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Posts published in “notes”

Notes . . .

notes

A rainy, quiet afternoon. Time to put on a movie, one that would entertain but also engage.

Time for another view of Citizen Kane. Haven't watched it in, oh, six or seven years. Let's give it another go. (And yes, that's as far as my thought process went.)

No big, thoughtful review of it here; I have no idea what I could say about it that hasn't been said elsewhere. Except, maybe, on this day in January of 2018, this . . .

Kane is a movie about an arrogant, reckless, loud, aggressive, rich, powerful media figure, married more than once and profligate and ultimately dismissive of all but his most sycophantic allies, ostensibly a populist but seldom able to see anyone else for who they are . . . politically ambitious and also snared by scandal, brought low at the end in his palatial Xanadu.

A review of the movie I read maybe a generation ago asked the question: "Try to think of a personage in contemporary life who would be a suitable model for an updated Kane . . . Or don't they make them like Hearst anymore?"

What do you think? - rs
 

Notes . . .

notes

Incorrect or even made-up information about the world around has grown to be a real problem. In our household we routinely have to sift through what's real and what's either satire or otherwise not reality-based.

But that's a matter of fact versus fiction. In a sense, that's not too hard to deal with; most of the time you can (if you're willing to keep your mind open to do the work of sorting) work through to what's real and what's not. Inevitably, if you do that, sometimes you'll find data that supports your world view, and sometimes you'll find something that undermines it. The latter is useful, if you're into thinking: It means you may get to add another level of sophistication to the way you interpret things.

Then on the other hand, there's this from the just-released survey American Views: Trust. Media and Democracy, from Gallup and the Knight Foundation:

Four in 10 Republicans consider accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be “fake news.”

The study noted that "The research community often defines 'fake news' as misinformation with the appearance of legitimately produced news but without the underlying organizational journalistic processes or mission. However, some political and opinion leaders, including Trump, commonly label news stories they disagree with or that portray them in a negative light as 'fake news.'”

If that kind attitude becomes commonplace - data isn't real if it runs counter to the way I want the world to look - then we really are lost. I don't think we're there yet. But consider this a serious warning signal.

Addendum: See also Arizona Senator Jeff Flake's floor speech on Wednesday, well worth the read.
 

Notes . . .

notes

A few thoughts after finishing the new book Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, about the first nine months or so of the Trump Administration.

One is that many of the points in the Washington Post's review of it, were on target. It was journalistically iffy: There was little clarity about the source of much of the material, or the background. (One long scene happened, apparently but not made clear in the book, at a house party Wolff held.) There were curious gaps and omissions; there were significant elisions. In a number of cases, conflicting explanations or descriptions were offered, with no effort to determine which of them might be, at least, most true. And so on.

With all that true, there are some other things worth saying about it (and reasons why reading the book isn't a waste of time).

One is that, while no one should be shocked if some material in it doesn't hold up, evidently, at least so far, the large bulk of it does. Don't take it all to the bank; but as for providing a broad, rough picture, it seems to do the job.

It is published in book form, but it seems more like quick, journalistic writing, more an impression (segments are reminiscent, sans the style, of some of Hunter Thompson's political pieces). It was done fast, in a hurry, probably in part to keep from seeming out of date in months to come. But that does give it some immediacy.

Generally, it matches up with, and reflects, a good deal of the reporting that's been done in recent months. That means the outline of the book doesn't tell us much new, that only the details are really fresh. Still, the details, in aggregate (and recognizing that some of them may not endure) provide a good deal of depth and understanding about the dynamics inside the White House. The stories we've seen in established publications have a lot more depth after this new book is absorbed.

There's some good, useful background about the key figures involved, too, that many people may not have known.

And it is entertaining.

It's worth a read. Add to that a cautionary note: Don't take it all to the bank. But . . . it's with factoring in, not as any kind of definitive take, not as a finely documented record of the time and place, but as a partial, immediate, temporary piece of the story. Something else we can draw on, in addition to other sources, as we try to figure out in years ahead just what happened. - rs
 

Notes . . .

notes

Two new U.S. senators were sworn in Wednesday - Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota - both arriving after presence in part of a national political firestorm. Jones' election as a Democrat from Alabama is remarkable, but Smith's entry to the Senate is the one that sets a statistical record. She becomes the 22nd woman in the U.S. Senate, marking the largest number of women ever to serve there.

That simply brings ther Senate more or less into line with the rest of American politics, because the 20 percent mark is about where women are in politics nationally.

