November 1, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:01 PM


Corporate America Against Trump (Future of Capitalism, 11/01/20) Goldman executive Jake Siewert interviewing author, historian, and columnist Anne Applebaum about the evidence that "democracy is in danger" from the "radical far right." Does that get disclosed as a campaign expenditure for Biden? Nope. But it sure helps him.

Second, this Gap ad, which I saw watching the Patriots football game. There's no explict "vote for Joe Biden," 

Posted by orrinj at 9:58 AM


The Trump Era: Four Wasted, Empty Years: A presidential term of office bereft of any lasting meaning, importance, or permanence, except a legacy of mismanagement and criminality (Paul D. Miller, Oct 30, 2020, Arc Digital)

The past four years exist as the Titanic exists for ocean liners: a cautionary tale about catastrophic blindness and hubris-- nothing more.

You might think the lesson to be learned is that the political right should not nominate or elect a conman, a criminal, a demagogue, or a nationalist. You would be wrong. That is not a lesson we need to learn because it is something we already knew, but which a plurality of the electorate flouted.

Or perhaps you think we should take more seriously the electoral importance of working-class whites; that we should mind the dangers of rapid cultural change, economic insecurity, and status anxiety.

This is wrong for two reasons.

First, Trump did not expand the party's base by running on these issues: he shrunk it. His appeals to working-class whites sounded too much to other Americans like racist demagoguery and angry populism and drove them away. Whether you agree with this characterization of Trump's rhetoric is irrelevant -- what matters is how it was perceived. If you want to win elections -- not just one in an erratic year but build a durable political regime -- saying things that sound like racist demagoguery to a majority of voters is imprudent.

Second, while every voter deserves to be taken seriously and policy should address real grievances, arguing that we should pay attention to working-class whites because we're afraid of the damage they'll do otherwise is tantamount to giving them a heckler's veto on the right's agenda. The right will be forever captive to the politics of fear and resentment if it makes "coddling working-class white anxiety" its central organizing concept. If the right continues down the path of becoming the party of white identity politics, they will deserve to lose. The right should address working-class whites with real policy solutions, not treat them like a convenient pool of roiling anger to leverage against the left.

Perhaps your gloss on the Trump era is that the right has become too beholden to corporate interests and tax cuts, that we should re-center the right's agenda on being pro-family, pro-community, and pro-patriotism. I agree -- but again I ask, what part of this is new?

These aren't lessons of the past four years: they are the talking points of the social conservative right for the past four decades. The right has been proclaiming itself pro-family for 40 years; it has been wrapping itself in the flag against the left's supposed anti-Americanism since Vietnam. Nothing in the past four years makes this agenda new, fresh, or timely.

The past four years do not teach anything because nothing profound happened.

They were wasted, empty years that left nothing of lasting meaning, importance, or permanence, except a legacy of mismanagement and criminality. The 2016 election was a statistical fluke, not a realignment. The ensuing presidency was a rolling mess of infighting, shortsightedness, and scandal, not a transformational engine of generational change.

The thing is, it was obvious this would be the case all along.  He was the only Republican who could have lost to Hillary by three million votes, so there was never any threat he'd accomplish anything other than make his ideas more unpopular.  Mission Accomplished.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


GM's revival of the Hummer as an all-electric halo car is a stroke of marketing genius (Matthew DeBord, 11/01/20, Business Insider)

Such is the power of the Hummer nameplate. What was a stand-alone GM division in 2008, the result of GM buying the moniker from AM General Corp. in 1999 (AM General had created the US military's HUMVEE), is now a sub-brand of GMC, akin to the luxurious Denali and off-road AT4 designations.

The move was brilliant. Hummer had a basically terrible reputation among the environmentally-conscious crowd, and that was more than a decade before the Green New Deal and Tesla's takeover of the EV market.

The reputation wasn't entirely deserved. Yes, the Hummer was a rolling ad for American exceptionalism and chugged fuel like a thirsty bull in the desert. But in its more hardcore trim levels, it was an absurdly robust and well-built vehicle.

One could buy an H1 as a zombie-apocalypse conveyance and feel pretty confident that the money was well spent. A Hummer was possibly the last vehicle anyone would have to buy: Amortize the environmental impact over a few decades, maybe a century, and you could come out way ahead of a Prius. [...]

The rumors about an electric Hummer only started percolating about a year ago, but once the mill started churning, it started to look very good for Hummer 2.0. Why? Because GM had an utterly unique opportunity: revive a great brand that people were still interested in, but without the baggage of macho preening and sordid plumes of tailpipe emissions.

