Monday, September 21, 2020

Quickly processing the Supreme Court nominee can restore order to a broken procedure

In the wake of the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it is helpful to review the process by which Supreme Court confirmations take place, to get a sense of what to expect.


September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYC branded an 'anarchist jurisdiction,' targeted for defunding: DOJ

New York City was among three cities labeled “anarchist jurisdictions” by the Justice Department on Sunday and targeted to lose federal money for failing to control protesters and defunding cops, The Post has learned.

Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., were the other two cities on the list, which was approved by US Attorney General William Barr.

“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” Barr said in a statement set to be released Monday.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,’’ the AG added.


This bears following.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Suicide of the Liberals by Gary Saul Morson | Articles | First Things

Between 1900 and 1917, waves of unprecedented terror struck Russia. Several parties professing incompatible ideologies competed (and cooperated) in causing havoc. Between 1905 and 1907, nearly 4,500 government officials and about as many private individuals were killed or injured. Between 1908 and 1910, authorities recorded 19,957 terrorist acts and revolutionary robberies, doubtless omitting many from remote areas. As the foremost historian of Russian terrorism, Anna Geifman, observes, “Robbery, extortion, and murder became more common than traffic accidents.”

Anyone wearing a uniform was a candidate for a bullet to the head or sulfuric acid to the face. Country estates were burnt down (“rural illuminations”) and businesses were extorted or blown up. Bombs were tossed at random into railroad carriages, restaurants, and theaters. Far from regretting the death and maiming of innocent bystanders, terrorists boasted of killing as many as possible, either because the victims were likely bourgeois or because any murder helped bring down the old order. A group of anarcho-­communists threw bombs laced with nails into a café bustling with two hundred customers in order “to see how the foul bourgeois will squirm in death agony.”

Instead of the pendulum’s swinging back—a metaphor of inevitability that excuses people from taking a stand—the killing grew and grew, both in numbers and in cruelty. Sadism replaced simple killing. As Geifman explains, “The need to inflict pain was transformed from an abnormal irrational compulsion experienced only by unbalanced personalities into a formally verbalized obligation for all committed revolutionaries.” One group threw “traitors” into vats of boiling water. Others were still more inventive. Women torturers were especially admired.

How did educated, liberal society respond to such terrorism? What was the position of the Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party and its deputies in the Duma (the parliament set up in 1905)? Though Kadets advocated democratic, constitutional procedures, and did not themselves engage in ­terrorism, they aided the terrorists in any way they could. Kadets collected money for terrorists, turned their homes into safe houses, and called for total amnesty for arrested terrorists who pledged to continue the mayhem. Kadet Party central committee member N. N. Shchepkin declared that the party did not regard terrorists as criminals at all, but as saints and martyrs. The official Kadet paper, Herald of the Party of People’s Freedom, never published an article condemning political assassination. The party leader, Paul Milyukov, declared that “all means are now legitimate . . . and all means should be tried.” When asked to condemn terrorism, another liberal leader in the Duma, Ivan Petrunkevich, famously replied: “Condemn terror? That would be the moral death of the party!”


September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Regardless of what Trump and Mitch do, the Democrats will (1) Eliminate the Filibuster, (2) Grant Statehood to D.C. and maybe P.R., (3) Expand the Lower Courts, and (4) Expand the Supreme Court [Updated] –

For some time, there has been a poorly-kept secret in Washington: as soon as the Democrats take power, they will make four power moves. To date, most prudent Democrats have refused to discuss these four moves aloud. But now with Justice Ginsburg's death, the cat is out of the bag. Jeffrey Toobin lays out the roadmap in the New Yorker:

The question is whether the Republican Senate will violate its supposed principles from 2016 to push one of them through. If the answer is yes—if Trump fills the Ginsburg seat—the next question will be how the Democrats respond. If the Democrats fail to retake the majority in the Senate in November, their options are few except to grin and bear it. But, if they win the majority and Joe Biden wins the Presidency, there are four major possibilities for retribution—which all happen to be good policy as well.

  • The first is the abolition of the filibuster, which should have happened decades ago. Even in the minority, McConnell will do everything he can to thwart Biden, and the filibuster will be the tool. This antidemocratic relic should be retired once and for all.
  • Second, statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with two senators apiece, would be another appropriate rejoinder.
  • Third, Congress should pass a law expanding the number of lower-court federal judges; that number has not increased since Jimmy Carter was President.
  • Finally, the greatest and most appropriate form of retribution involves the Supreme Court itself. The number of Justices is not fixed in the Constitution but, rather, established by statute.

If Republicans succeed in stealing two seats—the Scalia and Ginsburg vacancies—the Democrats could simply pass a law that creates two or three more seats on the Supreme Court. To do so would be to play hardball in a way that is foreign to the current Senate Democrats. But maybe, in light of all that's happened, that's a game they should learn to play.

I disagree with only one of Toobin's predictions. He writes that the these outcomes are "possibilities" "if Trump fills the Ginsburg seat." Argle bargle. These steps will happen no matter what Trump and Mitch do.


Josh Blackman.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professor says Skidmore College won’t punish him for attending pro-police rally, as students demanded | The College Fix

David Peterson contacted The College Fix on Sept. 7 and said that while he was under investigation because of the students, he was cautiously optimistic.

“The Associate Dean of the Faculty who has overseen the investigation has informed me that the administration will not be recommending any sanctions against me,” Peterson (above) wrote in an email, referring to Janet Casey. Two days later, he had been cleared.

