Parler, the “free speech” Twitter wannabe, explained

“But despite the recent attention, some say the rise of Parler fits into the larger history of American conservatives and their relationship with the media.

“This follows a pattern of what the right wing has done [since] the rise of talk radio in the ’80s, and then through live cable TV, and then the rise of social media,” Lawrence Rosenthal, the chair of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Right-Wing Studies, told Recode. “In each case, what you found is that the right wing gives up on participating in mainstream media and creates an alternative universe.””

“Based in Nevada, the company behind Parler is run primarily by two people: Matze and Jared Thomson, who serves as CTO. Neither of them had a particular public profile before creating the app. Jeffrey Wernick, a bitcoin enthusiast and early Airbnb investor, serves as the company’s chief operating officer. But there are other people funding the app.

Earlier this month, Parler confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer was the company’s lead investor and agreed to fund Parler only if it gave users control over what they saw on the platform.”

What the Yellen choice means for Biden and the economy

“In picking former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to serve as his first Treasury Secretary, Joe Biden is leaning on a well-known figure who is trusted and beloved by most Democrats, respected by many Republicans, acceptable to Wall Street and aligned with the no-surprises approach expected to be a hallmark of the incoming president’s tenure.

Yellen, widely seen as the obvious choice when Biden teased last week that he had made his pick, is slightly untraditional for Treasury. Her pre-government background came largely as an academic economist and monetary policy expert. The top Treasury slot often goes to people — until now all men — with extensive corporate backgrounds and high-profile international experience.”

Joe Biden’s Team of Careerists

“Perhaps the closest equivalent is George H.W. Bush, who relied on decades-old relationships in Washington to fill his administration. The next four successors —Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump — all arrived from outside Washington or after a very short tenure here, and had to integrate personal loyalists into the Washington firmament. In Biden’s case, these two groups are exactly the same.

What’s also notable is how much endurance his team has shown. In most cases they started their Washington careers as prodigies, with impressive jobs at young ages. Now, most are deep into middle age, toiling for a boss who is well past it, as they finally grasp top prizes.”

The Polls Weren’t Great. But That’s Pretty Normal.

“I don’t entirely understand the polls-were-wrong storyline. This year was definitely a little weird, given that the vote share margins were often fairly far off from the polls (including in some high-profile examples such as Wisconsin and Florida). But at the same time, a high percentage of states (likely 48 out of 50) were “called” correctly, as was the overall Electoral College and popular vote winner (Biden). And that’s usually how polls are judged: Did they identify the right winner?”

“the margins by which the polls missed — underestimating President Trump by what will likely end up being 3 to 4 percentage points in national and swing state polls — is actually pretty normal by historical standards.”

“However, there are nevertheless reasons to be concerned about the polls going forward, especially if it’s hard to get a truly representative sample of people on the phone.”

“Voters and the media need to recalibrate their expectations around polls — not necessarily because anything’s changed, but because those expectations demanded an unrealistic level of precision — while simultaneously resisting the urge to “throw all the polls out.””

How Georgia Turned Blue

“how did Georgia go from light red to blue — or at the very least, purple?

The answer is pretty simple: The Atlanta area turned really blue in the Trump era. Definitions differ about the exact parameters of the Atlanta metropolitan area, but 10 counties1 are part of a governing collaborative called the Atlanta Regional Commission. Almost 4.7 million people live in those 10 counties, or around 45 percent of the state’s population.

Until very recently, the Atlanta area wasn’t a liberal bastion. There was a Democratic bloc that long controlled the government within the city limits of Atlanta and a Republican bloc that once dominated the suburbs”

“suburban Atlanta is trending blue”

What We Know About How White and Latino Americans Voted In 2020

“In the lead-up to the election, there were plenty of signs that Biden’s support among Latino voters in key swing states might be weaker than Clinton’s in 2016, but some of the shifts wound up being very large. In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, for instance, which is 68 percent Hispanic, Trump narrowed his deficit by 22 percentage points between 2016 and 2020; in Texas’s Starr County, which is 99 percent Hispanic, Trump improved by a stunning 55 percentage points.

