November 16, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 AM


There Is Only One Superpower (Gordon G. Chang, November 15, 2018, Strategika)

We start with the conventional wisdom. "No one denies that in the long term, things look good for the People's Republic," writes Kerry Brown, a professor at King's College in a recent opinion piece.

Actually, the situation is not good. The economy, the engine of China's extraordinary four-decade advance, is clearly exhausted.

Juiced by debt--especially since the end of 2008--the country now cannot grow without gobs of it. When the so-called "hidden debt" is taken into account, the economy is incurring one-and-a-half times as much indebtedness as it is producing nominal gross domestic product if official GDP figures are accurate.

They're not. China is not growing at the 6.7 percent pace claimed for the first three quarters of this year. In reality, it's less than half that. The combination of slow growth and unprecedented accumulation of debt suggests the country is heading to a systemic crisis.

While China moves toward its debt crisis, Xi Jinping, its ruler, is reversing the "reform and opening up" policies that fueled China's rise. It is ironic that as the country approaches the 40th anniversary of the start of its era of economic liberalization, Xi is reembracing not only state-dominated economics but also totalitarian-style politics.

The embrace of Maoism leaves China ill-prepared to meet the critical challenges of the eroding environment, crumbling demographics, and emerging societal modernity. Xi can coerce but not persuade. His ideological campaigns are leaving the Chinese people, for the most part, cold.

Externally, Xi is showing a face of China that most abhor. Beijing is grabbing territory from neighbors, closing off the global commons, and proliferating nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. It makes common cause with a host of bad actors, such as genocide-committing generals in Burma and misery-creating autocrats in Latin America. Even Beijing's friends recognize it has chosen the wrong path. For instance, Brown, the King's College professor, is the author of "How China Is Losing the World."

Posted by orrinj at 6:33 AM


Hating Sin (ANTHONY ESOLEN, 11/14/18, Crisis)

It is Passover, and Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem with his disciples. He has come to the Temple, where he finds people "selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the moneychangers at their business." It is interesting to note what he does then, and what he does not do.

He does not engage the moneychangers in a discussion about what profits are licit and what are not in the sale of sacrificial animals. He does not bid the salesmen good day. He makes a whip of cords, which must have taken some deliberation and time. We can imagine the intense anger of our Lord as he did this, and it is hardly likely that any of the disciples knew what he would do next before he began to do it: he "drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple." Jesus, remember, was a construction worker. The man whose image is imprinted miraculously upon the Shroud of Turin is tall, broad shouldered, and barrel-chested. He was not singing falsetto in the Galilee glee club.

Nor does Jesus spare the instruments of their trade. For "he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables," and told the men to get lost, because they had turned his Father's house "into a house of trade," and, in another account, "a den of thieves." His disciples later applied to the scene a verse from the Psalms: "Zeal for thy house will consume me." This zeal is a powerful word for a powerful emotion: it is related to the word that is translated as jealous in the commandment: "For I the Lord your God am a jealous God," who would have his people devoted to him entirely, and not to any other gods, or to any graven image of some creature on earth, under the earth, or in the skies above.

Posted by orrinj at 6:30 AM


Man of Tomorrow (ALAN GREENBLATT | NOVEMBER 2018, Governing)

Because he is unusual, Brown has always been caricatured. But he returned to the governorship in 2011 not just older, but also more grounded. Politicians in Sacramento can tell you what books he's been reading lately, which may include histories of the Weimar Republic or the treatment of American Indians, but they insist he is not some ephemeral, abstract thinker. He explores ideas not for their own sake but for how they might be put into practice. He's had the discipline in his later terms to promote his big ideas in small batches, setting clear priorities each year. He's gotten better both as an executive overseeing the government and as a policymaker able to win legislators over to his point of view. He may quote Latin in his spare time, but on the job he does his homework. "He's this combination of a cigar-chomping politician and a philosopher king," says Leonor Ehling, director of the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University.

Thad Kousser, who chairs the political science department at the University of California, San Diego, describes Brown's uniqueness a little differently: "I can't see anyone patterning themselves on his persona." Kousser describes that persona as "be grouchy and supercheap, quote obscure philosophers, avoid social media and never make a public presentation without a doomsday-predicting graph."

Perhaps the most telling example of Brown's forward-looking stewardship has been his handling of the state budget. Throughout his last eight years in office, he's worked with a legislature thoroughly dominated by his fellow Democrats. But he's never given them everything they wanted. He signaled his intention to act as a brake on the legislature right away, vetoing the first budget it sent him in 2011 because it didn't include enough spending cuts. As the state's economy has boomed during his tenure, he has resisted his party's impulse to spend whatever was available. "In the last four or five years, there were plenty of chances for him to spend, and he chose to save," says state Sen. Steve Glazer, who once served as a political adviser to Brown. "This is the key to good executive leadership, thinking not only about what it will cost this year but the projection of the out-years going forward."

While exercising restraint on the spending side, Brown has helped increase the state's revenue intake. California has a highly progressive tax code that relies heavily on taxing income and capital gains earned in more affluent places like Palo Alto and Beverly Hills. But Brown showed no hesitation in asking voters in 2012 to further raise taxes on those with personal incomes over $250,000 as part of a package that also raised the sales tax. In 2016, voters gave him a 12-year extension of the income tax increase.

All these factors together -- Brown's fiscal constraints, his willingness to raise taxes and the overall health of the state's economy -- have turned California's finances around. Before he took office, it was common to hear that California, which faced chronic budget shortfalls larger than most other states' budgets, was going to be the next Greece. The state was unable to pay its bills, often resorting to IOUs. California led the nation in municipal bankruptcies. Kevin Starr, a celebrated California historian, wrote that it was on the verge of becoming America's "first failed state."

You don't hear that kind of talk anymore. Brown inherited a shortfall of $27 billion, but he's leaving with $18 billion stashed away in the state's rainy day fund. He paid down much of the short-term debt his predecessors had taken on, as they dug their way temporarily out of holes while leaving bigger messes behind. Now, the state has its highest bond rating in two decades. At one point this year, it was sitting on $31 billion worth of voter-approved but unsold bonds.

