Weekly Musing 12-6-15 (11-26-15)
Days until the 2016 election: 338.
Happy Thanksgiving…I’m sorry I missed you all last week…technical difficulties.
Anyways, this was a great article I wanted to share will all of you…for all the pain in this world, there is still much to be grateful for.
Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.
I stumbled over this last question. At the time, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of bourgeois, saccharine insincerity that one should reject. It’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.
Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.
But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.
This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.
How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.
Ted Cruz has always had a master plan. Now it could win him the White House.
Many pundits were skeptical when, in a speech at Virginia’s evangelical Liberty University on March 23 , Cruz became the first Republican to announce he was entering the 2016 presidential race. As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn put it at the time, “The most interesting question about Mr. Cruz’s candidacy is whether he has a very small chance to win or no chance at all.”
But suddenly it seems that Cruz is running what even Dan Pfeiffer, a former top aide to President Obama, concedes is “the best campaign on the other side.” He has raised more money than any Republican other than Jeb Bush and more non-PAC money than any other Republican, period; he also has more cash on hand than any of his GOP rivals. He was the first candidate to recruit chairmen in all 171 counties in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. He is only candidate who for months has been consistently calling and sending surrogates to all five U.S. territories — Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands — in order to secure extra delegates who could prove decisive down the road. (More on that later.) He is doing more than any other Republican to prepare for the so-called “SEC primary,” a new Southern voting blitz set to take place on March 1; he has already enlisted more than 100 countywide campaign directors and 1,500 volunteers in Georgia alone. And from the start he has conspicuously refrained from criticizing frontrunner Donald Trump, choosing instead to position himself as Trump’s heir apparent, should the bombastic real estate mogul falter or fade, which Cruz has publicly predicted will happen.
Profiles of First Four GOP State Contests
They say you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and the same is true of elections. Every election involves the persuasion of a specific group of voters, and those groups always have identifiable preferences and “tilt” toward one set of arguments over another.
This is especially true for GOP primaries and caucuses, as different state demographics and voting eligibility rules produces vastly different electorates in each state. Each state “tilts” toward one type of candidate over another; savvy observers know this and act accordingly.
You now can be savvy observers too! I am writing profiles on every state’s electorate to let you know the lay of the land.
Very Cool… The GOP Race for Delegates: An Interactive Tool
As is always the case, national polling is drawing the lion’s share of the attention in discussions about the Republican primary race. As is also always the case, this emphasis is misplaced. This is, after all, a race for delegates. These delegates are awarded in a series of state contests taking place over the course of some four months, and they are awarded under convoluted rules that vary wildly from state to state.Which is a lengthy way of saying: The 2016 Republican primary campaign is heavily path dependent, rendering national polling of little value. The order of the contests, the structure of the rules, and the interplay between those two factors can play a huge role in selecting the eventual winner that national polls simply cannot illustrate.
To help make this easier to visualize and understand, we’ve created the widget below that will allow you to walk through the GOP selection process yourself. The process is fairly simple.
Beginning with Iowa in February and working through South Dakota in June, and the awarding of “RNC delegates,” you simply input the share of the vote that you think each candidate will receive. You can use the next state button to advance through the elections, and the previous state button if you feel that you’ve made a mistake. There’s a “reset” button at the bottom of the page if you want to start over.
We’ve pre-loaded the RealClearPolitics polling averages for the early states, but you’re free to alter these as you see fit. You can also use the current RCP national average or, in the later states, the inputs from the previous state as your starting point. As you go through, the program will calculate the statewide delegates that will be allocated using each state’s rules (plus a few assumptions) – you cannot alter these (except through changing the candidates’ share of the votes).
The Rise of the Cybervoter
Soccer moms, gun owners and low-information swing voters. These are just a few of the oft-cited voting blocs trotted out every election year—ones that, we are told, politicians must win over in order to beat their opponents. But this year, based on my time spent on Capitol Hill, in the White House and working for nonprofits and on presidential campaigns, I’d say it’s time to add a new voting bloc to the list: a section of the electorate that uses the Internet regularly and shows a surprising ability to coalesce behind issues that affect their digital life.
Call them “cybercitizens.”
It’s hard to know just how many motivated cybercitizens are out there, but a good starting point is to look at the slice of the population that spends the most time on the Internet. To be sure, not all heavy Internet users are politically active. But if you count them, their total numbers are surprisingly large: In the 2014 midterms, people who spent at least six hours a day on the Internet made up a quarter of the voting bloc. And a significant number of these voters seem to care deeply about politicians’ stances on technology issues, such as support for a free and open Internet.
