November 7, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:36 PM


Biden will stop the border wall and loosen immigration again (REBECCA RAINEY and BRYAN BENDER, 11/07/2020, Politico)

"There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1," Biden told National Public Radio earlier this year. "I'm going to make sure that we have border protection, but it's going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it."

That could also mean withdrawing National Guard troops Trump sent to the border to support the Department of Homeland Security, a deployment extended through this year.

Beyond the wall, the president-elect's broader immigration plans represent a complete reversal of the Trump administration's policies over the past several years -- and he can accomplish much of it fairly easily.

Biden wants to expand opportunities for legal immigration, including family and work-based visas as well as access to humanitarian visa programs. Biden's immediate moves would largely entail rescinding various actions initiated under Trump that barred immigrants from certain countries and curtailed legal immigration, including new restrictions on asylum and rules making it harder for poor immigrants to obtain legal status.

Biden also has vowed to prioritize the reunification of any families still separated under the Trump administration's now-defunct "zero-tolerance" policy -- which led to the separation and detention of more than 2,800 migrant families and children in 2018.

And, with that, it's as if Donald never existed.

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Biden Wins -- Pretty Convincingly In The End (Nate Silver, 11/07/20, 538)

It's not a landslide, by any means, but this is a map that almost any Democrat would have been thrilled about if you'd shown it to them a year ago. Biden looks to have reclaimed the three "blue wall" states -- Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (ABC News has announced that Biden is the "apparent winner" in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin1) -- that were central to Hillary Clinton's loss. He may also win Arizona (he would become the first Democrat to do so since 1996) and, in the opposite corner of the country, Georgia (the first Democratic winner there since 1992). Additionally, Biden easily won Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, which could be a thorn in the side of Republicans going forward. He also ran far ahead of Clinton in rural northern states such as Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Extrapolating out from current vote totals, I project Biden winning the popular vote by 4.3 percentage points and getting 81.8 million votes to President Trump's 74.9 million, with a turnout of around 160 million. This is significant because no candidate has ever received 70 million votes in an election -- former President Barack Obama came the closest in 2008, with 69.5 million votes -- let alone 80 million. That may also be a slightly conservative projection, given the blue shift we've seen so far and the fact that late-counted votes such as provisional ballots often lean Democratic. I'd probably bet on Biden's popular vote margin winding up at closer to 5 points than to 4, and 6 points isn't entirely out of the question either.

Posted by orrinj at 1:15 PM


Emmanuel Macron's Trumpian transformation (John Keiger, November 7, 2020, The Spectator)

He started as a globalist, a multilateralist, a Europeanist, who scorned those, like Trump or Brexiteers, who sought to defend their nation's sovereignty and interests. But progressively his discourse and his policies -- while wearing the clothes of multilateralism - have in practice promoted the nation state, partly as a result of COVID, partly financial necessity, partly Islamist terrorism. The turn began a year -- and-a-half ago, when in a speech to French ambassadors he acknowledged a certain debt to Brexiteers for highlighting the term 'Take back control'. He badged it as a way forward for Europe against globalism. Now it has ratcheted down a notch to the nation state.

Macron's retreat into the Trumpian promotion of the nation state continues unabated. Whether it be PPE, repatriating French overseas industry, buying French products, taking French holidays and, little by little, curbing immigration, the nation state and national sovereignty loom ever larger in Macron's policies. Given that the last two terror attacks were by recent migrants from Chechnya and Tunisia, only yesterday he was at the Franco-Spanish border town of Le Perthus explaining in Schengen shredding mode that France's borders would be reinforced against illegal immigration and terrorism by doubling border guard numbers to 4,800. How much he must regret the new EU policy requiring member states to take a proportionate share of all immigrants who enter Europe, forcing France to take far more than hitherto.

They particularly share the Islamophobia of the secularist.

Posted by orrinj at 1:13 PM


'Radical left?' Try again. On Israel, VP-elect Harris may be to right of Biden (JACOB MAGID , 11/07/20, Times of Israel)

From the moment Kamala Harris was introduced as the vice presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in August, US President Donald Trump and the Republican Party launched a campaign attempting to brand her as a "radical" politician who would pull Joe Biden to the far left. [...]

In fact, the vice president elect's record on the Jewish state indicates that she may be even more hawkish than Biden, who has sought throughout the campaign to differentiate himself from the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

Harris has only been on the national stage since 2017, but the stances she has taken in her three years as Senator place her rather squarely in the traditional pro-Israel camp of her party.

