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Cherry Catsup Salad

[ 96 ] August 24, 2016 |

As is clear by now, like many others, I am both fascinated and horrified by postwar food. The terrible recipes of the 1950s-1970s are a wonder to behold. Today, I was introduced to this.

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Color me shocked that this horror comes from South Dakota. Probably some distant relative of mine. Really, this is the single worst ketchup-based recipe I have ever seen. And that’s a high bar!

I have discovered as well that there is a website devoted to making and trying these food catastrophes. You may not be surprised that this is a terrible recipe.

This didn’t go together at all. At all! If you have ever had a bite of ketchup-covered hot dog in your mouth and washed it down with a gulp of cherry Kool-Aid, then you know what this gelatin tasted like. It tasted like a bad idea. Add a bite of salad to that mouthful, and you have the complete flavor profile: A bunch of random ingredients, thrown together and suspended in gelatin. I can guess that this was supposed to be a type of side to be served with meat, like a sauce or a chutney, but I can’t think of the type of meat that this would compliment. Except for hot dogs, apparently. In this gelatin’s defense, it had a good, crunchy texture. And it did remind us of summer through the whole hot-dog Kool-Aid thing. But other than that it was a bunch of different flavors all happening at once. And all those flavors told us ketchup and cherry gelatin do not go together well.

The canned black olives may be the worst part of a very bad idea. Even worse than the ketchup. What’s with canned black olives? It’s like postwar food companies decided to take a wonderful food, with hundreds if not thousands of awesome varieties, and breed them to make a really terrible tasting olive that somehow worked brilliantly on the market. I guess it’s forgivable in the 1970s. Not sure why on earth someone would eat them now. I figure the use of canned black olives is a good sign that one shouldn’t eat at a given pizza place, although the even less forgivable use of canned mushrooms is more telling. Anyway, you all should make this recipe and report back.

Also, this California prune cream salad from 1934 is seriously the most disgusting historical artifact I have ever run across.

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Night night! Sweet dreams!

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Elites vs. The Masses

[ 174 ] August 24, 2016 |

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I don’t agree with everything in this article, particularly that we have less democracy in society than 40 years ago. I think the answer to such a question is tremendously complicated but surely isn’t obviously this conclusion. But I do approve of the overall tenor of it. The last thing we should be doing in response to the Trump campaign and most especially the Sanders campaign is think that democracy is dangerous and should be clamped down upon in favor of elite rule.

The vileness of the Trump campaign has exposed something just as odious, and ultimately more insidious: the contempt some elites feel at the prospect of sharing power with regular people. This contempt is nothing new, of course—what’s striking is how acceptable it has suddenly become to express such antidemocratic views in polite company. Just as Trump has given a veneer of “respectability” to expressions of bigotry and xenophobia, he’s made calls for reining in popular democracy sound, to many people’s ears, like a reasonable response.

The elitists gave their game away, though, when they routinely cast Bernie Sanders and his supporters as virtual doppelgängers of the Trump crowd—another out-of-control and misguided mob, hopelessly immature and unrealistic about how the system works. Sanders, The New York Times sniffed, was irresponsibly promising his followers “the moon and a good part of the sun.” In an all-too-characteristic column called “2016: The Reckless Versus the Responsible,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank called Sanders and Trump “peas in a pod.” Post reporter Callum Borchers unfavorably compared the Democratic insurgent’s impassioned followers with Trump’s: “If there is a trophy for bad behavior, Bernie Sanders’s supporters appear hell-bent on taking it from Donald Trump’s.”

The argument that Trump, Sanders, and their respective constituencies are two sides of the same benighted coin gained currency, in part, because it lets elites off the hook. It’s a way to rationalize clinging even more vehemently to a ruinous, oligarchic status quo—democracy be damned. But here again, it gets things backward. Protests and populist political movements, after all, are signs that people have been locked out of structures of governance, not that they have successfully “hijacked” the system. Elitists plead for more reason in political life—and who can disagree with that, in principle? But their position itself is not entirely rational.

