Cavalcade of Mammals

Republicans treat national security as a joke

Gosh, the earnest talk by Republicans on the paramount importance of scrupulous by-the-book handling of classified information was just a show for the TV cameras and gullible Republican votes.

“More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel, according to internal White House documents obtained by NBC News.” link

And for most of these folks, ‘does not have’ means the FBI checked them out and won’t approve clearance because they are a security risk. Some of these guys are known to have worked for hostile foreign powers.

Trump administration is allowing Russians to manipulate US elections

Intelligence chiefs to Senate: Nope, Trump doesn’t care about Russia by Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked a simple question that sent shockwaves through the hearing room. He asked the assembled intelligence leaders if the president had ever urged them to address the threat of further Russian interference.

He has not. When pressed, NSA Director Admiral Rogers said, “I can’t say I’ve been specifically directed to blunt or actually stop” future Russian attacks. CIA Director Mike Pompeo tried to defend Trump, but the best he could come up with was to say the CIA takes “all kinds of steps to disrupt what the Russians are trying to do.” FBI Director Wray said he had not been specifically tasked to combat Russian interference by the president. Coats said the same. When asked if the president has ordered an inter-agency strategy, he replied, “We essentially are relying on the investigations that are underway.”

Link to Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with the directors of national intelligence, the CIA, and the FBI. C-SPAN

Remembering communism, now a quarter century in the past

What exactly was the “threat of communism”? As an economic system it is inferior to government regulated capitalism. Communist states grow their economies slower every year than capitalistic states, so they become less of a threat every year, and the comparison pushes their people toward capitalism. As a political system, communism was a variety of dictatorship or oligarchy, and not particularly stable or appealing.

Post-WWII in the European colonies, the threat of communism is that the people will be better off, at least in the short and medium terms, so there was a threat to European control, and then to the minority white government or the local satraps.

In the West, the threat of communism is that workers would insist on a pay raise, and the opportunity of communism was that it was a cudgel to destroy unions and the left.

Illinois gerrymandering

With gerrymandering in the news and several cases on their way to the Supreme Court, I’ve seen discussion of gerrymandering. The extreme Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina have come under criticism. I occasionally go nutpicking to see what conservatives have to say about this, and their defense is mainly, ignore this because Democrats are just as bad or worse. And Illinois gets held up as an example of a state highly gerrymandered by Democrats, perhaps because Obama was from Illinois, or perhaps it is the long shadow of Richard Daley’s reputation. He died 42 years ago. So I had a look. Is Illinois heavily gerrymandered so Democrats get most of the seats no matter what the vote is? Do Democrats get seats out of proportion to the vote?

Data from the State site.

Here are the 2016 Illinois Senate election results:
37 Dems (63%)
22 Repubs (37%)

Votes for Senate:
1906132 Dems (59.5%)
1299986 Repubs (40.5%)

Illinois House election results:
67 Dems (57%)
51 Repubs (43%)

Votes for Senate:
2584929 Dems (53.9%)
2210903 Repubs (46.1%)

US House of Representatives
11 Dems (61%)
7 Repubs (39%)

Votes for US Reps:
2810536 Dems (53.6%)
2397436 Repubs (45.7%)

Proportionally, Dems would have 9.64 Reps, or 10 and Republicans would have 8.22 Reps, or 8.

The Presidential vote in Illinois was
3090729 Clinton (55.8%)
2146015 Trump (38.8%)

In the Illinois House and Senate, Democrats get 3% more seats than indicated by the proportion of votes. In the US House of Representatives, Democrats get one more seat (11 instead of 10). So Illinois is gerrymandered to favor Democrats to a minor degree in the House and to a modest degree in the Illinois General Assembly.

What’s going on in Republican controlled states?

In North Carolina, “In the 2012 presidential election, for instance, Republican candidate Mitt Romney won only 50.6 percent of the popular vote in North Carolina, but Republicans ended up winning 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats — a whopping 77 percent.” and “North Carolina voting has been nearly split along partisan lines in recent statewide elections — such as for governor and president — but Republicans control 10 US House seats compared with three for Democrats.”

In Wisconsin, “Indeed, a year after the redistricting, Republicans captured only a minority of the statewide vote — 48.6 percent — but, as they had privately predicted, they still won 60 of the 99 state legislative seats, while the Democrats, who had won a majority of the vote, captured a mere 39 seats.”

In Pennsylvania, “To get a sense of how powerful Pennsylvania’s gerrymander was, consider that, in 2012, Democratic candidates won slightly more votes in US House elections and Barack Obama won the state. But the state’s 18 House seats didn’t split 9-9 between the parties — instead, Republicans won 13 seats there, and continued to win them for the rest of the decade.”