Saturday, November 5, 2022

Last Call For Coitus Rodentia, Con't

The rattus rattus are humpin' humpin' this weekend, as there's a concerted effort by the media to declare Tuesday's election as a massive Republican red wave win before Election Day actually happens, starting with The New Yorker's Benjamin Wallace-Wells.

On Wednesday afternoon, I spoke with a leading Republican political consultant about the Senate campaign in Georgia. That race is strategically significant for both parties, but it has a special symbolic importance for Democrats. The incumbent, Raphael Warnock, who for many years has occupied Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Atlanta, is seen as a potential national leader of the Democratic Party—and he may still lose to a scandal-ridden ex-football star, the Republican Herschel Walker. The Republican consultant told me that Warnock’s prospects were even bleaker than many recent public polls suggest. “There isn’t a single private poll in America that has Herschel Walker anything but ahead,” the Republican consultant told me. “Not one.”

The consensus among a number of G.O.P. pollsters and operatives I spoke to this week is that in the Senate races that are thought to be competitive, Republican candidates are heading for a clean sweep: Mehmet Oz will beat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and not just by a point or two; Adam Laxalt looks pretty certain to defeat the incumbent Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada; even less regarded candidates such as Blake Masters in Arizona will be carried into office by a predicted wave. “He won’t deserve it, but I think at this point he falls into a Senate seat,” one Republican strategist told me. To these Republican insiders, certain high-profile races in which G.O.P. candidates were already favored now look like potential blowouts—Kari Lake’s campaign for governor in Arizona, J. D. Vance’s for Senate in Ohio. And some races that seemed out of reach, such as the Senate campaign, in New Hampshire, of the election denier Don Bolduc, now look like possible wins. The word that kept coming up in these conversations was “bloodbath.

Well holy crap guys, "Republican operatives predict massive Republican gains in election" has certainly never happened before, we should just give up now!  Hell, the New York Post is literally trying to start a fight in New York between NYC Democratic Mayor Eric Adams and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul for God's sake.
An Election Day loss for Gov. Hochul might be a win for Mayor Adams.

Adams is actively campaigning for Hochul and not openly supporting her GOP rival Rep. Lee Zeldin, but multiple insiders told The Post that the mayor sees more opportunity to advance his initiatives on crime and public safety if the Republican wins the neck-and-neck governor’s race on Tuesday.

“He doesn’t even have to lobby the Republicans. They are all on his side when it comes to crime and bail reform, NYPD and all this stuff,” said one close Adams ally. “The two or three times he went up to Albany he had no issues with the Republicans. They’re all with him. The only issues he has are with these people who want to defund to the police.”

The insider added that Adams had a good working relationship with GOPer Zeldin after their time together in the state Senate.

Hochul’s people “are pressuring him that he should do more [campaigning]. “If this [story] comes out, they are going to make him [campaign more]” the insider lamented. 

Are we ready for our new Republican overlords?

Are we ready for an empowered Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Are we ready for a pumped-up, pistol-packing Lauren Boebert?

“How many AR-15s do you think Jesus would have had?” Boebert asked a crowd at a Christian campaign event in June. I’m going with none, honestly, but her answer was, “Well, he didn’t have enough to keep his government from killing him.”

The Denver Post pleaded: “We beg voters in western and southern Colorado not to give Rep. Lauren Boebert their vote.”

The freshman representative has recently been predicting happily that we’re in the end times, “the last of the last days.” If Lauren Boebert is in charge, we may want to be in the end times. I’m feeling not so Rapturous about the prospect.

And then there’s the future first female president, Kari Lake, who lulls you into believing, with her mellifluous voice, statements that seem to emanate from Lucifer. She’s dangerous because, like Donald Trump, she has real skills from her years in TV. And she really believes this stuff, unlike Trump and Kevin McCarthy, who are faking it.

As Cecily Strong said on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, embodying Lake, “If the people of Arizona elect me, I’ll make sure they never have to vote ever again.”

Or, you know, we can go vote.

While we still can.

Inside Job, Con't

Some 44% of Americans believe the federal government is controlled by a secret cabal, in a result that was inevitable thanks to decades of conspiracy theories, and oh yeah, rampant antisemitism.

Joel Benenson, the renowned pollster for President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, gave a first look at the results of a question he'd never asked before: "We wanted to test QAnon's language that the world is controlled by a secret cabal."

What he found: 44% of registered voters said they believe it."Given that the U.S. is the world's strongest democracy, we wanted to see how far the appeal of language like that might reach," Benenson said.

The figure is especially arresting because of this result in the same poll:59% of voters agree that the U.S. is a strong democracy.

The breakdown: 66% of Democrats ... 55% of Republicans ... 54% of independents.


Which is weird because that means there are people who believe we're controlled by a secret cabal AND we're a "strong democracy". The growing evidence is that neither is actually true. 

Meanwhile, Elon Musk just laid off half of Twitter, including basically all of the people working to fight misinformation on the platform.