In a widely circulated cover story in The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch rallied to the defense of those in power. “Our most pressing political problem today is that the country abandoned the establishment, not the other way around,” he complained. “Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last acceptable form of bigotry.” Mass discontent, he concluded, is a “virus” that must be quarantined.

But mass discontent has already been quarantined. That’s why voters on both the right and left are so pissed off. The real challenge facing America today is the near-absence in civic life of democratic channels that run deeper than a sporadic visit to the voting booth, or the fleeting euphoria of a street protest.

Simply put, while I don’t know exactly what “we need more democracy” means because in the real world, that’s really hard to define and implement, what we absolutely do not need is technocratic betters keeping everyday people out of policy and leadership positions. Because we know that is a dead end in the long run. Even in comments here, I’ve seen people defend the superdelegates in the Democratic Party as a defense against a Trump-like takeover of whackos. And that’s a terribly bad thing to argue.

Teen Minimum Wage?

[ 111 ] August 24, 2016 |

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To say the least, the idea of a teen minimum wage of $4.25 is a horrendous idea with enormously awful policy implications. It also underplays the actual cost of being a teenager which is not going out with Biff and Cindy to the drive-in and maybe getting some malts afterwards and gee isn’t that soda jerk cute. Unfortunately, a 1996 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (thanks Bill!) allows employers to pay workers under the age of 20 $4.25 an hour for their first 90 days of employment. This needs to change. Not only has that number not increased with inflation, but it always was nothing more than a way for the government to allow exploitative employers to be even more exploitative. At its heart is the idea that teenagers aren’t real workers and shouldn’t be treated as such. This still animates conversations about certain sectors of work, as conservatives and even too many liberals dismiss thinking of fast food work as legitimate work worthy of being covered by labor law or being the target of organizing campaigns. That’s teen work, right? But no, it’s often not. Allowing employers to pay young workers less only undermines the wages for everyone. Meanwhile, many of these teen workers are working to pay for AP exams and to contribute to their family’s income. Repealing the teen minimum wage needs to be a top progressive priority.

Affordable Child Care

[ 49 ] August 24, 2016 |

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The number of policy options that would make people’s lives better while also spurring the economy is quite large. These commonsense choices would be a huge boon for 99 percent of Americans while having the singular downside of making rich people pay higher taxes. Therefore it is of course impossible. But the government taking the lead in creating affordable child care makes more sense than just about anything else and the election is the time to talk about these issues.

Affordable day care, for instance, would stanch the income loss experienced by parents who now must leave the work force while their children are young. The damage of such career interruptions does not end when a parent goes back to work; among other things, there are the raises that were missed and the savings that otherwise would have accrued. A 26-year-old mother who takes five years off from a median-paying job — $30,253 in 2014 — would forfeit $467,000 over a work life, reducing her lifetime earnings by 19 percent, according to a calculator by the Center for American Progress.

The losses are even more profound when multiplied over the economy. International comparisons indicate that more family-friendly policies in the United States, including quality child care, would allow roughly 5.5 million more women to work, assuming the economy was adding jobs at a reasonable pace. All else being equal, that surge could generate an astounding $500 billion a year in economic growth, or about 3.5 percent of gross domestic product.

Proper child care also lays the foundation for future productivity gains. Research shows that public investment in early education yields benefits for children far in excess of its cost, including higher academic and career achievement well into adulthood, as well as better health. McKinsey researchers estimated that closing academic achievement gaps between low-income students and others would increase the size of the economy by roughly $70 billion a year; closing racial and ethnic gaps would add $50 billion annually.

But hey, taxes might go up on the wealthy. And those parents shouldn’t be having kids if they aren’t millionaires. Why can’t the breeding poor just pull themselves by their bootstraps like I did by being born to a corporate lawyer who graduated from Yale?

Hillary Clinton has something of a plan to deal with these problems. Donald Trump does not. But both parties are the same, amiright? Stein ’16!

Welcome to Trump’s America

[ 121 ] August 24, 2016 |

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Racists, let your freak flag fly.

