October 10, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 1:48 PM


Posted by orrinj at 11:19 AM


A Barrett Court could carry on Trump's deregulatory agenda long after he's left the White House, experts say (Chris Matthews, 10/10/20, Market Watch)

Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court has brought the public's attention to divisive social issues like abortion rights, but replacing the late Justice Ginsburg with a more conservative figure could have an equally important effect on business regulation and the U.S. economy. [...]

Of central importance to this debate is the doctrine of Chevron deference, which the Supreme Court established in 1984, and which requires judges to defer to agency interpretation of statutes as long as that interpretation is reasonable. Conservatives have long railed against this principle as one that has led to the growth of the administrative state.

"[Chevron deference] has become a direct threat to the rule of law and the moral underpinnings of America's constitutional order," wrote Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, in a 2016 policy brief. "For three decades, Chevron deference has helped to midwife a kind of shadow government operating within the federal Executive. This Fourth Branch of government imposes and enforces the vast majority of new federal laws without being subject to public consent or checks and balances."

After returning social issues not recognized in the Constitution to the states, forcing administrative laws to be at least approved by the Legislative branch (if not also written) is the next best thing a conservative court can achieve. 

Of course, corporations have no constitutional rights so the idea of expanding them is exactly the sort of judicial activism that is anti-conservative, but legislatures write corporation law and they can just do things like barring political contributions on condition of losing liability protections. 

Posted by orrinj at 10:42 AM


Donnafugata Dilemmas: Reading 'The Leopard' Again (Randy Boyagoda, July 22, 2020, Commonweal)

The Prince, modeled on Lampedusa's great-grandfather, is an ambivalent, self-preserving, and self-defeating actor in these developments, which pose clear risks to himself and his family. The prospect of change also calls into question the nature of his responsibilities to the many people in his greater household and lands who have long depended on his laissez-faire leadership and largesse, whether gratefully or resentfully. As the novel begins, he wanders with melancholic languor around his house and properties, all marked with variations on the family's leopardine coat-of-arms. He spends his days and nights eating with his seven children, sleeping with his wife, sleeping with his mistress, hunting, dabbling in astronomy, chatting up his loyal Great Dane and long-suffering family priest, receiving peasants bearing meager gifts in place of payments for what they reap on his land. Lampedusa makes it clear that the Prince, like the princes before him, has always lived like this and can't imagine his descendants living otherwise--but now he has to decide how to respond to the approach of a new world in which this way of life can no longer be taken for granted. I can't think of another novel that provides such an intimate and fine-grained sense of what it means for a family man of public standing to confront the pressures of modernity increasing day by day, visitor by visitor.

Lampedusa evokes this pressure through the novel's most famous line, when the Prince conferences with Tancredi (his charismatic, hustling nephew) about Garibaldi's encroaching presence and the greater implications for the Prince's life. Tancredi tells him: "'If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change. D'you understand?'" He does, and he doesn't, and the novel movingly presents the Prince's attempt to understand and live out a relationship between continuity and disruption he struggles to accept, whether it has to do with supporting family members' marriages to new-money people with vulgar mores, or deciding whether--and then how--to vote in a plebiscite about Italian unification or join a new Italian Senate. Given the Prince's standing, his participation legitimates the very thing that delegitimizes that standing, some portion of which he might be able to preserve if he joins a greater popular movement that seeks to deny his hereditary primacy altogether.

Lampedusa brilliantly captures the Prince's dilemma in a sequence where he and his family journey to their palatial holding in the town of Donnafugata. The trip takes place a few months after Garibaldi's initial landing and a couple of weeks before Garibaldi and his men take Naples, the decisive event in this stage of the Risorgimento. It's a tense time, and the Prince looks forward to a kind of stability and reassurance otherwise increasingly imperiled: "'Thanks be to God, everything seems as usual,' thought the Prince as he climbed out of his carriage" to be greeted by the mayor, the local monsignor, assorted civic leaders and dignitaries, and the rustic masses. All of them watch in respectful silence while "according to ancient usage" the Prince and his party process into the cathedral for a Te Deum. Pro-Garibaldi slogans are painted on nearby walls: they're fading, but they're there, and the Prince can't help but notice them. Following prayers in the cathedral, he returns to the town square and warmly invites everyone there to visit the family in its palace after dinner that night. "For a long time Donnafugata commented on these last words," Lampedusa writes, "And the Prince, who had found Donnafugata unchanged, was found very much changed himself, for never before would he have issued so cordial an invitation; and from that moment, invisibly, began the decline of his prestige." [...]

