Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Last Call For Counting Diversity In The Counties

A new look at US Census data by Randy Olson for The Atlantic shows the five most racially diverse counties in the US, and the five least diverse.  I was surprised by the former:

The 5 most diverse counties in the U.S., according to Olson's calculations, are:
  1. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska (31.4% white/non-Latino, 5.7% African American, 15.1% Native American, 28.3% Asian American, 13.1% Latino, and 6.4% other)
  2. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska (13.5% white/non-Latino), 6.7% African American, 27.7% Native American, 35.4% Asian American, 12.3% Latino, and 4.4% other)
  3. Queens County, New York (27.6% white/non-Latino, 17.7% African American, 0.3% Native American, 22.8% Asian American, 27.5% Latino, and 4% other)
  4. Alameda County, California (34.1% white/non-Latino, 12.2% African American, 0.3% Native American, 25.9% Asian American, 22.5% Latino, and 5.1% other)
  5. Solano County, California (40.8% white/non-Latino, 14.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 14.3% Asian American, 24% Latino, and 6.2% other)

Alaska's a tough place, where you have to count on your neighbors.  It takes a special kind of person to live and work there, and I guess you don't really have too much time for worrying about race and culture.  Queens in New York and Alameda and Solano in California make a lot of sense, Queens is the heart of the Big Apple's melting pot and Alameda contains most of San Francisco bay's east side. Solano County covers the suburbs north of the SF bay towards Sacramento. Definitely areas with a lot of different cultures and people with major cities in and around.

On the other side of that coin are the Appalachians and plains states:

And the 5 least diverse: 
  • Tucker County, West Virginia (100% white/non-Latino)
  • Robertson County, Kentucky (100% white/non-Latino)
  • Hooker County, Nebraska (100% white/non-Latino)
  • Hand County, South Dakota (99% white/non-Latino and 1% Latino)
  • Owsley County, Kentucky (98% white/non-Latino and 2% Latino)

As to what surprised Olson the most? "As a Michigander," he writes, "I’m the most surprised to see how diverse the Upper Peninsula is. I thought only crazy white people lived up that far in Michigan."

Two Kentucky counties among the five least diverse in the nation is arguably the least surprising fact I've read all week.

Anyway, why is this important?  Those diverse Alaska counties are being used as part of an argument that Sanders's big wins in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state over the weekend are proof that Sanders has large support from non-white voters. Raw Story's Katie Halper:

Leslie Lee III is a writer and English teacher from Baton Rouge, LA, who lives in Yokahama, Japan with his wife Kelly and their dog Taco. His writing ranges from essays and articles on politics and Japanese wrestling, to the novel he is working on with his father about Kentucky’s Black coal miners. But according to some sources, Lee does not actually exist. He’s a figment of the imagination. Because he’s both Black and a supporter of Bernie Sanders.

The nice thing about the notion of the unbearable whiteness of being a Sanders supporter is that it doesn’t need to be based in reality. On Saturday, for example, CNN attributed Sanders’ landslide victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington primaries to the whitey-mcwhiteyness of the states:

These caucus states — largely white and rural — are the type of places Sanders traditionally does well. In order to win the nomination, he must replicate this success in other, more ethnically diverse states that hold primaries, as he did in Michigan last month. In theory, it’s possible. But the reality is tough.

Likewise, in theory, it’s possible to portray these states as white. But the reality is tough. Because they’re not. Washington state is literally the seventh most diverse state in the Nation. Two (if not three) of the five most diverse counties in the country are found in Alaska, which CNN itself described as “the most diverse place in America,” in an article in January. And Hawaii, according the Pew Research Center,

stands out… more than any other state… when it comes to its racial and ethnic diversity… The Rainbow State has never had a white majority. In fact, non-Hispanic whites, the largest group in most states, account for only 23% of the population, according to 2013 census figures.
But you know the old adage, necessity (to correct irresponsible journalism and media bias) is the mother of (viral) invention. And So, Mr. Lee launched his epic #BernieMadeMeWhite hashtag, mocking the idea that all supporters of Sanders are white.

Well, basic math could tell you that of course Sanders has some women and non-white voters backing him, simply because he's managed to close within 10 points of Clinton in the very diverse Democratic party.  But the argument once again from Sanders supporters is that the votes of Southern red state Democrats don't really count and shouldn't count in a Democratic primary, and that Bernie's winning the "real" states, making him somehow...I don't know, more magical or something?  It's coming across as a massive dismissal of a lot of voters that the Sanders folks believe should not have a say at all in the process, support that Sanders would need in a general election.

Whether it will be enough support going into the final primaries this spring, we'll see.

Nothing Matters, Especially Primaries

And America's favorite Salon/HuffPo Sanders supporter, H.A. Goodman, goes off the deep end and into some other dimension where mathematics simply doesn't apply.

With Bernie Sanders now slightly ahead of Clinton nationally in the latest Bloomberg poll, it’s time to reevaluate the meaning of pragmatism. Hillary Clinton might be ahead of Bernie Sanders in delegates, but Vermont’s Senator has a monopoly on political momentum. Sadly, his opponent has a monopoly on controversy, and will face FBI interviews in the near future. A Los Angeles Timesarticle titled Clinton email probe enters new phase as FBI interviews loom highlights why Clinton’s campaign is stuck in political quicksand:

Federal prosecutors investigating the possible mishandling of classified materials on Hillary Clinton’s private email server have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of her longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases.
Prosecutors also are expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself, though the timing remains unclear.

