Link Roundup, 2/10/2019

From Reuters: The same foreign government that had nothing to do with the death of Jamal Khashoggi also insists it had nothing to do with the Bezos hack.

From NBC: Fairfax accusers plan to testify about their experiences.

From Wired: The looming possibility of permanent population decline.

From Elle: Outlawing Late Abortion Seemed Like Such a Reasonable Idea Until I Needed One Myself.

From DuPage Politics: A side project I’ve been working on using my company’s data analytics software. A look at the decline of Republican power in one traditional Republican county in a series of maps.

From MIDINation: How long does it take for the world’s highest-paid musicians to earn an average person’s annual salary?


  1. ok, I missed this entirely and then saw a link to this Guardian article…

    “Brittany Kaiser, former business development director for Cambridge Analytica – which collapsed after the Observer revealed details of its misuse of Facebook data – confirmed that she had been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, and was cooperating fully with his investigation.

    He added that she was assisting other US congressional and legal investigations into the company’s activities and had voluntarily turned over documents and data.”

    The UK parliament is now discussing why they aren’t investigating CA’s role in Leave.EU as many of the same Russian characters seems to pop up in both investigations.

      1. The dumbest thing about that Brexit referendum was that people were being asked to leave the EU without any plan as to exactly how it was to be done.

        The thing I find most worrisome about this Brexit mess is that it could revive the whole Northern Ireland dispute. I’m old enough to remember when terrorist bombings were common stories in the international news. For that prospect alone those fools should shallow that pride.

      2. No, the proponents of leaving Brexit were just following the model across the pond…i.e., killing the ACA without any back up plan for millions of Americans. It appears that “stupid” is not a respector of country.


    We’re screwed. Bernie Sanders getting in the pit will boil up all the old resentments and practically ensures that not a single Democratic primary campaigner can win without pissing off a majority of the Democrats. I mean, we were already heading in that direction as it was, but there’s no possible way for Bernie Sanders to get ‘fair treatment’ in the eyes of his most dedicated fans after what happened in 2016.

    And in other news, he’s. Too. OLD. Seriously we need a constitutional amendment cutting off presidential campaigns at 80.

    1. Or, and it is just a thought, the Dem’s put their entire machine behind Sanders and pit him against the puppet tyrant.

      And you want to create a constitutional amendment for age cut-offs? No problem there, as long as one is also added that every candidate must go through a battery of psychological tests with the results publicly released and release all tax returns immediately upon announcing their candidacy.

    1. I hope DuPage is a hard trend not an anomaly. I’ve commented here before about the progressive movement I witnessed over the last two years in Montgomery County, TX, which offers many parallels to DuPage. Being Texas and all, the metamorphosis is not as assured nor as quick, but the energy behind those who are organizing and commiting time to the long haul is encouraging.

      I am curious as to the role of gender in this analysis. In MoCo (as it is locally known), the movement is being driven by women. This mirrored similar progressive efforts across the country as shown in the mid-term election. I would rather it be broad-based but wonder if women are inherently wiser about recognizing bullshit.

      Interesting work, Chris. My fear is that McConnell et al will have successfully packed the courts as a remedy to counter losing at the polls. They have a big head start with SCOTUS.

  3. Videogame company Activision showing us how capitalism is completely and utterly broken: The company had a record year last year and used that as an excuse to lay off 800 employees, engage in stock buybacks, and increase dividends for shareholders:

    While I’m not always his biggest fan, I believe that the incendiary consumer advocate/games critic Jim Sterling does quite a good job explaining why the AAA games industry and capitalism itself are rotten to their core:

      1. Jim mainly covers issues related to the game industry, but based on this video and several others of his I’ve watched over the years, he’d probably be glad that Amazon didn’t get a sweet corporate welfare deal.

        Also, those 25K jobs were never in New York in the first place, and therefore cannot be “gone”. NY is a powerful economic hub; it can easily gain 25,000 more jobs over time. Now, however, those jobs will happen naturally rather than stemming from giving exorbitant tax benefits to a megacorps.

      2. A reasoned response.

        No friend of corporate welfare am I, but understanding democracy as I think I do, AOC fairly f(screwed)d the idiots that elected her. Those jobs won’t ‘come back’ to New York. They will go elsewhere. Perhaps even abroad. The governor and the mayor were both disgusted with her. I suspect the people of Long Island City are as well. The frying pan of democracy is about representing those who elected your sorry ass. It’s not about the personal ideological meanderings of some 28 year-old git. This shit is bad for the party, and therefore good for the Orange One.

        Disagree if you must.

      3. The people who elected AOC also elected more Democrats to represent them locally and at the state level, and those Democrats in turn worked to scuttle the deal. AOC was an early opponent of the deal, but after that it was all up to the men and women at the state and local levels, and they managed to keep the pressure on to demolish the HQ2 scam.

        “The governor and the mayor were both disgusted with her.”

        They were only disgusted because the efforts they went through in the shady backroom dealings they made to get that $3 billion in subsidies and financial decisions went down the toilet. And good riddance.

        The HQ2 hunt was a massive con, anyways. This much was clear months ago:

        Amazon was always going to locate in NYC and near D.C., and this fake hunt was the perfect way to increase the tax incentives they could pry from local and state politicians. Cuomo and De Blasio kneeled before their Lord Bezos to lick his boots, just as planned.

        People need to stop treating these tech companies as if they’re prosperity-delivering god-kings bringing manna from heaven, and without which, all hope would be lost. There are plenty of ways for people to create opportunity in their own neighborhoods without giving sweetheart deals to Big Tech.

        Small businesses in NY, like that corner restaurant people eat at for lunch, that small marketing startup consisting of 4 friends, the electronics repair shop, that guy freelancing software engineering from the coworking space by himself, and so forth are creating jobs and economic opportunity. There are 120 million people employed by 28 million small businesses in the U.S. Not a single one of them gets a tax break over anything. Collectively they employ way more people than Amazon, or any other big corporation. So why does Amazon get all these cities and states across the U.S. dancing to Bezos’ tune, offering him & his insanely wealthy company the world and more, while your average Joe/Jane get jack squat in benefits of that caliber? That right there, that inequality and unfairness, is why AOC and all the NY Democrats who helped scuttle the Amazon deal managed to get elected. This wasn’t the electorate getting screwed over, this was democracy at work.

