November 15, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 8:28 AM


This phenomena explains what's wrong with Trump's supporters' brains: report (Tom Boggioni, 11/15/20, Raw Story)

"Human beings will do just about anything to resolve contradictions between our deeply held beliefs about the world and the reality of the world itself. Cognitive dissonance is so unpleasant, so disordering and catastrophic for the ego, that no amount of absurd, tortured reasoning is worse than reality contradicting a deeply held belief," he wrote before adding, "All of us try to resolve cognitive dissonance, but the Trump movement has been a years-long exercise in it. Election denial is its latest manifestation. But before that came COVID denial, science denial, climate denial, 'alternative facts,' the inability of Trump's most devoted fans to see him for the obvious con man that he is, and, at the movement's very core, denial of the social and demographic changes that are transforming America." [...]

"Cognitive dissonance is also a primary reason that people resort to conspiracy theories, which Trumpworld increasingly resembles, not only in fringe manifestations like QAnon but in the allegation of widespread fraud in the presidential election, which, of course, has no factual basis whatsoever and is, at this point, simply a conspiracy theory writ large," he explained. "In this light, QAnon isn't some weird, fringe phenomenon with no connection to populist politics. It's a logical extension of the populist worldview. If 'the people' are actually the majority, then a sinister minority--Jews, 'coastal elites', the media, the Satanic pedophiles, whoever--is actually in control."

Posted by orrinj at 8:24 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:11 AM


How Did Armenia So Badly Miscalculate Its War with Azerbaijan? (Svante E. Cornell, 11/14/20, National Interest)

Armenia seems to have been taken by surprise, something that is particularly puzzling given its increasingly assertive and belligerent rhetoric against Azerbaijan in the past several years. Why did the conflict not play out the way Armenian leaders imagined? The reason lies in a series of grave miscalculations, whereby Armenia's leadership misread almost everything about this conflict: the broader international environment, the Russian response, Turkey's role in the conflict, as well as the domestic dynamics of their adversary, Azerbaijan.

A deep paradox was always built into the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia has a third of Azerbaijan's population, lacks its natural resources and key geopolitical location. But it won the war in the early 1990s, largely because of two factors: Azerbaijan's internal turmoil and Russian backing for Yerevan. These factors helped Armenia win control over Nagorno-Karabakh as well as much larger territories surrounding that enclave, home to almost 750,000 Azerbaijanis who were forced to flee.

In Armenia, this victory laid the groundwork for a sense of military superiority that lasted until last month. But diplomatically, it soon became clear Armenia had bitten off more than it could chew. In large part because of the nation's tragic history, Armenia had benefited from substantial international goodwill. But Yerevan's territorial advances and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis in 1993-94 changed that perception. By 1996, resolutions in international organizations like the UN and OSCE had made it clear that every other country in the world endorsed the return of all occupied territories to Azerbaijan and a solution to the conflict that would give the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh self-rule but deny them outright independence.

Meanwhile, the sheer scale of the territories Armenia occupied ensured that neither Azerbaijan's leadership nor its society would come to terms with the situation. Instead, a powerful sense of revanchism built in Azerbaijan, and Baku invested a serious portion of the country's windfall oil revenue into the country's military. The growing disparity between the two countries became increasingly untenable: it was like a string that can only be pulled so far without breaking. Armenia responded by deepening its military dependence on Russia, which it saw as a guarantor of its military advances.

Posted by orrinj at 7:44 AM


Biden Is Stepping Into a Dream Economic Scenario (Tim Duy, November 11, 2020, Bloomberg)

Third, household balance sheets were not crushed like they were in the last recession. Instead, the opposite occurred. Reduced spending, fiscal stimulus, rising home prices and a buoyant equity market have all helped push household net wealth past its pre-pandemic peak.

Fourth, the demographics are incredibly supportive of growth. During the last recovery, the economy was still adapting to the Baby Boomers aging out of the workforce with a much smaller cohort of Generation X'ers behind them. The larger Millennial generation was just entering college at the time. Now, the Millennials are entering their prime homebuyer years in force and will be moving into their peak earning years. The resulting strength in housing is fueling higher home prices and durable goods spending, and we are just at the beginning of the trend. Housing activity should hold strong for the next four years.

Fifth, household savings have grown by more than a $1 trillion, providing the fuel for a hot economy on the other side of the pandemic. Sooner or later, that money is going to come out of savings and into the economy and I expect it to flow into the sectors like leisure and hospitality where there is considerable pent up demand.

And the Baby Boomers are about to transfer $30 trillion to those successor generations. Just as the Right cost the GOP credit for the post-Cold War boom of the 90s, so too have they handed this one to Joe.