As a group, these cybercitizens don’t want anyone to limit what they can find on the Internet, and increasingly they view the future as dependent on getting more people and services on the Web.
Not only have they begun to show their power in American politics, but they promise to be a growing voting faction for a long time. Already they’ve helped achieve significant victories on issues like net neutrality, which sets the rules of the road to keep Internet companies from restricting what you can and can’t read. Before long they will likely be weighing in on more mainstream issues. In 2016, and election cycles ahead, candidates would be well advised to pay attention to this increasingly influential segment of voters.
The Myth of “4 Million Conservative Voters Stayed Home in 2012″
But conservative and Republican commentators need to avoid believing our own comforting myths, and one of those has managed remarkable durability even though it should have gone away within a month of the 2012 elections: that something like 4 million usually reliable conservative voters – voters who showed up at the polls even in the down year of 2008 to support Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 51% – stayed home in 2012 because Mitt Romney was too moderate. This theory keeps getting offered as proof that all the GOP needs to do is nominate a real conservative and this cavalry, 4 million strong, will come charging over the hilltop and save the day. In fact, poor a candidate as he was, Romney actually got more votes than McCain did; the belief that he got less is based entirely on incomplete numbers reported in the first 24-48 hours after Election Day, before all the votes had finally been counted.
…To the extent that any of these analyses are based on the proposition that Romney got millions fewer votes than McCain, they are provably wrong. What happened is pretty simple: some states and localities take longer to count the votes than others – some big cities are notorious for this, some count absentee ballots slowly, California traditionally counts very slowly, and some of the jurisdictions hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were understandably slow getting finalized. But the final numbers are not what was originally available in the immediate aftermath of the election:
In 2004, George W. Bush got 62,039,572 votes vs 59,027,115 for John Kerry.
In 2008, John McCain got 59,950,323 votes vs 69,499,428 for Barack Obama – in other words, McCain lost about 2 million votes from what Bush had received, while Obama gained over 10 million vs Kerry’s total.
In 2012, Mitt Romney got 60,934,407 votes vs 65,918,507 for Obama – a million more votes for Romney than McCain, and 3.5 million fewer for Obama (but still up around 6 million compared to Kerry).
Presumably, some of Bush’s voters in 2004 stayed home in 2008 and 2012, while others switched to Obama or one of many minor third party candidates. But even if we compare Romney to Bush, he’s off by only a little over a million votes, not such an enormous number in an electorate of around 130 million people. And exit polling doesn’t really support the notion that self-identified conservatives were noticeably missing, as Karl Rove noted in the Wall Street Journal back in April:
Inside the surreal world of the Islamic State’s propaganda machine
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged architect of the attacks who was killed in a raid in France, had appeared repeatedly in Islamic State recruiting materials. The barrage of videos and statements released afterward made clear that the overriding goal of the Islamic State is not merely to inflict terror on an adversary but also to command a global audience.
The United States and its allies have found no meaningful answer to this propaganda avalanche. A State Department program to counter the caliphate’s messaging has cycled through a series of initiatives with minimal effect. Islamic State supporters online have repeatedly slipped around efforts to block them on Twitter and Facebook.
Overmatched online, the United States has turned to lethal force. Recent U.S. airstrikes have killed several high-level operatives in the Islamic State’s media division, including Junaid Hussain, a British computer expert. FBI Director James B. Comey recently described the propaganda units of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, as military targets.
Satellite wars: A new arms race in our skies threatens the satellites that control everything from security to communications
An unlikely memorial runs across the middle of the marketplace in Kettering — an otherwise unremarkable English market town. This slab of granite, set into the paving as part of a timeline of local history, reads “Russian Satellites: Grammar School Beats Nasa”. Etched into the stone is the distinctive outline of a sputnik orbiter.
Kettering Grammar School — like the space race — is long gone. But for a period it was on the front line of the extraterrestrial battle between Washington and Moscow. The Kettering Group — the school’s enthusiastic science masters and their eager pupils — became the world’s foremost amateur satellite sleuths, tracking secret Soviet launches and uncovering the location of a previously secret Russian cosmodrome from the workaday shire town.
