September 5, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 PM


Conservatives Should Watch More Television (KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON, September 4, 2019, National Review)

Margaret Thatcher famously insisted that the facts of life are conservative. Great art -- even merely adequate popular art -- begins with those facts of life and the timeless truths embedded in them. Hence a piece of highbrow television such as The Wire, which was created by a by-the-numbers progressive but could have been written by Charles Murray and Thomas Sowell and produced by the Manhattan Institute, exploring the serial failure of institutions (city government, labor unions, public schools, the media) in a largely black city with a Democratic monopoly on political power. The show's creators did not intend to create a conservative critique of the failures of urban progressivism, but they could not help themselves.

The same phenomenon is observable all over our popular culture: Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy reimagining Batman as a kind of esoteric Straussian who (in a series beginning just a few years after 9/11) countenances torture and illegal extradition methods to protect a public that must be kept in the dark about how hard things get done, who faces off against an Eastern terrorist cult targeting New York City, an amped-up version of Occupy Wall Street, and, most famously and perhaps most immediately relevant, an unhappy loser who shows that he can shut down a city with "a couple of bullets." Or consider Skyfall, with its Royal Doulton bulldog draped in the Union Jack, its conservative organizing principles ("Sometimes the old ways are the best") and dramatic retreat to the family homestead, its unabashed invocation of "patriotism" and "love of country." The Walking Dead ends up being an extended exploration of Mancur Olson's "stationary bandit" and the tensions between democracy, the rule of law, and the practical necessities of physical security -- with an ode to property rights and free trade thrown into the bargain. Breaking Bad was a reimagining of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a meditation on the seduction of evil, and it ends with the most forthright of confessions: "I did it for me. I did it because I liked it." If a conservative social critic had tried to write a series about how to be an unhappy young woman, the result would have been something quite like Girls, or maybe Fleabag. The theme of Stranger Things is not so much "Winter is coming" but "Winter is already here, and always has been, if you know how to look."

There's a funny bit on this week's Remnant podcast where Jonah Goldberg and Charlie Cooke seem puzzled at how much they like 30 Rock and Parks and Rec.

Posted by orrinj at 6:58 PM


Trade uncertainty to trim $850 billion global output: Fed paper (Ann Saphir, 9/05/19, Reuters) 

Trade policy uncertainty driven by the Trump administration's escalating dispute with China means hundreds of billions of dollars in lost U.S. output and as much as $850 billion lost globally through early next year, research published this week by the Federal Reserve suggests.

It was fun when he was just losing Fred's money...

Posted by orrinj at 6:49 PM


US 'in talks with Houthis' in bid to end Yemen war: Official (Al Jazeera, 9/05/19)

The United States is in talks with Yemen's Houthi rebels, a top US official has said, in what appears to be a bid to end the five-year war in the Arab world's most impoverished country.

"We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen," US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, David Schenker, told reporters on Thursday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Posted by orrinj at 1:54 PM


What Recession? Low Interest Rates Could Mean Tech-Fueled Growth (Zachary Karabell, September 2019, Wired)

[W]hat if rates are falling because technology is systematically depressing prices? If a wide swath of goods and services is getting cheaper and cheaper, then people and businesses and government don't have to spend as much for the same things. Yes, fighter jets and prescription drugs are more expensive than ever, but that's more because of government and market distortions than because the products are more expensive to make. In many sectors of our economy, things are becoming less expensive, not more. The result: less inflation, and slower nominal economic growth (some of which is attributable to inflation), but not actual contraction of economic activity. If you buy 100 of X at $100 a pop one year, and then you buy 100 of the new version of X two years later at $90, you've gotten what you need for less. That's good for you, but the country's GDP will decrease because you spent less.

The role of deflation and technology has not been ignored, but it has hardly been front and center. A recent analysis by Ark Investments suggested that in times of profound technological innovation, such as the late 19th and early 20th century, deflation can be common. This can confuse investors and lead to wild gyrations of long- and short-term interest rates.