Peterson and his wife Andrea, also a Skidmore art professor, observed a “Back the Blue” rally on July 30 in Saratoga Springs. Campus activists identified them as Skidmore faculty and included their firing on a far-reaching list of demands for the administration late last month. They also called for the firing of Mark Vinci, a music professor, for unrelated reasons.


Well that's good.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing brings political chaos

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, and the country — or at least its political class — is descending into what will no doubt be a multi-week screaming fit. In fact, the screaming has already begun.

But that fact tells us something about the state of our nation, and it’s not anything good. When your political system can be thrown into hysteria by something as predictable as the death of an octogenarian with advanced cancer, there’s something wrong with your political system. And when your judicial system can be redirected by such an event, there’s something wrong with your judicial system, too.


Analysis: true.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Opinion | How the G.O.P. Might Get to Yes on Replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg - The New York Times

Suppose that Ginsburg isn’t replaced this fall, Biden is elected, and he fills her seat and then replaces at least one conservative justice as well, flipping the court back to liberal control. The Democratic incentive to reform our juristocracy would diminish or evaporate, and liberalism’s self-understanding as the party of hyper-educated mandarins would come back to the fore, making progressives enthusiastic about judicial power once again.

Meanwhile, conservatives would have all of their suspicions about establishment Republicans confirmed yet one more time, and they could add the Supreme Court to the lengthening list of elite institutions in which cultural liberalism’s power seems more consolidated every day.

The likely result would be a right-wing coalition that’s angrier and Trumpier than the G.O.P. that nominated Trump himself four years ago. So our imagined Republican senator’s reward for his high-minded vote could easily be a longer-term defeat for moderate conservatism: The judiciary would be handed over to ambitious liberals, and his own party would become more populist, paranoid and hostile to any form of compromise.

Whereas if he voted to confirm, then the worst-case scenario, the threat that Democrats are waving, would probably be an attempt at court packing in a Biden presidency, or perhaps in a Kamala Harris presidency down the line.


Continue reading the main story

Such a development would no doubt make Twitter unbearable and inspire Republicans to their own round of angst about legitimacy and norms. But once you recognize the current system’s brokenness, it’s not clear it would be all that terrible a fight to have.


Ross Douthat.

This is pretty good. Food for thought sort of thing.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump and Democrats Brace for Showdown Over Supreme Court Seat

The president’s determination to confirm a replacement for Justice Ginsburg before the Nov. 3 election set lawmakers on a collision course with one another at a time when Congress already has major issues on its agenda, including spending bills to keep the government open past next week and a stalled coronavirus relief package to help millions of Americans left unemployed by the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States.


And the market seems not to like it either. Gold and silver also way down in probably algorithm driven trading. C'mon, boys and girls. Be nice to each other.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Watch Danny Lee 6-PUTT from 4 FEET at the U.S. Open | Not the Bee

Danny Lee went ahead and SIX-PUTTED FROM FOUR FEET at the U.S. open yesterday.

  • First putt was from 4'
  • Second putt was from 5'7"
  • Third putt was from 5'10"
  • Fourth putt was from 6'11"
  • Fifth putt was from 3'9"
  • Sixth putt was from 7'7"


One of many reasons I hate golf and golf hates me.

September 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration's U.S. WeChat Ban : NPR

A federal judge has blocked President Trump's executive order that would have effectively shut down popular Chinese app WeChat, ruling that the action represents a free speech violation.

WeChat, used by 1.2 billion users worldwide and 19 million people in the U.S., was set to stop operating in the U.S. on midnight Sunday following Trump's order invoking a national emergency and targeting the app on national security grounds.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in Northern California issued a preliminary injunction Sunday morning siding with users of WeChat, who claimed in a lawsuit that Trump's action curbed their First Amendment rights.

"Certainly the government's overarching national-security interest is significant," Beeler wrote, but the Trump administration "has put in scant evidence that its effective ban of WeChat for all U.S. users addresses those concerns," the judge wrote.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

FinCEN Files Show Criminals Moved Billions As Banks Watched

Today, the FinCEN Files — thousands of “suspicious activity reports” and other US government documents — offer an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks enabling it, and the government agencies that watch as it flourishes. BuzzFeed News has shared these reports with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations in 88 countries.

These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view, expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them. Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

OC Supervisor Requests Local Control of COVID Funds in Letter to Trump

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Sept. 17 asking the federal government to send COVID-19 funding directly to California’s counties and bypass state authorities.

“Governor Newsom has specifically threatened to withhold Federal funds to ‘disobedient’ counties that develop their own safe reopening plans in response to local needs and local conditions,” Wagner wrote.

Wagner said Gov. Gavin Newsom had changed his COVID-19 response plans three times and is now requiring “vague social justice metrics rather than the achievement of scientific milestones.”

