Weekly Update 19 Oct - 01 Nov 20
Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.
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Opinion by David Ignatius, Washington Post
As Election Day approaches, there’s a reckoning ahead for countries that placed big bets, pro and con, on President Trump. For foreign leaders who stroked Trump and prospered during his presidency, there’s potential danger if he loses to former vice president Joe Biden. For those who defied Trump, there’s opportunity. Talking with foreign officials in recent weeks, I’ve been struck by the intensity of their interest in what happens on Nov. 3. They have studied up on the electoral college, the quirks of mail-in voting, the prospect of post-election violence in the streets and disputes in the courts. To say the world is watching does not begin to describe the global focus on the United States.
By Ted Widmer for the NYT
Long before Covid-19, Alexis de Tocqueville described a presidential election as a form of sickness in which the body politic became dangerously “feverish” before returning to normal. Emotions ran too hot, and the fragile forms of consensus that were essential for democracy — what Tocqueville called our “habits of the heart” — evaporated, as party hacks exhausted themselves in vitriolic attacks on one another and the system.
By Matthew Gault, Vice
America’s COVID-19 numbers aren’t under control. In many places they're getting worse. Large portions of the west coast are on fire, social media is fueling genocides, and political violence in the U.S. is increasing. People are marching in the streets, aligned with two ideologically distinct factions. Many of them (overwhelmingly from one side) are armed, and violence and death has resulted when these two sides have clashed.
Research finds that a weak state and poverty predict such conflicts.
By Richard Hanania for the Washington Post
The men arrested in early October and charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) apparently hoped that doing so might help set off a civil war — pitting lovers of liberty like themselves against treasonous statists. The goal may sound outlandish, but fringe militia members aren’t the only ones who think a second civil war could occur in the United States. Recently, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said that the situation in this country reminded him of his time in Lebanon, where in the mid-1970s street clashes between sectarian militias erupted into multifaceted strife that lasted a decade and a half. David Kilcullen, an Australian scholar and adviser to the U.S. Army, described America in June as being at the point of “incipient insurgency,” while the academic Peter Turchin recently wrote — pointing to riots and rising economic inequality — that “we are getting awfully close to the point where a civil war or revolution becomes probable.”
On this Roundtable episode of the Defense & Aerospace Report Podcast, sponsored by Bell, our guests are Dov Zakheim, PhD, former DoD comptroller, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Gordon Adams, PhD, Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute, Byron Callan of the independent equity research firm Capital Alpha Partners, Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Herson, President and CEO, American Defense International and Chris Servello, a founder of Provision Advisors (and Defense and Aerospace team member).
By Peggy Noonan, WSJ I find myself going back, as I review these years, to a crisp, dark evening in December 2016, in Manhattan, where I’d joined a visiting friend, a Catholic activist, for a drink. She had been ardently anti-Trump, was heartbroken at his election and struggling to come to terms, to find some higher meaning. “Maybe this is God’s way of giving us a last chance,” she said. “I think when God gives you a last chance he gives you John Kasich,” I said, and we both laughed. The 2016 election to me felt more like a chastisement, a judgment from on high of who we are and what we are becoming.
The Militarization of U.S. Politics...How Trump’s Presidency Opened the Door to Armed Electoral Interference
By Aila M. Matanock and Paul Staniland Over the last four years, U.S. President Donald Trump has shown more sympathy for far-right groups, many of them armed, than any president in recent memory. At the same time, his administration has reportedly pressured law enforcement agencies to downplay the threat posed by these organizations, allowing nonstate violence to creep back into the political mainstream to a degree not seen since the 1960s and 1970s. Just last month, a group of antigovernment extremists was arrested for plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, after she defied Trump’s demand to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” from COVID-19 restrictions. More violence could erupt ahead of next week’s presidential election, as well as in its aftermath.
As a divisive election arrives, the National Guard prepares for unrest and wrestles with how to respond
By Dan Lamothe, Washington Post
The National Guard Bureau has established a new unit made up mostly of military policemen that could be dispatched to help quell unrest in coming days, after a turbulent summer in which National Guard members were deployed to several cities. The unit, which also could be used to respond to natural disasters and other missions, was formed in September and initially described as a rapid-reaction force. But as one of the most divisive elections in American history closes in, National Guard officials have softened how they characterize the service members, instead referring to them as “regional response units."
On Election Eve, Economists Struggle to Figure Out a World That’s UnraveledBoth Trump and Biden are winging it when it comes to economic theory—but so are economists, who have yet to get their theoretical house in order.
By Michelle Hirsh, Foreign Policy
From the 2008 financial crisis to the COVID-19 shutdown, the world’s best economists have struggled—usually unsuccessfully—to regain the influence over policymakers they once wielded with such abandon. The problem is, most of them don’t have new theories ready that can actually make sense of a globalized world in disarray—and won’t for quite a while.
By Christopher Layne, for Foreign Affairs Since the closing days of the Cold War, U.S. policymakers, pundits, international relations scholars, and policy analysts have argued that great-power war is a relic of a bygone age. In 1986, the historian John Lewis Gaddis termed the post–World War II era a “Long Peace” because the Soviet Union and the United States had not come to blows. A few years later, the political scientist John Mueller suggested that changing norms had made great-power conflict obsolete. By 2011, the psychologist Steven Pinker was arguing that the Long Peace had morphed into a “New Peace,” marked by a generalized decrease of violence in human affairs.