      4. Hey 50, good to see ya!

        First a couple disclaimers. I’m a regular Amazon customer. They are convenient, but their best feature is the selection, as I’ve found things I want there that I couldn’t find elsewhere. I’m putting together another order now- I heard music from an overlooked American female composer (Florence Price) on NPR a few weeks ago, and I’m psyched to add some of it to my classical music collection. Also I wish Jeff Bezos total victory in his legal actions against slime empire AMI and the odious David Pecker.

        Now to the issue. I have to agree with Crowley on several points. First of all the way this deal was done was completely wrong. The sucking up done by Cuomo and De Blasio was disgusting. Worst of all, the NY City Council was shut out of the negotiations. That denies the people who will be impacted the most their voice. I also despise corporate welfare. There is much ballyhoo that these sorts of deals (and pro sports teams) are going to have this great economic benefit that will trickle down into the community, but the facts don’t support all the hype (just like trickle down tax cuts are more pie-in-the-sky than results for the non-1%-ers).

        As for the 25K jobs, how many would have gone to the people already living there, vs. how many would go to people moving in? That matters a lot in a tight housing market. If you’re a barista or a taxi driver or a barber or someone else without high-tech skills, a possible increase in business isn’t going to matter if you get priced out of living in the area. This problem isn’t all on the big tech companies, as many places with these affordable housing issues have building codes that make things worse. I am all for high tech and invention, but this housing crunch is a ticking time bomb, and it needs to get defused. I think BOTH government and business have to cooperate to defuse it.

        The best option, from a housing perspective, would be for Amazon to go to a place like Detroit or Cleveland, where they would have a grater positive impact. I totally get why they preferred otherwise, but if we are going to have corporate welfare, I’d rather see incentives for companies to move into places where the ratio of people helped to people hurt is more skewed towards people helped.

      5. Bravo Fly. Well said. In too many areas of our lives, big business interests are calling all the shots. Look no further than America’s health care system which impacts everyone’s lives. It’s time for more balance. How much is enough after all?

      6. First, it wasn’t OAC’s call to make. Second, the lucre lure was small change compared to the local economic impact. (Yes, I know this sounds like the typical corporate welfare bullshit we hear from pro sports teams, and convention center developers, but hear me out. This was substantially different, and easier to calculate without all the arm-waving…) Let’s see: 25,000 x 150,000 = 3,700,000,000. Per year. Salaries alone. There’s both a city and state income tax there, among many, many others.

        But we should mention here the poor cabbies, and barristas. They are busy enough, aren’t they? Overwork is bad, and cuts into their vacation time. And the gentrification! If you’ve not been recently, Long Island City is just beautiful as it is! All that money coming in would flat spoil it. The proles there love it as it is. No need to ask them. Of course, if Blazzo just sent the money directly to Queens, the results would be much, much better. Jobs, housing, and even the skyline are always so much brighter when built with someone else’s money. But the good news is now things will stay the same. “We don’t need no stinkin’ money”, proclaimeth the innumerate freshman so wisely.

        Gosh, it’s so nice to sit here and *know* what’s best for the people in Queens! Let them eat cake!

        And yeah – Cleveland would have been a better choice from many, many angles. And I love that city. But that choice wasn’t a Prime member perk to make.

        BTW, good to see all of you too!

      7. Regarding Amazon, I have lived with Amazon ever since its founding. First, a disclaimer, I am a loyal Amazon customer and shop on its website. But as a Seattleite, I have considerable experience with its impacts.

        First when it was founded it had little impact. It then moved into the old Public Health Hospital building on Beacon Hill and renovated it. That was definitely a positive. When it outgrew that it moved to the South Lake Union neighborhood and began its growth spurt. That area badly needed redevelopment. Paul Allen, the Microsoft cofounder, had acquired a large block of land there and proposed a major park, similar to Central Park in NYC. The voters rejected that proposal. He began to develop it. The needs of Amazon and Allen coincided nicely.

        In the last ten years or so, Amazon however has been on a huge growth spurt. In many sectors, it has become dominant and almost monopolistic. It has been on a continuing building spree in the South Lake Union area and has even been building in the downtown core. It is now the largest employer in Seattle and the largest office space lessor. It is one of the three major companies along with Boeing and Microsoft in the Seattle Metro area.

        Its growth, needless to say, has had a major impact in the Metro area and Seattle proper. In many ways Amazon has had a net positive impact, but has created massive problems.

        Positively, Seattle has grown past its old orientation towards being aa provincial metropolis. Seattle has become a major urban enclave and its attitude has shifted. We are finally building a a light rail system and enhancing other public transportation infrastructure including highways. Several decades will be required for completion, but it is long overdue. The public bus system is now one of the best in the nation. We are also building other transportation infrastructure, which had been neglected for decades.

        Transportation infrastructure is expensive to construct in Seattle due to the hilly terrain, being hemmed in on the West by Puget Sound and the East by Lake Washington, which is deep for a lake, precluding construction of normal bridges and necessitating floating bridges. Seattle proper also has two significant lakes inside the city. There is land further east but that is restricted again by hilly terrain and the foothills of the Cascade Range. To the north and South there are similar restrictions.

        Amazon’s growth along with other high tech companies has also led to a huge influx of high salaried young, dynamic people. Many of these are of from India and other asian nations. We now have a diversified, young and dynamic population with a forward looking attitude.

        On the other hand, massive problems have been created. Housing costs have skyrocketed. Many old time residents have been forced out of their homes. Homelessness is extremely high. Seattle is becoming exclusively a higher income city, with the middle class increasingly being unable to live in Seattle and to a lesser extent within the metropolitan area. Public transportation is jammed. Our streets, many of which were plated early in the 20th Century and have had only essential maintenance, are unable to cope. Traffic problems are among the worst in the nation.

