Sunday, September 1, 2019
The lead story for most of next week will be
Hurricane Dorian, which as I write this (see
here) is a Category 5 Hurricane moving slowly through the
Bahamas toward the coast of Florida. It is expected to turn north and
follow the coast (possibly without the eye making landfall) up to North
Carolina, where it will most likely head back into the Atlantic. The
current tracking forecast puts it off the coast of Palm Beach around
2PM Tuesday, Jacksonville 2PM Wednesday, close to the SC/NC border 2PM
Thursday, and straight east of the NC/Va border 2PM Friday. Presumably
the storm will lose intensity as it drifts north, but not as quickly
as it would if it landed. Rain forecasts are relatively mild, but the
coast will see storm surges and a lot of wind.
Dorian was still a tropical storm when it passed over the Windward
Islands last Monday (55 mph winds in Barbados, 4.1 inches of rain in
Martinique). It wasn't much stronger when it crossed Puerto Rico, but
was predicted to intensify to Category 3 or 4 as it headed through
the Bahamas to Florida. It did more than that, reaching sustained
winds of 185 mph and gusts to 225 mph. The
2019 Atlantic hurricane season has been relatively mild so far,
even compared to the forecasts (12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major).
With the season about half over, there have been 5 named storms (TS
Erin was named after Dorian, but has already dissipated), 2 hurricanes,
1 major (Dorian). The season continues through the end of November,
so we're not much below expectations.
Some scattered links this week:
Anya van Wagtendonk: This week in mass shootings:
If you'd like to keep score, see Neil Vigdor:
53 people died in mass shootings in August alone in the US.
The rich can't get richer forever, can they?: "Inequality comes in
waves. The question is when this one will break." Reviews several books,
including Binyamin Applebaum's The Economist's Hour: False Prophets,
Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society (on Milton Friedman and
his "Chicago school" of free market fundamentalists) and Branko Milanovic's
Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World.
Do conservatives believe there are more bad people in America than
elsewhere? Well, sure they do. For starters, they believe there
are more conservatives in America than elsewhere.
The conservative pundit problem in the Age of Trump. Well, part
of the problem, as he limits himself to conservative pundits cultivated
to dialogue with centrist readers of the New York Times and Washington
Post (David Brooks, George Will, Bret Stephens), most of which recognize
that their brand as sane voices would be jeopardized by following Trump
into the fever swamps of the alt-right. That skips over other pundits
who've had no qualms about embracing Trump wholeheartedly (e.g., the
ones syndicated in my hometown paper: Marc Thiessen and Cal Thomas).
Here are 14 reasons I'll vote for any Democrat over Trump: He starts
off by chastising Michael Bloomberg (whom "I have the utmost respect for")
for stopping short if the Democratic nominee is Sanders or Warren, then
goes on to list his 14 issues. A couple items here I actually lean toward
Trump on, but nothing I would vote for him for. Boot and Bloomberg remain
narrow ideologues, their differences reflect that the Democratic Left is
more of a threat to oligarchs (like Bloomberg) than to neoconservatives
(like Boot). But also that Boot still thinks that the Republican Party
can be recover from Trump's heresies, corruption and bullshit, and must
to keep the empire from collapsing.
Quoctrung Bui/Karl Russell:
How much will the trade war cost you by the end of the year?
"About $460 over a year for the average family."
The problem with primarying Trump. I would have guess it has something
to do with money. Sixteen Republicans ran for president in 2016, because
that many billionaires felt they had a chance backing whoever best fit
their pocket. Regardless of how shaky Trump might look in the general
election, running against him is a waste of money: he's consolidated his
base within the Republican Party, and his brand and the Party's are now
effectively synonymous. The article reads more like the problem is that
the challengers are all idiots and cranks, which is the only sort you'd
figure to bet against the smart money.
Trump doesn't think he's 'ever even heard of a Category 5' hurricane.
Four such storms hit the US since he took office. "Trump has
previously indicated several other times that Category 5 hurricanes
are unprecedented weather events that either he or others had never
heard of or witnessed."
Gillibrand campaign insiders felt Franken resignation foiled her bid:
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand gave up on her presidential campaign
after failing to qualify for the September debates. This is one of the
few reports I've seen that tries to assign blame, probably because they
interviewed "Hillary Clinton's former communications director" --
obviously someone who knows a thing or two about deflecting blame
elsewhere. Gillibrand was the first Senator to call for Franken's
resignation, and I doubt she did so without considering how doing so
would reflect on campaign. I thought that was unfair and unwise, but
I wouldn't reject her for that. She's moved smartly to the left, and
I would have easily picked her over Harris and Klobuchar (or Franken,
even before the taint). But she's been a less effective advocate for
progressive issues than Sanders and Warren, and her special focus on
"women's issues" isn't very distinct. For more:
David Koch's most significant legacy is the election of Donald Trump.
Peter S Goodman:
Trump can battle China or expand the economy. He can't do both.
A top financier of Trump and McConnell is a driving force behind
Amazon deforestation: Stephen Schwarzman, of Blackstone, owner
"in large part" of Hidrovias do Brasil.
Jazz is a music of perseverance against racism and capitalism.
Horne has a book: Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy
of Music. Related (interview with Horne): Anton Woronczuk:
White supremacy tried to kill jazz. The music triumphed.
John Hudson/Josh Dawsey:
Bolton sidelined from Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump
Bret Stephens, Donald Trump and the epidemic of male fragility.