However, as the chart below shows, Trump’s gains among Latino voters were hardly universal. In fact, the places where Trump appears to have gained the most support were largely in rural areas or among more conservative Latino voters like Cuban Americans. In suburban and urban areas, the story was much more mixed. (And, to be clear, Biden still won the overwhelming majority of Latino votes.)

One important factor to keep in mind here — which is partially why some of these shifts toward Trump seem so pronounced — is that Trump did really poorly with Latino voters in 2016. According to pre-election surveys, he won just 18 percent of Latino voters in 2016 but 27 percent this year, putting him back in the territory of other recent Republican presidential nominees.

Additionally, part of what we’re seeing here isn’t necessarily something unique to Latino voters at all, but an extension of America’s growing urban-rural divide.”

“The education split has been especially significant among white voters, and this rift appears to have widened as Trump lost ground in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, especially in areas where many white voters have four-year college degrees.”

“Part of what is happening, according to Arlie Hochschild, a sociologist at the University of California who has written extensively about conservative voters, is that many less educated white voters have come to see Trump as their champion. “They feel that Trump is making them great again — their social class and their identity as whites,” she said. “Many of them feel that as white [people], they’re discriminated against.” She added that even if Biden might have personally appealed to those voters, it might not have been enough to overcome their suspicion that the Democratic Party as a whole was hostile to their worldview.

Importantly, Trump’s gains among white voters without a college degree were less substantial than his losses among educated white voters, and that appears to have cost him in these three states. This was most stark in Wisconsin, where Trump’s margin improved in 39 of the state’s 72 counties, but fell in 31 and didn’t change in two. The counties where he lost ground tended to be bigger and more well-educated, while the ones where he gained were generally smaller and less well-educated. In aggregate, these shifts added up to a narrow loss in Wisconsin for Trump in 2020 instead of the close win he achieved in 2016.”

How China could strangle Biden’s agenda

“America’s security and economy increasingly depend on the exotic metals and minerals that go into high-tech manufacturing, from batteries that will be crucial to Joe Biden’s climate plan to the high-power magnets needed for the Pentagon’s precision-guided weapons.

And they’re largely controlled by China, the leading economic and military rival to the United States.”

Trump Didn’t Win the Latino Vote in Texas. He Won the Tejano Vote.

“Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Zapata County’s vote in a hundred years. But it wasn’t its turn from a deep-blue history that seemed to be the source of such fascination but rather that, according to the census, more than 94 percent of Zapata’s population is Hispanic or Latino.

Zapata (population less than 15,000) was the only county in South Texas that flipped red, but it was by no means an anomaly: To the north, in more than 95-percent Hispanic Webb County, Republicans doubled their turnout. To the south, Starr County, which is more than 96-percent Hispanic, experienced the single biggest tilt right of any place in the country; Republicans gained by 55 percentage points compared with 2016. The results across a region that most politicos ignored in their preelection forecasts ended up helping to dash any hopes Democrats had of taking Texas.”

“The shift, residents and scholars of the region say, shouldn’t be surprising if, instead of thinking in terms of ethnic identity, you consider the economic and cultural issues that are specific to the people who live there. Although the vast majority of people in these counties mark “Hispanic or Latino” on paper, very few long-term residents have ever used the word “Latino” to describe themselves. Ascribing Trump’s success in South Texas to his campaign winning more of “the Latino vote” makes the same mistake as the Democrats did in this election: Treating Latinos as a monolith.

Ross Barrera, a retired U.S. Army colonel and chair of the Starr County Republican Party, put it this way: “It’s the national media that uses ‘Latino.’ It bundles us up with Florida, Doral, Miami. But those places are different than South Texas, and South Texas is different than Los Angeles. Here, people don’t say we’re Mexican American. We say we’re Tejanos.””

