Patterico's Pontifications


Little Aloha Sweetie Struggles to Make Debate Cut

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:01 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Presidential candidate, Hawaii Congresswoman, National Guardswoman (currently on deployment), and wahine nani loa Tulsi Gabbard finds herself on the bubble in qualifying for next month’s Democrat debate. The DNC has upped the qualification, requiring 130,000 unique donors (up from 60,000 for the first rounds), and a showing of at least two percent in a minimum four qualifying polls. The list of the DNC’s qualifying polls consists of the following: Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Des Moines Register, Fox News, Monmouth University, NBC News, New York Times, National Public Radio, Quinnipiac University, University of New Hampshire, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Winthrop University. Currently, the Congresswoman only reaches the 2% threshold in the CNN and Fox polls.

But wait, the Gabbard Campaign insists: the Congresswoman is above the two percent mark in The Boston Globe poll, which serves the entire New England region including the key primary state of New Hampshire, and in The Post and Courier, the major newspaper in the largest city in South Carolina, which happens to be the first primary state not dominated by insufferably twee white progressives and university faculty. Furthermore, they point out that many of the qualified polls have not been updated since the second debate where My Little Aloha Sweetie memorably eviscerated the odious Kamala Harris, and that only four of the DNC’s qualified polls have come out since that beautiful night.

NRO’s Jim Geraghty isn’t particularly sympathetic. While stipulating that the Gabbard Campaign makes some salient points about the DNC’s polling practices, he finds a huge limit to their argument:

That having been said . . . the threshold is 2 percent, people. If consistently getting 2 percent or more of members of your party to make you their first choice is too difficult . . . well, the presidency doesn’t have many easy days. You can picture some of the asterisk candidates muttering that the DNC rules have reduced the debate qualification process to a popularity contest. Well, yeah. A presidential primary is a competition to see who can get the most people to make a candidate their first choice. If Democrats really feel like Gabbard is getting screwed by an unfairly high threshold, they can inundate the DNC with messages of objection. But as is, when YouGov, or CNN, or Gravis, or Morning Consult or Fox News come calling, not enough Democrats are saying that their first choice is Tulsi Gabbard.

Point taken, though I still hope our gal (ok, ok: my gal) makes it to the Houston stage. I would assume that the Labor Day weekend will be a big time for pollsters and those organizations who haven’t released info since the second debate will soon update their results. Hopefully at that point, the Congresswoman will score in the magical four polls and thus secure her debating spot. Perhaps she will once again unleash her ihe ‘ō ‘ia nalohia pua and bury it in some other candidate’s deserving backside (looking at you, Fauxcahontas!). All hail (and fear) our warrior princess!

Tulsi Gabbard Wrecks Kamala


Trump Asserts That He Has Authority To Force U.S. Companies To Leave China

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

President Trump isn’t letting up on the trade issues with China. This morning he pushed back against critics about his *order* to American companies to look for other alternatives to China:

As he arrived in France for the annual meeting of the Group of 7 powers, Mr. Trump posted a message on Twitter citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, a law originally meant to enable a president to isolate criminal regimes, not sever economic ties with a major trading partner over a tariff dispute.

“For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Case closed!”

The president’s threat to all but cut off one of America’s most important trading relationships amid a so-far-unsuccessful trade war could disrupt a global economy already on the edge of recession while further unsettling companies in the United States that rely on China in their production of everything from clothing to smartphones.

Mr. Trump has often made drastic threats as a negotiating ploy to extract concessions, as when he vowed to close the border with Mexico or impose tariffs on its goods to compel action to halt illegal immigration. But if he were to follow through in this case, it would be the most significant break with China since President Richard M. Nixon’s diplomatic opening to Beijing in the early 1970s.

Even if it never comes to that and Mr. Trump ultimately backs down, the threat itself could still have a long-lasting impact on relations with China and perhaps embolden hard-liners in Beijing pressing President Xi Jinping to take a more confrontational approach to the United States.

Critics are warning about the misapplication of the law:

“Any invocation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in these circumstances and for these purposes would be an abuse,” said Daniel M. Price, who was an international economic adviser to President George W. Bush. “The act is intended to address extraordinary national security threats and true national emergencies, not fits of presidential pique.”

Not only have China’s leaders warned about escalating the trade war but American business owners have done so as well, citing large financial losses and losing their competitive edge if forced to pull out of China:

“It’s difficult to move out of China, and any time they are forced to do so by tariffs, this is a momentous act,” said Ker Gibbs, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. ”We are in no position to give up the China market — it’s too large, it’s too important.”

