Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Iowa: what we know so far

It was scintillating watching C-SPAN's coverage of the Iowa Caucus in West Des Moines on Monday night.  You can see a rebroadcast of it here.  In this one caucus room, Bernie Sanders had the most votes in the second round with 99 followed by Elizabeth Warren with 76, Pete Buttigieg with 73, and Amy Klobuchar with 57.  With these totals Sanders, Buttigieg, and Warren were each awarded three delegates to the state convention each (abbreviated in as SDE in the table above) with Klobuchar getting two.  Biden did not have more than 15% of the 333 caucus goers and received no delegates.  The statewide numbers as of this writing are presented above with 96% of the caucus rooms counted.

Like everyone else, I was flabbergasted when the results were not immediately available.  The entrance polls (exit polls are used in the primaries and general elections) showed a close race between Sanders and Buttigieg.  Forty two percent of the caucus goers were male and 58% were female.  Ninety one % were white, 3% were African-American, 4% were Latino, and 2% were other.  Sanders edged Buttigieg among young, male, and nonwhite caucus goers.  Biden did best among caucus goers who said foreign policy mattered most to them (13% of the total).  Sanders won among those who said income inequality was most important (18% of the total).  Among those who said health care was most important (42%) Sanders and Buttigieg were tied.  Likewise they were tied among those who said climate change was most important (21%).

The overall results so far show that Sanders leads among the first and second round caucus goers but Buttigieg leads among state delegates by 3.  In 2016, Bernie lost to Clinton by a razor thin margin in the state delegates and it may happen again this year depending on the last 4% still to be counted. This was the first year they reported who the caucus goers preferred rather than just the delegates.  The result of the delegates could change as the last 4% is counted.

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez has called for a re-canvassing of the caucus results.  The phone app that they used to send the results but at least they had a paper trail.  These results are similar to those of the electoral college in the 2016 and 2000 elections.  Both systems should be reformed.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Net Neutrality and CSI wo DB

I have been busy working and writing for the Hill Talk and Data Driven Journalism.  I was going to post on a further analysis on Veterans and minimum wage and on new hate crime numbers from the FBI. However there is a more pressing issue for this website and others like it, Net Neutrality.  The other posts are forthcoming.

Currently it is hard enough in the current web climate to get ones message out to the masses for websites like this one.  The competition for eyes and ears is fierce.  Removing net neutrality rules will make it even worse.  The airwaves are public domain.  It is shameful that the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) will sell out the public domain to large corporations to increase profit and diminish dissenting views.  I urge you to contact your representatives in the House and Senate to pressure the FCC not to do this.  The FCC will vote on December 14.

In the spirit of giving Tuesday, I have added a donate button to the right side of the site for those who want to support the work of this site.  It takes time to write posts for this site so any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Cambria State Senate and House Races:

This upcoming election is pivotal.  Not just at the Presidential level but also at the State and Local level.  The current makeup of the PA State Senate is 31 Republicans and 19 Democrats.  With a pickup of 3 out of 50 seats (6% of the total senate seats) for the Republicans there, they will be able to block Gov. Wolf's appointees.  The State House has 119 Republicans and 84 Democrats.  With a gain of 17 seats out of 203 (8% of the total) total the Republicans will also have a veto proof majority.  With a veto proof majority in both houses of the legislature the GOP will be able to ram through legislation without the Governor's support.

Here in Cambria, Clearfield, and Bedford County we have one hotly contested State Senate race between Ed Cernic (D)(Pictured Above) and Wayne Langerholc (R) (in the video above at the Trump rally).  This race could have a big  influence on whether the GOP gains the supermajority in the state Senate.  This is because as there is no incumbent in the race.  Ed Cernic have worked as the Controller for Cambria County since 2004 and has been their fiscal watchdog improving the efficiency of services.  His opponent, Langerholc, has refused to denounce the derogatory comments that Donald Trump has made about women and minorities and has refused several offers to debate Cernic (even though he has served as assistant District Attorney for Cambria County who is responsible to argue cases).  

There are 3 state house races here in Cambria County that are key to the Republicans getting a super majority.  In the state house 73rd district, Democrat Fred Weaver is challenging incumbent Tommy Sankey (R).  Weaver is a progressive who supports an increased minimum wage and increased rights of workers to unionize.