        Politically, the governing structures have not been able to cope. Several years ago we changed from electing the city council at large to a district based system. We are now completing the first four year term of council members under that system. Initially, most of the council members were largely elected by highly organized and motivated civic organizations. This is largely possible because Seattle’s municipal elections are in odd numbered years and there of course low voter turnout. However, many of those members are not standing for reelection. The dominant theme is dissatisfaction by the voters in their districts. There promises to be major turnover.

        This past year the council attempted to pass an employee tax, as was widely reported in the media. Amazon and other major employers rebelled and the tax was shortly repealed. Shortly thereafter Amazon announced its HQ2 search, with NYC and Washington Metro areas being selected. As is being discussed NYC, rebelled and Amazon withdrew its selection.

        This has already been a lengthy post, but to summarize, Amazon I believe has been a net positive influence in Seattle, but it has created significant difficulties. Amazon in the same announcement withdrawing the selection of NYC as a HQ2 site, stated that it is going to stop growing in Seattle after completion of its present plans. Personally, I feel that Seattle needs time to digest the recent large growth spurt and to resolve some of the various infrastructure, housing, homelessness and political issues aggravated by Amazon’s and other high tech companies growth. To be sure those issues were not created by the growth but they were certainly made worse.

        In the long term, I believe that Amazon will continue growing in Seattle, but not so rapidly. Other high tech companies will continue expansion in the area and it will continue to be an attractive urban area.

        On an another note, Amazon said that the jobs that would have been located in the NYC campus, will be spread around the nation into other regional metro centers. I believe that is actually a positive, because one of the major problems the nation is encountering is the growth in the major metropolitan areas, with the regional metro areas being left behind and almost none in the more rural areas. If growth was more diversified into smaller regional metropolises, in time the rural vs. the urban divide that is paralyzing our national politics may be eased.

      8. Wow, Crowley. I completely agree with you! And I rather like Seattle as well. The homelessness and housing issues are for reasons identical to San Francisco. But nevertheless, I don’t think either city has any desire to return to their origins.

        Seems like capitalism, with all its warts, is working in the main. Without it, this entire discussion would be moot.

      9. “No friend of corporate welfare am I, but understanding democracy as I think I do, AOC fairly f(screwed)d the idiots that elected her. Those jobs won’t ‘come back’ to New York.”

        100% pure conservative punching bag propaganda. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had nothing to do with the deal in any fashion positive or negative, except maybe some mean tweets. For their ultimate effectiveness on long term business plans, see how well our dumbass in chief manages to control businesses with his tweets — maybe small dips in stocks for a couple of days then it blows over. Nobody is going to stop a deal just because a freshman representative in Congress is virtue signalling.

        What stopped the deal is Amazon and Amazon entirely. Amazon had Bill de Blasio trying to personally call Jeff Bezos to help him work through how to make this happen. Amazon had old-school party boss power of Andrew Cuomo’s support in making this happen. Amazon had polls that generally showed majority popular support from NYC citizens to show up. To be crystal clear, Amazon had better leverage than typically even possible in NYC.

        And they walked away because they couldn’t stand the heat.

        How fucking weak do you have to be you can’t swing a new corporate campus because a few activists are asking questions about housing policies? It’s easy, you already have a base level deal that you build a few nice housing numbers into, like a couple few million dollars a year dedicated to housing issues — a large enough number to sate local appetites, a rounding error on your corporate balance sheets. It’s not so easy you get it done in a day or two, but Amazon is an adult corporation, it can work for a living.

        Of course that’s the reason Amazon was moving growth out of Seattle in the first place: Seattle started saying, “Alright, help us out a bit here” and Amazon said, “What?! You’re going to tell US to help out in the community of which we reside? Screw you!” They pulled the plug on the NYC headquarters for the exact same reason they sought out a second HQ in the first place. They don’t want to go anywhere where they’re held responsible for being there.

        That’s lame. I purposefully use a weak and flaccid term for describing how bullshit Amazon’s position is on this because it’s so lame it can only be described as lame. If Amazon can’t handle a few pissed off hipsters with all the political capital it had going into the fight, what is it going to do when its multi-decade coddling ends and the debate goes federal (either because of genuine market-reform policies being placed that treat Amazon as the complete vertical monopoly it clearly is, or, more likely, any populist leadership right or left who learns they can get a good cheer if they smack Amazon around a bit? 45 is already half way there).

        What I find most fascinating about this fallout isn’t the usual sorting through the debris and creating the standard blame game (conservatives: “DEMOCRATS ARE ANTI-BUSINESS!” progressives: “CORPORATE WELFARE IS A SCAM!”. Boring, boring shit). What’s fascinating about this fallout is how weak and culpable it shows Amazon to be. If you can’t make a deal with that amount of political capital — if the CEO doesn’t even deign talk with the mayor of the fucking city!!! — then Amazon will get a political reckoning someday.

        Luckily for them, they’ll probably learn real tricks in DC. Unless that deal goes sour too.

        I also want to concede that part of the weakness that tech corporations are having dealing with sudden — and, to them, unexpected — scrutiny has to do with the weakness of government as well. Government has spent so many decades coddling corporations that now corporations have thin skins for politics. And it’s not necessarily illogical, only risky, to bet like Amazon currently is that governments in the United States both local and federal will always have some place where they’ll coddle and swab the precious soft tushies of “job creators.” But it is risky. Eventually somebody, somewhere, will have to make housing affordable, or Amazon won’t have stoops to deliver to.

      10. Well – as a response to “propaganda”, the utter lack of facts and expression pure opinion was interesting. “What stopped the deal is Amazon and Amazon entirely. Amazon had Bill de Blasio trying to personally call Jeff Bezos to help him work through how to make this happen.” Ah, what? Amazon is Bezos, last I checked.

        Fact is that the choice of NYC looks from here to be about as stupid as the purchase of Whole Paycheck. Why would you drop a headquarters in the middle of one of the most highly taxed cities in the country in the first place? Add to that the unions, and you’d have to be a complete idiot. If it was merely for the prestige, or some other weak-assed reason, perhaps cooler heads prevailed when this political brouhaha hit the fan.

        It’s like UAL going to Chicago. Or Boeing. What the fuck? Is this Amazon fiasco a harbinger of days when business will start making wiser decisions and tell the bloated big city political and labor machines that the payoffs and welfare just aren’t enough anymore? But heck, I’m ever the optimist, and I’ll try to find the pony in about any pile of horseshit.