As the cold war passed into history, so did the group. Geoff Perry, the main teacher and leader, died in 2000. But some of his former pupils never lost their enthusiasm for tracking the orbits of satellites in the skies above us. In 2014, an email from one of them hit my inbox. Did I know much about satellites, it asked? Perhaps I should look into this curious new object?
“In May 2014 there was a regular Russian rocket launch that put four satellites up into orbit,” recalls Bob Christy, a former Kettering pupil. “But one of them wasn’t the same as the others.” Three — as had been publicly declared — were Rodnik communications satellites. The fourth, though, was something quite else. Officially it was classified on the Pentagon’s public space database as orbital junk. But then it began to manoeuvre. “It moved away from the others,” says Christy. “And then we watched it put itself on a trajectory to catch up again with the rocket booster that launched it. It was some kind of test.”
What exactly Norad 39765 — known also as Kosmos 2499 and Object 2014-28e — is has still not been publicly declared. The Russians do not even acknowledge its existence. But the activities of the mystery “ghost” satellite have given many in the defence and intelligence community pause for thought. “In the last year, the Russians, China and the US have all been testing these kinds of things,” says Christy. “People talk about them being inspectors, but if you have the ability to manoeuvre up to another satellite in space to inspect it, you also have the ability to destroy it.”
A Good Article to Better Understand the “Left’s” Strategy
How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment
So how does legal change happen in America? We’ve seen some remarkably successful drives in recent years—think of the push for marriage equality, or to undo campaign finance laws. Law students might be taught that the court is moved by powerhouse legal arguments or subtle shifts in doctrine. The National Rifle Association’s long crusade to bring its interpretation of the Constitution into the mainstream teaches a different lesson: Constitutional change is the product of public argument and political maneuvering. The pro-gun movement may have started with scholarship, but then it targeted public opinion and shifted the organs of government. By the time the issue reached the Supreme Court, the desired new doctrine fell like a ripe apple from a tree.
…Liberal lawyers might once have rushed to court at the slightest provocation. Now, they are starting to realize that a long, full jurisprudential campaign is needed to achieve major goals. Since 2011, activists have waged a widespread public education campaign to persuade citizens that new state laws were illegitimate attempts to curb voting rights, all as a precursor to winning court victories. Now many democracy activists, mortified by recent Supreme Court rulings in campaign finance cases (all with Heller‘s same 5-4 split), have begun to map out a path to overturn Citizens United and other recent cases. Years of scholarship, theorizing, amicus briefs, test cases and minority dissents await before a new majority can refashion recent constitutional doctrine.
Molding public opinion is the most important factor. Abraham Lincoln, debating slavery, said in 1858, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.” The triumph of gun rights reminds us today: If you want to win in the court of law, first win in the court of public opinion.
More than half of Americans now watch Netflix
A nice milestone for Netflix: Some 51% of American internet users say they used the site to watch movies or TV shows over the past 12 months, according to a survey conducted by RBC Capital Markets, representing an all-time high.
That puts Netflix on top of YouTube, the report from RBC analyst Mark Mahaney said, and well above Amazon, Hulu, and HBO Go.
The survey results raise the question of what exactly people are watching on YouTube—or at least think they’re watching. The site, which is mostly free, is full of shorter, native content, rather than full movies and TV shows that Netflix subscribers get. In short, they have very different value propositions.
Netflix’s original content has played a major role in its ascent as the top subscription-based streaming service, and that’s no different as the company expands internationally.
NEW Mobile App for Parties & Candidates
We launched it…finally a new mobile app to help parties and candidates keep in touch with their members.
Our apps are native meaning they use the full power of smart mobile devices to provide rich features such as video, navigation, customized alerts linked to specific content, events calendaring, conventions, ballot registration and voting, breaking news, donations, blogs, instant polls and surveys and more.
And they are fully customizable. So check out one or all of the first four live apps up this week. Just go to your app store on either an Apple, Android or Windows phone and search for:
Michigan Republican Party
WSRP (Washington State Republican Party)
Republican Party of Louisiana
Republican Liberty Caucus
Tea Party Nation
NYS Conservative Party
USVI GOP (Virgin Islands Republican Party)
Lisa Posthumus Lyons (State Representative)
Follow the progress of Right Mobile and the various new parties and candidates that launch their own apps on Facebook at; https://www.facebook.com/rightmobileUS/
If any party or candidate is interested in getting an app of their own, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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