In the PA House 72nd district, Frank Burns (D) is another economic progressive incumbent who is being challenged by tea party Republican Cecelia Houser.  In the 71st district incumbent Democrat Bryan Barbin is also being challenged by tea party Republican Mark Amsdell.  Amsdell & Houser are pictured below with at the Trump rally last Friday.  Judging from their photos they have no problem with Trump's comments either.
Amsdell with Trump on his Facebook page.
Houser at the Trump Rally

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Campaign Finance Candidate Lawrence Lessig Enters the Race

In a follow up to my post on the 2016 Facebook & Twitter Primaries, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig announced that if he were able to raise $1,000,000 he would announce that he is running for the Democratic nomination for President to overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment.  If and when he succeeds in this endeavor as President he will resign.

He has reached that fundraising goal and will officially announce.  This would make him the seventh candidate on the Democratic side (sixth if Joe Biden decides not to run).  In the interest of full disclosure I support Bernie Sanders for President but I like Lessig's efforts to raise awareness of this issue. 

Lessig has no poll data as of this posting but he does have 2,559 Facebook followers (1,179 of whom are engaged) and 1,128 Twitter followers.  Time will tell if Lessig can catch up to the other candidates and can enter the debates.  According to the regression model for Twitter and Facebook followers he would need about 100,000 followers on both sites just to get to 1% in the polls.  Will his $1 mlllion help him get there and on the debates?  Below is an interview he gave on Democracy Now! **Related Posts**

Twitter Primary: Following and Presidential Candidate Support

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Occupy, Occupy

States as Laboratories and Lavatories of Democracy


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Essay on Human Rights

 This is an essay I wrote for admission to a Masonic lodge.
               Opinions differ about what human rights are.  The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, has 30 articles.  The Declaration of Independence famous statement that “all men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” has been the sacred statement of human rights for Americans since 1776.  The rallying cry of the French Revolution was “Liberte`, Egalite`, Fraternite`” or “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.”  Exactly what Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness or Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood mean has been the subject of debate ever since 1776.  Do rights mean that one’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should eclipse other’s pursuits?  What is exactly the amount of life, liberty, happiness and equality that is sufficient for humanity?  This debate is an important one to have and is one that could never be fully resolved as new situations arise and as knowledge of the human condition improves.
                Definitions of what human are can be boiled down to basic principles just as Jesus states that all the laws of Moses can be boiled down to two phrases: “Love God with your whole heart, whole mind and whole soul and love your neighbor as yourself.”  For me the question of human rights boils down to a question of justice.  Like human rights, definitions of justice vary from topic to topic.  An early definition of justice is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato in The Republic which was his vision of the ideal state.  He stated that justice is the harmony between the needs and abilities of individuals and the needs of the state.
                We are all created equal but we are not all created alike.  There are basic human rights that everyone needs such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, access to health care, education, and information with which to make informed decisions about how to fulfill one’s own rights and the rights of others. 
      There also things that certain individuals need to correct for past injustices such as those which were done deliberately to other individuals such as through racism, sexism or almost any other -ism or those that occur through a mishap of nature such as a natural disaster or through a genetically inherited disease or those that occur through some combination of nature and deliberate actions by other humans.  Correcting these injustices is difficult as people may disagree on what the appropriate corrective measures are.  The debate about appropriate corrective measures should continue as no one individual has access to all of the necessary information that is needed to provide these measures.  This debate should proceed with respect to others with the goal of finding the truth that allows for the appropriate corrective actions to take place.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Patriotic Projections and Calculations

I know I've been away for awhile between my last post and the one before that.  Hope you had a good time on the 4th.  There has been some podcasts in conjunction with the holiday.  The first was on NPR's science Friday where Dr. Edward Frenkel discusses how understanding math enables citizens to better question authority which is their patriotic duty.  He gives examples of how the consumer price index was manipulated to reduce the deficit and many in Congress did not think critically about what was being done.  It did reduce the deficit but it cut the cost of living adjustments to social security benefits hurting millions of elderly, the disabled, and children who've lost parents.  

Another recent podcast on Inquiring Minds discusses how math is taught and how it can also be used as a way of separating fact from fiction.  Of course this site also uses math and statistics so I'm in complete agreement with what they say.for a change.  Here are other patriotic math games for kids. Questioning is patriotic but so are facts.


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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Former College Classmate on CNN International on Turkey

Emel Ertas was an IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) classmate of mine.  She was interviewed on her opinions on the upcoming elections in Turkey.  Their politics sounds about as divided as it is in the United States.

Going back to the days of the Alexander the Great, Turkey (then called Asia Minor) has always been at the crossroads between secular Europe and the more traditional Middle East.  The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, worked hard to secularize it after being defeated in World War I.  The reforms he introduced included changing their writing to the Latin alphabet from Arabic script, granting rights to women, and providing education to the masses.  Just like in the US however, these struggles between the old and the new can remain after many reforms are enacted.  

