October 26, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:13 PM


'It's daunting': Democrats crushing House Republicans on the airwaves (ALLY MUTNICK, 10/26/2020, Politico)

In the most competitive 94 districts, Democrats have booked over $177 million in ads since Sept. 1, while their GOP opponents have booked $93 million, according to a POLITICO analysis of advertising data. Republican outside groups have partly made up the difference, but the party is still bracing for a string of defeats next month.

"At this point, it's pretty clear there's going to be losses. The question is just how many, and if Republicans can keep it in the mid-to-high single digits," said Ken Spain, a GOP strategist and former communications director for House Republicans' campaign arm. "The money and the momentum is so significantly one-sided."

Even after picking up 40 seats last cycle, House Democrats are positioned to add more, thanks to Donald Trump's unpopularity in the suburbs. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:07 PM


Fox News COVID Infection Sends Election Plans Into 'Chaos' (Maxwell Tani, Justin Baragona, Diana Falzone, Oct. 26, 2020, Daily Beast)

Fox News has been planning its election night coverage for weeks, prepping staff and on-air talent for the biggest news night of the year. But now Fox faces uncertainty after the network's president and many of its key on-air stars may have been exposed to COVID-19.

"Everyone is in a panic about election night," said one current Fox News staffer.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that top Fox News executives and talent will quarantine and get tested after flying on a network-chartered flight from Nashville to New York--following Thursday night's presidential debate--with a staffer who later tested positive for the coronavirus. Passengers included network president Jay Wallace and on-air political hosts and analysts like Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Dana Perino, and Juan Williams. (A Fox News spokesperson would not confirm the Times story or the exposure, citing employee confidentiality.)

All four of those stars were expected to play key in-studio roles for Fox's election-night coverage. But now it's unclear how the network plans to proceed with its top talent potentially unable to gather in the same room.

"I believe it will put election night-plans into chaos," another current Fox staffer told The Daily Beast under condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Posted by orrinj at 5:10 PM


The Immediate Case for a Carbon Price (JOSEPH MAJKUT, OCTOBER 26, 2020, nISKANEN)

 The oil and gas industry is already shrinking and eyeing real transition. Clean energy is now big business. Low-carbon energy accounts for more than half of new generation capacity added to the power grid. This summer, analysts at Goldman Sachs estimated that new capital investment in renewables would exceed new investment in upstream oil and gas exploration for the first time in 2021. They see a $16 trillion global investment opportunity over the next decade. Opportunities to scale up, and the beneficiaries of achieving that scale, already exist.

A marketplace that valued low-carbon production would immediately give many U.S. manufacturers competitive advantages. For example, the Boston Consulting Group estimates that American steel mills have half the emissions intensity of those in China. Overall, the Climate Leadership Council reports that  U.S. goods are 80 percent more carbon-efficient than the world average. If that difference were recognized in prices, U.S. manufacturers would have an immediate competitive advantage and the incentive to build upon it. 

Establishing a carbon price will give ambitious CEOs the pass to bring big decarbonization plans to their Boards and Shareholders. The benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be plain in excel sheets and tax calculations. Writing in The Hill, Curt Morgan, CEO of Vistra Energy, one of largest emitting companies in the U.S. power sector, says that "companies want to hasten the transition to clean energy. But they need regulatory predictability and market certainty to innovate and make clean energy investments with confidence." Regulatory predictability and market certainty come from a carbon price, not from continually changing command-and-control measures.

Some segments of industry will resist any serious attempt at climate action. They will find political support from the few remaining climate skeptics and policymakers most opposed to climate policy, reflecting long-standing coalitional relationships on the right. But at this moment, that coalition is in tatters and isolated. The denial apparatus that formerly united the fossil fuel industry with their political allies is losing members as the coal industry shrinks, and the oil industry supports carbon pricing. Denialists are split from much of the business community, large segments of the fossil fuel industry, and the growing number of Republicans interested in climate action. 

With the political coalition that has historically opposed action divided and much of industry in favor of climate action, climate hawks should take advantage. 

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Posted by orrinj at 1:14 PM


Trump goads Biden for forgetting his name (AFP, 10/26/20)

"Joe Biden called me George yesterday. Couldn't remember my name," Trump tweeted with glee.

Better get used to that, son.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


These biological batteries generate renewable energy from the ground (ADELE PETERS, 10/26/20, fast Company)

As it rains, or when the ground is irrigated, nutrients and microorganisms leach from the soil into the new biological battery. Inside the battery, microorganisms feeding on organic matter produce protons and electrons, sending electrons to the anode and protons to the cathode. Air coming through holes in the exposed part of the panel provides oxygen. The process produces a current that can power lights or sensors--and eventually, if scaled up, could potentially power an entire house.