Senate Democrats consider forcing tech giants to pay local news organizations for content
By Keach Hagey, Wall Street Journal
Some Senate Democrats are seeking to enable regulators to protect local news outlets, accusing tech giants such as Google and Facebook of “unfair business practices,” according to a new report by members of a key committee that will hear from the top industry executives this week. Released on the eve of the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing Wednesday with the chief executives of Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG 3.34% Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., TWTR 8.04% the report argues that local journalism is in a crisis—badly exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic—partly because of alleged anticompetitive behavior on the part of the tech platforms that ought to be policed by the Federal Trade Commission.
By David P. Fessell, Vineet Chopra and Sanjay Saint, Harvard Business Review Shortly after September 11, 2001, I (David) stood in the cafeteria line at work, anxieties still swirling in my mind. I happened to see one of my mentors, a senior member of our department; after we exchanged hellos, our conversation quickly turned to current events. I remember he said two simple – yet powerful – words: “It’s scary.” Almost instantly, my fears began to settle, replaced by a sense of connection. Knowing I wasn’t alone made a difference.
By Robert S. Kaplan, Herman B. Leonard, Anette Mikes, for the Harvard Business Review
Well-run companies prepare for the risks they face. Those risks can be significant, and while they’re not always addressed successfully—think Deepwater Horizon, rogue securities traders, and explosions at chemical plants—the risk management function of a company generally helps it develop protocols and processes to anticipate, assess, and mitigate them.
Employees at the audiostreaming company flag the content of its No. 1 show for review
By Anne Steele Spotify Technology $100 million bet on Joe Rogan has put the audiostreaming company in business with one of podcasting’s most popular—and polarizing—voices. Amid controversy, executives are standing by that voice. The deal to bring Mr. Rogan to Spotify is already showing signs of success. His millions of loyal fans have made “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast Spotify’s No. 1 show since arriving on the platform in September, “outperforming our audience expectations,” the company said when reporting its earnings Thursday. The company’s stock has run up more than 50% since the deal was announced in May.
By Matthew Brockett, Bloomberg
New Zealand has decided against legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, bucking a trend toward liberalization among some of its western peers. In a referendum on whether to allow the use and sale of cannabis, 53% of voters said no and 46% were in favor, according to preliminary results released by the Electoral Commission Friday in Wellington. In a separate referendum, New Zealanders agreed to legalize euthanasia with 65% voting yes.
By Sara Friedman, Inside Cybersecurity
The objective of the Pentagon’s CMMC program to improve the security of the defense industrial base will continue to be a priority for the Defense Department regardless of who wins the White House in the upcoming election, according to stakeholders in the supply chain process. The Defense Department has gotten pushback from industry over the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and the many unknowns over its rollout and expected costs, but former government officials and attorneys told Inside Cybersecurity the move from a regime of self-attestation to third party certification is necessary to protect the intellectual property of the DIB and DOD.
By William Collis and David Collis, for the Harvard Business Review What makes a brand last? Knowing the answer is what separates sustainable success from eventual obscurity. Almost every company devotes significant resources to defining their brand. But few ask the equally important question: how to protect it?
By Malika Andrews, ESPN
American professional sports owners have contributed nearly $47 million in federal elections since 2015, according to research by ESPN in partnership with FiveThirtyEight, including $10 million to Republican causes and $1.9 million to Democratic causes so far in the 2020 election cycle. That strong Republican lean is consistent with owners' spending in the 2018 and 2016 federal elections as well. A deep search in the Federal Election Commission database of campaign finances for principal owners, controlling owners, co-owners and commissioners from the NBA, NFL, NHL, WNBA, MLB and NASCAR reveals that this deep-pocketed group has sent $34.2 million (72.9%) to Republican campaigns or super PACs purely supporting Republican causes, compared to $10.1 million (21.5%) to Democrats over the past three elections. Less than 6% of contributions went to bipartisan or unaffiliated recipients.
Is it sex discrimination or the free market? Three experts debate the issue.
By Daniel Akst, Wall Street Journal
Women in sports have come a long way since Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Billie Jean King. Yet the financial distance between today’s female pros and their male counterparts, whose earnings have soared into the stratosphere, is probably larger than ever. What accounts for this? Is it sex discrimination, inexorable market forces or some combination of the two? This Wall Street Journal roundtable explores the contentious issue with the University of Michigan’s Carol Hutchins, the most successful softball coach in National Collegiate Athletic Association history; College of the Holy Cross sports economist and NCAA soccer referee Victor Matheson; and University of San Francisco economist Nola Agha, a sports-finance expert who has consulted to professional leagues. The discussion was edited for space and clarity.
Anxious? Here are some of the best and most rewatch-friendly movies to soothe your mind.
By David Sims, The Atlantic
Over the course of 2020, I’ve compiled several movie-recommendation lists for viewers who are at once in desperate need of distraction and yet never able to fully escape the year’s pressing realities. A global pandemic. Economic turmoil. An impending election showdown. Natural disasters. Police killings and unrelenting national protests. With movie theaters shut down around the world, I curated collections of films to watch at home—works that were unheralded upon release, took singular approaches to storytelling, or told stories about horror, government mistrust, and the end of the world.