Posted by orrinj at 7:36 AM


'Four Seasons Landscape Maintenance' presser scared off lawyers working on Trump's fraud claims: report (Tom Boggioni, 11/14/20, Politico)

"Senior campaign aides scurried to urge organizers to kill the event, infamously staged at the wrong 'Four Seasons' -- a landscaping business adjacent to an adult bookstore and a crematorium. But Giuliani plowed ahead anyway, delivering a conspiracy-filled rant that undercut the legal strategy the president's advisers had meticulously mapped out in the run-up to the election," Politico reports.

According to the report, officials at campaign headquarters called the event -- that was subsequently mocked for days -- a "disaster" and complain it resulted in an exodus of attorneys who had been lined up to press legal challenges on behalf of Donald Trump.

Politico reports Giuliani's event "... scared off many of the lawyers they spent months recruiting, who now no longer wanted to be involved. With the campaign already facing exceedingly long odds in its recount efforts, there are widespread concerns within Trumpworld and GOP circles that Giuliani's antics are thwarting the president's legal machinery from within."

...but given that these law suits are the very definition of frivolous, the lawyers bringing them should face discipline.

Posted by orrinj at 7:32 AM


'Administration officials paint a portrait of chaos': Washington Post reports on Trump's 'negligence' (Bob Brigham, 11/14/20, Raw Story)

"Since Election Day and for weeks prior, Trump has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic, which so far has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million and choked the country's economy. The president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in 'at least five months,' said one senior administration official with knowledge of the meetings, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details," correspondents Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Philip Rucker reported.

"Now, as he fights for his political life, falsely claiming the election was somehow rigged against him, Trump has abdicated one of the central duties of the job he claims to want: leading the country through a devastating pandemic as it heads into a grim winter," The Post reported. "This account of Trump's indifference and inaction on the newly surging coronavirus pandemic is based on interviews with more than a dozen administration officials, Trump allies, health advisers and others familiar with the response, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations."

"Trump has increasingly eschewed the advice of even his own public health and medical experts," the newspaper reported. "Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, has suggested several times reducing in-person dining in restaurants and bars, but Trump has dismissed her suggestions, a senior administration official said. He has also ignored the calls by Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for more aggressive messaging on the importance of mask-wearing, officials said."

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 AM


Native American Voters Were Crucial To Joe Biden's Victory (Jennifer Bendery, 11/15/20, Huff Post)

A closer look at the data coming out of Navajo precincts in Apache, Navajo and Coconino counties ― all of which overlap with Navajo Nation ― shows a huge spike in voter turnout and massive support for Biden.

As of Friday, Navajo voters in these precincts cast a total of 52,375 votes, which translates to roughly 64% of eligible Navajo voters in these precincts. That's way more than the 41,067 Navajo voters who turned out here in the 2016 election.

In Navajo County alone, nearly 66% of registered voters in Navajo precincts voted, which is a 12.64% increase since the last presidential election. Apache County saw a 9.44% increase in voter turnout in Navajo precincts.

Biden was overwhelmingly the preferred candidate. As of data crunched Thursday, of all ballots cast in Navajo precincts, 42,248 went for Biden and 8,591 went for Trump. That breaks down to about 83.1% of Navajo voters going for Biden versus 16.8% for Trump.

"The power of the Native vote is strong," said Mellor Willie, a political consultant for Diné C.A.R.E., a grassroots Native American organization that led a get-out-the-vote campaign on reservations in Arizona.

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 AM


Federal judge invalidates DACA suspension (Axios, 11/15/20)
"Wolf was not lawfully serving as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security under the HSA [Homeland Security Act] when he issued the Wolf Memorandum," in July, Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote in his ruling.

"Based on the plain text of the operative order of succession, neither Mr. [Kevin] McAleenan nor, in turn, Mr. Wolf, possessed authority to serve as Acting Secretary. Therefore, the Wolf Memorandum was not an exercise of legal authority."
Garaufis cited the Government Accountability Office, which said in August that Wolf was named to the post "by reference to an invalid order of succession."

"DHS failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated. Therefore, the actions taken by purported Acting Secretaries, who were not properly in their roles according to the lawful order of succession, were taken without legal authority," Garaufis said.

Posted by orrinj at 7:12 AM


Huge Asian Trade Pact Signed in Coup for China (VOA News, November 15, 2020)

The deal, which was first proposed in 2012, will lower tariffs on trade among the signatories and opens services trade.

RCEP includes the 10 ASEAN countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States.

Analysts see the accord as offering huge advantage for China in extending its influence.

...on American business and consumers.