Every American governor elected in the large Class of 2010 is leaving his or her state in better financial shape in 2018, thanks to the long recovery that followed the last recession. But none has accomplished as dramatic a turnaround as Brown, who is leaving plenty of money in the bank for his successor (almost certainly Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom) to play with. "He held the line single-handedly," says state Sen. Bob Hertzberg. "He made a lot of tough choices. The credit goes to him 100 percent. Not 96 percent, 100 percent."

Posted by orrinj at 6:23 AM


Trump's conservative media comfort trap (Jonathan Swan, 11/16/18, Axios)

Trump fell into the conservative media trap again this week while speaking with The Daily Caller, a conservative site that generally gives him glowing coverage.

A Daily Caller reporter threw Trump a seemingly harmless open-ended question, saying the president seemed happy with his acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. After saying a few nice things about Whitaker, Trump launched into an anti-Mueller diatribe: "I'm concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. ... It's an illegal investigation."

According to the transcript, the Daily Caller had not brought up the special counsel.

The bottom line: The president clearly makes a strong connection between Whitaker's installation at the Justice Department and the Mueller investigation.

Posted by orrinj at 5:46 AM


LUST FOR DESTRUCTION: a review of  Victor Sebestyen's Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror  (Waller R. Newell, Fall 2018, Claremont Review of Books)

Sebestyen's biography comes closer to the mark in his exhaustive exploration of Lenin's ideological writings before and after the Revolution, which have only become available in recent years. Nevertheless, I don't think they add anything fundamental to what we already knew. Lenin was no more a "theorist" than was the Führer, his dreary tracts mainly vicious diatribes against rivals. Among his epithets for anyone who disagreed with him, Sebestyen observes, were "filthy scum," "whores," "class traitors," and "scoundrels." Ransacked bits of Karl Marx served his purpose of seizing absolute power and crushing society, just as Hitler would later invoke Friedrich Nietzsche.

In Lenin's version of Marxism before the revolution, tactical compromise with other political groups was possible, but there could be no compromise on the strategic goal of a collectivized society without private property. Like Robespierre during the Jacobin Terror, Lenin aimed to impose a geometrical purity on corrupt human fodder. This cold-blooded lust for destruction was born primarily of his outrage over his brother Aleksandr's execution in 1887 for treason and the family's resulting disgrace, for which he sought revenge on the whole world. Decades after it happened, Sebestyen writes, Lenin confided to Nadya that he was still "bitter...about Sasha's execution and how much he hated the regime that sentenced him to death."

Lenin never believed that socialism could triumph in Russia alone and would never have been content with such small stakes. ("I spit on Russia," he once said. "This is merely one phase through which we must pass on the way to a world revolution.") He thought the Russian Revolution would spur a proletarian uprising in Europe, which would then, with its far more advanced industrial means of production, help Russia's backward agrarian society.

When World War I shook Czarist Russia to its foundations--millions of casualties in the trenches and a collapsing economy sparking unrest at home--Leon Trotsky egged Lenin on to seize control amidst the chaos. Despite his later pose in exile in the West as a sensitive intellectual, Trotsky was another revolutionary nihilist and mass murderer, an armed bohemian seeking revenge against his exclusion from prominence. "Whatever moral eunuchs and Pharisees might say," he enthused, "the feeling of revenge has its right.... We [must] direct all our strengths toward a collective struggle against this class structure. That is the method by which the burning desire for revenge can achieve its greatest moral satisfaction."

Seizing power in a coup d'état, the Bolsheviks used the empty husk of the Czars' now vacant absolute state to impose Communism by force. It was a one-party state from the start: the "first freely elected government" in 1917, Sebestyen observes, "survived for about twelve hours. There would not be another for nearly seventy-five years."

From the outset, Bolshevik savagery surpassed the Czars at their most autocratic. During the final years of Czarism in Russia, 1,144 political prisoners were executed following the failed 1905 revolution. Immediately following the 1917 coup, Lenin had upwards of 100,000 "enemies of the revolution" liquidated, and by the time of his incapacitation in 1922 from a stroke, an estimated 5 million had lost their lives due to starvation. As Lenin put it, "a revolution without firing squads is meaningless.... The purpose of terror is to terrorize."

 Although he claimed to be an orthodox Marxist (and may even have believed it), he was really a putschist and would-be dictator. The Bolsheviks' real predecessors in Russia included a Nietzschean sect called the "God-builders," who envisioned creating a new world on the rubble of the old, as well as the "People's Will" movement, driven by Rousseauian nostalgia for an allegedly lost golden age of peasant wholeness. As the late Robert Conquest observed, the Communist Party leadership contained no genuine economists. They were pledged to a millenarian doctrine, and their justification for holding power was to create by force a new, superior society in which the individual was submerged in the collective. As Sebestyen correctly observes, "the first major 'deviationist'" from Marxist theory was Lenin himself. He set about to create a socialist state by force, despite the absence of the socio-economic conditions Marx had decreed as necessary for its success according to the laws of "scientific socialism."

Lenin and his henchmen were devoid of patriotism, since their revolution was but the first stage in a coming international Communist order. Any illusions people might have had that Lenin stood for electoral democracy were dashed when the 1921 Kronstadt rebellion against emerging Soviet dictatorship was ruthlessly put down.

The USSR's spasms of reform depended on the notion of good Lenin and bad Stalin.  But when dissidents were given any freedom they buried the Revolution at its birth.

Posted by orrinj at 5:29 AM


The Kinks discuss their masterpiece about societal decline (Andrew Dansby Nov. 14, 2018, Houston Chronicle)

The music of "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" laments societal change in England as an empire heads toward autumn. And as social tumult consumed the States, such understated and melancholy thematic fare simply wasn't at the forefront of hotter discussions.

But as author and sometimes music critic Jonathan Lethem told me earlier this month while talking about "Village Green," "One of the things the English have on us is that they're way out ahead on the empire-in-decline curve."

Admittedly, empires decline in different manners, dependent on their culture and economic and social structures. Fitting, then, that the Kinks' album was more melancholy with a British stiff upper lip, compared to the petulant and angry pouting that engulfs a culture across an ocean decades later.

