November 8, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:23 AM


Batteries vs. Blackouts: 1,100 Homes Powered Through Vermont Outage With Storage (JULIAN SPECTOR, NOVEMBER 07, 2019, GTM)

Home batteries proved their resilience value during Vermont's Halloween blackout.

A major rain and wind storm struck the state at the close of October, knocking out power to some 115,000 customers. Among those affected, 1,100 homes managed to keep the lights on thanks to pilot programs specifically designed to promote resilient backup power with energy storage. The battery backup service lasted nine hours on average, but the longest instance stretched to 82 hours.

The event offers a timely data point for other jurisdictions mulling the use of home batteries for resilience. Northern California community power purchasers yesterday requested proposals for home batteries to keep customers powered during the region's fire-season safety shutoffs. Such a model remains cutting-edge, but Vermont utility Green Mountain Power has shown it can be done effectively.

Posted by orrinj at 6:20 AM


Russia Laughs: Is He "Their" President Or Ours? (Joe Conason, November 7, 2019, National Memo)

"Have you lost your minds that you want to remove our Donald Ivanovych?" asked popular talk show host Vladimir Soloviev. Figures like Soloviev frequently apply that possessive (and protective) adjective to Trump, whom they discuss as if he were literally owned by a foreign state.

Of course, the Russians understand our system well and feel reasonably confident that even if the House votes to impeach Trump, he will survive a Senate trial. In the Daily Beast, Olga Skabeeva, host of that Russian 60 Minutes show, is quoted making a confident prediction: "A Republican majority in the Senate won't allow the president whom we elected, wonderful Donald Trump, to be sent off. It's impossible. He has 90 percent support in the Republican Party."

In that same article, another prominent Russian media figure is even more candid. According to film producer Karen Shakhnazarov, who frequently appears on Russian TV: "They say Trump is making Russia great. That's basically accurate. The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa ... So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States -- yes, he is. And that's why we love him ... The more problems they have, the better it is for us."

Posted by orrinj at 5:57 AM


Trump's immigration policy is in disarray: The president campaigned on bold immigration actions, but infighting, confusion and dysfunction have hampered his ability to follow through on those promises (ANITA KUMAR, 11/08/2019, Politico)

Key pieces of his agenda are stalled. Top aides are feuding. And there's worry that the very issue that swept President Donald Trump into office in 2016 could help cost him his reelection in 2020.

Nearly three years into office, Trump's attempts to match the lofty campaign promises he made on immigration are in disarray -- the wall remains largely unbuilt, so-called sanctuary cities are still receiving federal money and birthright citizenship remains intact. And over at the sprawling Department of Homeland Security, a bitter dispute recently erupted over who should head the agency tasked with enacting Trump's immigration policies, leading some frustrated aides to plot ways to circumvent federal law and push for the leader of their choice.

The danger for Donald is that the 20% core that supports him only cares about the racism. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:51 AM


House Republicans appear to be throwing Giuliani, Sondland, and Mulvaney under the bus to save Trump (Peter Weber, 11/08/19, The Week)

House Republicans have now started "sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani, and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas," the Post reports. This is just one theory Republicans are testing out -- others include that Trump didn't have "corrupt intent," that quid pro quo's are commonplace, and that Trump is too incompetent to carry one off. "In a sign of how the GOP is scrambling, however, many of those theories run counter to each other," the Post notes.

Yes, it was a crime but I didn't mean it, am too stupid to effect it or had my staff do it.  Besides, Ukranians are scum....

Posted by orrinj at 5:43 AM

Posted by orrinj at 5:26 AM


Hayek, Republican Freedom, and the Universal Basic Income (MATT ZWOLINSKI, NOVEMBER 6, 2019, Niskanen)

Hayek's devotion to the ideals of free markets and limited government is well-known. His most famous book, The Road to Serfdom, argued that economic and political liberties are tightly connected, and that liberal democracies cannot safely curtail the former without also endangering the latter. His later works, especially The Constitution of Liberty, set forth a positive vision of a free society centered on the idea that individuals should be left largely free to act on the basis of their own values and beliefs, rather than those of government regulators or planners, in both the personal and economic dimensions of their lives.

While everybody knows that Hayek saw himself as a champion of individual freedom, few understand the precise nature of the freedom that Hayek sought to defend. Unlike many libertarians, who understand freedom primarily in terms of non-interference or respect for property rights, Hayek subscribed to a republican theory in which freedom consists of being able to live one's life "according to [one's] own decisions and plans, in contrast to ... one who was irrevocably subject to the will of another." [...]

Hayek's republican political theory provides one of the main theoretical foundations for his strong support of free markets. Although many contemporary republican theorists have been either overtly hostile or at best lukewarm toward the market economy, Hayek saw correctly that market competition can serve as one of the most effective guarantors of republican freedom.

