Pennsylvania

A Deep Dark Secret, and Other Notes

A portion of the U.S. Capitol dome. (Detail of photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images, 2013)

Nathan L. Gonzales notes—

The deep, dark secret of political handicapping is that there isn’t a singular equation that can project the winner of each congressional race.

—and I believe the polite response is to cough gently as if I just failed to properly drink coffee, smile sheepishly, and say, as near to apologetically as I can without actually achieving the tone, “Really?”

As in, “Really? That’s it? That is the secret?”

Honestly, it feels disappointing; the obvious is neither deep nor secret. Darkness is as darkness does in the eye of any given beholder.

Perhaps it sounds better than, “We don’t know what we’re doing”, but neither would that statement be fair; still, voters and advocates are well-advised to remember that election prognostication—calculating and projecting human behavior on constrained mass scale according to vaguely-identified and constantly-shifting circumstances evoking broadly diverse responses according to unknown and dynamic criteria—is not a science. The diverse arts of politics, dark or otherwise, are by nature rather quite occult.

To the other, here is an interesting question: “How do you rate a race for a seat that doesn’t exist?”

It is true, science cannot answer this one. Maybe someday, but not now:

The deep, dark secret of political handicapping is that there isn’t a singular equation that can project the winner of each congressional race. It is helpful to know who is running and where they are running. But thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court throwing out the congressional map and GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan’s retirement, we barely know anything about this year’s race in the 7th District ....

.... Normally, this is where I would relate the recent presidential results of his 7th District (Hillary Clinton carried it narrowly in 2016 after Mitt Romney carried it narrowly in 2012, if you have to know), but those numbers aren’t particularly relevant considering the race is likely to take place under a new congressional map.

Nonetheless, the Roll Call handicapper has shifted his assessment of Pennsylvania Seven from Leans Republican to Tilts Democratic. As to dark arts, only time will tell, and something goes here about rabbits and flying monkeys and from where any magician is pulling them.   (more…)

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Terrific (Nobody Dies)

#SomethingTerrific | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID01). [Detail of photo by John Miller/Associated Press]

Let us try a compromise: Just don’t call him “pro-life”. Or, perhaps, we should begin in the moment, as Kristine Phillips tells it for the Washington Post:

A conservative Republican congressman from Idaho is drawing criticism for his response to a town-hall attendee’s concerns about how his party’s health-care bill would affect Medicaid recipients.

“You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying,” the woman said.

“That line is so indefensible,” said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a member of the influential House Freedom Caucus. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

The boos instantly drowned him out.

The congressman from Idaho’s First Congressional District and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus might have discovered a new apex for the absolute value of conservative political rhetoric. To the other, tempting as it seems to wonder if e’er so thoughtless bovine excrement was spoken, we do happen to be speaking both of Congress and conservatives, so, yeah, actually, lots. Still, though, Rep. Labrador reminds without question the challenge of abiding no integrity.

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A Murmur Before the Buzz

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during their annual convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 July 2016. (Photo: Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

Of course this feels inevitable:

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

(Sherman)

Two important caveats from New York magazine:

• It would take overturning the results in both Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes), in addition to winning Michigan’s 16, for Clinton to win the Electoral College.

• The academics so far have only a circumstantial case that would require not just a recount but a forensic audit of voting machines.

There is a reason this feels inevitable. Still, though, neither are these signals that should be raising or dashing hopes, nor sounding alarms from sea to shining sea that the Russians have finally won.

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Image note: Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Sherman, Gabriel. “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States”. New York. 22 November 2016.

Nearly on Cue

Lebanon dispenses wisdom and confidence. (Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, 'The Ark Adrift on the Lake ...')

“I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples. People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve.”

Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas (R-PA, Pottstown)

Why do I have a song stuck in my head?

Just a couple fuckin’ more weeks to go! I wanna be Kim Davis! Nothin’ to do but be an asshole! I wanna be Kim Davis!

Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas (R-PA/Pottstown), in undated file photo from Digital First Media.That ain’t right.

Right?

Never mind.

Evan Brandt, for The Times Herald:

Statements by Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas in the usually sleepy race for register of wills have once again put Montgomery County in the spotlight in Pennsylvania’s debate about same sex marriage.