      11. I agree. Amazon made an error I don’t think they understand when they announced the NY HQ2 — and that there were two HQ2s.

        Ben Hunt calls it the metagame error. By hosting the bidding process and then announcing they were moving to clearly political and economic power hubs regardless of best bids offered, they advertised they were working in bad faith. When they broke off the NYC deal, the executive in charge of the deal said it was because the company saw the political debate would be long pasting — sorry I don’t have the NY times article that I’m citing but it was published yesterday. Anyway, another article I saw floating around (source forgotten) pointed out that Amazon execs were getting stressed about newfound scrutiny from the debate, and in fact were surprised by it.

        So, a company operating out of bad faith reveals their hand prematurely and, once noticing the cards are being scrutinized, quits the game and runs to another table. It might not fuck them over long run, but if they don’t think the casino noticed when they switched tables, then they are going to get demolished politically later on.

        I don’t care if Amazon ‘wins’ or ‘loses,’ but either result rests on whether they understand the casino is watching. So far, it doesn’t sound like it.

      12. I just want to point out, tech companies seem powerful only because they haven’t been truly stress tested yet. Bezos has grown up, as an executive, in which anti-trust and anti-monopoly legislation is not only light handed but based explicitly, by the direction of the Reagan administration, on price. As such his company is modelled explicitly on that price-focused paradigm.

        If — and I don’t have any idea whether this will ever happen, but the debate does exist and people are gaining familiarity with it — IF anti-trust and anti-monopoly legislation turns back toward MARKET competition and away from PRICE competition, Amazon will be steamrolled. It won’t be deatroyed, but Bezos himself will probably find himself with ownership of a tenth or less of the company he once had.

        Amazon’s ability to survive in it’s current growth strategy requires a political and consumer landscape that is unconcerned and lighthanded about it because everyone is satisfied with their low prices. That world does not exist anymore, regardless of where they headquarter.

      1. Actually, Fifty I somewhat agree with your last paragraph. In general, I believe capitalism is a good system. But note, I did not say laissez faire capitalism. It must be regulated and controlled. That is where democratic socialism as known in Europe is beneficial. And that is the method that AOC, Bernie and others really prefer. To be sure, some of AOC’s proposals are bit far out, but she is young. When I was her age, I tended in that direction as well. The legislative process will temper the rough edges.

        In the US, socialism is such a dirty word and our preference has always been for more of the laissez faire approach, I believe that full democratic socialism is politically impracticable. Rather we need to return to more of an approach such as was implemented during the Democratic administrations in the mid-20th Century, with a stronger public sector supporting infrastructure, health care, education, housing, the social safety net, etc. That is not to say that it must be totally federal. It could be federal, state and local. Such concepts as a minimum basic income would be possible under this approach.

        However to get there, major governmental reforms are required. Those would include elimination of the Electoral College, elimination of gerrymandering, voting reforms so that voting requirements and access is uniform across the nation for elections for federal offices and elimination of the excessive influence of money in politics, i.e. repeal of Citizens’ United and treating corporations as being a state chartered entity rather than citizens. HR1 is a good potential starting point. If reforms were adopted at the federal level, one can be sure that similar reforms would be made at the local and state levels as well.

        Furthermore, a taxation system that is more progressive is also required. The overall taxation rate would be higher, but if it reflected ability to pay, the public would be satisfied. That was the case during the glory years following WWII and is the case in Europe and Canada. A more progressive taxation system would help to curb the extreme economic inequity present in the U.S.

      2. Merritt – I didn’t say laissez faire either. Exactly what “regulated and controlled” entails is the central question.

        To “inequality”, the goals should be fair and adequate access to food, shelter, education, healthcare, and the provision for backup in situations unexpected or resulting from misfortune. We approach these goals faster than many like to believe, but of course we’re not there yet. Beyond that lies a pissing contest of whose phone has a bigger screen, who has a yacht, and why is your salary higher than mine. In that swamp of whiz, I’m just not interested.

    1. More evidence of the loser party losing. The dem’s keep playing by a set of rules the enemy scoffs at.

      They take the high road, negotiate in good faith with the fascists over a spending bill, give away some things, and then the tyrant then cuts out their legs and goes all “national emergency, I am king”. Meanwhile all the things negotiated away in that 1077 page bill still stand.

      Another example demonstrating the policy of no negotiation with terrorists is a good one. This is war: no negotiation, no quarter, no prisoners.

  4. EJ

    Mary: I’ve been hearing about some uproar to do with the Harris County, TX, police. If I recall correctly, that’s your back yard.

    What’s the story from the ground? Is this something that people are likely to stay concerned about and do you think it will be worth following up on?

    1. I have moved from TX but Fly and Bobo (and others here) do live in that area. All I can tell you is that a Hispanic police chief was elected and he does things a little differently than others have who preceded him. I have read that there have been police shootings recently but don’t have more information to offer.

      You amaze me with your knowledge of the U.S. Good job!

    2. Hey EJ, I think this is the story you’re asking about

      I’ll elaborate more later, but it was initially reported as a raid on a drug house where the suspects attacked the police. But now there are multiple conflicting accounts and doubt is creeping in. The worst possible case is that the cops went to the wrong house, tried to execute a no-knock warrant, and the people in the house assumed home invasion and tried to defend themselves. They are still investigating. But I can state unequivocally that allowing no-knock raids in a castle doctrine state is a recipe for disaster.

      Mary, where do you move to? TX will miss you!

      1. EJ

        Thanks for that, Fly.

        I’m told that the police in question chose not to wear their body cameras, and were not from a unit specialising in violent building-entry tactics; is that also the story that came out locally, or is this merely rumour?

      2. Hi Fly! Moved back to LA, where I grew up, married and helped raise our children. I will always miss The Woodlands where my husband and I lived for 18 great years until his death. I’m rejoining my big family but will visit TX. Thanks for asking. I’m happy to be able to keep in touch with all of you via this blog. You’re friends.

  5. I found the article about declining population most interesting. Of particular note were the changes that will be required to compensate for a smaller young workforce and the increasing size of the number of elderly people .