Most contemporary readers won't agree with the Prince's general approach to life and will rightly reject the embittered passivity that wins out over his better qualities. He is an example of someone at work and play in the modern world who gets a few things right and many things wrong. But his struggle can help us think about our own daily decisions a little more, and a little differently. It can help us reflect on how we relate to the institutions that matter most to us--how we enact our loyalty to them. This matters as much for the health and well-being of the institutions as for ourselves and those we care about. Making small, sincere contributions in difficult situations creates the conditions for others to join us and do likewise. This is often the most we can do; sometimes it is even enough--even if it's just reading a novel and telling someone else the story.

I can't think of a book i enjoyed more on the second reading than the first. Whether that's a function of the translation, advancing years, or both.
Posted by orrinj at 10:34 AM


Georgia Senate Races Look Runoff Bound (PPP, October 10, 2020)
PPP's newest Georgia poll finds that both of the state's Senate seats appear headed for runoffs. In the regular Senate election Jon Ossoff is getting 44% to 43% for David Perdue, with Libertarian Shane Hazel's 4% well exceeding the difference between the two of them.

In the special Senate election, Raphael Warnock continues to grow his support and now has a 17 point lead over the rest of the field at 41% to 24% for Kelly Loeffler and 22% for Doug Collins. The other Democratic candidates are non entities at this point- Matt Lieberman comes in at 3% and Ed Tarver gets less than 1%.

Warnock is proving to be easily the most popular of the major candidates in the field. He has a +17 net favorability rating at 43/26. By contrast Kelly Loeffler has a -11 net approval rating at 31/42 and Doug Collins has a -4 net favorability rating at 32/36.

Posted by orrinj at 10:17 AM


TRADITION, INNOVATION, AND MODERN AGE (Peter Augustine Lawler, Spring 2017,  Modern Age)

For us conservatives, "cultural" points toward the authentic realism, a comprehensive understanding that incorporates all that we know to be true about the greatness and misery and the joys and struggles of human beings--those open to the truth and born to trouble. There are, in one sense, many cultures, and we conservatives cherish the multicultural world of genuine moral and intellectual diversity that graces our country and our planet. And it's through the experiences of being embedded in particular living cultures that we have some access to the "universal culture" of educated and responsible men and women across time and space, as well as the universal culture of the City of God. That doesn't mean that being conservative means being theoretical; the particular person or particular way of life shared by persons can't be subsumed into some theory.

Well, all that might seem too pretentious and too ambitious to be genuinely conservative. Part of my intention is to think conservatively in a way that will include all the conservative schools of thought and modes of expression around today. We're open to anyone who eloquently tells the truth about who we are and what we're supposed to do. Does that mean there are no definite limits to what can be called culturally conservative? Not at all! It's fairly easy to begin by saying what being conservative is not.

For one thing, conservative thought is emphatically unideological. So it is very suspicious of all words ending in "ism"--such as Marxism, Darwinism, progressivism, globalism, libertarianism, and even conservatism. The point of ideological thought is to reduce each of us to less than he or she really is in order to make us easy to comprehend and control. Ideological reductionism generates a corresponding fanaticism. All means necessary, the ideological thought is, must be deployed to secure an unprecedented future--a world in which we will be perfectly happy without having to endure the alienated obsessiveness of having to be good, a world full of unlimited privileges without corresponding responsibilities. So the family, religion, and the "state," with all the love and work required to sustain them, will wither away. Ideological thinking typically conceives of the individual as less than he or she is in order that we all can, in some indefinite point in the future, become more than we really are.

For much of the twentieth century, and still today, the core of conservative thought has been a critique of ideology. It's true enough that nobody much accepts the whole teaching of Marx anymore. The more pervasive and less rigorous ideology these days is progressivism, which is all about being on "the right side of history." Progressivism is sometimes about the march toward bigger and better government. But it's more likely to be something like the progress away from repressive authority toward unfettered personal autonomy. Progress toward justice and freedom, the thought is, has authoritatively discredited the societies and intellectual achievements of the past. And so education in politics, literature, religion, and so forth has to be just as cutting edge and resolutely forward looking as education in technology and the sciences. What conservatives call tradition, progressives call the legacies of oppression. What conservatives call manners, progressives call patriarchal stereo­typing. What conservatives call the personal identity we've been given by a relational God and a purposeful nature, progressives call outmoded and illusory barriers to autonomous self-expression.