A request for comment from Newsom’s office wasn’t returned by deadline.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Death Knell of the Urban Era (w/ James Altucher) - YouTube

James Altucher, author and former hedge-fund manager, speaks to Real Vision senior editor, Ash Bennington, about his recent head-turning op-ed, “NYC is Dead Forever – Here’s Why.” James lays out his thesis in detail, arguing that a work-from-home economy is a death-knell for everything that is quintessentially "New York" -- from hot dog stands to Broadway shows. James and Ash discuss the consequences on commercial real estate as well as how this scenario might affect other asset classes. They explore the worst-case scenario and the potential silver linings. Filmed on September 2nd, 2020.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Trump’s negative press spurs millions to like him even more – HotAir

In fact, Trump has succeeded — and will likely continue to succeed — not in spite of the media campaign against him, but, at least in part, because of it. Voters have grown wise to the media agenda, and recognize stories crafted to fit a certain mold rather than to follow the facts. They know what a smear looks like, and they don’t like it. At the same time, the ceaseless onslaught has made Trump a permanent underdog. And Americans identify with and cheer for underdogs — an aspect of the national psyche that media and political elites, detached as they are, forget.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Six accused of starting Oregon blazes amid wildfire season

At least six men in Oregon have been accused of intentionally setting blazes during the state’s devastating wildfire season, according to a report.

There is no evidence that the suspects were motivated by politics, despite conspiracies that such an animus has fueled the fires that have burned more than a million acres, OregonLive reported.

Instead, some of the blazes were attributed to petty beef, relationship troubles and enjoying the “smell of smoke,” officials said.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The left channels its fury toward McConnell - POLITICO

Less than two hours after the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vow to try to replace her with a nominee picked by President Donald Trump — the progressive movement was activated.

Liberal activists convened an emergency call at 9:30 p.m. Friday to chart out the battle ahead. According to people on the line, leaders of the anti-Trump group Indivisible, abortion rights organization NARAL, and court advocacy nonprofit Demand Justice called for a united front: Oppose any confirmation before Inauguration Day. They talked over plans to hold vigils for Ginsburg, and some people briefly discussed the idea of packing the court.

At the same time, Democrats were smashing donation records on the small-donor site ActBlue, and hundreds of mourners were spontaneously gathering on the steps of the Supreme Court.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Google Pushes Conservative News Sites Far Down Search Lists | RealClearPolitics

It has long been feared that Google, which controls almost 90% of U.S. Internet search traffic, could sway an election by altering the search results it shows users. New data indicate that may be happening, as conservative news sites including Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and the Federalist have seen their Google search listings dramatically reduced. 

The data come from the search consultancy Sistrix, which tracks a million different Google search keywords and keeps track of how highly different sites rank across all the search terms. 

The tracker shows that Google search visibility for Breitbart first plunged in 2017, before falling to approximately zero in July 2019:


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Dark Side of the ‘Angel’s Share’

Kentucky makes 95 percent of the world’s bourbon. In Frankfort, where Count lives, as well as Louisville, large warehouses hold stacks of bourbon left to expand and contract in charred oak barrels, a process that takes at least a couple of years and results in bourbon’s caramel color and smoky sweetness. During this phase, an estimated two to five percent of the alcohol evaporates. For one distiller alone, that can add up to as much as 200 to 1,000 tons of ethanol emissions every year.

In the bourbon world, the lost ethanol is referred to as “the angel’s share.” The name suggests that ethanol vapors reach the heavens. But research shows that vapors actually filter out, traveling as far as a mile, and fall back down to earth. When that ethanol combines with a hint of moisture (say, morning dew or humidity) Baudoinia compniacensis thrives, earning Baudoinia its nickname: whiskey fungus.


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Genetic testing suggests horse domestication did not begin in Anatolia

An international team of researchers has found via genetic testing that horse domestication very likely did not begin in Anatolia as has been thought. Instead, it appears more likely that horses were first domesticated in the Eurasian Steppe and were subsequently imported to both the Caucasus and Anatolia. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their exhaustive study of ancient horse remains from a host of locations in eastern parts of Asia, the Caucasus and Anatolia.


Ah. It is good. Honor the ancestors!

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Genius Trump Nominates Joe Biden To Supreme Court Forcing Dems To Accuse Him Of Sexual Assault | The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Trump has announced his pick for Supreme Court justice: Joe Biden. By nominating Biden, Trump has forced the Dems' hands, making them believe the sexual assault claims and allegations of inappropriate, creepy behavior against the former vice president.

The "4D chess" move forced Dems to immediately accuse Joe Biden of sexual assault and reverse their position on the current claims against him.

"We now believe Tara Reade," said a somber Kamala Harris, "and we will do everything in our power to destroy this man's life."


Of course!

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lost humpback whale abandoned by friends in croc-infested river in Australia | Live Science

A humpback whale is swimming the wrong way up an alligator-filled river in Australia's Northern Territory, according to media reports. The lost whale is traveling further inland than any whale has ever been seen on the continent, government experts said on Monday (Sept. 14).

"It's something that's never been recorded before — not just in the Northern Territory, but in Australia," Carol Palmer, a marine ecosystems scientist for the Northern Territory Government, told the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). "It's really, really unusual."

The stranded whale is one of three humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) spotted last week swimming in the not-at-all-ominously-named East Alligator River, which connects Kakadu National Park in northern Australia with the nearby sea. Saltwater crocodiles inhabit the river's murky, brown waters as far as 100 miles (160 kilometers) inland, CNN reported, where they wait to ambush a variety of prey, including the occasional human.



September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

I’m a 54-year-old widow. My fiancé and I plan to renovate my home, but I want to leave it to my daughter. Should I marry? - MarketWatch

Dear Moneyist,

I am a 54-year-old widow of six years, with average savings and a home (free and clear) that was paid for by me and my late husband. I am now engaged and need advice on how to move ahead with our finances. My fiancé has a good job and savings. He will be moving into my home, but we plan to make improvements to the home together.

