Category Archives: Elections

#150: 2016 Retrospective

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #150, on the subject of 2016 Retrospective.

Periodically I try to look back over some period of time and review what I have published, and the end of the year is a good time to do this.  Thus before the new year begins I am offering you a reminder of articles you might have seen–or might have missed–over the past twelve months.  I am not going to recall them all.  For one thing, that would be far too many, and it in some cases will be easier to point to another location where certain categories of articles are indexed (which will appear more obvious as we progress).  For another, although we did this a year ago in web log post #34:  Happy Old Year, we also did it late in March in #70:  Writing Backwards and Forwards, when we had finished posting Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel.  So we will begin with the last third of March, and will reference some articles through indices and other sources.

I have divided articles into the categories which I thought most appropriate to them.  Many of these articles are reasonably in two or more categories–articles related to music often relate to writing, or Bible and theology; Bible and politics articles sometimes are nearly interchangeable.  I, of course, think it is all worth reading; I hope you think it at least worth considering reading.

I should also explain those odd six-digit numbers for anyone for whom they are not obvious, because they are at least non-standard.  They are YYMMDD, that is, year, month, and day of the date of publication of each article, each represented by two digits.  Thus the first one which appears, 160325, represents this year 2016, the third month March, and the twenty-fifth day.

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Let’s start with writings about writing.

There is quite a bit that should be in this category.  After all, that previous retrospective post appeared as we finished posting that first novel, and we have since posted the second, all one hundred sixty-two chapters of which are indexed in their own website section, Old Verses New.  If you’ve not read the novels, you have some catching up to do.  I also published one more behind-the-writings post on that first novel, #71:  Footnotes on Verse Three, Chapter One 160325, to cover notes unearthed in an old file on the hard drive.

Concurrent with the release of those second novel chapters there were again behind-the-writings posts, this time each covering nine consecutive chapters and hitting the web log every two weeks.  Although they are all linked from that table-of-contents page, since they are web log posts I am listing them here:  #74:  Another Novel 160421; #78:  Novel Fears 160506; #82:  Novel Developments 160519; #86:  Novel Conflicts 160602; #89:  Novel Confrontations 160623; #91:  Novel Mysteries 160707; #94:  Novel Meetings 160721; #100:  Novel Settling 160804; #104:  Novel Learning 160818; #110:  Character Redirects 160901;
#113:  Character Movements 160916;
#116:  Character Missions 160929;
#119:  Character Projects 161013;
#122:  Character Partings 161027; #128:  Character Gatherings 161110; #134:  Versers in Space 161124; #142:  Characters Unite 161208; and #148:  Characters Succeed 161222.

I have also added a Novel Support Section which at this point contains character sheets for several of the characters in the first novel and one in the second; also, if you have enjoyed reading the novels and have not seen #149:  Toward the Third Novel 161223, it is a must-read.

Also on the subject of writing, I discussed what was required for someone to be identified as an “author” in, appropriately, #72:  Being an Author 160410.  I addressed #118:  Dry Spells 161012 and how to deal with them, and gave some advice on #132:  Writing Horror 161116.  There was also one fun Multiverser story which had been at Dice Tales years ago which I revived here, #146:  Chris and the Teleporting Spaceships 161220

I struggled with where on this list to put #120:  Giving Offense 161014.  It deals with political issues of sexuality and involves a bit of theological perspective, but ultimately is about the concept of tolerance and how we handle disagreements.

It should be mentioned that not everything I write is here at M. J. Young Net; I write a bit about writing in my Goodreads book reviews.

Of course, I also wrote a fair amount of Bible and Theology material.

Part of it was apologetic, that is, discussing the reasons for belief and answers to the arguments against it.  In this category we have #73:  Authenticity of the New Testament Accounts 160413, #76:  Intelligent Simulation 160424 (specifically addressing an incongruity between denying the possibility of “Intelligent Design” while accepting that the universe might be the equivalent of a computer program), and #84:  Man-made Religion 160527 (addressing the charge that the fact all religions are different proves none are true).

Other pages are more Bible or theology questions, such as #88:  Sheep and Goats 160617, #90:  Footnotes on Guidance 160625, #121:  The Christian and the Law 161022, and #133:  Your Sunday Best 161117 (on why people dress up for church).

#114:  St. Teresa, Pedophile Priests, and Miracles 160917 is probably a bit of both, as it is a response to a criticism of Christian faith (specifically the Roman Catholic Church, but impacting all of us).

There was also a short miniseries of posts about the first chapter of Romans, the sin and punishment it presents, and how we as believers should respond.  It appeared in four parts:  #138:  The Sin of Romans I 161204, #139:  Immorality in Romans I 161205, #140:  Societal Implications of Romans I 161206, and #141:  The Solution to the Romans I Problem 161207.

Again, not everything I wrote is here.  The Faith and Gaming series and related materials including some from The Way, the Truth, and the Dice are being republished at the Christian Gamers Guild; to date, twenty-six such articles have appeared, but more are on the way including one written recently (a rules set for what I think might be a Christian game) which I debated posting here but decided to give to them as fresh content.  Meanwhile, the Chaplain’s Bible Study continues, having completed I & II Peter and now entering the last chapter of I John.

Again, some posts which are listed below as political are closely connected to principles of faith; after all, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are inextricably connected.  Also, quite a few of the music posts are also Bible or theology posts, since I have been involved in Christian music for decades.

So Music will be the next subject.

Since it is something people ask musicians, I decided to give some thought and put some words to #75:  Musical Influences 160423, the artists who have impacted my composing, arranging, and performances.

I also reached into my memories of being in radio, how it applies to being a musician and to being a writer, in #77:  Radio Activity 160427.

I wrote a miniseries about ministry and music, what it means to be a minister and how different kinds of ministries integrate music.  It began by saying not all Christian musicians are necessarily ministers in #95:  Music Ministry Disconnect 160724, and then continued with #97:  Ministry Calling 160728, #98:  What Is a Minister? 160730, #99:  Music Ministry of an Apostle 160803, #101:  Prophetic Music Ministry 160808, #102:  Music and the Evangelist Ministry 160812, #103:  Music Ministry of the Pastor 160814, #106:  The Teacher Music Ministry 160821, and
#107:  Miscellaneous Music Ministries 160824.  As something of an addendum, I posted #109:  Simple Songs 160827, a discussion of why so many currently popular songs seem to be musically very basic, and why given their purpose that is an essential feature.

In related areas, I offered #111:  A Partial History of the Audio Recording Industry 160903 explaining why recored companies are failing, #129:  Eulogy for the Record Album 161111 discussing why this is becoming a lost art form, and #147:  Traditional versus Contemporary Music 161221 on the perennial argument in churches about what kinds of songs are appropriate.

The lyrics to my song Free 161017 were added to the site, because it was referenced in one of the articles and I thought the readers should be able to find them if they wished.

There were quite a few articles about Law and Politics, although despite the fact that this was an “election year” (of course, there are elections every year, but this one was special), most of them were not really about that.  By March the Presidential race had devolved into such utter nonsense that there was little chance of making sense of it, so I stopped writing about it after talking about Ridiculous Republicans and Dizzying Democrats.

Some were, of course.  These included the self-explanatory titles #123:  The 2016 Election in New Jersey 161104, #124:  The 2016 New Jersey Public Questions 161105, #125:  My Presidential Fears 161106, and #127:  New Jersey 2016 Election Results 161109, and a few others including #126:  Equity and Religion 161107 about an argument in Missouri concerning whether it should be legal to give state money to child care and preschool services affiliated with religious groups, and #131:  The Fat Lady Sings 161114, #136:  Recounting Nonsense 161128, and #143:  A Geographical Look at the Election 161217, considering the aftermath of the election and the cries to change the outcome.

We had a number of pages connected to the new sexual revolution, including #79:  Normal Promiscuity 160507, #83:  Help!  I’m a Lesbian Trapped in a Man’s Body! 160521, and #115:  Disregarding Facts About Sexual Preference 160926.