The Industrial Revolution unleashed mechanization, leading to a proliferation of goods at cheap prices. Today, waves of software and communications technology are having a similar effect. Add to that the early stages of artificial intelligence and robotics, which allow more output at less cost (including the challenging issue of less labor). The AI revolution is significant, but our productivity statistics, grounded in 20th-century notions of manufacturing workers making things, have a hard time capturing these changes. Then consider that increasing portions of economic activity are digital and often free to users (think Google or Facebook), further confounding our ability to gauge what's happening and what's likely to happen in the future.

These technologies are unleashing more affordable goods and services around the globe, but deflation poses threats to financial markets; almost all investment is predicated on the assumption that a dollar invested today will yield more tomorrow. The venture capitalists of Sand Hill Road look for 10, 20, and even 100 times the return on their initial investment. Indeed, this is where the conventional wisdom around inverted yield curves seems most potent: If investors underperform and savers can't get anything for their savings, that can create turmoil in the global financial system.

The larger point, however, should not be lost: An inverted curve auguring a deflationary world is not necessarily predicting a recession, as in the 20th century, nor does it augur the kind of pain experienced in 2008-09. There may yet be a substantial economic crisis, but the flattening of interest rates globally need not be a harbinger. Quite the opposite; a world where capital is cheaper, connectivity greater, and goods inherently digital could be one of widespread affluence, defined not by levels of GDP growth or income but by more access to goods and services by more people. That could mean statistically low to nonexistent GDP growth, very low interest rates, and close to zero inflation. It will not look like economies of the past or behave like them.

Posted by orrinj at 1:48 PM


The Population Bust: Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It (Zachary Karabell September/October 2019, Foreign Affairs)

The burgeoning of global population in the past two centuries followed almost precisely the patterns of industrialization, modernization, and, crucially, urbanization. It started in the United Kingdom at the end of the nineteenth century (hence the concerns of Malthus), before spreading to the United States and then France and Germany. The trend next hit Japan, India, and China and made its way to Latin America. It finally arrived in sub-Saharan Africa, which has seen its population surge thanks to improvements in medicine and sanitation but has not yet enjoyed the full fruits of industrialization and a rapidly growing middle class. 

With the population explosion came a new wave of Malthusian fears, epitomized by the 1968 book The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich, a biologist at Stanford University. Ehrlich argued that plummeting death rates had created an untenable situation of too many people who could not be fed or housed. "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," he wrote. "In the 1970's the world will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now." 

Ehrlich's prophecy, of course, proved wrong, for reasons that Bricker and Ibbitson elegantly chart in Empty Planet. The green revolution, a series of innovations in agriculture that began in the early twentieth century, accelerated such that crop yields expanded to meet humankind's needs. Moreover, governments around the world managed to remediate the worst effects of pollution and environmental degradation, at least in terms of daily living standards in multiple megacities, such as Beijing, Cairo, Mexico City, and New Delhi. These cities face acute challenges related to depleted water tables and industrial pollution, but there has been no crisis akin to what was anticipated. 

Yet visions of dystopic population bombs remain deeply entrenched, including at the center of global population calculations: in the forecasts routinely issued by the United Nations. Today, the UN predicts that global population will reach nearly ten billion by 2050. Judging from the evidence presented in Morland's and Bricker and Ibbitson's books, it seems likely that this estimate is too high, perhaps substantially. It's not that anyone is purposely inflating the numbers. Governmental and international statistical agencies do not turn on a dime; they use formulas and assumptions that took years to formalize and will take years to alter. Until very recently, the population assumptions built into most models accurately reflected what was happening. But the sudden ebb of both birthrates and absolute population growth has happened too quickly for the models to adjust in real time. As Bricker and Ibbitson explain, "The UN is employing a faulty model based on assumptions that worked in the past but that may not apply in the future."

...can not stop the Left from wanting to kill colored babies.