    The Boston Globe has a story today about the fact that the state of Maine reports for the first time, deaths outnumber births. It’s here.

  6. (warning for those not from Illinois — and even some from our state 🙂 — your eyes may glaze over here 🙂

    I read your DuPage article with interest (I’m from there 🙂 and I think the most interesting point you bring up is the future tension between the Cook and DuPage Democratic wings (for those not from IL, Cook is the county containing Chicago, and DuPage is one of the suburban counties surrounding it).

    It’s a great point to ponder: the dems have traditionally been strongest in cities, with Republicans taking the suburbs and rural areas. But as Dems takeover the suburbs from the Republicans, who wins the internal battle between cities and suburbs? Whoever does will have an enormous influence on how the national Democratic platform is shaped.

    A few factors to consider:
    -Suburban politics tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological, mainly because they’re much smaller: the issues are smaller, and the number of people you need to get into a room to solve them are smaller. Which means pragmatism and personal interactions tend to be more effective than ideologies which is what you need to keep a large bureaucracy unified.
    -Lots of suburban offices are part-time, which, IMHO, keeps politicians grounded in their communities.
    -Many of these areas used to be Republican, so after the Republican machine has been dismantled, a new democratic one hasn’t yet had time to be created. Plus many of the new Dems used to be Republicans, so aren’t averse to considering Republican policies.
    -The demographics are not so starkly divided anymore. Cities are becoming more like suburbs. That is, rich, white, educated people who used to flee to the suburbs are now staying in the cities. And poor minorities are being pushed out of increasingly expensive and gentrified cities into poor inner-ring suburbs. So perhaps the suburb-city divide is becoming smaller than it used to be.

    The fight over Madigan will be a fascinating window into these forces. IMHO (I say this as a yellow dog Dem), Madigan should have retired when his daughter wanted to run for governor. His iron grip on power simply for the sake of power with no overarching policy framework to accomplish, will be his undoing, because he won’t leave until he either dies, or suburban (and rural) Dems force him out. The latter is coming up sooner than he expects.

    One election that may serve as a guidepost was the successful unseating of Joe Berrios as Cook County Assessor by Fritz Kaegi. Cook has undergone the same transformation as DuPage. Aside from Chicago itself, the rest of the inner-ring suburbs within Cook were frequently Republican. Which meant the county itself would be dominated by city Democrats. Those suburbs have slowly become Democratic, which means the Cook County Democratic primaries (which are where the real elections happen) have turned into a real competition between suburban and city Dems. Berrios was the Cook County Democratic Party Chair, and a consummate part of the city machine. Kaegi was from Oak Park. Kaegi won, and has promised to reform the Assessor’s office (for those not steeped in County politics, the assessor’s office sets your property values, which means they determine your property tax. When you have billion dollar skyscrapers on which you pay taxes, what the assessor decides can make or break your investment. Notably, Madigan’s law firm — yes he still practices despite being House Speaker — represents commercial real estate owners in their property tax appeals at the Assessor’s office… Everyone knows that if you want to get a break on your property taxes, you hire Madigan’s law firm. Which is why Chicago’s property tax falls disproportionately on poor minority areas despite having the second biggest and densest downtown in the country. Electing a guy like Kaegi throws a wrench in that process, and Big Business is still scrambling to figure out the new landscape).

    Similarly, the election of Kim Foxx over Anita Alvarez for the Cook County State’s Attorney was led by a coalition of city-based African Americans disgusted with the police misdeeds that were going unpunished and unreformed, along with younger progressive elements within the city and inner suburbs who aligned with them.

    Cook County’s transformation of its suburbs from R to D is about 20 years further along than DuPage. And we’re starting to see its effects on County Dem politics. I think it serves as a useful model of what’ll happen to state politics as more Republican suburbs join the Dem fold and start throwing their weight around the party.

    1. I’m intrigued by the question of why? I.e. is it because of the new people that have moved there? Or is it due to the same people changing their minds (and, if so, because of which issue/issues?). I doubt that the suburbs all going blue isn’t entirely due to Boss Tweet, but he may have accelerated the trend.

      1. I’m not sure exactly why, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s due to people changing their minds. This is a national trend, so it’s not simply a matter of Dems moving into suburbs, or something specific to Chicago. I think the Republicans are caught in a vicious cycle: as they hemorrhage urban and suburban voters, they become more beholden to their rural and religious base. And as they’re forced to cater more to that base, they lose even more support.

        Bill Clinton started the trend by largely embracing a moderate Republican economic platform, making it safe for rich, educated professionals (i.e. suburbanites) to vote based on their (increasingly liberal) social preferences e.g. pro-choice, gay rights, gun control, etc. But it really accelerated when Karl Rove and his born-again candidate GWB went all in on catering to social conservatives, which led to lots of moderate Republicans abandoning their party. While 9/11 temporarily brought them back into the fold, by 2008, they mostly identified as either independents or Democrats. And the Tea Party and Trump are likely cementing their new preference for Dems.

        It’s really amazing to think that just 20 years ago, LA and NYC had Republican mayors, and that ~25 years ago the VP nominee was Jack Kemp, who had a genuine interest in solving inner-city poverty and other urban problems, pushed to include minorities in the party, and even liked to say that the problem with his party was that Republicans liked small government and big prisons. The destruction of the Republican party to what it is now is nothing short of astonishing, and it’s not surprising that that has led many of its supporters to flee.

      2. The shift to blue is because of both. The percentages of minorities that vote Dem has been increasing nationwide but fastest in inner-ring suburbs. There has also been a shift to Democratic among Hispanics, Asians, and college-educated of all races.

    2. I lived in a true suburban town for 18 years, The Woodlands, TX. While the county is deep red, I watched it become a hotbed of progressive organization following the 2016 election. People were stunned by trump’s election. This area is populated with young, prosperous and well-educated people- largely white but with an interesting minority of diversity given its appeal as a great place to live and work. Women make up the lion’s share of the progressive movement that has emerged – mostly those in their early 40’s (and a few old geezers like me). These women are totally “woke”. They are more interested in national politics than local but are involved in advocacy at all levels.