A pastoral folksiness runs through the record, which runs contrary to the Kinks' reputation as a tightly wound progenitor of the British Invasion.

Ray's meditations on people and structures gone was mirrored by the guitar parts played by his brother, whose visceral, serrated work just a few years earlier helped define the sound of rock 'n' roll on songs such as "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night." They were no longer singing three-minute garage-rock songs about girls. They were summoning ghosts.

"Everything was psychedelic," Dave says. "That wasn't what we were going for. We wanted it more mystical. Something that captured this feeling of lost innocence. This idea of embracing the new but missing the old."

"Ray was never one to follow a trend," says Avory, the Kinks drummer. "He always tried to set one. When you got a trend, something in fashion, at that time, it was very difficult to break it. ... But he was more interested in telling a story with some quality. Not a throwaway. I think that's why it had a different sound and feel, all part and parcel, from what we did before."

There were indications before 1968 that the Kinks were headed in a different direction.

The band formed around its sibling core in 1964 in Muswell Hill, in the northern part of London. By October that year, the Kinks were rock stars thanks to those singles, "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night," which played well in Britain as well as the States, where each broke into the Top 10.

The turgidity of the music hung like a gray cloud around the band, even after the songs finished. The Kinks were famously among the most internally pugnacious bands in rock history. Their reputation likely played a part in being banned from touring the States just as the group found its groove. So from 1965-69, the Kinks were a nonpresence in the U.S., which explains a four-year blackout from the charts.

Which doesn't mean the Kinks stopped making music. And perhaps the insularity back in England helped them. Because the band found itself distanced from trends of the day.

The 1966 single "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" may have been written as a swipe to trend-following British listeners, but the Kinks in the late-'60s found themselves freed of connection to what was in vogue in North America.

Albums "Face to Face" in 1966 and the aptly titled "Something Else" a year later showed a group uninterested in hitching its wagon to any pre-existing trend.

The sound on the album is interesting. Though the Beatles' White Album -- also released in November 1968 -- was informed by a ramshackle looseness, likely a response to the every-hair-in-place quality of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" a year earlier -- the Kinks played songs that sounded loose.

I brought up Al Bowlly, the popular '30s British vocalist, and Dave Davies' came alive. "Yeah!" he said. "We wanted people to know the influences from the past were important and that we were reintegrating them. We had vast influences as kids. It was a big family. My sisters all played piano and sang. My dad played the banjo. Obviously, the blues and Chuck Berry were a big influence, but so was skiffle and all this stuff we heard growing up. It was a wealth of influence."

Avory pointed out that Davies was a fan of American vaudeville, which can also be heard on the record, as well as old musical theater. "Imagine a bar band," he says, "but rehearsing a bit more. Because all these great ideas needed to come out."

That instrumental approach was inviting and engaging, giving the record an almost informal vibe, which gently obscured just how specific the themes in the songs were.

"There's something particular about English nostalgia," Avory says. "That's what Ray was writing about. We were very English people, interested in our culture. And there are things that change and they're good, and there are things that change and they're not for the better. Buildings become boxes. Ray looked at the idea of a Village Green and all these things that went with it. It was quaint. But it also made you think about change. Things move on, but it's not always a progression, is it?"

Posted by orrinj at 5:23 AM


Houston Republican Dan Crenshaw's next mission: 'Make conservatism cool.' So far, so good (Kevin Diaz, Nov. 14, 2018, Houston Chronicle)

In a Weekly Standard interview in February, Crenshaw, now 34, warned Republicans about their white-haired image and affluent demographic. "You keep electing old, rich, white people to the seat -- you can expect the Republican party to be gone in 50 years," Crenshaw said. "We can't keep doing that. We have to make conservatism cool and exciting again." [...]

With little money at the start, his campaign relied heavily on social media like Facebook Live, Twitter and email blasts. He also sought out a younger audience than traditional Republican candidates, echoing the youth outreach of Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke, an ideological opposite who is credited with mobilizing young progressive voters across Texas, including the Second District.

"One thing he did consistently was not just the traditional political events, but gatherings of young people at bars, restaurants, brew pubs, sporting events," Steinhauser said of Crenshaw. "He really got outside of the normal political gatherings and went to social gatherings and civic spaces."

In a bid for recognition - and to add youth and vitality to his campaign - Crenshaw embarked on a five-day, 100-mile run in February across his district, which snakes around Houston from Bellaire in the south to Sherwood Trails in the north.

It was a quintessentially millennial act - one more commonly associated with young Democrats like O'Rourke, an avid runner.

"I have seen the face of the future of the Republican Party and the leadership of America," conservative radio host Michael Berry told Crenshaw's supporters at a primary election night party at the Cadillac Bar in May. "And it's wearing an eye patch."

His supporters give Crenshaw props for deep policy knowledge. He graduated from Tufts University and has a masters degree from Harvard University. Growing up in Ecuador and Colombia, he played soccer and speaks good Spanish.

Jacob Monty, a Houston attorney and GOP Latino activist who broke with Trump over his hard-line immigration rhetoric, credits Crenshaw with an equally conservative but more nuanced understanding of the border and immigration.

"He's not for open borders, he's not for amnesty, but his tone is very positive," Monty said. "He understands you can have a very conservative position, but you don't have to be mean-spirited. You don't have to demonize immigrants."

Monty cited an essay Crenshaw wrote for the National Review in July calling for more U.S. engagement south of the border: "Rebuilding the civic fabric of Central American countries is the only long-term solution to stemming the flow of illegal migration," Crenshaw wrote. "And without Mexico as a willing partner, the U.S. will continue to fight an impossibly uphill battle."

For Monty, who resigned last year from Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council, the essay was a departure from the current GOP's predominant tone on immigration. "When's the last time we had a congressman who wrote for the National Review?" he said. "Instead of just calling in to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Berry?"

