November 3, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 PM


Tesla Model 3 leads Europe EV sales as electric and hybrid cars overtake diesel (Bridie Schmidt, 4 November 2020, The Driven

Tesla, Volkswagen and Renault led a landmark moment in the auto industry in Europe in September, when more electrified vehicles were sold than diesel-fuelled cars.

More than 300,000 auto sales in September were electrified, accounting for 25% of sales for the first time ever as diesel sales fell to 24.8%, down from half of all sales in 2010.

Posted by orrinj at 6:11 PM

60-40 NATION:

Posted by orrinj at 4:54 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:57 PM


Biden will keep up the pressure on Syria's Assad, adviser says (New Arab, 3 November, 2020)

Presidential candidate Joe Biden will demand hard political reforms from Bashar Al-Assad's regime and Russia if Syria is to receive US reconstruction funding, according to Arabic-language media.

An adviser for Biden, the Democrats candidate for president, told a group of Syrians that if elected he will not soften US policy towards the Assad regime, according to Alsharq Alawsat, which is responsible for the majority of the 500,000 deaths during the war.

The regime must ease its hold on power, address the refugee issue, and release detainees if reconstruction money is to be unlocked, the report said.

"[A Biden administration] will make clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that there can be no American, or European, support for the reconstruction of Syria unless political reform takes place, and that reform must be meaningful," the report read.

"Additionally, the main humanitarian issues must be addressed, and presidential accountability must take place. Biden stressed the need to release prisoners, while keeping the US sanctions on the Syrian regime and the entities that deal with it in place, including Russia."

The newspaper, which had spoken to leading Syrian-Americans, said a Biden administration would reassert US authority and stand up to Russia, a key backer of the Assad regime.

This will include maintaining the US' military footprint in northern Syria, which President Donald Trump has threatened to scale down to zero.

Posted by orrinj at 12:50 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Stakes of the Coming ElectionDonald Trump would see his re-election, however slight the margin of victory, as a mandate to continue down the destructive path he has already blazed (Francis Fukuyama, 13 Oct 2020, American Purpose)

There is one policy area, however, in which President Trump's actions have been absolutely indefensible: his incompetent handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. He saw the disease as a threat not to the nation but to his personal interests. He downplayed it in the first two months of 2020, allowing cases to grow exponentially. When he finally admitted that Covid represented a serious crisis, he pivoted to a rapid reopening of the country, which led to another huge rise in infections and deaths during the summer. Over the past two weeks, Trump's insouciant attitude has led to the White House becoming a virus hotspot, with more infections--including that of the president himself--than in the entire country of Taiwan. In short, the Trump administration's Covid response has been a policy failure of huge proportions, one that reflects basic incompetence in governing capacity and will be studied as such for decades to come.


The second and much more significant disruption involves basic American institutions and the way in which Donald Trump has weakened them. American constitutional government is built around a system of checks and balances in which an elected leader of the executive branch is constrained by a host of other branches and bodies. When Trump and other conservatives today bemoan the breakdown of the rule of law, they are referring to violations of the law by protesters and violent rioters. No one should tolerate violent protest, but the deepest meaning of the rule of law is not that ordinary people should obey the law. China, North Korea, and Cuba do not permit violent protest, but they are not rule-of-law states. The rule of law means that the king himself should be under the law--that is, law should apply to the most powerful political actors in the system.

This is something that Donald Trump has never understood. In a pattern that began long before he was elected president, Trump sees the law as an instrument of his self-interest: He will use it to sue competitors or bludgeon political opponents like Hillary Clinton but ignore it when it touches upon his family's own interests. His 2016 campaign was clearly guilty of accepting help from Russia, and he sought to use congressionally appropriated funds to extort help from Ukraine to further his re-election. In all these cases he has waged a scorched-earth campaign to discredit any institution or individual that sought to apply the law against him: the U.S. intelligence community, the FBI, the special prosecutor, his own attorney general, judges and courts, and the mainstream media outlets that he has called "the enemy of the American People." He has acted like a Mafia boss, imposing a code of omerta on his Republican followers in the Senate so that they were unwilling even to hear testimony from witnesses who might have challenged the president's storyline during the impeachment hearings. Trump has been doing his utmost to undermine Americans' confidence in the legitimacy of the November election, apparently believing that it will go against him. As he has sunk steadily in the polls, he has gotten more desperate, calling on his attorney general to open criminal investigations against his rival Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama. This is the behavior of an authoritarian ruler.


