Trump’s Support Is Flagging in the Suburbs — and Beyond
•President Donald Trump with Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky at a rally on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Lexington, Ky. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)From governors’ houses to state assemblies, many Republican incumbents lost their seats Tuesday — largely thanks to suburban Republican voters disillusioned with President Donald Trump.Since Trump’s rise in 2016, Republicans have seen their support slip in affluent suburbs such as those around Philadelphia and the Virginia counties near Washington, D.C. And Democrats on Tuesday notched big wins in those regions.But election results and polling data suggest Trump’s support may also be threatened elsewhere: among the rural, less-educated voters who have so far formed his base.A series of New York Times/Siena College polls of swing states conducted last month found that in the rural Appalachian counties of Pennsylvania — the vast majority of which Trump won in 2016 — only 44% of voters said they would definitely choose him over a Democratic candidate in 2020.By comparison, Trump commanded the backing of well over 60% of voters in most of those counties in 2016 — reaching as high as 80% support in some of them.In Kentucky, where the Democratic challenger, Andy Beshear, leads in the race for governor — though the Republican incumbent, Gov. Matt Bevin, has refused to concede — it was in the rural, Appalachian counties across the eastern part of the state where Bevin had the most trouble matching the level of support Trump had in 2016: Just 60% of voters in those counties went for Bevin, compared with the 78% who voted for Trump three years ago.Much of this decline stems from Bevin’s personal unpopularity: His approval rating has remained under 50% since 2017, according to Mason-Dixon polling, partly driven by his high-profile attacks on public-school teachers and efforts to restrict access to Medicaid. Polls show that he is less liked than Trump throughout the state.Still, there are warning signs for Trump within Bevin’s struggles. A Mason-Dixon poll conducted just before this week’s election found that in most parts of Kentucky, Trump’s favorability rating was just a few points lower than his share of the vote in 2016. But in those eastern, Appalachian counties, the president’s 67% favorability rating — while still high — sits 11 points below his 2016 vote share there. His support appears to have fallen more in rural eastern Kentucky than anywhere else in the state.“Those are folks who have been left out of any economic recovery that the country has been experiencing,” said Larry Harris, a pollster at Mason-Dixon.“When Trump sells a good story about the economy and the like,” he added, it may not resonate with “the folks in eastern Kentucky and Appalachia and rural areas, where hospitals are closing” and where unemployment remains high.The presidential election is still a year away, and much remains up in the air. Whom the Democrats nominate, and how the race plays out, will have a powerful effect on Trump’s prospects. But when combined with Tuesday’s results, the recent polls of swing states suggest that the president — whose approval rating nationwide is stuck in the low 40s and who faces the threat of impeachment — may not command enough loyalty from his core supporters to insulate him from losses among suburban voters.In Iowa in 2016, exit polls showed Trump winning big among voters with only some college education, taking those voters by 18 points. But the recent New York Times/Siena College poll revealed that those voters are now split down the middle on whether to support him in 2020.In Wisconsin, a similar story is playing out. Trump also won in 2016 by an 18-point margin among voters with some college education, according to exit polls, paving his way to an upset victory in that state, which had not voted Republican in a presidential election in over 30 years. But according to The New York Times/Siena College poll of Wisconsin voters, respondents with some college education are now just as likely to say they plan on voting Democratic as to say they are going to support Trump. This article originally appeared in The New York Times.© 2019 The New York Times Company
Here’s the No. 1 reason why military veterans are denied a VA mortgage
But navigating the VA loan market can be difficult because too many lenders use financial jargon. If you’re in the market for a VA loan, there are four things to keep in mind:
1. Eligibility: Before embarking upon the path of finding the right mortgage, service members should start with checking whether they qualify. Not everyone who serves is eligible for a VA loan. It’s important to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) prior to applying for a mortgage because all lenders will require this.‘Not having a COE is the single biggest point of failure in getting a VA home loan.’Bryan Bergjans, Caliber Home LoansVeterans will need to submit a DD 214 form that shows their record of service, and active duty members must provide a current statement of service. Military spouses have another set of requirements altogether. “Not having a COE is the single biggest point of failure in getting a VA home loan,” said Bryan Bergjans, national director of military and veterans lending at the firm I run, Caliber Home Loans.