Yes, federal prosecutors will interview Hillary Clinton, in addition to her close associates. 
At what point will establishment Democrats admit this fiasco is horrible for a general election?

When federal prosecutors are interviewing your candidate for president, even Donald Trump has a good chance at the White House.

Yep, that's right, the FBI wants to talk to Clinton, so Goodman is demanding that she immediately concede the entire race to Sanders.

This is the dumbest pile of rodent intercourse activity I think I've read.  It's indistinguishable from the "legal analysis" you would find on your average right-wing blog these days.  Look, I've not had the chance to vote yet in Kentucky's primary and right now it's still a toss-up for me, but when you're making the same arguments Republican talk radio blowhards make in order to dismiss Clinton and her voters out of hand, there's something fundamentally wrong with your argument.

It's not just Goodman, however.

One of the biggest question marks for Democrats heading into a 2016 general election that should be a cakewalk with a candidate like Donald Trump on the other side is what happens to Bernie Sanders’ supporters if he loses the nomination to Hillary Clinton.

Some will inevitably fall in line and find a way to get excited about the likelihood of America’s first woman president. But many others may end up feeling just as alienated from the political process as they did before Sanders entered the race and just decide to stay home.

For instance, there’s Susan Sarandon.

The actress and activist has been a powerful surrogate for Sanders on the campaign trail over the past few months, and during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Monday night, she said she doesn’t know if she can bring herself to vote for Clinton if it comes down to it.

“I think, in certain quarters, there’s growing concern that the folks that are into Bernie Sanders have come to despise Hillary Clinton or reject Hillary Clinton and that should she be the nominee which is as yet undetermined, they will walk away,” Hayes said.

“Tha’'s a legitimate concern,” Sarandon replied, “because they’re very passionate and principled.”

“But isn’t that crazy?” the host asked. “If you believe in what he believes in?”

Yeah but she doesn’t,” Sarandon shot back. “She accepted money for all of those people. She doesn’t even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage, so these are people that have not come out before, so why would we think they’re going to come out now for her, you know?”

That's just stupid garbage.  If you as a Sanders supporter are falling back on Republican anti-Clinton arguments, you have completely failed to make your case to Democrats that they should be voting for Sanders.

Look, I understand the argument that you're worried about Clinton's vulnerabilities, but she's winning right now and most likely will end up the nominee.  It's up to Sanders to make the argument that he would be a better choice, and so far I'm not seeing it.

BREAKING: A Supreme Split Saves Public Unions

Conservatives bent on crippling the power of public employee unions lost their best opportunity in years Tuesday when the Supreme Court deadlocked over a challenge to the fees those unions collect from non-members. 
Rather than seeking to reschedule the case for their next term, the justices simply announced they were tied 4-4 -- a verdict which leaves intact the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholding the fee collections. 
That was a major victory for the unions and the court's four liberal justices following Justice Antonin Scalia's death last month. During oral argument in January, it had appeared almost certain that the court would strike down the requirement in 23 states that teachers and government workers contribute to the cost of collective bargaining, even if they disagree with their unions' demands. 
The result would have been the demise of a nearly 40-year-old Supreme Court precedent that allows unions to impose such requirements on non-members. It would have made it harder for unions representing teachers, police and firefighters, and other government workers to maintain their power by affecting their pocketbooks. 
Instead, the judicial deadlock allows the California Teachers Association to keep collecting the fees, but it does not have nationwide impact. The 9th Circuit standard applies only to states within its jurisdiction, including Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington as well as California. 
The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, signified a major threat to public employee unions that represent nearly 36% of government workers — far more than the plummeting average for unions overall. Only 11% of Americans belonged to unions in 2014.

In other words, Scalia's passing is the only thing that saved public sector unions from being all but dismantled by SCOTUS. Scalia certainly would have been the fifth vote against the unions, and there almost certainly would have been a national, broad ruling that would have affected public sector unions in all 50 states.

For now, at least, public sector unions will survive.  How long that's the case, well, we'll see if Merrick Garland fills Scalia's seat...or if it is filled at all.

Hot Trump Time Machine

I know it's easy to joke about how Donald Trump wants to take America back to the pre-Civil Rights era when white men ran the country unopposed and all, but it turns out he's really not joking.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's campaign slogan "make America great again" has become as ubiquitous as his personal brand (or, say, widespread violence at his rallies). But until now, Trump's remained frustratingly vague about just when the U.S. was actually winning. 
Now he's finally given the public a clue of just what era he wants to take the U.S. back to. In an interview with the New York Times, the billionaire business mogul pointed to the onset of the 19th century and era during and after World War II as times when the U.S. was truly great. 
"If you look back, it really was, there was a period of time when we were developing at the turn of the century which was a pretty wild time for this country and pretty wild in terms of building that machine, that machine was really based on entrepreneurship," Trump told the paper
"And then I would say, yeah, prior to, I would say during the 1940s and the late '40s and '50s we started getting, we were not pushed around, we were respected by everybody, we had just won a war, we were pretty much doing what we had to do, yeah around that period," he added
Perhaps by sheer coincidence (though likely not), this happens to be the era before extensive civil rights legislation was passed by Congress.

So the Gilded Age and the years that followed.  Awesome. Yeah, I'm sure it's not a coincidence either, guys.

Let's stop pretending that it is.


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