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Notes . . .

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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.
 

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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
 

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Got a call today about a column from a few weeks back relating to a polling result in an Idaho contest. The point of the call was, there's reason to think the poll result was flawed.

Which may be fair enough. No one polling approach is perfect, and some are more flawed than others. The best approach in analyzing them is to compare and contrast and maybe draw averages, from a bunch of polls. That presents a problem in a place like Idaho, where not a lot of polls are conducted, and many of those that are will be done for private parties. (Beware of putting too much certainty into private polls.)

This may be grist for a column . . .

But in mulling over the subject, I spotted a new Nate Silver article on polling, always worth the review, pointing out the wide disparity in pollster results in the upcoming Alabama Senate race. Recent polls have shown everything from a Roy Moore win by nine points to a Doug Jones win by 10.

Most illuminating, though, is an online poll done by the company Survey Monkey, which actually shows that full range of prospective results using the same set of information - the same data set. Political pollsters generally don't run out the data they receive unfiltered; usually they weight it so the response base they receive matches the local demographics and political leanings. It usually works, sort of.

But the Survey Monkey results show just how much the "polling results" vary depending on what kind of assumptions you attach to it. If you use standard demographic weights and count responses from all available registered voters who will certainly or probably vote, then Jones is ahead by nine points. If you use a standard set of demographic weights filtered through the 2016 results, and counting people who voted in 2014 (with newcomer certain voters added), then Moore wins by 10 points.

So what happens tomorrow? Hey, no predictions here . . . -rs
 

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Ascribing specific motives where they're not entirely clear is an uncertain proposition, and I won't here make a pronouncement on President Trump's announcement about (eventually) relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem.

I can't read the president's mind. But some speculation does seem warranted.

His rationale for the move is foggy at best: “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” It is one of the thinnest presidential rationales for a significant action I can recall.

Is there a more substantive reason? An Atlantic article by Peter Beinart suggests there might be:

For Donald Trump, Muslim barbarism is a political strategy. It inspires the fear and hatred that binds him to his base. Muslim barbarism is so politically useful, in fact, that, when necessary, Trump creates it.

The hours after his announcement saw uproar among Muslims around the world and especially in the Middle East. That was completely predictable, and predicted. Meanwhile, any actual embassy move would not happen for years at the earliest, possibly three to four years. But the outrage has been stoked, and will boil over soon enough. It will deepen the despair - Beinart's word, and others too - in the Palestinian community, and essentially trash any attempt to reach a settlement between the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

Why would this be something Trump (or anyone) would want?

Beinart concludes this way: "Religious conflicts, like racial and ethnic ones, are critical to Trump’s appeal. He needs Mexican-Americans to rape and murder white girls. He needs African-American athletes to “disrespect the flag.” And he needs Muslims to explode bombs and burn American flags. The more threatening non-white, non-Christians appear, both at home and abroad, the more his supporters rely on him to keep the barbarians down and out. If Trump has to invent these dangers, he will. In the case of Jerusalem, however, he can go further: He can help create them."

If there's a better explanation for Trump's action, I'm waiting to hear it. - rs
 

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There's a completely reasonable argument - and I'd agree with it - that many women who have been sexually harassed and abused haven't been given a reasonable hearing when they report what has happened, and many have been discouraged from doing so. And many egregious predators have been at it for years as a result.

This is all fair enough. But stretch it out far enough and it turns into a witch hunt, and will lead to blowback and discrediting of the original, entirely reasonable, point. Anyone who wants justice for women who have been abused over the years should guard against things going too far.

The Garrison Keillor case, for example, based at least on what we know of it publicly. This is ready-made for blowback. Who among us hasn't done something, on occasion, to irritate someone else? (I get a little irked when I hear a waitress say "honey" or "sweetie", but I'm not going to file a complaint over it.)

And don't think that the recent poll gains by Roy Moore are unconnected to this.

Time to start working out wher the lines are, where something is a serious, obviously-wrong offense, and where something is just irksome or annoying. There is a difference. And not only people's livelihoods but our basic ability to get along with each other may be at stake here.

Be it noted that this finance bill working itsway through Congress is in no shape or form tax "reform." Reform suggersts changes that are made with the idea of improvement; this bill improves matters only for people who will not meaningfully benefit at all from it, and will damage conditions for almost everyone else, the overwhelming majority of people in our society.