There are several advantages, Vidarte says. "You have an energy source that's producing electricity during daytime and nighttime," he says. "So it's 24-7 production of energy. It doesn't matter if it's raining or snowing, it will produce the same amount of energy." Unlike a large solar farm that might displace nature--as in South Korea, where 2 million trees have been cut down in recent years to make room for solar panels--the biological panels can work without impacting plants growing in a field. The technology uses materials that are more abundant than those used in solar panels, so when mass-manufactured, it could potentially compete on price, though the startup is only beginning to collect data about how much energy the panels can generate.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Case for Reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps (Matt Simon, 10/23/20, Wired)

Nearly a century after the original CCC came into being, some folks argue it's time to bring it back. So say Americans themselves: recent polling shows that 80 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans favor a return of the CCC. Joe Biden has proposed something akin to the CCC if elected: the Civilian Climate Corps. Workers would manage forests, restore ecosystems, and even remove invasive species. In September, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin introduced the RENEW Conservation Corps Act, which would spend $55.8 billion over five years to put a million Americans back to work, doing things like wildlife surveys and monitoring water quality. And last year, Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur introduced the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act, which has yet to pass the House, but proposes rehabilitating environments and updating trails and facilities throughout the country's natural spaces.

Kaptur sees some participants as working in their local communities, while others up for travel might move around the United States. "If we give them an opportunity to broaden their horizons, and at the same time restore America in some of its hidden corners and neglected places, what a great gift to the future," she says. "I don't know a single person--including my own father, who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps as a very young man--who wasn't changed and elevated by that experience."

Representatives from Biden's campaign and Durbin's office did not return requests for comment by press time. But in a release announcing his bill last month, Durbin invoked the challenges of a pandemic year: "America's outdoor spaces have provided recreation for generations, and this year we've seen how important and valuable they've been to countless Americans looking for a respite," he stated. "If we are to leave these natural gifts to the next generation, we have to take responsibility in protecting them."

October 25, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:19 PM


Trump aide says 'we're not going to control the pandemic' as president rallies in NH (JONATHAN LEMIRE, ALEXANDRA JAFFE and AAMER MADHANI, 10/25/20, Associated Press)

The coronavirus has reached into the heart of the White House once more, little more than a week before Election Day, as it scorches the nation and the president's top aide says "we're not going to control the pandemic." [...]
"If Pence did not self-quarantine, it would violate every core public health principle his own task force recommends," said Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University school of law. "It's one standard for the vice president and another for all the rest of us."

The U.S. set a daily record Friday for new confirmed coronavirus infections and nearly matched it Saturday with 83,178, data published by Johns Hopkins University shows. Close to 8.6 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and about 225,000 have died; both totals are the world's highest. About half the states have seen their highest daily infection numbers so far at some point in October.

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 PM


Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn't Buy It. (Ben Smith, Oct. 25th, 2020, NY Times)

By early October, even people inside the White House believed President Trump's re-election campaign needed a desperate rescue mission. So three men allied with the president gathered at a house in McLean, Va., to launch one.

The host was Arthur Schwartz, a New York public relations man close to President Trump's eldest son, Donald Jr. The guests were a White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, and a former deputy White House counsel, Stefan Passantino, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Herschmann knew the subject matter they were there to discuss. He had represented Mr. Trump during the impeachment trial early this year, and he tried to deflect allegations against the president in part by pointing to Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine. More recently, he has been working on the White House payroll with a hazy portfolio, listed as "a senior adviser to the president," and remains close to Jared Kushner.

The three had pinned their hopes for re-electing the president on a fourth guest, a straight-shooting Wall Street Journal White House reporter named Michael Bender. They delivered the goods to him there: a cache of emails detailing Hunter Biden's business activities, and, on speaker phone, a former business partner of Hunter Biden's named Tony Bobulinski. Mr. Bobulinski was willing to go on the record in The Journal with an explosive claim: that Joe Biden, the former vice president, had been aware of, and profited from, his son's activities. The Trump team left believing that The Journal would blow the thing open and their excitement was conveyed to the president.

The Journal had seemed to be the perfect outlet for a story the Trump advisers believed could sink Mr. Biden's candidacy. Its small-c conservatism in reporting means the work of its news pages carries credibility across the industry. And its readership leans further right than other big news outlets. Its Washington bureau chief, Paul Beckett, recently remarked at a virtual gathering of Journal reporters and editors that while he knows that the paper often delivers unwelcome news to the many Trump supporters who read it, The Journal should protect its unique position of being trusted across the political spectrum, two people familiar with the remarks said.

As the Trump team waited with excited anticipation for a Journal exposé, the newspaper did its due diligence: Mr. Bender and Mr. Beckett handed the story off to a well-regarded China correspondent, James Areddy, and a Capitol Hill reporter who had followed the Hunter Biden story, Andrew Duehren. Mr. Areddy interviewed Mr. Bobulinski. They began drafting an article.

Then things got messy. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:49 PM


The Internet Comes Calling for Car Salesmen (Kyle Stock, Oct. 25th, 2020, Bloomberg)

It took three phone calls to realize how little car shopping has changed in the COVID economy. 