Business leaders said the result could be a flurry of fire sales at greatly reduced prices as companies from other countries snap up American business interests.

Peter Baum of Baum-Essex, a firm that makes products like umbrellas for Costco and cotton bags for Walmart, said he had already moved much of his manufacturing to factories in Vietnam and Cambodia over the last year because of Mr. Trump’s tariffs.

As the trade war shows up in American cash registers, stock markets and retirement account statements, American shoppers and retirees will grow angry, Mr. Baum said.

“Both Trump and Xi have backed themselves into such a corner that this will go on through the U.S. election,” he said. “These two guys don’t realize that this could cause a global depression, not recession.”

[Ed. Hmm, call me crazy, but shouldn’t a savvy, successful businessman like Trump already understand the very real consequences that American businesses would face if he tried to force them to leave China??]

In spite of Trump *ordering* American businesses to look for alternatives to China, aides say no order has actually been drawn up, but rather, it was Trump “signaling” to American businesses that they need to “start disentangling themselves from China on their own“…yikes.

Here is some background on the law itself, and its prior use:

As of March 1, presidents had declared 54 emergencies under the law, of which 29 were still active, according to the Congressional Research Service. Presidents have used it to target international terrorists, drug kingpins, human rights abusers, cyber attackers, illegal arms proliferators and multinational criminal organizations.

Presidents invoked the law when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, when Serbia sent troops into Kosovo in 1998 and when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Among the countries targeted have been international outliers like North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Congo and Venezuela.

Using it in a trade dispute with a country like China would be a drastic departure. But Mr. Trump could make the argument that China constitutes a national security threat through the theft of intellectual property or its military buildup in the South China Sea.

The Trump administration previewed this view of Beijing in its national security strategy in 2017, which described China as a “revisionist power” that has “expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.”

As usual, there is a wide range of opinion on whether Trump’s attempted use of the law would fly in this case. Here are a few:

[E]ven if an unprecedented stretch of the law, some international trade lawyers said it was written broadly enough that Mr. Trump could prevail.

“The statute gives the president the right to do just about anything if he or she first declares that here’s a national security threat to the United States,” said Judith Alison Lee, a lawyer at Gibson Dunn in Washington. “It would be hugely disruptive but, technically speaking, I think the statute gives him that authority.”

William A. Reinsch, an international business scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that he did not think the act would allow Mr. Trump to order American companies to leave China, but that he might be able to block future investments, freeze Chinese assets and exclude Chinese financial institutions from the United States financial system.

Given that Congress is currently in recess, there hasn’t been much of a response to Trump’s *order*. It will be especially interesting to see how free-market Republicans respond to Trump’s threat to essentially, intervene in the economy. And it will be interesting to see what the market does tomorrow when it opens. It’s not hard to guess…

And this observation from Andy Mok, a trade and geopolitics analyst in Bejing, captures not only a cultural difference between China and the U.S. but also one between President Trump and President Xi’s individual approaches to the situation:

“In negotiations, and especially in high-stakes negotiations, the side that reacts emotionally generally is the side that does not do well,” he said. “The U.S. side is approaching this from a more emotional side, while China is more calm and calculating.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Hong Kong Protesters Topple “Smart” Lamppost In Fear Of Facial Recognition Software

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:11 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In spite of the Hong Kong government claiming that “smart” lampposts only collect data on weather and traffic, protesters in Hong Kong were so worried about Bejing being able to surveil them through cameras on the post, the protesters took it down altogether:

Protesters used an electric saw to slice through the bottom of the lamppost, while others pulled ropes tied around it.

The demonstrators, who were holding up umbrellas to hide their identities, cheered as it toppled over.

They were part of a larger group marching to demand the removal of the lampposts over worries they could contain high-tech cameras and facial recognition software used for surveillance by Chinese authorities.

Here is video of the protesters toppling the smart lamppost:

There are currently 40 of these smart lampposts in Hong Kong. Soon, however, they will become a familiar part of the cityscape:

The semiautonomous Chinese city has said it plans to install about 400 of the smart lampposts in four urban districts, starting with 50 in the Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay districts that were the scene of Saturday’s protest march.

Given what we know about Bejing, it would seem that organizer Ventus Lau is absolutely right:

“Hong Kong people’s private information is already being extradited to China.

“We have to be very concerned.”