For conservatives, history doesn't have right or wrong sides, and things are typically getting both better and worse. Technological progress, which we should regard as both a wonderful gift and a revelation of our freedom, typically has relational costs. And, as the dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told us, it's a huge challenge to free will these days to live well with the collateral damage of the unlimited progress of technology. Not many conservatives believe that most of us have the option of going back to Wendell Berry's farm, and perhaps there's not even much future for the virtues associated with "skilled labor." But the point of the whole development of Western civilization couldn't possibly be a world in which so many do little more than lose themselves in the degrading diversions of the screen. These are hardly the best of times when it comes to knowing and discharging the responsibilities that accompany our relational privileges. And it might be harder than ever to be in love in the present or accepting of death.

Because our high-tech world is full of preferential options for the young and their proudly disruptive innovations, it's easy to forget what conservatives know: it's impossible to think clearly or act confidently without reliance on established personal authority, the authority embedded in tradition. Tradition provides us the guidance--the interpersonal world--with which we can know and love together, and our tradition provides us multiple points of access to unfashionable sources of wisdom about, for example, love and death. It gives us help we couldn't possibly provide for ourselves in knowing ourselves. The Bible, Plato's Republic, and Shakespeare's plays all make claims to "know man," and what Shakespeare knows, a literate person discovers, he wouldn't have known without careful attention to the Bible and Plato.

Now, as Kirk described in detail, American tradition is a large and somewhat amorphous array of heritages. He borrowed from the remarkable Orestes Brownson the thought that our written Constitution is less fundamental than our providential constitution, than what we've been provided by Greek politics and philosophy, Roman law, Christian revelation, Anglo-American common law, the Enlightenment, and so forth. The moral and intellectual diversity of our tradition is deployed by conservatives both in thought and in the art of living to fend off the one-dimensional despotism of progressivism.

Although conservative thought and faith aspire to universal truth, conservatives don't think that practical life--a particular community--is best guided by an overarching theory or even a wholly binding tradition. It's conservative to privilege sustainable relational life over any and all intellectual or individualistic pretensions. Kirk called himself a "bohemian Tory," a Stoic, a Catholic, and much more. He was much more concerned with how to live well as a privileged and responsible person in a particular time and place than with the coherence of any particular doctrine or mixture of doctrines. The mixture of bohemian and Tory, we can say, is deeply conservative; significant personal freedom and even ironic enjoyment depend on a settled life or sense of place. And the bohemian Stoic tells the more somber and beleaguered Stoics--even Marcus Aurelius himself--to lighten up and be happy with the unbought gift that is life. The future of being or even the environment is not in our hands.

Conservatives are always quick to discern that a worthy and sustainable moral and political world depends on claims for intellectual liberation and heroic greatness being chastened by the complexities of "real life." Conservatives often note that our Declaration of Independence was much better than the Enlightenment theory of Mr. Jefferson, precisely because his original draft was amended by the more Christian members of the Continental Congress. Legislative deliberation and compromise secured a place for the providential and judgmental God of the Bible in our understanding of who we are by nature as beings with inalienable natural rights. Our Founders built better than they knew, because they built as statesmen, not theorists, taking into account all the real possibilities presented by our providential constitution. Conservatives tend, in general, to be "fusionists," to put together what's true about various doctrines and practices to capture all that's true about persons sharing a life in a particular part of our world.

The classic form of conservative fusionism mixes libertarianism with traditionalism. In one way, that mixture is singularly American, insofar as the traditional impulse to revere our wise and virtuous Founders produces a narrative of American decline from their "classical liberalism" down the road to nanny-state serfdom. Hayek--like the "originalist" constitutional theorists today--preaches that a real or classical liberal is the true American traditionalist. And the greatest living conservative thinker, the English writer Roger Scruton, observes that the conservative curbs the liberationist and reductionist pretensions of liberalism without rejecting the Enlightenment achievements of the separation of church and state, representative government, and the free economy. For a true conservative, libertarianism and traditionalism both suffer from the extremism of all "isms." Libertarianism presents an unrealistic view of the free individual as absolutely sovereign or unencumbered by relational duties. Traditionalism slights the obvious fact that those who inhabit a vital tradition don't associate their way of life with some generic "ism." The truth is that free persons depend for their personal significance on a stable and enduring "lifeworld."

