October 1, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 11:10 PM


Trump blames low-income people, minorities for 'ruining' suburbia (MAYA KING and LAURA BARRÓN-LÓPEZ, 10/01/2020, Politico)

"By the way, just so we can get this straight, 30 percent of the people in the suburbs are low-income people. Thirty percent of the people in the suburbs are minorities. And so we're ruining this American dream for everybody," Trump said.

To Donald's credit: he realizes the only reason to support him is racism.

Posted by orrinj at 7:52 PM


Following rocky debate, Biden takes lead over Trump in latest exclusive Channel 2 poll (WSBTV.com News,  October 1, 2020)

For the first time, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading our exclusive Channel 2 Action News/Landmark Communications poll.

New numbers out Thursday have Biden leading President Donald Trump 47% to 45%.

Compare that to our Landmark poll from one month ago, when Trump was leading Biden 47% to 40%.

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:20 PM


Russia Caught in Web of Middle Eastern Intrigues (Pavel K. Baev, September 28, 2020, Eurasia Daily Monitor)

The centerpiece of Russia's policy in the Middle East is certainly the intervention in Syria; but today, it has transformed into a multifaceted source of problems. The friction between Russian and US military patrols in northeastern Syria is actually the least of these troubles (RBC, September 20). Greater risks stem from tensions with Turkey, which resolutely rejects Russian plans for restoring the Bashar al-Assad regime's control over the rebel-held Idlib province. Moscow sought to strike a bargain by offering to expand the Turkish zone of control along the border with Syria; but Ankara asserts that it will move into Kobane and Manbij when it sees fit (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 21).

Even greater trouble is brewing--despite diplomatic geniality--in Russia's interactions with Iran. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis hit the Islamic Republic so severely that they curtailed its external engagements, notwithstanding renewed pledges from Tehran to exact revenge for the US assassination of General Qasem Soleimani on January 3, 2020 (RIA Novosti, September 20). Moscow used to worry about an overly strong Iranian presence in Syria; but now it has begun to express concerns about its reduction. Russia cannot take on the full burden of rebuilding the war-desolated Syria and understands that Western aid will only materialize following the initiation of political reforms. However, despite cutting its own investments in Syria, Iran still maintains enough influence to block all meaningful reforms (Russiancouncil.ru, September 11). Moreover, in seeking to stop Israeli air strikes on its assets, the Iranian command moved to take control of parts of the Syrian air-defense system, effectively elbowing out Russia (Svobodnaya Pressa, September 23).

Troubles in Syria determine the timidity of Russia's policy in Libya, where Wagner Group mercenaries are supposed to be the key instrument but whose performance has been far from stellar (Lenta.ru, September 23). Egypt has taken on the central role in terminating the hostilities and building a minimally effective government in eastern Libya, perhaps calculating that a division of the troubled neighboring state is a relatively acceptable option (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 24). The lull in fighting has allowed the Libyan Oil Company to resume production and export, except from the oil fields where the presence of "gangs of Wagnerites" make it impossible to lift the force majeure (Kommersant, September 22).

One immediate consequence of this fragile pacification has been a further drop in oil prices, prompting some Russian experts to repeat their predictions that the propitious period of over-priced hydrocarbons may be over forever (Forbes.ru, September 23). Moscow claims a readiness to deliver on its commitments to cut oil production according to the OPEC+ deal with Saudi Arabia, but the implementation of this cartel arrangement remains shaky (Izvestia, September 17). Putin tries to keep engaging with Saudi royals but cannot talk them out of their proclivity to give special discounts to China in order to boost exports to this key market, where Russia has, heretofore, had a slight edge (Neftegaz.ru, September 25). Moreover, confrontation with Iran is central to Saudi regional strategy, and the joint Russian-Iranian naval maneuvers in the Caspian Sea (held as part of Moscow's large-scale Caucasus 2020 strategic exercises) invited strong resentment in Riyadh (TV-Zvezda, September 25).