Colbert gives a good summary.  Secularists in Turkey see Ataturk as their Lincoln.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

A Morsel of Mensa Measurement

For those of you who don't know, Mensa is an organization of individuals who score in the top 2% or 98th percentile of intelligence tests. Founded in 1946 in Great Britain in has 100,000 members worldwide and 57,000 members in the US.  If the IQ tests normative data were correct, there would be 6 million of the over 300 million people in the US eligible for membership in the US.  Their site says their membership ranges in age from 2 to 102 and includes actress Geena Davis, Dilbert creator Scott Adams, and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.

This month (January 2013) the US organization is letting individuals take the short form of their admission test online for free.  Out of curiosity I took the test.  They asked me for personal information like where I lived, my age, gender, and other demographic info.  Items include object rotation, word association, and math reasoning to make them as culturally and age unbiased as possible.  It has four sections and you're given 8 minutes for each section.  Another reason that they are doing this is to test out items for their comprehensive entrance examination  that people who want to join would have to pay to take.  

I scored 56 out of a possible 80 in the raw score which they estimate (I assume is a 95% confidence interval) would put me between the 62nd and 88th percentiles on their comprehensive exam which at best is 10% below Mensa's cutoff.  Of course I had the TV on in the background but I have no intention of taking the big Mensa test.  

With the right practice and coaching, I could conceivably beat the Mensa test just as Kaplan makes a lot of money off of SAT test takers trying to get into the Ivy League but why?  In my post My N Word I argued that those who are studious and intelligent who have been shunned sometimes create their own elite group in response to that shunning.  While it may be fine for Geena Davis, Scott Adams, and Isaac Asimov (I wonder how many times they took the test before they got in?) I believe that this is the wrong response.  I believe it is better to share it with the masses.  Former Dallas Coach Jimmy Johnson is said to have an IQ in the Mensa range but is not listed as a member.

This January's opportunity to take their test is a chance to see behind the curtain. You can see how you measure up to the Mensans for free until January 31 here after that you will have to pay.  After you give them your information they will send you a key to login to the test and it may take a few hours before you receive the email with the key.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Progressive Soul Searching in Wisconsin, PA, & other Red Gov. States

The failed attempt this week to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has left many of his opponents to scratch their heads and wonder "was it the money?", "Was it better organization?", "Was something wrong with the exit polls?", and "What does it mean for Obama's reelection?"  While these questions are interesting there are other questions, races, and issues that can be overlooked.  My state Pennsylvania has it's own Scott Walker as Governor, Tom Corbett.  On May 18 there was a great rally at the Pittsburgh Opera against their giving him an award for his lifetime contribution to the arts as can be seen in the clip above.  The primary and secondary teachers unions were well represented but I didn't see any of the University activists there. 

The graphic below shows that PA is one of the worst states when it comes to cuts in Higher Education with a 13.4% decrease in spending with further cuts proposed this coming year with the state related Universities (Jan Brewer's Arizona and Walker's Wisconsin are the second and third worst at 25.1% and 20.9% respectively behind New Hampshire at 41.3%).  Of the 18 states that are dark red in the map below 13 have Republican Governors.

Below the CNN exit poll shows that in Wisconsin this week, Walker and his challenger Tom Barrett split the 18-24 college age vote in Wisconsin while Barrett won the 25-29 year olds and Walker either won or split the older age groups.  The under 30 age group only comprised 16% of the electorate in Wisconsin (they are about 20% of those over 18 in the state) while they are the ones most likely to adversely affected by Walker's cuts to higher ed.  50-64 year olds were over represented (34% of the electorate but about 20% of the electorate).

CNN Wisconsin Exit Poll

AgeTotalBarrettWalkerOther/No Answer
65 or Older18%44%56%N/A

It is true that this is one issue among many at play in the recall race.  It is helpful to look at the data to see where the revealing patterns are about which groups we need to reach out to for 2014 when Walker and Corbett are up for reelection.  I can assure you that their people are looking at population data to see what the trends are for 2012, 2014, and beyond.  Not only are they sitting on a mountain of cash.  They are also sitting on a mountain of data.


The Pew Research Center has come out with a survey showing how the partisan divide has grown larger over the last 20 years.  I asked a question that was posed to Michael Dimock, the primary investigator on C-SPAN's Washington Journal at about the 15:10 minute mark about what is causing the divide.

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