So we can say that conservatives oppose progressivism with the intention of mending, not ending, the real achievements of liberalism. And in the tradition of Kirk, Scruton, and many others, we conservatives distinguish between conservative liberals, with whom we often agree and certainly admire, and liberal conservatives, who we are. A liberal conservative makes the realistic observation that liberal political and economic life depends on "conservative sociology," and so they think of the family, religion, citizenship, and so forth as indispensably functional. Conservative institutions--often called mediating structures--must be cultivated for the benefit of the maximum possible individual liberty. Conservative liberals often push civic education, because a country that secures individual liberty has no future without literate and loyal citizens. A conservative liberal deploys conservative means for liberal ends.

No one would have been happier and more excited to begin restoring the culture post-Donald than our friend Peter Lawler.  

Posted by orrinj at 9:45 AM


Here's the Pitch: Cricket explains India and Australia while baseball is central to America and Japan. And all four nations are playing together to contain an ambitious China. (Markos Kounalakis, October 10, 2020, Washington Monthly)

Life in the 21st century continues to evolve, however. Sports that once never hit American TV screens now are highlighted by ESPN. Cricket used to be strangely distant, not stumbled across while channel surfing. Sports sections in American newspapers never carried cricket tournament results that now are just a click away.

Suddenly, globalization makes every sport and activity on Earth seem more accessible -- if not entirely understandable -- to everyone. It makes distant events more familiar and immediate. Cricket fans now get dugout views of World Series games. Bleacher bums homebound because of COVID-19 might become mesmerized by a two-month Australia vs. India "Test series to start with pink ball game in Adelaide" on TV this November.

The Quad countries play different, if related, political games. Regardless, these countries are working to harmonize their approach, rules, and desired winning outcomes. India, Australia, Japan, and the United States want to play the same game because their shared democratic and free-market ideals are enhanced by their mutual understanding of common threats.

The Quad recognizes that while its constituent nations compete against each other for global markets, they coalesce in their fight for human rights and transparent governance. They all recognize China as a strategic competitor, though not always in the same way or with the same language.

In Tokyo this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got on the mound and pitched the Quad on a mutually assertive stance against China's "exploitation, corruption and coercion." Japan -- the country that initiated the Quad in 2007 -- batted away that undiplomatic approach. Tokyo's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that he wants to "build stable relations with neighboring countries, including China and Russia."

China, of course, is generally unhappy with the Quad. Beijing prefers to divide the Quad politically and conquer it economically. It accuses the four nations of trying to contain China, trying to create a NATO-like military alliance in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing says the Quad is forming an "exclusive clique" aimed at curtailing China's ambitions.

All the while, the Quad is trying to find a cautious way to integrate its members without alienating them. India, for example, is wary of any alliances. In fact, it was central to the development of the 20th century Nonaligned Movement. New Delhi's colonial experience and the current rise of political nationalism at home makes any move toward a military or political alliance with Quad nations nearly impossible.

On the other hand, a recent direct conflict with China on disputed Himalayan territory has slightly opened up India's thinking towards coordinating with likeminded This brings us back to cricket and baseball, neither of which are China's national sports. They play ping-pong, where a kill shot is the way to win.

Posted by orrinj at 9:38 AM


Republicans' key electoral coalition appears to be 'in danger of coming apart' (Roxanne Cooper, 10/10/20, Raw Story)

"Nowhere has [President Donald] Trump harmed himself and his party more than across the Sun Belt, where the electoral coalition that secured a generation of Republican dominance is in danger of coming apart," Martin and Burns explain. [...]

"Many of the Sun Belt states seemingly within Mr. Biden's reach resisted the most stringent public-health policies to battle the coronavirus," the Times reporters note. "As a result, states like Arizona, Georgia and Texas faced a powerful wave of infections for much of the summer, setting back efforts to revive commercial activity."

Two of the Republicans who candidly discussed the GOP's problems in the Sun Belt are former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Oklahoma City Mayor David F. Holt. Flake, a conservative who has endorsed Biden, said of Trump, "There are limits to what people can take with the irresponsibility, the untruthfulness, just the whole persona." And Holt told the Times, "Cities in states like Arizona and Texas are attracting young people, highly-educated people and people of color -- all groups that the national Republican Party has walked away from the last four years. This losing demographic bet against big cities and their residents is putting Sun Belt states in play."