Russia has positioned itself as a major opponent of US policy in the Middle East, but the benefits from this posturing are now mostly exhausted. Moscow cannot, in any meaningful way, fill the imaginary "vacuum" left by particular US withdrawals and disengagements, because local stakeholders are concurrently expanding their own influence. Moreover, the deepening disaster of the COVID-19 pandemic increases the need for economic assistance and humanitarian aid, but Russia cannot deliver anything except promises of sharing its dubious vaccine. 

Enmeshing Putin in Syria was a diplomatic coup (even if unintentional).

Posted by orrinj at 5:33 PM


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:55 PM


I wrote this a while ago, so it will seem redundant to some, and I apologize for that. Also, I promised on pain of death never to reveal the identity of the gentleman mentioned herein--an entirely characteristic desire on his part not to be made to seem extraordinary, though he is. We reprint it now only because, having had the tv on for exactly twenty minutes, I just saw the American flag being burned on four different continents and even here in the U.S.:

I have to admit that I find most of the "Greatest Generation" stuff to be pretty annoying. I don't think the generation that survived Depression childhoods and fought WWII actually did anything that other generations of Americans would not have (let's hope we never have to find out). And I think they deserve our opprobrium for the job they did raising their kids and for the demands they placed on government, as if their service to the nation entitled them to fiscally irresponsible Social Security, Medicare, and other social welfare programs. Mostly I think the image of them as selfless and silent sufferers is a canard. This after all was the generation that first popularized divorce and the myriad social "freedoms" that did so much to destroy our social fabric in the 60s & 70s.

On the other hand, one of my personal heroes is a member of that generation and does exemplify all the qualities we attribute to them generally. I have a friend whose Dad was a poor Jewish kid from Louisiana. He was sent to fight the Germans in Europe and ended up in the Battle of the Bulge. He's a big, big man, not terribly tall but bull-like. Most of all, he's got big feet. One of the only things I've ever heard him complain about in all the years I've known him is that they could never get boots big enough for him, so his feet always hurt anyway, plus it was cold as heck marching around in the snow that winter. For years that was darn near all he told us about his service.

So here was this big, quiet guy, the kind of Dad that every boy sort of, or openly, wishes he had. One who doesn't feel compelled to "share his emotions, but whose feelings of love for his family, his friends, his God and his country are clear to anyone who pays attention. Simply by his presence and his authority he made us tone down, and improve, our behavior. It wasn't that we feared him--though once, when I swore in front of his wife, he did clobber me over the head and surprised even himself by splitting the plastic batting helmet I was wearing in two--it was more that we couldn't bear the thought of disappointing him.

Then, one night, I don't even remember how we got him going, he said a little more about his war. In quiet, almost reverential, tones, he just mentioned to us : "I had to bayonet a guy during the war. I could feel his weight at the end of the gun barrel." And, with that, he got a far away look in his eyes and he said no more.

Well, we were so quiet, so awed, that you could hear everyone breathing. No way would we have had the temerity to ask him anything more; even if our curiosity was killing us, as I assure you it was.

Why do I mention that now?

Today someone asked me a question : what does the American flag mean to you? I'm afraid my answer was neither eloquent nor memorable. She asked me about the flag burning case and didn't have a coherent response. But then this guy, whose Dad I mention, told me a story.

When that case was decided, he asked his Dad what he thought about it. His Dad, of course, is your garden variety New Jersey Jewish Democrat. He supports the right of people to do things he would never dream of doing himself and which he would strangle his own sons for doing. But he does support those rights. So my friend expected him to say the decision was okay.

Instead, his Dad said that he thought burning the flag was an act of sacrilege, like burning the Torah.

As my friend said :

"I don't know that you'll ever inculcate that level of love of country inthe classrooms where you're putting flags...but if you can get to 50% of that sentiment, it will be worth the effort...."

What a glorious gift those of us who are privileged to live in America have received. For it is only in America that a boy may be sent abroad to fight an evil that, while it is not even harming his countrymen, is killing his coreligionists by the million. Such are the ideals that we often vindicate, that evil shall not stand, that when freedom is threatened, we'll be there. Such are the values that the flag stands for.

How lucky we are that men like this end up here, where these values reign, where they endure through the efforts of such men. It has been one of the great privileges of my life to know him.