Posted by orrinj at 5:03 AM


'Preparing for the worst': Mueller anxiety pervades Trump world (DARREN SAMUELSOHN 11/15/2018, Politico)

[H]alf a dozen people in contact with the White House and other Trump officials say a deep anxiety has started to set in that Mueller is about to pounce after his self-imposed quiet period, and that any number of Trump's allies and family members may soon be staring down the barrel of an indictment.

Then there are the president's own tweets, which have turned back to attacking Mueller after a near two-month break. Thursday morning, Trump launched an oddly detailed condemnation of the special counsel and his team: "They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want," adding that the investigators "don't ... care how many lives the[sic] ruin." [...]

"You can see it in Trump's body language all week long. There's something troubling him. It's not just a couple staff screw-ups with Melania," said a senior Republican official in touch with the White House. "It led me to believe the walls are closing in and they've been notified by counsel of some actions about to happen. Folks are preparing for the worst."

Adding to the unease is a spate of anonymously sourced media reports suggesting Mueller's self-imposed quiet period that started about two months before 2018 Election Day is about to transition into a Category 5 hurricane.

Mueller, as has been his custom throughout the investigation, hasn't said a word about what's next for his probe into the Trump 2016 campaign and whether it conspired with Russian hackers to win the White House. Instead, the special counsel has let his legal filings do the talking. On Wednesday, Mueller stirred the speculation pot yet again, delivering a one-page motion to a federal judge in Washington, D.C., confirming that former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates "continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations" and still isn't ready to be sentenced. Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy against the U.S. and making a false statement in a federal investigation.

Late Thursday, Mueller and attorneys for Paul Manafort confirmed in a joint motion that they've been meeting since the former Trump campaign chairman's mid-September guilty plea and requested a 10-day extension until Nov. 26 to file a status report that will help set the stage for the longtime GOP operative's sentencing.

In and around Trump world, the pressure is tangible.

After the Midterms, Robert Mueller's Got a New Wingman on Capitol Hill: President Trump is back to threatening the special counsel's "witch hunt," but he hasn't reckoned with Adam Schiff and the Democratic House. (Susan B. Glasser, 11/15/18, The New Yorker)

In an interview, Representative Adam Schiff, of California, described to me his evolving plan to act as Mueller's congressional backstop, insuring that, even if Trump and Whitaker attempt to shut down the investigation, Mueller's investigatory work and conclusions will not be covered up. Schiff, who is widely expected to be elected the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also made it clear that he will revive and expand the committee's investigation of the Russia allegations that Republicans on the panel abruptly shut down earlier this year, telling me he would like to recall Steve Bannon, Trump's former strategist, and Michael Cohen, the President's estranged former lawyer and fixer, among others, to get answers that the G.O.P. majority wouldn't or couldn't extract.

Most urgent is the crisis Trump has provoked in firing Sessions and installing Whitaker. Before our interview, Schiff had published a Washington Post op-ed, on Monday, promising, "Matthew Whitaker, we're watching you." In our conversation Schiff expanded on that, saying he was determined to "discover and expose any kind of wrongdoing" regarding the Mueller investigation. "If he takes any action adverse to the investigation or communicates any facts of the investigation to the President or his legal counsel, we're going to find out about it," Schiff told me. "There was a strong norm established after Watergate that the White House doesn't intervene in specific cases. Now this is a specific case that involves the President, and this would go well beyond intervening. This would be affirmatively appointing someone to hinder the investigation."

Schiff, a former federal prosecutor in California, said that he believes the Justice Department under Trump has set a precedent by turning over internal documents to the House Republicans in the Mueller probe and the investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails that it would have to follow if Schiff demanded information regarding Whitaker's actions involving Mueller. "They established a precedent, and I told them, 'You are going to have to live with this,' " Schiff said. " 'Someone is going to be briefed at the end of the Mueller investigation, and how are you going to say that the Democratic majority is not entitled to the same access to the materials that you have provided in the Clinton investigation or even in the Mueller investigation?' "

As for resurrecting the Intelligence Committee's own Russia investigation, Schiff said the first step involves pushing to immediately release the transcripts from the panel's interviews with key figures in the Mueller investigation; the committee has already voted to do so but never followed through. Schiff suggested that some of those who testified--he named the rogue Republican consultant and sometime Trump friend Roger Stone as one example--may have lied under oath in ways that would be relevant to Mueller and could subject them to possible perjury charges. "Our first order of business is to make sure that Mueller has the benefit of the work that we've done," Schiff said, "so that he can view that evidence in the context of what he knows, which is far more than we do. But also so that he can determine whether people committed perjury before our committee." Schiff said he wanted to recall Bannon because he simply refused to answer key questions when Republicans controlled the panel, not even bothering to cite a valid legal reason for his refusal beyond the White House's request. And Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen could have valuable additional information, given that his first testimony to the Hill panel occurred before he broke with the President and agreed to coöperate with Mueller. "We'd be very interested in talking to him again," Schiff said.

November 15, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 9:18 PM


Ocasio-Cortez gets in closed-door fight with veteran lawmaker over climate change (ANTHONY ADRAGNA, JOHN BRESNAHAN and ZACK COLMAN 11/15/2018, Politico)

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, incoming chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee -- backed by a number of other committee members -- slammed the creation of the new climate panel, according to multiple sources in the room. Pallone argued that his committee and other existing panels within the House could take on the issue aggressively.

But Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rep.-elect Joe Neguse (Colo.) and some of the other progressive incoming lawmakers fought back, saying they ran on the issue and needed to do it. Ocasio-Cortez earlier this week pushed for a "Green New Deal" as she backed more than 200 young protesters at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. [...]

Pallone declined to comment on what happened during the closed-door meeting, but further explained why he opposes the select committee.

"My fear is that if you have a select committee, by the time the select committee gets going, gets appointed and hires staff that it might actually delay what we're doing," the New Jersey Democrat told reporters. "We've got people who are in charge of these committees who are very progressive and I just don't see the need for the select committee. I think it may actually delay what the progressives are trying to achieve." get in a fight with Frank Pallone, one of the gentlest politicians you'd ever want to meet. She might want to at least consider the possibility that folks with more experience can give her some good advice.

