

Ballot initiatives are worth following up on – I think several distinctly red states voted for referendums in favor of medicaid expansion. Pay attention centrist Democrats – health care and government funded services are a winning issue with most voters – don’t listen to the loudest voices of the center-right/libertarian ideologues!

Also, more marijuana legalization. Good!

Florida’s felon re-enfranchisement is a big deal! Possibly a game-changer for the state.


165 meter dam + bowling ball + trampoline…

Something to kill time before results to come in:


US: final reminder – go vote

tommorrow Tues Nov 6th. that’s it.

topical (ish) fiction: Lisa and the Stranger [Caitlin Johnstone]

Just came across this, from 2-3 wks ago. Short story by the political / anti-imperialist commentator.


Pretty cool I thought.

US: Vote Tuesday Nov. 6th (second to last reminder)

Just checking in… If you’re in the US go vote.

If you have an all day mountain top retreat on Tuesday, get an absentee ballot – look up the board of elections for your locality (typically county level), they’ll have instructions. Easiest to go in person to the office.

Predictions: not much changed vs past weeks. As others have said, the polls include assumptions about “likely voter” turnout based on past elections, that might not hold true this time, and might deviate from the established patterns differently in different parts of the country. I think Republicans have a shot to outperform in a couple states where independents are mostly white and breaking to Democrats in polls (MO?, MT?), while Democrats could do well where independents are more Latino (Southwest, TX, CA). The Latino population is a younger overall, and just as a result of this is less likely to vote, but Trump has done such a thorough job being an ass, that is where the Democrats have significant upside potential. Personally I think turnout will be high nationally on both sides, so I do think it will come down to the regional breakdowns. I think Democrats will clean up in the House. Senate as predicted elsewhere, Republicans pick up 1-2 seats.


Leaves fell all at once, basically in the last 3-4 days. Almost no red or brown leaves, all yellow, and a touch of green. Like you just got out of the elevator on the Yellow Floor at a the world’s biggest paint store. Shades and gradients on each individual tree, I don’t think I’ve seen it like this in a long time. Primary-schoolbus-yellow, tan, sungold, but also lemon-lime (on maples!), copper, and in the right afternoon light, some sunlit emerald tones I can’t even name.

I already had 3-4 different campaign visits knocking on my door / leaving flyers in the final weekend from a variety of local campaigns. I’m getting these obnoxious Tom Reed (R-NY23) ads on YouTube. I guess if you got the cash spend it. Curious how that race will turn out. This district’s demographics are in his favor. Fortunately, his campaign is mostly too cheap to pay for the kind of ad you are forced to watch until the end.

Also, while driving thru Jersey the other week, I caught a Spanish language radio ad for the beleaguered Bob Menendez, complete with merengue music (I think?) … Work it Bob!

I’m planning to vote Democrat at the Congressional district / State Assembly / State Senate / local levels, and 3rd party (Green) at the NY State level.

variety 2018.10.27

US – Election is a week from Tuesday. Remember to vote!

BrexitThe Democratic Unionist Party Isn’t Bluffing, It’s Being Thran (Newton Emerson / ForeignPolicy) – article explaining the history and role of the DUP as a complicating factor in the UK politics of Brexit (via NakedCapitalism)

US Technology-RightsUS passes landmark decision on ‘right to repair’ movement (Joe Osborne / TechRadar) — executive branch agency rules that previous laws making it illegal to circumvent “DRM” do not apply when repairing your own devices. Finally!

US-Iran: In Major defeat for Trump, ICJ rules for Iran against US Sanctions (TeleSur via Informed Comment) — again common sense, finally.

Saudi, US foreign policyKiller Politicians (Jeffrey D Sachs / Project-Syndicate) — Wow, Sachs…. I hope his PS editor has a good cardiologist.

This piece also answers so many articles in PS and elsewhere asking ‘where is all this right-wing backlash coming from’. That’s the next connection to make. The urge for foreign policy composed of “quick fixes” and “direct application of power” means that the policymakers prefer partners who are into the quick fixes and direct application of power. We’ve been funding, enabling, encouraging, and defending the right wingers around the world all along.

Pop Music / Algorithms / Trading Soundtracks –  On a completely and utterly different note, an observation about the power of internet media algorithms.

So I like my pop music. Rock, crossover folk-hipster-Americana, anything vaguely jazz-derived, and throw in some EDM and funk influence to round it out. Since I had ad-free youtube for a while that’s what I was using, although that expired so I’m thinking of going to spotify.

Anyway… Bit of a long background here…. The computer I usually blog from had a youtube account that got to be pretty very well trained over the 4 years I had it. By that I mean it suggested new things I like often enough. (note: unlike my phone, whose YouTube app seems to use a different and utterly inferior algorithm).

The other day an acquaintance asked if I listened to anything good recently, and we traded some recommendations. First of all, I realized that I like songs with male vocals to be upbeat, while female vocals I like for songs that are nostalgic or mellow. My friend liked that pairing the opposite way around, so it got me to listen with a new ear and a new perspective for a bit.

And what was interesting was, when we both plug in the same musician (as a search term) into our phone, hers would very efficiently lead her to her current preference: brooding poetic male-vocal. Mine would lead me to a slightly different style, more bouncy and more instrumental texture. Same musician. This happened for a couple different search terms. So obviously it’s our own preferences, but the phone algorithms reinforce it.

And after a couple of days of listening to her music for a while, I started seeing all these ads for ‘are you depressed’, ‘come to Jesus’, etc. Whoa.

It’s another aspect of the self-reinforcing circle of social media algorithms, but for moods rather than concrete ideas. But an equally scary pathway for unintentionally steering or locking large numbers of people deeper into or out of potentially unhealthy states.



bomb-vs-bonesaw.jpeg Matt Wuerker, 10/2018 (via Politico), 

So what ought to be happening is an examination of how much the US-Saudi relationship has colored power politics in the Middle East. This relationship has made it impossible to take seriously US promotion of rule-of-law and democracy. Most people around the world are more than happy to get behind these things, if they were even half true in their part of the world.

Instead we’re seeing the Kashoggi incident transformed into just another battle in the House of Saud’s struggle for succession. With too many princes to count, that could go on indefinitely.

After years of exporting death and destruction (not a metaphor, literally), not to mention bankrolling fundamentalists worldwide, the one thing to actually cause change is that the person being whacked was a courtier in good standing?

It’s missing the forest from the trees… I hope there are voices in the media brave enough to not get steered down that rhetorical path. It wasn’t a “rogue prince” any more than it was a “rogue security officer”.

It’s a rogue relationship, and a rogue way of running foreign policy – using alliances to cover up for behavior we would never accept for our own country.