September 10, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:01 PM


Omarosa Is Back With More Tapes and a Guess About the Mystery Op-Ed Writer (MATTHEW ZEITLIN, SEPT 10, 2018, Slate)

[S]he speculated on who the latest senior administration official to bash the president was: She said she believed the New York Times op-ed writer was a senior official in Vice President Mike Pence's office. (The vice president has denied the op-ed came from him or anyone on his staff.) While she didn't say the name, she referred to his chief of staff, who is Nick Ayers.

Posted by orrinj at 5:33 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:24 AM


Omarosa claims White House staffers had hashtag to discuss 25th Amendment (Axios, 9/10/18)

Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman claimed on MSNBC Sunday that she and other members of the Trump administration texted each other the hashtag "#tfa," referring to the 25th Amendment, "more than 100 times" during her tenure to discuss President Trump's "unhinged" actions.

We know they never discussed the rest of the Constitution.

Posted by orrinj at 4:21 AM


GOP candidate for Fla. governor spoke at racially charged events (Beth Reinhard and Emma Brown, September 9, 2018, Washington Post)

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country's "only serious race war" is against whites.

DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization. At the group's annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues.

Posted by orrinj at 4:20 AM


The Urgent Question of Trump and Money Laundering: How Bruce Ohr, President Trump's latest Twitter target, fits a suspicious pattern of behavior on Russia. (David Leonhardt, 9/10/18, NY Times)

It just so happens that most of the once-obscure bureaucrats whom Trump has tried to discredit also are experts in some combination of Russia, organized crime and money laundering.

It's true of Andrew McCabe (the former deputy F.B.I. director whose firing Trump successfully lobbied for), Andrew Weissmann (the only official working for Robert Mueller whom Trump singles out publicly) and others.  [...]

Consider: The financially rickety Trump Organization, shunned by most mainstream banks, long relied on less scrupulous Russian investors. "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets," Donald Trump Jr. said a decade ago. "We have all the funding we need out of Russia," Eric Trump reportedly said in 2013. And what was the rare major bank to work with Trump? Deutsche Bank, which has a history of illegal Russian money laundering.

Trump also had a habit of selling real estate to Russians in all-cash deals. Money launderers like such deals, because they can turn illegally earned cash into a legitimate asset, usually at an inflated price that rewards the seller for the risk. One especially dubious deal was Trump's $95 million sale of a Palm Beach house to a Russian magnate in 2008 -- during the housing bust, only four years after Trump had bought the house for $41 million.

Then there is Trump's paranoia about scrutiny of his businesses. He has refused to release his tax returns. He said that Mueller's investigation would cross a red line by looking into his finances. When word leaked (incorrectly) that Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank's records on Trump, he moved to fire Mueller (only to be dissuaded by aides). Trump is certainly acting as if his business history contains damaging information.

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 AM


After Trump Tweets that the Ford Focus Can 'BE BUILT IN THE U.S.A.,' Ford Explains Why That Would Make No Sense (DAVID MEYER, 9/10/18, Fortune)

Ford's North America product communications manager, Mike Levine, spelled it out for the president in a tweet noting "it would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment."

Ford didn't move production of the Focus to China by accident; it did so because the U.S. market has shifted away from smaller vehicles toward SUVs, which has made production of the Focus in the U.S.--a relatively expensive location--an illogical choice.

The automaker decided a couple years back to shift production of the Focus to Mexico, then last year it opted for China instead. Earlier this year Ford cancelled all its smaller cars with the exception of the Mustang and the Focus Active.

Then, after Trump started threatening his new tariffs against China, Ford decided in August that it wouldn't sell the Focus Active in the U.S. after all. The profit margins were simply too small to be worth it.

The auto-sector market economist Jon Gabrielsen told the Detroit Free Press that Trump's tweet was "further evidence that neither the president nor his trade representatives have any clue of the complexities of global supply chains."

Posted by orrinj at 4:08 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:07 AM


Inside the GOP's rescue mission for Ted Cruz: The national party wasn't expecting to have to defend a well-known senator in a conservative bastion. (ALEX ISENSTADT, 09/09/2018, Politico)

The push reflects a broader anxiety within the party about the electoral environment this fall. It also has practical implications for the GOP: The resources devoted to Cruz include money that could otherwise be used to oust vulnerable incumbent Democrats in red states like North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri.

With O'Rourke outraising Cruz more than 2 to 1 during the past quarter, right-leaning organizations have begun routing resources to the state. The anti-tax Club for Growth, which spent millions on Cruz during his 2012 Senate bid, has started a seven-figure advertising blitz aimed at tearing down the Democratic congressman. The organization has begun polling the race, and David McIntosh, the organization's president, recently traveled to Texas to meet with donors who could help fund the barrage. More than $1 million has been raised so far, people close to the group say.

