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We are losing the Second Cold War. Just as the colonists defeated the British with asymmetrical warfare, so Putin’s Russia is defeating us.
As Trump, unchecked by the Republican Congress, tells the world he trusts and admires Putin, who murders and poisons his opponents.
And speaking of asymmetrical warfare, there’s China. Here is David Ignatius last month in the Washington Post. (Thanks, Glenn.)
. . . “It is not that we lack money. It is that we are playing a losing game,” Brose contended in a paper presented to the group. “Our competitors are now using advanced technologies to erode our military edge. This situation is becoming increasingly dire.”
Future needs are being drowned out by past practices, because of what Brose’s boss, Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), has called the “military-industrial-congressional complex.” Brose calculates that in the Pentagon’s initial request for $74 billion in new defense spending in fiscal 2019, only 0.006 percent was targeted for science and technology. . . .
. . . The Chinese are happy for the United States to keep building carriers and bombers, so long as they deploy the more advanced technologies that can disable these systems. . . .
America’s vulnerability to information warfare was a special topic of concern. One participant recalled a conversation several years ago with a Russian general who taunted him: “You have a cybercommand but no information operations. Don’t you know that information operations are how you take countries down?”
The Aspen Strategy Group is a devoutly bipartisan forum. But there was an intense discussion here of the issue that’s vexing America this summer: the growing political polarization that’s creating so much discord that it’s becoming a national security problem.
As the gathering concluded Monday, Republicans and Democrats were equally passionate about spreading the message that this is a Sputnik moment for modernizing our military. Competing with a rising China begins at home, with a more nimble Pentagon and a country that’s more united to face the big problems ahead.
Finally . . .
. . . In 2016, Crystal Mason sought to vote in the presidential election in Tarrant County, TX. Her name wasn’t on the voter roll so, after being assisted by a poll worker, she signed an affidavit in her name — presenting her ID — and declared that she was eligible to vote. She was given a provisional ballot and filled it out.
What Mason did not do, however, was read the fine print at the top of the document. Had she done so, she would have realized that she was not eligible to vote because she had not completed the community-supervision portion of a tax fraud conviction. In her case, “community supervision” meant periodically logging onto a website to confirm her address and affirming that she had not been arrested.
She should have read the fine print and that was clearly her mistake. This isn’t a defense of people who vote but should not. However, it seems clear that Mason didn’t mean to cast a fraudulent vote. . . . It was an honest mistake . . . [and yet she] was sentenced to five years in state prison for voter fraud and last week she got an additional 10 months in federal prison for release violations.
Also last week, a North Carolina court ruled that, once again, Republicans had illegally gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts. As the court’s decision shows, this was not an honest mistake. It was a premeditated attempt to continue to allow the GOP to win a supermajority of the Tar Heel State’s congressional seats even if the popular vote did not reflect such a distribution.
The ruling means that, since Republicans took control of the state legislature in 2010, there hasn’t been a single congressional election held using a map that has not been deemed to be unconstitutional.
In effect, North Carolinians, especially African Americans, have been denied the right to participate in a fair congressional election for the better part of a decade.
Nobody has been punished for silencing the voices of hundreds of thousands of voters in North Carolina, and the illegal map will be used again in the midterms, because the court thinks there is no time to draw one that isn’t unconstitutional. Once again, Republican legislators got away with it.
In a nutshell, these two cases illustrate why widespread in-person voter fraud is so rare while voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other crimes against democracy are so widespread: The former has a very low upside and a major downside; the latter has a major upside and no downside whatsoever. . . .
One more reason to buy gerrymandered jewelry.
Have a great weekend.
Quote of the Day
You see those charts that say if you put away $500 a year starting at age 20, by the time you're 50 you'd have a gazillion dollars. It just makes you ill that you didn't do it. You almost want to grab young people and shake 'em and say, 'Please don't make the same mistake I did. Please.'~James Carville
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