We both have one child. I want what my first husband and I have worked and paid for to be inherited by my daughter. How should we handle the improvements to the property? Do I write a will stating the value of the home before those improvements should be inherited by my daughter, and the amount of the improvements be split between our children? Do I add him to the deed after the improvements? I want him to have lifetime use of the home.

I also draw monthly income from late husband’s retirement, which usually puts me into a higher tax bracket. We are trying to decide if it would be best that we not get married because of tax purposes and continue to file as single people. Or should we decide to marry and file married filing separately or married filing jointly? The retirement funds I draw from my last husband would be included in my taxable income. Together, we would have an annual income of approximately $150,000.

Engaged in Tennessee


1) Don't get married.
2) Sign an agreement with your pal that makes it clear you're not married or anything like it.
2A) Agreement should make clear that any improvements he makes to your house and pays for become your property.
2B) If he doesn't like that idea, well, you should tell him to shove off.
3) Give anything you want your pal and his offspring to have as a gift before you die.
4) Leave everything including your house to your daughter.
5) This is just what I would do were I in your position. It is not financial advice.
6) Have a nice day.

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here’s the big secret of how the richest Americans made their wealth - MarketWatch

Are you surprised by these results? You will be only if you make the mistake of thinking that these richest Americans acquired their wealth on Wall Street. But my analysis of the Forbes 400 lists over the years reveals that almost all of them made their fortunes either through starting a company that eventually made it big or through inheritance. As far as I can tell, the rich view the stock market primarily as a vehicle for preserving the purchasing power of their already-amassed fortunes rather than for creating those fortunes in the first place.

Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway BRK.A, +0.36%   BRK.B, +0.07%  is an exception, of course. But his investment return is so much better than anyone else’s that I consider him the exception that proves the rule.

So keep these results in mind the next time your eye is drawn to a headline touting the investment secrets of the super wealthy. To the extent they have a secret, it is that you should log off your day-trading app, get up out of your chair, and go create something that the world wants and needs.


Old news but good news.

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

This is what California needs to do about its fires | MIT Technology Review

There’s an overwhelming to-do list. But one of the clearest conclusions, as experts have been saying for years, is that California must begin to work with fires, not just fight them. That means reversing a century of US fire suppression policies and relying far more on deliberate, prescribed burns to clear out the vegetation that builds up into giant piles of fuel.

Such practices “don't prevent wildfires,” says Crystal Kolden, an assistant professor at the University of California, Merced focused on fire and land management. “But it breaks up the landscape, so that when wildfires do occur, they're much less severe, they're much smaller, and when they occur around communities, they're much easier to control.”


Californians choose the right action, after they have tried everything else. (That's the optimistic interpretation.)

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music | The New Yorker

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his book “Stride Toward Freedom,” wrote, “On a cool Saturday afternoon in January 1954, I set out to drive from Atlanta, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama. . . . The Metropolitan Opera was on the radio with a performance of one of my favorite operas—Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor.’ So with the beauty of the countryside, the inspiration of Donizetti’s inimitable music, and the splendor of the skies, the usual monotony that accompanies a relatively long drive—especially when one is alone—was dispelled in pleasant diversions.”

What does it mean, if anything, that King was listening to bel-canto opera as he made his historic journey to preach his first sermon at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church? One response would be to find something curious, or even contradictory, in the image of King enjoying Donizetti behind the wheel of his car. He was poised to become a titan in the civil-rights movement; classical music is a world in which Black people have seldom been allowed to play a leading role. Much the same question could be asked about W. E. B. Du Bois, who admired the music of Richard Wagner to such an extent that he attended the Bayreuth Festival, in 1936. Even though Wagner was notoriously racist, Du Bois said, “The musical dramas of Wagner tell of human life as he lived it, and no human being, white or black, can afford not to know them, if he would know life.”


Read it and weep.

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

18 Year Term Limit for Supreme Court Justices - Yang2020 - Andrew Yang for President

Our Founding Fathers intended the judicial branch of government to be free of political pressures, interpreting and applying the Constitution to the laws passed by Congress in order to ensure that no violations were found.

Today, the Supreme Court is increasingly polarized around political lines, and the selection of a new Justice is a bitter fight that divides the country. The process has become increasingly contentious, and very few Americans believe that the Supreme Court is impartial. 

The first step in ensuring that the Supreme Court doesn’t lose the faith of the American people is to establish a clear code of ethics that applies to the Justices. Currently, all inferior courts have a Code of Ethics applied to them, and violations can be litigated. However, as the Supreme Court of the land, there’s no applicable Code that applies to its members.

Congress has put a few requirements on Justices - recusement requirements and financial disclosure requirements - that the Justices have abided by. It’s time that a full Code of Ethics is established, ensuring that people know our Supreme Court Justices are acting ethically.

Additionally, the stakes involved in the appointment of Supreme Court justices are creating partisan battles that divide our country, create bitter resentment, and allow individuals to delegitimize later decisions with which they disagree.

The stats largely back up that we do have a partisan problem on the Supreme Court. The number of 5-4 decisions, reflecting the line between Republican-appointed and Democrat-appointed Justices, has increased in recent years. When a new seat opens up, lifetime appointments incentivize finding the youngest, most partisan jurist who can gain confirmation in order to ensure a particular bent on the Court for as long as possible. Current Justices can expect to serve for 40 or more years. For historical context, the average Justice has served for 15 years, though Justices appointed since 1970 have served for an average of 26 years.

