Either money isn’t as important as we thought in politics or Democrats are really bad at spending it

Votes are still being counted but even if the 2020 election isn’t quite over yet, the campaigns themselves are over. Yes, in many places lawyers are sharpening their teeth to contest results and election officials are preparing for recounts, but there are no voters to court, no mailers to design, no signs to wave. The algorithms in charge of our TV commercials and online-ads are already fazing out insane politics for inane products. It’s over.

Those algorithms were kept busy in 2020, as fundraising and spending records of all kinds were broken as candidates, campaigns, and advocacy groups vied for our votes. Joe Biden is the first candidate to raise over $1 billion and North Carolina’s US Senate race is the most expensive congressional contest in history. “The total cost of the 2020 election will nearly reach an unprecedented $14 billion, making it the most expensive election in history and twice as expensive as the previous presidential election cycle.” said OpenSecrets.org …


Alaska’s polling difficulties have not been overcome — be careful in trusting polls that paint the state purple.

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A view of the Chugach Mountains from inside Anchorage.

New polls out of Alaska are fueling progressive hopes for a Democratic swing in the 2020 election. Harstad Strategic Research released survey results this week suggesting that Republican incumbents US Senator Dan Sullivan and President Donald Trump are leading their Democratic rivals by only one point each. This would be huge, if true. However, it probably isn’t.

Aside from sometimes writing about Alaska politics, I worked in and around the 49th State’s political scene for a number of years. As a legislative staffer in the State House in Juneau, political campaign staffer and consultant, communications director for one of the state’s largest charities, and manager of a market research and public polling firm. I’ve managed local state campaigns, worked on statewide campaigns, and polled local, state, and regional campaigns. …


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Wikimedia Commons

While war is by definition destructive, it is also perversely constructive; often proving the adage “necessity is the mother of invention.’ During the Vietnam War, the US military utilized a number of innovative techniques to keep soldiers safe. As an Air Force officer recounted in the Armed Forces Journal in 1971: “We wired the Ho Chi Minh Trail like a drugstore pinball machine and we plug it in every night.”

The Army and Marines used ammonia-detecting “ people sniffers” to watch for enemy personnel movements. Perhaps most imaginative was the seismic intruder detection devices dotting the jungles that could double as a rescue beacon for trapped servicemen and was disguised as tiger poop. …


The yellow vest and pension reform protests in France portend issues that most industrialized nations will have to face sooner or later

France has spent much of the last seventeen months embroiled in chaos. French President Immanuel Macron has asked the French people to be more French — and pay even higher taxes than they already do — and to be more American — and work longer hours before retirement. These mutually contradictory requests have predictably ticked off the French people, many hundreds of thousands of whom have spent over a year protesting in the streets of over 100 cities all over France. …


A combination of cash and intimidation is keeping online creators in China compliant, quiet, or kicked out of the country.

Franco isn’t a typical Chinese name. Which made the email that J.J. McCullough, a Canadian YouTuber and conservative columnist, opened last May all the more peculiar. “Hi McCullough, Just watched your videos, and we thought it would be a great to place our content, we wonder if you want to help us upload this video to your youtube channel? And for that, we will support your youtube channel for $500” [sic] read the email. Attached was a video which can charitably be described as pro-Chinese government content; a less generous description might be clumsy propaganda.

J.J. was confused. He’d never made any pro-Chinese videos and, in columns for the Washington Post, had previously written unfavorably about the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). J.J. refused the offer. The event was bizarre enough that he posted a follow up video on YouTube about it. After which his mysterious solicitor amended the request and provided a better, less-comically low-budget and obviously propagandistic video for consideration. His curiosity piqued, J.J. decided to string Franco along and agreed; but only if he could add an anti-CCP disclaimer to the beginning of each propaganda video. “It’s not like I’m open-minded about China. I’m not,” J.J. said in a Skype interview, “but I wanted to see how far he was willing to go.” He also asked for more money and eventually got offered $1350 by Franco, who adamantly refused the disclaimer and J.J., his curiosity satisfied, let their email correspondence wither away. …


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Image source: Getty

Christopher Ahn is awaiting extradition from the US to Spain. He is accused of a crime that he doesn’t necessarily deny taking part in. According to Ahn, a former US marine, in February last year, he and 10 other people were invited into the North Korean embassy in Madrid by a senior official who wanted to defect from the regime. But according to the Spanish and North Korean governments, Ahn and his group forced their way into the embassy with guns, tied up the staff and vandalised the offices.

Adrian Hong, the alleged leader of the embassy invasion, has been in hiding since April. His lawyer says that Hong, a Yale-educated Mexican of Korean descent, has also been targeted for assassination by North Korea. …


Congress just turned millions of young, mostly poor, Americans into lawbreakers

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There are criminals and there are criminals. Philosophers and theologians and social workers theorize about their origins; what makes a criminal? Are they all the same? Are some people just born larcenous and violent? Are they products of a hard world, reacting to circumstances beyond their control in the only way they can assert control? Nature or nurture; it’s an old argument and society has tried various ways to address it, with often ugly consequences for public policy and the citizens who have to live under it. There is one broad swath of criminals, however, that are definitely created. …


The Democratic Party should reject his candidacy and strenuously denounce his views and actions on China

Billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in November that he is running for president as a Democrat. Democrats should reject his candidacy as soon as possible. Michael Bloomberg has a troubling record of apologies for, self-censorship on, and questionable business with China that should completely disqualify him from getting the Democratic nomination, let alone the presidency itself. Even if his relationship with an often hostile foreign power itself was not highly suspect the actions of Michael Bloomberg in relation to China reveal a candidate without integrity, honesty, or perspective.

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For the Democrats, this is a poison pill that Donald Trump and the GOP is only too eager to exploit. They can count on Republicans reminding the 60% of Americans who view China unfavorably that several reporters and editors at Bloomberg News resigned in protest when they were instructed not to run stories about corruption allegations surrounding Chinese leaders and their families, including president Xi Jinping. Considering that Bloomberg has admitted to prohibiting his reporters from investigating 2020 Democratic nominees, like himself, his relationship with the censorious and highly corrupt Chinese state will be rightfully suspect by many American voters. …


Out of the myriad problems with social media, it is deeply misleading to suggest they have outsized influence with the news-reading public.

Two-thirds of Americans report seeing the news on social media at least occasionally but nobody actually gets their news from Facebook. They get it through social media but they are still reading their news from the same sources they have for a long time; traditional TV and newspaper journalists. …


Using copycat bills is responsible, not subversive

State legislators across the country are said to be abrogating their responsibilities by introducing bills they didn’t even write themselves. As the USA TODAY breathlessly reports: “special interests have infiltrated state legislatures using model legislation.” Our democracy is being subverted by copy and paste it seems.

What is model legislation?

Model legislation, sometimes called copycat legislation, is exactly what it sounds like: a model for others to use, a prewritten bill presented to a legislator by some outside — generally non-governmental — person or group.

Erin Merryn is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse turned author, speaker, child advocate and activist. She is the founder and president of Erin’s Law, an advocacy group to “persuade all 50 states to pass Erin’s Law, which mandates that all public schools use age-appropriate curricula to teach students how to tell on anyone who touches or attempts to touch their private parts.” …

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Thomas Brown

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