Other topics loosely under discrimination include #87:  Spanish Ice Cream 160616 (about whether a well-known shop can refuse to take orders in languages other than English), #130:  Economics and Racism 161112 (about how and why unemployment stimulates racist attitudes), and #135:  What Racism Is 161127 (explaining why it is possible for blacks to have racist attitudes toward whites).  Several with connections to law and economics include #105:  Forced Philanthropy 160820 (taxing those with more to give to those with less), #108:  The Value of Ostentation 160826 (arguing that the purchase of expensive baubles by the rich is good for the poor), #137:  Conservative Penny-pinching 161023 (discussing spending cuts), and #145:  The New Internet Tax Law 161219 (about how Colorado has gotten around the problem of charging sales tax on Internet purchases).

A few other topics were hit, including one on freedom of speech and religion called #144:  Shutting Off the Jukebox 161218, one on scare tactics used to promote policy entitled #80:  Environmental Blackmail 160508, and one in which court decisions in recent immigration cases seem likely to impact the future of legalized marijuana, called #96:  Federal Non-enforcement 160727.

Of course Temporal Anomalies is a popular subject among the readers; the budget has been constraining of late, so we have not done the number of analyses we would like, but we did post a full analysis of Time Lapse 160402.  We also reported on #85:  Time Travel Coming on Television 160528, and tackled two related issues, #81:  The Grandfather Paradox Problem 160515 and #117:  The Prime Universe 160930.

We have a number of other posts that we’re categorizing as Logic/Miscellany, mostly because they otherwise defy categorization (or, perhaps, become categories with single items within them).  #92:  Electronic Tyranny 060708 is a response to someone’s suggestion that we need to break away from social media to get our lives back.  #93:  What Is a Friend? 060720 presents two concepts of the word, and my own preference on that.  #112:  Isn’t It Obvious? 160904 is really just a couple of real life problems with logical solutions.  I also did a product review of an old washing machine that was once new, Notes on a Maytag Centennial Washing Machine 160424.

Although it does not involve much writing, with tongue planted firmly in cheek I offer Gazebos in the Wild, a Pinterest board which posts photographs with taxonomies attempting to capture and identify these dangerous wild creatures in their natural habitats.  You would have to have heard the story of Eric and the Gazebo for that to be funny, I think.

Of course, I post on social media, but the interesting ones are on Patreon, and mostly because I include notes on projects still ahead and life issues impeding them.  As 2017 arrives, I expect to continue writing and posting–I already have two drafts, one on music and the other on breaking bad habits.  I invite your feedback.

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#143: A Geographical Look at the Election

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #143, on the subject of A Geographical Look at the Election.

For most of my life, I remember presidential races which ended sometime late on the night of Election Day when one of the candidates took the stage, conceded the election, and congratulated the opponent; then the other candidate took a different stage, thanked his supporters, said a few respectful words about his opponent, and started working toward his term in office.  Politics was still something of a “gentleman’s game”, and the losers lost gracefully and the winners won graciously.

This time, the losers refuse to accept their loss.  It is one of those elections–not for the first time–that majority of voters supported the losing candidate, and so there has been blame cast on the Electoral College system, and calls for recounts, and most recently suggestions that the Russians hacked the election process.  With the Wisconsin recount actually increasing the margin by which Trump took the state, the Michigan recount discovering massive fraud in many of the precincts won by Clinton, and the courts blocking the vital Pennsylvania recount, they are getting desperate.

For myself, I am worried that the polarization of America is going to lead to some sort of civil war.  I look not so much at the population but at the geography of the matter, and have reason to worry.

This electoral results map of Illinois, copied from Politico, is typical of "blue" states taken by Clinton:  a few patches of "blue" in the populous areas within a sea of mostly red.
This electoral results map of Illinois, copied from Politico, is typical of “blue” states taken by Clinton:  a few patches of “blue” in the populous areas within a sea of mostly red.
  • In Alabama, Trump took fifty-four of sixty-seven counties–over eighty percent–leaving just thirteen for Clinton.  Perhaps more significantly, he had over seventy-five percent of the vote in twenty-three of them–Clinton successfully doing so in only two.  Of course, Alabama was a strong win for Trump overall, with 62.9% of the vote to Clinton’s 34.6%.
  • Alaska was not so strong a victory for Trump, with only 52.9% of the vote, but a lot of voters went to third-party candidates there leaving Clinton a paltry 37.7%.  The state apparently has only one county, so while the state is not massively for Trump, it does seem to be massively against Clinton.
  • Arizona was a close one, with only 49.5% of the vote going to Trump and a strong 45.4% going to Clinton.  Eleven of fifteen counties went to Trump there.
  • Arkansas was another strong Trump win; of seventy-four counties, Clinton took only eight–under eleven percent–leaving sixty-six for Trump, along with 60.4% of the vote to her 33.8%.  He also took more than seventy-five percent of the vote in nine counties–more counties than she took total–with her best about sixty-two percent in one county.
  • California of course went strongly for Clinton, with 61.6% of the vote to Trump’s 32.8%.  However, of fifty-eight counties, Trump actually took the majority of the votes in twenty-five–about forty-three percent, leaving thirty-three for Clinton.
  • Colorado was a close win for Clinton, with 47.2% of the vote to Trump’s 44.4%.  However, Trump had majorities in forty-one of sixty-four counties, almost two-thirds, leaving Clinton only twenty-three.  Further, in eleven of those counties Trump took at least seventy-five percent of the vote, a feat Clinton only achieved in one of them.
  • Connecticut was a bit better for Clinton–she took 54.5% of the vote to Trump’s 41.2%.  She even took most of the small state geographically–six out of eight counties.  She did not get as much sixty percent of the vote in any one of them, though.
  • Delaware also went to Clinton, with 53.4% of the vote to Trump’s 41.9%.  However, only one of the three counties went for Clinton, the other two supporting Trump, one of them very strongly.
  • The District of Columbia is not a state and has no congressional representation, but it does get three electoral votes; 92.8% of its tiny population went for Clinton, 4.1% for Trump.  Obviously it does not have counties, so like Alaska it is a single unit.
  • Trump took a slight edge in Florida, with 49.1% to Clinton’s 47.8%; I’m surprised Jill Stein didn’t call for a recount there, but that might be a politically sensitive issue there.  However, the geographical disproportionality is tremendous there:  Of sixty-seven counties, Clinton took only nine–a little more than one eighth–leaving fifty-eight for Trump.  Further, he took better than seventy-five percent in eleven counties, and she did not approach that level in any.
  • Georgia was Trump, at 51.3% to Clinton’s 45.6%.  Again, though, the geography is overwhelming:  Clinton had thirty of one hundred fifty-nine counties, giving one hundred twenty-nine–over eighty percent–to Trump.  In forty of those–a quarter of all the counties in the state–he took over seventy-five percent of the vote; Clinton reached that mark in only two counties.
  • 62.3% of Hawaiian voters went for Clinton, and only 30.1% for Trump.  Here Clinton had a strong showing, taking majorities in all four counties, all between sixty and sixty-five percent against Trump’s twenty-five to thirty-five percent.
  • Idaho was 59.2% for Trump, 27.6% for Clinton, but it is even worse than that.  Clinton only placed first in two of forty-four counties, and there were seven counties in which she placed third behind an independent candidate popular in the western states named Evan McMullin, coming out of the Republican party and thus reducing Trump’s support.
  • Clinton took Illinois with 55.4% of the vote to Trump’s 39.4%, but the geography again is against her:  of one hundred two counties, she took only eleven, giving ninety-one–almost ninety percent–to Trump.  He took nineteen of those with better than seventy-five percent of the vote; Clinton’s best showing was just shy of that.
  • Indiana went to Trump with 57.2% of the vote to Clinton’s 37.9%.  On top of that, only four counties favored Clinton, the other eighty-eighty going to Trump, and her best showing was not quite sixty percent, while again Trump took more than three quarters of the vote in nine counties.
  • Iowa has ninety-nine counties, of which ninety-three went to Trump, only six to Clinton.  He took the state with 51.8% of the vote to her 42.2%.  It was a more moderate victory–he took three quarters of the vote or more in only four counties.
  • Trump not only took Kansas with 57.2% of the vote to Clinton’s 36.2%, he took one hundred two of its one hundred four counties, fifty-three of them–more than half–by at least three quarters of the vote.
  • Kentucky has one hundred twenty counties, and Clinton took the majority of votes in two.  She did take 42.7% of the total vote, losing to Trump’s 62.7%; he took more than three-quarters of the vote in fifty-seven counties.
  • Trump had another strong win in Louisiana, with 58.1% of the vote to Clinton’s 38.4%.  Louisiana doesn’t actually have “counties” because it calls them “parishes”, a throwback to the fact that it was originally organized as a French territory, but they serve the same function, and Trump took fifty-four of sixty-four, leaving ten for Clinton.  He took thirteen of those with seventy-five percent or more of the vote; Clinton took one of hers at that margin.
  • Maine is one of the two states that apportions its electoral votes according to the percent of voters, and so Clinton’s 47.9% of the vote got her three of those votes, Trump’s 45.2% garnishing him the remaining one.  Although the map looks a lot “redder” than “blue”, it’s because the seven coastal counties Clinton took are a lot smaller, geographically, than the nine much larger inland counties that when to Trump.  All of these were close.
  • Maryland strongly favored Clinton, with 60.5% of the vote going to her, 35.3% to Trump.  The map, though, shows that Clinton’s support was localized to the suburbs of Baltimore and of Washington, D. C.–she took six of twenty-three counties plus Baltimore City (counted separately from Baltimore County, which she also took), leaving seventy percent of the counties for Trump.  She had strong victories in two of her counties, taking at least three quarters of the vote, but he did as well in one of his.
  • Massachusetts is entirely blue–Clinton took every one of fourteen counties.  She got three quarters of the vote in one of them, and state-wide took 60.8% to Trump’s 33.5%.
  • As we noted, the recount in Michigan has uncovered massive voter fraud in many districts taken by the Democrats.  However, the numbers before the recount gave Trump 47.6% of the vote to Clinton’s 47.3%, and despite the claim that it is supposed to be a “blue” state, the map is mostly red–seventy-five of eighty-three counties went to Trump, leaving Clinton with eight.
  • Clinton squeaked out a victory in Minnesota, with 46.9% of the vote to Trump’s 45.4%–but again the blue state looks very red.  Of eighty-seven counties, only nine went to Clinton, seventy-eight to Trump.
  • The geography is not quite so lopsided in Mississippi, where Clinton took twenty-four of eighty-two counties, not quite a third, four of them with better than three quarters of the vote; but Trump took the other fifty-eight counties, seventeen of them with at least three quarters of the vote, and took the state with 58.3% to her 39.7%.
  • Show me Missouri, and I see a solid Trump win with 57.1% of the vote to Clinton’s 38.0%.  Geographically I see an even stronger showing, as Trump took majorities in one hundred twelve of one hundred fifteen counties, leaving Clinton to claim only three, plus St. Louis City (counted separately from St. Louis County, which she also took).  Trump took at least three quarters of the vote in sixty-six of those counties, more than half; Clinton did so well only in St. Louis City itself.
  • Montana also went to Trump, 56.5% to 36.0%, and again even more dramatically looked at geographically.  Clinton took only five of fifty-five counties, about nine percent against Trump’s ninety-one percent, fifty counties.  He took eighteen of those by at least seventy-five percent of the vote, one of them by over ninety percent.  In two of the five Clinton won she actually took less than fifty percent of the vote, but beat Trump due to strong showings by Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
  • In Nebraska, Clinton took majorities in only two of ninety-three counties, and in both she had less than fifty percent of the vote, Libertarian Gary Johnson making a strong showing.  She took only 34% of the vote to Trump’s 60.3%, and he sixty-three counties by at least seventy-five percent of the vote, four of them by over ninety percent.
  • Clinton took Nevada, 47.9% to 45.5%, but she only took two of the seventeen counties in Nevada, the other fifteen going to Trump–and she didn’t actually have a majority of the voters in one of the counties she took, while Trump had at least three quarters of the votes in four of his counties.