The message on the receipt rattled Sadie Karina Elledge, but it made her grandfather see red.

Instead of leaving a gratuity on Monday, a couple eating at the Harrisonburg, Va., restaurant where Sadie works scrawled: “We only tip citizens.”

The dig was aimed at Sadie, 18, who was born in the United States but is of Honduran and Mexican descent. So, John Elledge took a photo of the grease-stained receipt left for his granddaughter and posted it on Facebook.

Beneath the photo he typed: “You are a complete and total piece of dung.”

Earlier on Facebook, the lawyer had written some other harsh words:

I’d happily do the jail time if I could get just one solid punch in to the face of the son of a bitch who paid for his meal at the luncheonette where my granddaughter works and left the receipt for her with a note saying, “Sorry, we only tip citizens.”

Elledge, who is white, told The Washington Post he’s particularly sensitive to slights directed at his multicultural family.

FWIW, this is also another reason why we need to pay restaurant workers a decent wage and eliminate tipping.

Irving Fields, RIP

[ 9 ] August 23, 2016 |

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The wonderful Irving Fields has died at the age of 101. Fields was a brilliant piano player and probably the last living man on the Catskill circuit of the postwar years who in the 1950s combined Jewish music traditions with Latin rhythms. His most famous album is 1959’s Bagels and Bongos, the height of this combination. It’s simply a wonderful album that is a tremendous amount of fun to listen to. Fields, having great success on that album, recorded a bunch of other albums combining European lounge and Latin traditions. I also Champagne and Bongos, which builds on French cafe music. It’s good, but not as good as Bagels. In his late career, he was picked up in the John Zorn circle, which allowed him to record some albums of Zorn’s Tzadik label. His album Oy Vey! Ole! with the percussionist Roberto Rodriguez is absolutely fantastic. His solo album on Tzadik, My Yiddishe Mama, is quite good, although in my view it has the limits of most solo piano albums which is a lack of varied sound. Fields played weekly in an Italian restaurant in New York until just a few months ago. I am disappointed with myself for not finding a reason to go see him play. Here’s a few available clips from his long career. RIP.

Texas Conservatives Are Winning Their War on Women

[ 55 ] August 23, 2016 |

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Good god Texas.

The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found, for an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world.

The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.

In the wake of the report, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.

No one can say that Texas conservatives don’t know what they are doing. I would like to see how this specifically affects Latinas, because dollars to donuts, the biggest impact is in south Texas. But this article doesn’t explore that.

Building on Obamacare

[ 116 ] August 23, 2016 |

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The Affordable Care Act is arguably the biggest progressive legislative victory since the Johnson administration. It’s also deeply flawed and in need of update in many areas. These two statements are not contradictory. The question, as Jim Newell asks, is whether Democrats are ready to build upon that great victory and improve the law.

First, some of the issues, which have been more in the news lately because of Aetna deciding to play the villain.

But it’s becoming clearer that the Affordable Care Act, for all its advances, is due for the sort of legislative maintenance that most major laws require after implementation. Two temporary federal programs, reinsurance and risk corridors, designed to cushion losses for insurers as they determined sustainable premium price points in new markets, expire in 2017 as the exchanges enter their fourth year of operation. Carriers serving sicker-than-expected pools or rural areas find that their options are either to sharply increase premiums or to leave the exchanges altogether. Average premium increase requests from insurers on the individual exchanges are well into the double digits across much of the country. And a Kaiser estimate in May projected the number of counties that could have a single exchange insurer in 2017 to be 664—70 percent of which are mostly rural—up from 225 in 2016. That number will increase following Aetna’s withdrawal and could reach roughly a quarter of all counties in the country. Alabama, Alaska, South Carolina, and Wyoming are set to have just one insurer offering coverage on their exchanges in 2017. Most of North Carolina, except for the Raleigh metropolitan region, will be down to one insurer as well.

