Link Roundup, 6/20/2017

Back soon. For now here are a few articles that caught my eye:

From CNN: Phoenix is too hot to fly

From the Washington Post: Rainstorms in Antarctica.

From Wired: An interesting look at the hopes for using algae for fuel.

From Bloomberg: Solar power is eating the coal industry faster than we previously expected.

From Quartz: Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is gutting grocery store stocks.

9 Comments

  1. Re: Ossoff and the GA special election

    Well, another stunning loss for the DNC’s approach of investing in center-right candidates in republican suburban districts… I hate to say it but… I told you so.

    There have so far been 4 special elections in deep red districts. 3 of them in rural areas, one in the suburbs. And the Dems decide to go all in on the suburban district, and do worse than in the rest of the districts that they ignored.

    Let’s take a guess which lesson beltway Dems will take from this abject humiliation: 1) We need to rethink our policies, take a more populist tack that resonates with lower income and rural voters, and also draws in people that don’t typically vote 2) We need to double down on running Republican-lite candidates who tiptoe around Trump even though suburban Republicans have shown they’re going to keep voting for Trump even if you give them a Dem who basically agrees with everything a Republican might say.

    After losing 4 straight elections (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) running on the same platform, the Dems still think the problem is the messaging, or a specific candidate, or a specific district. Not the message itself. And they chose to focus on the one long-shot district out of 4 that, if they won, would confirm this belief, because if they won any of the other 3, it would force them to re-consider their message. In psychology this is called a defense against change. After this monumental waste of resources trying to convince themselves that their 2016 strategy can still work, will they finally change? Somehow I doubt it…

      1. You do have a good point. Nevertheless, based on the little analysis I have read, Ossoff ran a lackluster campaign without a cohesive message. I may be wrong and hopefully I am. He seemed to be particularly lacking regarding economic issues. Granted, that in GA-06 with its high education the voters are doing reasonably well, still the middle class has no doubt been stagnant, there should have been room to hit Handel on economics and the predilection of the GOP to favor the wealthy. Rather to the extent that there was a focus it was on the Russia scandal and being anti-Trump. That clearly did not connect with the average voter, since Handel actually gained ground towards the end.

        Ossoff’s lack of a message enabled Handel to label Ossoff as an outsider, with the implication of being a “carpetbagger’, favoring a tax increase and a San Francisco liberal, which clearly resonated. even in suburban Atlanta.

        I continue to be convinced that the Democrats need to develop a national message focusing on economic issues, but allow room for local candidates to modify that to suit local requirements.

    1. So what should the Democrats’ message be, “We are not as crazy and nicer?”.

      I don’t know what the message should be. Remember, it has to be distilled down into 140 characters in this low attention span, low information world we live in.

      More and more, I am convinced that the Internet now does more harm than good for the planet. BTW, without “perfect information”, all the economic models that allow for jobs to be sent overseas fall apart. But along came the Net, and voila, those models then started working.

      1. Given that all politics is local, the ideal message varies. But overall, Donald Trump put it this way: “The system is rigged.” The Democrats version should be “The system is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it.” I could go on for a very long time on that theme without repeating myself. I could give specific examples for any demographic, with the possible exception of the 1% demographic.

    2. On the other hand, here’s an argument and some data along WX’s line: http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/06/20/the-ossoff-parnell-lesson-stop-chasing-romney-voters/

      “The lesson of the special elections around the country is clear: Democratic House candidates can dramatically outperform Clinton in deep red rural areas by running ideological, populist campaigns rooted in progressive areas…But candidates like Clinton and Ossoff who try to run inoffensive and anti-ideological campaigns in an attempt to win over supposedly sensible, wealthier, bourgeois suburban David-Brooks-reading Republican Romney voters will find that they lose by surprisingly wide margins.”

      1. I’m not smart enough to refute the experts, but it is my opinion, that Democrats/Progressives need to stand for what they believe. The effort required to convince moderate Republicans in “sufficient numbers” to move left is not worth it. Better that one stands for what one believes and defend it on principle and facts. Handel played the game as coyly as Ossoff, IMO. She skirted talking about divisive issues, separated herself from Trump, etc. A major difference was that Republicans sent in their “big names”, Democrats (DNC/DCCC) did not. Would that have tipped the scales? We’ll never know, but it was a major difference.

        That said, Ossoff was in a majority red district, where registered Republican voters vastly outnumbered registered Democrats. A win for Ossoff was always going to be a heavy lift. Republicans always turn out strong on election day and Dems are strong early voters…but they needed a higher percentage (over 5%) and Ossoff got 1.5%. Even though turnout was almost 50% overall, for Dems it had to be even higher to compensate for the overwhelmingly conservative number of registered voters, and likely GOP GOTV. I would have liked Ossoff to have run a more progressive campaign but he didn’t. Here are some Wiki stats for perspective:
        Total registered voter population 691,975 [1]
        Ethnicity 70.81% White
        13.44% Black
        13.35% Hispanic
        Presidential Voting History:

        2000 President George W. Bush 68% – Al Gore 32%
        2004 President George W. Bush 70% – John Kerry 29%
        2008 President John McCain 62% – Barack Obama 37%
        2012 President Mitt Romney 61% – Barack Obama 38%
        2016 President Donald Trump 48% – Hillary Clinton 47%

        Per Nate Silver – 538: Georgia 6 is about 9.5 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole.

        An uphill climb no matter what. We will see Ossoff again. At 30 years of age, he ran an amazing campaign. Let’s hope he learned in the process so that he can compete more effectively next time because it’s looking like Democratic campaigns are going to have to be won at the grassroots level, sans national help.

  2. Thanks for the links to the algae article and the solar article. This is actually what is happening. The global energy industry is moving away from fossil fuels very quickly. The Paris accords will function to accelerate this trend by encouraging research. The US as a nation would be well served to embrace this trend. Unfortunately, for political reasons and money, one of our political parties is in deep denial and is appealing to basest elements of our national character to maintain power.

    Fortunately, twelve states and over 300 cities and local governments in the US have presently embraced the Paris Accords and intend to implement policies to achieve the emissions reductions. These governmental units may well move towards cap and trade. These governments also happen to be the most forward thinking and are encouraging the technologies to achieve the emissions reductions. Coincidentally, if the economies of these states were combined they would rank very high globally, certainly in the top 3 – 5. See the NY Times article linked below:

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/20/opinion/green-energy-revolution-trump.html

    That is the reason that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord is really not going to have that huge an impact over the long term. Many of the states and localities will simply be bypassing and working around Trump. That is not to say that his policies will not do considerable damage. They will! But the damage will be ameliorated by the states and localities.

    This is dreaming, but maybe the GOP will turn against Trump in the not too distant future. Maybe even a senior delegation will visit the White House and have a frank conversation with him???? Shades of Nixon!

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