October 11, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:11 PM


Trump is losing ground even in deep-red states like Kansas -- according to 'private GOP surveys': NYT  (Brad Reed , 10/09/20, Raw Story)

The New York Times reports that "private G.O.P. surveys" show that Trump "is trailing not just in must-win battlegrounds" but is "repelling independents to the point where Mr. Biden has drawn closer in solidly red states, including Montana, Kansas and Missouri."

Trump's standing among voters has made Republicans particularly worried about the so-called "Sun Belt" states where they have been politically dominant for decades, including Georgia, Texas, and Arizona.

Nebraska district could prove pivotal for Biden in November (JULIA MANCHESTER,10/10/20, The Hill)
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appears poised to flip Nebraska's critical 2nd Congressional District in November, giving Democrats hope in a red state that doles out Electoral College votes per congressional district.

A poll conducted for the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) PAC released this week showed Biden with support from 53 percent of likely voters in the district, while Trump garnered 42 percent support.

Additionally, a New York Times/Siena College survey released last week showed 48 percent of likely voters in the district said they support Biden, while only 41 percent said the same about President Trump.

Posted by orrinj at 5:53 PM


REVIEW: of Joachim Cooder: Over That Road I'm Bound (Bob Fish, 10/05/20, Spectrum Culture)

While bloodlines are important, what's even more important to a musician is the ability to hear the music in your heart and soul. Joachim Cooder does just that on Over That Road I'm Bound. A distillation of banjo player Uncle Dave Macon's music, Cooder eschews a traditional vantage point, instead reworking the lyrics and melodies to create a hybrid that works with his chosen instrument, an electric mbira (a variation on the African thumb piano). From that starting point, with his young daughter as his musical director selecting the songs, what emerges is an album unlike anything you might expect.

Taking late 19th- and early 20th-century country tunes and transforming them into something combining world, folk and ambient music is a tall order. Yet Cooder's approach pays dividends as these songs now feel like a natural part of this century's musical order. Macon played a seminal role in the evolution of American music, and the cast of characters assembled to perform these tunes includes a couple of other seminal figures, Ry Cooder and Vieux Farka Touré. Especially important to the sound are fiddle player Rayna Gellert, bassist Sam Gendel and backing vocalist Juliette Commagere.

A song like "Come Along Buddy" shakes off the rust of generations that inhabits lines like, "Left my home months ago/ Now I'm standing at your window/ Something sure is smelling good/ Maybe you'll share some if you could." They detail a life that has long since passed. Yet, musically, it feels like something surprisingly modern thanks to the way the mbira changes the nature of the song. It places things in a different strand of time, forcing one to look at the song in a new light.

Posted by orrinj at 2:47 PM


Buzz grows around Cuomo as Biden's attorney general pick (Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols, 10/11/20, Axios)

Democrats are so convinced that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could be considered for Joe Biden's attorney general that aides at the National Governors Association, which Cuomo chairs, are looking into contingencies for replacing him, two sources familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Revealed: Soviet spies targeted George Orwell during Spanish civil warNewly unearthed files reveal that the author and his wife were under Soviet surveillance while fighting in civil war (Harriet Sherwood, 11 Oct 2020, The Observer)

[N]ew evidence has emerged that one of the most famous international fighters on the Republican side of the Spanish civil war was under surveillance by communist military intelligence.

George Orwell, whose book Homage to Catalonia became a celebrated account of fighting in the civil war, and his wife Eileen were spied on in Barcelona at the time of a vicious internal conflict on the Republican side of the war in May 1937.

Reports on the couple's actions, lodged in a Moscow archive after the war, were unearthed by author Giles Tremlett while researching a book, The International Brigades: Fascism, Freedom and the Spanish Civil War, published by Bloomsbury on 15 October.

"The papers are documentary evidence that not only Orwell, but also his wife Eileen, were being watched closely. They add fuel to the thesis that Orwell developed in Homage to Catalonia, and later in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, that Stalin was intent on transforming communism from a social and political ideal into a tyranny headed by a single man," Tremlett told the Observer.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Republicans Call D.C. Circuit|Nominations 'Court-Packing' ((RYAN ABBOTT, 10/30/13, CN)

Republicans at a House Judiciary Committee hearing condemned President Obama's nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals as political court-packing that will cost U.S. taxpayers an unnecessary $1 million per judge per year.