If recent polls are accurate, Biden has a good chance of winning more Sun Belt states than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did in 2016. Clinton carried Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and, of course, deep blue California, but Trump won Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and both of the Carolinas.

"Even as he stunned Hillary Clinton in three crucial Great Lakes states, (Trump) lost Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico and fared worse in Arizona, Texas and Georgia than Mitt Romney had four years earlier," Martin and Burns note. "Two years later, Democrats performed even better in a series of high-profile races across the region with college-educated white voters and people of color."

"Hate Your Neighbor" politics is a tough sell in America.

Posted by orrinj at 9:19 AM


A Great Country Album from the Rust Belt : Arlo McKinley's Die Midwestern captures the struggles of southern Ohio (ROBERT VERBRUGGEN, October 10, 2020, National Review)

His real contribution has more to do with his region than it does with his genre. He's written a set of great songs, sorrowful tracks that bring to life the malaise of the 21st-century Rust Belt in a way that's far more personal than political.

The opioid epidemic haunts McKinley's music, and he speaks from firsthand experience. A stand-alone single he released earlier this year, called "Ghost of My Best Friend," is about a friend's overdose, and 2020 also brought the overdose of his mother. The best song on Die Midwestern is called "Bag of Pills"; the lyrics involve both dealing and using drugs:

You want it, I can feel it
Got a bag of pills I've been dealin'
So I can take you drinkin'
Don't tell me about a love thing
We'll get high and talk until mornin'
Then you can catch me sleepin'.

It's also one of the least country tracks here. In its instrumentation and overall vibe, it almost reminds me of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm."

And if the album is anchored in Ohio's troubles, it's also saturated with thoughts of leaving. In the record's opening lines, our protagonist and his girlfriend "hit the road" -- a happy scene that carries the baggage of past troubles, as the chorus notes that "for the first time in a long time, we were all right." There's an old joke that when you play a country song backward, you get your wife back, your dog back, your pickup truck back, and so on, and this would appear to turn that convention on its head: Things are looking up! But eventually the bridge comes around, and it turns out that fleeing was just a dream. When he wakes up, the guy's girlfriend is on the phone and wants him to get his stuff out of her house.

The title track, which comes immediately after, is even more direct about leaving Ohio in particular:

I've been thinking that I should go
'Cause if I don't leave now
Then I'm never gonna leave Ohio, Lord
And that's a chance that I just can't take
Now that I'm getting older

"The Midwest is full of drugs that end up controlling people," McKinley told The Fader about the song. "It's about my love/hate relationship with Ohio. I love it because it's everything that I am but I hate it because I've seen it take my loved ones' lives, I've seen it make hopeful people hopeless. Temptations run all along the Ohio River, but it's so hard to watch the Ohio fade in the rearview mirror."

Similarly, he remarked to Forbes that "there are a lot of people I know here who have talent, who could do something if they just went somewhere else."

One of the most obvious manifestations of the Right's rejection of conservatism and enthusiasm for Identitarianism/racism lies in its embrace of denying poor whites any agency.  Where inner city blacks are all held responsible for living in poverty, using drugs, shooting each other, attending crappy schools, etc., Appalachians are victims of Big Pharma for their addictions and of immigration, for not accepting jobs, and so on and so forth.  Get out. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:04 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:58 AM


The Trumpist Death Cult: The president is an egotistical, narcissistic shaman who promises his adoring worshipers that he will right all wrongs. (BRIAN KAREM, OCTOBER 10, 2020, The Bulwark)

In 1993, during the Branch Davidian standoff at the Mount Carmel compound outside Waco, Texas, in between doing live-shots for Fox News and Sky News, I met a curiosity-seeker.

He stood among the members of the press, general public, and even t-shirt vendors--I still have a hat that says "Waco: We Ain't Coming Out"--who arrived daily to try and get a closer look at the madness inside the compound.

"What makes someone want to join a cult like this?" the man asked me.

That question has stuck with me--years after the ATF raid and two-month FBI siege that culminated in gunfire and flames and scores of dead.

The study of Koresh's death cult was intense. The Waco Tribune-Herald ran a series of investigative reports on the Branch Davidians and David Koresh called "The Sinful Messiah," exposing allegations of Koresh abusing children and committing statutory rape, as well as fathering several children from a variety of women and girls, some as young as 13, among the Branch Davidians who lived with him.