Posted by orrinj at 6:52 PM


Terrorists, cultists - or champions of Iranian democracy? The wild wild story of the MEK (Arron Merat, 9 Nov 2018, The Guardian)

Since its exile from Iran in the early 1980s, the MEK has been committed to the overthrow of the Islamic republic. But it began in the 1960s as an Islamist-Marxist student militia, which played a decisive role in helping to topple the Shah during the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-American, MEK fighters killed scores of the Shah's police in often suicidal street battles during the 1970s. The group targeted US-owned hotels, airlines and oil companies, and was responsible for the deaths of six Americans in Iran. "Death to America by blood and bonfire on the lips of every Muslim is the cry of the Iranian people," went one of its most famous songs. "May America be annihilated."

Such attacks helped pave the way for the return of the exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who quickly identified the MEK as a serious threat to his plan to turn Iran into an Islamic republic under the control of the clergy. The well-armed middle-class guerrillas, although popular among religious students and intellectuals, would prove to be no match for Khomeini's organisation and ruthlessness.

Following the revolution, Khomeini used the security services, the courts and the media to choke off the MEK's political support and then crush it entirely. After it fought back, killing more than 70 senior leaders of the Islamic republic - including the president and Iran's chief justice - in audacious bomb attacks, Khomeini ordered a violent crackdown on MEK members and sympathisers. The survivors fled the country.

Saddam Hussein, who was fighting a bloody war against Iran with the backing of the UK and the US, saw an opportunity to deploy the exiled MEK fighters against the Islamic republic. In 1986, he offered the group weapons, cash and a vast military base named Camp Ashraf, only 50 miles from the border with Iran.

For almost two decades, under their embittered leader Massoud Rajavi, the MEK staged attacks against civilian and military targets across the border in Iran and helped Saddam suppress his own domestic enemies. But after siding with Saddam - who indiscriminately bombed Iranian cities and routinely used chemical weapons in a war that cost a million lives - the MEK lost nearly all the support it had retained inside Iran. Members were now widely regarded as traitors.

Isolated inside its Iraqi base, under Rajavi's tightening grip, the MEK became cult-like. A report commissioned by the US government, based on interviews within Camp Ashraf, later concluded that the MEK had "many of the typical characteristics of a cult, such as authoritarian control, confiscation of assets, sexual control (including mandatory divorce and celibacy), emotional isolation, forced labour, sleep deprivation, physical abuse and limited exit options".

After the US invasion of Iraq, the MEK launched a lavish lobbying campaign to reverse its designation as a terrorist organisation - despite reports implicating the group in assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists as recently as 2012. Rajavi has not been seen since 2003 - most analysts assume he is dead - but under the leadership of his wife, Maryam Rajavi, the MEK has won considerable support from sections of the US and European right, eager for allies in the fight against Tehran.

Posted by orrinj at 5:45 PM


Dayramir Gonzalez: The Grand Concourse (Machat): Review of the pianist's ambitious suite linking Havana and New York (Michael J. west, 11/15, 18, Jazz Times)

The Grand Concourse is a major statement from pianist Dayramir Gonzalez. It makes the most of the increasingly endangered 70-plus-minute album format, featuring an overture, a thoughtful musical dialogue between turn-of-the-20th-century Havana and 2010s New York (the album's title is after the Bronx's main thoroughfare), and an escalating rhythmic aggression. It's quite an achievement.

Indeed, that "Sencillez," a delicate and remarkably authentic circa-1900 danza with string quartet and vocal chorus, can sit in close quarters with the fiercely percussive (thanks to guests Pedrito Martinez and Yosvany Terry) and contemporary "Iyesa Con Miel" in a way that makes any sense at all is an achievement in itself. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:02 PM


Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' Host And Country Music Ambassador, Dies At 85 (Anastasia Tsioulcas, 11/15/18. NPR)

Clark became something of an ambassador for country music, not just in the U.S. but internationally, appearing in locales as far-flung as the Soviet Union, where he did a groundbreaking tour in 1976. He also helped turn the Ozark town of Branson, Mo., into an entertainment hot spot for Americans after opening the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre there in 1983.

Born Roy Linwood Clark on April 15, 1933 in Meherrin, Va., he grew up mostly in Washington, D.C., and gained a love of all kinds of music early on. His father, who played in a square dance band, took him to see the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands.

A remarkably talented multi-instrumentalist, Clark started out on the banjo and mandolin; when he was 14, he received his first guitar as a Christmas present -- and made his first television appearance that same year. First performing alongside his father, he began playing in D.C. bars and clubs, ignoring his schoolwork to the point of dropping out at age 15, and soon going on tour with the likes of Hank Williams.

He was first invited to the Grand Ole Opry as a teenager, after winning a national banjo competition in 1950. While he was first and foremost a country artist, Clark was something of a polymath, with facility in rock, jazz and pop; he became the first country artist to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival and recorded an album with jazz artist Joe Pass in 1994. In the mid-'50s, Clark honed his television chops as a regular on Country Style, the D.C.-based television show hosted by Jimmy Dean, eventually taking over as host after Dean relocated to New York.

But Clark hit his big break in 1960, when he was invited to Las Vegas to open for country artist Wanda Jackson. After the dissolution of Jackson's band, Clark savvily hired her old manager, who secured him appearances on The Tonight Show and Beverly Hillbillies. His first album, 1962's The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark, was soon followed by his first hit single, "The Tips of My Fingers," the next year. In 1969, his song "Yesterday, When I Was Young" became a hit on both the pop and country music charts; other major hits included "Come Live with Me" in 1973, and "Somewhere Between Love and Tomorrow." With seven nominations throughout his career, Clark's recording of "Alabama Jubilee" won a Grammy Award in 1982.

25 Years Of A-Pickin' And A-Grinnin': Roy Clark Reflects On 'Hee Haw' (Scott Simon, January 2, 2016, Weekend Edition Saturday

Posted by orrinj at 4:52 PM

Posted by orrinj at 4:46 PM


Even Trump Can't Stop Mocking Sean Hannity's 'Dumb' Softball Questions (Asawin Suebsaeng, Lachlan Cartwright, 11.15.18, Daily Beast)

Trump's many radio and TV interviews, always touted as "exclusives" and rarely making any news, have been widely derided by media critics and political observers as simpering propaganda. And the president himself, a man famous for demanding relentless validation and unwavering loyalty, feels the same way.