2. Affordability: While it’s true that VA loans are more affordable than typical 30-year fixed rate mortgages, they should still be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. There can be a divergence between the advertised price of a loan and the actual price that a borrower will pay, after factoring in all the costs associated with originating and servicing the mortgages. It’s important that borrowers ask their lenders for the precise monthly payment amount in advance, so they can factor this into their personal financial calculations.Only after knowing the monthly payment and other terms of the mortgage should you make a decision on whether to pursue the financing. Monitor the 10-year Treasury yield, which is closely associated with mortgage rates, to understand recent price trends in the market and take advantage of them when rates drop.
3. Understand changes in the law: The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which goes into effect in 2020, will have a significant impact on the VA Home Loan Guarantee. The law permits veterans to borrow more than the previous limit of close to $485,000, which is set by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Previously, service members who lived in expensive areas would have to make a down payment on the amount their property exceeded this limit. The new law makes it so that service members can borrow the full amount of the loan without having to make a down payment. This is an important and impactful change that will enable more members to obtain the financing they need to embark upon the path of homeownership.
4. Personal goals: Before signing the paperwork for a VA loan, understand clearly what you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to obtain a mortgage without putting down any capital? Or are you trying to obtain a specific payment amount by leveraging current rates? Perhaps you want to conserve your money so that you can afford moving in costs and refurbishments. Or maybe you want to actually put some money down so that your monthly payment isn’t so high.I’m proud that my firm is able to serve military members. I hope more companies in other sectors will find their own way to honor these heroes.Sanjiv Das is CEO of Caliber Home Loans, one of the largest purchase housing specialty firms in the U.S.. Previously, he was CEO of CitiMortgage.
The economic ties between Russia and China have also tended to produce more headlines than substance. Though Putin has hailed these relations as the “best they’ve ever been,” the primary proof has been the recent series of joint military drills, alongside plans announced last month for Russia to “radically enhance China’s defense capability” by helping the country to build a missile defense system.Putin and his Chinese counterpart are more like frenemies than allies, says Mathieu Boulègue, a Research Fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. For one thing, Russia is painfully aware that, with an economy 8 times smaller than that of China, it would need to accept the role of junior partner in any alliance with Beijing. “It’s not about cooperation,” says Boulègue, “but the messages it sends to the rest of the world.” The intended message is clear enough, he says: “‘We are not alone.’”But loneliness may be wiser than some of the partnerships Russia is courting. Consider its recent moves in Africa. Through a series of security deals and mining ventures, the Kremlin managed to build an alliance in the last two years with the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir—only to watch him deposed in a popular uprising this summer. At the end of October, Putin brought the heads of state from 43 African countries to Sochi, his favorite resort on the Black Sea coast.The event produced another round of headlines around the world about Russia’s prowess in foreign affairs. But other than the pageantry, it was hard to see what Moscow stood to gain from these alliances. Only 3.7% of Russian goods end up in Africa today, while African goods account for just 1.1% of Russian imports. Russia’s current bilateral trade of $20 billion is just an eighth of China’s and half of the U.S.’s. Paul Stronski, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sees Russian clout in Africa “tied to a handful of client states with relatively limited strategic significance.” That means Putin is still “nowhere near restoring the status that the Soviet Union once enjoyed on the continent,” Stronski told the BBC.The same can be said of Yakunin. Though he clearly enjoyed the chance to address his audience of hundreds in Rhodes, the spectacle of the event felt hollow. “It has no real meaning other than maintaining an attractive image of Russia,” says Elisabeth Schimpfossl, the author of Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie, who first attended the Rhodes summit in 2009. Then, as now, the gathering was mostly a “PR event,” she says. And in that sense, at least, it resembles a lot of Russia’s recent moves in international affairs.
Key point: Syria has been a critical testing ground for Russian military tech.
Russia claims to have developed an ingenious new smart bomb.
Or rather, instead of making the bomb smarter, it’s the aircraft carrying the bomb that has all the brains, according to the Russian news site the Saker.
The Saker article attributes the „amazingly accurate” and „quasi-miraculous” Russian bombing in Syria to a weapon called the SVP-24. The SVP-24 is a system that turns unguided conventional bombs into precision-guided weapons, similar to the U.S. Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). But whereas the JDAM is a guidance kit attached to an iron bomb, Russia’s SVP-24 attaches the guidance kit to the bomber itself.
„What this system does is that it constantly compares the position of the aircraft and the target (using the GLONASS satellite navigation system),” the Saker says.
„It measures the environmental parameters (pressure, humidity, windspeed, speed, angle of attack, etc.). It can also receive additional information from datalinks from AWACS aircraft, ground stations, and other aircraft. The SVP-24 then computes an ‘envelope’ (speed, altitude, course) inside which the dumb bombs are automatically released exactly at the precise moment when their unguided flight will bring them right over the target (with a 3-5 meter accuracy).”