Mass layoffs at Twitter on Friday battered the teams primarily responsible for keeping the platform free of misinformation, potentially hobbling the company’s capabilities four days before the end of voting in Tuesday’s midterm elections, one current and six former Twitter employees familiar with the cuts told NBC News, five of whom had been recently laid off.

Two former Twitter employees and one current employee warned the layoffs could bring chaos around the elections, as they hit especially hard on teams responsible for the curation of trending topics and for the engineering side of “user health,” which works on content moderation and site integrity. The seven people asked to withhold their names out of worry over professional retribution and because they weren’t authorized to speak for the company.

CEO Elon Musk, who’s facing sizable future debt payments and declining revenue at Twitter, said the cuts were needed to ensure the health of the company’s long-term finances a week after he bought it for $44 billion.

The cuts appeared to affect many people whose jobs were to keep Twitter from becoming overwhelmed by prohibited content, such as hateful conduct and targeted harassment, the seven sources said.

Twitter has not announced any moderation policy changes, and earlier this week, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, said the company was remaining vigilant against attempts to manipulate conversations about the midterms. Musk has said the company won’t allow anyone back on Twitter who had been previously banned for at least a few more weeks.

But Gita Johar, a Columbia University business professor who has studied misinformation on Twitter, said the job cuts risk turning the site into a “free-for-all with rumors, conspiracy theories and falsehoods taking hold on the platform and in people’s imagination.”
The fact that Musk is doing this just days before the midterm elections is being done on purpose, when the GOP rumors of "election fraud" fly rampant on Tuesday and well into the future, Twitter will be ground zero.

Vote if you haven't already. Even Kentucky has early voting this weekend.

The Rent Is Too Damn High, Con't

With federal and state pandemic eviction moratoriums coming to an end, and rents jumping 20% or more nationwide from just two years ago, millions are being tossed out into the holiday months with nowhere to go.
On a recent Friday morning, more than 100 renters facing eviction filed through Arizona Judge Anna Huberman’s court in what’s becoming a typical day for her, as a wave of evictions hits Phoenix and other cities large and small across the country.

The vast majority of the renters that day had missed their October payments a few weeks earlier and were now at risk of being removed from their homes within days, according to the judge. One woman said her rent money that month went to pay for her mother’s funeral, a day care worker said she didn’t get paid for two weeks when her workplace temporarily shut down due to Covid, and another man said he started a new job and had yet to get his first check, Huberman said.

Eviction filings have been on the rise and were above their historical averages in half of the 1,059 counties tracked by Legal Services Corp., a federally-funded legal aid group, during either August or September. The problem is expected to get worse in the coming months as federal rental assistance money runs out and people are unable to keep pace with rising rents and decades-high inflation, according to interviews with more than a dozen housing advocates, government officials and industry experts.

“Now that rental assistance is over, and now that local moratoriums are over, we’re playing catch-up to what the pandemic did, and my biggest fear is the cliff that we’ve been all anticipating is here. From here on out, it’s going to be a very, very difficult time,” said Tim Thomas, research director at the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley. “I don’t want to be a doom and gloom person, but we’re probably about to see the worst of what’s about to happen.”

During the first year of the pandemic, evictions tumbled after a federal moratorium was put in place making it extremely difficult for landlords to kick out tenants for not paying rents. That moratorium was lifted in August 2021, but even without that restriction in place, the number of evictions stayed well below typical levels in most states and cities because of federal funding that provided emergency rental assistance to tenants.

But that federal money began running out in many areas this summer and the Treasury Department estimates that less than $7 billion out of a total of $46.5 billion remains available, removing the last lifeline of pandemic-era protections that more than 7 million renters have relied on.

The struggle to find affordable housing comes amid wider anxiety and pessimism Americans have around the economy, which voters have consistently ranked as a top concern ahead of next week's midterm elections. A CNBC poll in October found just 16% of voters believed the economy is “excellent” or “good,” and 59% of voters expect there will be a recession over the next 12 months.

Despite a relatively strong job market and historically low unemployment, nearly 7.8 million Americans said they were behind on their rent in October and 3 million felt they were likely to be evicted in the next two months, according to a census survey the same month. That survey found that 2.5 million people had experienced a rent increase of more than $500 over the past year.

"With inflation and the massive increases in rental prices that we've seen over the last few years, it's much worse for low-income renters than it was before the pandemic when we were already in an affordable housing crisis," said Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a researcher at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

The increase in rents has begun to slow as inflation and overall economic uncertainty have more people holding off on moving, according to an analysis by Redfin. Still, rents nationwide were up 9% in September, compared to a year earlier, and more than a dozen cities had double-digit rent increases, it said.

In Phoenix, for example, rent increases have slowed in recent months, but in June were up 24% year over year, with a median asking rent of $2,261. In Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, evictions are at their highest levels since at least 2016, with more than 45,000 filings this year.

“Lately, it just seems to be all that we’ve been doing,” said Huberman, the presiding justice of the peace for Maricopa County.
And whether people want to admit it or not, Covid is still out there. It's going to be a bad winter.
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