“The Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks have sparked a lot of outrage. But one recent action by the Interior Department drew unprecedented protest from a bipartisan group of top officials who go all the way back to the Nixon administration: a new legal opinion that attempts to legalize the unintentional killing of most migratory birds.Under the new interpretation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act forbids only intentional killing – such as hunting or killing birds to get their feathers – without a permit. The administration will no longer apply the act to industries that inadvertently kill a lot of birds through oil drilling, wind power and communications towers. Critics fear that these industries might now end the bird-friendly practices that save large numbers of birds.”
Edward Landsdale is on the left. NYT
“The Tet offensive, which began 50 years ago today and is remembered as the turning point of the Vietnam War, caught Americans by surprise. One of the few who saw what was coming was Edward Lansdale, the legendary covert operative and retired Air Force general who had helped to create the state of South Vietnam after the French withdrew. He had returned to Saigon in 1965 as an official at the American Embassy, trying to use his close ties to the South Vietnamese to salvage something from a failing war effort. . . “
It is unclear whether the more subtle approach argued by Lansdale would have made a big difference. In 1858, the French invaded Vietnam, and it took them a year to win that first great battle. It took them till 1913 to destroy the last group of resistance fighters. They proceeded to exploit and rape the country for roughly 100 years, until the Japanese invaded during WW II, and the French surrendered without a fight. What also mattered was during 1931-33, the French colonial government announced an amnesty. The non-communist nationalist resistance groups came forward, believing the French, and turned in their guns. They were rounded up and executed. The communist nationalist resistance group did not trust the French, and did not come forward. After the massacre, only the communist resistance group was left to continue the fight against the French. During WW II, only Ho Chi Minh and his communist fighters fought successfully against the Japanese. He was aided with guns, supplies and money by the US OSS. He was our man in Vietnam against the Japanese. By 1954, when these Viets defeated the French, they were national heros, three times over. It is hard to believed anyone could undermine their national popularity. They had earned the mandate of heaven.
“Given the Trump administration’s indifference to climate change, the task of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, has fallen largely to city and state governments. It is thus greatly encouraging that New Jersey, under its new governor, Phil Murphy, a Democrat, will join — more precisely, rejoin — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a consortium of nine Eastern and New England states that has achieved substantial emissions reductions from large power plants since its start in 2009.”
These changes would strengthen America’s domestic energy sector, limit calls to curtail America’s L.N.G. exports, reduce the need for imports, and help the country compete with Russia in the global natural gas markets.
Policy and infrastructure has not kept pace in the United States as the country has sought to turn into a net exporter of natural gas. But with thoughtful legislation and investments in infrastructure, the United States has the resources, technology and ambition to claim a position as the global leader in the coming golden age of natural gas.
Agnia Grigas (@AgniaGrigas), a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, is the author of “The New Geopolitics of Natural Gas.”
Every few years I try to write a column staking out a reasonable middle ground on immigration. After all, most big, important issues are clashes in which both sides have a piece of the truth.
The case for restricting immigration seems superficially plausible. Over the last several decades we’ve conducted a potentially reckless experiment. The number of foreign-born Americans is at record highs, straining national cohesion, raising distrust. Maybe America should take a pause, as we did in the 1920s. After all, that pause seemed to produce the cohesive America of the 1940s that won the war and rose to pre-eminence.
Every few years I try to write this moderate column. And every few years I fail. That’s because when you wade into the evidence you find that the case for restricting immigration is pathetically weak. The only people who have less actual data on their side are the people who deny climate change.
You don’t have to rely on pointy-headed academics. Get in your car. If you start in rural New England and drive down into Appalachia or across into the Upper Midwest you will be driving through county after county with few immigrants. These rural places are often 95 percent white. These places lack the diversity restrictionists say is straining the social fabric.
Are these counties marked by high social cohesion, economic dynamism, surging wages and healthy family values? No. Quite the opposite. They are often marked by economic stagnation, social isolation, family breakdown and high opioid addiction. Charles Murray wrote a whole book, “Coming Apart,” on the social breakdown among working-class whites, many of whom live in these low immigrant areas.