The first resolution she co-sponsored as a senator was one effectively condemning the Obama-Biden administration's decision to abstain on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Harris highlighted the co-sponsorship in a 2017 speech at AIPAC's policy policy conference, saying it would help "combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and reaffirm that the United States seeks a just, secure and sustainable two-state solution."

Posted by orrinj at 1:05 PM


The 2020 Election Has Brought Progressives to the Brink of Catastrophe (Eric Levitz, 11/07/20, New York)

This state of affairs makes it exceedingly difficult for the Democratic Party to win control of the Senate, while remaining faithful to the aspirations of its predominantly urban base. In the view of Democratic data scientist David Shor, 2020 was the party's last, best chance to win a Senate majority for the foreseeable future: Red-state incumbents Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, and Sherrod Brown held onto their seats in 2018 - with the help of a historically Democratic national environment - but are unlikely to be so lucky when they are on the ballot again in 2024. Thus, the party's best hope was to eke out a majority in 2020, while it still had votes in unlikely places - and then, to use that majority to award statehood to Democratic leaning territories like D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, thereby mitigating the coalition's structural disadvantage.

On Tuesday, Democrats likely missed their shot. To win a Senate majority (after Doug Jones's inevitable loss to a non-child molester Republican in Alabama), Democrats needed to flip four Republican seats without losing any more of their own. Their most plausible path for hitting that mark was to win races in Maine, Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina. But Susan Collins won handily in Maine, and Thom Tillis appears to have bested Cal Cunningham in the Tar Heel State. That leaves Democrats two seats short of a bare majority.

The party still retains an outside shot at capturing those two seats: It looks like both of Georgia's Senate races are headed for January run-off elections between the top two finishers, with Republican Kelly Loefller facing off against Democratic pastor Raphael Warnock, and Republican David Perdue taking on former Barack Obama impersonator Jon Ossoff. The odds of Democrats sweeping these races aren't great. Generally speaking, in special elections held right after presidential ones, the party that's just lost the White House tends to enjoy a turnout advantage, as winners get complacent while losers thirst for vengeance. Further, if Ossoff forces Perdue into a run-off, he will do so only barely: Perdue needed 50 percent plus a single vote to win reelection Tuesday; he appears likely to finish with something in the neighborhood of 49.9 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, anyone with remotely progressive political commitments should contribute anything they can to winning these two races.

If Democrats fail to pull off an improbable triumph in the Peach State, then the Biden presidency will be doomed to failure before it starts. With Mitch McConnell in control of the Senate, Biden will not be allowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice, or appoint liberals to major cabinet positions, or sign his name to a major piece of progressive legislation; and that may very well mean that the U.S. government will not pass any significant climate legislation, or expansion of public health insurance, or immigration reform, or gun safety law this decade.

With Biden in the White House, there is a good chance that Republicans will grow their majority in 2022, as the GOP will enjoy the turnout advantage that almost always accrues to the president's opposition in midterms. Two years later, Democrats are more likely than not to lose their aforementioned red-state incumbents. Extrapolate from current demographic trends, and Democrats don't take the Senate again until 2028 or later. [...]

The bad news for Democrats extends to the one site of federal power where they had appeared to be building strength, if not a structural advantage: The House of Representatives. As the borders of blue America extended farther into the suburbs, it was possible to imagine that Republicans would eventually see their base of support become more geographically concentrated in rural areas than the Democratic Party's base was in cities, leading the GOP to "waste" more votes by running up the score in exurban districts. But, contrary to expectations, Democrats did not fortify and expand their caucus Tuesday night; rather they surrendered recently won suburban districts on their way to a significant loss of seats.

Making matters worse, as of this writing, Democrats have failed to flip control of any state legislative chambers ahead of next year's House redistricting. To the contrary, Democrats lost control of the New Hampshire state Senate and Alaska state House. Now, the GOP boasts full control of state government (and thus, of redistricting) in 22 states, while Democrats control only nine. This will enable Republicans to produce a new and improved gerrymandered House and state legislative maps for the next decade of elections (gerrymanders that may be further enhanced by a shoddy Census that undercounts Democratic constituencies).

President Jeb would have won in a walkover.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Ja'Ron Smith, Trump's highest-ranking Black aide, is leaving the White House (Connor Perrett , 11/07/20, Business Insider)

"When joining the Trump Administration, I set out to achieve the empty promises of the past, and I am proud to say promises made, promises kept," Smith said in a Friday statement posted to Twitter, confirming his departure.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Tony Blinken Will Get a Top Job in Biden Admin, Sources Say (Hanna Trudo, Erin Banco & Spencer Ackerman, Nov. 06, 2020, Daily Beast)

Blinken has been a central fixture in Bidenworld for decades. He was Biden's chief foreign policy adviser on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where his geopolitical convictions--and profile as a negotiator--were honed. He then followed Biden to the White House in Obama's first term, serving as the vice president's national security adviser. As deputy secretary of state, Blinken was a key figure in selling Congress on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

While secretary of state remains perhaps the most sought-after prize for which Blinken is a top contender, two sources familiar told The Daily Beast that he is also being reviewed for national security adviser and that Biden's decision would depend on whether he wants to keep one of his closest political hands nearby in the White House.