      Three years later, this movement is more organized. There is active, on-going voter registration, in-person participation in local, state and national politics as possible. Voting rates in this cohort are high yet as a percentage of actual voting numbers, constitute approximately 25% of total which is enough to command attention in this tea party hotbed but not yet sufficient to be more than an irritant. What is notable is the sustained activity and concentrated commitment of its membership to become highly informed, involved and current on national politics.

      As WX notes, save a few old-timer Democrats in the crowd, in another time, these women would have not been interested or engaged in anything political, and they most likely would have voted republican. That is steadily changing. There is a steely resolve to accomplish substantive political change and the personal commitment of time and resources to succeed in this effort. These are women who are independent thinkers and strong advocates of women’s rights. They needed a “shock” to their system to recognize their responsibility to act. Trump’s election provided it.

      This experience is what offers hope even in the face of so much destruction of our Democratic principles and institutions. This is the story behind the mid-term turnout. It is frankly a “David and Goliath” effort at this juncture. There is so much at risk and still too few who have the time to get involved that the danger of unchecked authoritarianism is doing great harm.

      People are appalled but cognizant of the very real potential of a second term for trump given our electoral system. 2020 can’t come soon enough but its outcome is nebulous. We cannot depend upon the Mueller Report being released to the public or “saving us” from more dangerous executive actions much less inspiring enough republicans to stand up to their party leadership or with democrats to impeach this abominable, dangerous man. It will take millions of appalled, enraged American people in urban and surburban areas to overcome the electoral system.

      As Chris warned us early on, the real danger would be a Donald trump who learned how to use the executive power of the presidency. Inarguably, he is succeeding through sheer arrogance and total absence of checks and balances by republican. It is not enough for progressives to rally, to stop this man, republicans must help. So far there is little evidence they will.

      1. A “smarter” executive in the White House who appears to be learning how to work the system to his advantage. Trump is wielding the enormous power his position expanded after 9/11. But he isn’t using the power as intended; rather, he is using it as blunt force to go around the legislative branch while having neutralized the Supreme Court through appointments.

        Two recent events illustrate how he is directly bypassing Congress. (1) He demanded congress reach agreement on funding his wall while developing a back door plan to fund his wall regardless what is negotiated. In fact, in ElPaso last night, he flippantly announced to the audience that he was going to build the wall like he wants regardless what congress approves. He will move pre-approved funding designated for disaster areas (CA, Puerto Rico etc – not so coincidentally blue areas thereby a double hit) and use these funds to supplement his full wall demand.
        (2) Equally disturbing is his refusal through inaction to respond top a bipartisan directive under the auspices of the Magnitsky Act to investigate khashoggi’s murder by the Saudi Prince. Just as he ignored then lifted the sanctions on Russia for proven election tampering.
        What will it take for republicans to stand up to and stop this man as he becomes more accomplished at using the executive power of the presidency to change America from a democracy to an authoritarian government?

    3. The Democratization of the suburbs is quite fascinating. I have witnessed it firsthand in Seattle.

      First let me give a little background. Seattle proper is basically a larger medium sized city on the shores of Puget Sound, with a current population of approximately 730K. The metropolitan area however, has a population of approximately 3.5 million. It includes parts of three counties, King, Pierce and Snohomish. All three counties are large geographically. They stretch from Puget Sound on the West to the Cascade Mountain Crest. They include the core metropolitan areas of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, inner and outer suburbs, exurban areas and truly rural areas.

      I have lived in Seattle since 1967, when I transferred to the University of Washington. When I first moved here, Seattle itself was moderately liberal with a population of approximately 500K. It encompassed well off urban areas, which were generally moderate to liberal Republican, densely populated urban areas which were Democratic. Seattle tended to have a mix of Republican and Democratic Governments, with Democratic predominating. The suburban areas were largely Republican.

      Following the 1980 Census the 8th CD was created in the eastern Seattle Suburbs, to balance the 7th CD, which was decidedly Democratic and centered in Seattle. The other CD’s in the metropolitan area were a mix of Democratic and Republican.

      Industrially and economically, Boeing dominated the Seattle area, with the forest products, fishing and shipping industries having secondary though important roles. This all began to change in 1979 when Microsoft relocated from Albuquerque to the Seattle area. Then Amazon was established. Now the area is considered to be a high-tech hotbed with both Microsoft and Amazon headquartered here, and significant operations of Google, Adobe, Facebook, etc. located here.

      Demographically the area has changed markedly. In 1967, the area was almost exclusively white with a relatively small black and asian population (Japanese and Chinese descent). Now we have significant South Asian (Indian and Pakistani) and Southeast Asian (Vietnamese and Laotian) populations as well. The inner suburbs are encountering significant homeless and other difficulties. People no longer commute from the suburbs to the central city, but commute in all directions. A lot of the young people have chosen to locate inside the inner city of Seattle, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.

      The politics have changed markedly as well. Seattle itself is one of the most liberal cities in the U.S. The suburbs have also become fairly liberal. In 2018, the 8th CD which had never had a Democratic representative, elected a fairly liberal Democrat, even though in 2012 it was gerrymandered to include two rural eastern Washington counties. King County itself is almost exclusively Democratic, even including the rural areas. Snohomish and Pierce Counties are also largely Democratic.

      This history spans a five decade period. It is fairly typical of what has happened in the three Pacific Coast states and other major urban areas, such as Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, DC. This urban culture in centered around high-tech economies generally located around significant research universities, and depends on immigration, diversity, globalization and other factors. They are growing population and tend to be dynamic. On the other hand, there are the rural areas that tend to depend on the 1950’s era technologies such as the steel, automotive, agriculture and extractive industries. Even those industries are abandoning the the 1950’s approach in favor of modern approaches using software, artificial intelligence and are highly automated. They depend on highly educated personnel. They tend to be located in urban centers where the required personnel can be recruited.

      The modern Republican Party does not support the requirements of these urban enclaves. The urban areas require a government that supports diversity, education equal opportunity for all including minorities, women, and all sexual preferences, openness, effective infrastructure, good medical care, an adequate social safety net. and a willingness to care for the people. The Republican Party as currently configured desires to return to the late 1940’s, and 1950’s. This approach is ultimately doomed. Though the US Constitution favors the rural areas and the Republican Party is using every trick possible to maintain control, it will ultimately fail. The urban areas will eventually prevail through both economic might and population. I believe the 2018 was the beginning of that failure and the future.