In early August, I resigned myself to buying a new minivan; I knew precisely the one I wanted and found several online that were nearby and listed at fair prices. Yet, I could not manage to click my way to a "buy" button. Time and again, the digital threads ended with the promise of a phone call to finalize the details. That's when the salesmen (they were all men) stepped in with near identical lines of patter. First, they asked what vehicle I was inquiring about to "make sure it was still available." Second, they said that I would have to qualify for the price listed online. Finally, the kicker: "When can you come in?"

The dialogue was so dismissive of both the pandemic and contemporary digital retail that it was almost as nostalgic as it was irritating -- almost. 

A couple days later I spent $29,900 on a two-year-old Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid listed on Vroom, an online-only car dealership launched in 2013. The entire transaction, which included some financing and a trade-in, took slightly longer than ordering a pair of shoes on Zappos.

My experience, it turns out, is not an anomaly. A trio of automotive web stores -- Carvana Corp., Shift Technologies Inc., and Vroom -- have the accelerator pinned, as COVID lockdowns played into business models that are socially distanced by design. Take a look at the charts in our deep-dive on the space. In the next few years, analysts expect 8% to 20% of vehicles to be bought via computer or phone.

"Our biggest challenge is people that don't know we exist," Shift CEO George Arison told me. "Once they know we exist, it's very hard to go back to buying a car the old way."

Posted by orrinj at 5:44 PM


Trade war with China didn't boost U.S. manufacturing (Josh Zumbrun and Bob Davis, 10/25/20, Wall Street Journal)

President Donald Trump's trade war against China didn't achieve the central objective of reversing a U.S. decline in manufacturing, economic data show, despite tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods to discourage imports.

The tariffs did succeed in reducing the trade deficit with China in 2019, but the overall U.S. trade imbalance was bigger than ever that year and has continued climbing, soaring to a record $84 billion in August as U.S. importers shifted to cheaper sources of goods from Vietnam, Mexico and other countries. The trade deficit with China also has risen amid the pandemic, and is back to where it was at the start of the Trump administration.

Another goal--reshoring of U.S. factory production--hasn't happened either. Job growth in manufacturing started to slow in July 2018, and manufacturing production peaked in December 2018.

Posted by orrinj at 4:09 PM


Trump, TV pundits don't have a fracking clue about Pennsylvania and fossil fuels  (Will Bunch, 10/25/20, Philadelphia Inquirer)

There's a weird kind of magnet force that draws journalists to look for laid-off gas workers or struggling small barkeepers in quaint rural burgs while ignoring the densely populated, un-quaint suburbs that are voting for politicians like Chester County state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, who made opposition to the Mariner East pipeline the centerpiece of her 2018 upset win and who recently told a journalist that "the pipeline project is an example of how our constitutional rights, like health and safety, have been chipped away."

No wonder, then, that the conventional wisdom is so wrong, and so I'm going to state clearly what the TV pundits refuse to grasp -- perhaps, to quote the great Upton Sinclair, because "his salary depends on not understanding it."

A majority of Pennsylvanians oppose fracking. Period, full stop.

A recent CBS statewide poll, taken in August, found that 52% of commonwealth residents oppose fracking -- the modern drilling practice that uses high-pressure water to blast out oil or (for the most part in Pennsylvania) natural gas that's trapped deep in rock formations like the Marcellus shale bed. And that wasn't a fluke. Back in January, a Franklin and Marshall College poll found that 48% of Pennsylvanians backed a straight-up ban on fracking -- a more radical step than even Biden or many establishment Democrats are willing to take right now -- while only 39% opposed such a move. And that survey was taken before the latest summer onslaught of West Coast wildfires and Gulf Coast hurricanes reminded folks that climate change -- heavily caused by pollution from fossil fuels -- is already wreaking widespread havoc.

Indeed, widen your lens and you'll see that most voters across America don't find Biden's comments about transitioning away from oil as radical, but as reality in the face of climate change and rapid advances in cleaner energy such as wind and solar. A Politico/Morning Consult poll taken right after Thursday's debate found an overwhelming 57% of Americans -- even 41% of Republicans -- strongly or somewhat support transitioning from oil to renewable energy. Biden's much-discussed remark was in fact what the politics geeks call "a Kinsley gaffe," when a comment isn't a mistake at all but a possibly uncomfortable truth. In this case, though, it's only uncomfortable because of journalists whose heads are still buried in the long gas lines of the 1970s.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


DOJ's Discovery Of Google's 'Monopoly' Confirms The Lawsuit's Superfluous Nature (John Tamny, 10/25/20, Forbes)

Precisely because there's so much upside for a successful technology investment, hundreds of billions are flowing into tomorrow's dominant companies. Which ones will shine? If any of us knew, the path to billionaire status would be simple.

Except that it's not. And it's not because while the commercial creators of the future will be worth trillions, their eventual valuations make it impossible to know now which ones will eventually attain rarefied air.