Posted by orrinj at 1:33 PM


The Story of Country Music's Great Songwriting Duo: Before they released "Wichita Lineman," the greatest unfinished song of all time, Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb lived surprisingly parallel lives. (Dylan Jones | Wichita Lineman)

Born in 1936, at a time of high poverty and low optimism, even from a young age Glen Travis Campbell had a sunny, upbeat disposition. The seventh son in a family of eight boys and four girls, he grew up on an electricity-free 120-acre sharecropper farm ninety miles southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas. His family didn't just endure poverty, they wore it. "It was the land of opportunity," said Campbell, "if you had a car. We were just one step above the animals." While the world would eventually see his name glowing in electric letters taller than some of the houses he was raised in, life in Arkansas in the forties was tough. The Campbell family slept four to a bed, and Glen used to say that he never knew what it was like to sleep alone until he was married. Being a tenant farmer, his father worked every hour of daylight, in his bib overalls, felt hat, and long-sleeved shirt buttoned firmly at the neck.

For the young Glen Campbell, country music was a blessed release, listening to it first on a battery-operated console and then a proper electric radio, on which he would devour Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb and the other stars beaming out from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. He didn't much like getting his hands dirty, and listening to music was much more fun than being out in the fields all day long, "looking a mule in the butt," as Campbell put it in a 1968 New York Times interview. While the music played, anything seemed possible.

"All I ever did since I can remember was eat, live and breathe singing and playing guitar. I worked at a service station for a week, almost took my hand off, changing a flat tire. Well, I quit that, because I wanted to play my guitar, and I couldn't do that with smashed fingers."

When he was four, his uncle Boo sent Campbell a $5 three-quarter-size Sears, Roebuck and Co. guitar, and his hands immediately took to the strings. He was also blessed with a sweet tenor voice, which he used to sing gospel hymns at church every Sunday, but it was his guitar dexterity that was really impressive. By age six, Campbell was performing on local radio, and by his teens he was playing in dive bars, showing off his guitar skills, as well as the small tough-guy cartoon dagger on his upper left arm (proudly scratched with a needle and filled with ink at the age of nine). In 1954, aged seventeen, he suddenly quit school and moved to Albuquerque, where he started playing guitar in his uncle's band, Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys, regularly being kicked off the stage of cowpoke bars by the local police, who could see that he was underage. Finally, in 1958, desperate to branch out on his own, he formed his own band, the Western Wranglers, sometimes playing fourteen sets a week.

"When I started playing, I listened to Django Reinhardt," said Campbell in 2011. "Django Reinhardt was the best guitar player that ever lived on this earth. He would play stuff that was just alien, man. I sat there and just laughed as I listened to his record. And they did all those songs from way back, like 'Sheik of Araby.' He'd do the lick and then he'd play his own lick over it. I wish he had lived long enough to have recorded some more of those songs, because they would have been wall burners, you know what I mean?"

'I'd have to pick cotton for a year to make what I'd make in a week in LA,' he said.
It was the move to LA that would really prove to be fortuitous, though. "I'd have to pick cotton for a year to make what I'd make in a week in LA," he said. He charmed his way into recording sessions, auditioned for record company executives outside their offices and gradually hustled his way into a living. He played on demos and records, and even started making them himself, singing, playing guitar -- anything that they wanted him to. On and on he did this, day in and day out, week in, month out. Happy to play with other people, his ambition had always been to make it on his own as a professional singer.

"I probably had it in the back of my head to be an artist, but I was making so much money doing studio work, I didn't want to go through that routine of going out doing gigs for $100 a night. You could make more than that doing a session. I was hanging around the greatest musicians in the world and that's how you learn how to play. I got to work with so many great people -- Nat King Cole, for me that was a thrill, and I'd much rather be doing that than going out and playing some joint."

Crest Records eventually signed him as a solo artist, and tried to promote him as an instrumentalist, scoring a minor hit in 1961 with an old-fashioned ballad called "Turn Around, Look at Me" that Campbell had actually written himself. He did a lot of jingle work, too, musically espousing the benefits of various household products, including hairsprays and room deodorizers, while earning enough to buy a nicely appointed four-bedroom home on Satsuma Street in North Hollywood and lease a brand-new gold Cadillac. The covers of his early records featured Campbell in various engaging poses, all of which were semaphoring the duality of his down-home appeal and his "Look out, world, here I come" ambitions.