The essence of market competition is the existence of alternatives, and the right to say "no" to offers that fail to serve one's interests at least as well as one of those alternatives. In a competitive labor market, an employer who tries to force an employee to do something she doesn't want to do is constrained by that employee's ability to quit and find a job elsewhere. A used car dealer who would like to take advantage of a buyer by charging an unfairly high price is similarly constrained by the presence of a competing dealer next door. In general, the more competitive a market is, the more prices and other terms of agreements will be regulated by the impersonal forces of supply and demand, and the less any particular market agent will be able to impose her particular will on her partner in exchange. All market actors are constrained by the general, impersonal rules of the market. But those same rules generally work to prevent any market actors from achieving a position of dominance over others.

Similarly, it is largely because Hayek views competition as such an effective check on coercion that he views government power with suspicion. After all, government is the only institution within society to claim and generally possess an effective monopoly on the use of force. And this monopoly on force is often used to establish and maintain other monopolies: on roads, on the delivery of regular mail, on the creation and enforcement of criminal law, and so on. Because individuals who value these services have nowhere else to go, they are often left with no practical alternative to compliance with the government's demands. 

Moreover, as legal rules become more numerous and complex, as ordinary individuals become unable to know in advance what actions are permitted and which are prohibited, as law enforcement becomes practically unable to enforce all the rules that they could, in theory, enforce, the extent of individual discretion within government increases, and so too does the possibility of arbitrary coercion. In that case, individuals are no longer required to comply with "the law," but with the edicts of a bureaucrat behind a desk, or an officer behind a badge. When the agents of the state are granted a practically unchecked power to apply the law (or not) in whatever way he sees fit, individuals are no longer fully free.

When Free Markets Aren't Enough

But while Hayek's republicanism provides strong support for the ideals of free markets and limited government, it also provides a criterion for determining when those institutions are not enough. Market competition generally protects the consumer against predation by unscrupulous sellers, but this protection can be undermined by collusion and natural monopolies. Similarly, competition in the labor market might protect workers from exploitation when those workers have an adequate range of alternatives available to them, but fall short when those alternatives are limited either by features of the local economy (a lack of jobs) or by characteristics of the employee (e.g. limited skills or lack of mobility).

In order to protect individual freedom in these circumstances, Hayek believed that some governmental action was both necessary and appropriate. Indeed, Hayek took great pains even in his most partisan work, The Road to Serfdom, to distance himself from a dogmatic opposition to government action, writing that "nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rough rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez faire." Hayek believed that government had a legitimate (though delicate) role to fill in preventing and/or regulating monopolies. He believed that government had important work to do in the areas of sanitation, health services, and public works. And, most strikingly of all, he believed that it was not only permissible but necessary for government to redistribute income in order to provide a social safety net that would ensure "a certain minimum income for everyone, or a certain floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself."

The great lie we on the right tell ourselves is that a man with no wealth can enjoy freedom.  Of course, the corresponding lie on the left is that a man with no freedom can enjoy wealth. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:11 AM


Secret chats involving Republican lawmaker reveal fresh evidence of plots and paranoia (Jason Wilson, 8 Nov 2019, The Guardian)

The messages from the chat group, exchanged between October 2017 and October 2018, show Shea's network includes other serving, former and aspiring rightwing politicians from Idaho and Washington, alongside activists associated with militia groups, anti-environmental causes, and pro-gun activism.

They also show participants, including Shea, preparing for economic and societal collapse even as they campaign for the secession of eastern Washington from the remainder of the state.

The messages provide a rare insight into the inner workings - and paranoia - of the so-called patriot movement, whose members have participated in standoffs with the federal government in Nevada and Oregon, and whose far-right beliefs have been controversially promoted by Shea.

Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the progressive Western States Center, said of the chats: "The chat messages reveal Shea acting more like a militia leader than an elected official. His conspiratorial and violent mindset are on full display. If it was not already clear, Shea has demonstrated that he is unfit for public office. Now it's time for his colleagues in the Washington house of representatives to hold him accountable."

The red hat is the red flag.

Posted by orrinj at 4:57 AM


Book by 'senior official': Trump is volatile, incompetent, makes racist comments (AP and TOI STAFF, 11/08/19, Times of Israel)

The book describes racist and misogynist behind-the-scenes statements by Trump and says he "stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information." [...]

The author says Trump routinely ignores intelligence and national security briefings, leading foreign governments to see him as a "simplistic pushover" who can be easily manipulated.

The book describes senior officials waking up in the morning in a "full-blown panic" over comments the president made on Twitter the night before.

"It's like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him," the anonymous author writes. "You're stunned, amused, and embarrassed all at the same time."