To understand this better, consider the technology outlook in 2000, back when AOL and Yahoo were at the top of the internet heap. At the same time Amazon AMZN +0.9% was a "non-profit" peddling books, CDs and DVDs, Microsoft was still bloodied after the Clinton DOJ tried to break it up for offering Internet Explorer for free, Apple AAPL -0.6% was slowly limping out of near bankruptcy, Google was a largely unknown search engine surely dismissed by AOL and Yahoo, and then Facebook didn't exist. You see, Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.

Imagine if you'd purchased the shares of just the public companies mentioned above in 2000. Amazon was trading at around $70/share. Apple was split adjusted trading at under $1 share relative to $116 right now, and even with Microsoft you would have quadrupled your investment. Google was still private, and valued at a microscopic fraction of its present worth. Facebook once again didn't exist, but as evidenced by Peter Thiel being able to acquire a 10% stake for $500,000, it's evident that much more than a few VCs passed on it.

What the technology landscape of 2000 tells us about the future is that the companies set to vanquish the technology giants of today are almost certainly unknown, wholly dismissed, or don't even exist yet. But rest assured they'll soon enough be known very well, only to be discovered by the DOJ after they achieve commercial dominance that is reflected by their membership in the trillion dollar club.

All of this needs to be remembered in consideration of the DOJ's lawsuit against Google. Supposedly consumers love its search engine too much, and because they do, government must step in and neuter that which consumers have chosen. Yes, antitrust is anti-consumer. Always.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Alternative energy stocks are on a tear and there's more upside ahead, says JPMorgan (Pippa Stevens, 10/25/20, CNBC)

Alternative energy stocks, including those focused on solar, are on a tear this year due to falling costs as well as optimism around supportive policies from a Biden administration, and JPMorgan believes there's more upside ahead.

"Long-term fundamentals for the overall space remain compelling, and we think the industry is more suited to long-term investors than at any prior time during our coverage," the firm said in a recent note to clients.

JPMorgan noted that the stocks in its alternative energy coverage universe have gained, on average, more than 130% this year compared with the S&P 500′s roughly 7% rise. Still, the firm said the risk-reward continues to look favorable, especially for companies involved in distributed power generation.

Just tax the bejeebies out of fossil fuels.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Biden gains as suburban women and elderly voters look to dump TrumpNine days out from election day, polling shows the Democratic nominee with big leads in key demographics (David Smith,  25 Oct 2020, The Guardian)

In the past four presidential elections, Republicans have led among the elderly by around 10 points. But about four in five Americans killed by the coronavirus were older than 65 and a majority of Americans say Trump has mishandled the pandemic.

The president trails among elderly voters by more than 20 points, according to recent CNN and Wall Street Journal/NBC News polls. This swing could prove critical in states such as Arizona and Florida, which have a high number of retirees.

"In terms of voting blocs, there are two that are absolutely dooming Donald Trump," said Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota.

"He won the senior vote by seven points in 2016; that was very important in Florida and a few other states. He's now losing that bloc and the polls differ about how much, but the fact that he no longer has an advantage among seniors is really crippling for him.

"And then he has so alienated suburban women that it's put a whole number of states in play, including states you wouldn't expect, like Georgia. This kind of macho presidency has gotten the ringing rejection by women, particularly educated women who are so tired of the 1950s."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


This is why we need to ditch the 8-hour workday for good (JORY MACKAY, 10/25/20, Fast Company)

1. Almost no one is "working" for eight hours a day.

Let's start with some hard data. It doesn't matter how long you spend in the office, chances are you aren't working productively for eight hours a day.

Instead, data and surveys from around the world have found that modern workers are only truly productive for a maximum of 2 hours and 50 minutes a day.

But what about the other five-plus hours? They're spent on nonwork activities like reading the news or social media, socializing with coworkers, taking breaks, or lost to multitasking, context switching, and endless meetings.

2. Quality of work (and happiness) drops sharply after a certain number of hours.

Even if you try to work more to make up for those lost hours, your productivity will hit a wall.

According to research from Stanford University, output and creativity sharply decline after 50 hours of working in a week. And it only gets worse the more you work. In fact, people who work a 70-hour workweek are likely to produce nothing during those 15-20 extra hours.

3. Our focus is limited to blocks of 20-90 minutes max.

The problem with long workdays isn't just that we're spending too long at work. It's that we're trying to spend all that time productively.

The human brain is more like a muscle than a computer. You can't load it up with tasks without giving it breaks and proper time to recover. As research scientist Andrew Smart explains:

"The idea that you can indefinitely stretch out your deep focus and productivity time to these arbitrary limits is really wrong. It's self-defeating."