Campbell would start to call his talent a trade, a skill he had learned through hard work, practice and an aptitude that he never took for granted. One of the reasons he became so popular at recording sessions was as much to do with his open personality as it was his virtuosity. "I think I practiced my trade enough, which is singing and playing, being a musician and a singer, to have people recognize that and call me," he told the journalist Gary James once. "You know, it's like if they call you to build a house and you don't know how to build a house, you're not going to get the job. I was ready when I was called to do something; I could do it musically. I didn't limit my talent by pursuing one particular kind of music. I didn't limit it by pursuing jazz or pursuing country or pursuing pop. Music was my world before they started putting a label on it. If somebody heard music that was different from another section of the country, they'd label it. That Detroit Sound, you record it in LA, it sounds the same way to me."

The small success of "Turn Around, Look at Me" helped Campbell get a record deal with Capitol Records in 1962. His first release for Capitol provided Campbell with another minor pop entry, but when subsequent singles failed to chart, Capitol strongly considered dropping him from the label. He threw himself into the Hollywood music scene, making home life even more challenging.

* * *

Like Campbell, Webb had been drawn to LA because it looked like the future, wanting a taste of what had been filtered through to the rest of the country via surfboards, hot rods, and the Beach Boys. There was a commonality here, one that Campbell and Webb would eventually share.

Webb was hungry and ambitious beyond his years. The songs he was writing at the time were more intricate than what his contemporaries were attempting. He was inspired by what he heard on the radio, but his own songs owed as much to Broadway as they did to the hit parade. There was an old-school quality to them, almost as though he were writing for Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. They weren't your classic pop songs, but they were classic.

He'd follow any lead, return every call. One day in 1965, an ex-Motown acquaintance called him and asked if he wanted an all-expenses-paid trip to Vegas. Apparently, the one-time Motown artist Tony Martin was looking for new material and wanted to hear what "the kid" had. He was appearing at the Riviera Hotel and wanted Webb to come and pitch to him directly.

'I was homesick at the time, and was going back to Phoenix a lot, tracing back my steps to home, so it really resonated.'
So Webb flew to Vegas and was escorted to Martin's green room. He sat in this little, badly lit anteroom in his tatty chinos and thick, black-framed glasses, quietly, nervously waiting for Martin to appear. Sometimes Webb took on a gangling aspect, like a bashful young boy not yet comfortable in public, and today he wasn't comfortable. After a while he noticed a figure sitting even more quietly in a semi-dark corner of the room. The man was Louis Armstrong, sitting playing with the valves on his trumpet. He looked at the young songwriter, noticed the pile of sheet music in his lap and said, "What you got there? Let me have a look at those."

Armstrong read the lyrics to Webb's original "Didn't We," nodded and said -- he had a reputation for being encouraging -- "You keep at it, boy. You're gonna be something."

It was a very quick encounter, which to Webb still feels like a dream, but it was a huge moment for him. "I stood there with a warm golden glow suffusing my whole body," Webb would later say.

Posted by orrinj at 1:28 PM


Tensions mount between Trump, Pence camps heading into 2020 election (Tom LoBianco, 9/05/19,Yahoo News)

[T[ensions have been mounting among Trump, Pence and their top advisers ever since the GOP's resounding losses in the 2018 midterms. In the weeks afterward, Trump asked aides about replacing Pence on the ticket, and he asked again for their thoughts on Pence during his August vacation at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., according to Trump advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about private discussions with the president.

Current and former Trump and Pence advisers interviewed for this story, as well as my forthcoming biography of Pence, "Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House," consistently described a personal relationship between Trump and Pence that is warm but somewhat aloof. Pence has a lane that he sticks to in the White House -- conservative social policy -- but he is not considered to be as influential as people like Jared Kushner or Stephen Miller.

But the relationship between their political teams has soured greatly in the past year, according to a dozen Trump and Pence aides and Republican advisers familiar with the dynamic. In particular, rumors that Kushner and Ivanka Trump wanted to consider replacements for Pence -- specifically trying to find a woman running mate to help win back the suburbs in 2020 -- have worried the vice president's camp, according to Trump and Pence campaign advisers who spoke on background for this story.