    Are you noticing a pattern here?

  • Our “new” states start, alphabetically, with New Hampshire, where Clinton took 47.6% to Trump’s 47.2%.  Although it is a lot closer, again geographically Trump is favored, taking six of ten counties.  All of them were close.
  • New Jersey was 55.0% for Clinton, 41.8% for Trump, and for once she got the slim majority of counties–twelve of twenty-one, leaving nine for Trump.  Most counties were close; in none did either candidate take three quarters of the vote.
  • In New Mexico, the vote went for Clinton, 48.3% to 40.0%, but the geography slightly favored Trump.  He took the majority in nineteen counties, Clinton in fourteen.
  • New York, where Clinton was once Senator, went for her by 58.8% to 37.5% for Trump, who considers it his home state.  Still, of sixty-two counties, Clinton took majorities in only sixteen, leaving Trump forty-six counties, less than one percent shy of three quarters of them.  She took three quarters of the vote in four of those counties, all of them containing parts of New York City.
  • By the population, Trump edged out Clinton in North Carolina with 50.5% of the vote to her 46.7%.  She did better here geographically, taking twenty-four of the one hundred counties, not quite a quarter.  Trump took at least three-quarters of the vote in nine counties; Clinton did so in only one.
  • Further north we have North Dakota, which Trump took with 64.1% of the vote to Clinton’s 27.8%.  Trump also took all but two of fifty-three counties, twenty-one of them with at least three quarters of the vote.
  • In Ohio, Clinton took only seven of eighty-eight counties, and 43.5% of the vote against Trump’s 52.1%.  In a dozen of his eighty-one counties Trump took at least three-quarters of the vote.
  • Where the wind comes whistling down the plane in Olklahoma, it blew solidly to Trump, with 65.3% of the vote to Clinton’s 28.9, and every one of seventy-eight counties, and in more than half–forty-three of them–he took more than three quarters of the vote.
  • Clinton took Oregon, 51.7% to 41.1%, but again the map is mostly red–she took eight of thirty-six counties, two ninths, less than a quarter.  Clinton took at least three-quarters of the vote in one county, Trump in three.
  • Pennsylvania looks very close by the numbers, with Trump’s 48.8% squeaking past Clinton’s 47.6%, and a court ruling preventing a recount, but again geographically it does not look close at all.  Of sixty-seven counties, Clinton took only eleven, leaving fifty-six for Trump.  Clinton took one of those counties by better than three-quarters of the vote; Trump did so in seven.
  • Rhode Island, the smallest state geographically, where Clinton won with 55.4% of the vote to Trump’s 39.8, has only five counties; Trump took only one.
  • The geography is also better for Clinton in South Carolina, although still there she took only fifteen of forty-six counties, and only 40.8% of the vote to Trump’s 54.9%.  Clinton took better than seventy-five percent of the vote in one county.
  • Not so far south in South Dakota, sixty-one of sixty-six counties went to Trump, five to Clinton, as he took the state with 61.5% of the vote to her 31.7%.  He took sixteen of those counties with three quarters or more of the vote–more than three times as many at that rate than she took at all, although she did take three quarters of the vote in one of her counties–and one of his he took by better than nine out of ten votes cast.
  • Three of Tennessee’s ninety-five counties did not go to Trump, who took 61.1% of the vote in that state to Clinton’s 34.9%.  He took forty-eight of those by at least seventy-five percent of the vote.
  • It sounds good to say that in the next state Clinton took the majority in twenty-five counties, and with at least three-quarters of the vote in three of them–until you say that the state is Texas, and of its two hundred fifty-four counties that’s slightly less than ten percent, leaving two hundred twenty-nine for Trummp.  He took one hundred thirty-eight of those with at least seventy-five percent of the vote, eight of them with at least ninety percent.  He took the state with 52.6% of the vote to her 43.4%.
  • To say that Clinton placed first in only three of Utah’s twenty-nine counties is to understate how poorly she did there.  In only one of those three did she get more than half the votes, and that barely, and in fourteen of the twenty-six Trump won she placed third, behind that previously mentioned independent candidate popular in the western states, Evan McMullin, who also did well in Idaho, and who also tied her in a fifteenth second-place position here.  Despite this three-way race, Trump took five counties by at least seventy-five percent of the vote, and took 45.9% of the total against her 27.8%.
  • Clinton did manage very nearly to sweep the small state of Vermont, taking 61.1% of the vote to Trump’s 32.6% and holding a majority in all but one of its fourteen counties.
  • She also took 49.9% of the vote in Virginia, where Trump got 45.0%.  Virginia counts most of its cities separately from the counties in which they are situated.  She took twelve of the ninety-four counties and twenty-eight of the thirty-nine cities–generally small blue dots on a largely red map.  That’s ninety-three voting districts going to Trump, forty to Clinton, and he took sixteen of his counties by at least three-quarters of the votes, which she accomplished in five of her cities.
  • In Washington, they stopped counting after just over ninety percent of the precincts had reported; only seven of the thirty-eight counties were complete, of which Trump took six.  If we include all the counties, unfinished, Clinton took about twelve, Trump about twenty-six.  (One county, counted as for Clinton, is close enough that the uncounted votes may be about sixty times as many as the difference between Clinton and Trump there, so it is being generous to say she took that county.)  Of the votes counted, 54.4% went to Clinton, 38.2% to Trump, so although almost nine percent of the state remains unreported, it would not be sufficient to reverse the state outcome–only the national total.
  • West Virginia went strongly for Trump, 68.7% to Clinton’s 26.5%.  It is not surprising that he took majorities in every one of its fifty-five counties, twenty-two of them with at least three-quarters of the vote.
  • The recount in Wisconsin, as mentioned, reportedly found a few more votes for Trump; the originally reported totals gave him 47.9% against Clinton’s 46.9%.  Clinton’s strength gives her only thirteen of the state’s seventy-two counties, fifty-nine going to Trump.  She did take better than three-quarters of the vote in one of the counties on her list.
  • The last state on an alphabetical list, Wyoming, is also the one in which Trump had the best showing at 70.1% to Clinton’s 22.5%.  He did not take every one of the twenty-three counties–only twenty-two, leaving one for Clinton.  He did take fifteen of them with at least three-fourths of the votes.