This isn’t the way it was envisioned at the founding of our country, when life expectancy was shorter and Justices would often retire or resign well ahead of their deaths. We need to return some level of sanity and balance to the Supreme Court.

The answer to this is to impose term limits on Justices, and set their terms at regular intervals. Each President should be allowed to appoint two Justices per term served, in their first and third years in office.


This notion of Andrew Yang's strikes me as a good idea. Implementation would be complicated but the basic idea seems good.

Andrew's other signature idea, universal basic income, is at this time, the worst idea ever, and possibly would lead us to hyperinflation, without a lot of modification, which could make it even worse, but different, such as imposing it through some sort of Federal digital currency, which in turn would lead us to a social credit system. Which would be awful. But that's a different story. I say, under current circumstances, because we're on like our n-th round of credit card refinancings of our out-the-wazoo debt. If we were flush, who knows, UBI might be a good idea, but we are very far from that.

I personally think we have stepped off the slippery slope to Argentina and part of me is just in denial of that fact. Sigh.

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Furious Democrats consider total war if McConnell jams through Supreme Court pick - Axios

Furious Democrats are considering total war — profound changes to two branches of government, and even adding stars to the flag — if Republicans jam through a Supreme Court nominee then lose control of the Senate.

On the table: Adding Supreme Court justices ... eliminating the Senate's 60-vote threshold to end filibusters ... and statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. "If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021," Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) tweeted.

Why it matters: Democrats are enraged by GOP hypocrisy of rushing through a new justice for President Trump after stalling President Obama's final nominee.

  • Dems aren't optimistic about blocking the nominee. But they have many ways of retaliating if they win Senate control — and are licking their chops about real movement on ideas that have been pushed futilely for decades.
  • For instance, the Constitution doesn't fix the number of justices, which could be changed by an act of Congress and the president's signature, according to the National Constitution Center.

On ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos asked Speaker Pelosi about the possibility of impeaching President Trump or Attorney General Barr as a way to stall a Supreme Court confirmation in a post-election lame-duck session.

  • Pelosi replied: "Well, we have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now."

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on a call with his caucus yesterday, after a moment of silence for Justice Ginsburg:

  • If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year."

Let's unpack what that means:


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sweden spared surge of virus cases but many questions remain

Now, as infection numbers surge again in much of Europe, the country of 10 million people has some of the lowest numbers of new coronavirus cases -- and only 14 virus patients in intensive care.

Whether Sweden’s strategy is succeeding, however, is still very uncertain.

Its health authorities, and in particular chief epidemiologist Dr. Anders Tegnell, keep repeating a familiar warning: It’s too early to tell, and all countries are in a different phase of the pandemic.

That has not stopped a World Health Organization Europe official from saying the continent could learn broader lessons from Sweden that could help the virus battle elsewhere.

“We must recognize that Sweden, at the moment, has avoided the increase that has been seen in some of the other countries in western Europe,” WHO Europe’s senior emergency officer, Catherine Smallwood, said Thursday. “I think there are lessons for that. We will be very keen on working and hearing more from the Swedish approach.”


Well, gosh, WHO, thanks for telling us. Seems you might be changing your tune a bit though.

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The one thing Democrats can do to stop Trump from replacing her may be court-packing - Vox

Right now Republicans have a 53-47 vote majority in the Senate. That means that, unless Democrats can somehow convince four Republican senators to honor the so-called “Biden rule,” Ginsburg’s seat is being filled by Trump.

But if Democrats win both the presidency and the Congress, they can ensure that the GOP supermajority on the Supreme Court will be short-lived. They could pack the Court.

Court-packing and the Constitution

The Constitution provides that there must be a Supreme Court, but it does not set the number of justices — that number is set by Congress. The Judiciary Act of 1789 originally established a six-justice Court, and this number vacillated considerably during the nation’s first century. The number of justices briefly grew to 10 during the Lincoln administration, before finally settling at nine under President Ulysses S. Grant.

If Democrats control the White House and the Congress, in other words, they can pass a law adding seats to the Supreme Court. If Biden is president, he could then quickly fill them (with the consent of the Senate). And four new seats could give Court a Democratic-controlled majority, despite another Trump pick.

It’s a risky play. At the height of his popularity, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed expanding the size of the Supreme Court to 15 in order to neutralize five reactionary justices who frequently undercut the New Deal. It did not end well for him. Many historians cite the court-packing plan as the event that shattered Roosevelt’s political coalition and left him unable to pass liberal bills through Congress.

But these are very different times. In 1937, when Roosevelt proposed packing the Court, every one of the Court’s nine justices could claim that they got there fair and square. No one was on the Supreme Court because one political party invented a fake rule, applied it harshly to a president they loathed, and then immediately scrapped that rule when it was inconvenient.

Trump’s two previous Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, also share a dubious distinction. They are the only members of the Supreme Court in history to be nominated by a president who lost the popular vote and confirmed by a bloc of senators who represent less than half of the country. If Trump fills the Ginsburg seat, fully one-third of the Court will be controlled by judges with no democratic legitimacy.



September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ginsburg's Death and the Dangerous Politics Ahead | RealClearPolitics

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life in the law cast a long shadow. In death, she casts a long shadow, too.


Read the whole thing. Charles Lipson is a political science professor at Chicago. At least read the last several paragraphs.

