November 5, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:46 PM


Posted by orrinj at 9:41 PM


Democrats just pulled off a huge upset, winning Virginia's state legislature (Ella Nilsen, Nov 5, 2019, Vox)

After 20 years of Democrats being out of power in the Virginia House of Delegates, a blue wave has swept the state capitol in Richmond.

Democrats pulled off a major upset on Tuesday night, winning both the state House and state Senate. This ensures a party trifecta: The party is in the majority in both legislative chambers, and is led in the state by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. Decision Desk called both races as of 9:30 pm Tuesday.

Mitch is not going to sacrifice his majority on the altar of Donald.

Posted by orrinj at 5:42 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:32 PM


Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine quid pro quo (ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY, 11/05/2019, Politico)

Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, told a top Ukrainian official that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the beleaguered U.S. ally would "likely" be held up unless the country's government announced investigations of President Donald Trump's political rivals -- a major reversal from his previous closed-door testimony.

The acknowledgment of a potential quid pro quo is an explosive shift that threatens to upend claims by the president's allies that military aid was not used as a bludgeon to advance his domestic political interests .

which is why you don't take initial testimony publicly. For criminals, speaking is a perjury trap.

Posted by orrinj at 5:30 PM


How Is a Wealth Tax Like a Cigarette Tax? (Neil Irwin, Nov. 5, 2019, NY Times)

The United States government taxes people's income not because it wants them to earn less income, but because it is a way to raise a lot of money. States tax retail sales not to discourage people from buying stuff, but because it is a relatively efficient way to fill state coffers to pay for things like public schools and state highways.

But for some taxes, discouraging the thing being taxed is at least partly the point. Tobacco taxes are intended not just to raise money, but also to increase the prices of cigarettes so that fewer people smoke. A tax on carbon emissions would be intended to reduce carbon emissions.

Posted by orrinj at 5:27 PM


Lindsey Graham says he won't read House deposition transcripts (Zachary Basu, 11/05/19, Axios)

It's the Trumpbots only remaining defense.

Posted by orrinj at 2:55 PM


Rand Paul demands outing of CIA officer at Trump rally: "We now know the name of the whistleblower" (IGOR DERYSH, NOVEMBER 5, 2019, Salon)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., claimed that Republicans have learned the name of the Ukraine whistleblower at a Trump rally in Kentucky on Monday -- and demanded that the media print the name.

If the Libertarians stand for anything it's...trying to stifle reports of government misconduct? Rand will pay any price and bear any burden for the only couple years of isolationism he'll ever experience.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


US growth of Islam creates need for religious scholars (JEFF KAROUB and NOREEN NASIR, 11/05/19,  Associated Press)

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) -- "Brothers and sisters," the seminary instructor tells his class, don't believe in God because of your parents' beliefs but because "you know why God exists."

The challenge spurs a discussion about beliefs. But more than Imam Mohammad Qazwini's interesting delivery, deep understanding of Islam and his formal training at a seminary in the holy city of Qom, Iran, have drawn them to this suburban Detroit classroom just off the large prayer room of a mosque.

He speaks their language -- literally.

An increasing number of U.S. Muslims want guidance from religious instructors who they can understand linguistically and culturally. The Quran, Islam's holy book, is written in classical Arabic, but many of the students aren't well-versed in the language. Qazwini navigates the intricacies of Arabic effortlessly -- in the everyday English they use, opening a door for many of the students and meeting an increasing need.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


A year from Election Day, Democratic presidential contenders extend leads over Donald Trump: POLL (GARY LANGER, Nov 5, 2019, ABC News)

While former Vice President Joe Biden now leads Trump by 17 percentage points, other Democratic contenders show the most improvement: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' advantage vs. Trump has gone from a non-significant 6 points in July to 12 in September to 17 now. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's has gone from 7 to 11 to 15 points.

Imagine selling your dignity and then losing your seat anyway.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How to Deal with a Declining Russia (JOSEPH S. NYE, JR., 11/05/19, Project Syndicate)

In 1959, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev famously boasted that the Soviet Union would overtake the US by 1970 or 1980. Instead, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving a significantly shrunken Russia, with three-quarters of the USSR's territory, half its population, half its economy, and one-third of its military personnel. Its GDP is only $1.7 trillion, compared to $21 trillion for the US. In 1989, the Soviet economy was twice the size of China's; today, Russia's GDP is one-seventh that of China. Moreover, Russia is heavily dependent on energy exports, with high-tech products accounting for only 11% of its manufactured exports (compared to 19% for the US).

While language, history, and labor migration provide Russia with some soft power in its near-abroad, few foreigners elsewhere watch Russian films, and Russian universities are not ranked among the top global 100. The political institutions for an effective market economy are largely missing, and robber-baron state capitalism lacks the kind of effective regulation that creates trust. The public health system is weak, and average Russian life expectancy, at 72 (male and female), is five years shorter than in Europe. United Nations demographers project that Russia's population may decline from 145 million today to 121 million by mid-century.