Instead, research shows that attention spans begin to decay significantly after 20 minutes while most people require a break every 50-90 minutes. (If you want to get technical, our brains go through something called ultradian rhythms every 90 minutes after which we need to take a break.)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


White House Sought to Silence News of Vice President COVID-19 Outbreak: Report (JACOB JARVIS, 10/25/20, Newsweek)

Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for The Times, tweeted to her 1.5 million followers: "Two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief-of-staff, Mark Meadows, sought to keep the information about the VP office outbreak from becoming public."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Our choice is Joe Biden* (Manchester Union Leader, 10/25/20)

Donald Trump did not create the social-media-driven political landscape we now live in, but he has weaponized it. He is a consummate linguistic takedown artist, ripping apart all comers to the delight of his fanbase but at the expense of the nation. America faces many challenges and needs a president to build this country up. This appears to be outside of Mr. Trump's skill set.

Building this country up sits squarely within the skill set of Joseph Biden. We have found Mr. Biden to be a caring, compassionate and professional public servant. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to be a president for all of America, and we take him at his word. Joe Biden may not be the president we want, but in 2020 he is the president we desperately need. He will be a president to bring people together and right the ship of state.

Biden is not perfect. We are not satisfied with his responses about his son Hunter's foreign business dealings. His understanding of gun rights leaves a lot to be desired (Joe says we only need shotguns). He suggests cops faced with a deadly threat should "shoot them in the leg." He also seems to be copying more pages out of the "Green New Deal" than we would like.

Our policy disagreements with Joe Biden are significant. Despite our endorsement of his candidacy, we expect to spend a significant portion of the next four years disagreeing with the Biden administration on our editorial pages.

Biden was among the most moderate in the crowded 2020 Democratic primary field, proposing some of the lowest new spending among that increasingly left-leaning group. We are hopeful that this is a sign of the thoughtful and pragmatic public servant President Joe Biden will be. Sadly, President Trump has proven himself to be the antithesis of thoughtful and pragmatic; he has failed to earn a second term.

Our endorsement for President of these United States goes to Joe Biden.

October 24, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:07 PM


The Replacements Song You Need To Hear. Especially If You Don't Like The Replacements. (Trunkworthy)
"Here Comes A Regular" is the Mats' masterpiece that could have come from Bruce Springsteen, Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams or Raymond Carver.
Even if we told you The Replacements mashed up everything that made '70s rock matter -- the energy of punk, the swagger and slop of the Stones, the introspection of the most sensitive singer/songwriters, and the sing-along hooks of power pop -- that might not be enough to convert you. You might walk away from the records turned off by the brash aggression we fell in love with when they were inventing alternative rock in the '80s, and remain somehow undiminished on the stages of their reunion tour. No oldies show here: They're bringing all the fire and commitment expected of the band that built and burned the bridge between the Sex Pistols, Nirvana, Green Day and Wilco. So, yeah, we love them, yet we get that The Replacements aren't for everyone.

But at least one song of theirs is. That's why we're begging -- begging -- you to check out their barroom ballad, "Here Comes A Regular." It's as far from the snarling rock The Replacements are known for as The Stones' "Wild Horses" is from "Brown Sugar" or Lennon's "Imagine" is from "Revolution."

Posted by orrinj at 1:16 PM


Singer-Songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker Dies at Age 78 (JORDAN HOFFMAN, OCTOBER 24, 2020, Vanity Fair)

After "Mr. Bojangles," Walker left New York for the burgeoning "Outlaw Country" scene in Austin, Texas, that also inspired Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, and others. He remained in Austin for the rest of his life. His ¡Viva Terlingua! album recorded live with his Lost Gonzo Band is something of a Rosetta Stone of Outlaw Country, with tracks like "Sangria Wine" and a cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard's great shout-singalong song "Up Against The Wall, Red Neck Mother."

Walker also famously covered two tunes by Guy Clark, "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting For The Train."

In a statement to Austin360, Ray Benson from the group Asleep at the Wheel said "other than Willie, Jerry Jeff is the most important musician to happen to Austin. He really brought that folksinger/songwriter form to its height in Texas. And for that, he'll be eternal."

Posted by orrinj at 9:24 AM


The Unspectacular Excellence of Joe Biden's Slow and Steady Campaign (TIM ALBERTA, 10/23/2020, Politico)

The reasons I expected Biden to get mauled by the likes of Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are exactly the reasons he outlasted them all.

The reasons I wondered how he would fare against Donald Trump are exactly the reasons he outperformed the president in each of their two debates.

Biden is slow. He is steady. He is unspectacular. In other words, he is what much of the electorate seems to want.

On Thursday night, two years after he stepped to that lectern in Lansing, Biden climbed down tiredly from the stage in Nashville. Over the previous 90 minutes, he had put the finishing touches on a campaign that was crafted in defiance of every expectation placed upon him and his party since Trump took office. I would call Biden's performance in the final debate an exclamation mark--except there is nothing exclamatory about his candidacy. He has run, objectively speaking, one of the most monotonous and predictable and uneventful campaigns for president in recent memory. And it has been nothing short of superb. Now, with Biden on the brink of a historic victory, it's worth understanding what has been right about his campaign--not simply what has been wrong with Trump's.