Yes, Trump does terrible things constantly. Does that mean we shouldn't
cover Biden's gaffes? Refers to Peter Hamby's "rant":
"Are we really going to have a gaffe-fest over Joe Biden?": How clickbait
and outrage porn are hurting readers -- and elevating Trump. Well,
it's not as if Trump's gaffes have been underreported. One problem is
that his gaffes don't seem to have much downside for Trump. Reporting
them makes it look like he's being picked on by liberal media elites,
endearing him to his base. On the other hand, Biden's gaffes undermine
his central message, which is that he intends to restore competent and
responsible leadership to the presidency. So, yeah, reporting on them
hurts him, and is probably unfair. On the other hand, few in the media
are up to reporting on substantive issues. Gaffes are more their speed,
which winds up selecting for candidates who make lots of them (actually,
good for Biden) and who can slough them off (better for Trump).
If the Democrats take the Senate, they plan to fix Obamacare, not pass
Medicare for All. Sure. Some Democrats will balk at Medicare for All,
especially in the expansive formulation that Bernie Sanders has proposed,
but everyone agrees that the ACA framework can be tuned to work better,
so that's where the initial focus will (and should) be. On the other hand,
Democrats who want Medicare for All are likely to support better fixes
to ACA, because they understand that single-payer is the preferred longer
term solution, and because they're not the sort of people who will break
an inadequate system in hopes of replacing it with a better one. Would-be
saboteurs mostly belong to the other Party.
Boris Johnson just suspended Parliament over Brexit. Here's what's going
on. More on Brexit:
The Trumpiest week ever: "Donald Trump's re-election strategy couldn't
be clearer: chaos covering up cruelty."
Trial of high-powered lawyer Gregory Craig exposes seamy side of
The next recession will destroy millennials: "Millennials are already
in debt and without savings. After the next downturn, they will be in even
bigger trouble." Related (Dec. 6, 2018): Derek Thompson:
Millennials didn't kill the economy. The economy killed millennials.
"The American system has thrown them into debt, depressed their wages,
kept them from buying homes -- and then blamed them for everything."
Trump wants to cut taxes for rich people yet again: "Indexing capital
gains to inflation, as Trump is considering, would overwhelmingly benefit
the top 1 percent."
The inspector general report on James Comey's memos, explained.
Related: Josh Marshall:
Of course Comey was right to share the memos. Marshall, with his
instinct for big stories, also weighed in on a previously unknown White
House staffer getting fired:
Getting fired ain't the story. Not clear whether "Ms. Westerhout" has
a first name.
Many businesses oppose Trump's deregulatory agenda. Here's why.
The anatomy of the coming recession: posits three possible "negative
supply shocks that could trigger a global recession" -- two involving
Trump and China, the third oil. Roubini was pretty sharp on the coming
of the 2008 recession. Related: Robert J Shiller:
The Trump narrative and the next recession.
The fake feud between Trump and Fox. More on the "feud":
To rescue democracy, we must revive the reforms of the Progressive Era.
John Hickenlooper is the new Joe Lieberman: "What Lieberman was to
antiwar Democrats, Colorado's Hickenlooper is to environmentalists."
Related: Aida Chavez/Akela Lacy:
Senate Democrats' campaign arm is pressuring consultants not to work
with leading progressive candidate in Colorado. Chavez previously
National Democrats endorse John Hickenlooper, a proponent of fracking,
in competitive Colorado primary.
Trump will greenlight West Bank annexation to force Israeli pols to keep
Netanyahu as PM, observers say. Other pieces on Israel and the war
flare-ups that seem to be part of Netanyahu's reelection campaign:
Political commentary can be both caustic and incisive. Molly Ivins showed
America how. Interview with Janice Engel, director of the documentary
Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.
It's time to talk about James Mattis's involvement with the Theranos
scandal: "He's selling a book, not saving the country from Trump."
I've seen several articles on Mattis this week, mostly about him being
coy about what he will and will not say about his differences with
Trump, when and if he will say anything, but this is the one piece
that reflects directly on his character:
But Mattis isn't out babysitting Trump anymore. He's trying to sell books.
And while his thoughts and reflections on his time in the Trump cabinet
are certainly somewhat interesting at this point we hardly need another
person to tell us that the president is erratic, uninformed, impulsive
and all the rest. This stuff isn't highly guarded state secrets, it's
out in public on Twitter for everyone to see. Rather than dwelling on
this stuff that's out there and obvious, it would be nice for journalists
granted access to the retired general to ask some questions about Theranos.
Fundamentally, Trump's rise to power is part of a broader epidemic of
elite impunity in the United States. And Mattis's ability to dabble in
questionable activity, cash a few checks, and then skate away with his
reputation intact is very much part of the problem.
Donald Trump's escalating war of words with Fed Chair Jay Powell,
The most dangerous idea in central banking, explained. Someone named
William Dudley has suggested that the Fed sandbag the economy to hurt
Donald Trump's reelection prospects -- or, to put a finer point on it,
that the Fed shouldn't attempt to stimulate the economy when Trump's
trade wars drag it down. Article points out that some Fed chairs have
used their power over the economy to dictate political concessions --
e.g., Alan Greenspan vs. Bill Clinton. I'd add Ben Bernanke vs. Barack
Obama, but in that case Republicans were livid that the Fed was doing
anything at all to salvage the economy. According to law, the Fed is
responsible for balancing competing demands for full employment and
low inflation, but in practice the Fed has always kowtowed to the
banking interests it is supposed to regulate.
The past 3 wild days in Trump's trade war with China, explained.