"These three nominations, with the confirmation of another, is intended to pack the D.C. Circuit to capacity of 11 authorized judgeships," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., at the Monday hearing his party called "Are More Judges Always the Answer?"

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Strapped for cash, Trump yanks TV ads in key states as Biden spending surges (Michael Finnegan, James Rainey Oct. 10, 2020, LA Times)

President Trump stopped all of his television and radio advertising in three states and substantially reduced it in four others in recent weeks after his lackluster fundraising left him unable to match a surge in spending by his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Trump's retreat from Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire reflects his struggle to change the dynamics of a race that polls suggest he is on track to lose. In the six weeks since his party's national convention, Trump's campaign has yanked more than $17 million in ads he'd previously booked in those states.

Two of them, Ohio and Iowa, are must-wins for the Republican president. Polls show him running almost dead even with the former vice president in both. Trump's withdrawal of advertising in those states -- despite the risk -- is a sign of his campaign's poor financial condition.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Powered by trust on the pandemic, Biden leads by 12 points nationwide: POLL (Gary Langer, October 11, 2020, ABC News)

Also damaging to Trump: 58% disapprove of how he's handled the pandemic -- essentially steady since July -- and a new high, 73%, are worried they or an immediate family member might catch the coronavirus (or say it's already happened). Worry about the virus remains a significant independent predictor of support for Biden over Trump.

The presidential race stands at 53%-41%, Biden-Trump, among registered voters, and a similar 54%-42% among likely voters, with minimal support (in the low single digits) for the Libertarian and Green Party candidates. Biden's advantage rests on his support among women, racial and ethnic minorities, independents and an unusually wide lead among moderates.

The race is tied among men, 48%-48% in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, while Biden is up 59%-36% among women, the widest margin among women for any presidential candidate in exit polls dating to 1976. (That includes 62%-34% among suburban women and 54%-41% among suburban white women.) Biden's vast 69%-25% lead among moderates, if it holds, would be a record by far. And his result among independents, while not a statistically significant lead, is the widest for a Democrat in exit polls since 1988.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Crisis of Conservatism: The right has been the natural party of government in America and Britain for four decades. Now it needs to reinvent itself. (John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge' October 11, 2020, Bloomberg)

This points to the second great wave: The need to reform and revitalize government. This should be natural territory for the right, which is mercifully free from the ties to public-sector unions that stymie the left's thinking. (Search for "government reform" in this year's Democratic platform. You won't find it.) What the right needs is a new conservatism that goes beyond the withered husk of faux-Reaganism and the heady drugs of Trumpery and Brexit.

Tomorrow's conservatives should instead draw on two things: the rich tradition of conservative and classical liberal political thought, and a pragmatic assessment of what works in government around the world. "Smart-government conservatism" should begin with the idea that if you believe in a small state, then you need a focused, efficient, competent one. That credo goes back to John Stuart Mill and the Victorian radicals who reduced the size of the British state from 80 million pounds in tax receipts in 1816 to under 60 million pounds in 1846 even as they increased its services -- simply by stripping out all the aristocratic perks and sinecures. Its modern incarnation is on display in tiny Singapore, which boasts the world's best schools and public health system by doing what Silicon Valley does: It hires selectively, pays well (its civil servants can make $1 million a year) and weeds out poor performers (including -- please note, Joe Biden -- bad teachers).

Next, smart-government conservatism should concentrate its spending on the poor. Why dole out money to hedge-fund managers, while leaving public hospitals so bereft of equipment that doctors have to bring in ski goggles to operate? A new generation of "blue-collar conservatives" who want to expand the state to help the poor are halfway there. The Republicans should get rid of all $1.6 trillion of exemptions (which go to the well-off) and introduce lower tax rates for all. Why do nine in 10 Americans need accountants to fill out their tax forms?

Conservatism has reinvented itself many times before: That is the secret of its endurance. The best way to think about its current malaise is to borrow from another Italian -- this time, a Marxist. Observing the Great Depression, Antonio Gramsci, in his "Prison Notebooks," offered this observation: "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."

Look around the conservative Anglosphere and morbid symptoms abound -- from the heretical (embracing protectionism) to the silly (criticizing mask wearers). But those should be a prompt to forget the old and find the new. Conservatives need to remind themselves that they have repeatedly reinvented their philosophy in the past -- in the light of the rise of democracy, the spread of industrialization and the emergence of the welfare state.