So what’s the point of all this?  If you did the math (of course you didn’t, that’s my job), you noticed that if we count by reporting counties/cities, Trump took two thousand six hundred twenty eight, to Clinton’s four hundred eighty-three–84% of all the places in the country where voting was counted.  You might also note that if we average the percentage of votes each took in each state, Trump took 48.97% to Clinton’s 45.24%–that is, a greater percentage of people counted state by state preferred Trump.  He clearly is favored geographically.

So who cares?  Why should it matter if more places want Trump to be President, if we live in a democracy, and more people want Clinton?

And that is exactly what the Democratic party wants you to think:  all those people in all those places which are mostly outside the cities don’t matter and should not really be considered in how we, the urbane people from the urban centers, want to run the country.

They are actually counting on this for the future of their party:  the demographics say that people who live in these high-population-density areas tend to vote Democratic, and they are increasing in numbers faster than those in the more sparsely populated Republican areas, and so using the fact that we are a democracy they can bully the outnumbered rural and light suburban people into their plans.  As one of my rural friends commented, “How rude”.

But the fact is that we are not a democracy.  We are a federated republic–and the difference is important.  This is not you, me, and some maybe one hundred fifty million other voters deciding how to run our country.  We are not, first and foremost, a union of individuals, but a union of states, of political entities comprised of individuals.  This is about New Jersey and Utah, California and Colorado, Florida and New York, about three thousand counties in fifty states and one political district, coming together to agree as to how they, as separate political entities, will govern themselves collectively.  It says, inherently, that the people in the boondocks will be heard, will have a say in how they are governed.

Yet the people who want to cancel the Trump victory want to disenfranchise these people in the name of “democracy”.  These are the same people who complain that the country has tried to disenfranchise blacks, women, and other minorities.  Their entire political strategy is based on disenfranchising those with whom they disagree–despite the fact that these are the people who, in the main, provide our corn and our beef, our potatoes and our milk, our national petroleum, even to a large degree our fresh water.  Do you really want to tell these people that you don’t care about them, that they should not have a say in how their country is run?

The rural people won this time; they’ve lost a few over the past decade, and that’s the way the system works, passing the lead back and forth between the progressives and the reactionaries for a while, eventually (usually) settling to a middle ground which is more progressive than we were and not as progressive as the radicals wanted us to be.  But if you take this victory away from them, it’s going to hurt in ways that are likely to come back–not, perhaps, a civil war, but certainly a change in the way the producers of our necessities regard the massed consumers who are living in the urban areas and pretending that the people on whom their lives depend are inconsequential.

I don’t think that it will happen, that Trump’s victory will be overturned, but I thought all of those calling for it should give some consideration to what they are really saying.

The statistics in this article were compiled by hand from Politico; I apologize if there are any mistakes.

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#136: Recounting Nonsense

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #136, on the subject of Recounting Nonsense.

Many people are upset that Donald Trump won, or conversely that Hillary Clinton lost, the Presidential race.  There have been quite a few suggestions even now for how this loss could be turned to victory.  Not surprisingly, one of those calls is for several states to recount their ballots to determine whether, after all, Hillary might have won.  President Obama has brushed off such a suggestion, saying that the integrity of the system should not be questioned at this point, and the Clinton camp had decided not to pursue any recounts because they had no evidence of any irregularities.  However, a petition has now been filed in one state which Trump took which had been expected to go to Clinton, with announcements that two more are pending–and although Clinton’s people are joining in the petitions to protect their own legal interests, they are not the filers.

The irony is that the person filing these petitions is Green party candidate Jill Stein.  That is particularly ironic, because Stein’s candidacy is one of the reasons Clinton lost.

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Take Wisconsin, a state in which the final count gives Trump 1,409,467 votes, 47.9% of all votes cast, and Clinton 1,382,210, 46.9% of all votes cast.  Libertarian Gary Johnson placed a distant third with 106,442 votes, 3.6%, and Stein was an even more distant fourth, 30,980 votes, 1.1%.  The Green Party stands to the left of the Democratic party, particularly on environmental issues, and had everyone who voted for Stein voted for Clinton instead, she would have received 1,413,190, about 48% of the vote, taking the state by an even more narrow margin than that by which she lost it.  Of course, not everyone who voted for Stein would have voted for Clinton, many of them simply not voting, others selecting other candidates–but it is at least arguable that Stein cost Clinton Wisconsin.

(It should also be noted that if everyone who voted Libertarian voted Republican instead, Trump would have had more than half the votes in the state.  The Third Party Problem impacts both parties, not always equally.)

It has been announced that a petition will be filed in Pennsylvania before the deadline.  Here the third party impact is less clear:  Trump took 2,912,941 votes, 48.8%; Clinton took 2,844,705 votes, 47.6%.  Stein only took 48,912 votes, a mere 0.8%, not enough to put Clinton ahead but enough to narrow the gap sufficiently to make it more likely a recount would reverse the outcome.  (Here Libertarian Johnson took only 2.4%, 142,653 votes, which again would have put Trump over the 50% mark had they gone to him.)

Michigan is close enough that some observers have not considered it settled, and a recount almost makes sense for the loser:  Trump’s 2,279,805 votes is 47.6% against Clinton’s 2,268,193, 47.3%–and again, Stein’s 50,700 votes is 1.1% of the total, more than enough that it would have put Hillary in first place (but again Johnson’s 3.6%–173,057 votes–would have put Trump over the 50% mark).

It is overall a bad bet; Clinton must claim Pennsylvania, or she cannot overturn the election, and she must also claim either Wisconsin or Michigan.  Those two states together are not enough electoral votes to reverse the result, but Pennsylvania is not enough by itself without at least one or the other of those.  It could happen, but it’s very unlikely.