September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Susan Collins Opposes Voting on Ginsburg’s Vacancy Before November Election

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Saturday that the Senate should not vote on a nominee to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election.

She also said Trump can nominate a replacement with his constitutional authority and has no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee starting the reviewing process.

However, the vote should be scheduled after the election to be fair, consistent, and to ensure Americans’ faith in elected officials.

“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” she said in a statement. “The decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”


September 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

CCP announces plan to take control of China's private sector | Asia Times Financial

(ATF) Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party's Central Committee have laid out a plan for a ‘new era’ in which the party has better control over private business in China.

The plan was detailed in a 5,000-word statement – and all regions and departments in the country have been told to follow the new guidelines.

This was the top story on Wednesday's CCTV Evening News – how the president had issued “important instructions”.

It had a long-winded title: "Opinion on Strengthening the United Front Work of the Private Economy in the New Era".

The ultimate goal is for the party to have ideological leadership of private enterprise.


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Death Puts Pressure on Moderate Republicans in Senate

WASHINGTON—A handful of moderate and institutionalist Senate Republicans were thrust into the spotlight Friday after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to say that he would seek to confirm President Trump’s nominee to replace her on the Supreme Court.

The Senate’s Republicans control 53 votes compared with 47 for the Democrats, giving them enough power to muscle through a Trump nominee. Because Vice President Mike Pence can break any ties, Democrats would need to peel off four Republicans to block Mr. Trump’s pick, a difficult goal to meet given the small number of moderate Republicans in the chamber.

Despite having blocked President Obama’s high-court pick during an election year, Mr. McConnell suggested in his statement Friday that the current situation was different from 2016 because the Senate and White House were controlled by the same party.

“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” Mr. McConnell said. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Friday night that Justice Ginsburg shouldn’t be replaced until the next president is in office.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” Mr. Schumer said in a tweet Friday night, echoing precisely what Mr. McConnell said after the 2016 vacancy. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

If Senate GOP leaders begin consideration of Mr. Trump’s nominee, moderate Republican senators including Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will likely be the final deciders on whether the president’s pick clears the chamber.

Ms. Murkowski has said previously that she wouldn’t support filling a Supreme Court vacancy this year.


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Robert W. Gore, the inventor of Gore-Tex fabric, dead at 83 | National |

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Robert W. Gore, whose invention of what created the breathable-yet-waterproof fabric known as Gore-Tex revolutionized outdoor wear and helped spawn uses in numerous other fields, has died. He was 83.


Thus making Oregon habitable, at least for a time.

September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A package containing the poison ricin and addressed to Trump intercepted by law enforcement - CNNPolitics

(CNN)A package containing the poison ricin and addressed to President Donald Trump was intercepted by law enforcement earlier this week, according to two law enforcement officials.

Two tests were done to confirm the presence of ricin. All mail for the White House is sorted and screened at an offsite facility before reaching the White House.
A US law enforcement official told CNN that investigators are looking into the possibility the ricin package sent to Trump came from Canada.


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ginsburg death opens complex partisan chessboard affected by timeline, COVID-19, election | Just The News

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opens a complex partisan chessboard, with competing political calculations affecting the timeline of decision points by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

A key decision is whether Trump and McConnell should push to get a nominee approved by the Senate prior to the Nov. 3 presidential election, a move that could serve as a polarizing catalyst to motivate both Democratic and Republican party bases. Polls show Trump has long maintained a strong edge over rival candidate Joe Biden in party enthusiasm, with thousands of Trump supporters lining up to attend lively rallies at airports, while Biden gatherings are far smaller and more subdued.     

Another compelling possibility is whether balloting delays and disputes due to COVID-19 could result in an unclear presidential victor, kicking the outcome to the Supreme Court, just as in the nail-biter 2000 high court ruling in favor of Republican George W. Bush.


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Trump: I'm obligated to appoint a new SCOTUS justice -- without delay

Looks like Mitch McConnell has his work cut out for him. With Democrats and even a couple of Republicans in the Senate calling for a delay in nominating a replacement for the now-open Supreme Court seat, Donald Trump declared this morning that he plans to do his job. To do otherwise would be to shirk his “obligation” as president, Trump argued:


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Riots Only Help Fuel Urban Impoverishment | Mises Wire

In a recent interview Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizer Ariel Atkins argued that lootings are reparations for African Americans. Atkins denounced the suggestion that anything can be gained from peaceful protests. “Winning has come through revolts, winning has come through riots, ‘’ she said. Unfortunately, the belligerence of people like Atkins has been nurtured by mainstream intellectuals, who originally downplayed the malevolent intentions of dangerous activists. Therefore, as adults, we have no alternative but to remind these youngsters that sparking riots is an ineffective strategy to advance the cause of African Americans.

A striking case against riots is clearly expressed in the findings of Professor Mary C. King, whose research demonstrates “little relationship between regional progress for African Americans and relatively proximate race riots.” Riotous behavior often results in businesses fleeing minority communities, thus depriving residents of employment and income. Racism is an extremely sensitive matter; however, sensitivity must be tempered by logic. African Americans have experienced substantial progress over the past century. Eroding these gains is a possibility if rational adults refrain from correcting misguided activists. Such was the impact of the race riots of the 1960s. Examining the effects of civil disorder on small businesses in inner cities, sociologists Howard Aldrich and Albert Reiss found that riots not only inflicted serious property damages but in the long term they made it prohibitive to operate in inner cities, driving up insurance costs. As a result, businesses migrated to more nurturing environments. Low-income residents are the major beneficiaries of entrepreneurship in the inner city, so when emotions trump logic and businesses exit these communities, the losers are poor black people.