So, rather than dwell on the navel-gazing cretins who are defiling our flag and besmirching our streets in SF and Chicago and elsewhere, we choose instead to think of this utterly decent and wholly unrecognized hero and those like him, many of whom are abroad tonight in yet another blighted land, fighting for the same values sixty years later. Thanks to them, and in spite of the swinish demonstrators, if we ask ourselves "how stands the city on this winter night?", we can honestly answer: "not bad at all".

I repost this today in honor of the gentleman discussed, who passed in the early hours this morning. Godspeed, big guy. [originally posted: 3/21/03]
Posted by orrinj at 12:42 PM


Tesla drops China-made Model 3 price by up to 10% as it introduces cheaper batteries (Tim Levin, 10/01/20, Business Insider)

Tesla cut the price of its Chinese-market Model 3 sedans by up to 10%, according to pricing listed on the company's China website. The move came the same week that sources told Reuters Tesla would move to a cheaper battery in certain Chinese-made Model 3s, but it wasn't clear whether that caused the price drop.

Posted by orrinj at 11:11 AM



An Al Gross campaign ad sounds as if Old Spice and Dos Equis made a crossover episode. Rather than tout his political history -- the Juneau doctor and first-time Senate candidate has none -- his commercials cite the fact that he was born "in the wake of an avalanche," bought his first fishing boat with a bank loan at 14 years old, prospected for gold and killed a grizzly bear. Not with his bare hands, mind you, although at this point it wouldn't surprise us if he had.

Of course, most mainlanders haven't heard much about the Independent candidate's upstart campaign, given that staunchly red Alaska is rarely competitive in presidential elections. Gross may be changing that, though, making the Alaska Senate race relevant when most thought incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan was completely safe. One August poll had Gross even with Sullivan, while another, in September (paid for by a pro-Gross super PAC) had him down just one point -- well within the margin of error. [...]

The issue when Senate seats in Republican strongholds like Alaska or South Carolina become competitive is that they draw resources from other must-win states. It also has ramifications for Donald Trump in the presidential election, given that the same September poll had Trump also ahead by just a single percentage point over Joe Biden in Alaska. As a result, Alaska saw by far the biggest shift of any state in this week's presidential model -- a nearly 15 percentage point move in Biden's direction. While Tranter doesn't believe Alaska will actually abandon the GOP -- with a 72 percent chance of Trump victory, it's still rated "Lean Republican" -- that doesn't mean it's not troubling for Trump.

"In simulations where Trump wins, he nearly always carries Alaska, Montana, Missouri and South Carolina," Tranter says. "For these states to have drifted out of safety into even remotely competitive territory, coupled with Biden not ceding much ground in traditionally Democratic states, encapsulates why Trump's electoral outlook remains relatively bleak."

Indeed, typically safe red states are joining (or even replacing) this year's expected purple battlegrounds like North Carolina (where our model now gives Biden a 53 percent chance of victory), Florida (59 percent), Arizona (59 percent), Michigan (74 percent), Pennsylvania (72 percent) and Wisconsin (76 percent). The fact that Trump is playing defense in so many places is a major reason why the OZY/0ptimus forecast gives Biden an 82 percent chance of Electoral College victory in November.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


Biden Lead Looks Firmer as Midwest Moves His Way (Kyle Kondik and J. Miles ColemanIn, October 1, 2020, Sabato Crystal Ball)

-- With the first debate now in the books, we have close to 20 rating changes across the Electoral College, Senate, and House.

-- Joe Biden is now over 270 electoral votes in our ratings as we move several Midwestern states in his favor.

-- Changes in the battle for Congress benefit Democrats almost exclusively. We're moving two Senate races in their direction, as well as several House contests.

We Republicans have brought this on ourselves.

Posted by orrinj at 8:25 AM


These 3D-printed igloos could take us one step closer to life on the moon (NATE BERG, 10/01/20, fAST cOMPANY)

Building with moon dust is less improbable than it might seem. Common cinderblocks are little more than sand and glue, and advances in additive manufacturing have shown that 3D printers can be used to make habitable structures. These advancements are partly why NASA is funding the construction technology startup Icon, which has developed a 3D printer capable of constructing housing at scale (a project that won Fast Company's 2020 Innovation by Design Awards). Based in Austin, Icon was a finalist in NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

To figure out what exactly this 3D printer can and should build on the moon, Icon has announced a partnership with SEArch+, an architecture firm that has worked with NASA on human-centered designs for space exploration, and the Bjarke Ingels Group, one of the world's most prominent architecture firms. With projects like a ski-slope topped waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen, a pyramid-like apartment building in Manhattan and the Lego House museum in Billund, Denmark, BIG is known for audacious and crowd-pleasing architecture.