Thus, „the pilot does not even have to worry about targeting anything,” according to the Saker. „He just enters the target’s exact coordinates into his system, flies within a defined envelope and the bombs are automatically released for him. He can place his full attention on detecting any hostiles (aircraft, missiles, AA guns).”
And why is this better than the JDAM? It’s cheaper, the Saker argues. Each JDAM kit costs around $25,000 per bomb, and when the bomb is dropped, the kit it expended. Because the SVP-24 is fitted to the aircraft rather than the bomb, it can be reused each time.
Don’t these tropes sound familiar? Brilliant new weapon unveiled (a constant refrain since the Smart Bomb Revolution in the Vietnam War). It is, it seems, the story of simple Russian engineering versus over-complicated American technology.
The Dalai Lama arrives for prayers wishing him a long life at the Tsuglagkhang temple in McLeod Ganj, India in September 2019 — the US wants the UN to look at the issue of who will succeed him
Washington (AFP) – The United States wants the United Nations to take up the Dalai Lama’s succession in an intensifying bid to stop China from trying to handpick his successor, an envoy said after meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said he spoke at length about the succession issue with the 84-year-old Dalai Lama last week in the monk’s home-in-exile of Dharamsala, India.
Brownback said he told the Dalai Lama that the United States would seek to build global support for the principle that the choice of the next spiritual chief „belongs to the Tibetan Buddhists and not the Chinese government.”
„I would hope that the UN would take the issue up,” Brownback told AFP after returning to Washington.
He acknowledged that China, with its veto power on the Security Council, would work strenuously to block any action, but he hoped countries could at least raise their voices at the United Nations.
„I think it’s really important to have an early global conversation because this is a global figure with a global impact,” he said.
„That’s the big thing that we’re really after now, to stir this before we’re right in the middle of it — if something happens to the Dalai Lama, that there has been this robust discussion globally about it ahead of time,” he said.
„My estimation undoubtedly is that the (Chinese) communist party has thought a lot about this. So they’ve got a plan and I think we have to be equally aggressive with a plan.”
The Dalai Lama once traveled incessantly, drawing huge Western audiences with his good-humored lectures on compassion and happiness.
But the Nobel Peace Prize winner has slowed down and earlier this year suffered a chest infection, although he is not known to have serious health issues.
Brownback said he found the Dalai Lama „quite jovial” and that the monk had told him, „‘Look, I’m going to live another 15, 20 years; I’m going to outlast the Chinese government.'”
But Beijing has indicated it is waiting out the Dalai Lama, believing his campaign for greater Tibetan autonomy will end with him.
China, which argues that it has brought modernization and development to the Himalayan region, has increasingly hinted that it could name the next Dalai Lama, who would presumably be groomed to support Chinese rule.
In 1995, the officially atheist government selected its own Panchen Lama and detained a six-year-old identified for the influential Buddhist position — whom rights groups called the world’s youngest political prisoner.
– Seeking ‘unfettered’ access –
Mindful of Beijing’s plans, the 14th Dalai Lama has mused about breaking with the centuries-old tradition in which wandering monks look for signs that a young boy is the reincarnation.
He has said that he could pick his own successor, possibly a girl, or even declare himself the final Dalai Lama.
The US Congress has also stepped up efforts, including by mandating visa denials by the end of the year for Chinese officials unless Beijing eases restrictions on US diplomats, journalists and ordinary people seeking to visit Tibet.
Brownback said he would like access to Tibet, „but I want it unfettered.”
He said he similarly hoped to visit the western region of Xinjiang, which has drawn intense US scrutiny over the incarceration of some one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims.
„It is part of the same war on faith,” Brownback said of Tibet and Xinjiang.
– Fears in Nepal –
Brownback also visited Nepal, historically the gateway for Tibetans fleeing to India but which has increasingly clamped down under pressure from its giant northern neighbor.
Brownback said he raised fears for Tibetans with Nepal’s foreign minister, Pradeep Gyawali.
But he acknowledged Nepal’s difficult situation and said: „I would hate to be very harsh on the Nepalese because they’ve been so good over so many years to help the Tibetans.”
Brownback said that the burden was ultimately with China to allow freedom of movement — and not to interfere in Tibetan Buddhism.
„A government doesn’t own a religion,” he said. „A religion runs itself.”
„We hope we’ll get a number of other communities around the world to express similar positions and concerns.”