Showing posts from February, 2018

Who's voting,for whom and where? US election analysis talk

The next concrete vote on Trump isn't until November, but pollsters and election wonks are all analysing the data furiously to see if the Democrats will ride a wave back to congressional power, or whether Trump and the Republicans will in fact be able to dig down further and secure a counter-cycle triumph.

This election analysis and discussion from Politico is fascinating and a must read for students of American politics.

Shooting Schoolkids and mis-using the Second Amendment

The wording of the famous Second Amendment to the US Constitution is this:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed".

My students and I saw it just a few days ago, the faded writing on the Bill of Rights displayed in the National Archives still visible. I was puzzled for a while, as in the document this is actually the fourth amendment, but it turns out the first two weren't ratified, thus pushing the famous arms amendment up to number 2 in the ranks.

I've read it a number of times, and it still seems to me that the so-called right to bear arms is very dependent on the maintenance of a militia to defend the state.  It is not, thus, an individual right at all.  It is very much a concession granted in the interests of state defence.

So how has this seemingly obvious interpretation become so sullied that the second amendment now becomes synonymous with individual fre…

Republican Power and Evangelical Influence

1.  The Republicans have been accused of "turbo-charged" gerrymandering in order to hold on to their state and federal offices, and the two states which seem to critics to exemplify their approach are Pennsylvania and North  Carolina.  The New York Times provides, as might be expected, excoriating commentary on both situations, suggesting that Republicans are no longer just about holding power but about de-legitimising their opponents.

At stake are not just hundreds of state legislative seats, but also control of the House of Representatives, which Republicans currently hold by a 45-seat margin.

The most shocking case is playing out right now in Pennsylvania, where Republican lawmakers in 2011 created maps so skewed that when Democrats won a majority of the popular vote the following year, it translated into only five of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

But when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the districts, the Republicans were ready.  After their appeal to the U…

Dems still look good for mid-terms - WaPo

From the Washington Post's "Plumline" blog, some still optimistic points about the Democrats' chances in November:

* DEMS POUR MONEY INTO STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES: The New York Times reports that a Dem-aligned group led by former attorney general Eric Holder is set to pour big money into obscure state legislative races across the country in 2018: The group [is] determined to deny Republicans so-called trifectas in state governments — places where a single party controls the governorship and an entire legislature … The group’s list of high-priority states includes most of the critical states in presidential elections. Preventing total GOP control in as many states as possible could block lopsided pro-GOP congressional maps in the next decade and avoid a repeat of the last decade’s disaster. * DEMS GRAB ANOTHER SEAT IN DEEP RED TERRITORY: Last night, Democrat Mike Revis won a special election for a state legislative seat in Missouri. Reid Wilson explains: If Revis’s lead …

Let the Brexiteers in

The Sunday Times runs a piece today about the frustration of hard-Brexit minded Tory MPs, and their desire for a "dream team" of Johnson, Gove and - of course - Rees-Mogg, to come in and run things.

Remain minded Tories should probably consider the same thing.  As Theresa May's government lurches around trying to find a strategy, or a vision, or anything at all, it becomes increasingly apparent that there is no value to the Remainer wing in her continued leadership.

Mrs. May's poor negotiating situation can be put down to her need to have been more Brexit than the Brexiters initially, in order to convince that wing of the party that this quondam (admittedly lukewarm) Remainer really could be trusted.   Alex Wickham notes this point in his assessment of the depressed state of Brexiteers.

However, Mrs. May's own lack of vision for Brexit means she is caught between the two wings of her party.  For every Johnson, there's a  Hammond etc.  Given the lack of contro…

Lead or Go. Still discussing May

The conservative weekly "The Spectator" is influential - and widely read - in Conservative Party circles, so it can hardly be good news for May that its well-connected political editor, James Forsyth, has written the cover story under the stark demand that she "Lead or Go".

This debate doesn't seem to be getting any quieter, even as May is in China trying to secure trade deals.  The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg commented on the febrile atmosphere in Westminster on this morning's Today programme (here, go to 1:09:06 for Nick Robinson's start), noting that Tory MPs were daily changing their minds about May.

The problem for Tory MPs, as I noted below and here, is their risk-averse caution.  They don't want May but they hate the uncertainty of the alternative.  May's leadership is flawed from top to bottom, but the parliamentary part she leads is riven through and through with factional strife, resulting in a ghastly stasis that is tipping the party …