Thomas, a Republican, told The Intelligencer newspaper that she will not personally issue any same sex marriage licenses if she wins the race against incumbent Democrat D. Bruce Hanes.

Instead, as in the now-famous case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail after defying a court order to issue same-sex licenses, Thomas said she will seek court permission to allow the licenses to be issued by a subordinate.

“I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples,” Thomas, an ordained minister who is serving her second nonconsecutive term as Pottstown’s mayor, told The Intelligencer. “People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve.”

Thomas said, “I am not an obstructionist and will not force my values on others.”

There is a joke about Republicans and the idea that government does not or cannot work; why would anybody hire the applicant who says that about a job? In the twenty-first century, however, we need not be surprised that the punch line becomes a real campaign plank. That is to say, it’s kind of a one-turn maze; the punch line exists because it is reliable enough. To the other, this is something of an escalation.

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The Twentieth Known Transgender Female Murdered in 2015

Kiesha Jenkins, 22, murdered 6 October 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania.

Her name was Kiesha Jenkins. She spent all of twenty-two years among us before being beaten and shot to death in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 October 2015:

Police say Pedro Redding, 22, of Hunting Park is under arrest for robbery and murder are closing in on his three alleged cohorts.

The charges stem from the robbery and killing of 22-year-old Kiesha Jenkins described by police as a transgender prostitute who was murdered last Tuesday at 13th and Wingohocking in the Hunting Park section.

Redding has told police he engaged in beating Jenkins, but someone else, he claims, shot her twice in the head during a struggle.

“The suspect gave a full statement to detectives that himself and three of his friends attempted to rob Kiesha and, during this robbery, one of the males pulled out a gun shooting and killing her,” Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark said.

Police say there is no evidence at this point that Jenkins was targeted because she was transgender, but rather because she was a known prostitute in that 13th and Wingohocking area and widely believed to be carrying plenty of cash.

“Our information is Pedro Redding and his associates live in the area and they know what goes on in that area. There are a lot of transgender individuals that frequent that area, so yes, they did know,” Clark said.

(WPVI)

It should also be noted that the transgender are apparently preferred targets of the suspect, whose record includes a prior robbery of a transgender victim.

Kiesha Jenkins is the nineteenth twentieth known transgender female murder victim this year. Please #SayHerName.

Update 17 October 2015: A note on the title ― This is one of those things I really should already know better; Kiesha Jenkins is the twentieth transgender female known to be murdered in 2015; the title of this post had previously counted her as the nineteenth. The confusion arises if we pause to consider whether or not to include Bri Golec in the count; despite Ms. Golic being transgendered, and this fact being at the heart of why her father is accused of murder, neither family nor local authorities will properly acknowledge the point. Given my own disagreement with this refusal, I really ought to know better. Ms. Jenkins was number twenty; number twenty-one, we learned last night, was named Zella Ziona, age 21, shot to death in Montgomery County, Maryland, on 15 October 2015. #SayHerName, please. Recite them all.

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Image note: Kiesha Jenkins, 22, murdered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 October 2015.

Action News. “1 charged, 3 more sought in murder of Kiesha Jenkins”. WPVI. 12 October 2015.

One of Those Things That Shouldn’t Be Said Explicitly

“Sadly, the bloodshed will most likely continue until those in positions of power realize that the unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation.”

Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore

Alright, then. From their pen to your eyes: Unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation.

Carte blanche. That’s all they’re demanding. If you don’t back the police hell or high water, regardless of what they do or fail to do, it’s all over, people. So say the Baltimore cops.

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Life (and Death) in These United States

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Today is …

Authorities say a 10-year-old boy has been hospitalized after accidentally shooting himself in the face with a gun he found while sitting in a car in southeastern Pennsylvania.

(Associated Press)

… just another day in America.

Okay, then, let us be accurate: That was Sunday. Fret not, friends, there will be a gun accident today, too.

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Associated Press. “10-Year-Old Shoots Self In Face In Pennsylvania”. The Huffington Post. 16 November 2014.

Your CONCACAF Women’s Champions: The United States National Women’s Team

The U.S. Women's National Team defeated Costa Rica 6-0 at PPL Park in Chester Pennsylvania, to capture the CONCACAF Women's Championship, 24 October 2014.  The final score was 6-0.  (Photo via U.S. Soccer)

Congratulations, indeed.

