Saturday Morning Coffee

A few links to things I was reading over coffee this morning:

Climate Change and Migration

A lot of people make the connection between American imperialism and migration to the US. Others lay part of the blame on globalization and NAFTA. This article at The New Yorker suggests that climate change now drives migration from Central and South America to the US.

‘It was about six years ago that things started to change,’ he said. Climentoro had always been poor. Residents depended on the few crops that could survive at an elevation of more than nine thousand feet, harvesting maize to feed their families and selling potatoes for a small profit. But, Pérez said, the changing climate was wiping out the region’s crops. ‘In the higher part of town, there have been more frosts than there used to be, and they kill an entire harvest in one fell swoop,’ he said. ‘In the lower part of Climentoro, there’s been much less rain and new sorts of pests.’ He added, ‘Farmers have been abandoning their land.’

Climate change is real and changing the way we do things, especially in agriculture. And if you think people fought over oil, wait until they’re fighting over food and water.

Virginia and Carbon Emissions

We have to reduce carbon emissions if we want to do something about this, and Virginia has a chance to take a market-based approach by joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Unfortunately, Republicans in the General Assembly keep blocking this.

Instead of celebrating this modest progress on climate action, Virginia Republicans have been fighting it every step of the way. Their latest effort takes the form of two amendments to the state budget that would effectively prevent Virginia from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a nine-state platform for trading carbon emission allowances. It would also stop the Commonwealth from participating in a new compact focused on reducing carbon emissions in transportation.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network called on Governor Northam to “veto the budget language that blocks the Commonwealth from joining RGGI and to move forward on climate action, to protect the future of all Virginians.” I agree.

A Conservative Defense of the Electoral College

Elsewhere in Virginia politics, Stephen Brodie Tucker writes in defense of the Electoral College at Bearing Drift.

My point is that the federal government does not exist to represent us individually or in mobs. The Federal Government exists to represent the 50 States and to arbitrate amongst them. The State Governments are our governments and the Federal Government is theirs. The worst mistake the United States ever made was ratifying the 17th Amendment, which turned the Senate over to the popular vote of the people. The House of Representatives is The People’s House. The Senate was meant to represent the will of the State governments.

I left a lengthy comment on the post, so here I’ll just point out that this is an anachronistic new of the American Republic made effectively obsolete by the Civil War. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention created the Electoral College and left election of Senators to state legislators to protect elite interests, among them slavery, in the States that existed at the time. The Electoral College is anti-democratic and needs to go.

Finally, I had a lot of fun this week listening to Rick Reilly plug his new book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Donald Trump. John Cassidy reviews the book in the New Yorker.

Reilly recounts a time when Trump was declared the senior club champion at Trump National Bedminster, in New Jersey, even though he was in Pennsylvania on the day that the event was played. ‘He’d declared that the club should start having senior club championships for those 50 and up, but he forgot that one of the best players at the club had just turned 50,’ Reilly writes. ‘Having zero chance of beating the guy, he went up to his Trump Philadelphia course on the day of the tournament and played with a friend there. Afterward, according to a source inside the Bedminster club, he called the Bedminster pro shop and announced he’d shot 73 and should be declared the winner. The pro, wanting to stay employed, agreed. His name went up on the plaque.’

I’ll resist the urge to elaborate on what I think this says about Donald Trump. Reilly, Cassidy, and others have articulated this far better than I could. But I will say that it surprises me not at all that a man who would refuse to pay people for the work they did for him would pull shenanigans like this. Read the review, buy the book, and judge for yourself.

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Saturday Morning Coffee

Going through a few of the open tabs on my iPad with a cup of coffee this morning:

At Talking Points Memo: I saw this Associated Press report: DOJ Lawyer: Steele Said Russian Intelligence Believed it Had Trump Over a Barrel. Looks like Bruce Ohr met with Christopher Steele, who shared some information that did not make it into the dossier Steele wrote for Fusion GPS.  This is one reason why Trump wants to discredit Ohr – he likely knows things the White House would rather keep under wraps.

On a related note, William Saletan lays it all out at Slate:: We Already Know Trump is Betraying His Country.  This is a pretty good rundown of how Donald Trump has put Russia and his wallet before America, including some thoughts on why, all in one place.

At The Atlantic, Yuval Noah Harari lays out his thoughts on Why Technology Favors Tyranny.  He touches on something I’ve given a lot of thought to: how will social norms change as technology replaces workers in the last remaining jobs that don’t require complex education or training (e.g., long-haul truck drivers). If dying industry led to right-wing populism in rust-belt states, what happens when artificial intelligence replaces every worker who drives something for a living?

Fred Clark, a progressive Christian, writes about the intersection between religion and politics, among other things, at Slactivist.  In a series he calls “The MAGA Commission”, Clark discusses the Great Commission Christ gave his followers to spread his word and how the purpose and identity of evangelical Christianity has shifted from this missionary work to politics.  Part One linked above; Parts Two and Three are also up.  Clark is an excellent writer, and I urge all of you to check out his work.  His exegesis of the truly awful (both as writing and theology) Left Behind books and films is especially interesting – and funny as…hell (sorry).

Another Progressive Christian and former megachurch pastor fired for his “provocative” (read: “progressive”) writing, John Pavlovitz asks Christians to Stop Blaming God for your LGBTQ Hatred. He thinks Christians should stop applying the Bible to other people’s lives. Like Clark, Pavlovitz is a great writer, and like Clark has a blog name I wish I’d thought of myself: Stuff That Needs to be Said.  Go check him out.

Some good reading this morning that could take you on a nice stroll through the internet. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

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Saturday Morning Coffee

A few links to things I read this morning:

Not sure what to think about the Omarosa Manigault-Newman thing, but this Slate article gives an interesting take.  I like this part:

Either because or despite the fact that Omarosa once belonged to this lair of liars, one can admire the skill with which she has orchestrated these tapes’ release so as to maximally damage the White House’s credibility just as it was trying to torpedo hers. The tapes are essentially booby traps. Katrina Pierson’s reputation may not be a central concern in Trumpworld, but Lara Trump’s is getting closer; no wonder the White House is scared. Omarosa knows—as even his lawyers do—that a man who lies about everything must be guarded against, and learned that lesson early.

Can’t wait to see who gets caught in the next “booby trap.” Go read.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to save Capitalism and has introduced legislation.  Over at the Washington Post, Warren answers a few questions for Jennifer Rubin.  Asked about cheating and insider trading, Warren responds:

Sure, it includes insider trading — but it’s a lot more than that. In a well-functioning market, companies compete by providing better products, better service, or better prices. That kind of competition benefits customers and rewards businesses that out-innovate or out-work their competitors.

But when companies can deceive their customers about the quality or price of their products, that’s cheating — and the market stops working. Companies that are willing to deceive their customers are rewarded with more business, while honest companies struggle to keep up. That’s bad for customers and bad for the companies that just want to do the right thing.

Yves Smith explains why she thinks this would be good for shareholders over at Naked Capitalism.  Definitely following this one.

Finally, if you don’t know about XKCD yet, you should go check it out, especially if you’re interested in coding or math.  Great cartoons, including one of my all-time favorites. But if you’re worried about hackers getting into voting machines, this cartoon won’t make you feel better.

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