In an interesting contrast to protester’s worries about the smart lampposts in Hong Kong, the EU is aiming to upgrade 10 million aging lampposts into smart lampposts:

There are as many as 90 million lampposts in Europe, according to the EU and three quarters of them are over 25 years old. Street lighting accounts for up to half of some cities’ energy budgets and simply installing energy-saving bulbs would save almost €2 billion ($2.3 billion) a year.

Under the slogan “a dozen things you can do with a humble lamppost that has nothing to do with light” the EU wants to upgrade 10 million lampposts, making them solar-powered smart lampposts able to deliver a range of smart city services.

As well as providing bases for a city-wide network of 5G connected sensors to monitor vehicle and pedestrian traffic flows, the now far-from-humble smart lampposts could host a free public WiFi network.

The EU says smart lampposts will improve citizen safety by delivering public information through digital displays and speakers as well as measuring air quality and monitoring streets for flooding.

Their sensors will have multiple uses from helping visually impaired people to navigate the city to alerting drivers to vacant parking spaces.

City authorities will be able to offset the cost of smart lampposts by using them to host digital advertising or provide charging points for electric vehicles.

On a side note: CCTV is already popular in parts of Europe. England alone has an estimated 500,000 CCTV cameras around London.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


The Kindness Of Others Is Making A Little One’s Life Better

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:11 am

[guest post by Dana]

Reading about the kindness of friends and strangers in the life of a sick little boy makes for a nice way to begin the weekend.

Three-year old Quinn Waters has brain cancer. As result of getting a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer, his natural immunity was temporarily suspended. Parents Jarlath and Tara Waters said that because even something like a common cold could land him back in the hospital, he now lives in a protected bubble. Confined to the house with only his parents for company, and limited to seeing the world through the front window, Quinn’s parents say that there are “days when Quinn is literally pounding to get out.”

Queue the kindness of neighbors and strangers:

For the last two months, Quinn’s connection to the outside world has been limited to whoever passes by, which hasn’t been all that limiting, actually.

“It started out with family members coming to the window,” Jarlath said.

Then the neighbors started showing up to entertain with non-contact art projects and other stupid human tricks. Next, the police caught wind — and pretty soon top-notch performers were just showing up on Quinn’s front lawn.

Today, you never know what might happen. One minute it could be a dog parade — the next, a team of Irish step dancers — everyone brought together by word of mouth and a will to help Quinn get better, which his parents say is happening.

“It’s the positive energy from all these people that we believe has gotten him through his sickness, you know,” Jarlath explained. “You can never repay, you know — just maybe pay it forward.”


Make sure to watch the video at the link. It’s so good to be reminded of how kind and generous people can be in an effort to make someone less fortunate happy.


Texas Couple killed minutes after Marriage Ceremony

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:22 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Vidor couple perishes in wreck leaving their own wedding:

Young newlyweds were killed Friday afternoon in a savage car wreck while pulling out of the judge’s office where they had just tied the knot.

“They hadn’t even been married for five minutes,” said LaShawna Morgan, mother of groom Harley Morgan, 19, and mother-in-law to Rhiannon Morgan, 20, all of Vidor.

Like other members of the wedding party, LaShawna Morgan was following close behind and witnessed the devastation as a pickup pulling a trailer loaded with a tractor hit the couple’s Chevy Cavalier on Texas 87 near the local airport. The impact caused the much smaller car to flip multiple times before coming to rest in a ditch in tall grass and brush.

The groom’s sister, Christina Fontenot, doubts the couple ever saw the truck coming.

The details make it worse:

Harley and Rhiannon were declared dead at the scene by Orange County Justice of the Peace Joy Dubose-Simonton — the same judge who moments earlier had presided over their nuptials.


Reality sank in for LaShawna Morgan hours earlier. As she stood along the section of shut-down highway, authorities brought over items such as the blood-stained bouquet and a manila envelope containing the marriage license.

“Please go home and hug your loved ones tonight,” she said under a sullen sky. “Do not go to bed angry.”


Trump adds More Tariffs, plus Predictions

Filed under: Economics — DRJ @ 8:04 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Trump heaps another 5% tariff on Chinese goods in latest tit-for-tat escalation:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday lashed back at a new round of Chinese tariffs by heaping an additional 5% duty on some $550 billion in targeted Chinese goods in the latest tit-for-tat trade war escalation by the world’s two largest economies.

Trump’s move, announced on Twitter, came hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, prompting the president earlier in the day to demand U.S. companies move their operations out of China.