Trump has repeatedly--and sometimes for a sustained period of time--made fun of Hannity's interviewing skills, usually zeroing in on the low-quality laziness of the host's questions, the three people with direct knowledge tell The Daily Beast.

"It's like he's not even trying," Trump has said, one source recalled, right before the president launched into a rough imitation of Hannity's voice and mannerisms to complain that the questions about how "great I am" give him nothing to work or have fun with.

Posted by orrinj at 4:39 PM


Japan cybersecurity and Olympics minister: "I've never used a computer" (Reuters, 11/15/18) 

Japan's recently appointed cybersecurity and Olympics minister has told parliament he has never used a computer in his life, though he is responsible for overseeing cybersecurity preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.

...she maintained the only secure server in Washington.

Posted by orrinj at 1:44 PM


Federal Judge Trolls Marco Rubio, Rules Florida Must Let Voters Correct Alleged "Signature Mismatches" (MOLLY OLMSTEAD and MARK JOSEPH STERN, NOV 15, 2018, Slate)

Florida election officials have rejected between 4,000 and 5,000 ballots on the basis of amateur handwriting analysis. These officials are tasked with comparing the signatures on voters' absentee ballots to the signatures on their registration forms; if they find a "mismatch," they nullify the ballot. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker described this process as an "arbitrary determination" and ruled that elections supervisors must now give voters two days to fix these alleged signature mismatches. In an apparent jab at Sen. Marco Rubio, who analogized this litigation to football in a bizarre series of tweets, Walker explained: "Football fans may quibble about the substance of the rules, but no one quibbles that rules are necessary to play the game." He continued:

[N]o one quibbles that football referees make certain calls, under the rules, that deserve review. Indeed, not every call is going to be clear--the ultimate decision may hinge on highly subjective factors. Hence, a call will be overturned only when there is "clear and obvious visual evidence available that warrants the change." ... Coaches may challenge calls themselves by throwing a red flag, or, in certain circumstances, the referees may initiate review on their own.

All that process. Just for a game.

In this case, the Plaintiffs have thrown a red flag. But this is not football. Rather, this is a case about the precious and fundamental right to vote--the right preservative of all other rights. And it is about the right of a voter to have his or her vote counted. 

Rough week for the newborn Nationalist.

Posted by orrinj at 1:23 PM


Golden wins Maine's 2nd District race, flips another seat in U.S. House to Democrats (KEVIN MILLER, 11/15/18, Press Herald)

 Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of Maine's 2nd Congressional District race on Thursday following a historic tabulation of ballots using ranked-choice voting.

Golden, a Marine Corps veteran and state lawmaker from Lewiston, began the day roughly 2,000 votes behind incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. But Golden surged past Poliquin by slightly less than 3,000 votes after the ranked-choice votes of two independents in the race were redistributed Thursday afternoon.

Posted by orrinj at 10:20 AM


Is this how the Freedom Caucus ends? (Matthew Walther, November 15, 2018, The Week)

In a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, former House Speaker John Boehner spoke about his experience with Freedom Caucus types: "They can't tell you what they're for. They can tell you everything they're against. They're anarchists. They want total chaos. Tear it all down and start over. That's where their mindset is." I'm not so sure this is true. What they support is clear enough. The problem is that the American people do not agree. A long if non-exhaustive list of issues about which the average American does not and will never care about would include balanced budgets; the deficit; repealing or reducing or otherwise fiddling with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; lower corporate taxes; "deregulation;" and the gold standard.

Posted by orrinj at 10:18 AM


Trump is Having to Confront the Fact That He's Losing (Nancy LeTourneau, November 15, 2018, Washington Monthly)

The discussions between the president and McCarthy about Jordan, which took place last week, set off a round of speculation among lawmakers inside the Capitol that Trump may try to push Jordan to become the top Republican lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee, a panel expected to launch an array of Democratic investigations against the president -- and possibly even an impeachment probe.

"Jim Jordan will be the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee," top Trump ally Cory Lewandowski predicted Tuesday evening on MSNBC's Hardball.

Jordan wants that position, according to GOP lawmakers and aides. And Trump thinks Jordan would be a ferocious defender.

But McCarthy does not have authority to unilaterally appoint a lawmaker to any ranking member position. Rather, the decision is up to the Republican Steering Committee, a collection of members who do not like Jordan and may not take their cues from the White House.

Not every move this president makes could be labeled "obstruction of justice," but it's clear that everything he does revolves around his fear of investigations. So this whole attempt at "peacemaking" between McCarthy and Jordan was really about trying to set up one of his loyalists to muddy up attempts by the Judiciary Committee to hold him accountable.

Posted by orrinj at 4:12 AM


Despite common usage, health savings accounts are helpful for retirement (Russ Wiles, 11/15.18, Arizona Republic)

What does health care have to do with retirement? Plenty, and there's an investment vehicle out there that can help with it.

Health savings accounts could be an important option, though most people aren't thinking of them for retirement. As their name implies, these vehicles are designed to help Americans stash away cash for medical expenditures. Most people use them for near-term costs, while still employed. But medical bills also accumulate in retirement, and the money that builds up can be used to meet such costs, very efficiently.

The accounts allow for pretax contributions, tax-sheltered growth of investment dollars and tax-free withdrawals if used to pay for medical costs. They can help minimize taxes compared with taking withdrawals from other accounts, such as traditional Individual Retirement Accounts.

HSAs increasingly are included in benefits packages offered by employers. They also may be opened through the government health insurance marketplaces or exchanges. Either way, HSAs are designed for people who use high-deductible health insurance plans. With open-enrollment season here, now's the time to investigate.

Just universalize them.

Posted by orrinj at 4:07 AM



When asked what people in the U.K. think of the way that Trump communicates, Perrior said that British people "view him with amusement."