      1. That’s some great information about Seattle. It seems to be the same pattern everywhere. Chicago was dominated by manufacturing and agriculture. But thanks to its status as the capital of the midwest, it had significant financial and services industries, not to mention an abundance of good universities. That was its savior as other industrial midwestern cities died along with the rest of the Rust Belt. Now, the downtown area of Chicago is booming with tech, finance, services, etc. And the massive manufacturing sites are being converted to office parks and apartment complexes. Professionals used to flee the city as soon as they got married and had kids. The famous Loop, the central business district, was a ghost town after 5pm. Now it’s one of the fastest growing population centers in the country (although the city as a whole is stagnant due to lots of poor people from the south and west sides leaving). It’s already changing city politics, which was based on a Democratic machine built on an uneasy alliance between blue-collar white ethnics and poor minorities, greased with plenty of patronage. That’s increasingly being upturned by richer, educated professionals who 20 years ago would have been Republicans but who are staying Democrats and voting in the primaries (the only elections in the city that matter).

        You’re right that Republican policymakers have abandoned any thought on how to make modern cities thrive. Aside from characterizing them as liberal hellholes full of politically correct thought police and/or crime ridden (and minority ridden, same difference) war zones, they’ve stopped sincerely addressing the parts of the country that produce 70% of the country’s GDP and house 85% of the country’s population. That’s a sobering thought.

  7. This is not an article…but a new unhealthy obsession (I am not proud of it):

    #goptaxscam on twitter is blowing up. Folks who actually either read Paul Ryan’s legislation or some analysis of it recognized the new tax law would hit the middle income folks right between the eyes when they filed their 2018 returns. Now that early filing has begun Trump’s great unwashed or at least unread are complaining that their tax obligations actually went up not down.

    I spend WAY too much time reading this twitter feed as Trump supporters are sharing their grief and anger that they’ve been taken. Can’t help but wonder if after all is said and done…this might be what ends his re-election hopes and not any investigation or indictment(s).

    1. I filled out the tax returns this weekend since I now have all the needed documents. I had been paying attention to coverage of the bill and had figured my taxes would stay about the same or go down slightly; it turned out to be the latter. There’s plenty of people who didn’t pay attention and are now unpleasantly surprised, and if they want to take their anger out on Trump and the GOP, I say Good! But I don’t feel in any way sorry for them.

      1. My taxes are much more complicated this time than ever before so I am getting some professional help, but I won’t have all my docs until the fifteenth. Whatever is, is. If I owe, I’ll pay. If I get a refund, that’s good. I don’t know how to do anything other than follow the rules, which I assume most people do as well. Being retired, I don’t have wages so not caught in that situation, although I was aware of it. For those who have busy lives and don’t pay attention to this stuff, I can see that this could present a hardship to them. I will wait to see how this works out for me but I doubt people in my situation were priorities in re-designing the tax brackets.

    2. I will believe anything at this point of Paul Ryan et al. What continues to amaze me is the lack of accountability by trump supporters for his actions. From Mid-West farmers whose crops are dying due to trumps tariffs, to coal-miners who still believe trump will save this industry. When/if his base ever holds him accountable for the lies and deceitful actions that are undermining their needs, I will be pleasantly surprised. So far, nada. I have often thought that until people were hit personally by trump’s actions, they would not give one minute’s consideration to his culpability. I’m still waiting.

      1. Tonight on local PBS, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Tulsi Gabbard will have their pasts revealed via documentation and DNA.

        Will Paul and Marco be in awe of their immigrant families?

        Will they feel lucky — not only deserving — to be in this country?

        Will they rue their recent behavior toward newcomers?

        Can they reconcile the two?

        Will Tulsi reveal why we wants to run for president?

        Importantly, will Paul Ryan reveal his vacuous intellect to all?

        Still angry, so angry, about the economic policies of the Rs.

  8. I’m going to sneak this in because of timing. Tomorrow evening, Monday, Feb 11, at 7pm CST, trump will speak at the ElPaso Convention Center about the border wall. One mile away, Beto O’Rourke will hold a counter-rally at the same hour and present his views on immigration.

    Beto published this opinion piece in the ElPaso Times to enunciate his views and set the stage for the dueling speeches. There are not enough rooms in ElPaso for all the media I expect to converge upon this city, but we are assured national coverage will present the narratives from both men. I expect a great contrast.

    1. Mary,
      I hope the media does show up and captures the crowds and the speeches. I have no idea if Beto is planning to run for POTUS or is preparing another run for the Senate. I just really like the way he thinks and communicates.

      I’m hoping MSM will provide real coverage of these events.

      now back to #goptaxscam…I am not a good person.

      1. I’ am not in favor of Beto running for president. He doesn’t have enough experience although he demonstrates the capacity to learn. I simply believe there are better qualified democratic candidates for the times and his hour is not yet here. I worked for his campaign against Cruz, which was a good fit for him. He’s an inspiring man and I hope he will find a niche that he’s suited for so that he can gain valuable experience. On the meantime, participation like in debates like immigration is a great opportunity for him to use his direct experience to great advantage. At the very least, I like how democrats are asserting themselves and not allowing trump to drive the narrative without opposition.

  9. Jeff Bezos is in the news regarding extortion. Sadly, the extortion that’s being most aggressively covered is the one where Bezos is the target of the extortion. The one that Bezos has the power to fight against as a rich white man.

    The other extortion is how Amazon is able to extract massive subsidies from cities at the mere mention that the company may bring those ever-so-coveted tech jobs. The only way that the public is capable of fighting against such extortion is by teaming up with their local politicians. And it seems like it’s actually working.

    The whole thing was a scam and a lie in the first place, anyways:

    But what can you expect from a company run by Jeff Bezos, a miser who, alongside other tech billionaires, donates a puny amount of money to charitable causes?

    Then again, treating the wealthy elites as if they’re god-kings who can solve all of our problems through their work and philanthropic actions probably isn’t the best thing to do.