It worked like a charm. As soon as the GMC Hummer was teased, enthusiasm exploded. It helped that GM also saw the brand as a way to support, in dramatic fashion, the Ultium battery technology is unveiled in early 2020, not to mention beat the Tesla Cybertruck to market by years. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:04 AM


Joe Biden Bet It All on Nostalgia and Sanity....It Just Might Work (Hanna Trudo & Sam Stein, Nov. 01, 2020, Daily Beast)

Biden's team eventually reversed course. But even so, they continued to argue that their caution around COVID-19 would be rewarded by voters; not just out of personal appreciation for the public health steps taken, but because it fit within the larger framework of Biden's candidacy. It was thoughtful and reasoned and, above all, respectful of the public's fears. The idea, as one campaign official put it, was not to be "a Democratic version of Trump" but, rather, his "polar opposite."

Looking back, Democrats marvel now at how consistent the strategy has been, especially coming from a candidate with a well-telegraphed proclivity for going off-script. It certainly was evident in the three major speeches that, aides say, served as the cornerstone of his campaign.

Biden called himself "an ally of the light, not the darkness," at his convention address. He spoke of ending an "era of division" and "hate and the fear" while at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Most recently, in Warm Springs, Georgia, he pledged to usher in "a time to heal."

These were not the words of a progressive upstart or of revolutionary change. They were a bet that, at the core, people wanted to bring back decency, compassion, and competence.

"You can push him and say 'Look this is outdated' or 'We need to update this policy, this just doesn't make sense anymore' ... but fundamentally he's pretty grounded in his beliefs," a Biden adviser familiar with his thinking said. "And I think that comes through. Especially when you're running against Donald Trump."

Joe is running Bob Dole's 1996 campaign--a bridge to our past values--but he gets to run it against Donald--and without a 3rd party candidate--so it's a walkover.

Text of Robert Dole's Speech To The Republican National Convention (August 15, 1996)

I do not need the presidency to make or refresh my soul. That false hope I will gladly leave to others. For greatness lies not in what office you hold, but on how honest you are in how you face adversity and in your willingness to stand fast in hard places. [...]

Let me be the bridge to an America than only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquility, faith and confidence in action.

And to those who say it was never so, that America's not been better, I say you're wrong. And I know because I was there. And I have seen it. And I remember.

And our nation, though wounded and scathed, has outlasted revolutions, civil war, world war, racial oppression and economic catastrophe. We have fought and prevailed on almost every continent. And in almost every sea.

We have even lost. But we have lasted, and we have always come through.

And what enabled us to accomplish this has little to do with the values of the present. After decades of assault upon what made America great, upon supposedly obsolete values, what have we reaped? What have we created? What do we have?

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 AM


With 1M global charge points, what's next for EV charging? (Michael Coates, 11/01/20,  Clean Fleet Report)

Last month the world hit a new milestone as the number of public electric vehicle charging stations reached the one million mark. While that number has grown exponentially recently and promises to continue, it's also worth noting that there are approximately one-and-half billion cars in the world and only a small percentage of them need to plug in.

Even with the impact of COVID-19, industry analysts are predicting 2020 worldwide sales of plug-in vehicles at 2.9 million, resulting a total population of 10.5 million. While there are arguments that a 1:1 ratio of public plugs to vehicles is not necessary, the EV industry's growth mode augurs that more stations are better. They address range anxiety, still the number one concern of potential EV buyers. Having readily available public charging to supplement home and work charging is a way to reassure new electric car owners that, as they've experienced for decades with their internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, refueling will be fast and easy out on the road.

Posted by orrinj at 7:18 AM


Now That More Americans Can Work From Anywhere, Many Are Planning To Move Away (ADEDAYO AKALA, 10/30/20, NPR)

As coronavirus cases continue to spike and working from home seems permanent, many Americans are planning to set off to live in new places.

An astonishing 14 million to 23 million Americans intend to relocate to a different city or region as a result of telework, according to a new study released by Upwork, a freelancing platform. The survey was conducted Oct. 1 to 15 among 20,490 Americans 18 and over,

The large migration is motivated by people no longer confined to the city where their job is located. The pandemic has shifted many companies' view on working from home. Facebook announced plans for half of its employees to work from home permanently. The company even hired a director of remote work in September to ease the transition.

"As our survey shows, many people see remote work as an opportunity to relocate to where they want and where they can afford to live," says Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork. "This is an early indicator of the much larger impacts that remote work could have in increasing economic efficiency and spreading opportunity."

Big cities will see the largest outmigration, according to the survey. About 20% of respondents planning to move live in a major city. Because many expect remote work to continue long term, more than half aim to relocate over two hours away or even farther from their current home.

We're going to need to import an awful lot of construction workers.

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 AM