"I don't think he was a madman," Bob Ricks, the FBI's main media spokesman throughout the standoff, said of Koresh 25 years later. "I think probably the best description of him is a master manipulator."

H.L. Mencken, unflinchingly clear-eyed, said that every great religion was susceptible to cults. Mystics, he wrote, drive many cults and the "essence of mysticism is that it breaks down all barriers between the devotee and his god, and thereby makes the act of worship a direct and personal matter."

David Koresh did that.

Jim Jones did that.

So does Donald Trump.

Steve Hayes (I think) had it nailed when he said that Trumpism is a life-style brand.  Adherents substitute it for the Christianity they used to believe in.

(profanity alert)
Posted by orrinj at 8:53 AM


Trump's Captain Queeg Crackup: Yesterday's bonkers behavior--from his paranoid tweets to his f-bomb on Rush Limbaugh's show to his bizarre pseudo-checkup on Fox--show he has gone utterly around the bend. (RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON,   OCTOBER 10, 2020, The Bulwark)

Was it only yesterday that I analogized Donald Trump to an ersatz Wizard of Oz afflicted with a disabling psychological condition? In the profoundly disturbing hours since, Trump has evoked an even more emblematic and instructive fictional character: Captain Philip Francis Queeg of Herman Wouk's Pulitzer prize-winning novel of World War II, The Caine Mutiny.

Queeg is a frightening, pitiable caricature of naval leadership whose increasingly dangerous behaviors compel his officers to save their ship by seizing command. Perhaps you've seen the movie, anchored in Humphrey Bogart's indelible rendition of a man cracking up before our eyes, raving on the witness stand about "disloyal" officers until becoming incoherent. But not even Bogart could capture, nor Wouk imagine, the terrifying self-indictment of a president far sicker than Captain Queeg.

Nonetheless, the fictional Queeg serves as prototype for the all-too-real Trump--and the dilemma he presents us. Queeg is incompetent, paranoid, given to bullying, prone to blame-shifting, obsessed with appearances, unable to admit error, and determined at all costs to cover up grievous misjudgments and mistakes.

As evidence of their captain's mental fragility accumulates, his officers fear that he may crack under pressure. But after resolving to report his behaviors to a higher authority, they temporize.

The crisis comes--a deadly typhoon in the Pacific. Inevitably, Queeg's panicky misjudgments threaten to capsize the Caine. In extremis the captain's second-in-command, supported by his fellow officers, displaces him to save the ship.

Over the last 24 hours, Trump's statements provide an uncanny parallel to the behaviors which moved Queeg's officers to consider turning him in. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:48 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:37 AM


GOP can only rid itself of Trump's 'stench' by letting him lose and then shutting out his enablers: conservative. (Tom Boggioni, 10/10/20, Raw Story)

"What I am about to propose is admittedly heavy-handed. It will be called 'undemocratic.' But whoever said a political party is supposed to be a democracy? It might even be called a 'coup' by people who call everything that. What I am suggesting is a return of the establishment... of smoke-filled rooms with party bosses. What I am saying is that the empire must strike back," the columnist proposed. "I am now convinced that if Trump loses on Nov. 3, sane Republicans must impose order and discipline, or wait for the next Trump to emerge."

According to Lewis, certain behavior and rhetoric, of the type used by Trump, should be forbidden and strict messaging about Republican ideals should be adhered to.

"The GOP should be a big tent, so I'm not talking about imposing an ideological litmus test so much as I am talking about imposing a moral one. Support from the new party apparatus should be contingent on character and comportment," He wrote. "Without writing a manifesto on acceptable behavior (I'm spitballing here. Presumably, someone smarter than me would pick up this idea and run with it), I think racism should be a deal-breaker. So should threats against democratic institutions (calling the media 'fake news,' or saying you won't accept the results of an election, etc.). Likewise, any affiliation with conspiracy theories like QAnon would be cause for a blackball."

As for that "blackball"...

"What kind of discipline could they impose? It depends how much leverage they can wrangle. But let's say a Republican QAnon supporter is running for Congress. They get zero funds from any party committee. Zero. Any member who gives them money immediately loses his committee membership. That and maybe they make an example of you and drop a million bucks into your next primary race," Lewis suggested. "Any radio host who has this candidate on loses access to every Republican who wants the support of The Team. Basically, you're with us or you're with the terrorists (a line George W. Bush might be able to deliver). Oh, and, by the way, the train is leaving the station. We might look past your previous behavior, but you can sign up to me on the new team, or not. Your call. This has to be hardball."