A handful of other well-funded groups are considering joining the effort, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, the newly formed Senate Reform Fund, and Ending Spending, which in the past has been bankrolled by major GOP financiers including New York City investor Paul Singer. Some of the groups have been in touch with one another as they weigh their next moves and try to determine how much their help is needed.

"I think there will be a lot of money," said Doug Deason, a Dallas investor and prominent GOP giver who met with McIntosh.

Posted by orrinj at 4:03 AM


The Gentrification Trade-Off in Buffalo: The risk is losing what made the city so strangely beautiful, even during the bad years. (DAN DECARLO, May 8, 2018, American Conservative)

In many ways Billy Brown's Buffalo is now passing away as gentrification slowly but surely changes the face of much of the city's character. The formerly bohemian Elmwood Village neighborhood, for instance, once the haunt of packs of feral hipsters (of the non-trust-fund variety), starving artists, and less-than-great musicians, has gone upscale. Gone are the old dive bars, tackily decorated pizza shops, and bowling alleys, replaced by upscale wine bars full of young professionals enjoying tasteful banter with their girlfriends, restaurants that specialize in artisanal guacamole, and doggie daycares to care for the "furbabies" of the area's childless yuppies. Gone, too, are the cheap rents and cheap beer. The once bohemian has become boutique.

Much of the rest of Buffalo's downtown is experiencing a similar phenomenon. New condo projects have gone up, made possible, of course, by generous tax breaks. The formerly decrepit waterfront has been completely renovated. Once-abandoned Main Street has miraculously started to come back to life. Hell, even the Bills finally seem to be doing better, having made the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.

Things have certainly changed since the 90s, but, contra the boosters who have fetishized the new progress for its own sake, not all of it has been good. Something has been lost.

"Buffalo 66" was famously an autobiographical project for Gallo, a sort of belated half-love letter to a town and family he fled from when he was only 16. The house used in the film was Gallo's childhood home, and the abusive, pathological, and detached parents he kidnaps a stranger to try and impress are obvious stand-ins for his own. The film was as much Gallo's own attempt to reckon with the city he left behind, with all its simultaneous dysfunction and subtle charm, as it was a work of art.

It's a reckoning those cheering on the city's continued "progress" might do well to have themselves, lest they succeed in gentrifying out of existence the very things, like the mystical lanes of Recckio's bowling alley, that made Billy Brown's Buffalo so strangely beautiful in the first place.

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


Intrahousehold Consumption Allocation and Demand for Agency: A Triple Experimental Investigation (Uzma Afzal, Giovanna D'Adda, Marcel Fafchamps, Farah Said, NBER Working Paper No. 24977, Issued in August 2018)

We conduct two lab experiments and one field experiment to investigate demand for consumption agency in married couples. The evidence we uncover is consistent across all three experiments. Subjects are often no better at guessing their spouse's preferences than those of a stranger, and many subjects disregard what they believe or know about others' preferences when assigning them a consumption bundle.

Posted by orrinj at 3:56 AM


John Law: the Scottish gambler who rescued France from bankruptcy: The 18th-century financial genius pioneered ideas about banking and monetary policy that are important to this day: a review of John Law: A Scottish Adventurer of the 18th Century by James Buchan (Jesse Norman, 8 September 2018, The Spectator)

John Law was by any standards a quite remarkable man. At the apogee of his power in 1720, he was the richest private citizen in Europe and controller-general of finance in France, responsible not merely for the country's income and expenditure but for its commerce, navigation, agriculture and industry.

He created and presided over one of the earliest and greatest of all stock market boom-and-busts, that of the 'Mississippi Company', and inspired another, the South Sea Bubble. And he pioneered ideas about banking, monetary policy and financial markets that were revolutionary in his own time, and retain their importance three centuries later.

Yet Law was not French, not a noble, not an intellectual. On the contrary: he was a Scot, the largely self-educated son of an Edinburgh goldsmith, and a brilliant gambler. Oh yes, and a convicted murderer, who had escaped from jail days before his execution, fled Britain and gone on the run across Europe with his common-
law wife.

The story is no less remarkable than the man himself. But both have almost been lost to view. The evidence is scant and scattered, Law himself something of an enigma, his era caught in a turn-of-the-18th-century limbo between the more familiar territories of the so-called 'Age of Revolutions', Glorious, American and French. And he is no one's hero. [...]

Buchan tells the story and portrays the man with enormous sweep and brio. He has clearly done a vast amount of research among the primary sources, yet somehow manages to combine the historian's sense of the wider picture with the epigrammatic wit of the novelist, and the antiquarian's delight in curios.

Of the now forgotten Banbury Peerage case, for example, which first came to the House of Lords in 1661, was renewed in 1883 and may not quite be settled even today, he drily remarks that it was 'a lawsuit beside which Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce... is an instance of judicial panic'.