"We are amused by him. His public polling ratings...I would hazard a guess they would be pretty low. You know, the kind of stocking presents we get at Christmas is Donald Trump toilet paper, that should give you an indication of the way they view him," she told CNN.

Posted by orrinj at 4:04 AM


The looming threat to Trump's booming economy: A sugar high -- from tax cuts and other stimulus -- is expected to wear off in the coming year, constricting economic growth. (BEN WHITE 11/15/2018, Politico)

President Donald Trump, already in a grumpy post-midterm mood, faces a growing list of economic problems that could irritate him even more next year. Chief among them is a withdrawal from the economy's sugar high.

Fiscal stimulus from the GOP tax cuts is likely to start running out. The Federal Reserve is expected to keep bumping up interest rates. And few analysts expect a divided Congress -- facing soaring deficits and with its eyes on 2020 -- to join hands and pass a big infrastructure package or sweeping middle-class tax cuts to keep the fiscal juice flowing. that he could easily give the economy a massive jolt by dropping all tariffs, immigration restrictions and the sanctions on Iran, joining TPP and starting negotiations to add the UK to NAFTA.  

Posted by orrinj at 4:03 AM



The campaign for the Texas Senator seat between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democrat challenger Beto O'Rourke was ruthless, expensive and nasty. But then, on Wednesday, there was a kumbaya moment between the two Texas politicians at, of all places, the George Bush International Airport in Houston. [...]

Tiffany Easter captured the moment through photo and encapsulated the meeting between Cruz and O'Rourke on her social media. She said O'Rourke approached Cruz to personally congratulate the Senator on his successful reelection bid.

"Beto noticed Ted sitting down and walked over to congratulate him on his re-election and campaign," Easter wrote on her Facebook page. "It was the first time they had seen each other since the election and the entire conversation was both of them talking about how they could move forward together."

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM


Neomi Rao for the D.C. Circuit (Jonathan H. Adler|Nov. 13, 2018, reason)

Before taking the reins at OIRA, Rao was a Professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, where she founded the law school's Center for the Study of the Administrative State (where I am a Senior Fellow). Under her leadership, the Center sponsored conferences and workshops on various issues related to modern administrative law and regulatory policy, featuring legal academics and policy experts from across the political spectrum. In this work, and through her scholarship, she garnered a well-deserved reputation for her thoughtfulness and her intellect.

Rao is not merely an academic, though. She also worked in the White House Counsel's office during the Bush Administration, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and in private practice. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, she clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas. She has also served as a Member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and on the Governing Council of the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice and co-chair of the Section's Regulatory Policy Committee.

As the above should indicate, Rao has the range and depth of experience to make an excellent D.C. Circuit judge, including service to all three branches of the federal government. Her OIRA experience, in particular, will provide her with particular in sight and expertise on administrative law and process issues. (She also would not be the first OIRA Administrator to be nominated to that Court. Judge Douglas Ginsburg had also served as OIRA Administrator.) Though labeled a "czar," the job of OIRA Administrator often involves acting as something of a traffic cop, making sure agencies play by the rules and do the work necessary to justify their desired policies. In this Administration, this has often meant telling federal agencies to go back and try again or to do more to show their work -- something judges on the D.C. Circuit often have to do as well.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Incoming Intelligence chair wants to release interviews to aid Mueller probe (MICHAEL BURKE - 11/12/18, The Hill)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the probable incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Axios that he intends to use his new role to aid special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Schiff told Axios that he plans to publicly release dozens of interviews the committee has conducted in its own investigation of Russia's election interference.

Schiff said he wants Mueller to have that evidence at his disposal and be able to use it to determine whether any witnesses lied to the committee. Schiff said some information in the transcript contradicts facts and other testimony related to the Russia investigation.

"I want to make sure that Bob Mueller has the advantage of the evidence that we've been able to gather," Schiff said in an appearance on "Axios on HBO." "But equally important: that Bob Mueller is in a position to determine whether people knowingly committed perjury before our committee."

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 AM


'This is not all of us.' Call to remove Muslim from post divides Tarrant Republicans (ANNA M. TINSLEY, November 14, 2018, Star Telegram)

At a time when many want to focus on the 2020 election, in the wake of this reliably red county turning blue in this year's U.S. Senate race, Tarrant Republicans instead are focused on a call to remove a Muslim from party leadership.

One side, described as a small group with a loud voice, wants to remove Shahid Shafi, a Muslim, from the post of vice chairman. They say it's not about religion but whether Shafi is loyal to Islam or connected "to Islamic terror groups."

The other side supports Shafi, a surgeon and Southlake City Council member. At least one member is ready to step down if the effort to remove him from office is successful.

Posted by orrinj at 12:59 AM


The Threat to Nancy Pelosi's Speakership Is Suddenly Serious: Her antagonists have her full attention. (JIM NEWELL, NOV 14, 2018, Slate)

Following House Democrats' first full meeting with both their departing members and incoming members-elect, reporters asked Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan--who's organizing a suddenly serious opposition to Nancy Pelosi's bid for speaker--whether he and his allies would really follow through with the effort that's driving such a rift within the caucus, on its first day in charge, during its first vote.

"Yes," he said. He didn't miss a beat.

Ryan claims that his group has members numbering in the "mid-20s" who are adamant that they would not support Pelosi in a floor vote for speaker. Of those known publicly, it's about an even split between incumbents who've sought to overthrow Pelosi for years and new members who ran on a pledge not to support her. Since Pelosi can only suffer about 15 or 17 defections, and if this group's resolve is as firm as its generals insist it is, she would not have the votes. On Tuesday night, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, one of Pelosi's most persistent thorns, said with "100 percent" confidence that Pelosi would not have the numbers to become speaker, as did Texas Rep. Filemon Vela.

...they risk going for image over legislative skill.

Posted by orrinj at 12:56 AM


Hard-liners call for Zarif's head over money laundering comment (Al-Monitor Staff November 14, 2018)

Iran's foreign minister has entered another tough battlefront at home, riling up relentless criticism from the country's conservative camp after speaking up against "widespread money laundering" in the Islamic Republic.