One problem with legislative redress for Obamacare is that the legislators who are supposed to do the redressing seem less than eager to return to the front where not long ago they’d declared victory. The second problem is that, once again, the fight will almost certainly involve the public option.

So what about the public option and what, if anything, are Democrats ready to do if they have a big win in November? Newell correctly notes that most Democratic politicians see the fight as protecting the ACA from Republicans and therefore really not articulating any changes. He does have a slight bit of hope that Hillary Clinton will push toward something like the public option.

There is one Democratic figure who might be in office in 2017 who has treated the law’s shortcomings seriously and put together a bevy of health care proposals—and she happens to be the party’s presidential nominee.

In the beginning of the campaign, Hillary Clinton, too, suffered from the “everything is fine!” bug, going so far as to red-bait Sen. Bernie Sanders over his Medicare-for-all plan. Sanders’ specific proposal suffered from some fuzzy math. But he understood that though the ACA was a vast improvement on an untenable status quo, its flaws really were flaws, and it made little sense to avoid confronting them just because doing so would be a pain. One staple of Sanders’ events during the campaign was to ask members of his crowds to raise their hands if they were facing sharp premium increases, and then to say how large the increase was. There was never a shortage of volunteers.

Eventually Clinton put together a series of health care proposals. It wasn’t the overhaul Sanders wanted, but he gave his enthusiastic endorsement anyway. Clinton would add a Medicare “buy-in” option for those 55 and older, and she also committed to doubling the money for community health centers from the funding mark set in the original ACA, an important provision won by Sanders in 2009. She offered further inducement for states that haven’t already accepted the Medicaid expansion to do so and would grant the HHS secretary additional “authority to block or modify unreasonable health insurance premium rate increases,” increase resources for enrollment outreach, and expand existing exchange subsidies.

And yes, she’s also pledged to “pursue efforts to give Americans in every state in the country the choice of a public-option insurance plan.”

It’s unclear how high a public option, and the political fight that will come with it, ranks atop Clinton’s list of priorities. But if 2017 open enrollment goes poorly and more insurers flee the exchanges, the public option—which has always polled well—would be an obvious go-to solution for restoring competition. The idea doesn’t rely on hand-holding private insurers until they feel properly incentivized to perform their societal function. It is a direct delivery of health insurance plans to health insurances exchanges. “Health care markets will inevitably differ from region to region,” Jacob Hacker, the Yale professor and so-called “father of the public option,” wrote in Vox on Thursday, “but there’s no reason every one of the existing marketplaces couldn’t offer a Medicare-like plan—a plan that’s stable; a plan with predictable costs; a plan that gives patients a broad choice of providers just as Medicare does.” It would also save money—$158 billion over 10 years, according to a 2013 Congressional Budget Office estimate.

There’s another problem that Newell does not discuss, but that I feel. The ACA was a big win but the Tea Party’s rise and McConnell destroying the historical norms of the Senate has meant that it’s now been 7 years since we have seen a major progressive bill become law. The victories of the last 7 years have been in the courts (especially in the last few months) and through the executive branch. There are a lot of other priorities that have been ignored or put aside. If Clinton wins and has the ability to pass any legislation (just play along here), I think her top two priorities should be an immigration bill with a path to citizenship for undocumented Americans and a sizable minimum wage increase. Both of these have significant political support and are fairly simply to articulate. After that, maybe health care comes back on the table, but so does a climate bill, college tuition and debt issues, a revived Employee Free Choice Act, and a whole lot of other things. Given all of this, to what extent should Democrats fight to improve Obamacare?

Which, in other words, means that this could serve as a thread on what you think Clinton’s top legislative priorities should be, in particular keeping in mind what is actually possible, even if she does have 55 senators and a narrow House majority for the precisely 2 years that will probably last.

Rules for Wives, 1955

[ 176 ] August 23, 2016 |

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This list of Good Housekeeping’s 1955 “Good House Wife’s Guide” has been getting a lot of attention on ye ol’intertubes. What are those guidelines?

1.) Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.

2.) Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

3.) Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

4.) Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

5.) Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dust cloth over the tables.