And what … a … show. With 11,625 in attendance at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Costa Rica in a definitive display of, well, top-flight fútbol. The final score, USA 6-0 CRC.

Of note, well, yes you might have noticed something in the scoreline. There may be no I in team, but there is an A, and today A was for Abby. Continuing her world-record setting season, Abby Wambach notched another four goals today.

No, that is not a typo. She scored four goals.

We might, however, note that there is, in fact, an I in individual, and it is worth observing that the USWNT swept the individual awards.

Right. Something about congratulations to the CONCACAF Women’s Champions.

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@ussoccer_wnt. “Final: USA 6, CRC 0.” Twitter. 26 October 2014.

U.S. Soccer. “WNT Rolls Past Costa Rica 6-0 to Win 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship Crown”. 26 October, 2014.

The Time for All Good Fans to Come to the Aid of the US Women’s National Team

The United States Womens National Team advanced to the CONCACAF final against Costa Rica with their 3-0 win against Mexico.  The victory also earned the American team their ticket to the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup.

Good news, everyone!

24 OCTOBER 2014: Christen Press crosses against Mexico at PPL Park. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)Really. The United States Womens National Team topped Mexico 3-0 Friday night at PPL Park.

The 8,773 people who showed up saw a CONCACAF semifinal game folded in there, as well. The final is today: U.S. vs. Costa Rica.

Congratulations are definitely in order. That much is obvious.

Oh, and by the way, this is also happening:

Abby Wambach continues to add to her world goal scoring record after tallying career goals No. 172 and 173 against Haiti on Oct. 20 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. On June 20, 2013, Wambach passed the legendary Mia Hamm to become the world’s all-time leading scorer when she pounded in four goals against South Korea at Red Bull Arena. Hamm had 158 international goals from 1987-2004. The match against Haiti marked the 111th win for the USA in a game in which Wambach has scored at least one goal (111-2-8). Wambach has scored 48 goals in her past 59 games over 2012, 2013 and 2014. She is also third all-time in assists with 65, behind only Kristine Lilly (105) and Hamm (144).

Oh, yes. Congratulations. Y’think?

Kickoff is 6 pm Eastern; game is broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

Is Jennifer Rubin Sinister or Merely Stupid?

Jennifer Rubin, right-wing blogger for The Washington Post.

Even the simplest of differences can create false appearances. For instance: Is Jennifer Rubin sinister or stupid?

In the end, though, the difference is one of valences. Sinister forgives stupidity in some cases for the fact of reasonable execution, but even the sinister is cultivated around a germ of ignorance.

In the first place, there is Rubin’s arrival at The Washington Post. Eric Alterman of The Nation noted last year—

It is no secret to anyone that conservatives have conducted a remarkably successful, decades-long campaign to undermine the practice of honest, aggressive journalism with trumped-up accusations of liberal bias. They have made massive investments of time and money in groups and individuals devoted to “working the refs,” and these have yielded significant ideological dividends—which, as might be predicted, have only encouraged them to keep it up.

—as a preface to his discussion of Jennifer Rubin as “The Washington Post’s Problem”. She was the third in a string of quota hires made as part of an attempt to deliberately throw their political coverage rightward in order to fend off attacks of being too liberal. Ben Domenech, their first hire for the position, turned out to be a sharp-tongued plagiarist, which was kind of embarrassing for the Post, as you might imagine. Next they plucked Dave Weigel from Reason.com, and one can reasonably say the Reason franchise has never been the same. Yet for all the quality of this pick, Post editors deemed him unsuitable for the task after realizing that he just wasn’t conservative enough. So the newspaper turned to rabid right-winer Jennifer Rubin, and the disaster of her term as a staff blogger really is hard to describe. Alterman’s review for The Nation is an excellent read, but it is also something of a headache insofar as truth is stranger than fiction and the twists and turns of Jennifer Rubin’s greatest contribution to our political discourse would seem to have something to do with mainstreaming hardline rightist tinfoil in major news media. After the 2012 election, Rubin’s ability to change her story without the slightest hint of shame, or even decency, was pretty much on display for anyone to see. Simon Maloy tried to sketch the degree of self-contradiction in her coverage of the Romney loss; it isn’t pretty.

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