Posted by orrinj at 11:30 AM


The most important economic chart in Western civilization (JOE CARTER , September 5, 2019, Acton)


Posted by orrinj at 9:14 AM


Posted by orrinj at 9:11 AM


Trump's Mercantilist Mess (ROBERT J. BARRO, 9/05/19, Project Syndicate)

The reason that countries participate in international trade is to get imports - consumer goods, intermediate goods used in production, and capital equipment - in exchange for exports. Framed this way, exports are simply the goods that Americans are willing to part with to acquire something they want or need.

But international trade also boosts, on net, the size of the overall economic pie, because it means that countries can focus on doing whatever they do best, producing goods in areas where they are relatively more productive. According to David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, countries' relative strengths derive from differences in factor endowments. And, as economists Paul Krugman and Elhanan Helpman showed in the 1980s, countries' relative strengths are also related to their investments in various areas of specialization.

By embracing a primitive mercantilist model in which exports are "good" and imports are "bad," Trump has reversed this impeccable economic logic. In a mercantilist model, an excess of exports over imports contributes to national wealth through the accumulation of paper claims (previously gold). This seems to be what Trump has in mind when he complains that China is draining $500 billion per year from the US economy, mostly by exchanging Chinese goods for US Treasury bonds. Needless to say, it is hard to see how receiving a lot of high-quality goods at low cost amounts to "losing."

Posted by orrinj at 8:54 AM


Is The Matrix the Conservative's Star Wars? (ARMOND WHITE, August 30, 2019, National Review)

It's rare for a pop-culture work to benefit conservatives, who too often succumb to the temptations and conformity of the commanding heights -- that is, Hollywood hegemony itself. But the red pill of The Matrix is a distinctive symbol for independent thinking such as the #WalkAway and #Blexit movements; it advances necessary skepticism about how the biased media present the world.

Morpheus spells it out:

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. . . . It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. . . . All I'm offering you is the truth, nothing more. People who are part of the system, most of them not ready to be unplugged. Many of them are so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.

Now that the term "woke" has corrupted the idea of enlightenment and invalidated the notion of raised consciousness, The Matrix's red pill reminds us of an alternative course for information. 

Actually, the entire pop-culture, inevitably, centers on this theme,

Posted by orrinj at 8:49 AM


America's worker deserts (Courtenay Brown, Aug 30, 2019, Axios)

The U.S. unemployment rate is so low that some cities and states have turned into "worker deserts" -- places where companies can't find people to hire.

Why it matters: The "good news" story of the strong labor market has a big downside that is playing out in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida, where companies say they can't keep up with business demand -- hampering growth -- unless they find more workers.

 Across the country, there are more than 1 million more jobs available than there are people to fill them.

Posted by orrinj at 8:45 AM


Hundred Years' War: Battle of Crécy (Kennedy Hickman, September 03, 2019,

Advancing with Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi's Genoese crossbowmen in the lead, the French knights followed with lines led by the Duke D'Alencon, Duke of Lorraine, and Count of Blois, while Philip commanded the rearguard. Moving to the attack, the crossbowmen fired a series of volleys at the English. These proved ineffective as a brief thunderstorm before the battle had wet and slackened the crossbowstrings. The English archers on the other hand had simply untied their bowstrings during the storm.

This coupled with the longbow's ability to fire every five seconds gave the English archers a dramatic advantage over the crossbowmen who could only get off one to two shots per minute. The Genoese position was worsened by the fact that in the rush to battle their pervises (shields to hide behind while reloading) had not been brought forward. Coming under devastating fire from Edward's archers, the Genoese began withdrawing. Angered by the crossbowmen's retreat, the French knights fired insults at them and even cut several down.

Charging forward, the French front lines fell into confusion as they collided with the retreating Genoese. As the two bodies of men tried to move past each other they came under fire from the English archers and five early cannon (some sources debate their presence). Continuing the attack, the French knights were forced to negotiate the slope of the ridge and the man-made obstacles. Cut down in large numbers by the archers, the felled knights and their horses blocked the advance of those to the rear. [...]

The Battle of Crécy was one of the greatest English victories of the Hundred Years' War and established the superiority of the longbow against mounted knights. In the fighting, Edward lost between 100-300 killed, while Philip suffered around 13,000-14,000 (some sources indicate it may have been as high as 30,000). Among the French losses were the heart of the nation's nobility including the Duke of Lorraine, Count of Blois, and the Count of Flanders, as well as John, King of Bohemia and the King of Majorca. In addition eight other counts and three archbishops were slain.