    Anand Giridharadas, Winnie Byanyima, and Rutger Bregman had a conversation about the narrative that the elites have built up and why it’s set to come crashing down. Why it has to come crashing down if we’re going to have any hope of a truly brighter future.

    Finally, the Harvard Humanists gave Anand a prize, which one could consider a big middle finger to the elites who fund Harvard’s endowment.

  10. The first time I was open up to the reality of declining population growth was when I read “The Empty Cradle ” by Philip Longman. The Author talks about a demographic winter being upon us. Like Trump winning in 2016 it is a reminder to me, that I and the experts are often wrong. The buzz fairly recently was Armageddon from over population. The Population Bomb was a best seller in the late sixties.

  11. I’d like to add the following oped from Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg, Opinion, February 7:

    This piece discusses socialism vs. capitalism from the historical perspective back to FDR and the New Deal. As we well know socialism in America is a four-letter word and has many negative connotations. Yet America desperately needs a much stronger public sector including education, infrastructure, medical care and the safety net, such as exists in much of Europe. The author refers to the phrase “moral capitalism” that Rep. Kennedy of MA is using. To me using that phraseology as opposed to “Democratic Socialism” is much to be recommended in the U.S. It may also have significant implications for the 2020 Presidential Race now underway. I’ll have more on that later.

    1. Funny thing tmerritt, I had read this recently. The article takes liberals to task for confusing the “Nordic Model” with Socialism. Even though it’s conservatives that drop the “S” word at every mention of government programs such as subsidized health or education or even Social Security and Medicare. Then the liberal counters with the nordic model. All this ties in to the confusion that the word causes here in the US. I think we do need a new term to describe what I think of when proposing some policy. I don’t think “moral capitalism” will do, I was going to suggest “pragmatic capitalism” or even “mixed system”. But that isn’t satisfying to have two words as a shorthand when one should do. Maybe we can just keep using the word Socialism until a liberals and conservatives arrive at a commonly accepted meaning.

      That’s my socialism thoughts on the subject. Have a good socialism day.

      1. Personally i concluded many years ago (30-40) that a mixed economy is the best method. Pure capitalism has a fatal flaw in that all capital ends up being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, to the point that it resembles an upside down pyramid. That is extremely unstable. On the other hand communism (extreme socialism) with the government controlling the means of production leads to stagnation because there is no incentive for personal improvement. Socialism as implemented in Europe is basically a mixed system. The U.S. had a mixed system during the golden years for the middle class of the late 1940s through the mid to late 1970s. The US system was more capitalistic than that of Europe, but it still was sufficient to dampen the accumulation of wealth by the top percentiles. However the US turned sharply away from that approach beginning in 1981, with the Reagan tax cuts.

    1. I put myself on the line about the Northam black face issue early. I was more disappointed in how he handled the photographs than the possibility that he was pictured. If that disappoints you, hear me out. I did not then nor do I now believe this was grounds for his removal from office, nor worthy of the moral outrage it engendered.

      In my many years of working with black people in public education, I learned a great deal from them and about them. One, black people are forgiving because they understand the futility of hate. In the face of centuries of heinous atrocities, black people have persevered and done the best they could with what was left. And we white people didn’t give them much to work with. Blackface, while disappointing when it depicted someone black people thought more highly of, doesn’t begin to rise to the level of the many other more heinous crimes perpetrated by white people against black people – for no reason other than hate and bigotry and because they could get away with it.

      Second, I quickly learned most black people see right through white people’s bullshit. Unable to change it, they learned to use what they could to best advantage and endure the rest even when it hurt and when their brothers and sisters died.

      So I am watching this scene play out with great sadness. We still have so far to go in our ability to have honest conversations about race in America. Those who are so deeply offended or shocked about 30 year old photos need to do a little work in the black community where there are real problems that need to be addressed.

      As Rev. Barber so succinctly noted : those who are apoplectic over black face and KKK photos need to get a grip. (My paraphrase – Barber was more eloquent and circumspect.). Let’s be outraged at blatant voter suppression and imprisonment of so many young black men. Let’s have an honest conversation about race in our country, one that recognizes that justice and equality are not colorblind. Let’s call out the hypocrites and those who not only practice racism but enjoy doing so. Let’s change ourselves. Then we will make progress.

      I’m tired of the hypocrisy and the bullshit. Northam’s real crime was ineptitude not racism. Take a hard look at what is happening right now to people of color in NC and so many places in America. Then tell me what is really most important.

      1. Mary, I was surprised at the immediate reaction in most places. The comments here were an exception.

        My opinion was possibly even further off the mainstream. I wouldn’t have voted against Brett Kavanaugh for being a jerk and probably a criminal when he was seventeen. I definitely would have voted against him for being a jerk and a liar in front of the Judiciary Committee and for his past jurisprudence which demonstrated no sympathy for anyone less privileged than himself.

  12. There’s a lot of intellectual dishonesty in the abortion debate, but I think the late-term aspect is one of the worst. All the stories I hear/read about late-term abortions are like the one linked to here- there was a serious medical issue that threatened the mother’s life and/or meant the pregnancy was non-viable and/or would result in a short painful life for the child if s/he survived birth. The next time I hear a story about a woman terminating a viable, late-term pregnancy on nothing more than a whim will be the first time. Yet I never hear the pro-life crowd acknowledge the horrid, painful choices that women like this author face. They totally misrepresent these situations.

    1. A friend of my daughter’s, grand daughter had to have a abortion. Her second child had to be born by cesarean section and there was bad scaring of tissue of her womb. Having a another child after that would kill her and the child. Well she got pregnant again. She has two kids , one disable her second child, depending on her and no one in the family who would or could look after her two children. She agonize over the decision to have the abortion. It broke her heart to make this decision. No woman gleefully or gladly makes this type of choice. There are times when this is the best choice out of bad choices. No this is not black and white. I hate abortion but do we want the government making those choices? A government that can stop them can demand them also. Think China and it’s one child policy. To help make it easier for a woman to choose another way is a legitimate place for the government to be. But not making the choice. It took decades but I finally understand pro choice is not pro abortion.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.