The third disruption lies in American society's normative health. Leadership is more than the aggregation of policies and decisions that leaders make; it is also made up of the moral tone that these leaders set for the society as a whole. It is for this reason that conservatives habitually argued in decades past that presidential character matters. Yet is it hard to imagine an individual with worse character than Donald Trump. He is a habitual liar who lies about big matters and inconsequential ones. He is uninformed about the issues he must deal with and sees no need to seek better information. Over the years of his presidency, his tendency to promote crackpot conspiracy theories has only gotten worse. Trump sees everything through the lens of personal self-interest and is vindictive towards friends and foes alike. And he has seen his self-interest as lying in a widening of the huge partisan division that has gravely weakened the United States.

Strange how so many of our brethren on the right give Donald a pass on things like taxes and regulation despite all his actions restricting trade and immigration.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


To My Fellow George W. Bush SupportersIf you believed what George W. Bush said, then you cannot support Donald Trump. (STUART STEVENS,  NOVEMBER 2, 2020, The Bulwark)

In his acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention, Bush said, "I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it." Donald Trump openly sees himself as president of only the states went for him in 2016.

In the same speech, Bush declared, "We must give our children a spirit of moral courage because their character is our destiny." Trump asked his oldest son to write a hush money check to the porn star he had sex with ten days after his youngest son was born.

Bush said of the Founding Fathers, "Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was to occupy the land with character? And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal, to occupy the land with character." Who was right? The Founding Fathers, Robert Frost, and George W. Bush? Or the guy who denied he raped a woman by explaining "She wasn't my type."
How does this work? How could someone explain to their grandchildren that they passionately believed George Bush when he pledged "to restore honor and dignity to the White House" and also that they supported the man who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals?

Did these people believe it was a mistake for George W. Bush to give a speech at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. after September 11? Did they disagree with him when he told America:

These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that.

Were Bush supporters secretly ashamed when he said,

America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.

Were they secretly longing for a president who instead would call for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States"?

It's no secret. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


LA's Resident Mountain Lion is a Lonely Hunter (Simon Stephenson, November 3, 2020, Lit Hub)

But if a mountain lion is a real lion, P22's chosen home of Griffith Park is not a real park. It is far more than that: an eight square-mile urban wilderness of hills and canyons that also encompasses an observatory and a zoo. It is not a park but a kingdom, and P22 holds dominion over every inch of it.

At Cahuenga Peak, Griffith Park's highest point, he can look down over the Hollywood sign to the lights of Los Angeles and out to the pacific ocean; turn to the east and there is Burbank and the Disney campus, birthplace of that other young lion who came to rule a kingdom.

Yet for all its vistas, P22's own kingdom is an island nation, hemmed in on three sides by freeways and on the fourth by the city itself. P22's parents roamed the rural Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu to the far west, and to reach Griffith Park our princeling must have somehow crossed both the Hollywood and San Diego Freeways. Understandably, he seems unwilling to risk ever doing so again.

To begin with, P22's journey was indisputably worth it. Mountain lions are fiercely territorial and with its shade, water and all-you-can-eat mule deer buffet, Griffith Park was the perfect place for a young male to grow without challenge. Unlike in the Pride Lands or the rural Santa Monica mountains, here there were no nepoticidal uncles; here the worst it seemed could happen was for P22 to be tranquilized and radio-collared by the park rangers.