Many futures are possible, but at this point, Russia is a "one-crop economy" with corrupt institutions and serious demographic and health problems. Former President Dmitri Medvedev laid out plans to surmount them, but little was implemented and pervasive corruption has made modernization difficult. While Putin has been a successful tactician in restoring Russia's presence on the world stage, he has not been a skillful strategist in addressing the country's long-term problems.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trial of Trump crony Roger Stone promises political drama (ASHRAF KHALIL, 11/05/19, AP)

Stone, a longtime friend of the president's, briefly served on Trump's campaign but was pushed out amid infighting with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Though sidelined, he continued to communicate with Trump and stayed plugged into his circle of advisers.

The indictment says Stone, who was arrested by the FBI in a raid at his Florida home, repeatedly discussed WikiLeaks in 2016 with campaign associates and lays out in detail Stone's conversations about emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and posted in the weeks before Trump beat Clinton.

After WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, released hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, the indictment says, a senior Trump campaign official "was directed" to contact Stone about additional releases and "what other damaging information" WikiLeaks had "regarding the Clinton campaign." The indictment does not name the official or say who directed the outreach to Stone.

Stone also is accused of threatening New York radio host Randy Credico in an effort to prevent Credico from contradicting Stone's testimony before the House intelligence committee.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Inside Adam Schiff's Impeachment Game Plan (Jason Zengerle, Nov. 5, 2019, NY Times)

[S]chiff, who is 59, has rapidly come to occupy a unique and privileged place in the Democratic firmament. His Ukraine investigation has now been invested with all the hopes and dreams that Democrats once placed in the special prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia probe. In Schiff, a 10-term congressman from the Los Angeles area, Democrats believe they have found a more reliable vessel than the cipherlike Mueller and an opportunity for a do-over of sorts. While Mueller allowed himself to become a punching bag -- remaining silent for two years as Trump relentlessly delegitimized his investigation as a "witch hunt" -- Schiff has no qualms about hitting back. Where Mueller painstakingly avoided drawing any conclusions from his investigative findings -- punting the question about whether Trump broke the law by obstructing justice to Attorney General William Barr -- Schiff is prepared to embrace the actionable consequences of his work. "Mr. Mueller saw his limitations as a chain-of-command guy at the Justice Department, and he went as far as he thought he could go," Pelosi told me, noting that Mueller was hemmed in by an Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. "Mr. Schiff is dealing with two things: the Constitution of the United States and the truth."

Both of which are deadly for Donald.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Warren's Perpetual Medicare Head Tax Is Unworkable and Bad (Matt Bruenig,  November 1, 2019, 3P)

[B]owing to the stupid media discourse on this, Warren put forward a financing proposal that is clearly unworkable and bad. The proposal is as follows:

Employers will be required to pay an "Employer Medicare Contribution" equal to 98 percent of their per-employee health care costs in the year prior to Medicare for All's implementation. This will mean that initially some employers pay more than others since that is already the case in the status quo. But over time, each employer's contribution will be gradually converged to the average Employer Medicare Contribution until every qualifying employer is paying the same amount per employee.

Employers with less than 50 employees would be exempt from the Employer Medicare contribution both initially and forever.

Independent contractors (and the companies who hire them) will also be exempt from the Employer Medicare contribution both initially and forever.

Bad Distribution

What Warren is proposing here, in ordinary fiscal language, is a Medicare Head Tax. This is a departure from the normal Medicare Payroll Tax proposals. The distributive difference between them is that the Medicare Payroll Tax charges a specific percentage of each worker's earnings, while the Medicare Head Tax charges a specific dollar amount per worker.

If we value jobs, no one should be taxed on the basis of providing them. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Study: New immigrants less likely to use prescription opioids (NORA DOYLE-BURR, 11/04/19, Valley News)

A recently published study by a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center anesthesiologist has found that new immigrants to the U.S. are less likely to use prescription opioids than native-born Americans.

Dr. Brian Sites, who is also a professor of anesthesiology at the Geisel School of Medicine, said the results published in the journal JAMA Network Open last month point to a cultural factor in the use of opioids. Because of that, Sites said he thinks the response necessary to address the problem of opioid use will need to take culture into account.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Enemies within': Left-wing leaders slam government inaction on settler violence (Times of Israel, 11/05/19)

Left-wing leaders on Tuesday lambasted what they said was government inaction in the face of ongoing settler violence directed at security forces in the West Bank, and called for enforcement and punitive action against law-breakers.

Security forces were stoned near West Bank settlements in two separate incidents on Monday in attacks attributed to hardline settler youth.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Omar emphasizes Sanders' Jewish background in endorsement at Minnesota rally (MARCY OSTER, 11/05/19, Times of Israel)

Sanders also has been critical of Israel during his campaign and said he would "absolutely" consider cutting US aid to Israel to pressure its government to change its policy, specifically on settlements.

Omar in her endorsement at the rally emphasized Sanders' Jewish faith.

"I am proud to stand with the son of a Jewish refugee who survived genocide," the Muslim congresswoman said. "The acknowledgment of pain and suffering is personal for both of us. The fight for human rights is undeniable. And when we recognize injustices of the past and present, whether it is genocide against Jewish people, Armenians or Rwandans or Bosnians or Native Americans or more."