"After all, money laundering is a reality in our country," Zarif said in a Nov. 10 interview with Khabar Online, a moderate news agency. The foreign minister refused to name any individuals or institutions involved in the practice, but estimated the money involved as billions of dollars.

Zarif's comments were apparently meant to address criticism of a controversial bill that has been widening the rift between Iran's Reformists and hard-liners. Iran's parliament approved a proposed law to join the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Oct. 7 as a precondition for Iran to be fully removed from the blacklist of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The government of President Hassan Rouhani has been pushing the measure to help fight the impact of sanctions reimposed by the United States after the latter withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The ratification of the FATF-related bills would also the Iranian government attain greater financial transparency and improve access to the international banking system. However, the country's hard-liners oppose the measure, considering the four bills -- including the one on joining the terror financing convention -- a concession to the West.

"Some of those concerns are rooted in honesty. ... But others are voicing those concerns for their own financial interests," Zarif said, adding that there were many who benefited from money laundering -- a revelation that was more than enough reason for his opponents to relaunch their attacks on the popular foreign minister.

Posted by orrinj at 12:51 AM


What Genghis Khan Can Teach Us About American Politics: The brutal warlord understood how to govern shrewdly and even humanely. (CASEY CHALK • November 14, 2018, American Conservative)

As a former history teacher, I picked up Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World because I realized I knew relatively little about one of the most influential men in human history. Researchers have estimated that 0.5 percent of men have Genghis Khan's DNA in them, which is perhaps one of the most tangible means of determining historical impact. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Mongolian warlord conquered a massive chunk of the 13th-century civilized world--including more than one third of its population. He created one of the first international postal systems. He decreed universal freedom of religion in all his conquered territories--indeed, some of his senior generals were Christians.

Of course, Genghis Khan was also a brutal military leader who showed no mercy to enemies who got in his way, leveling entire cities and using captured civilians as the equivalent of cannon fodder. Yet even the cruelest military geniuses (e.g. Napoleon) are still geniuses, and we would be wise to consider what made them successful, especially against great odds. In the case of Genghis Khan, we have a leader who went from total obscurity in one of the most remote areas of Asia to the greatest, most feared military figure of the medieval period, and perhaps the world. This didn't happen by luck--the Mongolian, originally named Temujin, was not only a skilled military strategist, but a shrewd political leader.

As Genghis Khan consolidated control over the disparate tribes of the steppes of northern Asia, he turned the traditional power structure on its head. When one tribe failed to fulfill its promise to join him in war and raided his camp in his absence, he took an unprecedented step. He summoned a public gathering, or khuriltai, of his followers, and conducted a public trial of the other tribe's aristocratic leaders. When they were found guilty, Khan had them executed as a warning to other aristocrats that they would no longer be entitled to special treatment. He then occupied the clan's lands and distributed the remaining tribal members among his own people. This was not for the purposes of slavery, but a means of incorporating conquered peoples into his own nation. The Mongol leader symbolized this act by adopting an orphan boy from the enemy tribe and raising him as his own son.

Weatherford explains: "Whether these adoptions began for sentimental reasons or for political ones, Temujin displayed a keen appreciation of the symbolic significance and practical benefit of such acts in uniting his followers through his usage of fictive kinship." Genghis Khan employed this equalizing strategy with his military as well--eschewing distinctions of superiority among the tribes. For example, all members had to perform a certain amount of public service. Weatherford adds: "Instead of using a single ethnic or tribal name, Temujin increasingly referred to his followers as the People of the Felt Walls, in reference to the material from which they made their gers [tents]."

America, alternatively, seems divided along not only partisan lines, but those of race and language as well. There is also an ever-widening difference between elite technocrats and blue-collar folk, or "deplorables." Both parties have pursued policies that have aggravated these differences, and often have schemed to employ them for political gain. Whatever shape they take--identity politics, gerrymandering--the controversies they cause have done irreparable harm to whatever remains of the idea of a common America. The best political leaders are those who, however imperfectly, find a way to transcend a nation's many differences and appeal to a common cause, calling on all people, no matter how privileged, to participate in core activities that define citizenship.

The Great Khan also saw individuals not as autonomous, atomistic individuals untethered to their families and local communities, but rather as inextricably linked to them. For example, "the solitary individual had no legal existence outside the context of the family and the larger units to which it belonged; therefore the family carried responsibility of ensuring the correct behavior of its be a just Mongol, one had to live in a just community." This meant, in effect, that the default social arrangement required individuals to be responsible for those in their families and immediate communities. If a member of a family committed some crime, the entire unit would come under scrutiny. Though such a paradigm obviously isn't ideal, it reflects Genghis Khan's recognition that the stronger our bonds to our families, the stronger the cohesion of the greater society. Politicians should likewise pursue policies that support and strengthen the family, the "first society," rather than undermining or redefining it.

Posted by orrinj at 12:48 AM


What are the risks of the Amazon deal? Ask Scott Walker.: Opponents of the Amazon's public giveaways say those governing Virginia and New York should take heed. (STEVEN OVERLY 11/14/2018, Politico)

The more than $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies being lavished on Amazon's new East Coast headquarters are dredging up a cautionary tale from the heartland -- the fate of Wisconsin's once-hyped Foxconn deal.

It was just last year that the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer landed an initial $3 billion in economic incentives to open a plant in Wisconsin, in a seeming triumph for Republican Gov. Scott Walker and President Donald Trump. "This is a great day for American workers," the president enthused from the White House at the announcement 16 months ago, portraying Foxconn's arrival as a vindication of his "Made in the USA" economic agenda.

But then came more than a year of sour aftertaste about the tax breaks, regulatory rollbacks and other favors that Wisconsin was handing Foxconn. The cost of the state incentives continued to climb while the size of the factory and number of new jobs appeared to be shrinking -- a reality that may have contributed to Walker's ouster at the polls last week.

Opponents of Amazon's public giveaways say the leaders governing Virginia and New York should take heed.

"The fact that Walker didn't get reelected after announcing the biggest potential state deal in history speaks volumes," said Greg LeRoy, executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group Good Jobs First, which promotes accountability in economic development.

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