This idea is not particularly unusual or one-sided. It appears to be very broadly accepted across mot of American society. - rs

 

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Mostly, media companies will run political ads excepting in the most extreme cases, involving distasteful imagery, potential libel and so forth. None of that excuses the reported failure by a billboard firm to refuse a tastefully-designed and clearly pertinent billboard aimed at Senate candidate Roy Moore.

(Of course, this isn't the first time Moore has been at the center of a billboard controversy, either. And be it noted: I've seen a specific reference as to what company has denied the billboard placement, or what its side of this might be.)

A Tweet reposted the image (seen here) and commented, "It would be a shame if god-forbid it went viral on social media and was seen by even more people than the actual billboard would have been." Wouldn't it, though . . .
 

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I never met Orval Hansen face to face; he was departing from Congress as a representative from Idaho just as I was arriving, about to begin my study of the state's politics. (I missed watching first-hand a fascinating political story that evolved with his departure, though I would learn a good deal about it later.) My direct communication was limited to a couple of phone calls, not extensive in length, years ago.

But I have read a good deal about his extensive public service and the high standard he stuck to when he pursued it. And I've met a number of members of his family (including, just today, his wife), several of them also elected officeholder, who have over the years given plenty of positive reflection of him.

Hansen's in-state event at the Idaho Statehouse Monday, which I attended, drew a considerable number of people, more than you might expect for someone last elected to from Idaho in 1972, and who hasn't lived in the state since (until the last three years, when the Hansens did move back to Boise). But then, he was remembered and remembered in a good way. How many of today's officeholders will be remembered, decades from now, with such acclaim?

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Wise move by Oregon's state Senate Republicans with their choice of Jackie Winters as the new minority leader. It'll be tough to replace Ted Ferrioli, who's held the job for a very long time, but Winters - second most veteran Oregon legislator - can do it. Put aside the minority and female elements: She's a knowledgeable, skilled and a working-across-the-aisle kind of lawmaker, the kind we don't see enough of. Although Oregon still has a surprising number of them left.

Years back when she ran for a U.S. House seat, I watched her at a forum with her primary competitor, who went on to win that race. Asked about legislation and legislative activities, Winters replied with precise and detailed, maybe a little wonkish, answers. His opponent tossed out the red meat, which in a conventional sense meant he "won" the debate. But she's the one who got my respect that evening.

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic put it well in a November 16 description of his magazine (it was in a subscription pitch mail) and where and how it positions itself these days. Part of it: "We’re on the side of E pluribus unum. We’re on the side of the Constitution. We’re on the side of dignity in office. We’re opposed to corruption. Most important, in our self-conception we’re a magazine of the Enlightenment. What I mean by that is that we endorse and believe in the Enlightenment principle that there is such a thing as observable, empirical reality, and that our job is to report on that reality and interpret it. Therefore, the whole fake-news, post-truth moment that we’re allegedly in—we’re the enemy of that." A lot of people probably could go along with, and join in, that.
 

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Wednesday night, Fox host Sean Hannity backed off his demand that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore demonstrate his innocence of harassment charges - which he failed to do, instead seeing the accusations nearly double scope this week - or else he call on him to drop out of the race ... after Moore sent him a note pleading to back off. Thereby demonstrating what kind of characters both of them are.

Maybe even better, though, was Moore's tweeted challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Dear Mitch McConnell, Bring. It. On." To which another tweeter noted that "Bring It On" is the name of a movie about high school cheerleaders: "Great movie. Lots of high schoolers. If you're into that sort of thing." This isn't going to get prettier. Was this, again, a campaign for the United States Senate that we're talking about?

The startling, even stunning, comments swirling around Moore are breathtaking. But I was maybe most struck by a post from J. Pepper Bryars of Yellowhammer, a fiercely conservative Alabama-based blog which until today has backed Moore. But as of now, no longer, as the evidence has piled up and Moore retorts have been far short of convincing:

There are more voters just like me, however, diehard conservatives who have cheered the judge for years, who have supported his actions and defended him against the media and the establishment wings within both parties.

But who now, when faced with these overwhelming and credible allegations, and the judge’s implausible and evasive answers, cannot support him any longer.

I will not … cannot, in fact … vote for Roy Moore.

Period.

This causes me anguish beyond measure because I know what the immediate consequences may be – an extreme pro-choice Democrat being elected to the United States Senate who could hold the deciding vote to confirm the next one or two justices.

But the conservative movement isn’t about individuals. It’s about ideas.