“Nearly everyone speaks Spanish, but many regard themselves as red-blooded Americans above anything else. And exceedingly few identify as people of color. (Even while 94 percent of Zapata residents count their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino on the census, 98 percent of the population marks their race as white.) Their Hispanicness is almost beside the point to their daily lives.

In the end, Trump’s success in peeling off Latino votes in South Texas had everything to do with not talking to them as Latinos. His campaign spoke to them as Tejanos, who may be traditionally Democratic but have a set of specific concerns—among them, the oil and gas industry, gun rights and even abortion—amenable to the Republican Party’s positions, and it resonated. To be sure, it didn’t work with all of Texas’ Latinos; Trump still lost that vote by more than double digits statewide, and Joe Biden won more of the nationwide Latino vote than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. But Trump proved that seeing specific communities as persuadable voters and offering targeted messaging to match—fear of socialism in Miami-Dade’s Venezuelan and Cuban communities, for example—can be more effective than a blanket campaign that treats people as census categories. And in the end, it was enough to keep Florida and Texas in his column.”

“by pursuing the coveted “Latino vote” nationally, the Biden campaign created a massive blind spot for itself in South Texas, where criticizing Trump’s immigration regime and championing diversity just does not play well among a Hispanic population where many neither see themselves as immigrant or diverse.”

Biden Must Craft a Foreign Policy for a World the U.S. Doesn’t Rule

“the world Biden will inherit is a far cry from the one he occupied when he was the vice president, or during the 1990s when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. America’s unipolar moment has long been relegated to the dustbin of history. China, in the Pentagon’s parlance, is a peer competitor. Other powers, both large and small, including Russia, Iran and North Korea, can easily frustrate U.S. ambitions. Rarely has the environment for international cooperation seemed more challenging.
The president-elect has said repeatedly that his primary goal abroad is to put American back at “the head of the table” because “the world won’t organize itself.” But the shape of that table has changed profoundly. A global pandemic has laid bare the limits of globalization and multilateral diplomacy and accelerated the demise of the liberal international order that America created and that sustained its primacy; it has also exacerbated preexisting trends toward renewed geopolitical competition and heightened sensitivities about national sovereignty on issues from border security to the economy and health care. A powerful China and a declining yet still determined Russia have conspired successfully to oppose Pax Americana.”

“The Trump administration has failed to realize any of its objectives with China and has driven the bilateral relationship into a ditch by demonizing China and blaming Beijing for Trump’s own failures in responding to the pandemic; hyperventilating about the Chinese threat; hinting at a goal of toppling the regime and recognizing Taiwan as an independent country; and embracing reckless trade and technology policies that hurt the U.S. more than China and threaten to “decouple” the world’s two largest economies. Not surprisingly, Trump imagines that the U.S. and China are locked into a zero-sum game and that U.S. cooperation on issues of mutual concern is for suckers and losers.

Some of China’s behavior—its predatory trade and technology policies and repression at home, are two examples—warrants a more muscular American response. And Trump deserves credit for raising political consciousness of these obnoxious Chinese practices. But the Biden administration, notwithstanding its hard-line rhetoric during the campaign, will need to hit the reset button with Beijing. There are several steps the new administration can take to halt the downward spiral in the U.S.-China relationship.”

“should end the feckless and counterproductive tariff war with China, which according to several studies cost U.S. businesses $46 billion and the U.S. economy 300,000 jobs and roughly 0.5 percent of GDP growth.”

“The Trump administration’s policy of applying “maximum pressure” on Iran has also been a complete bust. Iran has not agreed to renegotiate an agreement with more stringent restrictions on its nuclear program, and it now possesses 12 times the amount of weapons grade material it had when the nuclear deal with Iran was signed in 2015. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has not reduced its “malign” activities in the region nor curtailed its ballistic missile programs; sanctions have not hastened the collapse of the regime; the U.S. is more isolated diplomatically than ever from its allies; Iran has been able to increase oil revenues by evading sanctions; and the administration’s unsuccessful efforts to isolate Iran have handed both China and Russia a golden opportunity to forge closer relations with Tehran.”