Friday, June 17, 2016

5 Thoughts on Politics, June 17, 2016

  1. 32%: Continuing with my running theory of Donald's candidacy (and how to defeat it), his current favorability ratings are roughly in line with the limitations of his base, extended out to the overall population. That is to say, his core support comes from the fringe of one standard deviation (~34%) from both directions (~68%), leaving him with roughly a 32% base. Crossover comes from people who reluctantly support him for purely political reasons -- being of the same party.
  2. No money, mo problems: Donald has practically no fundraising infrastructure, and thus, has been left nearly penniless until after the convention, at which point he will be able to tap GOP money as the official nominee. Importantly, his lean on the media to give him free air time has backfired as the political coverage -- as it is wont to do -- has been negative. For one whole month going forward, the only people with money are the SuperPACs, but there doesn't seem to be much love for Donald. 
  3. The sound of silence: After Donald's tweetstorm and an eruption of anti-Muslim rants following the Orlando massacre, you could hear a pin drop when it came to a defense of Donald. And he's not going to change. No matter how many times you tell him to stick to the teleprompter, Donald lacks the discipline to exercise self-control over the long haul. It's not a 100% guarantee that he'll make it out of the convention as the nominee, but if he does, he'll completely bomb at the presidential debates because, again, 32% -- that's the only group that'll accept his antics.
  4. The conscience struggle: Right now on both sides of the aisle there is a struggle of conscience on whether or not to support the presumptive nominee. On the left the threat of Donald as president weighs against the acceptability of Hillary's center-left positions. On the right, it's a balance of party fidelity or party death, ironically, because the GOP demanded party fidelity of Donald, early in the debate season. 
  5. Berning Man: I'm no expert in political matters, but it seems to me that Bernie Sanders has flopped (so far) in his attempt to leverage his popularity to do something. He knew for weeks that he was going to end with a deficit of pledged delegates and wouldn't be able to flip super delegates, so he should have been preparing to transition his campaign into a bigger movement on the first day after the primary season ended. Instead, we got a mixed message about his future goals centered around changing the party's structure rather than a grassroots push to build support for his ideas. This is why I didn't vote for the guy. He has these great, grand (sometimes fantastical) ideas, but they simply remain that -- ideas -- and nothing more. Getting rid of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and eliminating the super delegates does nothing to bolster liberalism; it merely rebalances power of the party. Tactically, his campaign is kaput.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On guns and regulations.

I'm doing a deep dive into DC vs Heller and the 2nd Amendment, with a focus on the late Justice Scalia's interpretation of idioms and language, but for now, it seems obvious that some sort of rethink is required of gun ownership laws in America. The first thing to understand is that in fact there are many federal gun laws, and thus, the 2nd Amendment does not give rise to unrestricted gun ownership. The Supreme Court, after all, does not permit guns within its own halls, by outsiders.

So here is my proposal, which overlaps some existing laws (National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968):

There should be three classes of guns, and progressive regulations on the ownership of those classes.

  • Class A: Single- and double-shot guns (guns without cartridges, non-revolvers). These guns may only be purchased by individuals over age 18, but can be used by anyone 12 years and older, once certified by an instructor. 
  • Class B: Guns with greater capacity than two shots, but barrels shorter than 6". These guns could be purchased by anyone over 18, as long as they pass a background check and are not under probation. No one under 18 would be allowed to operate one unless under direct threat of bodily harm. Gun locks would be mandatory. Anyone who is granted a restraining order shall be allowed to purchase a single Class B firearm without a background check.
  • Class C: All other guns. These guns would include all of Class B requirements, but would generally be restricted to one per person and anyone convicted of a felony offense involving violence would be banned for life from owning one. Anyone wishing to purchase more than one would have to obtain a permit which would involve a certified mental health exam, and would have to pay a national insurance fee, annually, set initially at $150 and subject to a 2% annual increase, which would be used to compensate victims of gun violence.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Spotify Playlist -- Classical music while you work, v. A

I don't usually build Spotify playlists (I usually build Google Play Music playlists to avoid ads) but I wanted to create shareable playlists. It's meant for playing in the background while working or studying. This version (A) is mostly focused on Romanticist and Modern periods but includes a wide range of periods, comprised of music that I already have. I'll eventually get around to building version B, meant to be focused primarily on the Classical and Baroque periods.