The Democratic nominee was at it again Thursday night, plodding along at a comfortable pace, reciting methodically rehearsed responses, never losing his composure or abandoning his message. It was telling that the lone error Biden supposedly committed--pledging to transition the country away from reliance on oil--is something he has discussed regularly over the past 18 months. Could he have polished his point a bit more? Sure. But there was no controversy. There was no campaign-imploding misstep. This was not Hillary Clinton promising to put coal miners out of work or Mitt Romney calling 47 percent of the country indolent. The former vice president's loyalists who have spent two years holding their breath, certain that he could say something disqualifying at any moment, are exhaling today with equal parts relief and amazement. The truth is, for all Biden's history of veering outside the lines and putting his foot in his mouth, he has navigated the most hyperexposed and instantly scrutinized political climate in history without ever putting himself in real jeopardy.

Some of this, of course, owes to a sheltering strategy that has kept the Democratic nominee out of sight for long stretches of the race. The basement that Trump mocked on Thursday night actually has been a protective lair from which Biden has run a textbook referendum campaign, keeping the focus on the incumbent, not on himself.

But much of Biden's success owes to his opponent's willingness to embrace that referendum.

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 AM


Trump campaign dissolving into ugly in-fighting and finger-pointing as election loss looms: report (Tom Boggioni, 10/24/20, Raw Story)

According to Politico's Alex Isenstadt, "Accusations are flying in all directions and about all manner of topics -- from allegedly questionable spending decisions by former campaign manager Brad Parscale, to how White House chief of staff Mark Meadows handled Trump's hospitalization for Covid-19, to skepticism that TV ads have broken through. Interviews with nearly a dozen Trump aides, campaign advisers and Republican officials also surfaced accusations that the president didn't take fundraising seriously enough and that the campaign undermined its effort to win over seniors by casting Democrat Joe Biden as senile."

While high profile Trump officials such as current campaign manager Bill Stepien are putting on a brave face, Politico reports Trump campaign headquarters is riddled with paranoia and internal fighting that is not helping matters as November 3rd looms.

"Senior Republicans say a culture of paranoia has developed in the waning days of the race, with fears mounting that they will be the targets of post-election attacks if Trump loses, which could damage their careers going forward," the report states before adding, "It's not just Parscale getting blamed for Trump's predicament. Some Republican officials are also angry at Meadows for how he managed Trump's hospitalization. The chief of staff undercut the White House messaging when he told reporters early on that Trump was 'still not on a clear path to a full recovery.'"

Adding to the problems has been a breakdown in communications between Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee, both of which are supposed to be working hand-in-hand to get the president re-elected.

"The dissension has spilled into the final days of the race. In theory, the campaign and RNC are supposed to be working in tandem. But senior Republicans have said the campaign's coordination with the RNC broke down after Parscale's departure, with little communication between the two organizations," the reports states.

Politico is also reporting that some campaign officials are pinning a great part of the blame on the president himself.

The guy lost to Hillary by three million votes.  The notion he could be re-elected was always anti-realist.

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 AM


'Well, What Do You Mean, We Can't Join the Klan?': Inside the bizarre, secret meeting between Malcolm X and the Ku Klux Klan (LES PAYNE and TAMARA PAYNE, 10/24/2020, Politico)

The meeting began with a telegram that was delivered from the Klan at the end of 1960.

At a Nation of Islam gathering in Atlanta, 33-year-old Jeremiah X rushed up and handed over over the message, as if passing along a burning ember. The communiqué caught Malcolm totally by surprise. It proposed a meeting between the two groups and implied that they had a lot in common. The two Muslim ministers read the cable several times, probing the missive for motive. Who exactly was this W. S. Fellows, who had signed the telegram? The inclusion of his phone number, with an exchange that indicated he lived in the Grant Park section of the city, suggested that he awaited an answer. Was this a veiled threat? A setup? The Klan did not normally send its messages to Black people by day or post them in writing.

Unbeknown to Malcolm and Jeremiah, this initiative from the most violent, self-declared "white racist" group in America was being monitored by the FBI. Director J. Edgar Hoover had long targeted both the Klan and the NOI for surveillance, infiltration, and disruption. The more recent surge of the civil rights movement had also attracted the Bureau leader's attention in the South. As many as 2,000 paid FBI informant were operating inside the Klan, it later would be revealed.

This penetration allowed the Bureau to control or influence one of every 10 members, or 10 percent of the Ku Klux Klan. This vast government network may well have instigated the Klan's outreach to the Black Muslims for Hoover's own ulterior motive, such as the desire to influence or get inside information about the NOI's plans.

The details of the Klan telegram, and the events that resulted, have never been fully disclosed. Each group determined that its involvement in this cross-racial affair must be kept secret. Records indicate that the FBI monitored the proceedings and kept its notes classified for decades. It also kept secret whatever covert follow-up action the Bureau may have taken against the Klan and the Black Muslims, as well as against civil rights leaders. The original telegram was thrown out, according to Jeremiah X (later known as Jeremiah Shabazz). This account of the matter was pieced together from scattered government records, interviews with participants, group communiqués and notes, personal diaries, and knowledgeable sources.