Stranger things have happened, but probably not this.

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#131: The Fat Lady Sings

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #131, on the subject of The Fat Lady Sings.

The votes are in, the polls are closed, the counting has nearly been completed, and it is clear that political outsider Republican Donald Trump has received more than enough electoral votes to become the next President of the United States.  It’s over.

The losers are sore; they don’t want it to be over.  Consummate politician and Washington insider Democrat Hillary Clinton received slightly more of the popular vote (less than one half of one percent, six hundred thirty thousand eight hundred seventy-seven (630,877) more votes than Trump out of one hundred twenty-seven million five hundred ninety-two thousand one hundred seventy-six (127,592,176) cast).  There are a lot of people who think that this means she should be the next President.  Some of them are petitioning for Electors pledged to Trump to “jump ship” and vote for Clinton instead, even if they are required by state law to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged.  Break the law, they say; pay the fine and save the country from this despicable Republican.  However, a lot of voters want this “despicable Republican” to be President, and there is a degree to which his victory is a vindication for one of the principle concepts of the Electoral College.

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We’ve discussed the Electoral College before, in Coalition Government, and to a lesser degree before that in The Birth Certificate:  Ballot Requirements; it is that system by which we the people do not vote for the President but for the Electors who will vote for the President.  Ironically, it appears that the Framers of the Constitution wanted it to be a system that usually failed–the way the text is written, if several people are running for President it is unlikely that one of them would receive a majority of Electors, which means that the Legislature would get to pick who it wanted for its Executive (that is, “the person who executes the directives of the legislature”) from the shortlist provided by the College giving us the sort of “executive does what the ruling party wants” streamlined government typical of the Parliament/Prime Minister structures of other countries.  It rarely happens that way, because very early we learned that a two-party system results in one of the candidates usually getting fifty-percent-plus-one of the votes in the College, and so most people vote for one of the two major parties and the President generally is chosen in the first vote.

Yet this underscores another important point:  The President of the United States was never intended to be primarily a representative of the People of the United States.  The office is established in such a way that he represents the States, the electors being chosen by the States according to such permissible methods as each State chooses.  Most States choose to vote as blocs:  whichever candidate gets the majority of voter support within the state, that’s the candidate for which the state votes.  The point is not for the voters to vote for the President; the point is for the voters to tell their individual States whom the State should support for President.  The States then appoint the person wanted by the majority of the States, weighted by population.

And that is what happened here.

James Nolt wrote an excellent article in The Street (Pundits Just Don’t Get It:  Here Is the Real Reason Why Trump Won), in which he observes that the “rust belt” states went to Trump.  These are the homes of the manufacturing unions–steel workers, automotive workers–and they have seen their jobs vanish overseas.  Trump promised to do something about it.  These are the homes of struggling farm laborers, displaced by immigrant farm workers.  Trump promised to do something about that.  His plans sound radical–cutting back on the immigration of low-wage immigrants, placing high import duties on foreign manufactured goods–but they are plans that go against the status quo, that oppose the progressivist universalist concept of a world market where workers who have to pay American-level prices have to compete with workers willing to take third-world-level wages.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, West Virginia, the Dakotas–these states all want someone in Washington who will change the rules of the economy game so that ordinary working class people once again stand a chance.

I suppose that Bernie Sanders might have appealed to them with his socialist views.  He was not an option.  Trump was the only candidate in the race that supported policies that gave hope to those workers, and whether or not those policies are practical, whether or not they can be implemented, whether or not they would work, workers wanted to give him that chance.

What it means is that the Democratic Coalition is cracking:  labor no longer believes the Democrats have their best interests in view.  Support for more immigration is not in the interests of labor.  Support for free trade agreements is not in the interests of labor.  Republicans may have worked to break union strangleholds on jobs in some states, but Democrats have taken the union vote for granted while ignoring labor concerns, and now they’re losing it.

States where people want economic change, and not the more-of-the-same promised by the Democrats, voted for Trump.  And the President of the United States is chosen by the States, the clear majority of whom (of fifty-one (which includes the District of Columbia) twenty-eight certain, one more still counting but probable, one of four votes from Maine) supported him.  (Clinton took twenty certain, one more probable but still counting, and the other three votes from Maine.)  Those States were heard.  Trump is now President-elect, and we can hope that whatever he does will bring jobs back to America.

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#127: New Jersey 2016 Election Results

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #127, on the subject of New Jersey 2016 Election Results.

We provided some advance explanation of the two Public Questions which were on the ballot, and did a quick rundown of the major candidates in the twelve congressional districts, and now we’re following up with the election results.  After all, with a lot of these events there is a great deal of coverage in anticipation of the moment, and then if you blink, you miss the outcome.  That shouldn’t be.

In the Presidential race, New Jersey consigned its fourteen electoral votes to the loser, Democrat Hillary Clinton, as Republican Donald Trump won comfortably.

Map of New Jersey's Electoral College vote, from Google, 3:00 Wednesday morning.
Map of New Jersey’s Electoral College vote, from Google, 3:00 Wednesday morning.

Public Question #1:  Constitutional Amendment to permit casino gambling in two counties other than Atlantic County, went down hard, about four to one against.  That means for the present casino gambling will be confined to Atlantic City, and the city will have to figure out how better to manage what it has.

Public Question #2:  Constitutional Amendment to dedicate additional revenues to state transportation system, ran very close, but sometime after midnight had clearly passed by a narrow margin, under fifty-five percent of the vote favoring it.  That means the state government will be forced to put the gasoline tax revenue into a dedicated account strictly for use by the Department of Transportation, which was the justification for the tax originally.

In the House of Representatives, all the incumbents were re-elected easily except in Congressional District 5, where Republican incumbent Scott Garrett was hurt by Libertarian Claudio Belusic in his race against Democrat Josh Gottheimer.  The Libertarian’s two-point-two percent of the vote was the best of any Libertarian candidate in the state (Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson took two percent of the vote in the state, the best showing of any third-party candidate), but even apart from that Gottheimer would have edged out a victory, with fifty-point-five percent of the vote in his favor.

This tips the balance of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, which for the past several years has been evenly split with six Republicans and six Democrats; with Gottheimer replacing Garrett we will be sending seven Democrats and only five Republicans to Washington.  Nationally the Republicans still hold the House, with two hundred thirty-six seats, a few lost from their current majority.  In the Senate, Republicans also lost one seat (in Illinois), but still hold a bare majority at fifty-one.

Here are the incoming United States Congressmen from New Jersey by district:

  1. Donald Norcross, Democrat, Incumbent.
  2. Frank Lobiondo, Republican, Incumbent.
  3. Tom MacArthur, Republican, Incumbent.
  4. Chris Smith, Republican, Incumbent.
  5. Josh Gottheimer, Democrat, Newcomer.
  6. Frank Pallone, Democrat, Incumbent.
  7. Leonard Lance, Republican, Incumbent.
  8. Albio Sires, Democrat, Incumbent.
  9. Bill Pascrell, Democrat, Incumbent.
  10. Donald Payne, Jr., Democrat, Incumbent.
  11. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Republican, Incumbent.
  12. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Democrat, Incumbent.

That gives us the shape of our Federal Government for the next two years.

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#126: Equity and Religion

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #126, on the subject of Equity and Religion.

I saw an article online, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, entitled Amendment 3:  A Stealth Attack on Religious Freedom  The title intrigued me, since I had no notion of what was happening in Missouri, so I skimmed the piece–and was rather surprised at what I found.  It struck me that the author did not have a very good grasp on exactly what “religious liberty” is, so I decided to pursue the matter here.

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The purpose of “Amendment 3”, apparently Missouri’s version of what we in New Jersey now call a Public Question, is to create a cigarette tax and use the money to fund early childhood education.  The tobacco industry has not made a lot of noise about it, at least directly–they have learned that people who smoke are very unlikely to stop simply because the amount of money they burn increases.  It seems like a positive idea, that if people are going to kill themselves slowly at least they can help fund the education of our children.