BTW, this playlist was not built in a particular order, and in fact, was meant to be played in mix mode.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In depth look at the Latino Effect in 2016.

This is an expansion of  an item from my previous post. California's Secretary of State shows that 100% of precincts have reported in, so I thought I'd update the data (minor changes) to reflect the final outcome.

By comparing California counties using the 2014 Census data and the final SoS voting results, you can see that there is a pretty good correlation between the percentage of Latinos in a county and how wide of a gap Clinton had with Sanders. Correlation coefficient = 0.63, so a pretty good correlation.

On CNN's map of the counties, you can roughly see this effect in play, where the northern-most, rural counties that are mostly non-Latino / Hispanic Whites, were generally Bernie Sanders' best counties.

This portends greatly for the November general election, as we now clearly see that Latinos already strongly favor Clinton. Against Donald, it's far more probable that Latinos will flock even further to Clinton. This matters most in the swing states.

On average, these states show a 1 percentage point increase in the percentage of Latino population. Imagine the impact Republican NM Governor Susana Martinez made, when she rejected Donald's candidacy on the basis of his entrenched racism. Suddenly, it makes you wonder if Texas is in play. We know Arizona is definitely in play with Senator John McCain struggling this early in polls.

The confluence of Donald and the Latino vote is going to make the general election a most interesting challenge for the Republican Party!

5 Thoughts on the Democratic Primary

  1. California Dreaming: The Sanders campaign pinned their remaining hopes on winning in California, in order to make a statement to super delegates. That plan failed, miserably, as Hillary instead crushed him in California, and while not all of the ballots have been counted, it's clear that she's won by double-digits.
  2. Poll Divergence: I had noticed a couple of days ago that the polls in California had diverged into two groups -- one where the race between Clinton and Sanders was statistically tied, and another where Clinton was ahead by double-digits. Rather than get burned by predicting that the double-digit polls were more accurate, I decided to sit it (chickened) out and let the results speak for themselves. In the end, it was all about the Latino vote.
  3. The Latino Vote: It's clear, especially at the county level, that the Latino vote strongly favored Clinton, leading to that double-digit win in California. The greater the Latino share, the wider support Clinton received.

    One reason why polls failed to capture the Latino surge, is that many pollsters utilized online polling in contrast to the limited internet access many Latino households do not have. Another reason might be the frontline coverage of Donald's racist remarks over Judge Gonzalo Curiel, motivating Latinos to show up / mail in their ballots.
  4. Delegate Counting: As of right now, Clinton has 2184 pledged delegates and 571 super delegates for a total of 2755 delegates. This means that she has exceeded a simple majority of super delegates and pledged delegates, and no matter how you count it, Clinton is authoritatively (deliberate pun) the presumptive nominee.
  5. Bernie's Staying Power?: Everyone's bending over backward to opine that Bernie's influence on the Democratic Party will have lasting power. The odds are that he fails to capitalize on the big stage. Hillary capitalized on her 2008 run by becoming Secretary of State and staying in the limelight. Jerry Brown lost to Bill Clinton but worked his way back up the ladder in California to reclaim the Governor's office. But other than that, no other primary loser has gained traction, not Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Gary Hart, John Edwards, Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas, etc. Given his age -- 74 -- he doesn't have much time to make a lasting impact in politics. But what hurts him most is his anti-Establishment stance. Bradley and Kucinich were probably the most recent anti-Establishment candidates, and neither is particularly noteworthy in the history of American politics, other than becoming a footnote in political history for creating a fight within the Democratic Party -- and that's the track Bernie's still on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

I finally got around to processing my DSLR photos from my trip to Steigerwald Lake National Wildife Refuge, east of Camas, WA. If you pay careful attention around you, you will see a lot of wildlife. There were dozens of other birds out there, and the next time I go out there I'll take photos of them -- they take a lot of patience to capture properly. All photos (except Multnomah Falls) were taken with my two-month old Nikon 55-300 DX VR ( While I've got a UV filter on it, what I really need is a polarizer filter, made apparent after this trip.

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail

Northern Pintail

Boreal bluet Damselfly 
Northern Flicker

Black Tailed Deer

House Wren


Visiting Multnomah Falls on the way back