Writing the election may "flush the system" of Trumpism, Lewis said the "adults" in the party need to step forward after the election and assume control to thwart any Trump wannabes from trying to keep the departed president's spirit alive.

While primaries can be useful to weed out weaker potential nominees, candidacy is too important to be left entirely to such a process, particularly where laws have been passed that constrain the private parties.  We also need campaign finance reform that allows unlimited contribution to the parties but limits or eliminates it--in favor of government funding--to individuals.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:29 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:26 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:18 AM


Where Do You Get Your News? Ever Heard Of Daybreak? (SEAN HURLEY, OCT 9, 2020, NHPR)

NHPR currently has a survey where we're asking you how you'd like us to cover the upcoming elections. One question we're asking - to learn more about you - is where you get your news.  And your answers to this question caught the attention of reporter Sean Hurley.

Along with NHPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post, many tell us they get their news from something called Daybreak. What in the world was Daybreak, Sean wondered? Here's what he found out.

Here's another way to get your news - sign for one or more of NHPR's newsletters today!

As he's done for almost two years now, Rob Gurwitt wakes at 4:30 every morning. He goes downstairs, starts the coffee, turns on his laptop...and begins to write. "It started as an experiment," Gurwitt says, "I had no idea whether it was going to last beyond a week, let alone you know a year and a half now, but it started with 25 friends.  So the voice in it was just me talking to friends."

At 62, Gurwitt has been a journalist for most of his career, but in the last few years the long-form reporting work he was good at was getting harder and harder to find. 

"I spent the bulk of my career writing, you know, 3,000 to 8,000-word articles," he says, "those days are gone in the magazine world. And oddly I really like writing these short things."

"Writing these short things" is nearly Gurwitt's new job in the form of a daily email newsletter called Daybreak, a charmingly written harvest of world and local news from the Upper Valley, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 AM


Marilynne Robinson's Essential American Stories: The author of "Housekeeping," "Gilead," and, now, "Jack" looks to history not just for the origins of America's ailments but for their remedy, too. (Casey Cep, September 25, 2020, The New Yorker)

It is the only one left. A hundred years ago, Robert Frost bought a ninety-acre farm near South Shaftsbury, Vermont; it came with an old stone house and a pair of barns, but he also wanted an orchard, so he planted hundreds of apple trees. Time and wind and winter storms have had their way with them, and today only one remains.

Earlier this summer, Marilynne Robinson followed a path through the fallow field that used to be Frost's orchard, then looked for a long time at the last of his plantings. She does not generally like visiting the houses of writers gone from this world. "They feel like mausoleums," she says. "I prefer to think of my favorite writers off somewhere writing." Because of the pandemic, though, it had been months since she had left her summer house, by a lake in Saratoga Springs, so she was open to an adventure. She ambled around the farmhouse and its grounds, looking at Frost's books and through his windows, studying his barns, recalling her grandfather's flower gardens while photographing the poet's, and admiring a bronze statue of Frost before posing obligingly beside it.

But it was the apple tree that seemed particularly charged in Robinson's presence. More trunk than tree, barren except for a single branch with a few withered attempts at fruit, its shadow was barely longer than hers. As a writer, Robinson is a direct descendant of Frost, carrying on his tradition of careful, democratic observations of this country's landscapes and its people, perpetually keeping one eye on the eternal and the other on the everyday. As a Calvinist, she has spent a lot of her life thinking about apple trees.

This one seemed very far from Eden, but Robinson is accustomed to tending gardens that others have forsaken. She has devoted her life to reconsidering figures whom history has seen fit to forget or malign, and recovering ideas long misinterpreted or neglected. Her writing is best understood as a grand project of restoration, aesthetic as well as political, which she has undertaken in the past four decades in six works of nonfiction and five novels, including a new one this fall. "Jack" is the fourth novel in Robinson's Gilead series, an intergenerational saga of race, religion, family, and forgiveness centered on a small Iowa town. But it is not accurate to call it a sequel or a prequel. Rather, this book and the others--"Gilead," "Home," and "Lila"--are more like the Gospels, telling the same story four different ways.