Posted by orrinj at 8:43 AM


What experts are saying about the 2019 fall foliage season in New England (Dialynn Dwyer  September 3, 2019,

With schools back in session and all things pumpkin-spiced making a reappearance, it's beginning to feel a lot like autumn.

And while the fall foliage made a "very" late appearance last year, meteorologist David Epstein thinks New England is on track to see a more standard season for leaf-peeping in 2019.

"If everything were to continue more typical, we'd see a longer season than last year, we'd see a more vibrant season than last year, and it would come on a little earlier than last year, which was so late," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 8:40 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:31 AM

80-20 NATION:

New research encourages CEOs to act on guns (Mike Allen, 9/05/19, Axios)

The majority of U.S. adults in a new poll by Edelman Intelligence would feel more favorably toward a company whose CEO backs tougher background checks for gun purchases.

Why it matters: CEOs traditionally were reluctant to wade into polarizing issues, but they face pressure from shareholders, employees and customers to show their values.

Posted by orrinj at 8:24 AM


That Assault Weapon Ban? It Really Did Work: Since the ban was lifted in 2004, gun massacres involving military-style weapons are way up. (John Donohue and Theodora Boulouta, Sept. 4, 2019, NY Times)

Compared with the decade before its adoption, the federal assault weapon ban in effect from September 1994 through 2004 was associated with a 25 percent drop in gun massacres (from eight to six) and a 40 percent drop in fatalities (from 81 to 49).

This decline is plausible because assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms designed for rapid fire and combat use, and large-capacity magazines increase the number of rounds that can be fired without reloading. While the gun lobby prevented the ban from being as effective as it could have been and saddled the law with a 10-year sunset provision, the ban did impede the easy access to the type of lethal weaponry that those intent on mass killing have readily available in most of the country today. (Assault weapons are legal in 43 states; large-capacity magazines, commonly understood as ammunition-feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds, are legal in 41.)

[D]ata from the 15 years following the ban's expiration now provide stronger evidence that permitting the gun industry to flood the market with increasingly powerful weapons that allow for faster killing has facilitated exactly that outcome. In the decade after the ban, there was a 347 percent increase in fatalities in gun massacres, even as overall violent crime continued downward.

Indeed, the number of gun-massacre fatalities in the past five years alone has already topped the previous high for the decade after the ban was lifted. If we continue at the post-2014 pace, by 2024 we will have had more than 10 times as many gun massacre deaths in that 10-year period as we had during the decade of the federal assault weapons ban.

Similarly, fatalities per shooting incident fell during the assault weapon ban and have risen sharply since. With increasingly potent and readily available weaponry, the average number of people who die in a gun massacre has increased by 81 percent in just five years. Assault weapons were used in at least 11 of the 15 gun massacres since 2014; at least 234 of the 271 people who died in gun massacres since 2014 were killed by weapons prohibited under the federal assault weapons ban.

Posted by orrinj at 8:21 AM


GOP Senators Who Backed Trump's Emergency Declaration Lose Military Funding (Igor Bobic, 9/05/19, HuffPo)

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), one of those who voted in support of the declaration, announced early Wednesday that the Trump administration was diverting $30 million in funds from an Army base in her state to construction of the wall ― even though she previously received assurances from an acting secretary of defense that her state would be spared.

The Arizona Republican, who is looking at a tough reelection fight next year, downplayed the move in her statement, saying the ground transportation project at Fort Huachuca was already facing delay due to "unforeseen environmental issues" at the construction site. Those issues are expected to continue until next year, her office said.

Top Arizona Democrats, however, criticized McSally in the wake of the announcement.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, who is running to be the Democrats' Senate nominee next year, accused McSally of failing "her most basic responsibility to put Arizona first." He added that the senator "told Arizonans she had protected funding for Arizona military bases, and the fact is that she didn't keep her word."