It must be hard for American businesses to keep count of where things stand, which is not good for business. I predict the stock market will fall more next week since this happened after the close.

UK PM Johnson to tell Trump to de-escalate trade tensions:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would be telling President Donald Trump at this weekend’s G7 summit to pull back from a trade war which is already destabilising economic growth around the world.

Asked if he would be telling Trump he should not escalate the trade war with China, Johnson said “you bet”.

Johnson said his priorities for the summit “are clearly the state of global trade. I am very worried about the way it’s going, the growth of protectionism, of tariffs that we’re seeing.”

I also predict Trump won’t be saying nice things about Boris on Twitter.


The G7 (Trump + 6) Summit in France

Filed under: Economics,International — DRJ @ 7:28 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

In the US, the media sees the G7 summit as Trump facing limits of go-it-alone stance:

BIARRITZ, France (AP) — President Donald Trump arrived Saturday in France for an international summit with the leaders of the globe’s economic powers as he confronts the consequences of his preference for going it alone, both in a sharply divided United States and an interconnected world. The meeting of the Group of Seven nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — in the beach resort town of Biarritz comes at one of the most unpredictable moments in Trump’s White House tenure, with his public comments and decision-making increasingly erratic and acerbic of late.

Trump, growing more isolated in Washington, faces a tepid reception on the world stage, where a list of challenges awaits. Anxiety is growing over a global slowdown , and there are new points of tension with allies on trade, Iran and Russia.

Fears of a financial downturn are spreading, meaning the need for cooperation and a collective response is essential. Yet Trump has ridiculed Germany for its economic travails at a time when he may have to turn to Chancellor Angela Merkel and others to help blunt the force of China’s newly aggressive tariffs on U.S. goods. Those trade penalties, combined with the economic slowdown, have raised political alarms for Trump’sreelection effort.

Meanwhile, in France, an Isolated Trump descends on G7, talking trade war:

An isolated President Donald Trump arrived Saturday for the G7 summit in Biarritz bearing threats of tariffs against host France and a decision to deepen his trade war with China, despite fears of US or even global recession.

Trump dislikes the kind of multilateral forums epitomized by the G7, insisting on a policy of “America first” and his own skills, honed in a real estate career, of one-to-one deal making.

Ahead of the summit in the elegant French seaside resort, he has criticized most of his partners, rowing with them over Iran, trade, global warming and Brexit. And on the eve of his trip, he brushed aside concerns of global economic slowdown to exchange new tariffs with China, insisting “we’ll win.”

Finally, in China, no reports about the G7 — of which China is not a member — but there are several reports about Trump and tariffs including China adds crude oil to tariffs list for first time in targeted retaliation against US:

Beijing will also resume imposing duties on American cars in what observers say is a restrained but focused response to latest US tariffs.

State media commentary says it was designed to ‘inflict pain on the US manufacturing sector’ and rattle US financial markets.


Breaking News and Off-Topic Links (8/24/2019)

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:12 am

[By DRJ]

This post is for everyone who wants to share a link to a breaking news story or to an interesting news story/blog post that is not related to a current post. Put your link in the comments.

Discussion about any links is welcome here, too.


When we don’t Write About Topics You want to Read

Filed under: Blogging Matters — DRJ @ 6:47 am

[By DRJ]

Sometimes commenters request that the posters here write on specific topics and sometimes those requests are denied — typically because of time constraints by the blog’s host or, in my case, by a lack of interest in the topic. Commenters have several options when that happens:

1. Leave a brief comment about the topic (with links, if appropriate) on the most recent Breaking News and Off-Topic Links post. I will post a new Breaking News post later today, and I try to post new ones every 4-5 days. A comment may be enough to stimulate discussion if the topic interests people.

2. Write an expanded comment about the topic (also with links) that explains your opinion and other sides on the topic. Why is this important to you, and why should it be important to us? If you have a different take on the topic than what you have read or seen elsewhere, be sure to share and explain that.

3. Submit a guest blog post on the topic (with links and opinions) and send it via email to Patterico for his consideration. Be sure to edit and proofread — something I have done a poor job at recently! — before you send it. I suggest you write it, sleep on it, and read it fresh in a day or two. Does it flow well and can someone not familiar with the topic grasp your point?

Of course, there is no guarantee Patterico will publish what you write if you submit a guest post, but he has used The Jury for guest posts before. I think he is still open to that, plus we all benefit from engaged posters and commenters.


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