Although Robinson began her career by writing a book she believed was unpublishable, and has persisted in writing books she believes are unfashionable, she has earned the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, the praise of Presidents and archbishops, and an audience as devoted to her work as mystics are to visions. At seventy-six, she is still trying to convince the rest of us that her habit of looking backward isn't retrograde but radical, and that this country's history, so often seen now as the source of our discontents, contains their remedy, too.

Hardly surprising that the greatest living American novelist is a Puritan.

Posted by orrinj at 8:02 AM


Jaishankar's bland speech at Quad said nothing. But look at the naval ties India is forging (TARA KARTHA, 8 October, 2020, The Point)

Foreign Minister Jaishankar's bland statement at the Quad meeting said precisely nothing. But consider this. New Delhi is quietly forging strong military ties, particularly naval ones, with Quad members on a bilateral basis, while keeping the language of Quad itself vague in the extreme, and thus avoiding an increase in tensions with China. But India is still keeping all its irons in the fire. 

Alongside, there is the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative - referenced in Jaishankar's statement - which was launched at the East Asia Summit 2019, and includes maritime security in its charter. New Delhi invited Vietnam to be a part of it, even as Hanoi considers filing an international arbitration case against Beijing in the South China Sea. Both will be non-permanent members of the UN Security Council next year. Vietnam, together with New Zealand and South Korea, was also part of an online 'Quad plus' meeting earlier. All are countries sitting on important sea lanes. As Pompeo observed, the Quad has an expansion plan, and it seems New Delhi is already on the job. 

At a time when the Chinese are digging in opposite Ladakh, India seems to have realised that the Quad can only be of value in a crisis if - and it's a very big if - it can effectively interdict Chinese shipping across the Malacca Straits, particularly since Beijing depends on the sea for 80 per cent of its oil imports. New Delhi can't be sure of anything at this stage, which is why it's firing up its missiles and buying aircraft, guns and munitions from the weapons market. In war, reliance on 'friends' is foolhardy.

But it's nice to have that ace in the hole, gambling on the fact that China cannot retaliate against everybody at the same time. As to whether that threat is working, there is the fury of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on what it calls a "Mini NATO". Whether this view suits India's China playbook is yet unclear, probably even in the Ministry of External Affairs. That's actually a large part of the problem.

Posted by orrinj at 7:55 AM


The next US president won't be great for H-1B visas, no matter who he is (Ananya Bhattacharya, October 8, 2020, Quartz)

In contrast to what Trump has been saying about H-1B workers taking away American jobs, several studies have revealed that immigrants actually help bridge the skills gap plaguing several industries in the US, including big tech and healthcare.

Around 45% of Fortune 500 companies have been founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

In 2015, New York-based immigration research and advocacy organisation New American Economy said the H-1B visas awarded in 2012-13 would create 700,000 local jobs by 2020. And a new study released in July found that immigrants are 80% more likely to be entrepreneurs and create new jobs, than natives in the US.

The Indian American demographic is "one of the most educated and influential communities in America," said Watson, citing the examples of Indian-origin tech leaders like Microsoft's Satya Nadella and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, who started their careers in the US on H-1B visas.

There are several examples of how the US has lost out on opportunities because of its unfavourable visa policies. For instance, Wharton-educated Kunal Bahl returned to India after he had to quit his job at Microsoft because of a failed brush with the H-1B lottery. Back in India, Bahl founded e-commerce firm Snapdeal, which at one point provided jobs to over 6,000 people.

Today, Indian Americans may comprise just 1.6% of the US population but they are still the second-largest immigrant group in the US after Mexicans.

"Indian Americans have the opportunity to influence the US election, especially as (more) are moving to swing states like North Carolina, which may be key to the outcome of the election," said Mark Davies, global chairman at Davies & Associates. "That said, Indian-Americans should not be viewed a monolithic voting bloc influenced by immigration policy alone, but rather thousands of individuals who will make their own decisions based upon what is best for their families and their businesses."

Indian-Americans also yield some influence when it comes to elections.

"Where they can make a big difference is in their campaign contributions," said Poorvi Chothani, managing partner at immigration law firm LawQuest. Indian Americans have contributed over $3 million to 2020's campaigns--more than Hollywood's donors. Two-thirds of this amount has reportedly gone to Democrats. The other million went to incumbent Trump.

...it should also allow entrants to take their citizenship test at any time.