Other Republican senators whose states are impacted by Trump's diversion of military construction funds to build the wall include Thom Tillis of North Carolina ($80 million), Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ($62 million), John Cornyn of Texas ($48 million), Lindsey Graham of South Carolina ($11 million) and Cory Gardner of Colorado ($8 million).

All of the above senators are also up for reelection in 2020, and they all similarly voted in support of Trump's emergency declaration in March.

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM


The number of permanent visas granted to migrants has dropped to its lowest level in a decade. (ROSEMARY BOLGER, 9/05/19, SBS)

The number of migrants granted permanent residency has dropped to its lowest level in a decade as the government pursues its "congestion-busting" approach. 

Just over 160,300 individuals were given a permanent visa in 2018-19, slightly down on last year when 162,417 were granted permanent residency. 

That's nearly 30,000 fewer than the annual migration cap of 190,000 with migration agents and applicants blaming long processing times, rather than a lack of demand for the unallocated visas. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:19 AM



It may no longer be politically acceptable, but stealing technology is actually great for economic development.

I'm from Belgium, a country that has dedicated statues to industrial spies. In Ghent, right next to a medieval cathedral, you find the likeness of Lieven Bauwens, who, in the 18th century, helped make Belgium one of the first countries to industrialize after the United Kingdom. How? By stealing British technology.

Bauwens stole British machine designs and even lured away skilled British workers -- highly illegal at the time -- to set up his own textile factories in Ghent. Eventually some bad political and economic dealings bankrupted him, and he died alone in Paris. But his shady moves kick-started the industrial revolution on the continent.

Today, of course, Belgium is a well-behaved follower of patent law, and it no longer builds statues to economic spies. But that doesn't change the fact that the historical prosperity of most Western countries was built atop this sort of stealing. Which makes it all the more ironic that the West is currently having a collective temper tantrum about Asian, and particularly Chinese, industrial espionage.

Having your technology stolen, of course, isn't fun. But it's a way in which weaker countries can quickly develop themselves economically and technologically. It's a type of forced technology transfer that allows the weak to steal from the rich and push themselves out of poverty sooner.

For all its taboo, industrial espionage might actually be a good thing when we zoom out. "If you look at the perspective of mankind, so what is best for all of us, very often industrial and economic espionage is a beneficial force," says Klaus Solberg Søilen, professor at Sweden's Halmstad University and Copenhagen Business School, where he researches these sorts of espionage.

Posted by orrinj at 7:13 AM


Assad Hasn't Won Anything (Charles Lister, Jul. 11th, 2019, Foreign Policy)

When Syria is discussed these days, it is increasingly common to hear the phrase "Assad won," or "the war is coming to an end." Understandably so. Nearly two-thirds of Syria now lies under regime control. Since Russia's military intervention in Syria in September 2015, the opposition has not won a single major victory and lost the vast majority of its territorial holdings. In eastern Syria, meanwhile, the Islamic State's territorial caliphate was dealt its final defeat in the village of Baghouz in late March. To a large degree, the subject of Syria today has become one defined predominantly by debates over issues such as refugee return, reconstruction, whether to provide sanctions relief, and the question of whether to reengage with the regime.

For the regime's longtime defenders, this has been a moment to celebrate, to breathe a sigh of relief, and to intensify calls for the world to accept this new reality, end sanctions, and help Syria rebuild and restore sovereignty in all corners of the country. These calls are not new, but they are quietly garnering some traction among some influential observers and policymakers. For example, the Carter Center--founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter--co-hosted a meeting in April in London that discussed issues like "restoring territorial sovereignty" and "how to secure the removal of armed forces operating in Syria without the Syrian government's consent." That event's co-host was the British Syrian Society, a pro-regime group founded by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's father-in-law, Fawaz Akhras, a man who in 2012 was advising Assad on how to counter evidence of civilians being tortured. The society's current executive director also happens to be the brother of Syria's alleged chemical weapons chief.

There's just one problem: The Assad regime has not "won" anything. It has merely survived at the cost of Syrians' blood and fear; stability remains far out of reach. The last holdouts of opposition in the country's northwest seem intractable. Elsewhere in the country, there are plentiful signs of future instability. Syria is no longer in open civil war, but the country's political crisis is intensifying. The root causes that gave way to the uprising in 2011 remain in place--most are now even worse. Even in territories always held by the regime and populated by its most ardent defenders, life today presents more challenges than it did during the conflict's most intense days.