To be forever alone in your own kingdom seems a unique kind of heartbreak, and I wish P22 knew how beloved he is.
Once we knew he was up there, his new neighbors quickly fell in love with P22. The LA Times obtained the data from his radio collar and ran a feature entitled "A week in the life of P22." Our lion king began his week on the park's northern edge at Forest Lawn, the classier of Hollywood's two celebrity cemeteries. But P22 had not gone there to pay his respects to Carrie Fisher or Bette Davis: the mule deer visit the cemetery to eat the flowers left by grieving fans, and P22 goes to eat the mule deer.

Over the next seven days, the LA Times reported, P22 prowled the entirety of Griffith Park, up to Cahuenga Peak and the Hollywood sign, before descending at dawn to drink from the cool waters of the Lake Hollywood reservoir. Just as they do with a Brad or a Leo, the newspaper respectfully kept back any information that might lead over-enthusiastic fans to P22's resting places or secret haunts.  Here in Los Angeles, everybody understands that even the biggest celebrities need their privacy.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The man who would be president (PETER BROWNE, 3 NOVEMBER 2020, Inside Story)

Running through Osnos's vivid and compelling account of the candidate's career is a sense of Biden's seemingly indomitable drive, and the torrent of words that has accompanied it. It's not so much that he seems incapable of reflecting on his shifts in position -- he has talked about his greatest regrets, including his support for Clinton's disastrous repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which laid the groundwork for the global financial crisis -- it's more that his momentum happens fortuitously to have taken him on a journey roughly in tune with shifts in mainstream sentiment, which increasingly sees the American Dream as a chimera. African Americans might be troubled by his support for the crime bill, says the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Cornell William Brooks, but they "measure him as a historical whole, and by the stature of his sincerity."

Osnos shows how Biden's forward momentum has been fuelled by a series of immense personal challenges: his childhood stammer; the deaths of his young wife, their baby daughter and, much later, his eldest son; the near-fatal cranial aneurysm after abandoning his first bid for the presidency; his surviving son's drug and alcohol addictions. It's little wonder that he seems to keep running simply to stay still.

But his longwindedness and shifting positions can lead people to underestimate him. When Barack Obama first heard Biden speaking at length during a Senate committee hearing in 2005, writes Osnos, the future president "passed an aide a three-word note: 'Shoot. Me. Now.'" Not a propitious start to a relationship, you might think, yet a decade later Obama was telling aides and audiences that "naming Biden vice-president was the best political decision he had made":

"I think Biden gets a lot of lessons from Obama's discipline, and that's instructive at times, even though it annoys him," a former Biden aide said. "And I think Obama learns from Joe's warmth. When they're in a meeting together, the foreigners will tilt toward Biden more than Obama." The aide added, "Each one feels like he is the mentor." When Biden entered the job, he had told [Obama strategist] David Axelrod he still thought "I'd be the best president." But, after a year of observing Obama, Biden told Axelrod that he had been mistaken: "The right guy won, and I'm just really proud to be associated with him."

Now, thirty-two years after his first bid, it looks like being the other guy's turn.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


This Is Joe Biden When No One Is WatchingWhen my son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016, Biden didn't have to call. But he did, three times, because he is everything he says he is.  (Ryan D'Agostino, Nov 2, 2020, Esquire)

A couple of months later, I got another call: The vice president was going to be in New York, and wanted to know whether it would be convenient for my wife and me to see him. Our son had been transferred to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for treatment, and one or both of us was with him day and night. But the nurses said they would look after him for an hour while we went across town to see Joe Biden.

We found ourselves in a small room off a ballroom at a hotel where he had just given a speech. There was no one in there, really--a couple of Secret Service agents, his scheduling person, a few others. He saw us, strode over, and the first thing he did was just hug us. Both of us at once, his long arms around us, tight, three people standing there as one for a good minute.

Our arms loosened, we stood back. His suit jacket was a little rumpled.

We waited for him to talk first. His eyes were wet, and he said, "How's your boy?" Joe Biden was crying for us, because he knew how it was when the pain feels like it will never end.

There were no cameras. There was no one filming. He wasn't running for anything. He was just doing what you do, as a human, even when no one's watching.