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Inflation as a Tool of the Radical Left | Mises Wire

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch its currency….Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer way of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”1

Keynes does not provide a concrete source backing his words but deliberately used the phrase “is said to have declared.” For a good reason. As Frank W. Fetter (1899–1991) pointed out, there is no evidence at hand that Lenin actually said or wrote these words, and anyone quoting Lenin on inflation would be indeed be referring to Keynes’s opinion.2

Be that as it may, it is pretty obvious that Lenin had a good understanding of the evils of inflation caused by the issuance of large amounts of unbacked paper money.


Lenin was right or would have been right had he said this.

September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

INSIGHT: Valuing in-Person Classes in College Tuition Class Actions

Universities and colleges closed campuses and moved courses online in the middle of the spring semester in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. By summer, class action lawsuits had been filed against more than 100 colleges and universities, including Columbia, Harvard, Penn State, and the University of Southern California.

These complaints do not allege that schools were wrong to close campuses, but that they should have lowered tuition fees because an online education is not worth as much as the in-person version. (See Dutra v. Trustees of Boston University (D. Mass. April 29, 2020)).

Class certification in these matters often hinges on the question of whether plaintiffs can establish that common issues predominate over individual issues. Economic analysis can be helpful to courts in answering a key question: Does a formulaic method exist that can be used to determine injury and damages without the need for individualized inquiry?

In the context of tuition refund matters, the relevant question is: How subjective and individualized are students’ valuations of the in-person aspect of a college education?


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, setting up possible nomination fight

Trump is expected to nominate a replacement as soon as next week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., immediately vowed to hold a Senate confirmation vote. But it generally takes more than two months to reach that point, which would put Republicans beyond Election Day, when their 53-47 majority is in jeopardy.

If the vote was to happen during the "lame duck" session in November or December, the chances for confirmation likely would depend on whether Trump wins re-election and Republicans maintain their Senate majority. They could plow ahead in defeat up until Jan. 3, but if four Senate Republicans desert the cause, they would fall short.

National Public Radio reported that Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter shortly before her death, in which she said: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden agreed. "There is no doubt ... that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," he said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016, when there were almost 10 months to go before the election."


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Trump: Biden will make Minnesota 'refugee camp' of Ilhan Omars

President Trump on Friday said that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would turn Minnesota into a “refugee camp” full of people like Rep. Ilhan Omar.

“Sleepy Joe will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp,” Trump told a large rally in Bemidji, northern Minnesota.

Trump, who narrowly lost Minnesota in 2016, called the scandal-plagued Minneapolis Democrat and refugee from Somalia “a beauty.”

“Every family in Minnesota needs to know about sleepy Joe Biden’s extreme plan to flood your state with an influx of refugees from Somalia and from other places all over the planet. That’s what’s happened, and you like Omar a lot, don’t you?” Trump said.

Trump said he would keep restrictions on refugee admission and deport criminals so they could “complain” in their own countries — another swipe at Omar.

“Today we deported, as you know very well, dozens of Somali nationals charged or convicted with very grave crimes including rape, assault, robbery, terrorism and murder … These hardened criminals are back in their country, where they can do all the complaining they want, and your children are much safer as a result, thank you President Trump,” he said.


This is why Trump gets called a racist, in case you're keeping track. It's rhetoric like this that has me making various contingency plans.

September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tucker Carlson on YouTube Silencing Coronavirus Opinions: This Is What State Media Looks Like | Video | RealClearPolitics

Covid-19 is not from nature. It was created in a lab in Wuhan. The Chinese government intentionally unleashed it on the world. Those are her claims. Are they true? We have no way of verifying them. We do know that Dr. Li-Men Yang is not a quack. She’s authored peer-reviewed papers on coronavirus transmission in both Nature magazine and the Lancet, two of the most-respected publications in science. Her paper on the origin of Covid-19, which she has published online, is not frivolous. In it, she points to specific evidence for her claims. She identifies so-called "cut sites," which are frequently used in genomic engineering, that would allow scientists to swap in sequences from another virus, to create what she described last night as a Frankenstein bioweapon. She writes that she has first-hand knowledge that the Chinese military has a template virus with cut-sites, designed for that very purpose.

Again, we can’t verify this. But it’s clear that Dr. Li-Men Yang is a serious person, who is making a very serious claim. Within a few hours of our interview last night last night, a video of the segment reached 1.3 million people on Facebook. The coronavirus pandemic has touched the life of every American. People want to know where it came from. But Facebook doesn’t want you to know. So Facebook suppressed the video, presumably on behalf of the Chinese government. Facebook executives made it harder for users to watch our segment. Those who found the video had to navigate a warning that the interview, quote, "repeats information about COVID-19 that independent fact-checkers say is false." Instagram, which Facebook owns, did the same thing. Twitter suspended Dr. Yang's account entirely. It did not explain why.

Nor will the tech companies explain how they know more about disease transmission than an MD/PhD virologist like Li-Men Yang. Instead, Facebook and Instagram linked to three so-called "fact-checks" that supposedly prove Yang was lying. But if you clicked on the provided links, you noticed something odd. The “fact checks” were all published months ago -- in January, February, and March. They have nothing to do with what Dr. Li-Men Yang said. They were written before anyone knew who she was. In fact, one of the "fact-checks" attacks a totally unrelated claim: that the virus was patented, and that a vaccine was already prepared and ready to go. Huh? What does that have to do with our interview?