The meeting was the beginning of an uneasy alliance between the NOI and the Ku Klux Klan on shared goals of racial separation. It was also the beginning of Malcolm's disillusionment with the Black Muslim organization and his embrace of the more mainstream civil rights movement.

At the time of the meeting, race relations in America had been rocked by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which had outlawed school segregation. Despite the Supreme Court's caveat prescribing "all deliberate speed," the decision inspired civil rights groups to accelerate the pace of desegregation--against stiff white opposition from parents, school boards, governors and congressmen, sheriffs and the terror tactics of the KKK. Spearheading the drive to enforce the ruling were such well-established organizations as the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Congress of Racial Equality, as well as the newly formed Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), headed by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

In the wake of the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott that the SCLC had launched in December 1955, the Klan had stepped up its campaign against desegregation with night-riding attacks, lynching of Blacks and bombings of homes and churches. Cross-burning Klan rallies were staged in open fields--mostly on Friday or Saturday nights, to attract the largest working-class crowds, some bringing along their small children for the fireworks. The racist terror was intended to derail the civil rights movement led by King and other nonviolent leaders.

During these tumultuous days of racial confrontation, the Nation of Islam operated on a third rail, opposing integration from the black side of the race divide.

The Klan invitation led to a meeting in Chicago between Jeremiah, Malcolm and NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, also called the Messenger by adherents, where they mulled over what such a meeting might look like.

Malcolm envisioned himself grabbing the Georgia Klan by the ear--and riding the wolf in its very own den, all at the behest of Elijah Muhammad. Once and for all, a squaring-off with the Klan leader could clarify the Muslim stances on integration, Christianity, mixed marriage, the Jews, miscegenation and even violence. The unbridgeable racial chasm could be explained, and the need for the Messenger's "separate state" highlighted, all in a highly publicized, Atlanta extravaganza with the white knights--featuring Minister Malcolm X. As Malcolm maneuvered for the key role at the Messenger's table, Jeremiah X listened quietly.

Elijah Muhammad appeared to have other ideas entirely. He struck a note nowhere near as assertive toward the Klan as Malcolm had hoped.

Dispassionate as usual when asserting NOI doctrine, Muhammad stated that his battle was not against whites but for the lost hearts and minds of Black people. Both the Klan and the NOI, Muhammad summarized, opposed integration and race mixing. Each group was on record as opposing the goals of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., although for separate and unequal reasons. The Muslims viewed King as a chief rival. The Klan saw him as a dangerous threat to white hegemony. Moreover, Muhammad allowed for no "hierarchy" among Caucasians on the issue of white supremacy; from the sitting U.S. president to the imperial wizard, all were slammed as "white devils." Accordingly, the Messenger told his two ministers in Chicago that day that the Muslims and the Klan indeed had similar goals but with different shading. Finally, playing his fingers across his lips, Elijah Muhammad calmly instructed a restrained Malcolm and a resigned Jeremiah X: "You can meet with them devils."

"We want what they want," Jeremiah remembered the Messenger stating plainly. However, "let them know that you don't want segregation; you want separation. We want to be totally separated from you. Give us ours and you have yours. We want ours more or less free and clear. Give us something we can call our own. You just tell them devils that."

it's the same dynamic you see in effect when Donald befriends Vladm, Kim & Xi and Israel allies with Arab dictatorships.  All Nationalists are natural allies.

Posted by orrinj at 7:25 AM


The Republican Antitrust Suit Against Google Is a Progressive Dream (ELIZABETH NOLAN BROWN, 10.22.2020, reason)

To reach this conclusion, the complaint--filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia--employs a loose conception of monopoly and barely bothers trying to offer a theory of consumer harm. The complaint's big beef with Google is basically that it's big, as well as useful, stubbornly popular, and extremely profitable.

Google is "one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, with a market value of $1 trillion and annual revenue exceeding $160 billion," the government notes in the suit's second paragraph.

For search users, Google algorithms "deliver more relevant results, particularly on 'fresh' queries (queries seeking recent information), location-based queries (queries asking about something in the searcher's vicinity), and 'long-tail' queries (queries used infrequently)," it says. And "few general search text advertisers would find alternative sources [to Google] a suitable substitute."

The lawsuit against Google does not accuse it of conspiring with its competitors or of acting unilaterally to block new entrants into the market. Nor does it cite common political gripes about Google, such as the idea that it's working too many different hustles and needs to be "broken up," or the claim that Google search and YouTube are ideologically biased. 

October 23, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Trump campaign ad about America's comeback features footage from Russia and Slovenia (Brian Schwartz, 10/22/20, CNBC)

President Donald Trump's campaign used stock footage from Russia and Slovenia in a digital ad intended to convince voters that America is bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted by orrinj at 5:43 PM


Trump might be surprised to learn most Americans want more wind and solar (Ella Nilsenella.nilsen@vox.com  Oct 23, 2020, Vox)

[P]olling shows that a majority of American's agree with Biden's vision that the future of American energy should be renewable energy.