Meanwhile, we used him and Vlad to crush ISIS at no cost in American lives.  
Posted by orrinj at 7:08 AM


Why conservatives suddenly hate Walmart (Joel Mathis, September 5, 2019, The Week)

Conservatives are discovering that Big Business might have too much power in American life.

The conservative rebuke of corporate power has been ongoing throughout the Trump administration, of course, but the latest flashpoint is the announcement by Walmart that it will no longer sell certain types of ammunition -- and that the retail giant will furthermore discourage customers from openly carrying firearms into its stores.

Walmart's decision was understandable after 22 people were killed at its El Paso, Texas, store in August. But some notable conservatives -- and the NRA, naturally -- were enraged.

"Do you think the left would applaud if Walmart made it harder for people to vote?" Tucker Carlson grumbled this week. "Or to be tried by a jury?"

Because their ideas are so unpopular and unworkable, the Right and Left require a command economy.  Their problem is that they are too weak to implement them. These are just the death wails of the Right.

Posted by orrinj at 7:05 AM


Why Bernie is stalled (David Faris, September 5, 2019, The Week)

While he was averaging around 24 percent at the time, Sanders has dropped to just over 16. He did fine in the first two debates, but didn't get a bounce of out them. And it's getting increasingly tough to dispute that he's at least been caught, if not passed, by Warren.

It's impossible to pinpoint the origin of these troubles, but some of his personnel decisions might help explain them. In March, his campaign announced that it had hired as his speechwriter the firebrand progressive journalist David Sirota, who days before the 2012 election wrote that it didn't matter whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama appointed the next Supreme Court justice. Sirota's public record of Obama-hating actually stretches back more than a decade and bringing him on board indicated that Sanders privately shares his distaste for the former president, who remains wildly popular with Democratic voters.

While most people are blissfully unaware of these kinds of campaign machinations and couldn't care less who writes anyone's oratories, Sanders was still placing one of the most important posts of campaign into the hands of someone who loathes the Democratic Party. And whatever you may or may not think of Sirota, this was an enormous strategic misstep. Whereas Warren has run an above-the-fray campaign in which she rarely criticizes the other candidates directly and doesn't waste time warring with the press or feuding with the Center For American Progress, Sirota has repeatedly plunged his candidate into internecine battles with other camps and continued Sanders' self-destructive fixation on media unfairness.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 AM


Posted by orrinj at 6:42 AM


Likud said to tell fringe party: We'll close Western Wall pluralistic area (STUART WINER, 9/05/19, Times of Israel)

Likud Mk Miki Zohar reportedly suggested to a far-right religious nationalist party that it drop out of the running in upcoming elections in exchange for a future Likud-led government backing moves to abolish the mixed-gender prayer area at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Zohar met recently with leaders of the Noam party at their headquarters in the capital, where he also offered that, in return for them ending their campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party would block proposed reforms in the state-controlled system for conversion to Judaism, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Thursday.

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 AM



A well-known former supporter of President Donald Trump joined in on the "Moscow Mitch" criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with an open letter telling the Republican, "if you don't like this nickname, do your job."

David Weissman, who also previously backed McConnell had harsh words for the senator in an open letter published Wednesday by The Times of Israel. Critics started calling McConnell "Moscow Mitch" since the leader blocked election security bills in July, despite evidence Russian interfered in the 2016 elections. Weissman's letter came a day after various Moscow Mitch hashtags trended on Twitter after McConnell complained about the nickname.

"Sir, we are living in troubled times," Weissman started, and brought up racism, hate crimes, mass shootings and easy access to guns and military-style assault rifles. The Army veteran wrote that Democrats and Republicans have come up with several pieces of legislation "for common sense gun reform that majority of Americans are begging for" but that "these bills sit on you desk, ignored."

"You are failing the people that elected you to act as Senator, but instead you act as [a] Russian puppet," Weissman wrote. "You have also blocked bipartisan bills that would protect elections in our country. This gives Russia more opportunities to interfere in our elections."