Daily Bread for 12.13.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will see afternoon snow showers with a high of thirty-four. Sunrise is 7:17 AM and 4:21 PM, for 9h 03m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 18.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the {tooltip}three hundred ninety-ninth day.{end-texte}Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.{end-tooltip}

Whitewater’s University Tech Park Board meets at 8 A.M.

On this day in 1864, the 3rd Wisconsin Light Artillery reaches the front lines of Savannah, Georgia.

Recommended for reading in full —

McKay Coppins writes The Alabama Election Is a Referendum on the GOP’s Future:

For all the national attention that’s been paid to the grisly particulars of Alabama’s special election over the past few weeks—the lurid details of the sexual-abuse accusations against Roy Moore; the performative shrieks of “Fake News!” from the candidate and his defenders—the true political consequences of the race will likely reach well beyond a single Senate race in 2017.

In fact, many Republicans in Washington believe the voters who are heading to the polls on Tuesday could end up playing a pivotal role in the fight for the soul of the GOP.

Republican leaders have been keeping an especially wary eye on Alabama ever since former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon announced his intention to recruit primary challengers for (virtually) every Republican senator up for reelection in 2018.

“There’s a time and season for everything,” Bannon said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit in October, “and right now it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment.”

(I’m neither a Republic nor a Democrat, and remain convinced that if there’s a metaphorical war to be fought it’s one against Trumpism, and those politicians and operatives who advance that autocratic, bigoted view. Still, better that a defective candidate like Moore lost, in an of itself: he was unfit.)

Aaron Blake assesses Winners and losers from the Alabama special election [full list in original article):

The race to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate featured votes spanning nearly four full months, with one bizarre turn after another, and ended Tuesday night with Democrat Doug Jones pulling off the upset over Republican Roy Moore, who faced allegations that he had sexually harassed and assaulted teenage girls while he was in his 30s.

Let’s break down the whole thing via winners and losers.

Democrats’ Senate majority hopes

At the start of the cycle, the math for Democrats winning the Senate majority in 2018 — even in a very good environment — appeared prohibitive. They had only two bona fide pickup opportunities, they needed three pickups, and they had to defend 10 swing and red states that President Trump won. The map was just brutal.

But since then, they’ve gotten the news they need to at least put the Senate in play. Potential takeovers in Arizona and Nevada look increasingly promising. An open seat has popped up in Tennessee, where last week Democrats landed popular former governor Phil Bredesen as a candidate, and now they’ve nabbed one of the three pickups they needed a year early in Alabama. The math is still tough, but it’s clearly within the realm of possibility now. And with Democrats claiming a double-digit lead on the generic ballot, things are very much looking up….

(I expected Moore to win; his defeat is a welcome surprise. As for the rest, one has no reason to relent, locally or elsewhere, until every last part of Trumpism meets its political ruin.)

Sara Hsu reports IMF Warnings Of China’s Financial Fragility Come As No Surprise:

The IMF warned, in its recent Financial Sector Assessment Report, of China’s financial fragility, pointing to high levels of corporate debt and funding through wealth management products. The report found growing risks within the banking system, particularly outside of the Big Four state-owned banks. Although China’s central bank brushed aside the warning tone of the report, these cautions should ring true with analysts who have been closely monitoring the debt pileup across multiple sectors.

The report and China’s response

The IMF report states, “the near-term prioritization of social stability appears to rely on credit expansion to continue financing firms even when they are not viable, and on stabilizing asset markets to prevent losses for households. Microprudential regulation and supervision will struggle to mitigate risks and deliver financial sector stability if the macroeconomic context—notably, monetary, fiscal, and development policies—is not supportive.” In other words, China’s attempt to stabilize the economy through the use of credit has created risks that cannot be resolved by imposing regulation alone; wider government policies must be supportive.

In response to the report, China’s central bank has stated that the IMF description did not entirely reflect the results of the stress tests, and that the banking system is well capitalized. This contradicts the IMF account that covered stress tests on 33 banks with RMB 171 trillion in total assets and RMB 20 trillion in off-balance sheet WMPs. The results of these tests found potentially vast under capitalization of joint stock and city commercial banks, given an economic shock. These banks have been responsible for much of the growth in the banking sector since 2011, the report states….

(State capitalism is failed capitalism.)

Jack Jenkins writes Nobody is laughing at the Religious Left in 2017:

There’s a well-worn joke that has circulated among religion writers for at least the past decade: every year, someone publishes a piece prophesying the “rise” of the Religious Left. And every year, the prediction turns out to be laughably overblown.

And then 2017 happened. These days, nobody’s laughing at the Religious Left.

Granted, the core catalyst for this shift was something few expected: the election of Donald Trump. His rise caught many by surprise, and sparked innumerable signal fires within activist spheres—a metaphorical call to arms against an enemy who threatens virtually every progressive cause at once….

To be fair, the Religious Left was never exactly napping. Aspects of the movement—which constitutes an amorphous group of interfaith activists that goes by many names and takes many forms—have operated since America’s founding, marching and praying in support of abolition, labor reform, and civil rights. Recent years have seen their public influence eclipsed by the rising influence of the Religious Right, however, even as they continued to fight for immigrants, gun violence prevention, and LGBTQ rights—often as a crucial component of larger progressive campaigns.

But Trump’s rise gave progressive people of faith a powerful reason to coalesce, forging unusual alliances while offering a moral counterweight to the president’s rhetoric and policies. The presence of religion among the “resistance,” broadly defined, was almost immediate: when a Republican member of the Electoral College in Texas declared in late 2016 he would not cast his ballot for Donald Trump, he cited his Catholic faith as a core driver of his decision….

In Captivity, Orangutans Unlock Greater Curiosity and Intelligence:

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4 years ago

Mea Culpa…
I didn’t think that AL would vote for a Democrat, even if the Republican was a child molester. I was wrong. The molester lost by 1.9%, about 21K votes. Now…A win is a win, and I am not advocating for a forfeit of it, but it was far from an overwhelming victory. Almost half of the good citizens of AL were fine with the molester, which is still discouraging.

Not among that half was black Alabamians. They came out in huge numbers, for a non-presidential election. and 95% of them voted for Jones. AL is a viciously voter-suppressed state, but this election proves that, with enuf motivation, suppression can be overcome. Voter-suppression has always about tweaking the fringy margins of the electorate, on the theory that if you make it hard enough to vote, a significant number of the opposition won’t take the time to fight thru the roadblocks and actually vote. That didn’t work last night. You can bet that black America was paying attention to the Great Shining Example of how to fight suppression, as revealed in this election.

The other assumption about voter-suppression strategy is that you can always count on conservatives to get out and vote. Moore proved that that strategy has its soft spots too. It is still a rational strategy, but is not robust enuf to survive what was clearly the worst candidate that I have ever seen, anywhere. Roy Moore is a uniquely repugnant human being. The majority of the R-team was just fine with him, but enough were not to make a difference.

Bannon and Trump and the RNC lost a lot of juice last night. They combined to lose a Senate seat in a state that is +30 Republican. It takes an almost superhuman level of hubris and a stunningly poor grasp of political tradecraft to engineer this sort of rout. Blood has to be running cold in R-Land this AM. They just lost a +30 advantage seat in the most moss-backed, retrograde, Republican state in the union. Nobody is safe anymore…

This is just starting to get interesting. It’s going to be another wild year.