At issue is text that says the disbursement of funds raised will not be limited or prohibited by the State of Missouri Constitution’s “Prohibition of public aid for religious purposes and institutions” clause.  That means that if whatever method of distributing the money to help with preschool education would otherwise mean that a Lutheran- or Baptist- or Muslim or Jewish-run facility would qualify for some of that money, that facility is not automatically disqualified simply because it is administered by a church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious organization.  Opponents of the measure say that this is an attempt to bring funding of religious organizations in through a side door, and so force people to pay for religious education with public money.

It is not at all clear that that is what this is, and in fact from the description it sounds rather as if it is an attempt, not to show religious preference, but in fact precisely not to show it.  It is saying that the fact that a group of people trying to provide early childhood education happen to be believers of a particular religious philosophy will not disqualify them from being funded by this program–exactly what freedom of religion means, that we will not discriminate against you on the basis of what you believe.  As long as the program is administered impartially, part of that impartiality has to be that a program is not disqualified based on religious connections.

That is important for multiple reasons.

Social programs and particularly education have always been spearheaded in the Anglo-Saxon world by Christians and Christian organizations.  Our Ivy League colleges and many other schools and universities were originally founded by Christians to educate doctors, lawyers, and ministers.  Christians were the first to attempt to help the poor in England through education of their children.  In America, many settlers would arrive in a new location and build a church and a school as the fundamental institutions of society.  Meanwhile, the Jews have long put a heavy emphasis on educating their children, going back more than centuries, possibly millennia–a Hebrew boy became a man by proving he could read from the Torah, at least as early as the first century.  Religious people have been proponents of education, and education for all, even when the approved thinking was that education was for the privileged and powerful, to maintain their power and privilege.

Encouraging a group to do what we want them to do and they want to do anyway is good politics.

Besides, if the objectors are saying that it is a violation of the principle of freedom of religion to fund any organization that promotes a religious position, they’re going to have to stop funding public education as well.  St. Louis is a particularly interesting case, as it is the home of the headquarters of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church–not the most conservative Lutheran group, but conservative enough that they honestly believe in a six-day creation.  You might disagree; I don’t know that I agree.  However, whenever the State of Missouri uses its collected tax money to teach the scientific views about the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution, it is spending money to promote a religious idea–the idea that the Missouri Synod Lutheran belief in six-day creation is wrong.  Our objectors say that they do not want their tax money spent to fund organizations that will promote religious notions with which they disagree; now they know how their Lutheran neighbors feel.

The only way to treat religious people and their organizations fairly is to make the question of religious belief irrelevant to the question of funding social efforts.  Otherwise, it would be the same as saying that the government will not fund a day care run by a black man, or a preschool run by a woman.  Not discriminating on the basis of religion means that religious views are not a factor in the decision.  That’s what the amendment is saying.

How those programs are going to work has not yet been determined.  The simple way, though, is for the government to provide scholarships or tuition reimbursement for needy families trying to send their children to whatever preschools are available.  Some have argued that this kind of “voucher” system unconstitutionally funds religious schools because the parents can give the money to those schools and the government winds up paying the church, as it were.  However, to do otherwise unconstitutionally discriminates against religious groups, requiring that parents send their children only to schools which reject religious views entirely–itself a religious view–or forego the government assistance they cannot afford to be without.

It would be akin to refusing to provide food stamps to any family that says grace before meals.

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#124: The 2016 New Jersey Public Questions

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #124, on the subject of The 2016 New Jersey Public Questions.

We previously gave a quick overview of the New Jersey Congressional candidates in #123:  The 2016 Election in New Jersey, and promised to return with a look at the Public Questions, two issues on which the voters are being asked to vote.  Both of these involve amendments to the New Jersey State Constitution, a popular topic for such questions since there are quite a few things that the constitution does not permit the state government to do without the immediate consent of the voters, many of them involving taxing and spending.

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Public Question #1:  Constitutional Amendment to permit casino gambling in two counties other than Atlantic County.

This appears to be a long-sought hard-fought compromise, and a bit of a history lesson is in order.

About forty years ago Atlantic City was dying.  It had long been a vacation hot-spot and convention go-to, but was fading.  Transportation had gotten cheaper and easier (despite the gasoline crisis of the seventies) so wealthy vacationers could easily visit Disney World.  The Boardwalk had been overshadowed significantly by Great Adventure and several other theme parks in nearby Pennsylvania.  Other tourist-dependent cities such as Las Vegas pushed for the convention business, and convention centers were springing up everywhere.  Meanwhile, the originally pleasant locale was becoming a dirty, crime-ridden city where tourists weren’t always safe.  The city had to do something.

Noticing that the state had made a lot of money running a lottery–the first concession to gambling as a legal activity beyond contests run by non-profit organizations–they pushed for permission to open a few casinos.  At the time, Las Vegas was the only place within the United States where casino gambling was legal, and that was far enough away that an east coast establishment would be a serious competitor.  There were a lot of concerns, including questions about organized crime, but ultimately the state agreed and approved casino gambling in Atlantic City.  It was a huge success which significantly benefited the city, in no small part because the law stipulated that Atlantic City would get the lion’s share of the tax revenue from the venture to rebuild its failing infrastructure.

It is still debated whether in sum casino gambing has been good or bad for the city.  Many of the jobs go to people in its suburbs.  However, it has become an established part of the world, and many east coast states have followed suit, opening casinos on a limited basis.

Many New Jersey cities have wanted to have the same deal Atlantic City got, but Atlantic City and other southern New Jersey groups have argued against this.  After all, the revenue from those casinos keeps the city afloat, even though it has been declining over the years as other states attempt to compete with them.  Open casinos in Newark, it is argued, and northern New Jersey gamblers will save a few miles by going there; do the same in Camden, and the southern New Jersey crowd will be split.  Another casino anywhere in the state will mean lost business for Atlantic City.

Two things are evident in the information presented on the ballot.

The less important is that no city within seventy-two miles of Atlantic City will be permitted to have a casino.  That means that it is more than an hour’s drive between them, although it also means that some people will be within perhaps forty minutes of both locations.  That distance excludes Camden; it excludes Jackson Township, home of Six Flags Great Adventure.  It appears that it might permit a casino at the very tip of the western end of Salem County in Pennsville, but is intended to help the northern half of the state.  Seventy-two miles might allow one in Asbury Park, north up the coast, Freehold, and of course just about anywhere north and west of that arc, including Trenton, Newark, and nearly all of what is called “north Jersey” by people who live at least as far north as Burlington County.  (People who live down here by the Delaware Bay tend to think that Camden is in North Jersey–it’s clear up across the river from Philadelphia.)  Clearly the new casinos are intended to benefit the northern half of the state at the expense of the southern half–which is why it was such a fight.

The more important aspect of the amendment is that a signifcant amount of the tax money raised by these casinos goes to Atlantic city for the next quarter century.  This should minimize the impact of losses there, in what we might think the short term, and is undoubtedly the compromise there to reduce southern opposition.  The total amount of revenue from casinos should increase, and the amount going to Atlantic City should also increase.  The revenue is also intended for property tax relief for the elderly and disabled.  There is also a provision to assign some of the money to aiding New Jersey’s horse breeding industry, for both thoroughbreds and standardbreds.

Of course, the host cities will also benefit from the increased tourism revenue–people who come to casinos also sometimes see the sights, eat in local restaurants outside the casino hotel, and otherwise spend money in the area.  Property taxes on the hotels also go into local, not state, coffers, so there are significant benefits here.

The law apparently gives preferential treatment to those already operating casinos in Atlantic City; they have half a year to produce proposals for the new sites before bidding is opened to others.

There are quite a few who oppose the amendment, mostly because it is vague leaving too much to the legislature and giving too much influence to those running the casinos, although some have suggested that the present model for casinos in New Jersey is not working and expanding it to include northern locations will only complicate that.

The text of the amendment is available on Ballotpedia.

