Quick hits (part I)

1) David Frum on the great Russian disinformation campaign.

2) I honestly think it’s just kind of cute that Michael Gerson asks, “Will the GOP become the party of white backlash?” as if that ship hadn’t sailed long ago.  Hint to Gerson– read your own newspaper.

3) Adam Liptak, “How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment.”

4) WRAL editorial on NC Republicans, “230 years ago nation’s founders saw tyranny N.C. legislators now seek to impose.”

Two-hundred-thirty years ago in the Federalist Papers, James Madison identified what the leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly are trying to do today with their bundle of State Constitutional amendments. “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Legislators who write the laws that we live under want voters to change the State Constitution and give lawmakers the power to appoint and pay the judges who will decide if those laws are constitutional. It is a dangerous power-grab by an elite few that weakens the voice of all North Carolina citizens.

This is not about Republicans vs. Democrats. This isn’t about liberals vs. conservatives. It isn’t even about Gov. Roy Cooper vs. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore.

It is about taking a wrecking ball to the foundation of government established by our federal and state constitutions: The separation of powers and checks-and-balances each branch of government – executive, legislative and judicial – has on the other. This assault can also be found in other proposed amendments, including one to change the appointment and composition of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

5) It’s kind of scary and sad to watch Poland slide further into authoritarianism.  Thinks are just not good in the world.

6) Jennifer Rubin on how we should not be done with Scott Pruitt:

Three aspects of this tawdry episode deserve emphasis. First, congressional oversight was slight, to say the least. Only when Democrats on the House Oversight Committee began meeting with whistleblowers did the Republican majority kick into high gear. Even then, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) used letters rather than subpoenas to request information. As a result, the EPA’s responses were often incomplete and imprecise. Pruitt’s fall is not because Congress did its job. It allowed the White House to stall well past the point any other administration would have been allowed to.

Second, the investigations should not end with his departure. The extent to which he ripped off taxpayers must be determined, and anyone who assisted in his escapades must be fired. In addition, it is not clear whether any criminal laws were broken or if the government has the ability to force Pruitt to reimburse taxpayers. Republicans will certainly do their best to sweep this under the rug; Democrats should insist taxpayers be repaid.

Third, Pruitt was simply following the lead of the president who has violated about every financial norm his predecessors upheld. President Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns. He has not divested himself of ongoing businesses which he continues to profit from. He continues to receive foreign emoluments, although multiple lawsuits seek to end what may be a constitutional violation. And the president has employed relatives who have their own conflicts, such as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, giving foreign governments the impression that they could use his financial situation to advance their interests with the U.S. government.

7) Luke Moore says VAR is wrecking the World Cup.  Personally, I’ve been really, really pleasantly surprised with how quick and effective it has been.  That said, he’s totally right about this:

For starters, the ref shouldn’t be seen as an enemy to be undermined and berated during the game by fans and players and commentators, and then mocked endlessly by former players in the studio afterward. Why don’t FIFA and other soccer organizations do more to punish cheating during games? The sport is marred by constant diving, feigning of injuries and dishonest appeals for penalties. Empowering referees to clamp down on such behavior would certainly curtail it — freeing the refs to concentrate on officiating properly. Wishful thinking it may be, but if every player were 100 percent honest, the game would officiate itself. And then we would hardly need those 98-percent-accurate referees, let alone VAR.

8) If you are familiar with the famous “count the basketball passes” experiment, this is a must-read.  If you are not familiar with it, watch this videothen this is a must-read.

9) We have a growing problem with tick-borne diseases.  Personally, I’d hate to end up with a red meat allergy.

10) Catherine Rampell on the US and China:

President Trump is right about one thing. China really has been stealing many of America’s most valuable ideas.

For years, the Chinese government turned a blind eye to counterfeited U.S. luxury goods, bootlegged Hollywood films, fake Apple stores, trade secrets pilfered from cutting-edge U.S. tech companies. It forced U.S. firms to hand over their technology if they wanted to operate in China.

Now the Chinese government has decided to borrow one of our best foreign policy ideas, too: banding together with allies to punish a cheating, trade-obstructing bully…

If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because China’s strategy is very similar to the one the United States had not long ago devised . . . to keep China in line.

11) Oh, man, rescuing those trapped kids in the Thai cave is really, really complicated!

12) I love that England’s “striker’s coach” used to coach with our very own local minor league soccer team, the NC Railhawks (now NCFC).

13) Ron Brownstein on the Democratic Party’s choice in 2020:

Almost halfway through Donald Trump’s tempestuous first term, Democrats are divided between two visions of how they can dislodge the Republican dominance of Washington and most state governments. One camp believes the party’s best chance will come from targeting mostly white, Republican-leaning voters who are recoiling from Trump on personal, more so than policy, grounds. The other camp believes the biggest opportunity is to turn out more voters from the groups most intensely hostile to Trump, in terms of both his style and agenda: Millennials, nonwhites, and white women who are college educated or unmarried. One camp bets mostly on persuading swing voters, the other on mobilizing base voters.

In practice, Democrats inevitably will need to do some of both. It’s a truism that whenever a political party seems to face an either/or choice, the right answer is usually both/and. That’s especially true in the 2018 midterm election. This fall, the party will be fielding dozens of candidates who subscribe to each theory, largely (but not completely) sorted between nominees who focus on persuasion in mostly white, Trump-leaning, or purple areas, and those emphasizing mobilization on more Democratic-leaning and racially diverse terrain.
But in the selection of their 2020 presidential nominee, Democrats will face a genuine crossroads. Few, if any, potential candidates would be equally effective at both energizing the party base and reassuring swing voters. Candidates who tilt mostly toward reassurance might include former Vice President Joe Biden, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Those best positioned to mobilize could include Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, two younger lawmakers who embody the party’s growing racial diversity, as well as Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two graying lions of the left.Among Democratic political professionals, there’s probably a narrow majority that favors focusing on ordinarily Republican-leaning voters repulsed by Trump. However, the L.A. immigration rally was revealing because it showed the potential strength of the alternative strategy of mobilization.

14) Referring to married women as “Mrs” is an archaic term and we need to do away with it.  Especially Wimbeldon.  Had a really good time explaining this to my boys today, who had no idea.

15) Love this Wirecutter list of kid and family games.  I think I want to buy Dixit.

 

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