Posted by orrinj at 8:13 AM


House Adopts Resolution Urging Peaceful Transition -- But Five Republicans Vote No (Alex Henderson, October 01 | 202, National Memo)

Claiming that Democrats are trying to use mail-in voting to promote voter fraud, President Donald Trump has refused to say that he will accept the election results if former Vice President Joe Biden wins in November. The House of Representatives, in response, adopted a resolution on Tuesday calling for a peaceful transfer of power in the presidential election -- and it passed 379-5. Most House Republicans voted in favor of the resolution, but five didn't: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana.

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


'Woke' Christians Are Eroding Donald Trump's Base and Dividing the Evangelical Church (PAUL BOND, 10/1/20, Newsweek)

"We need to talk about race," Phil Vischer says in a video posted June 14 on YouTube. The evangelical creator of VeggieTales, a children's show that tells Bible stories using animated vegetables with names like Junior Asparagus and Pa Grape, tells viewers in his 17-minute video that Black households have one-tenth the wealth as white ones and delves into the history of Jim Crow laws, the "war on drugs" and "militarized police." He talks about a TV news media that scares Americans with images of Black criminals and teachers who favor white kids due to their "unconscious bias."

Call Vischer the tip of the spear of what critics call a "woke" Christian movement whose members have not only embraced the language of the left but also its chief goal of defeating Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. They'll do so, some say, if they can convince as little as 2 percent of the evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016 to vote for Joe Biden in November. After all, he won in swing state Pennsylvania, for example, by just 44,000 votes, courtesy of white evangelicals. Pew Research indicates that Trump got 81 percent of the vote nationwide from white evangelicals in 2016 and his support in that group as of three months ago was at 82 percent.

But Vischer's video can help chip away at that support, given it has been viewed 8 million times thus far, and Vischer told Newsweek 90 percent of the feedback he's received has been positive.

The most shameful aspect of the Donald years is not the man himself but the fact that Christians and conservatives supported him.
Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


Why the real estate boom could keep going for years (Dion Rabouin, 10/01/20, Axios)

There are a few big factors that could buoy the housing market for years to come, says Jonathan Woloshin, head of U.S. real estate at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Older millennials, a historically large generation, are reaching their late 30s -- an important marker, as there has been a persistent 20-percentage point gap between the percentage of homeowners under 35 and those 35-44.

Homebuilders have been slow to erect new housing since the global financial crisis, limiting supply.

And yes, "COVID put some extra juice in the market," Woloshin tells Axios.

But what's really driving things is a new "migration" out of major population hubs like New York and San Francisco and into lower-cost suburban areas and smaller, more affordable cities like Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Boise, he says.

The bottom line: Even though prices have risen, the record-low mortgage rates have brought down the monthly bill new buyers will see in many cases, Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, tells Axios.

Posted by orrinj at 7:25 AM


Democrats Say Republicans Rushing Barrett Supreme Court Nomination (VOA News, October 01, 2020)

Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said Republicans are rushing the Supreme Court confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and reiterated calls for postponing the review of her nomination until after the presidential inauguration in January.

Donald has played this wrong; all most Republicans wanted was not-Hillary and judges.  Once we have the third Court seat he's of no use anymore.

Posted by orrinj at 7:04 AM


Trump Administration Proposes Limiting Refugee Admissions to 15,000 (VOA, October 01, 2020)

The Trump administration said late Wednesday it wants to cut the number of refugees admitting into the United States to 15,000 in fiscal year 2021, which begins Thursday.

The figure represents the latest in a series of annual cuts since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

Uncle Joe can reopen the borders on day one, since it's mostly just administrative actions, but the lesson of the last few years is that he also needs to grant a mass amnesty to immigrants who already made it here. .