Public Question #2:  Constitutional Amendment to dedicate additional revenues to state transportation system.

Remember that abrupt increase in the price of gas this past week?  That’s the new tax passed a while back now coming on line.  The government who raised the cost of gasoline did so because the Department of Transportation is, frankly, broke–they can’t afford to maintain the state-run roads and bridges and tunnels, and are facing serious layoffs.  Tolls were increased on our few toll roads, but the revenue from that is relatively small next to the costs, and the limitations on the use of that money leaves a lot of roads in serious trouble.

The complication is that the government can authorize the tax, but not restrict the spending.  They are now collecting more money on every mile we drive, and on the petroleum industry generally, which is going into the general budget.  It can be used for transportation, but it can be used for anything else.  Supporters of the amendment claim that this puts that revenue it into a “lock box” that goes directly to the Transportation Trust Fund, and so can’t be raided to pay for other programs (New Jersey governments have raided state trust funds in the past, only to find that money wasn’t there when it was needed.)  The amendment also dedicates that part of the tax on diesel fuel not already bound to transportation to that fund.

Opponents have several arguments.  One is that this Transportation Trust Fund doesn’t pay solely for roads and bridges, but also covers mass transit costs such as rail lines, and the government is hoping to spend a lot of money on those.  It is also noted that a law has already been approved which permits the state to borrow a lot of money for transportation projects–about three times the anticipated revenue–if the amendment passes.  As with Question 1, they say there are too many holes in the proposal, too many points on which the legislature would be given a lot more power than the voters anticipated.

It is also to some degree seen as asking the voters to endorse the recent 575% increase in the state gasoline tax–from four cents per gallon to twenty-seven cents per gallon.  To be clear, that tax does not get rescinded if this question does not pass; it is merely a question of whether the revenue from it will be limited to use by the Department of Transportation or available for the legislature to use however it wishes.

It is also worth noting as an aside that the same law that authorized the gasoline tax also reduced several other New Jersey state taxes, including (in 2018) a slight reduction in the sales tax.

Again, the text of the amendment is available on Ballotpedia.

Although the arguments that the proposals are incomplete is a sound one, on balance Question 2 seems to be an important control on the use of the money from the gas tax, despite concerns that government officials have some pet transportation projects they want to fund from it.  Question 1 is more difficult, but seems to be a reasonably fair compromise that should in the short term increase revenue to Atlantic City, help two as yet not selected northern cities, and resolve the long-standing conflict concerning casinos elsewhere in New Jersey.

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#123: The 2016 Election in New Jersey

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #123, on the subject of The 2016 Election in New Jersey.

We are days from the quadrennial presidential election here in these United States, and I have, perhaps negligently, not written about the election at all since March.  At that time I published Dizzying Democrats and Ridiculous Republicans,img0123candidates
a pair of articles in which I decried the nonsense happening in both parties and concluded with the words

…we are looking toward a highly polarized election which at this point looks like the exit poll question will be, “Whom did you vote against?”

(Those who follow this web log will already have guessed that I am far more afraid of Clinton than of Trump; those who do not follow my writing probably are not particularly moved by that.)

But even if it has not been negligent for me to have ignored this ludicrous Presidential race between the Jackass and the Snake (I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is whom), the fact is that the election is about more than merely choosing the next President of the United States.  Here in New Jersey, at least, we are electing a dozen members of the United States House of Representatives, and have two significant Public Questions on the ballot.  You can learn more than you want to know about the Presidential candidates anywhere; I owe you the opportunity to learn more about the local candidates.

After the brief assessment of the candidates, we have some thoughts about voting for people, for parties, and for third party candidates, that apply to everyone, so if you’re not from New Jersey (or you are and have found the information on your district) skip down below the numbered list and read that part.

Fortuitously, we provided sufficient coverage of the election of the current office holders in 2014, including the election results, and so it is simple enough to find your incumbent–and since probably your incumbent has been the familiar name bombarding you with political ads in your mailbox, you can work backwards from that to your district.  It is a bit tougher to find the opponents, but with the aid of sites like Ballotpedia you can usually find just about any politician in the country and his positions on a wide range of issues.  Here’s a quick rundown, with links to that site for more information.

  1. In the First Congressional District, covering most of Camden and parts of Gloucester and Burlington Counties, Democratic incumbent Donald Norcross is defending his seat against newcomer Republican Bob Patterson, writer and lobbyist, along with three other third-party candidates including a Libertarian.
  2. In the Second Congressional District, covering all of Salem, Cumberland, Cape May, and Atlantic Counties plus portions of Camden, Burlington, and Ocean Counties, Republican incumbent Frank Lobiondo is defending his seat against young Democrat Dave Cole, a Rutgers political science graduate who sought this seat in 2014 but lost in the primary, and against five other candidates including a Libertarian.
  3. In the Third Congressional District, covering most of Burlington and portions of Ocean Counties, Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur faces Democrat Frederick John LaVergne, who lost this same race two years ago, plus a third-party Libertarian candidate.
  4. In the Fourth Congressional District, covering most of Monmouth and parts of Mercer and Ocean Counties, long-time Republican incumbent Chris Smith faces Democrat Lorna Phillipson, failed candidate for the New Jersey Assembly who was put on the ballot here when the winner of the Democratic primary dropped from the race, and by two other candidates one from the Libertarian party.
  5. In the Fifth Congressional District, covering northern portions of Warren, Sussex, Passaic, and Bergen Counties, Republican incumbent Scott Garrett defends against Democratic newcomer Josh Gottheimer, a well-educated former (Bill) Clinton speechwriter and Microsoft executive.  Again there is a Libertarian party candidate in this race.
  6. Democrat Frank Pallone is the defending incumbent in the Sixth Congressional District, covering parts of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties, against Republican newcomer and small businessman Brent Sonnek-Schmelz, along with third party candidates from both the Libertarian and Green parties.
  7. Republican incumbent Leonard Lance is defending his seat in the Seventh Congressional District, covering Hunterdon and parts of Essex, Somerset, Union, and Warren Counties, against Democratic newcomer Peter Jacob, union supporter from an immigrant family, and against both Libertarian and Conservative Party candidates.
  8. Democratic incumbent Albio Sires defends in the Eighth Congressional District, covering parts of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties, against unknown Republican Agha Khan, and two others including a Libertarian.
  9. Democratic incumbent Bill Pascrell defends his seat in the Ninth Congressional District, covering parts of Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson Counties, against Republican Hector Castillo, previous candidate as a Republican for New Jersey State Senate and as an independent for New Jersey Governor, and against two third-party candidates, one a Libertarian.
  10. Democratic incumbent Donald Payne, Jr., continuing to hold his father’s seat in the Tenth Congressional District, covering parts of Essex, Union, and Hudson Counties, defends it against Republican David Pinckney, twice-failed candidate for the New Jersey State Assembly, and against two third-party candidates.
  11. The Eleventh Congressional District, covering parts of Morris, Passaic, Essex, and Sussex Counties, has long been held by Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen, who is defending against Democratic newcomer Joseph Wenzel plus two third-party candidates, one a Libertarian.
  12. In the Twelfth Congressional District, covering parts of Mercer, Middlesex, Union, and Somerset Counties, incumbent Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman defends her seat against former Libertarian now Republican Steven Uccio, failed candidate from both of those parties in several previous races, and against five third-party candidates including a Libertarian and a Green.

There is an argument in favor of voting for the candidate who best represents your views, regardless of his party affiliation.  There is also an argument in favor of voting for the party that has the best chance to bring at least some of your views into action.  Several of the candidates in various races this year are Greens, and quite a few are Libertarians, both parties representing some significant worthwhile positions–and yet their presence in the race actually decreases the probability that those policies will be enacted.