No one will tell us. The truth is that the experts have been wrong frequently throughout this pandemic. At one point, they told us not to wear masks. Now they tell us we must. And so on. They’ve changed their prescriptions many times. Most of them aren’t bad people. But like all human beings, they’re fallible. They make mistakes. The solution — and we used to understand this intuitively — is more informed voices in the conversation. Censorship doesn’t make us wiser or better informed. If it did, we’d be speaking Russian right now. The Soviet Union would run the world. Instead, the Soviet Union is extinct, collapsed under the weight of its own absurdities. That’s the most basic lesson of dictatorships: Anything built on lies falls apart over time.


I think we should take Dr. Yang's accusations seriously. I hope the CIA etc. are looking into them as seriously as they can, but I don't trust them much. It's obvious to me as it has been for some time that Facebook and Google are in the bag for the PRC/CCP, probably because China still represents for them a potential gigantic market for expansion and because they are such left-wing organizations. Twitter as well. Peter Theil has their number but the masses, not so much. We are living in very dangerous times. I hate dangerous times. I know Tucker goes off the rails sometimes, but on this one, he's one of the few media types who is shouting out the warning. On this occasion, we should listen.

September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Death to America' Shouldn’t Be a Lesson Plan | RealClearPolitics

That alone should not disqualify him. Rather, it’s that he consistently deceives, inverts history, and most significantly, justifies terrorism. Erekat has long peddled the lie that the Israeli military perpetrated a massacre in Jenin in 2002, and he refuses to label Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as terrorist organizations. In 2015, in the midst of a brutal wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks that led to dozens of Israeli deaths, Erekat dismissed the killings, stating that “the Palestinian people will continue to defend themselves.” A diplomat like Erekat who conflates terrorism with self-defense is the antithesis of what diplomacy should be. Unless, of course, Harvard thinks differently -- or has other motivations. The university’s decision to grant Erekat this position came after the Palestinian Authority donated $2 million to Harvard between 2017 and 2019.


To Harvard, it's all about the Benjamins.

September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump not likely to shrink from Supreme Court fight in election year: Goodwin

If you thought the presidential election was already too hot and too nasty, brace yourself. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The mourning for Ruth Bader Ginsburg had barely started when the first political shots were fired. At 7:51 pm, about 15 minutes after news broke of her death, Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted his demand that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

So much for rest in peace.

There’s no surprise in Schumer’s position or his desire to get out in front of the issue, but neither carries much weight. The decision about whether to try to fill the court’s vacancy is up to Republicans.

The first key question is whether President Trump will want to nominate someone so close to the election, possibly setting the stage for the Court to be the deciding factor in whether he gets four more years. My guess is the answer is yes because he recently released a list of people he would consider for the next vacancy.


September 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 18, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Second Woman on Supreme Court, Dies - Bloomberg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose 27-year tenure as the second female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court culminated a legal career dedicated to advancing the rights of women, has died.

She was 87, and her death comes less than two months before the election gives President Donald Trump a chance to try to shift the already conservative court further to the right.

She died due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer and was surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, the court said in a statement Friday. Ginsburg battled with five bouts of cancer.

Trump will now have a chance to fill a third Supreme Court seat. Senate confirmation of his nominee would increase the chances of a decision overturning or severely curtailing the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling.

Only days before her death, National Public Radio reported that Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”


September 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

DeVos Vows to Withhold Desegregation Aid to Schools Over Transgender Athletes - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Education Department is preparing to withhold millions of dollars from Connecticut schools over their refusal to withdraw from an athletic conference that allows transgender students to compete on teams that correspond with their gender identity.

The move to withhold about $18 million intended to help schools desegregate could have national implications for both transgender athletes and students of color.

The department’s Office for Civil Rights has warned officials at three Connecticut school districts that it will not release desegregation grants as planned on Oct. 1, unless the districts cut ties with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference over its transgender policies. Negotiations among the parties continued Thursday evening.

Officials with the conference, which governs high school athletics in the state, say their policies conform to Connecticut law.


September 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Liberal Voice on Supreme Court, Dies at 87 - WSJ

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneering figure in the fight for women’s legal equality and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died on Friday at the age of 87.


September 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87 | Fox News

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the enigmatic, longtime Supreme Court justice who attained near cult-like status among progressive circles, died Friday at the age of 87 from complications surrounding metastatic pancreas cancer.

The late Supreme Court Justice, who spent more than two decades on the bench in the highest court of the land, is survived by her two children, Jane Carol and James Steven Ginsburg.

Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, was known for her soft-spoken demeanor that masked an analytical mind, a deep concern for the rights of every American and a commitment to upholding the Constitution.


September 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

More Biden: China's not an opponent of the US, just a "competitor"

The GOP has spent this morning pouncing on this clip from last night’s CNN town hall, and well they should. Joe Biden wanted to sound tough on trade last night in Pennsylvania, but began quavering when it came to China — not just the worst abuser on trade, but on a number of other points, including human-rights abuses. Biden had lots to say about Russia, much of it true, but suddenly decided to be more nuanced about the country that hacked US government and military systems at will during the Obama-Biden years:


No bueno.

September 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)