"Because he's so close to Biden and has been for years, that kind of relationship usually leads first to national security adviser, then maybe you move over to State," the source familiar said. "The logic seems pretty strong."

Blinken was the Biden campaign's premiere foreign policy surrogate and spokesperson during the general election, presenting a Biden agenda as a return to traditionalist multilateralism, particularly on a restoration of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate-change accords. Biden himself has embraced that posture on the trail.

"Not a single one of the big challenges we face, whether it's climate change or mass migration or technological disruption or pandemic disease, can be met by any one country acting alone, even one as powerful as our own," Blinken told the "Intelligence Matters" podcast last month, echoing a line from Biden's July 2019 foreign policy speech.

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Free Markets Are Ruthless Regulators (James R. Rogers, 11/05/20, Law & Liberty)

Socialism--social ownership of the means of production--is a well-known alternative to markets. Less known, however, is that, decades ago, socialist economists conceded that an efficient socialist economy would replicate market outcomes. To be sure, the likelihood that a system of centralized planning could replicate market outcomes is another question entirely. The debate is lengthy and is well-known; there's little need to rehash it here.

While there are indeed examples of socialism in the United States, that is, where the government owns the means of production (public schools, roads, some hospitals, and, until 2001, a cement plant in South Dakota), what today's American "socialists" mainly advocate is enhanced social insurance and, for businesses, some form of cartelism or enhanced regulation that would have the same effect.

Government-run "cartels" exist when business ownership remains in private hands, but production and pricing decisions are made by government-created planning boards. Cartelization was the centerpiece of the economic program of FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act during the Great Depression. Yet even today, government organized cartels continue in some markets in the U.S., particularly in agriculture, and there is increasing interest in adopting some form of "managed agricultural supply," as in Canada. There are some calls to have the government expand cartels broadly throughout the economy. In his book, The New Class War, Michael Lind expressly advocates New Deal-like cartels as a part of the solution to America's current economic problems. 

The point of government-run cartels is precisely to mute the prisoner's-dilemma aspect of markets as deleterious to the common good. The irony of cartelization, however, is that, by design, it distributes benefits less broadly than markets do, and cartels impose "deadweight" losses on society relative to markets. 

First, the crazy genius of markets is that they democratize, or socialize, the benefits of production rather than socialize the means of production. It's easiest to see this with price competition, but it occurs with quality competition also. The prisoner's-dilemma incentive structure created by markets induces business owners to dissipate their profits (beyond those minimally needed to stay in business) through lower prices. Everybody throughout society has access to these lower prices. Further, as profits are democratized through the market in the form of lowers prices, everybody's dollar goes further. The same nominal wage for a worker will purchase more goods and services as these profits are dissipated through price competition. Living standards go up even though nominal wages may not.

The economic case for cartels typically revolves around protecting businesses from "ruinous competition" (that is, the market's prisoner's dilemma) for the stated purpose of providing higher wages to workers. (While the stated goal is usually to increase wages, truth be told, cartels rarely hurt owner profits as well.) Yet these gains--while they can be real for the workers in the cartelized industry --are distributed far less democratically than the market distributes those same gains. The gains are limited to the workers in the cartelized market rather than distributed to everyone in society.

Like other regulatory tools, markets are not always optimal, just as taxes, or subsidies, or civil or criminal penalties are not always the right regulatory tool for every situation.

The impact of cartelization is not simply a matter of redistributing gains from everyone throughout society to a privileged set of owners and workers in cartelized industries. Added to the redistribution of gains from all to some, cartels also shrink the size of the economic pie that gets distributed.

The problem with cartelization relative to the regulatory effects of market competition is that cartels raise prices and reduce supply. The supply reduction and increased prices, which is the very purpose of cartels, creates a deadweight loss that market pricing does not create. Essentially, the economic pie is smaller with cartels than with markets because cartels stymie the prisoner's-dilemma aspect of markets. Basically, the democratic pricing systems generated by the regulation of market competition provide more benefits for people than prices under a cartel system.

Once we have the wealth we can determine how to share it politically.