Jobs, elections, and more elections

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The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston pens an oped for The New York Times reminding everyone about the importance of the elections in Nevada.

The truth is — and never could it be more resonant than this year — for Democrats, as goes Nevada, so goes the nation. Nevada has a closely fought contest for governor, with the Democratic incumbent, Steve Sisolak, facing Joe Lombardo, sheriff of the most populous county. And its congressional races could help determine partisan control of both chambers: In three of its four House races and in the contest for U.S. Senate, Democratic incumbents are in tight battles.

For Democrats, Nevada holds promise and peril. It is truly a purple state, and Democrats are hoping to hold together a tenuous multiracial coalition and keep at bay a Republican Party determined to flip the state red.

The pressure is particularly acute for Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. Across the country, from Georgia to Pennsylvania to Arizona, Senate races are neck and neck, and Nevada is no different; a very slight Democratic advantage has given way to pretty much a dead heat. If this seat gives Senate control to the Republicans, it could change the direction of the country on major public policy issues, including abortion, and most obviously, on confirming judges.

Matt Stieb of New York magazine has a reminder that tis’ the time in election season for racist dogwhistles.

As races determining control of the Senate tighten up in the final weeks before the midterm elections, Republican candidates are turning to a tested ad-campaign strategy: making Democrats look soft on crime. While voters throughout the country tell pollsters that crime is a major issue on the ballot, this approach is particularly clear in states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson — who has been unpopular in the state for years thanks in part to his historically stupid pandemic rhetoric — has been gaining in polls against Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes after hitting him hard on rising crime rates in cities such as Milwaukee, where homicides are up 40 percent over the previous year. Ads for Johnson have often focused on an interview Barnes gave in 2020, weeks after the murder of George Floyd, in which the Democrat repeated a tenet of the “defund the police” movement. “We need to invest more in neighborhood services and programming for our residents, for our communities on the front end,” Barnes said then. “Where will that money come from? Well, it can come from overbloated budgets in police departments.” Barnes and his campaign have repeatedly insisted he did not and does not support defunding the police.

Andrew Mitrovica of AlJazeera writes that in spite of the “loud and obnoxious,” he remains hopeful that the “enlightened” among Americans will, beginning with the midterm elections, right the American ship and reclaim the country.

The clowns are, by temperament and professional etiquette, loud and obnoxious. They have to be.

For outsiders like me, and perhaps you, this preoccupation with what these fools have said and done can distort our appreciation of the country they call America. We are quick to define the whole of the US as the figurative and literal personification of the clowns who – for profit and notoriety – leverage their cruelty and stupidity into exposure and influence.

Lost amid the cavalcade of crazy is another America: an intelligent and compassionate America that is beginning to stir and assert itself as a potent counterweight to the noxious MAGA-hat-clad chorus.

Enlightened America is, I’m convinced, on the cusp of a renaissance just as the pivotal mid-term elections begin to appear over the fast-approaching political horizon.

Professor of Anthropology Ramona Pérez writes for The Conversation that the categorization of “Hispanics” for the purposes of the U.S. Census misses out on the diversity within the “Hispanic” population.

When the fixed categories of a census erase the diversity of a population, the gross miscalculations that result may harm a country’s ability to appropriately respond to the needs of its people.

For example, the overgeneralizing of U.S. Hispanics hurts the quality of American education and health care when these institutions assume that Latin American heritage communities speak Spanish. In addition to Indigenous languages, Latino Afro-descendant populations may not speak Spanish but rather may speak French or Haitian Creole, Portuguese or an Indigenous language. If they are from the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua, they may speak an English Creole.

These language differences reflect unique cultures and histories that relate to how people engage with doctors, teachers, politicians and much more.[…]

In overgeneralizing Hispanics, the U.S may also overlook – to its own detriment – the knowledge and experience of a culturally unique people who bring with them alternative understandings of the world, some of which I’ve studied as an anthropologist focused on food security, migration and health in Latin America. These include agricultural practices that can aid American farmers in responding to the global climate crisis and Mesoamerican strategies for health based on communal care and traditional remedies.

Andrey Pertsev of the independent Russian media outlet Meduza reports on what the subordinates of Russian President Vladimir Putin really think of the Russian president.

“People are scared shitless around him. But it’s fear without respect. They haven’t had respect [for Putin] for two or three years now,” a source close to the Russian government told Meduza. Two other sources close to the government and one close to the Kremlin gave similar accounts of the mood in Moscow.

According to the sources, Russian elites’ feelings towards Putin soured after his decision to raise the country’s pension age in 2018 — a move a majority of Russians opposed. Formally, the Cabinet of Ministers was updated in 2020, when Mikhail Mishustin replaced Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister, but many mid-level government workers have held their posts since long before that. They still remember how Putin shifted the blame for the consequences of his pension reform on the ministers — ultimately accusing them of causing the entire government’s approval ratings to drop. “When people [in the government] hear the word ‘ratings,’ they still wince,” a source close to the government told Meduza.

In more recent years, the situation has only gotten worse. According to Meduza’s sources, Putin has gradually stopped warning the ministers of his plans both for the short term and the long term.

Finally today, Ana Ionova of the Christian Science Monitor writes that political divisions in Brazil will not go away even after the runoff election between incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva later this month.

A firebrand populist, Mr. Bolsonaro has styled himself after former U.S. President Donald Trump. The former Army captain says the political left represents a threat to “traditional values,” and he’s vowed to fight efforts to legalize abortion or to bring transgender bathrooms to schools. Such rhetoric has instilled fear in part of the population, while simultaneously winning him fans among conservatives, especially evangelical voters who now account for about a third of the population.

“Bolsonaro feeds off of these differences, he feeds off of demonizing ‘the other,’” says Dr. Valle. “This is what mobilizes his base.”

Still, many voters have grown frustrated with Mr. Bolsonaro, amid surging fuel and food prices that have made life harder for millions. The president has responded by spending heavily on welfare ahead of the elections.

Lula was president from 2003 to 2010, a period marked by sky-high commodity prices that funded his social agenda, like the famous cash-transfer program Bolsa Familia, or the anti-hunger program Fome Zero. Millions of Brazilians are nostalgic for that golden era of prosperity and support. But a sprawling corruption scandal embroiled his leftist Workers’ Party (PT) and landed him in prison in 2018, making him a lightning rod for polarization.

A Supreme Court scrapped his conviction last year, ruling that the judge in the case had been biased. Despite clearing his name in court, millions of Brazilians can’t forget his fall from grace.

Have a good day, everyone!

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