The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University has looked at the numbers, and as a matter of percentage here is the female membership of various elective cadres:

• Senate - 22%.

• House of Representatives - 19%.

• Statewide elected officials (including governors) - 24%.

• Mayors (100 largest cities) - 22%.

• State legislatures - 25%.

The across the board similarity is remarkable.

And it may rise across the board a year from now. - rs
 

Happy New Year!

And welcome to 2018. Before we welcome another year in another 365 days, we should have quite a bit to discuss. We'll be back to get it started tomorrow.

Enjoy!
 

Notes . . .

notes

One of the big Idaho headlines this last week concerned the new Census estimates for growth in population, by state, over the last year. This year's report shows Idaho growing faster than any other state, which may be a first.

That's significant for what it says about the state's overall trajectory. But Oregon, which didn't have quite so large a percentage increase, may have the more significant result out of this: The high probability, now, of getting an additional congressional district.

Oregon came close to a new one in 2010 but didn't quite cross the line. It has been on track over the last few years, but just barely. Now, its population increase is strong enough compared to other states that it well within the line for a new district.

Election Data Services, which tracks much of this, said that

The Bureau’s [Census] 2017 total population estimates shows that now 12 states will be impacted by changes in their congressional delegation if these new numbers were used for apportionment today. The state of Colorado joins the previously indicated states of Florida, North Carolina, and Oregon to each gain a single seat while the state of Texas is now shown to gain a second seat with the new data. The states of New York and West Virginia joins the states of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania to lose a seat in Congress using the new data.
... Idaho is the nation’s fastest growing state in the past year, followed by Nevada and Utah. But this population growth has not impacted these state’s congressional allocation, at least not yet. The 2017 numbers show Idaho would stay at two seats, and miss gaining an additional seat by 118,406 people. But projecting the numbers forward to 2020 using the short-term methodology shows Idaho only 30,824 away from gaining a third seat. All the population projection methodologies keep the state of Nevada at four seats and sufficiently away from any margins of a fifth possible seat. Utah is similar in that it would take more than 125,000 extra people for the state to gain a fifth district.

 

Notes . . .

notes

Back in my original home stomping grounds of Newport News, Virginia, we see the most on-point argument I think I've ever seen for the importance of every single vote.

We get used to the idea that our vote is one of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions. But those millions of votes are but collections of one vote at a time. And even one can be decisive.

In Virginia, the politically interested have been on tenterhooks for more than a month, since the November general election, to learn what happened in the state House of Delegates elections. Entering the elections, Republicans held just short of a two-to-one advantage in the chamber. A blue tide swept through last month, wiping away so many Republicans that Democrats were brought to the edge of controlling the chamber - an astonishing reversal of the sort hardly any state has seen, on behalf of either party, in decades.

Three of those races were so close that recounts were ordered. Yesterday one of the last of them came in, and when the counting was done Democrat Shelly Simonds defeated long-time Republican incumbent David Yancey 11,608 to 11,607 - the margin of one vote, which in turn gave Democrats 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, enough to force split control.

(It was, FYI, the legislative district where I lived for my first 18 years. A photo of a chart showing vote changes by precinct brought up some familiar names; my old precinct of Deep Creek showed no changes, but several nearby did. Back in high school, I did a little campaign volunteering for a contender for this same delegate seat.)

(Secondary note: There remains the possibility a Democrat may pick up yet one more seat, giving that party the majority, but that looks like a long shot.)

Remember: Every vote counts. Never doubt it . . . - rs

UPDATE And now another vote is in, and it's gone to a tie. Wow.
 

Notes . . .

notes

The Oregonian's list of top 10 business stories for the year makes for a mashup worthy of some thought. Thins that might seem to go together, or run in conflict, sometimes don't.

For the year:

Intel has been struggling with the declining desktop (and laptop) computer market for its chips. But, even as it investigates some still-speculative options, stock prices continue to climb. Overall area stock prices continued well, even as Nike got a string of bad marketing news this year.

Intel cut both ways with the new administration this year: "Intel CEO Brian Krzanich spent the early part of the year courting President Donald Trump, even visiting him in the Oval Office. He then spent the rest of the 2017 retreating, denouncing the new president’s actions on immigration and climate change." Later, Krzanich resigned from the administration's new manufacturing group.

The unemployment rate hit record lows. But in the Portland area, the minimum wage rose to $11.25, part of a regional push upward in those wages.

A major new development in Portland's downtown was slated with a new building for Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University. But higher education continued to struggle with weak state funding.

The pieces aren't fitting together cleanly. See: 2018. - rs