Energy polling from Gallup shows a growing number of Americans believe the US should put less emphasis on traditional fossil fuels like oil and coal. The same Gallup poll showed overwhelming enthusiasm for renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The Gallup survey showed that the number of Americans who believe the US should put more emphasis on coal and oil has fallen in recent years. Just 22 percent of Americans said we need more emphasis on coal in March 2019, a dip from 31 percent who said we should put more emphasis on it in 2013.

On the other hand, 70 percent of Americans in 2019 said the country should put more emphasis on wind energy (a number largely unchanged from 2013), and 80 percent said we should put more emphasis on solar energy (a slight uptick from 76 percent in 2013). The results were more mixed on natural gas, with 46 percent of Americans saying the country should put more emphasis on that as a form of energy, a dip from the 65 percent who said so in 2013.

A 2020 Pew Research Center study showed similar numbers. When the poll asked American adults whether the nation's priority should be oil, gas, and coal or alternative energy sources like wind and solar for the nation's energy supply, the poll showed 79 percent preferred alternative energy compared to 20 percent who said fossil fuels.

Joe can just focus on issues where the country is 65-35 or even more lop-sided and have a full agenda. 
Posted by orrinj at 5:35 PM


Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 US lives before March, mitigating the worst of this 3rd coronavirus surge (Aria Bendix, 10/23/20, Business Insider)

More than 60% of Americans say they always wear a mask in public, according to data compiled by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). But more people will need to put one on if the US has any hope of mitigating its third major surge of infections.

The country's daily coronavirus cases have risen more than 40% on average since the start of October, an ominous swing in the wrong direction as cold weather sets in.

A new model from IHME predicted the US's total death count could surpass 511,000 by the end of February -- more than double the number of COVID-19 deaths the nation has seen so far.

But if 95% of the country wore masks, nearly 130,000 of those lives might be saved, the researchers found. 

The Trumpbots prefer corpses to courtesy.

Posted by orrinj at 5:24 PM


The Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me (Deluxe Edition) (Jake Cole, 10/20/20, Spectrum Culture)

Helping Westerberg realize his mounting ambitions to escape punk's limitations was producer Jim Dickinson, who had also sat behind the boards for the band's beloved Big Star for that group's Third. Dickinson brings the sleaze and bombast of Memphis soul to the record, particularly in the copious use of horns on several tracks. In Dickinson's hands, the Replacements retain all of their slovenly bar-band charm while hinting that they could hit the meteoric heights attained by prior bar acts-made-good like ZZ Top and the Faces. Instead of burying the group under gloss, Dickinson pointed out all the little pockmarks and blemishes that made them authentic.

The attempt to turn the band into a quantifiable success is also borne out in Westerberg's lyrics, which frequently cast a bemused, suspicious, ironic glance at the prospect of cleaning up for the bosses. "I Don't Know" revels in its raunchy horn section, using it as a backdrop to make a jaundiced yet clear assessment of the band's current situation as "one foot in the door / Another foot in the gutter." "Nightclub Jitters" imagines the band as washed-up losers playing background lounge music, having succeeded at respectability only to fade away into self-parody.

On the other hand, the album's most enduring song, "Alex Chilton," flips this pessimism on its head. An exuberant tribute to his musical hero (who also guests on "Can't Hardly Wait"), Westerberg captures all the awe and possessiveness of the rabid fan, casting the Big Star mastermind as an otherworldly figure while also succumbing to the desire for tidy rock narratives when he notes as an aside "If he died in Memphis, then that'd be cool." In anyone else's hands, singing "Children by the millions sing for Alex Chilton" would seem glibly sarcastic for describing a cult artist notoriously robbed of commercial success to match his critical stature, but Westerberg's earnestness clearly sees such a career as artistically valid. "Alex Chilton" isn't just the best song on the album, it's the one that gives away the game, revealing even as the group made its clearest bid for sales that they were gunning for long-term respect over short-term chart validation.

Rhino's deluxe edition charts the long journey toward this simultaneously open-hearted and cagey record. It includes a host of demos that find the group experimenting with combining their signature sound with rockabilly and other sounds native to Memphis, while rough mixes of the album's tracks reveal the depth that Dickinson brought to the material, sussing out the sophistication hidden underneath versions that are still more aggressive and spiky than reflective.Yet the true delights reside in the b-sides and outtakes that litter the set. Goof-offs abound, from the political disgust of "Election Day" to"All He Wants to Do Is Fish," which parodied self-consciously "Merican" country of the 1990s and 2000s years ahead of time. But there are also real gems here that could have stood on their own; "Learn How to Fail" would have fit like a glove amid the self-doubt and growing maturity of the final album's ruminations, and the lilting "Birthday Gal" is one of those Replacements songs made to be played outside on a sunny day.

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