We have discussed the two-party system in our piece on Coalition Government, that particularly in Presidential politics but to a significant degree at every level elections are won by forming coalitions of disparate groups who can agree on a few policies they consider most important.  The Democrats agree with the Greens on critical environmental issues, but the Greens feel that the Democrats do not prioritize these sufficiently; the Republicans similarly stand with the Libertarians on limited government, but the Libertarians believe that the Republicans do not go far enough in this direction.  Yet every vote for a Green party candidate is one less for the Democrat who might have been elected and who would to some degree have supported Green policies, and every vote for a Libertarian is one less for the Republican who similarly might have advanced Libertarian causes.

The argument in the other direction is, of course, that the two parties which currently exist are not the original two parties, and over time coalitions dissolve and reform anew.  Prior to the Kennedy administration the Republicans were the Civil Rights party and the Democrats the oppressors of minorities.  Libertarians and Greens hope that they will attract enough support to become one of the two parties.  Yet they are viewed as single-issue parties, and single-issue parties, again as we previously noted in The Republican Dilemma, fail to form the coalitions necessary to win elections.  They work, generally, when a single issue has so divided the nation that many voters will support one side or the other above any other question and the two major parties have failed to take clear sides; but that is not the case in the present despite the severe polarization of our nation.

It is also worth considering that particularly in legislative bodies the party with the best representation often controls the procedural aspects of the agenda–a major advantage frequently that goes beyond what your individual representative can do.  Thus if you prefer Republican policies but like the Democratic candidate, you should at least consider voting for the Republican you don’t like, because that will make it more possible for Republican policies to advance even if your representative does not support them entirely.

So with that advice, I encourage you to vote in this election, and promise to return before then with a look at the two public questions on the New Jersey ballot.

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#120: Giving Offense

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #120, on the subject of Giving Offense.

A couple days ago I was asked whether I had again offended a Specifically Named Person by writing another piece on homosexuality.

img0120fox

I had no idea how to reply to this.  I was unaware that I had offended this individual previously by my writing; I have no reason to believe he identifies as homosexual.  I obviously know that some people in my circle of relationships disagree with me on any subject you care to name, and this is one on which there are some significant disagreements–but I don’t keep track of who holds what positions on which issues, so I could not have told you that he disagreed with my views on this one.  It does not surprise me if he does; I know he disagrees with me on some issues, but then, everyone disagrees with everyone on some issues.  As the anonymous wise Quaker is quoted as having said to his closest friend, “Everyone’s a little queer ‘cept me and thee, and sometimes I’m not so sure of thee.”  I know of no one with whom I am in complete agreement about everything.  That does not bother me.  After all, I know that everyone is wrong about something, and I know that that includes me, but it also includes everyone who disagrees with me.  The trick is figuring out where you’re wrong and where you’re right, and not being more certain of it than you can justify.

What bothers me is that he would be offended by my opinion, or perhaps by my expression of my opinion.

I have probably written about tolerance before.  Being tolerant does not mean not caring about an issue.  It means having a strong opinion but treating others respectfully who hold a different opinion.  Many people who are not religious believe that they are tolerant when they are actually indifferent and condescending.  That is, their attitude is “all religious ideas are nonsense, so it really does not matter what nonsense you believe.”  However, changes in society are forcing these people to recognize that this is not true–that it really does matter what one believes about God, because that in turn controls what one believes about many practical issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, and the “norms” of society.  The criticism is that some religious people–those who disagree with the current attitudes on specific issues–are intolerant; the truth is that those who hold to those current attitudes are proving to be less tolerant.

Being tolerant does not mean that we all agree.  It means that we agree to disagree amicably, and to allow each other to hold differing opinions, to live by them as our own beliefs dictate, and to discuss them openly.  That’s all First Amendment:  the absolute protection of religious and political opinion.  Today those who hold certain viewpoints also hold the opinion that to disagree with those viewpoints ought to be criminal.  We encounter it in the homosexual marriage debate; it is rampant in the environmental field; it appears in issues related to reproductive choice.  If you do not agree with the approved opinion (whether or not it is held by the majority), you will not be tolerated.

On the specific issue of homosexuality, I agree that homosexuality is “natural”; it is as natural as heroin addiction:  you can encourage it, and once you’ve got it you probably can never really be fully rid of it.  There is sufficient evidence that homosexuality is not fixed in the genes, but involves environmental factors and choices on some level.  The position that the unborn are as human as their mothers and deserve equal protection equal to that extended to their mothers–and probably then some, as they are the more vulnerable class–is certainly defensible.  The issue of whether global warming is heading us into an environmental disaster, or whether it is instead staving off potentially disastrous global cooling and an ice age, can also be debated.

I hold some opinions which are apparently minority viewpoints, but I hold them honestly because of what I consider solid rational bases.  To say “I am sorry if that offends you” is not really an apology; it is more an expression of compassion for your disability, that you are such a person as would be offended by the expression of an opinion with which you disagree.  I think better of you than that.  I respect you and your opinions, even, or perhaps particularly, where I disagree.  I am willing to hear your evidence and your arguments.  I expect only the same courtesy in response.

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#105: Forced Philanthropy

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #105, on the subject of Forced Philanthropy.

Somewhere in the archives of Charles Schulz’ wonderful Peanuts comic strip is the one (shown below) in which Linus says, “When I get big, I want to be a great philanthropist!”  Charlie Brown observes, “You have to have a lot of money to be a great philanthropist…”.  After a moment of consideration, Linus clarifies, “I want to be a great philanthropist with someone else’s money!”

We laugh.  It is funny because it is absurd.  There is nothing particularly charitable about giving away money that belongs to someone else, regardless of who benefits.  It is completely absurd.

img105Linus

Yet when politicians say it, for some reason no one laughs.

That’s probably because politicians have demonstrated that they are quite able to do exactly that:  They have the power to take money away from some people and use it to help others.  We have given them that power, and there is a degree to which we are pleased with the outcome, as programs like food stamps and medicaid have reduced poverty in this country to the point that very few Americans are really truly poor.  That is, the kind of poverty we see in Third World countries including India and parts of Africa just does not exist here; we have relatively isolated cases of people “falling through the cracks”, not cities packed with homeless people mobbing the streets and refugee camps bursting at the seams.  We could do more, and we are doing more, but what we have done has been accomplished in significant part because politicians have decided to be philanthropists with our money, and we have approved that.

Yet when Hillary Clinton starts talking about how she would use Donald Trump’s money claimed by the Estate Tax he wants to eliminate, it bothers us.  As Mitch Album (Detroit Free Press) says,

The whole image of the government rubbing its hands as you take your dying breath should creep you out.

We have seen it in Blackadder, as the wealthy nobleman is dying and the King and the Archbishop are drooling over who should get his estates.  Hurry up and die, Donald:  Hillary is already counting the share of your money she is going to give to the less fortunate.

Let’s be clear on this.  It’s one thing for us to agree, however reluctantly, that all of us who are scraping by will sacrifice a little money we could really use for something else, and let the government use it to help those who are not scraping by.  It is entirely different for all of us who have enough to be comfortable to decide to gang up on the few who have more than we do, take their money, and give it to the less fortunate.  The former is almost altruistic, and with bit of stretching can be made to appear as if it is our generosity helping the poor.  The latter is simply criminal–and however much we want to admire Robin Hood, we would have little sympathy for a modern criminal waylaying everyone driving expensive cars and giving the money to farmers who feel their tax burden is too high.

However, somehow politicians have persuaded us that it is a noble idea to rob from the rich and give to the poor, that in doing so they are being charitable.  Like Linus Van Pelt, though, they prove to be philanthropists with someone else’s money.  It is not admirable to take money from the rich and give it to the poor when it is not your money.

I don’t know what Donald Trump has done that counts as charity.  I’m told that Hillary Clinton and her husband own and operate a major charitable fund, and accept contributions from many very wealthy donors.  I gather, too, that they have both personally profited substantially from operating that fund.  She seems to have demonstrated a talent for taking money from other people and making it appear she is a philanthropist.  I suspect she has made more money on her philanthropic activities than she has contributed from her own independent income.

However that is, though, it does appear that she is ready to take money from anyone who has it.  I can only be grateful that I don’t have enough to catch anyone’s attention.

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