6.) Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

7.) Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes.

8.) Children are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

9.) Be happy to see him. Free him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. Listen to him.

10.) You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first — remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

11.) Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

12.) Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where you husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

13.) Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

14.) Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

15.) Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

16.) Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

17.) Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment of integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

18.) A good wife always knows her place.

Of course the response has been the expected combination of incredulity, outrage, anger, and gladness that we don’t live in 1955. And that’s all fine. I feel that way too. “You have no right to question him”???? Wow. It is however worth noting a couple of things here. First, just because the ideology of the 1950s was this directly sexist doesn’t mean that it reflected the realities of people’s lives. That’s especially true when it comes to working class women who were laboring in the workforce, as well as taking care of the kids at home. Yeah, they were doing double work in a sexist society, but it’s not like women were staying at home being the submissive housewife. These rules did not reflect actual relations between men and women at home. However, there’s also no question that even working women came to believe that this sort of arrangement was the domestic ideal during this period, with polling showing that the vast majority of Americans believed women shouldn’t work if a husband could take care of them. It’s interesting to consider why such stark guidelines became popular during a period of relative peace and domestic prosperity and I suppose the back of the cocktail napkin answer is that after 20 years of turmoil, a return to normalcy was very appealing to people, even if that normalcy was an imagined and romanticized past. It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt with the historical literature on these issues, as neither my work nor teaching really covers any of this. No doubt readers can add more to the conversation. But in any case, it is worth noting that this sort of thing isn’t actually what was happening in the vast majority of American homes. And where it was, it tended to be in the homes of the wealthy, which is why Betty Friedan and her friends seem to have been more directly affected by all of this than the working and middle classes.

Speaking of the ideology of post-war middle class whites, watch this great film by the magazine Redbook if you haven’t. Or even if you have.

Eliminate Jungle Primaries

[ 124 ] August 23, 2016 |

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One policy many voting reform advocates like are top-two primaries. But they are terrible because they don’t actually give voters choices. What you often see is the situation we now have in Washington, where the top two primary winners for the office of state treasurer are Republicans because two Republicans ran and three Democrats ran and so the vote was more split on that side. That’s hardly an improvement for some pure idea of democracy that so many voting reform advocates turn into a fetish. The Daily Kos Elections people rip this system apart.

On Friday, Washington’s secretary of state certified the results of the state’s Aug. 2 primaries, cementing an atrocious and under-reported outcome in this year’s open treasurer’s race. Thanks to Washington’s top-two primary, a pair of Republicans will advance to the November general election, meaning no voter will be able to cast a ballot for a Democrat—this in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since the Reagan landslide of 1984.

In fact, Washington hasn’t elevated a Republican to the treasurer’s office since 1952, when Republican Charles Maybury won a 1-point squeaker the same year Ike was cruising to victory. That trend should have and would have continued this year, had a perfect storm of suck not materialized, as just two Republicans ran for treasurer along with three Democrats. Under the top-two system, all candidates run together on a single primary ballot, and the two highest vote-getters move on to the general election, regardless of party. And because that trio of Democrats managed to split the vote ever so precisely, the two GOP candidates were able to take the top two slots, though it was very close.

As a consequence, the final battle will take place between Benton County Treasurer Duane Davidson, who wound up in first with 25 percent of the vote, and finance executive Michael Waite, the runner-up with 23. The top Democrat was state Sen. Marko Liias, who took finished just out of the money with 20 percent, while pension consultant John Comerford grabbed 18 and former Port of Seattle Commissioner Alec Fisken ended with 13. In other words, even though primary voters backed Democrats by a 52-48 margin overall, they won’t get the chance to back a Democrat in the fall.

We’ve seen this same phenomenon before, but this is the first single-party statewide election ever to take place in Washington. That’s just terrible for democracy. California also uses a top-two primary, and there, polls show that many Republican voters simply plan to sit out this year’s Senate race between Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. But at least we know that California, a very blue state, would likely have elected a Democrat to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer anyway. Washington, by contrast, almost certainly would have voted in another Democrat as treasurer, so the situation here is particularly perverse.