Challenging piece with good comments after, such as:
Rural areas have been declining, and have done worse economically than urban areas, for decades, and it’s not because of immigration. Small farms were driven out by big industrial farms. Jobs moved South to take advantage of cheap non-union labor, lower taxes (coupled with less government service), snow-free winters and air-conditioned summers. Manufacturing moved to the South, to Mexico, and overseas. The Rural Electrification Agency brought electricity to rural areas in the 1930, but Republicans have refused to force telecom companies to provide internet service to these areas today.
I could go on. The point is, it’s not the fault of some ingrained anti-immigrant attitude. Attitudes didn’t cause economic decline. Decline causes the attitudes. Obama was right when he said that when a community suffers hard times year after year, people cling to their guns and their religion. They also cling to their clans. My guess is that David Brooks has never experienced hard financial times, or lived in a struggling rural community, and I don’t think he’ll ever understand it. But these folks aren’t going away, even if Trump does, and they’ve got an electoral college advantage that coupd swing elections for decades.
The other day my barber asked me whether he should put all his money in Bitcoin. And the truth is that if he’d bought Bitcoin, say, a year ago he’d be feeling pretty good right now. On the other hand, Dutch speculators who bought tulip bulbs in 1635 also felt pretty good for a while, until tulip prices collapsed in early 1637.
So is Bitcoin a giant bubble that will end in grief? Yes. But it’s a bubble wrapped in techno-mysticism inside a cocoon of libertarian ideology. And there’s something to be learned about the times we live in by peeling away that wrapping.
If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of Bitcoin, it’s the biggest, best-known example of a “cryptocurrency”: an asset that has no physical existence, consisting of nothing but a digital record stored on computers. What makes cryptocurrencies different from ordinary bank accounts, which are also nothing but digital records, is that they don’t reside in the servers of any particular financial institution. Instead, a Bitcoin’s existence is documented by records distributed in many places.
“In nearly every crime-caper movie there’s a shifty guy on the street corner who, seeing the cops in hot pursuit, flips over a fruit cart to slow them down and give the culprits a chance to get away.In Trump-era Washington, that role is being played with impressive conviction by Devin Nunes, the eight-term Republican representative from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Nunes, supported by a rotating coterie of conspiracists in Congress and the usual suspects on right-wing cable news, has labored to divert attention from the expanding Russia investigation by tossing out sinister-sounding allegations of wrongdoing by federal law enforcement officials.
Mr. Nunes’s act has kept alive the prospect of impeding or ending the investigation even as President Trump has backed off his efforts to fire the man in charge, the special counsel, Robert Mueller.Last year he accused top Obama administration officials of improperly “unmasking” Trump associates in intelligence reports — a charge that turned out to be baseless. No matter: The whole point of this game is to make the job of the actual investigators harder while confusing the public about where the true scandal lies.”
DL; Is this the end of democracy as we know it, or the beginning of another renaissanace?
“If we are to have restrictions on immigration, they ought to be reasonable, allow for family unification, operate in sync with the labor market and give refuge to those fleeing disaster and persecution. We can enact statutes of limitations on unauthorized presence (say five years, or even 10), which would recognize not just the inevitability of migrants’ entry but also their incorporation into society. The United States itself had such a policy once — before the National Origins Act of 1924.
But today, the mainstream of both political parties clings to the false logic of the 1980s, which yoked legalization to enforcement. This time around the Democrats are in an especially weak position, not least because extremists in both Congress and the White House are holding the Dreamers hostage to a radical nativist agenda.”
“It’s a sure thing that Donald Trump will spend much of his State of the Union boasting about the economy. So this seems like a good time for a refresher on some basic macroeconomics – and the reasons why the expansion of 2017, which continued the long expansion that began in 2010, is in no sense a justification for wildly optimistic growth projections looking forward.
As a reminder, the Trump Treasury department claims that tax cuts will pay for themselves because the economy will grow at almost 3 percent a year for the next decade. This growth projection didn’t come from any model; it was just pulled out of … well, you fill in the rest. But every time there’s a good quarter of growth, the usual suspects take time off from talking about deep state conspiracies to claim that the forecast is coming true. Why is this nonsense?First, you need to know that quarter-to-quarter and even year-to-year growth rates are very variable. The economy grew at a 5 percent annual rate during much of the Carter administration (how many people know that?); it grew around 4 percent during the second Clinton administration:”
There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.