Supposed “good-government” reformers naïvely believed that eliminating partisan primaries would somehow crank down partisan gridlock by forcing office-seekers to moderate their views in order to win. Not only has that not happened, but voters have repeatedly been denied the opportunity to vote for the party of their choice thanks to debacles like these. It’s long past time for proponents to acknowledge their mistake and advocate for a return to proper primaries—and proper democracy.

I have to admit that I find the “good government” people really annoying, from the Progressives to a lot of voting reform advocates today, because policy positions and results take a back seat to abstract ideas of democracy as the ultimate goal. But the problem is that in the real world, such ideas are easily perverted, as we see here. And really it isn’t any better in California, where Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez are the two Democrats running for the Senate. In this case, this could have easily been taken care of in a real party primary and the Republicans would have representation in the general election. It hasn’t less to more moderation among candidates and it hasn’t led to individual policymaker over political party. Here’s another lengthy discussion on the disaster that is the jungle primary.

I simply see no benefit to top-two primaries. And I see a lot of downside, with voters actually disfranchised simply because more ego-driven politicians decided to split the vote of one of the parties, thus ensuring that both finalists were from the other party. Explain to me how this is a good end.

The Big Grift

[ 53 ] August 22, 2016 |

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Let’s remember what the long-term goal for Trump is in 2016: to monetize his voters by creating his own conservative media empire. No one likes to be parted with their money more than conservative voters by those who tell them what they want to hear.

Homelessness and the National Forests

[ 41 ] August 22, 2016 |

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Given the vast domain of the national forests in many parts of the country and the limited resources to police them, it’s hardly surprising that the national forests have become a refuge for the homeless. This of course results from a whole array of public policy failures that lead to homelessness. It also causes a major number of new public policy problems, including wildfires, as the people of the Boulder area discovered earlier this year when a fire started by two homeless men who didn’t extinguish their campfire rapidly became scary before being controlled before it became a complete conflagration.

Forest law enforcement officers say they are seeing more dislocated people living off the land, often driven there by drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, lost jobs or scarce housing in costly mountain towns. And as officers deal with more emergency calls, drug overdoses, illegal fires and trash piles deep in the woods, tensions are boiling in places like Nederland that lie on the fringes of the United States’ forests and loosely patrolled public lands.

“The anger is palpable,” said Hansen Wendlandt, the pastor at the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church.

Some residents have begun taking photographs of hitchhikers or videotaping confrontations with homeless people camping in the woods and posting them online, including on a private Facebook page created recently called Peak to Peak Forest Watch. Some say the campers have cursed at them for driving past without picking them up, or yelled at them while they were cycling or hiking. They say they no longer feel comfortable in some parts of the woods.

But as a homeless man named Julian, 30, hiked down from the hills and into Nederland one rainy afternoon, guitar and knapsack slung on his back, he said a passing driver yelled at him to get out of town. He said he, too, felt uncomfortable and was heading toward Estes Park, Colo., then on to Oregon. He did not give his last name because he said he did not want friends and family reading that he was homeless.

Mr. Wendlandt serves lunch and hands out socks to needy campers every Thursday. But he has stopped provisioning people with blankets and sleeping bags, worried that what seemed like compassion could be exacerbating a problem.

It’s important to touch on one of these problems more specifically, which is the lack of affordable housing or any kind of meaningful planning in the wealthy mountain towns of the West, especially Colorado. The workers in these towns really have no place to go anymore. It’s not like in the days when Hunter S. Thompson was running for sheriff and a bunch of hippies with no money were supporting him. These towns are loaded and they have no place for the workers required to provide the their services. Some commute from less desirable and more polluted places like Leadville, but even those towns are becoming expensive. Homelessness and thus illegal camping in the national forests is a natural result. Yet good luck bringing up public housing projects in Vail and Aspen and Breckenridge. Any sort of affordable housing is just getting off the ground in those towns.

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